What Are Intensives?

Intensives are electives that provide an opportunity for middle schoolers in mixed-age groups to deeply explore an area of interest or a new topic of study. Classes cover a wide variety of subjects, ranging from creating comic book stories to learning how to lobby for a cause to how to be an entrepreneur through creating and promoting student’s own inventions.

During intensives, students have an opportunity to learn from experts outside of TPS as well. This week’s “The Play’s the Thing!” intensive featured guest speakers Courtney Riggar, Production Manager at The Arden Theater, and Adam Riggar, Director of Production at Annenberg Center for Performing Arts. This class is constructing the set for the upcoming TPS Shakespeare Festival in February. Courtney and Adam helped students brainstorm ideas by relating set design to art – explaining that sets are a three-dimensional space consisting of colors, shapes, and lines. They spoke about the importance of set design, emphasizing that sets “create a feeling, advance the story, and tell the audience about characters based on the space in which they occupy.”

Why ride someone else’s roller coaster when you can build your own? In the K’NEX Amusement Park intensive, students are applying STEM concepts to build their own roller coasters. They are currently building roller coasters using blueprinted prototypes, which once completed, will be used to test speed, weight, and angles. Students will collect data from these tests and work in teams to try and create the fastest ride.

Intensives are a wonderful opportunity for students to try something new. “I was intrigued by the idea of building an amusement park myself—it’s something I’ve never done before,” shared Elli, 7th grade. Elli is more interested in building roller coasters than riding them, but she does have a favorite ride – the wooden roller coaster at Knoebels Amusement Resort – that helps serve as inspiration in the class.

We look forward to seeing the finished results from these winter intensives! To see the full list of winter intensives, click here.

City Hall Regulars

The fall term of the Let's Go Lobbying middle school intensive ended yesterday with our third visit to City Hall.

Earlier in the term, students met with Councilman Kenyatta Johnson as part of their exploration of issues to research and advocate. Last week one group lobbied Councilman Al Taubenberger on the bustling floor of Council chambers; they asked the councilman to advance their proposal of installing a demonstration protected bike lane on Market Street from 20th to 15th Streets.

Yesterday two groups headed back to City Hall. One lobbied Councilman Mark Squilla on moving the starting time of public middle schools and high schools to 8:30 or 9:00am as soon as the City regains oversight of the School District. The second group lobbied Councilman David Oh to drop his opposition to the Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax. 

Swing Dance Extravaganza

This afternoon TPS students in the Swing Dance in History and Practice intensive partnered with dance professionals Debbie Ramsey and Kate Mattingly to host a program for all middle schoolers. There were demonstrations, instruction, a little bit of history, and a lot of dancing fun!

Debbie Ramsey is co-founder of Music And Dance Productions and a member of the Swing Dance Hall of Fame.  With over 39 years experience as a professional choreographer, actor, dancer and educator, she is a three Time Winner of the Feather Award for “Top Female Teacher in the United States”. Debbie travels nationally and internationally, instructing at teacher training seminars and educating thousands of dancers each year in the art of dance. 

Kate Mattingly is a professor of dance at Utah State University. She has a B.A. in architecture fromPrinceton University, an M.F.A. in dance from New York University, and a Ph.D. in performance studies from University of California, Berkeley. As a dance critic and evaluator for New York Times, the Village Voice, the N.E.A. and myriad other publications and honorary committees, she brings a wealth of experience in the analysis of contemporary dance. Her cross-disciplinary approach to movement includes an ongoing interest in architecture, in flash mobs, and in the social effects of new technologies.

Middle schoolers in the intensive have been preparing to run this program for the past three weeks.