AGATE Projects Examine Point Reyes

Amanda Young, Staff Writer

Members of the Acalanes Gifted and Talented Education (AGATE) program visited the Point Reyes National Seashore from March 25 through 27. 13 Campolindo students and teacher coordinators Paul and Stephanie Verbanszky were among the 30 students and 6 advisors from across the district who participated in the annual 3-day field trip.

AGATE is a selective district-wide program for juniors. According to junior Anna Blatt, a member of the program, students are nominated for AGATE by teachers during their sophomore or early junior year. They can then choose to enter a lottery which provides an opportunity to be selected for the program.

Some of the field trip’s activities included visiting an oyster company, a dairy farm, an art museum and the Point Reyes Lighthouse, with each venue offering the opportunity to participate in various activities and converse with docents, teachers, or park rangers.

“One of my favorite things is the bonding that occurs among the students from all 4 different high schools and the opportunity for them to experience things that they don’t usually do,” said Paul Verbanszky.

“It was really fun to be able to bond with people from other classes and other schools, to just be in a big group of people that you don’t really know,” said Blatt. “One of my favorite parts was going to the Point Reyes Lighthouse because it was just super scenic and it was a beautiful day out.”

Junior Eleanor Kim agreed. “I had a lot of fun, kind of exploring the environment and seeing new things in places I’ve never been before,” she said. Kim also said that the trip was “a [nice] break from school.”

After the trip, AGATE students must develop projects to be exhibited in the Campolindo library on April 24th.

“Students are expected to create a project that involves 2 disciplines that are not related, and they’re supposed to synthesize them into 1 project that relates to the area we’ve studied, which is the Point Reyes Natural Seashore,” said Paul Verbanszky. “They have to [have something] that teaches about something about the area or gives some insight on the area or some political activism, changes that have to be made, things like that.”

Blatt’s project will examine oyster farming in the Point Reyes area and the struggles between small businesses and government regulations. “[It’s] kind of like the Drake’s Bay Oyster Farm that was shut down because of government regulations,” she said. “I’m creating a website to make it like a fake oyster company and I’ll talk about the struggles that a company will have to undergo and then I’m also going to make a trifold poster board that talks about oysters and Point Reyes and why the two go together.”

Kim’s project, an affordable housing plan for the town of Bolinas, combines architecture and public policies. “I’m creating a project proposal on behalf of the Bolinas Community Land Trust to ask the Marin Public Planning Commission to create houses that are affordable and livable for members of the community. [I’m going to design] houses that are based on Cape Cod architecture and then creating a proposal that outlines how these houses are going to be made using the Marine development code,” she said.

“The project really allows you to expand your horizons and be more outgoing and more resourceful, [learn] time management and research techniques- I just thought it was a very good educational opportunity,” said Blatt.

“I especially like it [AGATE] because it gives you a chance to do projects about things you normally wouldn’t do in school. It’s kind of a way to express what you’re passionate about and try new things that you wouldn’t really do anywhere else,” Kim said.