Idea Week designed to foster creativity among Upper Arlington students

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Upper Arlington High School recently kicked off Ideas Week by inviting students to reflect on and develop their passions so they can impact others.

The week grew from a one-day event held in 2018 to bring together students and staff with members of the Upper Arlington Education Foundation and community and business partners for presentations on topics designed to foster creative thinking and pathways to social change and professional development.

Due to the ongoing circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become increasingly difficult to secure commitments from presenters for this year’s Ideas Day, according to Laura Moore, professor of language arts at the UAHS and educational leader of the school’s research and design laboratory.

So this year, Idea Day has been transformed into Idea Week, with pop-up projects and activities scheduled for lunch each day from April 4-8 at the high school.

Ryan Pruitt tells Upper Arlington students how to find their passion projects and more during an April 4 town hall that was part of the Ideas Week kickoff.

“Our goal is the same: to provide student leaders with a platform to plan experiences meant to inspire, foster connection, and teach us something new,” Moore said.

Ideas Week kicked off April 4 with a presentation by Ryan Pruitt, a 2020 University of Pennsylvania graduate and podcaster who founded Be All You, a nonprofit that seeks to empower students to use their strengths and creativity to create “passionate projects”.

“I have a fundamental belief that you can operate at your highest level if you pursue and encourage things that you are passionate about,” Pruitt said.

During his presentation, Pruitt explained to students that they can develop passion projects by determining their motivations for what they are undertaking, identifying plans to achieve their project, and articulating their high-level goals.

“You can be passionate about literally anything,” he said. “To me, passion is a feeling of intense enthusiasm that drives you to do something. The cool thing about passions is that if you nurture them long enough, if you work on your passions long enough, they can turn into a spark.”

To demonstrate a passion project, senior Kendall Crotty held a five-minute fashion show, which was a snippet of her main project.

The show was themed “Alice in Wonderland”, and Crotty and fellow seniors Delia Al-Khatib, Nora Diday and Isabella Stabile designed four outfits with playing card elements.

“I love fashion and want to get into fashion when I’m older and I thought planning a fashion show would be a good experience for my future career,” Crotty said. “The overall theme for UA Ideas Week was ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and I thought that would be a good tie-in.”

Crotty, who plans to study fashion design at Kent State University, said she’s passionate about fashion, in part because “clothing is something anyone can use to express themselves.”

“I used to go to a private school where I had to wear a uniform every day,” she said. “So when I first moved to UA, I was able to wear whatever clothes I wanted.

“It showed how important clothes are to someone’s personality. I also love when you find that piece of clothing that makes you feel like a million bucks, and I want to give others that feeling.”

Other AU Ideas Week activities include an April 7 presentation on cybersecurity by representatives of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co.

Representatives nationwide also planned “Hackathon” events on April 8 in which teams of “first time” students were to develop a mobile app to pre-order lunch at UAHS, while a group of “Advanced” students had to use computer skills to design a “turnstile” solution using buttons and laser sensors to move students through queues.

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