Tags Posts tagged with "Charter School"

Charter School

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Paul Karasik and Lizzie Bradley performed "Asparagus/Let the Sunshine In" in last year's 1960's themed auction — Photo by Ralph Stewart

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s Karasik-man. He’s leaping over Islands, rocking auctions, and drawing through the night while mortal men sleep. This fall, West Tisbury resident Paul Karasik served as Program Director for Comic Arts Brooklyn, where he interviewed cartoonist luminaries Charles Burns, Richard McGuire, Art Spiegelman, and Roz Chast. Then, he wrote an article, Anatomy of a Gag, published in The New Yorker — he also contributes cartoons to the magazine. One of his cartoons was chosen for the cover of The New Yorker’s cartoon-a-day calendar. To top it all off, Karasik had an exhibit of his work in Brooklyn, New York.

On Saturday, December 13, Karasik will shed his cartoonist’s cape and emerge as a rocking 80’s auctioneer (along with Laura Sargent Hall) at the MV Charter School’s annual fundraiser. For the past decade, Karasik (in Clark Kent/Bruce Wayne mode) has served as Development Director of the M.V. Public Charter School. In a recent email exchange, Karasik answered a few questions about his work and the upcoming auction.

Kate Feiffer: In the New Yorker’s new “Cartoons of the Year” bookazine, you deconstruct the 1940 Charles Addams cartoon of a downhill skier whose tracks travel around both sides of a tree.  Are you ever concerned that in your analysis of cartoons that you are, in effect, exposing the magician’s tricks?

Paul Karasik: I concur with the magicians Penn and Teller on this. Exposing the systems does not make the effect any less magical. In fact, it tends to deepen the appreciation of the magician/cartoonist’s craft.

KF: When you are creating a cartoon, which comes first for you, the gag line or the drawing?

PK: The egg.

KF: Are you still submitting ten cartoons to The New Yorker every week?

PK: Yup. For about 12 years, I have sent in a batch (cartoonist’s nomenclature for a group of drawings), and I’ve had about 12 drawings published by The New Yorker.

KF: Does the cartooning influence the other, seemingly non-related, work you do?

PK: One thing that will always separate me from becoming a great cartoonist is that I need to be with people, while many great cartoonists are quite happy to primarily socialize with their drawing boards.

I am the Development Director for the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School, a part-time fundraiser for a great public school option on the Vineyard that needs a fundraiser because, unlike the other public schools here, the Charter School cannot go to Town Meeting to ask for funding above and beyond our operating costs.

KF: What is the Rock Auction?

PK: The Rock Auction is the Charter School’s annual dance party held this year at Dreamland on December 13. The theme changes each year and this year’s decade in Rock is the 80’s. So if you like to dance to the Talking Heads, the B52s, Madonna, and Men at Work, get your big-hair teased and come on down, ’cause girls (and boys) just wanna have fun!..and it’s more of a FUNraiser than a fundraiser.

KF: What are a few of the items you’ll be auctioning off?

PK: An authentic clambake for 12 on Hancock Beach, summer 2015, a half day tree work or stump removal, a two night stay in any U.S. Marriott, and a plane ride from Katama airfield with Capt. Livingston Taylor. The live auction is snappy and wild and unlike any other auction in pure zaniness. I will be the auctioneer along with Laura Sargent Hall and the chances run high that I may get a pie in the face before the evening is over if enough bidders want to see that sort of thing.

KF: I understand the auction will raise money for a new science center for students.

PK: This past spring the school received a $200,000 grant primarily from the Mass. Life Science Centers for science equipment. We began to build a new science and tech lab this past summer. To be able to open the facility in fall 2015, we need $300,000. All proceeds from the Rock Auction will go towards the lab project.

The Rock Auction takes place on Saturday, December 13, at Dreamland in Oak Bluffs. Doors open at 6:30. $20 admission.

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The Sunday ceremony for the school’s 13th graduating class recognized individuality and community.

Charter School trustee Buck Reidy congratulates graduate Nantawat Laothong. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Updated 12:05 pm, Tuesday, June 3.

A perfect day and a crowd of friends, family and faculty greeted the five graduates of the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School (MVPCS) on Sunday. The students strolled toward their futures wreathed in noon sunlight wearing multichromatic sashes. They received their diplomas under a white pavillion on school grounds in West Tisbury.

“Congratulations! Today is your day," Fawn Pelletier said in her address. "You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!”
“Congratulations! Today is your day,” Fawn Pelletier said in her address. “You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!”

“With You, Friends” by the dubstep artist Skrillex played as Gregory A. M. Allan, Isabella “Izze” Canham, Chase N. Eppers, Nantawat “Earth” Laothong, and Fawn R. Pelletier, all of Edgartown, took their seats on a small stage facing the crowd. Izze and Fawn wore azure dresses. Gregory wore a white suit with a blue shirt and silver tie, Chase a white polo with navy pants, and Earth a black suit with a plaid shirt. All five graduates bore the traditional MVPCS wreaths of purple and white flowers.

MVPCS Director Robert Moore delivered the welcoming remarks and added some advice for the newest crop of graduates. “We urge you to be the best that you can in what you choose to do,” Mr. Moore told the graduates. “We urge you to continue to grow and learn. And we urge you to continue to contribute to your communities.”

Mr. Moore also honored Francis “Pat” Gregory, a Charter School trustee for five years who was murdered while hiking in California last month. Mr. Moore asked the graduates to follow the example of the longtime West Tisbury town moderator.

“We have a wonderful example of how to contribute to one’s community,” Mr. Moore said. “Pat Gregory was a nice, decent, gentle man who taught us many lessons through his words, actions, and deeds. We can and need to learn from Pat that we can have a positive influence on others, just as Pat had on us and many more.”

The Class of 2014: Nantawat “Earth” Laothong, Fawn R. Pelletier, Gregory A. M. Allan, Isabella “Izze” Canham, and Chase N. Eppers.
The Class of 2014: Nantawat “Earth” Laothong, Fawn R. Pelletier, Gregory A. M. Allan, Isabella “Izze” Canham, and Chase N. Eppers.

Buck Reidy, a member of the board of directors, drew laughs with an opening joke about the weather. “One of the things I love about this place is that one day it can feel like November in Newfoundland, then three days later, I feel like I’m in Bermuda,” he said. “Thank you, mother nature, for smiling on our graduates today.”

Mr. Reidy addressed the five graduates individually, reflecting a common theme during the ceremony and representative of the school’s overall mission.

“One of the advantages of such a small graduating class is we get to focus on you as individuals; it allows us to give you a proper send-off,” he said. “It is our collective hope that you leave this school ready to engage and hopefully make a difference. The five of you constitute the fruit of this school, if you will, the finished product, however unfinished you feel. Like in hide and seek, today you can say, ready or not, here I come. Believe me, you’re ready. Congratulations.”

Each graduate received an individualized gift from each of the younger classes. The kindergarten class presented Earth with a painting of a guitar, a CD, blank music pages for songwriting, a recent guitar catalog, and guitar strings.

The first and second grades gave Izze fresh strawberries, flowers, and a handmade book called “Izze’s Favorite Things.”

The third and fourth graders gave Fawn, the only graduate who had been at the school since kindergarten, an animal calendar, a couple of stuffed animals, and a portable veterinarian box.

The fifth and sixth grades presented Gregory with a scientist’s lab coat decorated with signatures, pizza-making supplies, and the secret recipe for the pizza at the Charter School.

Math teacher Deb Cutrer hugs Chase Eppers as Isabella Canham looks on.
Math teacher Deb Cutrer hugs Chase Eppers as Isabella Canham looks on.

Finally, the seventh and eighth graders gave Chase an intricate compass and a molded coffee mug. As a group, the graduates received themed footy pajamas, bubbles, nightlights, pillowcases, and mugs from the high school students.

Paul Karasik, the MVPCS Development Director, presented each graduate $500 for further education from Options in Education, the scholarship branch of the Charter School. Earth received an additional $500 from the Juliet Burkett Memorial Scholarship, established in 2007 in memory of the former Charter School student.

Each graduate also received an additional personalized award, as well as a copy of Neil Gaiman’s book, “Make Good Art.”

Fawn and Earth gave the graduates’ addresses. Fawn reflected on the surreal experience of leaving after 13 years.

“Don’t think of this as goodbye,” she said. “Think of this as, I’ll see you later.” She concluded to loud applause with a quote by Dr. Seuss. “Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!”

Earth, a native of Thailand, reflected on being a latecomer. “I barely spoke to anyone my first year,” he said. “I wasn’t shy, but I only knew about 10 words in English. Learning English was hard; studying U.S. history in English was harder.”

His mother and other members of the crowd shed tears when he spoke emotionally about the sacrifices she had made to bring him to the United States, including years of separation for which she asked forgiveness.

“Mom, I have no words to tell you how much I love you, and yes, I forgive you,” he said. The crowd cheered.

At the request of the graduates, Ken Vincent, the high school and junior high school art teacher, gave the commencement address.

He spoke about each graduate. He noted Fawn’s “ability to speak her mind,” Earth’s “tenacity” and “creativeness,” and called Gregory “one of the brightest guys alive,” and thanked them as a group for choosing him.

Mr. Moore and Mr. Reidy conferred the diplomas, and the graduates joined the crowd to the tune of “All My Friends” by the alternative dance band LCD Soundsystem.

With the ceremony concluded, the graduates, teachers, schoolmates, and extended families mingled beneath a set of tents and enjoyed a buffet prepared by the school chef.

“It’s like a family reunion: it’s an excellent day to be here,” Geoff Allan, Gregory’s father said.

In a conversation with The Times after the ceremony, Mr. Moore extended the family analogy. “We celebrate each individual student, their personalities and interest, but it’s also one big family,” he said.

The students now look to the future. Chase Eppers will study computer science at Cape Cod Community College before he pursues his goal of becoming a Marine. Izze Canham will take a gap year to travel, both in the United States and internationally. Earth Laothong will study graphic design at Bunker Hill Community College, and will continue his passion for music. Gregory Allan will continue working at the Boys and Girls Club in Edgartown, and taking online college courses. Fawn Pelletier will study veterinary sciences at Bristol Community College.

“We’re just thrilled by this group of kids, who have done so well,” Claudia Ewing, MVPCS assistant director, said. “We’ve been privileged to have them, this group in particular.”

This story was updated to reflect that Earth Laothong won the Juliet Burkett Memorial Scholarship. An earlier version reported that Fawn Pelletier had received the award.

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The Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School plans to add two new classrooms after learning it will receive a $150,000 grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center to upgrade the school’s science lab. Part of this funding is a matching grant from Island nonprofit Options In Education which brings the total award to $200,000 for the Charter School to spend on new science equipment, according to a press release.

“We take science education seriously,” Charter School director Robert Moore said. “We are grateful to the Life Sciences Center for this unprecedented award which will give our students, from kindergarten to grade 12 from all Island towns, a first-rate science experience.”

With the grant in hand, the school plans to embark on an ambitious building project that includes the construction of two new science classrooms to house the modern equipment funded by the grant. The construction project will occur over two summers with the new labs opening in the fall of 2015, according to development director Paul Karasik. The school will use the opportunity to build a new basketball court and reconfigure the parking area to improve safety.

“We continue to increase high school enrollment at the Charter School and we urgently need more space to accommodate enrollment,” Mr. Moore said. “We are also beginning to implement the state STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math] science curriculum which demands a 21st century science education be delivered in a 21st century science lab.”

“Training students to enter the life sciences workforce is a critical part of the Center’s mission,” said Susan Windham-Bannister, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. “We want to make those opportunities available to all students across the state. These investments will both strengthen and diversify our life sciences workforce in Massachusetts.”