33rd Annual Monterey County Spelling Bee

On Saturday, February 25th, the Lyceum celebrated its 33rd Annual Monterey County Spelling Bee for 4th and 5th Graders. The San Benancio Middle School gym was packed to the brim with proud family members, supporters and principals.  

The Bee began bright and early with each students on stage awaiting their first word with much anticipation. Although some nerves filled the air, all participants exuded bravery and professionalism when approaching the microphone for their turn.  

Congratulations to the 68 finalists and 68 alternates who made it through to this year's final Spelling Bee competition. The schools represented were: All Saints Day, Bay View Academy, Captain Cooper, Carmel River, Castroville, El Gabilan, Foothill, Jack Franscioni, La Joya, Laurel Wood, Loma Vista, Los Padres, Madonna del Sasso, Marina Vista, Martin Luther King Jr., Mission Park, Monte Vista, Monterey Park, Natividad, Oak Avenue, Ord Terrace, Prunedale, Robert Down, Roosevelt, Sacred Heart, San Antonio, San Ardo, San Carlos, Santa Catalina, Sherwood, Spreckels, Tularcitos, University Park and Washington Union.

Thomas Ducker, 5th grade student from Robert Down Elementary

Thomas Ducker, 5th grade student from Robert Down Elementary

First Place went to Thomas Ducker, a 5th grader from Robert Down Elementary School, victoriously spelling words such as affected, exquisite, hysterical, metamorphic and gargantuan. Placing second was 4th grader Henrik Mills of Washington Union. Close behind were the third and fourth place finishers, Briana Romo from Washington Union and Gia Panetta from Tularcitos.

Back Left to Right: David Riddle, Tom Nelson Front Left to Right: Thomas Ducker, Henrik Mills, Briana Romo, Gia Panetta

Back Left to Right: David Riddle, Tom Nelson
Front Left to Right: Thomas Ducker, Henrik Mills, Briana Romo, Gia Panetta

We would like to extend a very special Thank You to the students for their dedication and enthusiasm; the teachers, principals, parents and schools for your assistance with the program; our Judges Wayne Cruzan and Christine Westbrook; our word caller, David Riddle; our hosts Washington Union School District and San Benancio Middle School; and our sponsors.

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The Heart of Collage Art

This weekend, Lisa Handley guided kids aged 8-11 through heart-themed collage art projects. She challenged participants to see the beauty in commonplace items such as coffee cozies. Everyone walked away with wonderful, handmade cards to share with loved ones on Valentine's Day. 

To see Lisa's work, visit her website.

Sad you missed this class? Have no fear! Lisa offers many creative classes and workshops for children and adults. In fact, Lisa has two upcoming classes this summer: 

On Saturday, May 20th Lisa will lead a workshop inspired by spring flowers. Learn to create floral-themed collage art, a pretty posey magnet, and a "tussy mussy" bookmark. Register here

On Saturday, June 3rd join Lisa for her “Images, Intuition, Imagination…SoulCollage®!” Workshop. SoulCollage® uses art to represent facets of your inner or outer world, allowing opportunites of self-discovery and personal growth. Register here

Mock Trial: Carmel wins Empire NY!

Remember these faces?  This is Carmel High School's Mock Trial team, who won the Lyceum's competition at the beginning of this year.  Click the photo to read (and listen!) about that time.

Remember these faces?  This is Carmel High School's Mock Trial team, who won the Lyceum's competition at the beginning of this year.  Click the photo to read (and listen!) about that time.

One of Monterey County's several hardworking Mock Trial teams is the one from Carmel High School.  Earlier this year, as we wrote about in a previous blog post, Carmel won the Lyceum's Mock Trial competition by two points over Pacific Grove High School in a head-to-head battle to see which team's understanding of the case and execution of all trial roles was greatest.

This same team competed in the Empire New York tournament on November 10-14, and in the end they won the World Championship Crown!  The Lyceum reached out to team president Mindy Morgan and her team for a few words about the experience:

So, what's the Empire NY competition all about?
"Empire New York is an international competition composed of teams from the United States and abroad, focusing on a complex case which requires the competitors to master complex legal proceedings and sophisticated, technical procedures.  While emphasis is placed on a mastery of the skills, Empire also promotes integrity, respect, and hard work, and works to create relationships that will last a lifetime."

Nice!  How do you prepare for a competition like that?
"I don't think it's possible to describe how much time, energy, and effort was put into this case.  We practiced four to five days a week, three of which were weekdays.  We had practice every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday after school from 5pm to 7:30pm and then on Sundays from 3pm to 7pm.  In those practices we wrote our lines of questioning, worked on learning the rules of evidence, and went over how we would deliver opening statements and closing arguments.  

Photo courtesy of Empire Mock Trial.  Click to go to the Empire Facebook page.

Photo courtesy of Empire Mock Trial.  Click to go to the Empire Facebook page.

"An event like this also requires an immense amount of teamwork from the time the trial starts to the time it ends.  In the process, we became a family.  That sounds cliche, but it's true.  When you spend hours and hours with a group of people, you become really close with them and in many ways they become your second family."

That must be wonderful to create bonds so strong with your teammates that you can basically consider them family.  So, when you went to Empire NY, how did you all feel participating as a family?
"When you participate in a tournament like Empire, where people from all around the world are present, you get a sense that you're participating in something bigger than you, and bigger than your immediate team.  You get the sense that you have a duty to represent your school as best you can.  In addition to those more serious obligations, mock trial is a lot of fun.  When you're competing in a tournament of that caliber, meeting new teams, and being with some of your best friends, there's really no way to go wrong!"

And it sounds like you all didn't go wrong, because you won!  How did you react when you found out that Carmel took the competition?
"Initially, when they first announced our name, we were quite shocked.  You don't expect to win something like that, and going into the tournament we didn't really have any expectations.  We wanted to do well, we wanted to do our best, but we hadn't even thought of winning until we were in the final trial.  We had talked about it before that but only in a half-serious way.  Our goal was to take it one trial at a time and just focus on what was in front of us.

"After it sunk in that we had won, it was a wonderful feeling.  Knowing that we had worked so hard up until that point, and seeing our work pay off in such a huge way, was really rewarding."

What were some of the most memorable moments from this event?
"There are so many highlights!  Being in New York was just a general highlight.  Seeing all the city has to offer was so cool for all of us.  We were able to take in some of the sights such as going to the Empire State Building and the Museum of Natural History.  We also just had a really good time being together as a team in one of the greatest cities in the world.  The actual tournament and the competition itself was also really fun, being in trial against strong teams and being challenged by real lawyers and judges is a huge part of what makes mock trial great."

One last question: What were your biggest takeaways from this event?
"Before we got to the tournament, we weren't really sure what to expect.  We didn't know how we were going to be compared to the other teams and we didn't know if our understanding of the case was going to be sufficient.  But as the weekend progressed, one thing stood out to us: Hard work always pays off.  We worked so hard to prepare for this tournament and in the end, it paid off in a big way."

That's a great message and an encouraging reminder for all of us, no matter what it is we're doing.  Thank you for your time, Mindy, and congratulations once again to the Mock Trial team from Carmel High School!


Being Mindful: Helping the Brain to Calm, Concentrate, and Connect

The second session in a 4-week course on mindfulness began with meditation.  The deep sound of a bell resonated throughout the classroom of the Lyceum and Marianne Rowe gently guided the students attention with a calm and loving tone of voice.  Afterwards, Marianne and co-instructor Katie Dutcher facilitated an enlightening and eye-opening session about how humans interact with others and their surroundings, drawing from neuroscience.  The flight-or-flight response, they explained, causes many of the reactions in our body, emotions, and thoughts.

"In this course we are cultivating consciousness, fine-tuning our awareness and attention like a muscle to notice just what is occurring to you right now.  I might notice that I'm having negative thoughts about what's going on in this room, or my body is starting to feel a little trembly and shaky.  Anytime we catch this and can bring awareness to it, we've interrupted the circuitry in our brains so we can see the bigger picture of what's going on," says Marianne.  "Otherwise we're just on autopilot.  Whatever stories might have been true in the past might not be true right now, so mindfulness allows us to rewrite some of our beliefs about ourselves and the world around us."

"This is not just taking some time for yourself," Katie emphasizes.  "On the face of it, it can seem like that, almost being selfish.  But it's the reversal.  When you take time to honor yourself and do good for yourself, that benefits everyone you're with.  Everyone benefits from you being aware of yourself, others, and your surroundings."

To learn more about the Monterey Bay Meditation Studio and teachers Marianne and Katie, please click here.

Batik Workshop: The Art of Wax and Dye

This past weekend, the lovely Kate Warthen led a batik workshop. Batik is an art form deeply rooted in Japanese culture. Although today, batik is mainly associated with Indonesia.

However, Kate brought this beautiful and vibrant art form to life right here in Monterey County. She taught us how to use contrasting colors to create simple and beautiful designs. Her advice to us novices was to “think primitive.” We chose our designs and began dying our fabrics beginning with the lightest dye. Then, using melted wax to preserve our designs, continued dyeing fabrics using darker and darker colors.

Creating batiks is a wonderful way not only to express yourself, but also to focus on patience and serendipity. Waiting for the dyes to set, slowly applying wax in just the right places, and repeating this process again and again was a wonderful way to spend a relaxing Saturday afternoon. It also gave participants a chance to slow down and speak to one another. When the wax dripped on the wrong part of the fabric, it was not seen as a disappointment. It was merely an addition to the art piece the artist did not know was needed.

To learn more about Kate and follow her amazing work, visit her website at katewarthen.com.

Sad you missed the class? No worries! Kate’s next workshop will be October 29th, 2016 in San Jose. For more information visit http://www.universityart.com/


Nature's Inspiration and MeCards4Kids

This past Saturday, October 1, four young students and facilitator-instructor Lisa Handley gathered at the Lyceum for a joy-filled morning of inspirational collage-making, using a creative process called MeCards4Kids.  This process is accessible for even very young children since no "artistic" skill is necessary to make a collage.  In addition, the "I Am" poem template lets students fill in blanks and create the accompanying poem for their collages without having previous experience with poetry.

Creating collages using this process is a way for children to explore the different aspects of their personalities in a new way.  The students created some strikingly beautiful final collages, demonstrating that imagination is the greatest tool that one needs to create artwork!

To learn more about Lisa and SoulCollage®, the parent process to MeCards4Kids, visit http://www.soulcollage.com/lisa-handley.

J.T. Byrne, California History Day Winner

All Saints' Day School Student J.T. Byrne, Class of 2017, is the California History Day winner. J.T. advanced to the National History Day competition and came in fifth place in Junior Individual Documentary. 

Come watch his winning documentary video! 

Exchanging Baseball Diamonds for Sand Lots During World War II: Nisei Baseball and Internment 

WHERE: Pacific Grove Public Library

WHEN: Saturday, August 27th @ 5:30pm 

Mural Making Workshop: An Interview with Amanda Bensel

A week ago, students taking the Lyceum's Mural Making Workshop carefully painted the finishing touches on supersized plankton and a wise-looking whale, bringing their mural camp to a close with a beautiful final product.  Thanks to Amanda Bensel's vision and instruction, the students were able to move from the theme (the ocean) to the design of the mural, and transfer that design to a much bigger canvas without fear.  We took the time to interview Amanda and get her story to share with you. 

A graduate of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey in the International Environmental Policy field, Amanda started her journey with murals in Nepal.  "Honestly, making murals started sort of by accident for me," she reveals.  As a Peace Corps volunteer, she was given the opportunity to create something like a "wall of hope" as a way to follow up on a screening of a film about women's empowerment that she promoted in her community. "As an artist and designer, I wanted to create something that would be more bold than [typical walls of hope that feature hand prints]; I felt like the walls of hand prints that I'd seen lacked the graphic power to grab the casual street-walker's attention.  So I designed a women's empowerment mural, vetted the concept with a few female leaders in the community, found a wall I had permission to use and secured paint donations from a local paint shop. And -voila!- my first community mural was born."

The success of the event and mural rapidly snowballed, and I ended up creating six more community murals in Nepal over the next 7 months.  By the end, I had a tried-and-true method for community mural creation.  Anyone can participate!  Having both local input on design concepts and then community members doing the majority of the painting felt like a wonderful gift to the community--helping them to create images to both add beauty to their own community and spread important messages.

Why is making murals important?  To answer this question, Amanda quotes the famous artist Diego Rivera: "Painting on the walls of public buildings is the highest form of art because it [makes] art accessible to everyone."  Murals present an amazing opportunity to simultaneously add beauty to a community and raise awareness around important issues or stories," Amanda adds.

Because of Monterey's proximity to the ocean and how important the ocean has become in this era of climate change, using the ocean as a source of inspiration and central theme for this mural seemed quite natural and obvious.  In addition to painting different aspects of ocean life, the students learned about the different dangers the ocean faces.  "When discussing the importance of the ocean, the threats to it, and what we could do to better protect it, one students was spot on with a lot of policy ideas that I've heard about in my International Environmental Policy course in graduate school," Amanda recalls.  "I was so happy to hear her spout these ideas as if they were obvious--because they are!  She gives me hope for the next generation of environmental warriors."

To learn more about Amanda Bensel and her work be sure to check out her website here.

Digital Photo Camp: An Interview with Coel Mayer

Tuesday marked only Day 2 of the Lyceum's Digital  camp, yet already several young students found themselves using their artists' voice to decide exactly how they wanted their photos to come out.  Among the 10- to 14-year-old kids running around the Lyceum with 35mm digital cameras, we find a tall, young, curly-haired photographer moving from one student to the next, coaching and encouraging them as they fiddle with buttons and try to get just the right shot.  One student in particular peppers him with questions about macro photography, and the mentor responds to each one with a smile, recognizing some of his own passion for taking photos in the young boy.

Coel Mayer, a senior at Carmel High School, is a photographer specializing in macro shots (those close-up shots you see of flowers, insects, and so on).  Currently, he is assisting with the Digital Photo Camp, alongside instructor and local photographer Jacqui Turner.  Yet just a few years ago, he hardly knew about photography.  It all started with a seventh grade class at Carmel Middle School called Nature Studies, where all of the students were handed a camera at the beginning of the year to use in conjunction with their field notes.

From there, he started to investigate photography more and was gifted a Canon Powershot for Christmas.  His family connected him to Steve Zmak, founder of the Lyceum's original Digital Photo Camp, and his growth as a photographer skyrocketed.

"Shooting with Steve changed my photography experience forever," Coel muses nostalgically.  "He showed me so much.  I had his class for two years and Jacqui for my third year.  Between Steve and Jacqui I learned more than I even learned in my AP Photography class."  He maintains that a key reason for this is the Digital Photo Camp's emphasis on fieldwork and in situ learning, especially being given feedback right in the moment that he's taking photos.  

Take, for example, a lesson on shooting photos from different angles and a field visit to El Estero Park this past Tuesday.  "When we got to El Estero, [the students] were photographing geese.  They were all kind of just standing there with their cameras, photographing geese, and I told them, 'Get at the geese's point of view.  Get on the ground.  Look at what they see.'  I had four or five kids just drop in like a military position and start taking photos.  It was awesome!"  Coel laments that the focus of most AP Photography courses tends to be on photo editing rather than on how to take good photos. 

When asked what a key takeaway from his photography career has been so far, Coel responds:

"Look at everything twice.  When I used to walk around I would just look straight at the ground in front of me.  Once I started doing photography and all this macro stuff I'm looking around everywhere at what can I take and how can I take it, [seeking out] certain things that don't stand out to normal people but that would stand out to a photographer's eye... It's like you didn't know that a scene that simple could be created into something so beautiful."

And on the more practical side of the spectrum?  Budgeting.  Photography is an expensive hobby.  "I'm smarter with my money now, I can say that much!" Coel quips. "I mean, once you see $900 just go, you're like, woah, that happened."  Many lenses cost over twice that much.  Coel emphasizes the importance of setting savings goals and budgeting in order to reach those goals, whether it's buying a new lens, investing in a specific setup, or being prepared for the sudden bargain that requires a significant chunk of cash.  Through photography, he has learned significant lessons about money management that he'll carry with him through life.

For Coel, thanks to the Lyceum's Digital Photo Camp, photography has transformed from being a mere hobby to a true passion, something he wants to make into his career, his job, his living.  He plans to apply to art school in order to continue developing himself as a photographer after he finishes high school.

You can check out some of Coel Mayer's work on his Instagram by clicking here.

"The Nature and Purpose of Education"

By Maurice Holt

A Slow School would emphasize how ideas are conceptualized, just as Slow Food emphasizes ingredients' innate qualities.

In her celebrated The Classic Italian Cookbook, Marcella Hazan wrote: "What people do with food is an act that reveals how they construe the world."

At the time — 30 years ago — it was a sentiment that needed a word of explanation; the Japanese meal respects aesthetics, the French cuisine respects subtlety, Italian food respects its ingredients.

We now take what we eat much more seriously, and it is timely to ask: What does a school lunch of reheated burger and chips have to say about how we construe the world? For that matter, what does it say about how we construe the nature and purpose of education?

Pausing to ponder the nature and consequences of a burger bar in the center of Rome was how a major eating revolution began. Carlo Petrini, a prominent Italian journalist, was walking past a newly opened McDonald's franchise when he stopped and said: If this is fast food, why not have Slow Food? In much the same way, I was thinking about the standards-based school curriculum, with its emphasis on regurgitated gobbets of knowledge, when I recognized the analogy with fast food. What we have created, with our tests and targets, is the fast school, driven by standardized products. So why not devise a Slow School, driven by an emphasis on how ideas are conceptualized, just as Slow Food is driven by how the innate qualities of ingredients can be realized?

The concept of Slow, as it has emerged from the Slow Food movement, derives its power as a metaphor from its moral force. It is about what it is good to do; to enjoy "quiet material pleasure," as Carlo Petrini has put it, which entails making judgments about conduct, virtue, and balance. In the Slow City, for example, the virtue of courage emboldens citizens to restrict the growth of hypermarkets so that specialist providers are not put out of business. As a result, people can conduct themselves thoughtfully in a society that values personal experience.

Since education is essentially about equipping our children with the ability to act responsibly in a complex society, the idea of a Slow School follows very readily from the metaphor of Slow. It brings to mind an institution where students have time to discuss, argue, and reflect upon knowledge and ideas, and so come to understand themselves and the culture they will inherit. It would be a school that esteems the professional judgment of teachers, that recognizes the differing interests and talents of its pupils, and works with its community to provide a rich variety of learning experiences.

Unfortunately, schools in a number of countries are obliged, by political decisions, to conduct their affairs in a totally different manner. This is particularly the case in England and the United States, where public education has taken as its model not the moral character of Slow Food but the commercial character of fast food.

What matters in fast food is not the process of preparing or educating, but the outcome. And the product itself is so worthless: a burger has little nutritional value, and schooling based on standardized tests and targets treats students as vessels to be filled rather than people who want to understand, to be inspired, to make something of themselves.

These "fast schools" do little to prepare students for the world of tomorrow, based as they are on the idea of "standards," which in practice means comparing performance on content-based tests. If we want our students to look ahead rather than in the rearview mirror, the metaphor of the standards-based school has to be replaced by the metaphor of the Slow School. The metaphor of standards conjures up a folk memory of fighting battles and winning wars, of steadfast purpose and reliable automobiles. It's a powerful image, but it's completely wrong-headed.

The underlying assumption is that if we can make car engines to a high standard, why not turn out students to a high standard? The answer is simple: manufacturing crankshafts is a technical problem, while educating pupils is a moral problem. As Aristotle recognized, different kinds of problems need different methods of solution.

In the case of the Slow School, we have to solve complex, practical problems of a moral nature. So at the heart of the Slow School is the idea of bringing together, when new proposals are to be discussed, the responses of its students, parents, teachers, and other stakeholders. In this way the school renders a continuous account of what it is doing to those with a real interest in its work. Accountability is built into the process of curriculum — it's part of a continuing narrative that has real meaning for pupils and parents.

This is much better than the summative form of accountability generated by standards-led schooling. Parents are confronted with tables of comparative performance on tests which baffle rather than illuminate. Numbers alone tell us very little. Who benefits from this emphasis on standards? Certainly not students, who find such a curriculum boring; nor parents, who are totally excluded from real judgments about their children's school. As for teachers, the effect is to lower their morale and undermine their professionalism. Only the politicians benefit; when the numbers go up, they take the credit, and when they go down they blame the schools.

Support is growing for the Slow School movement. Some schools, already on the right track, are beginning to discover that they are really Slow Schools! And an inspired way to get the Slow metaphor into schools is to confront the burger-based lunch and show students how to devise their own, home-grown, slow lunch. At a stroke, they have to challenge received opinion, think about fundamentals, and devise alternative strategies. It's a good recipe for learning how to build a Slow School curriculum.

June 29 2009

Holt, Maurice. "The Nature and Purpose of Education".Center for Ecoliteracy.  Daily Good News That Inspires, 2009. http://www.dailygood.org/more.php?n=6726. May 18th, 2016. 


How Sailboats Sail

On Saturday May 14th, 6 children and their parents joined Instructor Jerry Crawford to learn about sailing. They experience maneuvering model sailboata across El Estero Lake.  Everyone had a chance to test their newly acquired skills when the El Estero Regatta begun!  They learned how to make a boat sail in the direction of the wind introduced to the terms into the wind, crosswind (which is the fastest way to sail) and downwind. A great class to take in conjunction with How Airplanes Fly.


Welcome to Fairyland

Once upon a time there were 7 young fairies named Julia, Cora, Mariah, Julie, Makenzie, Larissa and Jenna who gathered on a beautiful Saturday morning to have a jolly time. 

The instructors Marie Gilmore and Sharon Nelson provided guided activities exploring the world of fairies through art, music, and poetry. The morning begun with a history about fairies with examples such as Tinker Bell. The 7 girls begun coloring while listening to a beautiful fairy playlist where eventually they would all sing along with their magical and sweet voices. The enchanted young fairies explored the outdoors where they engaged in a fairy ring dance to spread their wings. Once returning indoors, Sharon read a Fairy-tale about... you guessed it! fairies. 

Until next Saturday beautiful fairies... 

The End. 

Middle School Model United Nations 2016

On Saturday May 7th the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) hosted The 6th Annual Monterey County Middle School Model United Nations (MUN).  Why is MUN important? Because it promotes an understanding of geography, history and current events. MUN is a fun and interactive way to learn beyond the traditional textbook environment. Through role-playing, students are able to bring current international events to life and gain a better understanding of real world problems. They develop valuable skills in researching, working in teams and public speaking. 

Forty Four Students participated representing the following countries: U.K., U.S.A., Russia, Sudan, Ecuador, Algeria, Bangladesh, Canada, Cuba, France, Ukraine, Spain, Malaysia, Japan, China, Venezuela, New Zealand, Egypt, Iran, Germany, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Ireland and Kazakhstan. Middle School students represented either the General Assembly, Security Council or Economic and Social Council. 

Although rain was in the forecast, we were fortunately kept dry throughout the brisk Saturday morning and afternoon. Coffee, muffins and orange juice were filling the students stomachs as they mingled during registration. The opening ceremony took place in the Irvine Auditorium where Dr. Michael McGinnis participated as the keynote speaker; his expertise include Marine Policy, Climate Change, and Water/Watershed Planning. During his 15 minute speech, he  interconnected the topics of water (salt and fresh), migration and Aristotle. 

At 9:30am the MIIS Students, who also participated as Committee Chairs, guided their assigned delegates to separate classrooms on the MIIS campus. The topics were "Impact of Climate Change on Small Island States" for the General Assembly, "Threats to International Peace by Terrorist Attacks" for the Security Council and "Economic Policies Aimed at Curbing Pollution" for ECOSOC. 

The students were very professional and while some seemed nervous, all of them expressed excitement. The classrooms gradually increased in volume as the moderated and un-moderated caucus's became more common. The young delegates would refer to each other by country, not name. And with time the pensive appearances turned into amusement, direction and confidence. Security Council in particular expressed  more conflict as sensitive topics surfaced such as children suicide bombers, 9/11 and the death penalty. Meanwhile ECOSOC and the General Assembly were discussing how to articulate their resolutions. The second topics begun around 1:30 pm with little time remaining to negotiate an appropriate resolution where the topics researched and discussed were  "Normalization of U.S. - Cuba Relations" (GA), "Protecting Against Cyber Warfare"(SC), and "The Impact of Conflict on Childhood Education" (ECOSOC). 

The closing ceremony begun at 2:15 where a press conference was facilitated by the great Masters of Ceremony Peter Font. High School journalists interviewed the selected delegates who represented their councils resolutions. This ceremony will air throughout the month of May every Friday at 4:00 PM & 10:00 PM; and every Saturday at 4:00 AM & 10:00 AM:

Find MCAET on Comcast Cable in the Salinas and Monterey Peninsula viewing areas on Channel 26.  MCAET is available on Charter Cable in the following areas and on the following Channels: North Monterey County Charter, Cable Channel 17. South Monterey County Charter, Gonzales and Soledad, Channel 8. South Monterey County Charter, Greenfield and King City, Channel 29.

The Committee Chairs were confronted with struggle when they had to choose the recipients of the awards. Towards the end it was evident that the following students passion and conviction led to their acknowledgement. 

Security Council: Outstanding Representative-Josie Ertl, Malaysia; Honorable Mention-Zachary Bridges, Venezuela; Honorable Mention-Delaney Horner, Russia

General Assembly: Outstanding Representative-Willow Black, Canada; Outstanding Representative-Maram Gasmelseed, Algeria; Honorable Mention-Laura Chandler, Ecuador; Honorable Mention -Hayden Black, Cuba

Economic and Social Council: Outstanding Representative-Sophia and Samuel Catania; Outstanding Representative-Isabella Requiro; Honorable Mention-Nathan Poggemeyer. 

Thank you to all those who participated, those who supported the Lyceum and to the proud parents! We hope to see you again next year. 

More pictures and videos can be found at: http://www.lyceum.org/academic-event-photos/

Audrey Hankins (left) and Bethany Blakeman (right), representing Bangladesh in the General Assembly, collaborate on a proposal to address the effect of forced migration caused by climate change.

Audrey Hankins (left) and Bethany Blakeman (right), representing Bangladesh in the General Assembly, collaborate on a proposal to address the effect of forced migration caused by climate change.

Representatives in the ECOSOC raise their placards to vote to pass a motion.  (Japan: Juniper Newhouse, Saudi Arabia: Parker Bridges, U.K.: Nathan Poggemeyer, U.S.: Hannah von Benedikt)

Representatives in the ECOSOC raise their placards to vote to pass a motion.  (Japan: Juniper Newhouse, Saudi Arabia: Parker Bridges, U.K.: Nathan Poggemeyer, U.S.: Hannah von Benedikt)

Lunch was served from 11:30 - 12:15 where the students become more engaged and playful. 

Lunch was served from 11:30 - 12:15 where the students become more engaged and playful. 

Peter Funt and The Press 

Peter Funt and The Press 

Representatives in the Security Council from Malaysia (Josie Ertl), Japan (Yvonne DiGirolamo), and Russia (Delaney Horner) answer questions posed to them by the press.

Representatives in the Security Council from Malaysia (Josie Ertl), Japan (Yvonne DiGirolamo), and Russia (Delaney Horner) answer questions posed to them by the press.

This year's Middle School Model United Nations award winners.

This year's Middle School Model United Nations award winners.

Medical Career Panel

 L-R: Art Gabudao, Timothy Johnson, Kristina Escoto, Raquel Amaya, Joe Villagomez, and Victor Sosa

 L-R: Art Gabudao, Timothy Johnson, Kristina Escoto, Raquel Amaya, Joe Villagomez, and Victor Sosa

Lyceum and Mission Trails ROP Medical Academy Career Panel, April 28, 2016

The Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital’s Education Center was filled with high-energy teen spirit last Thursday as sixty students enrolled in Salinas Union High School District’s Medical Career Academies met six practitioners in the field.

With over $400 million per year in payroll and 5,500 employees, hospitals in Monterey County are among its largest employers.

Thursday’s panel featured six speakers employed at Salinas’ hospitals: Victor Sosa, a medical interpreter/translator, Raquel Amaya, information technologist, Joe Villagomez, intensive care and ER nurse, Kristina Escoto, speech therapist, Art Gabudao, medical social worker and Timothy Johnson, microbiologist and laboratory technician/clinical laboratory scientist. 

Victor Sosa made a clear distinction between translation, or written language, and interpretation, which involves spoken language. He is a native Spanish speaker, and he is learning Mixteco and Triqui, spoken by indigenous Mexicans.  Under his direction, Salinas has become a world center for interpreting these languages.  Neither is related to Spanish.  Career opportunities in medical interpretation are well-paid, starting at $30,000 and up to $150,000 for seasoned interpreters. To become an interpreter, one completes a forty-hour introductory class.  Middlebury Institute of International Studies also offers classes leading to B.A and M.A degrees in interpretation/translation.

Raquel Amaya began as a data entry clerk and has since gone on to earn her BA and MA in Business Management focusing on Internet Technology. Since the advent of digital record keeping, her job is crucial in maintaining health records of every patient entering the hospital.  She oversees the people who maintain the Patient Portal, so any hospital can access patient records in the Health Information Exchange. In her role she also oversees all if the telecommunications within the system, from pagers to telephones.

An intensive care and emergency room registered nurse with fifteen years’ experience in the field, Joe Villagomez described the various emergency situations he encounters on a daily basis at the Natividad Emergency Room and Trauma Center. Monterey County has more than its share of automobile accidents, a primary source of trauma patients. He takes deep satisfaction from seeing the victims recover and heal. Joe spoke highly of the job, in that he has a lot of flexibility in where and when he does it. He described a huge need for registered nurses in Monterey County. Nurses can earn up to $80 an hour with experience.

Speech Therapist Kristina Escoto came to her profession via international development and counselling degrees from UCLA and San Jose State University, where she also earned her MA in speech therapy. As speech therapist she works with the neonatal and postsurgical departments to ensure patients can swallow, vocalize and finally recover. She also works with people need to reduce foreign accents as a sideline. One of three speech therapists at Natividad Hospital, she stressed the high degree of job satisfaction she finds in helping people recover and in educating other therapists.

Art Gabudao grew up in Castroville as an Army dependent and went on through a variety of jobs related to youth guidance to his final goal of becoming a medical social worker focused on mental health.  His MA in social work came from San Jose State. Along the way, he learned the importance of building trust and empathy and being the calm person in emergency situations, of which he has seen many.  These real world experiences have made Art a master of crisis intervention.

Timothy Johnson’s path to a career as a clinical laboratory scientist came via a degree in biology from UC Berkeley, a stint as an emergency medical technician and work in biotechnology. Much of his work is done on a microscopic level.  He identifies viruses, fungi, and bacteria that threaten patients’ health, especially when they cause hospital acquired infections. He brought along several intestinal worms and parasites for the students to examine.

All of the panelists stressed the need for clear communication and empathy skills in their jobs. The Lyceum’s Hidden Careers program was founded by Lyceum Vice-President, Elaine Herrmann, RN, in 2012.  Her deep connections in the health care arena enable her to recruit fascinating guest speakers.  The Lyceum has offered other panels related to the hospitality industry and agricultural technology. The idea has been to introduce high school students to little-known careers in these areas.

Elaine Herrmann and Joe Villagomez

Elaine Herrmann and Joe Villagomez

Kristina Escoto checks a student’s swallowing

Kristina Escoto checks a student’s swallowing

Students and teacher enjoying lunch provided by Mission Trails ROP Coordinator, Melissa Casillas. Mission Trails ROP also provided transportation for the students.

Students and teacher enjoying lunch provided by Mission Trails ROP Coordinator, Melissa Casillas. Mission Trails ROP also provided transportation for the students.


By Tom Nelson, Executive Director of

 The Lyceum of Monterey County


The annual Model United Nations (MUN) conference for Middle School students is right around the corner! Behind the scenes, there have been multiple meetings, much in-depth research, and some serious teamwork in order to prepare for this Saturday's big conference. And unlike the Wizard of Oz, who was just one person, behind the curtains of MUN Middle School are multiple wizards working their magic to make this program possible.

For many years the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) has supported the Lyceum's MUN events through student support and the offering of conference space. As in the past, the 6th Annual Model United Nations Middle School Conference will take place on the MIIS campus. In addition, a team of graduate students from the Model UN Club at MIIS, and those who have volunteered for the Lyceum in the past, are collaborating and working hard to ensure the program's success. Recently the MUN team has been gathering to discuss Committee Chair responsibilities, roles, rules and logistics. This year's experienced, diverse and motivated team includes Brendan Tarnay, Steven Perle, Stephen Doolittle, Monique Rao, Guldana Khamzina, Jacques Belval, Malvya Chintakindi and Dan Schrum.

MUN Middle School Team, Program Coordinator Ashley Gora and Executive Director Tom Nelson.

MUN Middle School Team, Program Coordinator Ashley Gora and Executive Director Tom Nelson.

Most of the students, like Malvya, Steven, and Guldana, are obtaining their Master's Degree in International Policy and Development (IPD). While engaging in a casual conversation with the rest of the team, they enthusiastically voiced the following:

"I restarted the MUN club, then Danny Pavitt and I started working together in the 2nd semester, and now here we are! But I started doing Model UN in 2004 (!) Like every Model UN conference, I look forward to the moment when I see the students change from nervous wrecks to confident and excited individuals in the span of just a few hours. There is a moment when you see that they just got it. That's why I keep doing it... You see it in their eyes and smiles every time."

-Brendan Tarnay, MUN coordinator and consultant who is obtaining a Master's Degree in IPD

"My girlfriend is an NPTS student at MIIS and was originally going to be a proctor.... something came up.... I filled in. Been coming back ever since. I'm looking forward to having fun and helping to inspire some critical thinking."

-Dan Schrum, a Communications AAT at MPC

"I got involved with MUN Lyceum through the MIIS UN club. I look forward to interacting with the youngsters and assist in helping them understand how international communication platforms, like the UN work." 

-By Malvya Chintakindi, who is obtaining a Masters in IPD

 "I got involved with Lyceum MUN because Addy (assistant program coordinator) told me they were still looking for someone, and I did Model UN my senior year in undergrad and participated in the regional conference in Vegas as well as the conference in NY. I'm really interested in seeing how their speeches are. Am also looking forward to being on the other side for once, since the only other times I've participated in a MUN conference, I've been a delegate. It will be interesting to be a chair."

-Monique Rao, who is obtaining a Master's Degree in IPD

"I'm excited to help everyone have a good time!"

-Stephen Doolittle, who is obtaining a Master's Degree of Public Administration.

"I am Jacques Belval, studying International Policy & Development as well as Nonproliferation & Terrorism Studies. My position is lead chair of the General Assembly. I had the privilege of co-chairing last year’s Lyceum MUN with Brendan Tarnay which is how I became involved. I am looking forward to helping the middle schoolers get familiar with UN practices and hopefully put them on a continued path to staying involved with the club throughout high school and college."

Thank you MUN Team for sharing your UN journey, your excitement in working with Middle School students, and your continued support to the Lyceum of Monterey County.

Pictures below (Left to Right) are Dan, Monique, Jacques and Malvya.

Indigo Dyeing


Pictures from the Indigo Dyeing  class on April 30 speak to a very special afternoon at the Lyceum of Monterey County. (See pictures)

Madison Holland, a recent graduate of San Francisco Art Institute in textile design, demonstrated her knowledge of dyeing techniques, and a very impressive command of the process.  

The class consisted of all ages and combinations of family and friends.  In what seemed like all too short a time, everyone became very supportive and complimentary to each other. 

The weather was perfect with just the right amount of sun and wind for drying purposes.

The Lyceum will be offering this class again in the near future so keep checking our schedule of classes (click text to follow link).

Drawing and Painting the Seashore

"She Sells Seashells by the Seashore..."

Six participants ages ten and up met two Saturdays in a row to have fun, enhance their drawing abilities, strengthen their observational skills, and improve their perspective, shading and blending techniques using watercolor pencils and watercolor paints. Their muse was... you guessed it! Seashells. The technical term "seashell" usually refers to an exoskeleton of an invertebrate (an animal without a backbone) but is often thought of as the love letter of the sand, a continuing source of inspiration and reminder of the precious ocean. Every seashell has a story, and the students allowed for this exquisite nature to come alive on paper. 

A fun fact about the instructor Marie Gilmore is that her closet is overflowing with costumes because she was a drawing model for thirty years. She now works at an adult school and as a mentor for at-risk youth in Salinas. Marie collected many of the shells for the class from her backyard. Her guiding voice brought the shells to life; students felt the textured shells, noted their shapes, and got to know their background. Colors ranged from the complicated--the abalone shell--to the simpler--the sand-dollar. The smell of pencils drifted through the room on the first day as the students focused on the shells' outline. The second Saturday, watercolor paints spread upon the Bristol papers. Soft and soothing instrumental music eased the flow of the brush strokes and hues of blue, turquoise and pinks leaped out from the table. Although the shading seemed difficult to conquer, Marie used metaphors to describe the watercolor brush strokes: "Think of carrying a big pan of water and how it wants to splash and move around... use more water and get sloppy with it." Her continuous positive feedback added some calming security to the complexity of the colors. The students' spiraling shading and vibrant artwork evolved beautifully throughout the class; some wished they had another day allocated to this theme. 

Comments shared after the class were "It was fun and engaging" and "I look very forward to taking more classes in art and gaining a deeper understanding!" We look forward to many more of Marie Gilmore's classes at the Lyceum in the future!

Making Math Fun!

Vic Selby has joined the Lyceum for the 2nd time to teach "Games Theory, Classic and Cosmic Puzzles, and the Powers and Limits of Human Imagination". With a degree in physics and engineering, Vic subtly expressed his aversion to a life spent in a laboratory, meticulously calculating each decision. This career path did not seem nearly as rewarding as working with kids. Consequently, he taught math at Carmel High School for 30 years. Vic is the author of Mathematics And the Human Condition and is currently a curriculum consultant. 

This course is being taught to 8 middle school students and will explore various types of non-video games. With this week being the first of six classes, this blog entry will not fully encapsulate the true essence of this exciting course. In reading the syllabus I am impressed with its extensive framework along with the intimidating feeling similar to reading a foreign language. Exercises included are the "paradox box", "undercut vs. extended tic-tac", "humble-Nishiyama game", "finding the constant", "finding the size of the earth", "speed of light", "distance to the moon", and many many more.  Each session ends with the chance to solve some of the best puzzles and conundrums from ancient times to the present, including “The Prisoners' Dilemma”.

In addition, students participate in team and individual competitions from the simplest to the most mind-bending. Subsequent classes will include an introduction to the largest and smallest numbers known that describe our universe, and will show how the idea of proportions rules our modern world. Teams will be given the opportunity to create their own games, both games of pure strategy and “real” games involving luck and bluffing.

The vision for this class is to be a captivating, fun and innovative experience while exploring some of the most awe-inspiring ideas and discoveries of mathematics and science. In observing the impressive participation from the students on the first day, we foresee highly active engagement among the bright young minds.

With all this said, MATH RULES! 

Model United Nations Classes

The 6th Annual Lyceum Middle School Model United Nations Conference will take place Saturday, May 7th at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS). Model United Nations (MUN) is a simulation of the “real-life” United Nations. Students act as ambassadors from various countries around the world, and debate topics that are relevant to current global affairs. 

In order to facilitate the presence of home school students at the event, Julie Frandsen-Horner recruited 8 home schoolers to attend a weekly MUN course. The students, grades 5th through 8th, are welcomed to the Lyceum by Julie, the Lyceum family and the co-facilitators for two hours each Wednesday afternoon.  Julie, a speech language pathologist by trade, has been homeschooling her daughter (also a participant) for 10 years. She finds MUN to be a perfect activity for home school students because its a strategic and fun avenue for teaching social studies, geography and the news. 

Though this year is Julie's first time leading an MUN course, her expertise and vibrant spirit makes her a natural at it. She allocates a minimum of two hours a week for research while the co-facilitators (MIIS graduate students Monique and Stephen) offer their guidance and experience.  On the first day, it was clear that Julie and Monique were not the only ones who had devoted previous time to preparing; in hearing the students actively participating it was clear they had done some research as well. 

The course cycle began with meet & greets, expectations, ice breakers and an introduction to what the United Nations (UN) is. During their first day, most of the students reluctantly mentioned they joined the course because their moms wanted them to (go moms!). However, Julie hopes to witness the students eager to participate the following year from their own free will because of how exciting the conference is.  Afterwards, a UN history was presented with an emphasis on peace.

By day two, the students fiercely raised their hands with the undeniable wish to be called upon. In addition to reviewing world geography, being assigned countries and debate topics, and obtaining a moderate understanding of the UN, the students are also practicing public speaking. Each student has been assigned a country and one of three UN committees: General Assembly, Security Council, or Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). While the General Assembly encompasses all countries, the Security Council has five permanent member countries and ten rotating countries, while ECOSOC has a similar smaller list of rotating countries. The students will spend the remainder of the weeks in class focused on their council, country and topic. 

But MUN doesn't end on May 7th for this inspired and ambitious group. The Wednesday after the conference they will be gathering for one final class to debrief and celebrate.  With all this said, we would like to thank Julie for her enormous amount of effort, commitment and enthusiasm. Furthermore the Lyceum would like to thank the MIIS graduate students Monique Rao (studying International Policy and Development), Stephen Doolittle (studying Public Administration), and Brendan Tarnay (studying Migration and Conflict Resolution) for their help, support and assistance in ensuring the success of these classes. We would like to thank the parents for enrolling and supporting their children, and lastly we would like to thank the students for their evolving passion and glorious engagement. 

An Introduction to Botanical Color: Painting South African Flowers

All skills were welcome on Saturday, March 19th as scientific illustrator Erin Hunter and 7 students gathered to learn about botanical painting. 

Learning how to mix colors is an important step in botanical illustration. Erin taught the basics of color theory, with an emphasis on matching colors in leaves, stems and flowers. South African flowers like Proteas, Leucodendrons and Leucospermum were provided as inspirations for the art. 

She began the class with an hour introduction about the plants themselves. "The more you know about what you're painting, the easier it will be to draw it," she said. The class spent time feeling and visually dissecting the beautiful flowers. Some felt like soft velvet, others furry and bearing an alien-like appearance. One would think these exotic and strange species of flowers were related to the pineapple, artichoke or even a mythical dragon-egg family. Their stems were thick, mighty and sturdy, allowing birds, beetles and rodents to pollinate them. 

The drawings began with the flower models, pencils and tracing paper, mimicking the flower in life-size.  Supplies were readily available and over five types of paper were used, including 100% cotton rag hot press paper for the watercolor designs. The meticulous visual calculations resulted in utilizing the colors most apparent in the flowers, which were mixes of green, red and yellow. 

 As mentioned before, watercolor was applied as the appropriate medium due to its smooth, quick and ample use. The paint is very affected by the weather; luckily it was a beautiful sunny day in Monterey. A technique used that was new to many of the students was wet-on-wet. Here water is applied as a base, followed by the color where water orchestrates the movement and blending of the paint. It is a visually-stimulating and therapeutic brush stroke. 

Thank you, participants, for attending this class! Everyone was very focused, attentive and lost in their beautiful art. And thank you Erin for being such an informative, talented and wonderful teacher!