Cut to the Chase
Suited up in that easily recognizable white canvas outfit so often associated with beekeeping, Maria Kaouris ('17) was exposed to the world of honeybees at a young age by her father, George, an avid beekeeper hobbyist.
"I would hold the smoker for him and smoke the bees when he asked me to, so that is kind of how I initially got involved," remembered Kaouris, about how she started down a scientific path towards all things bees.
Admittedly distracted from helping her father bee keep as she grew older, becoming more involved with sports and developing her own hobbies, it wasn't until Kaouris witnessed her father's friend do something incredible one afternoon while she was in high school, that Kaouris realized maybe she hadn't actually grown out of her interest in bees.
"My dad was beekeeping with his friend, and I was watching them from the deck. I saw his friend pick up a bee that was ailing. I was pretty sure it was dead, but my dad's friend just brought the bee up to his lips and breathed into it and the honey bee just flipped back over. It was crazy... I think that moment is when I regained interest in beekeeping as a whole," explained Kaouris. "I thought it was fascinating because I think that most of us would probably just put the bee out of its' misery."
It is that general miseducation and misconception about bees, that Kaouris hopes to mend through her Senior Capstone project, which will not only teach the community how to better understand the winged honey producers but also how these small creatures actually benefit humanity, and how humans can better protect bees from exposure to the elements and factors that cause their colonies to collapse, especially in a region like Connecticut.
"I think sometimes [colony collapse] is overlooked because bees are seen as predators or scary and intimidating to us," stated Kaouris. "But honestly, honey bees are very docile creatures. They won't sting unless they are defending the colony, and so I think that it is important to know that so much of our food is dependent on their pollination and I don’t think we always realize that fact."
Colony collapse disorder is something that occurs when worker bees within a colony desert a queen bee, effectively leaving a strain on not only the queen but any immature bees left behind. As Kaouris explained about the phenomenon, "I think that it is important to know that there are things that go into play as well, like bee nutrition, types of flowers you put around your home, the presence of mites in the hive..., and then just the way that bees are nourished... There are a number of factors that contribute to what is a global issue."
So how does Kaouris plan to effect change from the Chase campus? Kaouris hopes that by bringing two honeybee colonies to Chase, the community will not only be better educated about bees and beekeeping but can also benefit from the bees pollination and potential production of honey down the road. Not to mention the impacts the colonies can have on education within the Chase classrooms.
"I found out that there's this organization called The Backyard Beekeepers Association that actually gathers data about colony collapse disorder. I wanted to use that data to see if I could draw any correlations and that's where part of my project was born," explained Karouis. "I knew I wanted to give back to the community in some sort of way and I thought that beehives might be an interesting way to get this project quickly involved in the community instead of just having it be a presentation."
Requesting and receiving grant funds from The Backyard BeeKeepers Association, Kaouris, with the help of her father George, and Chase's Dir. of Communication and bee volunteer, Mo Carleton, successfully installed two bee colonies within Chase's Environmental Classroom on the School's campus last week.
"The colonies couldn’t have been established without the grant," stated Kaouris, who admitted that it cost money to order two nucleus colonies, set up electric fencing to keep predators at bay, and for tools and painting materials for the bee boxes. "I’m very thankful to the Association that they granted us the money. "
Kaouris is hyper aware that she will be leaving her home and Chase come the fall to attend Middlebury College in Vermont where she hopes to study English and Biology, but she is confident that she will stay involved in beekeeping in more ways than one.
"I’m hoping that maybe Middlebury has a beekeeping club," laughed Kaouris. "I would love to get involved with that, and just in general, I know that Middlebury tries to reduce their environmental footprint. So I think just living my life that way, being conscious of the environment, is just one of the ways that I’ll try to stay involved. Oh, and of course, beekeeping at my house too."
Kaouris is set to give her Senior Capstone presentation, likely a 'TED Talks' style chat and bee colony tour, next week, and she thanks, Mr. Kahuda, her project advisor and AP biology teacher, in part for supporting her throughout the process. "[Overall] it's kind of an emotional project," said Karouis, "I get to connect with nature even in a greater way than I was before."
~Kelly Ann Oleksiw
Digital & Social Media Specialist
At Chase, we use the term "innovation" a lot. So much so, that the term has become a natural part of our Chase community's lifestyle. Our Chase kids even coined their own verb for this type of problem-solving and creativity: "Chase-ivation." If you've been on our Chase campus this year, you've probably seen the term scrawled in chalk on our Goss blacktop at the start of the year, or maybe you've noticed the banners around campus adorned with a light bulb and the list of Chase-ivation ingredients: 'Wonder, Explore, Create, Persist, Deliver?'
With our Spring Innovation Days last week, and with Innovation Day presentations looming tomorrow, we wanted to get into the minds of our Chase kids to find out what "innovation" actually means to a Chase kid. Innovation Days at Chase have notoriously lent themselves to amazing collaborations, including student-created projects for local businesses including Timex, and most recently, the Mattatuck Museum, DoSomething.org and Autism Speaks. So, what better way to 'Cut to the Chase,' then to directly ask our kids: "What does innovation mean to a Chase kid?" After all, our students are the ones in the nitty-gritty of Chase-ivation during these special days on campus. Here is a sampling of what some of our Chase kids had to say when asked what pops into their imaginative heads when they hear the word 'Innovation.'
What Does Innovation Mean to You?Maddie P. '21: "Being creative and thinking outside of the box. Coming up with crazy ideas and trying to make them happen."
Zoe T. '21: "When I think of innovation days I think of when we are given an issue, like a real world problem, and we improvise, adapt, overcome that issue in our own special way... and each group has their own way of solving the issue. I like to see in the end when we all present the different ways that we came up with solutions."
Dilan F. '23: "Innovation days mean thinking for yourself and on your own with a group and it means teamwork. You get to work with people you've probably never worked with before and you get to sample some of their ideas.”
Yael B. '22: "There's no classes, it's a fun time to hang out with your friends, but also you get a chance to do things that you don't normally do on a daily basis."
Elizabeth T. '22: "You get to collaborate with other people socially and work on problem solving rather than just straightforward computation."
Edije Frangu '19: "I like that you are on your own with the projects, we really have a lot of control over our own projects."
What Do You Think of When You Hear the Word Innovation?Trey Atkins '18: “When I think of innovation I think of playsets, because that is what I picked for my innovation day."
Caelan Gadwah-Meadan '18: "Plants, because that is what my group's project is about."
Grace Frohock '18: "Presenting and presentations, like making a power point and going up in front of people."
Hailey Falcone '19: "Light bulb"
Kee Carlson '19: "Probably right now with this innovation I'd say Snoopy, because that is my project."
Jay Harte '19: "Chase"
Maggie McGuire '20: "I think about the innovation process, so like all the steps we have to go through on an innovation day."
Ethan Puc '20: "Timex"
Sheina P. '21: "Create"
Raj K. '22: "Dang it"
5th Grade: "Create, imagination, design thinking, innovative thought, improve, problem solving, and FUN!
4th Grade: "Creative, inventing, experimenting, a whole day, Chase, create, invention, lots of stuff, and technology."
3rd Grade: "Imagine, creating, craft, creativity, invent, inventing, metal, design, creating, and creative."
2nd Grade: "Creativity, designing, fun, cardboard, and creating."
1st Grade: "Building things, fun, working with a friend, making stuff, and talking about an idea and then figuring out how to make it."
Kinders: "They [Innovation Days] make me feel excited."
"They [Innovation Days] make me happy because they are fun."
"It's fun because you get to try it over and over again."
"If you get it right the first time its really good."
"You get to try again."
Chase Alumnus Mark Albini Opens Up about Difficult Choices, Life After Chase, and Breaking Out in the Film Industry
Most students don’t thrive in awkward and fast paced situations, but Mark Albini isn’t just ANY student, he’s ‘A Chase Kid.’ A graduate of Chase Class of 2014, Albini is currently a junior at Drexel University where he is studying Film and Video. Recently, Albini opened up about his alma mater and how what he learned in LS and MS helped him succeed in coming into his own as a producer and filmmaker.
How did Chase position you for where you are now?
“What didn’t Chase prepare me for? I only look at Chase with fond memories. I went to Chase PreK-12th, left for MS, and then came back. I think the LS education was just as important if not more important because that was my foundation, where I learned great public speaking skills and how to be personable. The school fed that side of me, it really reinforced that.”
How do you use those skills in the real world?
“I love producing, [talking to people]...I love fast heartbeats and awkward situations...Chase set me up for that in a big way”
What did you learn from your experience of leaving Chase for MS?
“I went to a public arts school in Waterbury for MS...it was just different. I noticed the differences in politeness and work ethic and I realized that Chase helped me come into my own. Chase is really what gave me my world view. I love to travel. I went to Spain my senior year with Señora [Mary Ellen] Holden. I made so many life decisions based off of that trip and experience. Where I am now is in part to that trip and Señora showing me the ropes.”
Do you have any advice for current Chase kids?
“Do as much of everything that you can while at Chase...don’t take it for granted. Ask for what you want and don’t be afraid to hear ‘No’ because if you are [afraid], you’ll never hear ‘Yes.’”
Did you have a favorite extracurricular or club at Chase?
“The [Anti-Defamation League] ADL is dear to me, one of the bigger projects I ever tackled dealt with cyberbullying and accompanied the ‘Names Can Really Hurt Us’ program. [Civil rights are] definitely something I feel strongly about. Everyone needs a voice, especially in this industry, you’re really reliant on your crew.”
What are your future plans?
“The film program at Drexel is 4 years with a 6-month co-op program. Right now I’m focusing on an upcoming interview and securing a great co-op...”
While Albini is unsure exactly what the future holds, this January he announced that he accepted his first-choice co-op position as a Producer/Editor with MATTE Projects, a creative agency and production company in NYC. MATTE’s current client base includes DIOR, Google, Nike, H&M, Red Bull, and SnapChat -to name a few. Albini proudly shared with friends on social media that he is “beyond excited to be moving to New York City this spring to pursue this opportunity!”
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