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My Top Ten-ish Picks from Sophomore Academy Day Presentations

Every year, Collegedale Academy hosts an event called Academy Day, which this year was on January 19. During Academy Day, students from other schools, most of which are eighth graders, discover what attending CA is like through activities such as music performances, games, and an Acro show. One aspect of Academy Day that is wildly popular is the Art Show, where visitors and CA students alike gather in the auditorium to admire artwork-inspired costumes created by the art students.

However, once the models have bowed on the crowded stage, freshmen, juniors, and seniors waddle under the weight of their backpacks to the freedom of an early dismissal.  As the visitors sit in the auditorium still, the sophomores chat nervously amongst themselves in the hallways – hallways lined with tables and tri-fold posters, the culmination of last semester’s research unit. Knowing that this last segment the day is oft-overlooked, I decided to venture on a quest to bring our readers my favorite ten-or-so sophomore presentations of Academy Day 2024.


  1. Dissociative Identity Disorder by Isabella Hulsey

Isabella Hulsey created her presentation about Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), a psychological disorder in which the affected person has more than one personality. She chose this fascinating topic because DID stands out from other mental disorders.


  1. How Can Reading Body Language Save You? by Haley Hubbartt

Haley Hubbartt’s research project was centered around the benefits of reading body language in negative situations, such as when someone is following you or possibly lying, and how detecting these signals can protect you from harm. Her interest in psychology influenced this topic choice.


  1. Doomed To Die: The Radium Girls by Maddi Johnson

The Radium Girls were a group of factory workers in the early 20th century that were exposed to glow-in-the-dark paint that was radioactive. When Maddi Johnson heard about them, it sparked her interest in learning about this sinister story. Her board was decorated with newspaper clippings and a half-face, half-skull portrait she drew.


  1. Diseases and the Folklore Based on Them by Liliana Liedke

Liliana Liedke brought her fascination with folklore to life with this “spooky” presentation that proposes that popular mythological creatures may actually be based in reality – the reality, that is, of illnesses and medical conditions. She even had a game that challenged visitors to her table to match the creature with the disease that inspired it!


  1. Demystifying Bermuda by Isabella Anderson

For centuries, people have suspected that devastating shipwrecks and plane crashes in the Bermuda Triangle are a result of supernatural activities in the region. Mystery-lover Isabella Anderson decided to undertake this puzzling case, and in the process found evidence that this spot in the ocean is not so bizarre after all.


  1. Why Living on Mars is a Joke by Gemma Tary 

Gemma Tary’s creative title and pom-pom planet jump out at passerby with her straightforward opinion. NASA wants to have people on Mars sometime in the 2030s, but she thinks this idea is ridiculous. The time frame, harsh conditions, and other factors make a trip to Mars unrealistic. Looks like the next great mission in the Milky Way won’t be to the red planet! (Oh, and she was handing out Milky Ways.)


  1. The Benefits of Mountain Biking by Seth Eckenroth

Seth Eckenroth chose to base his presentation on one of his hobbies, mountain biking. He explained that not only is mountain biking fun, but it’s also good for your health, both physically and mentally. To top it all off, mountain biking is a great way to meet new people and grow closer to friends. He even brought two mountain bikes as props!


  1. Cults: Indoctrination and Aftermath by Kristen Mayr

Kristen Mayr wanted to write her research paper on serial killers, but the topic was too common. Instead, she chose to write about the “next best thing” – cults, the reasons people join them, and the effects on victims even after they’ve left. She decorated her board with red curtains, a candle, and picture frames of cult leaders to reflect how cults often start in homes and close-knit groups. This all made for one of the best presentations this year (yes, she’s my sister, but I’m not that biased).


  1. Owning A Snake by Lance Newkirk

Snakes are Lance Newkirk’s favorite animal – in fact, he owns five of his own! So writing about them for his research project was a no-brainer. His presentation makes a case for owning snakes, showing that these interesting reptiles aren’t difficult to take care of and can actually be very gentle. His board displayed pictures of his own pet snakes, highlighting the distinct patterns and colors on their scales.


  1. The Effects of Eating Disorders in Athletes By Isabella Williams-Marlow

It’s important for an athlete’s performance to stay healthy, which is precisely what Isabella Williams-Marlow wanted to illustrate in her presentation. She showed that both eating too much or too little can be detrimental to one’s health, which results in less strength and energy needed to put your 100% in when playing sports. Her basketball-themed decorations featured pictures of herself playing her favorite sport, and she offered Reese’s peanut butter footballs to anyone who stopped by her table.


  1. Disparities in School Funding by Rebecca Walwyn

The sophomores’ presentation project  was the perfect opportunity for Rebecca Walwyn to research and raise awareness about a civil rights issue, a topic she’s extremely passionate about. She focused on the differences in public school funding depending on where the schools are situated, comparing the higher-income, predominantly white areas to the lower-income neighborhoods minorities often live in. To illustrate this issue, she brought an iPad with interactive graphs that showed these disparities state-by-state.


  1. Women In Aviation by Elly Peña

When people think of female aviators, they immediately think Amelia Earhart. However, she wasn’t the only woman to achieve sky-high dreams. Elly Peña introduces us to Baroness Raymond, Sabiha Goeken, and Phoebe Omlie, three trailblazing women in aviation that are inspiring Elly to soar high herself. The different textures and colors used on her board give it the “old-timey” feel of early airplanes.


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