Student takes advantage of opportunities at Chester Arthur School
Chester A. Arthur School has a small-class setting, relatable teachers, and engaging class assignments where students are supported to reach academic excellence.
“One of the things that I really like about this school besides the teachers are the different programs and activities,” said fourth-grader Miguel Popoca Sanchez. “I’m a junior coach at my school and through that I’m able to help the other students and staff at my school. There are so many different things to do here.”
1) When did you first start attending Arthur?
I moved to Philadelphia from the Philippines in the 2nd grade. It was tough fitting in at first, but I got to meet some really nice people. That’s the thing about Arthur — it has a really nice community. Teachers are welcoming. If you need help, you can ask anyone. People are caring and respectful. To be a part of this community is an honor and it is going to be sad to depart when I graduate.
2) What is your favorite after-school program at Arthur?
Wow — that’s a hard question. I don’t know if I can pick just one. I really love Delphi, a dance program provided by the PA Ballet. Throughout the school year, we have three teachers who teach us three types of dance. This year we are doing ballet, salsa, and hip hop. Dance is a way of telling a story, of conveying emotion. A different side of me gets brought out. When I dance, I feel energetic and I have a lot of fun.
But, I also love the STEM clubs. For example, in Lego Robotics, we program a robot to complete different missions. This year, the theme is outer space. We have to ask and think through questions related to the theme, like ‘How can we generate water in space?’ It requires a lot of teamwork to perfect the program that powers the robot. Something that seems simple, like having the robot move forward, means figuring out how many rotations of the wheels, how fast they should rotate, and in what direction. You really need the inputs of other people. When we work, we each have different roles: The recorder notes data and statistics, the builder puts things together, the organizer manages the process, and the idea-maker helps generate new ideas. Besides robotics, I’m also co-hosting “Dillon and Nicus Talk Food in Philly” as part of the Podcast Club. For our second episode, we got to try Vietnamese soup from Pho Cali. We’re editing our 3rd and 4th episodes right now.
3) What’s your favorite subject and why?
I have a burning passion for the sciences. I’m really interested in astronomy. There are so many unanswered questions, and when I grow up I want to help answer them to benefit humanity. I like the problem-solving approach that we learn about in science class. Recently, we had to create an innovative cell phone stand. These days, phones are used for more than just calling people. We made a cell phone stand so that you can use your phone even when your hands are full. Initially, we created a stand out of paper. And it worked, but we have learned to keep thinking, keep testing, and keep pushing ourselves to identify improvements and additional functionality. We realized that more friction between the phone and the stand would help to keep the phone in place better. And we wanted a panel that could slide so it could fit larger phones and tablets. So we made a new version using foam core, which is a more sturdy and durable material. How cool is it that our makerspace has foam core?!? Learning and practicing this design process has been really beneficial to me.
I also like art class and getting to work with materials I don’t have at home, like charcoal, clay, and paint. This year, I’ve gotten to work with pencils of different lead grade values indicating how dark or light they are. I’ve been working on contrasting shadow and light. One really fun project this year was when I got to create a bioluminescent creature through sculpture.
4) What comes next for you after Arthur?
I recently interviewed at Science Leadership Academy and I just got audition papers for CAPA. Those are my top choices for high school. At Arthur, I’ve learned that collaboration and communication are key to leadership. That’s something I’ll take with me wherever I go.
The Chester Arthur Schoolyard Case Study has been published by the Landscape Architecture Foundation. The case study involved a Pre-Construction Site Assessment in 2016, a Post-Construction Site Assessment in 2017, both done by our landscape architect, SALT, and then data evaluation, analysis and presentation. We've been told the Landscape Architecture Foundation has a rigorous review process for their Case Studies and so it's an accomplishment to be approved by the organization. This work was funded by the William Penn Foundation grant that we secured for the Schoolyard.
1) Do you participate in any after-school activities at Arthur?
This is my third year participating in the Delphi dance program and I just love it. We learn different styles of dance, like ballet, jazz, and Latin. Latin is my favorite — the music is alive! I hear a lot of Latin music at home but I didn’t know how to groove to it until now.