Point Reyes Visit Inspires Projects


Sophia Bartolo, Staff Writer

Participants in the district’s Gifted and Talented Education [AGATE] program presented projects in the library on April 14 following their recent trip to Point Reyes.  The library reception is the culmination of the spring AGATE program, which offers students the opportunity to visit the Point Reyes National Sea Shore as well as businesses in the Point Reyes area and then create an original project inspired by the experience.

According to junior Emma McDonnell, who was one of the 9 Campo students who attended, the trip to Point Reyes took place right before spring break from March 15 to 17.

“[To go on the trip] a teacher has to recommend you, so there’s a lot of students that come out to the first meeting. [The process is] a teacher recommends you and then it’s a lottery system, so 30 students are pulled form the lottery and then you’re chosen for the project,” explained McDonnell.

“We went to Point Reyes in March, right before spring break, and then we had spring break to work on it [the project],” said McDonnell.

Stephanie Verbanky, the trip’s coordinator, said the AGATE students “went to the Point Reyes national sea shore, then to Bear Valley visitor center where we met with a ranger and toured the Native American village.”

“We went to a bunch of different places in Point Reyes. We went to the Farmstead Cheese Company, the East Bay Oyster Company, and all these different Point Reyes sites to see the area. Then we gathered inspiration from that to put together a project,” explained McDonnell.

The AGATE students were housed at the Marconi Conference Center in Point Reyes.

“I think this group was really enthusiastic and I think the trip worked out really well. We had a lot of places where they saw diversity of people being passionate about what they do,” said Verbansky.

The projects were assembled in the library on April 13, and presented at 7pm the next night.

“Each project is different for each person. You take inspiration from Point Reyes then put it in a project. For mine I focused on the Point Reyes farmstead cheese company and we had to combine two subjects so I combined science and economics,” said McDonnell.

“After the trip the students created an idea for their project where they had to take the experience from the trip.  Then they took two unrelated disciplines and they had to synthesize it all into a project,” explained Verbansky.

“Each person presents their project. We set up our whole displays in the library and then did a brief introduction to everyone, talking about our presentations, and then each person goes around and looks at them,” said McDonnell.

“The projects are very diverse. There was everything from research about herbal medicine and botanical arts and put that together in a project there were students who looked at the economics of dairy farming and also the ethics of dairy farming and created a project for that,” explained Verbansky. “The goal was to take two disciplines that are distinct and put them together into incohesive project,” she added.

“You [present to your] fellow AGATE classmates, so they pick people from the Acalanes High School District and parents and friends that come to the reception also,” said McDonnell.

“The students did really strong work and were really excited about sharing [their projects] with their peers, families, and teachers,” said Verbansky.