Student Feature Fridays

Nathan Rutberg

Nathan RutbergThis week’s Student Feature Friday is junior Nathan Rutberg who has found a passion for architecture and city planning. Nathan sees architecture as a tool to solve problems and describes it as tying art and function together in a cohesive way. His term project in Stress Management and Psychology focused on the connection between parks and mental health (his project can be seen below), specifically how city parks decrease the stress levels of individuals residing in the city.

In addition to pursuing his passion for architecture, Nathan is involved with music, sound engineering and running sound for school performances. Nathan is able to marry his love of architecture and design with his work in theatre. His theatre teachers states that, “He combines technical and analytical thinking with his creativity, which is perfect for the areas he works in at Theatre 370.” His sketches and set designs for the theatre Festival were, “well thought out, addressing the needs of the show, the feel of the piece and also trying to incorporate some historical architectural touches!”

Q: You described having a passion for architecture since you were young. What is it about architecture that interests you or speaks to your passion?

A: It’s really interesting to me that in architecture so much has to be considered in the design of the building. No detail can be left unnoticed. Architects have to consider not only will a structure stand up, but will it be functional? Is it energy efficient? Is it within a budget? Does it follow the building code? It fascinates me how architects use their art to solve so many different problems at once.

Q: Why did you choose Parks and Mental Health for your Wellness project and what was the most challenging aspect of putting this project together?

A: I wanted to tie in my own personal interest to the assignment which was to choose and develop a project based on one of the 7 aspects of wellness. I knew I was interested in environmental wellness, or specifically how one’s surroundings affects their health. I chose parks specifically because I knew from prior knowledge that public spaces, especially green spaces, have a positive effect on people. Then through research online I was able to find specifics to back up that claim. The most challenging aspect of putting this together was finding studies and data on how specific landscape design choices affect mental health.

Q: You referenced a book that you read recently on sustainable cities (I may be wrong on the title). What resonated with you about the ideas in this book?

A: The book “The Well-Tempered City” by Jonathan Rose argues in great detail how to make a city sustainable. Sustainable meaning self-reliant and resilient for the future. It discusses the city as a system with thousands of interconnected parts like sewage, transportation, public education, low income housing, tourism, and much more all play a part into the well being of citizens. What resonated with me most was how policy decisions in any aspect of the city governance could make large positive changes on the citizens.

Q: Based on your interest in architecture and your wellness project, what suggestions would you have for creating more opportunities for students at the high school to enjoy the spaces around the building? Or are there other spaces you would create for students to enjoy?

A: I think there are some great outdoor areas around the school, especially the courtyard and the loading dock entrance near the cafeteria. But I think students could benefit from having more opportunities to go outside, like being able to relax around the perimeter of school during DSB, almost like an old fashioned recess. I think it would be interesting to turn the area by the Project Adventure course into a small park and garden that could be used for classes or just to relax in. It’s an especially good location because of its visibility and surroundings.

Student Feature Fridays

Gemma Sampas

FullSizeRenderThis week’s Student Feature Friday is 10th grader Gemma Sampas who describes finding her passion for writing while in the 8th grade. Whether it is going to Dublin by herself to take a writing course, taking on the role of Social Media Editor without having her own strong social media presence, or venturing into the world of the Holliston Cable Studio for the first time, Gemma is clearly willing to step out of her comfort zone on a regular basis. Gemma stated that these experiences taught her that “when you are put to the test you can rise to the occasion.”

Equally impressive is Gemma’s maturity and persistence. After attending the Harvard Crimson’s yearly seminar as a 9th grader, she was interested in attending the event again this year. The seminar is taught by Harvard students and Gemma described it as an amazing experience held in an environment with so much history and prestige. Typically 9th graders from the school attend this event so she independently contacted the organizers to see if she could attend as a 10th grader. Impressed by her persistence, they had her arrive early to assist with registering and orienting other students and then allowed her to attend the event for free. This type of perseverance, self advocacy and focus on goals is unique and something to be celebrated. For more information about Gemma’s progression as a writer, see our conversation below.

Q: During our conversation you described your 8th grade English class as a turning point in your writing. How did this class help you identify writing as your passion?

A: Prior to eighth grade, my sentences were swollen and rambled along, I would make references to movies I’d never seen and quote books I’d never read. I wanted to write, I wanted it badly, because something about the way it made me feel told me it could lead to something bigger. However, I wasn’t able to pursue creative writing in a school setting until eighth grade. My teacher for the year was Mr. Craft. He taught me how to write in a way that allowed me to keep my naivete yet develop a dependable set of skills. That year, I created a portfolio of work that was both completely my own yet indebted to him. Looking back now, I am truly grateful that I didn’t a let nascent passion pass my by.

Q: Journeying to Dublin on your own at 15 years old for a three week writing experience is pretty impressive. How did the program influence you as a writer?

A: The program taught me that security can be found in the most surprising of places, even in your own work. For some context, I left for CTYI a day after my last final, boarded a flight, and found my way to the Dublin City University campus. I soon learned I was the only student out of six hundred coming from the U.S.. The first few days were intense for me. My peers were all numbingly intelligent, charming, and interesting, and I worried I wouldn’t be able to show my genuine self. The course I took was Novel Writing, and was taught by a published young-adult author, Claire Hennessy. Once we began writing exercises in class, I knew that the “self” I thought I’d left behind in Holliston was still intact. Claire’s class taught me that I will always find my way back to myself through writing, and, consequently, the pieces I produced in her class are some of my most personal to date.


Q: In your role as Social Media Editor for the Holliston High School paper, what has been the biggest learning curve? Why is an online presence important to you as a writer?

A: When I was handed the role of Social Media Editor of The Holliston Vision I was really surprised. I had never thought of myself as any kind of newspaper editor, and don’t keep a prominent online presence. As Social Media Editor, I am assigned the role of maintaining our Facebook page, publishing articles, and trying to come up with new ways to keep ourselves relevant amongst our peers. Although I was hesitant at first to take the position, it has been such a rewarding experience. I now know how to manage a website and promote our new work over social media, two things I will need to be well-versed in when the the time comes for me to brave the writing world by myself. Keeping an online presence is so crucial for writers because it works as an interactive platform and a way to keep others posted on your work.

Q: Stepping out of your comfort zone and using the Holliston Cable Access Television studio to record your “talk show” is a big step. How did you come up with the idea for hosting a “talk show” with your friend and how did the first experience differ from your creative writing experiences?

A: Eric Salhaney and I shot the first episode of The Thing Is around a month ago. When coming up with the idea, we agreed that a high school talk show could help discuss topics important to us and our peers. I wasn’t nervous for it until the day came, and although I had no idea how it would turn out, I knew I had to go through with it to find out. The episode went really well, despite being much scarier than I had anticipated. We are in the process of editing it now, and, I have to say, the biggest difference from talking and writing for me is the revision aspect. We originally wanted the show to be one take, but now we realize that 9 minutes of witty, interesting content is hard to pull of, especially on the first time! With writing, I can revise the smallest sentence, I can go back and put in prettier words, I can have control over how I come across. There have definitely been multiple times in the editing room where I’ve shrunk in my chair out of embarrassment because of a bad clip of myself I have to watch over and over again as the team edits it out, but it’s all a learning experience. I know we’ll get better, but I’m also learning to appreciate the awkward parts of the process.

Student Feature Fridays

Tim Ringie

38958570932_9c7374c2dd_oThis week’s Student Feature Friday is senior Tim Ringie who is a three-season athlete and an all around great person. Tim is a captain for golf, a valuable member of the baseball team, and a captain for hockey (his favorite sport). I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with Tim and was impressed with his maturity when describing how he handles very challenging situations as a youth hockey official.

As an official he is able to set his own schedule, develop his conflict-management skills and “keep up” his skating throughout the year. He is often in difficult situations as a youth official but this role has taught him a lot about himself and about handling difficult conversations with a calm but confident approach. Tim has definitely brought these leadership skills to his high school teams.


Q: What impact has participating in athletics (specifically hockey since you describe that as your favorite) had on your life?

A: Participating in athletics has had so many wonderful benefits on my life. I have created life long friendships with the players on my teams throughout the years. The camaraderie we have on our teams is something really special. From going out to eat after practice, to horsing around on long bus rides, overnight tournaments, seeing them every day at practice and games. All of the teams I have been on have created a special bond between us and I think it will last for years to come even after we are done playing sports. I have learned the benefits of hard work and sacrifice paying off. From playing injured and sick, to the practices at 10pm and 5:30 am, and to have them finally pay off with a satisfying win is just a wonderful feeling. I have learned to celebrate wins and accept and learn from losses, no matter how hard it may be, going to practice after a tough loss to work on what we didn’t do in the game.

Q: What was the process like to become a youth hockey official?

A: To become a USA hockey official, I first signed up for a seminar that lasted about half a day, with a long information session and a short on ice session. Once I completed that I was required to complete a set of online modules which were short videos followed by a small quiz, in total they probably took about 12 hours. After that came a 70 question open book test, which is harder than one might think. After all of that is completed, the reffing association sent my official patch and once that came in all I had to do was get a reffing sweater and they could assign me games.

Q: When discussing your role as a youth hockey official you stated that “even if you are a good ref, one side is always not happy.” How are you able to handle making these challenging calls on the ice and maintaining your professionalism in the face of criticism?

A: Dealing with angry coaches, players, and parents is never easy. To handle making calls while under these circumstances I have to be able to control my emotions when normally I would want to yell at somebody who is being ridiculous, I need to be able to keep calm and explain to them the call or the situation without coming off as hostile or annoyed. I also need to be thick skinned because I’m going to face criticism from one side or the other no matter what, even if I made the perfect call for the situation. Yet at the same time I need to be able to tell a coach or player if they are stepping out of line, I need to be able to calmly hand out the proper penalties if the coach or player becomes vulgar or belligerent.

Q: What skills have you learned in your role as an official that will help you in other areas of your life?

A: As an official, I have learned to work under a stressful situation as I need to be able to make the right call without letting an angry player, coach, or my own emotions get in the way. I have learned to do my best to control a situation before it gets out of hand so that later in the game things don’t get out of control. I also have learned to keep my emotions from influencing my decisions.


Student Feature Fridays

Heather Banak


This week’s Student Feature Friday is senior Heather Banak who, along with a few friends and HHS faculty member Mr. Calais, created the Gimme Shelter CoffeeHouse, a benefit concert to raise money for the Y2Y Homeless Shelter in Framingham. This concert, which took place last week, was in its second year. The main hallway of the school was transformed with a stage and couches where people were able to enjoy some fantastic music performed by Heather, her friends and Mr. Calais.


By visiting Heather’s website (which she designed and created –, one can learn much more about Y2Y and why Heather is so passionate about the cause. “Y2Y Harvard Square, a student-run overnight shelter, employs a youth-to-youth model to provide a safe and affirming environment for young adults experiencing homelessness. Y2Y guests have opportunities to collaborate with service providers, other youth experiencing homelessness, and student volunteers to create sustainable pathways out of homelessness and develop skills for long-term success. Y2Y provides opportunities for both guests and volunteers to become the next generation’s leading advocates for youth-driven solutions to homelessness.”

For more information on the shelter visit

Q: In our discussion you described homelessness as a prominent issue that does not often appear in the political landscape of campaigns. Can you explain your thinking on this issue a bit further?

A: Growing up near Boston I have always gone into the city often, and the amount of people asking for money or sleeping on the streets has always astounded me. Even more so, we are taught to ignore them, to pretend they aren’t there. A refusal to recognize that these people are in fact just that, people, doesn’t allow us to address the issue. Although it is seen in every city, even most towns, politicians and civilians alike simply choose to ignore the obvious problem facing people of all ages, gender, and ethnicity.

Q: How did your experience with the Dillard Teen Fellows program inspire you to give back to your community?

A: Diller Teen Fellows was a 15-month long experience in building a small community with my cohort of 20 kids (plus one coordinator and two junior coordinators). More than that, it is an experience in recognizing all the communities that we are in — Diller focused more on the worldwide and local Jewish communities but also focused on family, town community, friendships, workplace relationships, etc. We learned to appreciate all of the communities we are in, the issues they face, and how to give back to them in an impactful way. At the end of the program the fellows take all of the experiences and knowledge they have gained to complete and independent community service project, which inspired me to do even more.

Q: The Gimme Shelter Coffee House was a great marriage of your love of music and your desire to give back to the community. How did you go about creating this event?

A: This event was successful because of the help of my friends Eamonn Powers, Kate Guccione, Brady Wells, and my teacher Mr. Calais. To start, I met with Ms. Connoni about an open date on the school calendar. After that was settled, I set up the GoFundMe page, the website, and began to design the poster. Then Eamonn, Kate, and I attended a BMC meeting to propose the idea of them handling food, which they were more than happy to do. It was Mr. Calais’ idea to have the concert in the lobby, and he and Nikolai Anderson organized where we would get all of the furniture from. Once the website and poster were done, Eamonn, Kate, and I began advertising, one of the most important steps in the process. Throughout the weeks before the concert, Eamonn, Kate, Brady, Mr. Calais, AbbyRae Wells, and I were rehearsing and learning songs to perform. On the day of the concert, we had many students from the BMC and those who were not involved offer to help us set up the stage, the curtain, and all of the furniture, as well as help clean up afterwards. BMC sold food throughout and along with the GoFundMe page, we raised around $2,500.

Q: How did you find your passion for music and what advice would you have for others who have not found their passion yet?

A: I have played music all my life, and it has always brought me happiness. Like other passions of mine, my passion for music was found by exploring what I was interested in. I knew I loved music and learning to play and create new things, so I delved deeper into the world of performance, theory, and composition by taking lessons and classes on the subjects. My advice to those seeking their passions would be to try anything and everything. If you have an interest in something, be it sculpting, geology, or magic, take the time you can to explore it further. See what you can figure out on your own, then practice, ask for explanations, take classes, and don’t limit yourself to just one thing. My passions range from writing songs to balancing chemical equations, and I don’t intend to stop doing what I love in the future. Even if you can’t afford much time or money to enjoy what you are interested in, use anything you have to search, to explore, and to discover.

Student Feature Fridays

2017 All-Ages Envelope Art Contest

This week’s Student Feature Friday is a group of four incredibly talented students who participated in the 2017 All-Ages Envelope Contest. There were over 700 artists from all over the world and I am pleased to announce that HHS had three finalists and one winner:

Kelley Joslin (1st Place Winner in the 15-17 category)
Sara Kenney (Finalist in the 15-17 category)
Corinne Doucette (Finalist in the 11-14 category)
Caroline Beaudet (Finalist in the 11-14 category)

The contest rules were that the piece had to be an Edward Gorey inspired Halloween theme that expressed his humor, whimsy, ghoulishness, or otherwise bizarre and eccentric style.  The goal of the contest was to both recreate Gorey’s art style but more importantly capture his thematic interests and unique character. The reason the contest started was that Gorey himself was fond of letter writing and illustrated postcards and envelopes that he would send to friends.

All of the Art 1 students this year took a field trip to the Edward Gorey House’s Cabinet of Curiosities exhibit which “…showcases a small fraction of Gorey’s assembled objects ranging from fine lithographs to yard sale art, from antiquities to roadside oddities, as well as toys, rocks, tools and, of course books. Gorey found almost everything interesting if they possessed character, or a previous owner’s character, or displayed the Wabi-sabi of the alluring damage wrought by time.” (

I had the opportunity to sit down with our students to ask them about the contest, how it influenced their thinking, and to learn more about their process when creating art.

Kelly Joslin (Grade 11)

Kelley Joslin
Q: How did the process of making art for the 2017 All-Ages Envelope Art Contest differ from the art you typically create?

A: Typically I create more abstract things with words and drawings of things so this was different because we had to follow the style of Edward Gorey which is different from the style that I typically use.

Q: How did you discover you had a passion for creating artwork?

A: I have always loved art since I was really little and as I grew I just stuck with it and got better and better over the years.

Q: Which is your favorite experience (HHS class, course elsewhere, exhibit, etc.) with art so far and how did it influence your own aesthetic?

A: I think my favorite experience with art was this year in Mr. Shiff’s class I drew two people with charcoal and wrote a ton of quotes around them and I got really into it and stayed after and came early to work on it. It was a challenge to write words with charcoal and not smudge it so that was definitely my favorite experience with art and it made me realize how much I love to include words or quotes in my artwork.

Q: What advice would you give to students who are interested in creating art but are unsure how to get started?

A: I would say don’t think, just draw because if you think too much about it and start copying other peoples artwork from the internet then its not your own. You just have to not think about it and just go for it.

Sara Kenney (Grade 10)

Sara Kenney
Q: How did the process of making art for the 2017 All-Ages Envelope Art Contest differ from the art you typically create?

A: The process of making art for the 2017 All-Ages Envelope Art Contest was different than the art I usually create because we used no color, and worked mainly in liquid ink. I usually incorporate a good amount of color in my pieces and this was the first time I had ever worked with liquid ink.

Q: How did you discover you had a passion for creating artwork?

A: I discovered I had a passion for creating artwork at a young age. I started taking art classes in second grade.

Q: Which is your favorite experience (HHS class, course elsewhere, exhibit, etc.) with art so far and how did it influence your own aesthetic?

A: My favorite experience with art so far has been the classes that I have taken at Holliston High School. These are intro to drawing and painting, printmaking, and  art 1 honors which I am currently in.

Q: What advice would you give to students who are interested in creating art but are unsure how to get started?

A: The advice I would give to students who are interested in creating art but are unsure how to start are to go in with realistic expectations. You’re not going to be amazing the first time you pick up the pencil, or the paintbrush, but that doesn’t mean that you never will be.

Caroline Beaudet (Grade 9)

Caroline Beaudet
Q: How did the process of making art for the 2017 All-Ages Envelope Art Contest differ from the art you typically create?

A: For the envelope contest, the process we used had a lot more steps than I was used to, but the steps helped you to create the best piece that you could. In my art, I usually use the first or second piece as the final, whereas for this we used our third or fourth piece as the final.

Q: How did you discover you had a passion for creating artwork?

A: Last year, was when I really started having all of these ideas for different pieces of art, and then I started trying actually putting these ideas onto paper, and once I did I found that I really enjoyed it. It was also a way to convey a specific mood or feeling that I couldn’t really describe with words, and that’s when I really found my passion for art.

Q: Which is your favorite experience (HHS class, course elsewhere, exhibit, etc.) with art so far and how did it influence your own aesthetic?

A: So far, I think my favorite art experience with art has been the Art 1 class at the high school, because it’s really pushed me to try new things, and to be creative in ways that I haven’t been before. It has also pushed me to try new styles and types of art. It’s influenced me to branch out my art in the future, and create a wider variation of the things that I can draw.

Q: What advice would you give to students who are interested in creating art but are unsure how to get started?

A: I would start by finding something that is a big inspiration, and start creating art around that. I also would say that you can’t expect your art to come out perfectly the very first time, and it’s a process full of trial and error, so don’t get too frustrated with yourself if it doesn’t come out exactly how you want it. Another thing I would do is copy other pictures, because that really helps you learn the logistics of things and how they work and look.

Corinne Doucette (Grade 9)

Corinne Doucette
Q: How did the process of making art for the 2017 All-Ages Envelope Art Contest differ from the art you typically create?

A: I don’t normally do art with ink or anything “paint-like” in general so that was a big change. We also used a different shading technique called cross-hatching. I’ve never shaded like that on any of my projects before so it was fun trying it out.

Q: How did you discover you had a passion for creating artwork?

A: Of course all people have drawn or painted when they were younger, but I started really getting invested with my art in second grade. I started off drawing cartoon characters and my stuffed animals; eventually I drew cartoon animals and over time I drew people.

Q: Which is your favorite experience (HHS class, course elsewhere, exhibit, etc.) with art so far and how did it influence your own aesthetic?

A: I can’t think of a favorite, but I really enjoyed my charcoal projects in art class this year. I’ve never worked with charcoal before so it was interesting experimenting with something new.

Q: What advice would you give to students who are interested in creating art but are unsure how to get started?

A: First off, know that you won’t start off creating something you’re super proud of. It’ll take months, even years to develop your own “style.” Secondly, experiment. You won’t get anywhere if you don’t sit down and experiment with different supplies. If you usually use markers, try painting. If you usually use paint, try charcoal. There’s so many materials you could use and you might even find something that you like more than others.

Student Feature Fridays

Michaela Campbell

Senior PictureThis week’s Student Feature Friday is senior Michaela Campbell. During her 8th grade year, Michaela was nominated to be a Project 351 ambassador. “Project 351 is an innovative statewide youth-driven service organization that unites an eighth grade Ambassador from each of the 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for a transformative year of leadership development, enrichment, and impact. Through unique service opportunities, Ambassadors gain valuable skills, create positive change in communities, build a statewide network of values-aligned peers, and unite the Commonwealth in common purpose.” (

During Michaela’s year with Project 351 she discovered she was passionate about community service. Her work with food drives led to a position on the Board for the Holliston Food Pantry where she serves as the Liaison for the Public School District. Food DriveShe has worked with the 5th grade food drive, raising 2,312 pounds of food last year to benefit families in the community. Discussing her experience with the food drive she stated that “it is amazing to see the difference you can make in someone’s life just by providing food and kindness”. Michaela has participated in the advisory program at HHS as a Student Advisory Leader and believes that advisory is a good opportunity for students to be exposed to service opportunities so that they might find their passion and purpose.

As a result of her experience with Project 351 and the Holliston Food Pantry she is pursuing a career in public service. Her goal is to major in public and community service with a minor in Spanish. She is hoping to study in Spain and work for a nonprofit.
Q: What impact did your nomination for and experience with Project 351 have on your goals for the future?

A: If it wasn’t for Project 351, I would not have the love of service that I do today. I remember on Launch Day at the State House in 2014, I was sitting with 350 of the other newest ambassadors. We heard from multiple influential leaders like Governor Deval Patrick, Robert Kraft, and Carolyn Casey and they all had the same message. Not only did they think we could make an impact, they knew we could make an impact that would not go unnoticed by the community. This stuck with me ever since. Project 351 encouraged me to find a passion and make a positive change no matter what anyone else thought.

Q: During our conversation you stated, “young people have so much power to be change makers.” This is a powerful statement and I am hoping you can explain it a little further. What are you hoping young people will change?

A: Lately there has been too much negativity and hatred in the world. Countries are fighting, groups are discriminated against, and opportunities are limited for those with less wealth or social status. Young people have the ability to change this simply by being kind to each other. I’ve noticed that adults have a harder time looking past differences and being kind even if they don’t agree with someone’s actions or beliefs. But we shouldn’t be looking past our differences, we should be celebrating them. With an open mind and a caring heart, young people can stop this pattern and create a more accepting community.

Q: What have you learned from your role as a member of the board for the Holliston food pantry?

A: I’ve learned that good intentions and the desire to help others isn’t enough. You can be inspired by stories of pantry users and encouraged to make life better for someone else, but this won’t get you far enough. Networking and using connections within the community as resources is vital to gaining support. I’ve also learned more about what it takes to keep the pantry running from a financial and building maintenance standpoint.

Q: What advice would you have for other students who might want to become more involved in service to their community?

A: You have four years to learn and play sports and hang out with friends. But you also have four years to find your passion and make a difference. Don’t be afraid to test the waters and try a variety of service opportunities. When you find your passion, commit to it and make the most positive impact you can.

Student Feature Fridays

Eamonn Powers

IMG_0799This week’s Student Feature Friday is senior Eamonn Powers. Eamonn used his love of fishing to develop a Vortex River Aerator to help oxygenate streams in order to allow fish, specifically trout and salmon, to survive when water temperatures rise and oxygen levels decrease. He created a system of pipes that would allow water to spin (think of a controlled underwater tornado) as it ran through them, generating higher levels of oxygen and using only the power of the water current to bring oxygen rich water downstream. Through his work with Mr. Marsh and his senior project, he has developed several prototypes and has now partnered with a scientist in Woods Hole to eventually bring his prototype to production. His ultimate goal is to have his device made of good quality, Eco-friendly materials and placed into streams all over the world. For more information on his project check out his Google Slide Presentation or his Senior Project Reflection Essay.

When asked how he developed a passion for this work, Eamonn spoke about the support from his parents and many fishing trips with his dad. He recalled an experience he had when he was 10 years old fishing off a pier in the ocean. He explained that he caught a fish with such strength that it snapped his line in 30 seconds. From that moment on he was hooked  (pun intended). As he became more involved in fishing he began to learn that populations of fish were in danger and he felt compelled to protect the fish populations that are so vital to the environment. Eamonn is well on his way to making a significant contribution to the world and plans to study Fisheries Biology in college with the hope of working with the U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Department. He also plans to continue his research at a college or university where he would like to be a professor.

Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 11.58.34 AM

Q: What have some of the obstacles been in working on this project and how have you overcome them?

A: The main obstacle that I consistently faced was creating a device that not only created a substantial amount of dissolved oxygen, but was also realistic to place in a stream. Often times a prototype would work extremely efficiently yet it just wouldn’t work well placed in an actual river. Other times I would create a prototype that would fit very well in a stream or river but it realistically would not create a significant enough amount of dissolved oxygen. I overcame these obstacles by creating many prototypes and testing new prototypes practically every day for a number of weeks. Eventually I was able to create a device that would work well in a stream and created a significant amount of dissolved oxygen.

Q: A few times during our conversation you spoke about research. Why are you interested in pursuing research at a college or university as part of your career and why do you feel it is so important?

A: I am interested in pursuing research at a university and in my career for a number of reasons. I personally find studying trout and salmon to be fascinating. They are both amazing families of fish with different species around the world. They are beautiful fish with an amazing story, history, and life cycle. These fish are not only beautiful, and amazing, they are also crucial members of global ecosystems. Take an Alaskan sockeye salmon for example, these fish are born in streams, rivers, and lakes across western Alaska. After spending a few years growing in freshwater they migrate out to the sea as a salmon “smolt.” Once in saltwater sockeye salmon migrate hundreds of miles into the middle of the northern Pacific ocean, feeding on shrimp, plankton, and other small fish. After living in the ocean for a number of years they migrate back to the same water body where they were born. After reproducing in these waters they die, depositing nutrients into the stream, river, or lake, and surrounding land. This one species of fish travels through lakes, streams, rivers, coastal ecosystems and ocean ecosystems. Throughout their lives they feed on aquatic insects, eels, shrimp, plankton, other smaller fish, and many more different types of food. Throughout their lives they serve as a food source for bears, humans, birds, seals, freshwater fish, and sharks. This one species of fish is so incredibly important and research is so incredibly important to protecting it. Research gives an insight into their behaviors, their threats, and means of restoration and conservation.

Q: Can you explain the impact that AP Environmental had on your interest in working with this project.

A: My AP Environmental science class had a big impact on my interest on working with this project. It got me thinking about the science behind fisheries and the threats to cold water fisheries and the environment in general. It helped to inspire me to want to find a solution to a common problem, hot and low water in streams and rivers in the summer.

Q: This project has taken a tremendous amount of time, energy, learning and perseverance on your part. What have you learned through the process that has been the most meaningful?

A: I have learned that if you put in the time, effort, and research, a dream or idea can become reality. In junior year I had an idea of a device I wanted to create. I did not know how I was going to do it or what the device was but I knew what I wanted it to accomplish, an increase in dissolved oxygen levels in streams and river using only water current as a source of energy. I knew a device like this could be extremely helpful in helping coldwater fish populations so I decided to pursue it by signing up for a senior project. After weeks of research, talking with fisheries professionals, and talking with teachers, I was able to turn an idea into a concrete, functioning device. It’s an amazing feeling.