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Until It’s Clear

The Freshmen in the Water class are studying the water cycle. In the process, students learned that infiltration is an important part of the cycle because as the water passes through layers of soil and sand, it is filtered and purified so it can be consumed. Using that information, students built water filters to address the guiding question, how would you cope in a water crisis?. As a part of this investigation, they studied pH levels and how to determine if water is potable. Ater they designed and built their filters, the students attempted to turn non-potable water into potable water.
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Cooking with Homa Shojaie

Students in the Cooking workshop received a cooking lesson from visual artist, Homa Shojaie. Ms. Shojaie taught the students that cooking is definitely an art. There are certain procedures to follow and certain tools that make the task easier, but at the end of the day, intuition and passion make a dish extra special and delicious. Ms. Shojaie gave the students the tools, ingredients, and knowledge to make herb kuku, a baked omelet traditionally served on New Years in Iran. The green herbs symbolize rebirth, and the eggs, fertility and happiness for the year. Thank you to Ms. Shojaie for a cooking lesson that taught us a lot more than just cooking.
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Simple Machines with Sean Shaffer

Sean Shaffer, parent of Junior, Maeve came into the Design & Engineering class to teach us about the power of simple machines. Mr. Shaffer has a background in design and is an educator for the Chicago Park District. He came equipped with tools that demonstrated the physics of the lever, the pulley, and the wedge. The students have been pursuing the guiding question, what lies at the heart of our fundamental drive to create tools?. As a part of this investigation, the students identified scenarios and problems in which tools make a task easier and determined that simple machines are at the core of most tools.

Sean brought in the Lever-tator 3000, the Bully Pulley 3000 (both machines that he built himself!), an ax and wedge, and a crazy-cool chair pulley that all brought the physics of these simple machines to life. The highlight was a pulley system that allowed the students to pull themselves off the ground! Thank you to Mr. Shaffer for making physics so much fun.

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Making the Cut

The Sophomores in the Population class are studying classification and taxonomy. In the first unit of this STEAM course, students are investigating systems of classification, how they came about and how they caused a scientific revolution. As a part of this investigation, students dissected crickets to examine similarities and differences between their bodies and ours. Despite some initial hesitation, everyone eventually got the hang of it and collected valuable information from the specimen.

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Start with the Basics

The students in woodshop have some big projects to work on this term. But before they start on those projects, they must learn the basics. In the first week of woodshop, the first thing the students learned were important rules to keep them safe around some very sharp and powerful tools. Then, they practiced using clamps, hand saws, a drill, and the power tool of the day, the miter saw. Now that the students are comfortable with the tools, the possibilities are endless.
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Music Makes The People Come Together

In the words of the talented pop icon, Madonna, music makes the people come together. Every Monday, our STEAM teacher, Adam hosts the Music Makers’ club where musicians of all levels come together to learn songs, experiment with instruments, overcome stage fright, and more importantly, have fun. The club is a safe space for students to make mistakes and discover hidden talents. This week, the students learned to play Fools Rush In and Stand By Me.
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First of Many

We completed our first service project with St. Vincent de Paul Center, whose students we will work with this school year through the Blessings in a Backpack program. Blessings in a Backpack mobilizes communities, individuals, and resources to provide food on the weekends for elementary school children across America who might otherwise go hungry.

For our first Community Day, Nicole from St. Vincent’s explained the impact of our partnership and guided us in creating motivation cards that will go in the backpacks that families receive. While we did not meet any of the students from St. Vincent’s today, the significance of the work was felt and we look forward to our partnership this school year.
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Starting Off Strong

We welcomed our new and returning students back to school with two days of student orientation. We planned a day of activities just for our new students. This gave us the chance to get to know the new members of our community and they got acquainted with their new home away from home. Then, we geared up for the second day of orientation with our full student body. The school was buzzing with joy and anticipation. We can’t wait to see what this school year brings us.
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Congratulations to the Class of 2017

We hosted our 2017 graduation ceremony at the iO (Improv Olympics) Theater, the premier theater for long-form improvisational performances and classes. Skilled improv actors are team-players, they are good listeners, they are risk-takers, they are fearless, they are adaptable, and they are always learning and improving. At GCE, these skills are at the core of our curriculum and our day-to-day lessons in and out of the classrooms. So, it was appropriate that our graduates commemorated their accomplishments in an intimate space at the iO Theater.

This class of graduates was recognized as an eclectic group of young people, every one with their own unique passions and skills. While the group as a whole is often described as quiet; there is no doubt that their calculated calmness and thoughtful introspections will impact everyone that crosses their paths.

Congratulations to our class of 2017! Go forth and GCE the world.

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Paying it Forward

We first met Zach as a Sophomore in 2008; he was one of the six GCE students at the time. As a Sophomore, Zach was opinionated, determined, and challenging. During his time at GCE, he challenged us as an organization and held us accountable as his teachers and mentors. As one of our first students, we consider Zach a pioneer; without his feedback and the support of his family, we would not have grown as we have. Since graduating from Suffolk University last Spring, Zach Silver has been an integral part of the GCE community. He has donated his time to mentor GCE students in the classroom and on the basketball court.

We are grateful for his commitment and enthusiasm this year and we couldn’t be more proud of the thoughtful, ambitious, and humble person he has become.

Pye GCEs the World

Henry Pye, a GCE graduate from the class of 2013 talked to us about life after high school. In 2009, we met Henry in a basement of an old mansion on the Northside of Chicago. He was quiet, skeptical, and resistant. But over time, Henry would become the captain of the basketball team, the older brother of the underclassmen, the mentor of new students, and the beloved class clown. By the time he graduated in 2013, he was known as the poster child of GCE. This Spring, Henry graduated from UIC’s Urban Studies Program and is now in the early stages of starting a non-profit. We couldn’t be more proud to recognize such an outstanding citizen as a GCE graduate.

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It’s Yearbook Time!

The 2016-2017 GCE Yearbook has just been sent off to the presses and we can’t wait to share them with our community. We made a lot of memories this year and our yearbook is a great way to celebrate each student’s contributions. We are proud to provide every GCE student with a yearbook at no cost. We believe that each student has earned a yearbook to share with their families.

Please consider making a donation to our Yearbook Fund. Your contribution helps to put a yearbook in every student’s hands.

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It’s All About the Truss

During the first Unit of the Urban Planning course, Juniors investigated the elements necessary to build a strong bridge. The engineers studied examples of bridges in order to understand the concepts of weight and force, tension and compression, and trusses. Equipped with their newfound knowledge, lots of glue, and 60 popsicle sticks, they set out to build a strong, functioning bridge. After days of hard work, the bridges were put to the test with a set of weights. We were blown away by the results.
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What Happens in Vegas…

We wrapped up Elective term with a trip to Las Vegas! Well, actually, Vegas came to us. The members of the GCE Student Council planned a Vegas-themed community day complete with their version of the Little White Wedding Chapel, an Elvis impersonator, casino games, and tons of ways to spend and lose “money”. It was an afternoon full of love, laughter, and good, old-fashioned competition.

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A Study in Form

Students in the Mixed Media art class are exploring 3-dimensional art forms. For this project, the students are working with clay and focusing on intuitive experimentation to bring their sculptures to life. As inspiration, students studied the works of sculptors, William J. O’Brien and Alwyn O’Brien. Throughout the process, our sculptors experimented with negative space, movement, and texture to add interest to their 3-dimensional forms. A block of self-hardening clay and a ton of imagination go a long way.Read More

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10 Minutes to Shine

We reimagined Final Presentations this past Winter Term. Traditionally, Final Presentations were developed around courses but this Winter, we decided to develop Final Presentations around students. Students were given full ownership of their presentations to reflect deeply and genuinely on their learning from the term. Each student was given 10 minutes with an audience to either run a workshop, play a game, analyze original pieces of artwork, or run through a slideshow presentation. In this format, students were given the opportunity to think holistically about their learning and guided an audience through their journey as a student.

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Listen to the Poem!

Our poets left their hearts on the stage during this year’s Louder Than A Bomb Poetry Slam Festival. Louder Than A Bomb or better known as LTAB is an annual event organized by one of our City2Classroom partners, Young Chicago Authors, which invites thousands of young poets to speak their truths on stage. LTAB was started in Chicago as the first youth poetry slam festival and the model has been replicated across the country and across the globe. This is our 6th year competing and the community of poets across Chicago continues to grow. It is always such an incredible honor to be amongst such honest and brave voices.

Our team worked tirelessly for 7 months in preparation for the competition and the work definitely paid off. We were fortunate enough to advance to Quarter Finals as a team and shared the stage with amazingly talented poets. While our team’s season ended at Quarter Finals, one of our poets advanced as an individual poet to Semi-Finals. He took the stage at the Metro and blew the crowd away. It has been an amazing LTAB season. Congratulations to our 2017 GCE poets! See you next year, LTAB!

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Building Diddley Bows

Juniors in the Light, Sound, & Time class have been pursuing the guiding question, how do you experience the world around you? Specifically, students are investigating the roles that light, sound, and time play in their lives and examining how each is produced and manipulated through mathematical and scientific concepts. In the second unit, sound, students are challenged to build a diddley bow, a one string instrument that influenced the development of the blues sound. The planning and construction of this instrument allowed the students to explore the purpose of each part of an instrument in creating the desired sounds.

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