Middle School Student to Attend Renowned Interlochen Arts Camp
“Lights, camera, action!” This is a familiar phrase to Grade 8 student Avani Venkat, who will attend the renowned Interlochen Arts Camp, a premier summer arts program for aspiring artists in grades 3 through 12, in Michigan this summer.
Juniors Mishon Levine and Luke Tyson co-founded Students Taking Action for a New Democracy (STAND), a new organization that is taking a STAND by empowering high school students to be engaged global citizens.
Sewickley Academy’s Science Bowl team competed in the Western Pennsylvania Science Bowl on Saturday, February 23, at the Community College of Allegheny County’s South Campus, tying with Shady Side Academy for first place in the Natural Gas division.
Junlei Li, the Saul Zaentz Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, visited Sewickley Academy on Wednesday, March 6.
Mr. Li presented his work at two assemblies – one for the Lower School and one for the Middle and Senior Schools – as well as an evening talk entitled “What Did Fred Rogers Say?” that was open to the community.
In the Lower School assembly, Mr. Li spoke with students about ordinary magic. Mr. Li’s work in studying helpers involves observing how people help one another and, in doing so, create ordinary magic. He talked with students and faculty about his study of helpers of children with cerebral palsy, explaining how challenging it is for children who have this condition to control and coordinate their movements to do things like eat, smile, and give high fives. Through several exercises, he instructed the audience to stand and position their arms and hands in a particular way so they could simulate muscle movements similar to a person who has cerebral palsy. He engaged students in conversation about the exercises so they could empathize and better understand the challenges. Through the aid of video his team took in China of a helper working with a baby with the condition, he showed students the ordinary magic they can use to empower someone to find the strength and courage to overcome obstacles.
During the Middle and Senior School assembly, Mr. Li talked about what makes someone a helper. At the beginning of his presentation, he asked the audience to find a partner and interview one another by asking “who are you?” 10 times in a row, and the interviewee was allowed to answer with one word. After this demonstration, Mr. Li shared two videos of adults interacting with children – one of a crossing guard named Ms. Paula in the Homestead neighborhood of Pittsburgh and another of a child life specialist named Joe at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh – to show students what a helper looks like. Mr. Li closed the assembly with a connection to Fred Rogers’ messaging. He quoted the famous TV personality saying, “Always look for the helpers. Because when you look for the helpers, you’ll know that there is hope.”
Both assemblies incorporated Mr. Li’s “Simple Interactions” approach to support helpers who serve children, youth, and families. He is part of a team that studies and identifies what ordinary people do extraordinarily well with children in everyday moments and made that the basis for promoting positive system change. Mr. Li created the Simple Interactions Tool which provides a common, descriptive language to talk about interactions in practice. It serves as a visual representation, highlighting the four dimensions of developmental interactions: Connection, Reciprocity, Inclusion, and Opportunity to Grow.
Junlei Li previously served as the Co-Director and Rita M. McGinley Professor for Early Learning and Children's Media at the Fred Rogers Center at Saint Vincent College.