News Archive

2021

  • September

    Freshmen Biology Students Explore Antibiotic Resistance (By Laura Robinette Minor, Biology Instructor)

    The ninth-grade biologists have been working to answer the question: Why don't antibiotics work like they used to? The unit began with an introduction to a real-life patient named Addie, who, at age 11, suddenly became very ill. The antibiotics used to treat her infection were not effective, and while in the hospital she contracted a second infection while on life support. 
     
    Our biologists took action out of concern for Addie, asking questions like:
    • Aren't hospitals supposed to be clean? How did she get another infection?"
    • What is the difference between these two types of bacteria she was infected with?
    • What is the difference between viral and bacterial infections?
    • How and why do antibiotics work? 
    • Why did the antibiotics seem to work for a little while, but then quit helping Addie? 
    In order to answer these questions, they've investigated microbial life, what even counts as "living," graphed the growth curves of bacteria over time, compared petri dishes of bacterial colonies collected at a school in Colorado, and learned about different classes of antibiotics and how they work (which included watching beta-lactams cause bacteria to explode). Next, they are about to dive into the nitty-gritty of the evolution of bacteria that brings about antibiotic resistance. 
    Read More
  • Texas High School Aerospace Scholars (By Laura Duggan, Director of Marketing & Communications)

    The first person who will walk on Mars has already been born, according to one of the instructors at the Texas High School Aerospace Scholars program seniors Daniel and Henry attended. While neither one of them wants to be first in line for that mission, they both have their eyes on future careers in engineering.

    Before heading off to drumline practice earlier this week, Daniel and Henry stopped by to talk about their experience and to encourage this year's juniors to attend this challenging STEM program to plan an Artemis-themed mission to the Moon and Mars, mentored by NASA scientists and engineers. The year-long course looks at space exploration, Earth science, technology, and aeronautics.

    The course, which is offered free of charge to Texas high school juniors, begins in September and ends in the summer. From augmented reality to rocket launching projects, students are encouraged to become the next generation of explorers.

    "Taking the course adds a little to the regular school workload, but it's worth it for anyone who has a passion or interest in engineering or space exploration and in learning firsthand what it's all about," Daniel said. 

    Henry, who is focused on chemical engineering and applying to Texas A & M, was impressed by the nature of the engineering work culture. 

    "What impressed me the most was how collaborative they are and what it takes to actually work at NASA," he said.

    In discussing NASA's future missions, both young men were interested to learn that the focus isn't so much on discovering new technologies but on using and enhancing what is already in place.

    Daniel's college path is in mechanical engineering, and he is currently applying to numerous colleges and universities outside of Austin, which may include the University of Alabama at Huntsville where NASA has a presence.    

    The three-part High School Aerospace Scholars program includes a four-month online learning experience, a five-day gamified virtual summer experience, and a two-day residential experience at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Due to the pandemic, the final part was conducted virtually last summer, which didn't diminish the outcome for either student, although they thought the actual visit to Houston would have been cool.
    A brochure may be found from this link.
    Read More
  • August

    'Engineer Your World' Design Project (By Bob Mahoney, Science & Mathematics Instructor)

    The Upper Commons was the site for a roaring mini-motor-speedway, and the crowd cheered on their self-built cardboard cars careening ’cross the carpet.* Just another day for the students currently enrolled in the elective Engineer Your World (EYW) class.
     
    EYW is a hands-ondesign-basedinquiry-focused course wherein students discover the engineering design process from the inside out. They work in multi-level teams creating solutions to complex needs-defined challenges. Science, G.K. Chesterton once summarized, is either a tool or a toy. In the broadest sense, engineering is humanity’s greater worldly toolbox.
     
    Engineer Your World’s opening unit lays the foundation for the collaboration, documentation, and engineering-specific skills and mental habits which the students will exercise throughout the year. Modeling—right from the start—the immersive philosophy of its entire curriculum (developed by the University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering), the student teams dive directly into an actual real-world design challenge by assembling cardboard-chassis cardboard-wheels rubber-band-powered cars based on a variety of instruction sets. After each team has a go at producing and testing their original resulting racer, the students re-form into different teams to tackle the task of generating—designing and building—an even-better-performing vehicle.
     
    In a nutshell, engineers design things…to be used…to satisfy needs. EYW encourages students to explore and execute the essential elements of this exciting discipline. Next up: designing and building a working camera.
    *Carpet helped to gain sufficient traction
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  • Hills of Austin College Fair October 20

    The Hills of Austin College Fair will take place on Wednesday, October 20, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. in the St. Michael’s Athletic Center.  We HIGHLY encourage all grade levels to attend. It is a great opportunity to meet and engage with representatives from a wide range of colleges and search for the right college fit.
     
    To make the most of your time at the fair, we recommend that students register for a personalized barcode to print and carry with them. Using the automated barcode system will give students more time to shop colleges and will mean less time writing out the same information over and over again.

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  • June

    2021 Erin Literary Magazine (By Alyssa Garlepp '21)

    Thank you to everyone for contributing this year to the annual Erin literary magazine. It took a while to put together and there's some really amazing work in here, even if meeting on Zoom wasn't ideal. The magazine is such a neat outlet for student creativity with over 50 pages of art, photography, poetry and prose.
     
    Here's the link to the completed, digital issue! It's unlisted, so only those with the link can view it. I've attached the pdf version but the online version is a little more user-friendly. Please share it with your friends and family!
    Read More
  • LightSaders Robotics Team Heads to Texas Cup (By Staci Peterson)

    The LightSaders are moving on! The team made a pretty good showing this past weekend at Regionals, coming into the overall standings at #9.  

    FTC World’s has been canceled this year, but to supplement the loss of that event, the team will play in the Texas Cup on July 16-17 in San Antonio.  
    Read More
  • May

    TAPPS Academic Championship Results & Academic Awards (By Ivan Klousia, Director of Theatre)

    The Academic Awards ceremony was held virtually via Zoom on Monday, April 26, 2021. For the full roster of awards, please use this link.

    Results of the TAPPS state academic contest, which were finalized on April 29, are listed below. 

    Many congratulations to those students who stepped up to the TAPPS challenge!
     
    TAPPS State 5A Academic Championship Results  
    • Caverlee Dahill: 7th Place Poetry Interpretation
    • Alyssa Garlepp: 6th Place in Ready Writing
    • Jeremy McMahan: 5th in Lincoln-Douglas Debate
    • Daniel Pinzon: 5th in Lincoln-Douglas Debate
    • Jaeyeon Won: 4th in Advanced Math
    • Kate Brady: 3rd in Original Oratory
    • Caverlee Dahill: State Runner-up in Solo Acting
    • Sam Queralt: State Runner-up in Advanced Math
    • Jaeyeon Won: State Runner-up in Science
    Read More
  • 2021 Summer Reading List for All Grades (By Tori Davis, English Studies Chair)

    Summer reading keeps students engaged in academic reading and introduces them to ideas, topics and themes that will be covered in the coming school year. The reading material chosen will inform and direct the initial classroom discussions and assessments, as well as serving as a foundation from which teachers can begin addressing key terminology and class procedures.

    English I: 
    Choose ONE
    Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik; OR 
    The Odyssey (Graphic Novel) ISBN: 978-0-7636-4266-2 by Gareth Hind

    Honors English I:
    A PDF document of short stories is emailed separately to students in this course.
     
    English II: 
    Lord of the Flies by William Golding
     
    Honors Eng II: 
    The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
     
    English III: 
    Choose ONE
    Stealing Buddha’s Dinner: A Memoir by Bich Minh Nguyen; OR
    Dear Martin by Nic Stone; OR
    Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine; OR
    Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
     
    AP Language & Composition: 
    Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman and Politics and the English Language by George Orwell
     
    English IV: 
    Choose ONE: 
    The Known Citizen: A History of Privacy in Modern America by Sarah IgoOR 
    Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang; OR 
    The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
     
    AP Literature & Composition: 
    Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga and A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver
    Read More
  • Cultural Diversity + Inclusion Segment: KODA Student Interviews (By Kiele Shultz)

    In our continuing series regarding diversity and inclusion at St. Michael's, senior Kiele Shultz delves into the complexities of deaf culture with several fellow SMCA students.

    "Here at SMCA we have many different cultures, including different languages and KODAs (kids of deaf adults). We don't often realize it, but KODAs have their own language and culture. At St Michael’s we have four KODAs, and I was able to interview three of them. Freshman Isabelle Lacey has two deaf parents along with a deaf uncle and grandma, freshman Sydney Campbell who has one deaf parent, and junior Mia Bannon who has two deaf parents," Kiele Shultz wrote to introduce her interview segment.

    Her full report, "The KODA Interviews" may be downloaded here.
    Read More
  • Spanish Club Publishes Stunning Inaugural World Languages Literary Magazine (By Dr. Daniela Radpay, Spanish Instructor)

    The Spanish Club is proud to present the inaugural edition of the SMCA World Languages Literary Magazine: Alebrije! The word "alebrije" describes colorful, fantastical creatures in Mexican folklore, but it also symbolizes the vibrancy and uniqueness of the student works within this magazine. This publication features student work from all five St. Michael's World Languages: Spanish, Mandarin, Latin, French, and ASL. Submissions include poetry, short stories, artwork, and videos (and many feature translations).

    We are so appreciative of all of the students who submitted their work and our World Languages teachers for all of their help and support. I would also like to give special thanks to our student editors who worked tirelessly to make this stunning magazine: Fernanda Gonzalez, Grace May, and Sofia Rangel-Medina. To check out the final product, please click here: Alebrije | SMCA World Languages Literary Magazine.

    We hope you enjoy it!
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  • April

    CLIO: A History Journal Written and Produced by AP American History Students (By Dr. David Morgan, Humanities Instructor)

    I’m very proud to introduce this first volume of Clio, The History Journal of St. Michael’s Catholic Academy, a collection of student papers based on primary research written for the Advanced Placement American History course, selected, edited and compiled by student editors led by Ms. Caverlee Dahill.

    The selection process was based on the quality of research and writing, as well as a consideration of the general interest invoked by their subjects. Almost all of the research was based on the electronic records of the National Security Archive of George Washington University, which has been conducting an ongoing process of receiving, cataloging, digitizing and reviewing materials declassified under the Freedom of Information Act. Therefore, these papers represent original research by their student-authors based on newly released sources, some of which have not yet been synthesized and published by professional historians.

    Please enjoy the collection by opening this link.
    Read More
  • Student Support at St. Michael's: A Zoom Presentation April 28 (By Suzanne Lara, Student Support Specialist)

    Student Support Night on Wednesday, April 28, at 6:30 p.m. is a virtual information session for St. Michael's parents and students. Families will learn about services offered by our Student Support center, and members of the team will discuss standardized testing (ACT/SAT). Guest speaker Fred Harvey from Tutor Doctor will discuss executive functioning and time management. The Zoom meeting is available from this link and also under Resources > Zoom Meetings after logging into mySMCA.
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  • St. Michael’s Academic Awards Get a New Look (By Ivan Klousia, Director of Theatre)

    We have redesigned our approach to the annual academic awards program. Based on feedback from our faculty and extensive research on the subject, we have changed the program so that the awards are more closely tied to the school’s mission and core values.

    Research by the Association of College Counselors in Independent Schools shows a nationwide shift to this approach in many of the leading schools across the nation. We’re excited about the new look and we can’t wait to announce the award recipients at the Virtual Academic Awards Ceremony at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 26. The ceremony will be held via Zoom and award recipients will receive an email invitation during the week of April 12-16.

    In the spirit of honoring our strong traditions at St. Michael’s, we’ve retained the names of two of our most important awards, but have changed the focus of the awards. The Bishop Konzen Award for Academic Achievement recognizes one student in each academic subject who most fully exemplifies authentic engagement and academic success in a course through positive and productive participation, consistent effort, a passion for learning, and academic achievement.

    The Father Vincent Lopez Departmental Awards are now directly tied to our core values of Courage, Personal integrity, Intellectual Curiosity and Service. According to Dr. Nichols, “Tying the legacy of Father Lopez through the departmental awards to the pillars of our mission seems eminently appropriate to us. What better way to honor him than to recognize through the efforts of St. Michael’s students our core values of courage, service, integrity, and intellectual curiosity! ”

    St. Michael’s has also established a new leadership award that is named in honor of one of its most beloved and important figures. The Ann Dolce Leadership Award honors one freshman, one sophomore and one junior who demonstrate school leadership in a way that inspires others to reach their full potential. Ann Dolce has been an important part of our school throughout its history. Ann has worn many different "hats" at St. Michael's over the years, from teacher and parent, to administrator and board member, to benefactor and grandparent. In all cases, she has led with the kind of inspiring qualities that we are looking for in our student nominees.

    In addition to the new look of the awards, we will continue to recognize student scholars with some of the same honors as past years, including Summa Cum Laude, Honors Inquiry Project, St. Teresa of Calcutta Service Award, TAPPS Academics & Speech State Finalists, and the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.
     
    We’re excited about the new look of our annual academic awards and look forward to honoring our amazing student scholars at the Virtual Awards Ceremony on Monday, April 26.
    Read More
  • March

    High School AI Summer Program by MIT Graduates Deadline Mar 31 (Submitted by Sasha Spear, Associate Director of College & Academic Services)

    Applications for our spring and summer artificial intelligence program Inspirit AI close on March 31. 
     
    At Inspirit AI, students participate in live online video sessions where they work in small groups (4:1 student-instructor ratio) with mentors from MIT and Stanford to learn the fundamentals of artificial intelligence, participate in critical discussions about ethical implications, and develop a socially impactful project in domains such as healthcare, media, art and more. Students can apply their diverse interests to trace different strains of COVID-19, identify exoplanets using NASA datasets, prevent the spread of fake news online, conduct algorithmic stock trading, and more. 
     
    Students of all levels (from complete beginners to advanced coders) are invited to apply here for their spring or summer sessions. Included here is a brochure.
    Read More
  • Honors Anatomy and Physiology Brain Dissection Lab (By Neilia Bliss, R.N., Honors Anatomy and Physiology Instructor)

    The Honors Anatomy and Physiology class dissected sheep brains. This dissection gave students the opportunity to explore brain anatomy and make connections to the functional significance of the structures we have learned about in class.  Students also examined why brain injuries in certain areas of the brain might cause functional and behavioral changes.  In addition, the class made clinical connections regarding impact trauma to the brain and types of hematomas that can result above or below the different layers of the meninges, the protective layers of the brain and spinal cord. 

    Fast Facts:
    • The human brain weighs about 3 pounds.
    • The human brain contains around 90 billion neurons, a majority of which are in the cerebellum which controls motor control, balance and coordination of movement.
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  • Rice University Offers STEM Camp (Submitted by Shannon Hudson, Director or College Counseling & Academic Services)

    WHAT IS RICE ELITE CAMP?
     

    Please use the link to learn about a new virtual pre-college engineering summer program in the School of Engineering at Rice University: Registration for Rice ELITE Tech is now OPEN
    Read More
  • February

    EDIFY Speaker Jonathan Evans (By Lauren Gavin, Director of Student Wellness)

    On March 3, 2021, we welcome Jonathan Evans to our EDIFY Speaker Series 

    Jonathan Evans, a mentor, author, speaker, and former NFL fullback, treasures his relationship with Christ along with the opportunity to use his life to glorify God. Jonathan seeks to impact today’s athletes, men, and young adults by equipping and encouraging them in their faith. Jonathan serves with his pastor, friend, and father, Dr. Tony Evans, both in the local church and their national ministry. They also teamed up together to write "Get in the Game," a practical guidebook filled with sports analogies and spiritual truths aimed at strengthening readers with the skills they need for living victoriously. Jonathan is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary with a master's degree in Christian Leadership. 

    Jonathan also serves as the chaplain of the Dallas Cowboys and co-chaplain of the Dallas Mavericks. 
    _________________________________
    Read More
  • 'Lightsaders' Robotics Score High at Austin Metro League Championship Event (By Mike Scallon, Robotics Instructor)

    This year's Crusader Lightsaders robotics team is off to a great start! They began the season back in August, working diligently with their dedicated mentors and each other to take on this year's themed challenge, Ultimate Goal. This past Monday, they did not disappoint, posting the strongest scores so far recorded in the Austin Metro League (AML) competition. Check out one segment of their competition video here! The Lightsaders scored a 203 at the February 1 AML event with this submission. The first 30 seconds was autonomous, and the remaining two minutes was driver controlled. This was one of the top scores recorded in the AML for this event.

    This league consists of over 40 teams in the Austin area, including World Champion Finalist and award winners from many of these schools. The AML championship will be held in late March, and this past event and two more upcoming events will serve as a series of three events used to rank teams heading into the championship. 

    Currently, the Lightsaders are in a great position, setting a strong pace for the rest of the teams to pursue.  Stay tuned for more exciting developments as the season progresses.  Our next event will be during the one week window of Feb 10-17 (AML Meet 2).  The team has great hopes to continue a blistering pace and build off of the success of Meet 1.
    Read More
  • Energy Conservation Testing Around Campus (By Audrey Dwyer, Environmental Sciences Instructor)

    In Environmental Science classes, students have been investigating the school's wasted electricity use by testing devices for phantom loads. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 10% of the average home's electricity usage is wasted by phantom loads.  Phantom loads are electronic devices that use electricity while the appliance is not actively being used. Just having these devices plugged in (but off or on standby mode) uses power. Therefore, we can save energy, save money on our electricity bill, and reduce our contribution to air pollution and climate change by unplugging these phantom load devices when not in use. The first step for this energy conservation plan is identification. 
     
    For the class, I rented Watt Meters from Austin Public Libraries for students to test electrical appliances in search of these phantom loads. In addition, students were watt watchers and made a list of electrical devices (lights, fans, decorations, etc) in classrooms left on when nobody was in the room. Step one in solving the problem is gathering data to identify the exact issue. Once we have our information on places at SMCA  wasting energy or devices that are phantom loads we can make an energy conservation plan. 
     
    On average, most houses have 40 phantom load devices. If you are interested in testing your home's electricity waste, you can rent a kilowatt meter from any Austin Public Library. 
    Read More
  • Prestigious TAPPS State Academic & Speech Championship: Apply by Mar 1 (By Ivan Klousia, Director of Theatre)

    We are in the process of selecting students who will represent SMCA in the 2020-2021 TAPPS state Academic & Speech Championship. There are opportunities for students to compete by taking exams in a variety of academic events, including Science, Mathematics, English Language Arts, Social Studies, and Spanish.

    Additionally, students have the opportunity to compete in speech events including Original Oratory, Persuasive Speaking, four different Speech Interpretation events, as well as Debate. For each event, three students will be chosen to represent St. Michael's. Since we've been competing as a part of TAPPS, SMCA has earned five team championships and over forty individual student state championships. So, if you have a knack for taking tests, have an interest in a particular subject area, want to be a part of a winning tradition, and compete for an opportunity to win a state championship, contact Mr. Ivan Klousia, TAPPS Academic and Speech Coach: iklousia@smca.com.
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  • Metallurgy Lab: Fingerprinting the Elements (By Dr. Cambria Reinsborough, Science & Honors Inquiry Program Instructor)

    Sophomores learn how to identify metals using their indicative color upon heating. They had to identify the colors with the naked eye (think "mango orange" and "flaming hot cheeto red") and then they viewed the light with the spectroscope (black object) to get the identifying spectral lines. 

    When the metal atoms are placed into a flame, the electrons absorb energy and jump to an excited state. The energized electrons fall back to ground state and give off photons of electromagnetic energy, and the energy of the photon determines the color of visible light. The color serves as a "fingerprint" of the element to which the atoms belong.  
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  • January

    Getting Down to Business: Entrepreneurship at St. Michael's (By Fanjia "Jennifer " F)

    I started the SMCA entrepreneurship club last year, wanting to raise the financial literacy level and entrepreneurial spirit of SMCA students to better prepare ourselves for the future workspace. Our club's main projects/focuses are business forums through Zoom with successful entrepreneurs, business competitions, business article discussions, valuable summer program information, etc. 
     
    After a little less than half a year, I want to give some updates. We successfully held our business forum last semester with a Texas small business owner, numerous student-led article discussions, and participation in the NFTE Innovation competition. We also have an upcoming speaker, Tony Hartl. He is the CEO of Crunch Fitness Austin, former founder and CEO of Planet Tan (chain business, which he sold), MIT alumnus, book author, investor, and mentor. We plan on meeting with him on Wednesday, February 10, from 12:30 - 1 p.m. on Zoom. I have also secured an interview with the CEO of II Technology, Mark Abraham. II Tech is a leading tech that provides efficient investment advisory. Mr. Abraham also serves on the SGCS board. 
     
    The goal here is to reach more members so that we can enlarge our influence and provide more opportunities for SMCA students. Because I have participated in the Wharton school's 'Future of the Business World' program, I know a group of really amazing youth entrepreneurs, and they are giving out opportunities to people all over the world with their startups. One example is Zenarc, a tech non-profit that offers the opportunity for kids globally to become an instructor (to teach ANYTHING they want), in exchange for service hours, and work with an amazing network of talented teens. In addition, they are also hiring a marketing person on their board. They are going to be featured soon on the Wharton podcast, which will bring them a lot of recognition. 
    Read More
  • My Adventure Journalism Winter Term Article (By Jack D)

    There’s something to be said about flying over the trees at 40 miles per hour while suspended solely by a steel wire. 

    The feeling of the wind pushing you forward and the adrenaline rushing through your system creates an experience like no other. The Ziplining trip my classmates and I went on for a field trip proved to be much more fun than I had expected. I have to admit, I thought the class I had taken, Journalism, was going to be a bust. However, it turned out to be a very interesting class, including interviews with explorers, fun writing assignments, and best of all, ziplining. We had arranged to go to Zip Lost Pines, home to the longest dual ziplines in Texas, and I was extremely excited.  

    After we all stepped out of the bus and into the dusty parking lot, we started to head for the base building. It seemed out of place, like an oasis in a desert. The building was very modern, with two large open doorways that lead to a small recreation area in the back. It had hammocks, tables, cornhole, horseshoes, and large Jenga. We could see two ziplines from where we were standing, but neither of them seemed to be very intimidating (or fun). I began to think that this may have been overrated, and that this was going to be like the 5 foot long zipline at the park I used to play at 10 years ago. 
    Read More
  • Authentic Adventure Journalism (By Laura Duggan, Director of Marketing & Communications)

    "I want everyone to leave this course with the ability to write a solid and entertaining story about an outdoor adventure. They should know how to research, interview sources, use quotes, formulate a lede and nut graf, and structure both a profile and a first-person story." 

    And what better way to tell such a story than to jump right into a unique adventure soaring above pine trees with the Colorado River in the distance.

    Pam LeBlanc, a freelance writer specializing in stories about outdoor adventure and recreation, from backpacking and scuba diving to paddling and snow skiing took the 13 students in her Winter Term Adventure Journalism class to Zip Lost Pines at the 1,140-acre McKinney Roughs Nature Park.

    Ms. LeBlanc's work has appeared in Texas Monthly, Texas Highways Magazine, Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine, Real Simple, AARP, Austin Monthly, Texas Co-op Power, Tribeza, the Houston Chronicle and more. Her first book, “My Stories, All True: J. David Bamberger on Life as an Entrepreneur and a Conservationist,” was released in September 2020.
    Read More
  • Interior Design Class Mood Board

    Meet our Winter Term Guest Lecturers (By Shannon Hudson, Director of College Counseling & Academic Services)

    REAL-WORLD LEARNING FROM LOCAL EXPERTS

    For our Winter Term, in addition to faculty and staff teaching their favorite subjects, we partner with local experts to broaden the experiential learning that is a hallmark of this St. Michael’s program. This year includes a diverse panel of guest lecturers – four of whom are introduced here - all outstanding representatives from their respective fields.

    Nel Carroll: Winter Term Photography Course
    Nel Carroll is the Director of Visuals at the Austin American-Statesman. She has been at the Statesman for 24 years, starting as a photo editor. Before coming to Austin, she was a sports photo editor at USA TODAY. Ms. Carroll began her career as a photographer in Binghamton, NY after graduating from Syracuse University's Newhouse Communications school with a B.S. in Photojournalism. During her time in Austin, she has been an adjunct at UT and Texas State.
     
    Course Goals: To help students understand different types of photography, learn the principles of making a good photograph and then be able to put those principles into their own photography. Students use their phones so much for photos now that all the composition factors they are learning can be used daily.

    Carrie Keith: Winter Term Interior Design Course
    Originally from Texas, Ms. Keith has also lived on both coasts. She has a fine arts background, is passionate about interior design and has been working as an independent designer for the past 10 years.

    Course Goals: Our goal is to create a comprehensive design plan for a room of the student’s choice by going through a step-by-step process, pairing design theories with technology to create a final presentation to be shared with the class. One exercise involved creating a mood board. By developing their own mood boards, their potential “client” is provided a snapshot into the overall design by demonstrating use of color theory, inspiration sources, to-scale recommendations, and cohesive styling.

    Pam LeBlanc: Winter Term Adventure Journalism Course
    Ms. Leblanc grew up in Austin and attended Texas A&M University. She worked at the Plano Star-Courier and The Monitor in McAllen, Texas, before joining the staff of the Austin American-Statesman in 1998. During a nearly 21-year career at the Statesman, she wrote about fitness, travel and adventure.  Today as a freelance writer specializing in stories about outdoor adventure and recreation, from backpacking and scuba diving to paddling and snow skiing. Her work has appeared in Texas Monthly, Texas Highways Magazine, Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine, Real Simple, AARP, Austin Monthly, Texas Co-op Power, Tribeza, the Houston Chronicle and more. Her first book, “My Stories, All True: J. David Bamberger on Life as an Entrepreneur and a Conservationist,” was released in September 2020.

    Course Goals: The ability to write a solid and entertaining story about an outdoor adventure. They should know how to research, interview sources, use quotes, formulate a lede and nut graf, and structure both a profile and a first-person story.
     
    Arturo Pinzon: Winter Term Networking & Cybersecurity Course
    Arturo Pinzon is president and CEO of his own company, SpanishTech LLC, a professional English to Spanish Communications and Technical Integration Solutions Company in Austin. His is also a current St. Michael’s parent. He has a degree in electrical engineering and computer engineering from Bradley University and works with a bilingual technology company on databases, software development, infrastructure and enterprise level server configurations, installations, and network solutions for organizations.

    Course Goals: The objective is to introduce networking and cybersecurity, to spark interest in the kids to go beyond being a user-consumer and see the behind the scenes on how things tick and perhaps spark some curiosity about this important technology field.
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  • Astronomy class photographs Orion's Nebulae

    Intro to Astronomy (By Roxanne Thurman, Science Chair & Biology Instructor)

    A class of 17 astronomy students, co-taught by staff member Suzanne Lara, is exploring the universe. The course is comprises subjects as cosmology, the life and death of stars, and the size and scale of the universe. 

    Most of the learning is hands-on and self-directed through the use of Slooh, an online platform and tool by which students have access to seven telescopes around the world. Four of these are located in the Canary Islands at the Institute of Astrophysics and three are located in Chile, giving students access to telescopes in both the northern and southern hemisphere. Slooh is user-friendly and enables students to explore their interests. They are able to view live feeds from each telescope and take their own pictures. For the class, students are sent on quests through Slooh to learn concepts and connect astronomical ideas and structures.  Basically, this course is out of this world.
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  • Winter Term Origami Class Aerodynamics! (By Meishing Chen, Mandarin Instructor)

    Winter Term Origami Class runs from 9 a.m. to 10:25 a.m. and students attend both synchronously and asynchronously. There are 16 students enrolled in this class, which is designed through completiing daily projects. I show students how to do a project in the first section of the class, and everyone works on their daily assignment in the second half.  

    On the first day, students learned how to make a world-record paper airplane; the second day, classic Japanese paper cranes; and today, sweethearts for their loved ones.

    Here is some feedback from students about making origami airplanes.
    1. My observation was that when we curled the ends it no longer just went in a straight line but would make turns and things. Lauren Fahrlander 
    2. I noticed that the smaller airplane went quicker than the larger one we made. When you curve the edges of the airplane it arches more. Gabriella Spellings
    3. The first one was significantly easier to fly and more accurate. Roman Loconto
    4. The small airplane struggled to fly because the wings were not folded correctly, but the large airplane went far. Samuel Queralt
    5. My observation: when I curled the tail the plane had a higher ark and had a more steep glide when it fell. Another observation I had was the bigger plane flew further. Sam Beiter
    6. My observation is the more your fold the wings for the airplane, the larger one will go farther. When you fold the wings with the smaller airplane it flies less. Pablo Nieto
    7. I enjoy origami and watching you teach origami because I find it relaxing and enjoyable. Folding the paper and making cool objects is pretty cool in my opinion. I don’t know if I am going to be very good at it because I have never been very skilled in the art industry, but I will put all of my effort into this class to make my projects turn out well. Preston Swint
    8. Please find the videos of my small and large paper airplanes attached below. My large one was a little better, much more consistent, and could glide farther, while my small one sometimes swerved off to the left and right or didn't go far. Also, I observed that curling the tails of my planes gave them more lift. Thank you! Kade Killeen
    9. The bigger airplane flew farther than the smaller airplane. Blake Mikell
    10. My observation was mostly that they were sort of lopsided and that symmetry is very important for it to make a good distance. Reese Short
    11. I noticed that my plane was flying much better when the wings were curled compared to when they weren’t curled. I was lacking a good space to throw this as you may be able to see in the video. Brady Hess
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    Family of Families
3000 Barton Creek Boulevard, Austin, Texas 78735  (512) 328-2323
St. Michael's Catholic Academy is mindful of its mission to prepare the student holistically for leadership, service, and decision making consistent with Catholic values; and admit students of any race, color, or national and/or ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to the school. St. Michael's Catholic Academy does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and/or ethnic origin, age, or gender in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, financial aid and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs. St. Michael's Catholic Academy does not discriminate against students with special needs; a full range of services might not be available.