Photos: Accolade Staff, EHS Communications
To quote Student Body Vice-President and Honors Thesis Candidate Gabrielle Bienasz, “LAUNCH is explosive!”
On Friday, Feb. 26, Upper School students participated in Episcopal’s third LAUNCH. Designed to be a day to showcase the students own enthusiasm for learning in their community, the day is practically 100% student-driven. Centered around the LAUNCHpad, a centerpiece for student talent resembling a music festival, LAUNCH Host Ellis Herring, Class of 2016, kicked off the day wearing his homemade LAUNCH pants.
Nearly fifty presenters and performers shared Honors Thesis projects, ESTAAR experiences, business proposals, art portfolios, engineering projects, original poetry, songs, and this year’s Knight Vision Bot. “I saw my peers present as confidently as any professional speaker,” said Gabrielle. “The ideas in the presentations were eloquently, concisely, and energetically delivered.”
On top of this over twenty seniors prepped, planned, and promoted the day, while twenty five juniors served directly as crew members. Gabrielle again, “The organization that it took to give these ideas space to become real to the student body was truly inspiring.” In total, nearly one hundred Upper School students ran the day of presentations and performances by themselves for themselves. Everything—from the artwork to the scheduling, from the introductions of speakers to funding for the event—was supplied by students. It was genuinely impressive, and as Gabrielle mused, “There is nothing like a challenge to bring Episcopal students together.”
Thinking about the student planners and presenters, Honors Thesis teacher Scott Engholm remarked, “I think the things that all students do on LAUNCH—not just presenters—is inspiring, even those who just show up and actually want to support a peer. We don’t get a lot of opportunities to disrupt the ‘business-as-usual,’ and with LAUNCH, we actually get to let high school students enjoy learning from each other, share experiences with each other, and possibly even inspire each other.”
With five simultaneous presentation sessions occurring throughout the entire day, the campus’ facilities were pushed to the max. So while it is student driven, there were numerous faculty and staff who supported and worked with students to make these opportunities happen—and help came from a variety of places, including Chef Pat and his staff, the arts faculty, the Help Desk, the Operations team, and even the staff in the Alumni House.
Already thinking of next year, Mr. Engholm said, “My only regret each year is that, because the students work so hard and do it so well, they maybe make it look too easy. I’m not only grateful for the risks they take. I’m also proud to get to be associated with them, and proud to be associated with LAUNCH.”
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