Egan Junior High School student Tanish Chettiar compared the school to a tree and each student to a leaf striving for excellence during his presentation May 31 at the school’s annual Viking Showcase, an event designed for graduating eighth-graders to highlight their achievements from their two years at Egan.
Students participating in the showcase were divided into small groups and assigned to one or two adult volunteers, who gave feedback after each student’s speech.
Tanish read the poem he wrote about the tree he likens to his Egan experience and showed a picture of green leaves.
“My tree has taught me and nurtured me for two years,” he said.
Tanish also shared that he is a runner, which has taught him perseverance.
Classmate Shelli Lewis, who said she enjoys running, ballet and biking, displayed a roadmap she created to illustrate the destinations on her journey through Egan. Her destinations included making new friends, developing good study habits and having fun with friends.
Shelli recounted fond memories of trips to Yosemite and Disneyland with friends as well as producing a video together. She said she is an introvert by nature but became more sociable and learned to make eye contact while giving speeches at Egan.
Eighth-grader Bryn Kenehan also called herself an introvert but said she made friends at Egan and became more confident.
“I built confidence in my dancing classes,” she said.
Bryn said she liked science classes at Egan, and the anatomy class she took made her want to become a nurse.
Classmate Jack Hitching said he likes playing badminton, and he became better at math at Egan. He noted that he gained perseverance through running and tae kwon do.
Jack read a poem he wrote about switching friends, which he said was a big transition for him in seventh grade because he went from a group of friends he had known since second grade to making new friends.
“Fortunately, it’s easy to make friends at Egan, even though it’s a big school,” he said.
“Egan is very inclusive,” Tanish added. “It would be hard to make friends in a community where people are not willing to accept someone new.”
The four students shared their achievements with adult volunteers Nalini Natarajan and Chris Toney, both of whom are parents of other Egan students.
Toney advised the students to measure themselves against their own expectations rather than against others’. He also said introverts cannot change their nature but can try to socialize more.
Natarajan praised the students for being so mature.
“I never got into such deep concepts as perseverance when I was 14,” she said.
The Viking Showcase evolved from Portfolio Day, which started more than 20 years ago with students presenting hard copies of their portfolios.
In the past three years, Egan student portfolios have become digital, and adult volunteers read through them on a computer prior to listening to students’ oral presentations.
“Now our Viking Showcase is not so product-focused. It features learning,” Egan Principal Keith Rocha said. “And we want our students to transfer their learning. So the learning in English, for example, doesn’t stop in English.”
According to Rocha, transferrable learning was demonstrated through Egan’s Decades Project, an exhibition about each decade of the 20th century that took place the same day.