More than 150 students displayed projects related to health, global issues, the environment, science and technology and more at the third annual showcase sponsored by the Andover Coalition for Education, or ACE.
The event, held at the Cormier Youth Center, showed off the high-level work done by students from all levels of the Andover school district that exceeds traditional classroom expectations.
Andover High School classes and programs such as robotics, engineering, the senior exhibition program, environmental science internship class, senior capstone class, and global pathways program were represented. Portfolio-level work from senior fine arts students were on display in the lobby. Fifth-grade students from High Plain and West Elementary Schools, as well as eighth grade students from Doherty, West, and Wood Hill Middle Schools showed off their capstone projects as well.
The event last Monday was the third year it has been held, and ACE President Lenore Price said it keeps growing.
"This started out as a showcase for high school seniors," she said.
Now, the event showcases work done by a range of students on topics chosen by the students. Their projects filled the Youth Center, amazing parents and others in attendance by the depth of research and knowledge that backed each one.
"The students selected their own topics and are doing something they really care about," said Price. "And that really shows."
One of the first projects viewers could see upon entering the Youth Center was Andover High School senior Julia Sergeant's work, called: Our Plastic Footprint.
A 3-foot-tall wave made of all recycled material including plastic bags, egg cartons, plastic water bottles, bubble wrap and chicken wire represented the significant amount of plastic that enters the ocean each year.
Sergeant, who plans to study environmental engineering at the University of Vermont this fall, said she wanted to base her project on the environment, so she dove into why plastic was a problem and what can be done to fix it.
"It's a huge problem," she said, adding that she wanted to emphasize how much plastic was entering the ocean and put it in a literal sense. She called her project "surfing the plastic barrel of a wave."
To help her collect the items that made up her wave, Sergeant said a homework assignment in her advanced placement environmental studies class was for her peers to bring in materials she could use.
Paige Welsh, a fifth-grade student at West Elementary, did her project on endangered animals and what can be done to help them.
"Ever since I was little and heard about animals being endangered I wanted to take the opportunity to show people," she said, adding that her favorite animal is the elephant.
Milena Tiernan and Cindy Yang, also fifth-graders at West Elementary, collaborated on a project they called "Space Beyond the Solar System." The pair said they wanted people to know things about the solar system besides the basic facts.
Tiernan said the most interesting thing they learned while doing their research was about wormholes, which they said can connect long distances such as a billion light years or even different universes.
West Elementary student Tess Moglia, 11, developed the idea for her project from her volunteer work at Lazarus House.
After volunteering one day and serving burritos in the kitchen, she noticed the ingredients were not very healthy. Moglia came up with a healthy chicken soup recipe as an alternative, and said they even served it at Lazarus House one day.
Andover High School seniors Katie Nam and Sophia Couto collaborated on a project called "Andover Smart Growth."
Their project delved into ways to live more sustainably in Andover, such as by walking around town instead of driving, or getting the community involved in farmers markets. The pair timed how long it took them to walk from one end of downtown to the other, noting it was only a 10-minute jaunt.
"It's just about fostering sustainability and making a community more tight-knit," they said. "Using sustainability as a pillar of growth so you're prioritizing sustainability as you grow bigger as a town."
Shelagh St. Laurent, a high school teacher and program coordinator for global pathways, said the event felt like a celebration. The global pathways program allows students to see the world through a global lens by fulfilling requirements to become global scholars.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for seniors to showcase their work and celebrate the awesome things happening throughout the district," she said.