Field Day got a new twist at Karns High School this week.
On May 20, KHS hosted a Math Field Day for 9th-grade students, an event that aimed to build awareness and interest in math through a variety of hands-on activities and challenges at the school’s football stadium.
At an Iron Man challenge hosted by the Tennessee Army National Guard, students completed deadlift, ball toss and sprint-drag-carry challenges, then completed the assignment by performing math calculations to analyze the data they generated.
Another booth highlighted the Fibonacci sequence, a series of numbers in which each number is the sum of the two preceding it.
Posters and fliers highlighted ways that the sequence occurs in nature, and students – led by art teacher Caitlyn Kingsbury-Gomez – used a large-frame loom to create a tapestry that incorporated the sequence.
Julie Langley, an instructional coach at KHS who organized the event, said the school wanted to find creative ways to increase achievement using high-interest activities.
“These are … primarily student-facilitated activities, which makes it a lot nicer and kids are sometimes more approachable than a teacher you don’t know,” she said.
Math Field Day included 42 events, with nine local businesses present on-site while another six collaborated on specific activities.
Yuleesa Kennedy, who plays on the KHS softball team, participated in a softball hitting challenge in which students used results to calculate batting averages.
Kennedy said she enjoyed the events, and there was also a nice year-end perk – the Field Day event provided students the opportunity “just to get outside.”
For many high school students, spring is the season to make memories at prom, in a school musical or on the graduation stage. But for a sophomore at Bearden High School, her most memorable achievement came in the air.
On April 16, Sarah Stanley logged her first solo flight, taking off from Island Home Airport in a Cessna 172 and flying for about 15 minutes before returning to the same airport.
The short journey marked the culmination of a long process. Stanley, 16, got her start in a mechanics program for teenagers that was offered by the Skyranch Youth Aviation Program, in Alcoa. She met a flight instructor through Skyranch, and began taking lessons at the age of 13.
For her first solo flight, Stanley received a scholarship from the F.L.I.G.H.T. Foundation, which helped cover the $1,600 cost by matching the funds that Stanely raised by washing planes and babysitting.
Stanley said the most challenging part of flying is the landing, but that her favorite part is the feeling of freedom that comes from being in the air, because “when you’re flying, all that matters is that you’re flying.”
“You don’t have to think about anything else that’s stressing you out or aggravating you … In my mind, it’s just like ‘That’s on the ground.’”
Stanley’s next goal is to earn her pilot’s license, and while she’s leaving her career options open, she hopes to continue flying: “I definitely want to keep doing that for as long as I can.”
Melody Dalili has been writing poems for years, but she didn’t begin reciting them publicly until a spoken-word performance last August.
Since then, the Farragut High School junior has gotten several opportunities to perform her work, and this month her literary journey led to a groundbreaking honor – recognition as the City of Knoxville’s first Youth Poet Laureate!
Dalili has always loved poetry and has a collection on her phone with more than 250 poems, beginning with pieces that she wrote in the third grade. (Her first? A poem about two rabbits who were in love.)
She credited two sources with boosting her confidence as a writer: co-workers and leaders at The Muse, where she works, and Elizabeth Toth, her advanced creative writing teacher at FHS.
Dalili said she began performing after her manager at the Muse introduced her to an organizer of the SEEED Knoxville poetry slam, who invited her to participate in that event. “I was like ‘No, I love poetry but I would never say it out loud.’ And they said ‘Why don’t you just give it a shot?’”
That performance was last August, and it led to other spoken-word opportunities in the months since. At the same time, Dalili took Toth’s advanced creative writing class last year, and said the ELA teacher has been a constant support by attending her events, helping her craft a speech and staying after school to prepare for the Youth Poet Laureate competition.
“Being a teacher and really making that extra effort for one of your kids was a huge part in my journey here,” she said.
Toth said Dalili’s work is insightful and creative, and that when given a writing prompt during class, she would often ask if she could complete the assignment in poetry.
“She is definitely immensely talented, she really draws from her own personal experience and her own feelings about people that are important to her and that have shaped her life,” Toth said.
Earlier this month, Dalili and Knoxville Poet Laureate Rhea Carmon shared a poem as part of Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon’s budget address, the first of many appearances she will make as a literary ambassador for the city.
Asked why she loves poetry, Dalili said it is a universal language: “Poetry is just something with its arms wide open, and it’s just waiting for people to come in and join and to be united through our language. I really think that it’s just such a privilege to be able to be a part of that and to commemorate that in what I’m doing.”
Jeanne and Emily Seibel grew up singing together in church, they’ve performed in musical theater productions together at Karns High School and in the fall they’ll attend Freed-Hardeman University together.
But before starting the next chapter of their lives, the fraternal twins will be honored together as co-valedictorians of the Karns High Class of 2022!
The achievement caps a stellar academic career for the sisters, who said they have always been best friends even though they aren’t exactly alike.
Emily Seibel has an aptitude for math and plans to major in the subject at Freed-Hardeman, while Jeanne Seibel was more inclined toward science and plans to pursue a career in physical therapy.
And while both are efficient, they agreed that Emily’s highly organized approach to tasks – “I’m a total perfectionist” – is a contrast to Jeanne’s more laid-back style.
“We help to bring out each other’s strengths and we complement each other in a lot of ways,” Jeanne said.
“Hopefully we cover up each others’ weaknesses too when we can,” Emily added.
Karns principal Brad Corum said that while the sisters are competitive they also cheer for each other, and described them as good ambassadors for their school.
“They’ve always been very good students and more importantly than that, they’re great people,” Corum said.
Hardin Valley Academy held a college signing ceremony on Monday – to celebrate a group of future educators!
The event celebrated 10 HVA seniors who are planning to return to the classroom as educators when they graduate from college.
Amaya Martin, who will attend Middle Tennessee State University, participated with her parents, Chris and Tiffany Martin, along with former teacher and school librarian Suzanne Sherman.
Martin said her former teacher made sure that students were always heard, and during a lesson on children’s literature she incorporated a book that featured a Black family – helping Martin feel that she was represented. “That really stuck with me,” she said.
Knox County Schools has made it a priority to identify and support high school students who are interested in pursuing a career in education. In some cases, college students who participate in the district’s “Grow Your Own” program can receive a salary, health care and credit toward retirement while completing their college degree.
Hope Johnson – whose mother, Maria Johnson, is a former teacher – is planning to attend Tennessee Tech, and has already spent many hours in the classroom as part of the district’s Teaching as a Profession program.
The HVA student particularly enjoyed working with elementary students, because they are just starting to learn how the world works and where they fit in: “It’s so cool to be the avenue that opens that up for them.”
A fundraising effort at Karns High School is working to broaden access to Advanced Placement classes.
The initiative was sparked last year, when social studies teacher B.J. Arvin heard about a Karns student who had completed an AP class, but chose not to take the exam because of the cost.
When he learned of the situation, Arvin recalled later, he thought to himself “We’re not going to have this happen again.”
The result was a fundraising campaign which led to:
A $1,500 donation from TVA Employees Credit Union;
A $500 grant from the Junior League of Knoxville; and
A Homecoming campaign by KHS junior Lyndsey Dodge, which netted $750.
Dodge sold items including hair ties and bracelets as part of her campaign, and has also taken several AP classes during her academic career.
While the classes are more rigorous than a standard high school course, a good score on the AP exam can lead to college credit for high school students.
“I know how beneficial AP programs can be for college and for peoples’ future,” Dodge said. “So I figured I would help out.”
AP exams cost $96, although discounts – at a price of $62 – are available for students in financial need. But Arvin pointed out that many students take multiple AP classes in a year, and the testing costs can add up.
He said that in his AP Human Geography class, every student was able to take the test this year, and another fundraising campaign is planned for next year’s Homecoming.
“The ultimate goal is we do this for a few years, word gets out, and then we start getting kids who maybe wouldn’t normally take an AP class because of the financial aspect of it – they start enrolling.”