Category Archives: Private Schools

Sustainable inventions from Tesseract 7th graders

From apps to clothes to organizational tools, seventh graders at Tesseract School have thought of and created sustainable inventions that can make life easier and better while also helping the planet.

On top of writing a persuasive letter in English class that was directed toward a company or someone who might distribute the inventions, students designed models and samples of their ideas. When they first started their projects eight weeks ago, they spent about the first month brainstorming and working on a packet to help decide what their projects would be.

“At first I was a little freaked out because I didn’t know what I was going to do, and it seemed kind of hard,” said seventh grader Max Whooley. But he said “eventually everyone got a good idea; even if it wasn’t 100 percent an invention no one had done before, they all had something unique.”

One student, inspired by a trip to Cambodia, constructed shoes from bike tires. Another created a Drive-In that goes into businesses so people can order food, leave and then drive back to find their food in a nice container ready to be picked up.

Jessica Wilder decided organization was a big problem, especially for her sister. So she devised a backpack with folders already attached for organizing papers, as well as a planner and notebook that attaches handily with Velcro to the outside of the “Pack Back.”

For virtual organizing, Landon Nutt created the app iBackpack which allows students to access a dictionary, Spanish website, grades, math books and notes that can be uploaded if they were taken online. He doesn’t like carrying all his books in his backpack, so this would be a lot easier and also save paper, Nutt said.

Biosoilable bags are handy for planting without doing a lot of the work or harming the environment, said Ariana Lesniak. The bag is made from potato starch, glycerin, vinegar, water and baking soda, and “it looks like you poured the soil in and did all the hard work, when you really didn’t do any of it,” Lesniak said.

For pet lovers, Lea Byrnes came up with the Green Pet, Pet Bed, a doggy bed made out of recycled pajamas. Because her dog continuously ruins his plastic bed, Byrnes decided to make a washable bed that wouldn’t waste materials, she said.

For campers as well as Third World countries that don’t have electricity, Gabby Vatistas created a light using zinc and copper in potatoes, an idea started because of her pet peeve of people leaving lights on. Another student, Lisa Lewson, is bothered when people leave a public restroom without washing their hands, so she made a model of her idea to have a voice asking, “Did you remember to wash your hands?” when the bathroom door opens.

Devin Gillis, wanting to do something with designing and photography, decided to create economy friendly shirts that are displayed online in pictures she took. Whenever someone buys a shirt, another shirt with a logo she designed is sent to a child in need. Her company, Sublime, means “of such excellence and grace,” Gillis said. She wants to open the idea of good karma and inspire people to “do something good just to do something good.”

 “The students demonstrated remarkable enthusiasm, ingenuity and resourcefulness from beginning to end for this project,” said middle school science teacher Andrew Martin in a press release.

The students will be presenting their inventions at Tesseract’s Celebration of Innovation Thursday, March 22 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the middle and high school campus, 3939 East Shea Blvd in Phoenix.

Story and photos by Amy Vogelsang


FUN photos from school: more Centennial celebrations

Olga Garcia from Christ’s Greenfield Lutheran Preschool and School in Gilbert sent these pictures from Arizona Centennial celebrations last week.

Mrs. Wornick's kindergarten students created a desert scene and a birthday cake. From left: Marlow Bowser, Jacob Kelly, Jayln Sickels and Sam Cavinder.

The Student Council gave everyone in the school a paper square. Each family/student took their square and made a picture of why they love Arizona. Student Council members came to school on a Saturday and put the squares together to make a paper quilt, which they hung it from a second-story walkway for all to see as they enter the school. From left: Darius Williams, Gabey Garcia, Lexi Ermeling, Hannah Drager, Lauren Plihcik, Sue Coryea and Natalie Nielson.

Agriculture project produces learning

Gateway Academy, a private k-12 school for students with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, planted a garden yesterday. Planting beds were constructed, dirt and mulch brought in, and hands got dirty.

photos by Daniel Friedman

Amador Padilla from Home Depot explains to students the process for planting the tomato, lettuce, strawberry and herb plants.

“The sensory component is huge” for students on the autism spectrum says O.Robin Sweet, the executive director of Gateway Academy.

Students were very careful about following directions and enjoyed the chance to be outside rather than be stuck in the classroom on a Friday afternoon.

There were several kinds of tomatoes, cilantro, oregano, lemon balm, a variety of lettuce and artichokes in the garden.

Home Depot sent three employees from the gardening department as well as lumber for the beds and the plants. Scots Miracle Gro sent someone over to help the students as well as donate fertilizer, and the soil was donated by Whitney Farms Organic Potting and Container Soil.

FUN photos from school – a Chinese New Year celebration

New Vistas Center for Education joined its Asian families in a schoolwide celebration of Chinese New Year. The event last week included an elaborate parade involving about 180 students.

Students learned about the traditions, dress and history surrounding this most important family festivity on the Asian calendar. New Vistas is home to hundreds of Asian children from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, the Philippines and Vietnam.

New Vistas is a private pre-school through sixth grade from August to May and a preschool through high school June through August. It is located at 670 N. Arizona Ave. #35 in Chandler. It is currently celebrating its 32nd anniversary.

Lila Le

John Ovelil

Hayden Young

Allison Li

A chance to learn about adolescent development

Daniel B. Kessler, M.D. Photo by Daniel Friedman.

Developmental behavioral pediatrician Daniel B. Kessler, M.D. will talk about childhood development from 6:30 to 8pm Thursday at Summit School of Ahwatukee. The information session is open to parents and will focus on adolescent progress and development. He will take general questions about childhood development and talk about what a person in his position can do for parents and their children.

Kessler joined Southwest Human Development last year to help establish the Children’s Developmental Center. The center offers a team approach to assessing and treating children birth to 5 who face developmental or behavioral challenges, minimizing the frustration factor for parents seeking answers and support.

Kessler continues his private practice at Southwest Human Development, helping children from birth to 21 years with learning, behavior, attention and emotional regulation issues. He also manages a feeding difficulties clinic for infants and young children. Find out more about the center’s One Child, One Family, One Team program at

The Summit School of Ahwatukee is a private, independent school for preschool through eighth grade. It is located at 4515 E. Muirwood Dr. in Phoenix.


Listen to our interview with Dr. Kessler.

New Vistas students receive awards in Creative Expressions Contest

Four young students from New Vistas Center for Education private school received first, second and third place awards in the City of Chandler’s Creative Expressions Contest and Centennial Poster competition. The winners were announced Friday, Jan. 20, by Community Resources and Diversity Manager Leah Powell.

Alessandra Isaacson sings a song dedicated to Chandler residents, of all heritages, who miss their homeland.

This year, 1,100 children submitted entries in performance, writing and visual arts categories. First place in performance for kindergarten through fourth grade was New Vistas first grader Alessandra Isaacson. She introduced her a capella song in both Spanish and English and dedicated it to those who miss their homeland.

“The song is about missing your home and having no one around who knows you,” Isaacson said in a press release from the school. “I like to sing in front of people. It makes me happy.”

In the writing category, Sasha Guntu won first place with an essay about coming to America.

Sisters Melinda and Madeleine Chang.

In visual arts, Madeleine Chang (5) came in third with a painting of a Chandler farm and her sister Melinda Chang (10) came in second for her depiction of downtown Chandler’s Farmer’s Market.

“There are 29 different people in my picture and they are all doing something different,” Melinda said in the press release.

Melinda also won first place out of 1,500 entries in the Centennial Poster Contest.

All first place winners were congratulated and awarded cash prizes at a Jan. 23 Chandler City Council Meeting. — Amy Vogelsang

Melinda's drawing of the downtown Chandler's Farmer's Market.

Melinda's first place winning entry of the Centennial Poster Contest.

How to apply for Arizona tuition tax credit scholarships

For families considering a Catholic high school for their middle school-aged children but concerned about the cost of a private education, Seaton Catholic Preparatory High School in Chandler is offering a free event called “How to Apply for Arizona Tuition Tax Credit Scholarships” at 9 a.m. this Saturday, Jan 7.

The presentation, which is open to the public, will be given in Seton Prep’s Fine Arts Building by Jody LaBenz, CPA, the Principal Auditor with the Maricopa  Community Colleges. LaBenz will provide an overview of state tuition tax credit scholarships and the types of school tuition organizations. He’ll discuss how to navigate the maze of options, and help parents understand how they can qualify for tuition tax credit assistance and other scholarship programs. A question-and-answer session will follow the presentation.

A parent reception for families in the foyer of the Fine Arts Building will begin at 8am. Seton student ambassadors will be available the day of the event to provide campus tours for parents and students.

The Catholic high school entrance exam, or High School Placement Test, will be taking place for students at 8:30 a.m.

For more information on the Arizona Tuition Tax Credit presentation or the High School Placement Test , visit or call Seton Catholic Prep’s Admission office at 480-963-1900, ext. 2355.