• Special Opportunities


Special Opportunities

Students in grades seven and eight meet in activity groups that they choose by term, such as the Forensics Team, the Math Team, World Language Club, Poetry Workshop, Art Open Studio, Environmental Club, and special offerings that have included building computers.

Nashoba Brooks enjoys a partnership with Mother Caroline Academy, a girls' school for grades five through eight in Dorchester. Girls at both schools form friendships and develop leadership skills by planning activities and joint community service projects.

Beginning in fourth grade, with a trip each fall to the Horizons for Youth Outdoor Education Camp, students hone the skills and attitudes required to be successful group members. Eighth graders spend a week at the Chewonki Foundation in Maine, reflecting an emphasis on maturation of mind and character.

Annual trips to Ellis Island and, pictured here, Montreal, are examples of activities that take upper grades students far from campus to continue their studies. Closer to home, the North Shore beaches, local farms, and the museums and historical houses of Concord give all students the chance to extend knowledge and interests.   

A True Technology Tale

Technology Director Peter Antupit offered the ultimate hands-on project to a group of seventh graders: building three computers from scratch, or at least from smash. Their account has some elements of a suspense story: a "devastating" opening, a puzzle to solve, and a hero- maintenance technician Ron Richards-who saves the day.

Rana : The first thing we did was to learn about the parts of the computer we were going to build and the different components that we were going to use.

Liza: We took apart old computers, but the cases were so tight they wouldn't open. We had to smash them with hammers. We did it outside on the blacktop. I liked that part the best.

Ellie: Mr. Antupit ordered the parts, and when they arrived, he explained what each one would do. We started putting everything together-cemented on the fans, put cards on the motherboard-the memory cards, the graphics card, the network card, and the sound card. Then we populated the motherboard and got it ready to be hooked up to the rest of the computer. You had to be careful-you couldn't touch it.

Rana: We had to sit with our feet in chairs because of possible static. Mr. Antupit was concerned about the motherboard and about us.

Emily: Then we worked on the cables. Everybody thinks there's something wrong with the cables, but they are supposed to be twisted. This is because a long time ago a bunch of engineers couldn't agree on how to put in the cables. They messed things up, and they got twisted. Rather than fix the problem, they just left it that way.

Rana: Mr. Antupit said this was because those people didn't communicate. This is how every machine ever since has been put together.

Allie: It was confusing to tell which ones went where. We had to do that by noticing how the spikes on the motherboard and the holes on the ribbons matched up.

Emily [smiling at being asked what the mass of colored things were called]: Hmm. Let me think. Wires! That's the power. They came in bunches and fit in just one way. We snapped them in.

Allie: The next part was putting the hard drive in, and then the floppy drive, then the CD. It was difficult getting the CD to fit.

Ellie: When we put the CD in-that was really hard. There such a tight space we had to slam it into. To make sure that it stayed there and wouldn't fall out or wiggle, we had to push the clips in, and try to slide the CD in, but our fingers didn't fit between them. We had to use screwdrivers.

Liza: We looked like freaks putting them in. Mr. Antupit, Ms. Porrazzo, and Ms. Zacharis were all having to help.

Rana: And then, after all that, we switched the computers on, but they didn't work. Ms. Porrazzo called the company that sold us the computer parts, and other people worked on the problem, but Mr. Richards figured it out. The memory cards weren't aligned right. Even though they didn't work the first time, it was fun to start the computers and see the blue screens. And then when we got the problem fixed, we could say, "We built these computers, and they actually work."

Allie: They are going into the library, with plaques that say, "Built by . . ."

Emily: Us!

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