Summer STEMmin’

While our regular student body is off exploring every nook and cranny of the planet and spending the summer with their families, there’s still plenty happening around the halls and classrooms of St. Paul Preparatory School.

During the month of July, we’ve got students from Taiwan and France taking part in a Summer School Program at SPP as part of Nacel Open Door’s Short Term Program. Students have been experimenting in the lab, learning in the classroom, and taking part in field trips around the Twin Cities.

Noodle Towers

One of the first lab challenges of the STEM class was building towers out of noodles in order to hold up a single, fat marshmallow. Students could use tape, but couldn’t anchor their towers to the table. The highest tower was over 100 centimeters!

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Interstate State Park

Located just 49 miles from downtown St. Paul, this state park is known for it’s “potholes” formed by glacial meltwater at the end of the last Ice Age, along what is now known as the St. Croix River.

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Rollercoasters

Back in the lab, students had to make a “rollercoaster” out of foam tubing, marbles, and duct tape, with requirements that the coaster have one loop-de-loop and a second hill. Gravity and physics won the day!

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SPP Journalism: Students Dislike American Food

SPP Students give American food Two Thumbs DOWN

These articles were written by St. Paul Prep’s Journalism class.

SPP students do not like American food, because of its awful taste and excessive use of chemicals, according to the interviews conducted at SPP.

Although SPP students vary in cultures, political views, and religions, they have one opinion in common: American food seems unhealthy and not as tasty.

Fabrizio F., a junior from Venezuela, seems to prove that point.

“The first thing I think about American food is not very good, very unhealthy, and not very well prepared,” he stated. “It usually comes from a different culture also. It’s usually trashy food like hamburgers.”

Jeanne A., a senior from France, listed the multiple ways that American food is different from food in France.

“Serving size, which in America is so much different [bigger], GMOs are illegal in France; the quality of the food because meat here is not that good and not sustainable or anything,” she concluded. “We eat way more veggies and bread, but good bread, not the smushy bread that is nice looking for two months.”

Wuttikorn “March” K., a senior from Thailand, made it clear that chefs in his country prepare food in diverse ways, and something like that does not exist in the United States.

“They are a lot of differences. We use herbs, we use spices from India, and China and India influence Thai food,” he claimed. “We use a lot of seafood stuff that makes it kind of a little fishy, but it just tastes the best.”

Interestingly, American SPP students have the same view on American food. Hayla O., a junior from the United States, completely does not really enjoy it, so she finds different foods to consume.

“I eat a lot of Colombian and Mexican food. I love Thai and Chinese food!” she confirmed.

Living away from their families and having a new experience with regional food makes SPP students miss home more.

“I miss my food more than my family, to be honest,” March lamented.

St. Paul Prep Class of 2017

It has been one amazing year at St. Paul Prep! If you missed our live stream of the graduation ceremony, you can watch a video of the entire event right here.

Below are some photos from the ceremony. If you have any pictures you’d like to share, email them to skoob@nacelopendoor.org or tag us on Facebook or Instagram.

Thank you seniors. You made 2016-17 an epic year at SPP!

 

Guest Blogger Aleksander: Tabula Rasa (Part 1)

IMG_1513When I came to America, I was like a clean slate. I both knew a lot, and I did not. I knew how to function as a person, but I didn’t know what it was like to live across the ocean from your parents. That was one of those things I had to learn the hard way. I was both afraid and excited. Luckily for me, excitement was stronger than fear. Quoting Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” It’s the same thing with the first days at a new school. As soon as you stop fearing the unreasonable, you advance. Your development goes forward.

In the beginning, I started off my guest blogging keeping it light and easy. In the end, however, I have decided to keep it real. There are enough light and easy “my year in USA” type of posts already. These type of posts are supposed to make friends and everybody you know jealous. If that’s what you have expected, then you might wanna close this page.

You have decided to stay? Good, let me continue then.

There are very few nights when I don’t regret the things that I did/didn’t do during my exchange. First and foremost, I realized too late that I’d only have this opportunity once. Much too late. My first Host Family lived in West St. Paul, Minnesota; a place perfect as a base for trips. My second Host Family lived in Bloomington, Minnesota; a place far worse to start trips from. Most of the Host Families took their students to various places, even to different states. Mine didn’t bother with that, but it’s fine. It’s not something I could have demanded. Nevertheless, I had to think about visiting the most popular spots in the Twin Cities alone, which I did not. Mostly, I preferred to stay in my safe zone: my Host Family’s house. By the end of the year I had seen some cool places, like the Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis, so it’s not all that bad. I do regret staying at home then. I know I should have pushed myself.

Along with not visiting places, I did not hang out with friends and colleagues often. Now I know I should have been doing that. Although that doesn’t mean that I didn’t make friends at all. I just regret I didn’t meet them face to face when I had the opportunity to do so. If you’re having some questions about what happens after you come back home – let me clear some things up. You’re most probably not going to see your friends from abroad again soon. Of course, I am not saying that you won’t be able to right away. From my experience, though, it’s not very likely to happen. I visited my a girlfriend (now an ex-girlfriend) from Germany a few times. That’s about it. On the other hand, having friends all around the world might be a huge asset. Once you start to make money, you can visit them! Before you start making money, you might start a business with your friends around the world. Nowadays, the sky’s the limit, and keep that in mind.

Whenever I argue that English classes are too focused on doing the exercises versus teaching everybody how to actually communicate with people, I give the same example every time: me going to a mobile carrier on my first week in the U.S. Long story short, my English was good when I had to understand written English. However, when I approached a regular person at the shop, I was left astonished by how much I needed to learn. I did not understand much from what an average American was saying, and I was always among the best in my English classes in Poland. I’m not showing off. It’s just a fact. Did I refrain from communicating in English after that? No. If anything, it motivated me to improve myself.

Let’s talk about classes in the U.S.

Let me clear up the biggest misconception: American school is not easier. If you think so, and you’re gonna go to America – please sign up for an AP class. Any. Unless you’re a genius in a given field, you’re gonna have a bad time. Or maybe you’re I-pek and you have to be perfect and be the best. Your call.

If anything, school in the US is more personalized. It’s sort of like comparing iOS and Android (yes, I’m a nerd). iOS tells you what your home screen should look like, it tells you that sending files via Bluetooth is passe, and it thinks like Henry Ford. With Android, however, you’re free to change your home screen. You have wayyyy more customization options. iOS is Poland, and Android is the US. You didn’t get my nerdy analogy? Let me try again: cars. Poland is like a manufacturer that produces only one model of a car equipped with only one type of engine. USA is like a normal manufacturer. “So do you want your car in blue? No? Okay, how about red? Still no? Worry not! We have got like 12 different colors for you to choose from.”

The American school, or at least SPP, focuses more on understanding different concepts, knowing how to apply them in real life, and not on remembering stuff by heart. I feel like this approach is a lot more modern. Twenty years ago nobody would have thought, that we would have computers in our pockets. American school goes – hey, it’s time to change. Polish school goes – computers?

SPP has got some great teachers as well. Ms. Larson, Mr. Wiggin (if you’re reading this, then I hope that somebody continues my “Friday” thing), Ms. Stormont, Mr. Shai. I also have to say that I very much respect the work of Ms. Redding.

With that being said – this is the end of part one. In part two, I will answer the question “Can a falcon play jazz?”, and much more. Stay tuned and follow SPP’s blog. If you have any questions, hmu on Twitter!

Aleksander Jess (@AJWRSW)

SPP: A Matter of Fate

Coming to St. Paul Prep (SPP) was my fate. A lot of people don’t believe in destiny and call it “coincidence,” but whatever it was, it gave a twist to my life. I had different plans before coming here. In fact, I didn’t know about the school’s existence until August 2016, one month before flying to America. Originally, I was going to study in one of the best schools in Boston. I had already discussed my specific case with the school, had found a Host Family, and even had my ticket reserved, but due to visa and school inconveniences, I had to let that dream fade away and stay in Venezuela.

Having to hear “You’re staying,” was one of the toughest things, and I refused to believe it. I seriously disliked my school in Venezuela because they taught me nothing, and I felt like my parents were simply wasting their money in what had been promised to be the best school in my city. However, as much as this news dragged me down, I had to embrace the fact that I had no other option, be grateful for what I have, and understand that everything happens for a reason.

It wasn’t my destiny to go to Boston because it was my fate to discover the Twin Cities.

A week before my 11th grade was over, I decided to go visit my aunt the same day my mom was flying to Caracas (Venezuela’s capital city). I wasn’t supposed to go with her, and I didn’t even know what time her flight was, but for some unknown reason (because I usually don’t spend much time in my house) I decided to go back home to watch a movie with my little sister.

When I was driving back, I stumbled upon my mom by “coincidence” and thought “Well, accompanying her to the airport wouldn’t hurt me, and I won’t see her in a while, so talk to her and ask her to wait for you while you dropped off the car at the house,” and so she did.

When we got to the airport, my friend Kike happened to be in there as well. Kike is one of those old friends whom you stopped hanging out with a while ago, yet the friendship remained the same. I greeted him with a warm hug, asked him how he was, and where he was going. He told me he was going to Caracas for a meeting with Students Program, an exchange student organization that is affiliated with another organization named Nacel. I felt excited for him, especially because I had also planned to do my senior year in the U.S., but it wasn’t possible, I told him. We continued talking when he finally said: “You can email the organization, and they can find you an international school that will give you a high school diploma.”

In that moment, I became deaf to every single individual in the room. I could not believe it. Here was my last chance to (as sad as it sounds) escape my disastrous school situation in Venezuela. I hushed Kike and ran to find my mom and tell her this news. Her flight had already arrived so there was not much time to talk to her, but odds were in my favor: Kike’s mom’s seat on the plane was next to my mom’s. They spent the entire flight discussing the benefits of this program they had just introduced to us, and as the plane landed in Caracas, my mom called my dad.

We had a few meetings with the program, and three weeks later, I began this journey to SPP.cropped-cropped-sam_9946.jpg