Riding of into the sunset

Get to work
I watch my feet as they clack against the hallway floor. Afraid to make eye contact, I check my reflection in the window pane. My chest feels tight as the clock ticks. I enter the class, bump into the cramped desks that surround mine. Unable to adjust my seat I sigh in discomfort. Glancing my way they give a good chuckle. My chest tightens. I sigh and sink into my seat, I try to focus, but the increasing fear and pressure hurt my head. I’d love to draw, to express how I understood the material. Instead, I stare at an empty page of lines, then the teacher says “get to work”.

I hear my feet hit the hallway floor as I walk with my head held high. My lunch bag sways in my rush of a walk. I give a glance at the clock and smile, early as usual. I open the door, the faces in the room light up and welcome me. In the morning we all gather and share about a certain topic. We laugh and talk, we are given some directions and then left to work. I cheerfully adjust my seat and select my favourite song. With my pencil in hand, I create a story, to someday be read by my fellow classmates. Once I get stuck, I take a little stroll outside. I take a deep breath of fresh air and tell myself “time to get back to work”.
This is Propel, a program that puts regular school to shame. Project based learning is what Propel is all about. We have the freedom to pursue our passions with the guidance of our teachers. We all select a project unique to us and our passion. I decided on creating an original video game with two of my peers, as well as creating a short one-shot manga of my own.

I remember the day before we finally began project work. I ran home from my bus stop in the snow with a huge smile. I have never been more excited over something school related. I did learn a lot in this program both academically and socially. I learned that even total strangers can work to solve a problem in adversity. I have never been able to properly convey my thoughts to a crowd till now. I now know putting yourself out there and making connections is important, something I would have avoided had it not been for Propel. The confidence I have gained from this program is immense. I am learning skills I will use for the rest of my life. I am succeeding in more than school. The confidence I have been lacking for so long is finally with me. I am proud of my work, I know it’s good because I have worked so hard. Ask anyone in this program. More than anything I’m happy, I love what I do and I value that more than anything. I believe being happy is the greatest success, more than a 100% on any test.

I struggled to start my project, no web page could tell you how to create a manga of your own. I did days worth of research, looking for guidance. I found the cultural difference between where mangas’ originate from (Japan) and where I live (Canada) as a huge roadblock. Here the more common name is graphic novel, but that wasn’t what I wanted. The style and mediums between the two are very much different. As for the story itself I struggled deeply. I did have many ideas and inspirations but I had the task of fitting it all in one book. I wrote many different stories however they were all too long, as I had underestimated the workload that went into making a manga. What I was attempting to do alone usually takes teams of six to seven people a few months. Sketching, inking, backgrounds, text, shading, screen toning, all these things rested on my shoulders alone. Eventually I came up with a short story that was part narrated to ease the amount of pages needed. The story became short and sweet. However I still managed to fit in some plot twists.
As for the video game I had similar difficulties, the original story seemed too long and had too many characters. We also had some program trouble. The program we’d bought for the maps and overall layout of the game would not allow us to implement our original characters. We’d have to use pre set characters to use that program which we didn’t like. The character making program I was given had its ups and downs. We had difficulty saving maps and characters, and we have lost some along the way. The program was out dated and didn’t supply much information to the user. However, nowadays we have YouTube and Google. I eventually taught myself the ins and outs of the program.

It was quite a challenge to begin my book, however I pushed forward and did plenty of research. I had to find a publisher and calculate the price of print and shipping. Why do this when you don’t have a book yet you may ask? Well, you need to know your publisher before hand so you use the right formats and size. If you make your pages a random size not many places will be able to print it, you may lose lots of your work. Format plays a roll as well, certain printing houses only accept certain formats or PDF files. Instead of attempting to convert things later, it’s best to begin with the right file format in the beginning. Once I had calculated everything in that respective area I could finally begin the thumbnails. Thumbnails are little poorly drawn doodles meant to give a sense of page flow and idea. Once you’ve written your story, thumbnails help you envision it before you begin your story board and sketching. Without thumbnails you may feel lost as to how you want to convey the story on a page. With thumbnails finished as the backbone you may begin sketching. I had sketched, inked and screen toned about 5 pages when I realized I didn’t have enough time to finish this piece. That was when I changed from my original story to a whole new one.
I chose a more simplistic story which revolved around two main characters. I was also struggling with the program I was using to draw digitally. As a result I returned to what I knew. I decided to draw it traditionally (pencil and paper) and watercolour was going to replace the screen tone. The novel would be more costly to print but I feel as if I would be cheating my readers if I gave them such a short book. The colour creates life within the pages which makes up for the short storyline. I found this story so clear in my mind that drawing the pages was a breeze. Inking and colouring went even faster. It was like a one huge colouring book.
After many how-to videos, the video game really began to look how I imagined it. Kage became the maps master, while Nick coded everything in and created all the puzzles to stump the players. I enlisted my brother as the music developer because he loves to make it anyway. He really loved to be part of the process. Friends and family helped as well, giving us advice and testing the game for us. I myself was busy creating the characters in what we call sprite. No, Not the soda. Our game is pixel art so I had to create the characters in a sprite format. Now this isn’t just drawing a still image. I had to redraw the same character about sixteen times just to create a walking sprite.

This semester really went by way too fast. I am sad to see it end. I have made some good friends here and I love the environment. In our classroom it isn’t teacher over student. They are more like our coaches there to guide us and help when we are in need. We are more like equals, this makes it so much easier to connect with them and be open. I remember one day when I was hard at work sketching I realized I had run out of paper. I had been using my sketchbook for paper. I told Mme Albrecht and she said “well let’s just go get some, you need it right?”. On that note we walked to her house about a block or two away, hopped in her truck, and drove to the nearest Michaels. I find that our teachers are more like family than anything, that’s what Propel is to me. We’re one big disorganized family. I believe that’s one of the best schooling environments possible. It’s an amazing feeling to know your classmates have your back, I don’t have that at my home school. We work together even if we don’t all get along, we have mutual respect. Even when we were creating our work environment, there was debating over colours, furniture and space but we all came together and communicated our ideas. In different ways we all pitched in, some explained with words, I even brought in colour templates for the visual people. In the end, we compromised and created a home we all love. I am so proud of that. We are all different characters with different creative ideas that collaborated and communicated our ideas while the rest listened. I am so proud to say I am part of this group. I love these people, I think they are all amazing.

This experience is unlike anything I’ve ever done in my life. I have grown more here than I have my entire high school career. The things I’ve accomplished and learned will stay with me. I am genuinely proud of myself, I worked really hard and the test score can say otherwise. Not everything one learns can be graded. I have gained so much within these few months. I am not afraid anymore. I am not afraid to speak my mind, even if it is in front of a crowd. I am not afraid to try my best and fail. I am not afraid to go out seek others guidance. I am not afraid to go out and give back. I have pushed myself far, I have left my comfort zone, and I have tried new things. I have confidence in my skills and talents. I created an original video game among friends, I wrote and illustrated my own original story. I have tried and failed, and gotten back up. A class room should be more than desks and a white board. True growth happens when you support your students to push boundaries and learn freely.

This is my last post sadly. Thank you to all my readers and supporters. If you manage to read all that I congratulate you. Clap* Clap* Clap*

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The finish line

Tally-ho! Onward we ride towards our final goal! It has been very stressful these past few weeks. My deadlines are coming up and I have less than a week to finish my manga as well as the video game. I am happy to say I have made tons of progress towards my manga! It will now be in colour instead of using screen tone. I’ll be using watercolour which yes, means I am drawing traditionally. I actually had a little paper crisis earlier today but all is well. Mme Albrecht brought me to Michaels to restock. Currently I am sketching out page 11, I’m so excited to see my book when it’s finished! My manga will be about 24 pages, not long but I promise it’s worth the read! It’s drawn in a cute chibi style. I can draw much better believe me but I just don’t have the time.

Kage recently finished the map of our video game! He will be taking it easy while Nick now has to work his butt off. There’s so much programming yet to be done. I hope we can manage it all. Since there is still so much to be done I’ve been working at home a lot. Luckily I have a very special desk at home. I work outside when the weather allows. The scenery of backing onto a park is very inspiring. I love to just take a glance around when I’m running out of ideas. Some times I even get to see a rabbit or bird. They never stick around long enough for me to sketch them though. With all this nice weather I just can’t wait till summer. I mean since we don’t have exams I can look forward to it carefree! I just need to make it through these last few weeks.image

Hammer time

Can’t touch this! I’m on fire! In the span of two weeks I’ve accomplished so much! I’ve gone Sprite crazy. With at least 20 Sprite characters made in the past two weeks I’m unstoppable. I even spent my weekend just working. I’m not kidding when I say Propel is a full time job. At least that’s the way it is for me. I’m somewhat of an overachiever heh heh. I have created and named all my characters for my Manga. Thumbnails for the beginning of my book have been completed. Know what that means? I finally gets to start! I’m a little behind schedule because of our video game. However I found an amazing program for my IPad Pro! The main problem was that I couldn’t find a program that had screen tone (small black dots that give the expression of grey). Just last weekend I stumbled upon a perfect program that I can even use on my IPad Pro, which is lucky because it’s so new.

Last week we had our buddies from Samuel Burland come visit us at Nelson Mac. That was a busy day. They came around lunch and we all ate together in the class. Once finished our lunch we had two choices, go outside or go to the gym. Since I haven’t had recess in years I vouched for going outside, which wasn’t an issue since my kids agreed. We ran round the field, played some frisbee and enjoyed the sunshine.

Once the kids had wasted a decent amount of energy we returned to class. All our buddies had brought their projects with them so we could work. Sadie, Nay, Ella and I did some research on memories. We found an amazing website that was super helpful. We wrote down everything we found was important so we could write it on our tri-fold. After that it was hard to keep them focused so we moved to drawing instead. We need some images and drawings on our display so we worked on that. Then it was time to say goodbye to our buddies as they headed back to school. Everyone practically collapsed from exhaustion after they left.

With only a few more weeks of propel left I am feeling the pressure. I have a lot to accomplish in these next few weeks. That’s why I’ll be drawing all way to Chicago. I leave Wednesday and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve always wanted to go see Chicago, more importantly THE CHICAGO BEAN!!!! It’s literally on my bucket list.image

Unique to a fault

I clock in at 8:30 and don’t stop tell 3. Recently I’ve been working myself silly. We have commenced our work towards our fourth credit (for those who wish). We have logs to keep track of the extra hours we work towards our project. I’m going for a scripting credit. One hundred and ten hours is the equivalent of one credit. I’ve already decided I won’t accept anything less so I’m coming early and staying late. I also work at home to gain more hours. I even work through lunch, it’s tough stuff. For the things I’m passionate about there’s nothing I wouldn’t do. It’s not like I’m working on algebra homework or anything. When it’s something you love it’s fun to work hard.

Last Monday we all finally met with our mini propellers at Samuel Burland. To my surprise I have three buddies. Sadie reminds me of my sister, she’s energetic and loves to socialize. Ella is much more timid but loves to play all the same. Nya is cheerful and a little sassy. To remember my new friends’ names I created a little rhyme for myself. I’d sing it in my head, here it goes “Sadie-Nya-Ella”. I sing it like the toon “Stella-Ella-Ola”. We introduced each other over lunch, with mouths full of food they asked me some questions. Once we finished eating we went outside for recess. After running around and showing me the playground the girls got cold and we headed inside. Since they still had energy to waste we played in the gym until it was time to return to class.

Once we had returned to class the teachers introduced us to the class project. The assignment was to answer the question “What makes us unique?” in any way the students wish. Believe me when I tell you coming up with an idea took forever. I wanted the kids to come up with their answer on their own. So all I could do was give little suggestions and ask a lot of questions. Sure enough after about an hour of brainstorming the kids decided they wanted to act out a play. A play representing that everyone is unique based on how they perceive things. By things I mean everyday items, colours and even memories. So I’d say my kids are pretty deep thinkers. I had fun at Samuel Burland and I can’t wait tell they come to visit us here at Nelson Mac.

I’m so over baguettes

Forget school work! How about we discuss my return from France! First things first. I love Canada. The first thing I did when I got back was go to Tim’s then use a normal washroom. In case you’re wondering, European public washrooms are “different”. I was happily surprised to see that not only had my whole family come to the airport to welcome me home but two friends as well. My friend Erik and my boyfriend Nicholas had come to see me. It was fun car ride back home. As for the actual trip, it was fantastic! We started in Paris, Oh la la. I got to climb the Eiffel Tower, man is that ever a workout. So worth it though, the view is amazing.

Next we visited Chartes, then took a long bus ride to Lyon. I really loved Lyon, it was so colourful and the streets look so photogenic. I love the way all the old buildings look. As well as all the fun little boutiques. After Lyon we drove to Avignon, we danced on le pont d’Avignon and visited some churches. Later we arrived in Provence, we went from city to city there. I loved Provence, it was about the only place with nice weather, I almost got to wear shorts. Nice was like my mom had guessed my favorite. It’s so beautiful there, my group and I took an amazing walk down a path on a cliffside. I got to put my feet in the Mediterranean Sea, a little chilly but I’ve had worse. I am Canadian after all. We only spent a few hours in Monaco but it was quite the view.

I bought many souvenirs heh heh. I found a Disney store during some free time and I couldn’t resist. I bought a Donald Duck plush. I also bought a map of France, and my favorite, A DUCK LAMP. Yes, no joke, it’s just a duck that lights up. I love it. For my family I bought a shield with a dragon on it (brother), weird candy and a music box (sister), toucan scissors (dad), a Eiffel Tower key chain with three lady bugs on it (mom), and Lots of nougat for everyone. As well as a Star Wars music box for Nicholas.

My trip was great my only complaint would be the flight back. It was TERRIBLE, worst flight of my life. I was in the middle of the middle of the plane. The guy beside me desired to take up both armrests and spread his legs as far as possible. I had zero space. Normally I’d say that’s nothing to complain about. However the plane had a lot of turbulence, which made everyone scared and kids were crying non-stop. Last the landing. It was so bad that three people from my school puked. Including a teacher. But over all I had an awesome time and during the trip I actually got some project work done. Franc really inspired me, so I can’t wait to get back to work!

Roar

This week at propel has been busy enough. We’ve been a little pressed to finish things because we’re losing a day. No school Friday! Yay or so I thought until I realized that meant more work during the rest of the week. I do have quite a bit to finish before this upcoming weekend, because this Saturday I’m leaving for France! It’s a trip organized by my home school. The trip lasts ten days, so I’ll be missing four school days and some of spring break. I am quite excited for this trip, I think it’ll be eye opening. I think I’m most excited to see Lyon, Nice, and Monaco! Most likely because their closer to the equator. I could really use some warm weather. Although I will be missing Easter, I come home Easter Monday. I’m not excited about that, I mean hunting for sweets is like a hobby of mine. I do hope there will be some chocolate waiting for me when I return home.

I finally have got to put this Tiger’s Den packet to work! Thursday we all spent a full day at Tiger’s Den. What did we do? We started off introducing each other within our assigned teams. We all had time to pitch our ideas that we’d come up with. My team held a vote to decide which idea we were going with. Who’s ever idea was chosen as the team’s product/service was now the CEO of the company. The rest of the group then decided on their rolls in the company such as Service specialist, marketing, and product manager. Every time there was a paper to be handed out to a certain member they would call everyone with that roll in for a meeting. Afterword the member would return to their table and explain the paper they had to fill out. Once all the planing was done it wears time to put your money where your hands are and make a prototype of your product. My team successfully created a cardboard prototype of our invention, though it wasn’t too stable. After all that, the Tigers would circle the room each listening to your teams presentation of your product. You had to grain their attention and explain why they should invest in your product.

Over all tiger’s den was fun. My favorite part was a team building exercise we had to preform. Each team was expected to build a tower out of masking tape, string and spaghetti noodles. Whomever had the tallest tower would win extra points for their team. Easy? Not quite, your towers had to hold a marshmallow at the top. Which I dare you to try it yourself, it’s very difficult. The marshmallow caused the tower to sway, be caused it was unbalanced. My team’s tower did hold but only because one of our team members bit the marshmallow in half near the end. My brain did hurt after using it constantly all day but Tiger’s Den was fun and I think helped many young entrepreneurs.

Being productive, in my own way.

I’d say this week at propel has been quite productive. We’ve been busy scrambling about. Planning projects is no simple task. As for my team, we’ve been struggling to agree on our game’s story and concept. We’ve been throwing around ideas for weeks now. It was nice to finally write some of our concepts down. With basic concepts for our game we will be moving on to writing the story line and plot next. As for characters and what the end product will look like, we’re still at a loss. One step at a time I guess.

We visited the Winnipeg art gallery this week. Even though I had already been to the Greek and Roman gods exhibit was still ever so stunning. I can never get over the details carved into that marble. I do believe we confused the pour tour guides when they asked what class what we were in. They understood after a few minutes of explanation, however I find myself feeling like a walking brochure. Back to the classroom. In my absence of the past week the black wall reserved for chalk became much more vibrant. Colours and personality filled the wall. At least most of it. I have started (as promised) drawing miniature characters of all my classmates.

Though homework was foreseen as non existent in propel, we were wrong. Through it’s no where near as bad as a usual semester propel isn’t homework free. I mean, this blog didn’t come out of thin air. We’re actually going to tiger’s Den this coming Thursday. What’s Tiger’s Den you might ask? Ever watch Dragon’s den? Same idea, just it’s in Winnipeg. So with that upcoming event we’ve been given booklets to fill out. We have to come up with a problem solving invention. Easy right? You’re pretty much all caught up now so I’m taking my leave. See you next week my blog readers. If I even have any.

Dashing through the snow.

Dashing full speed, smile from ear to ear, gasping for air as I sprint down the street. I couldn’t wait. My heart was pounding so loud. My thoughts were full of excitement. I was chasing my dreams. I was getting close, one foot after the other. I could feel the inspiration rising, from where? I could not tell you, for I do not know. It felt like it was endless, as though it had always been there. Everywhere I looked I found inspiration, creativeness, and beauty. Each breath in fills me with more determination. The images, the sounds, the ideas are all circling in my brain. Ideas, aspirations, goals, dreams. All that I’ve had for years will finally be of use, and this is why I’m running. This was my experience last Friday. Our instructors at Propel had informed us, that starting Monday we’d begin our projects. I ran home from my bus stop because I couldn’t wait to start gathering my ideas for I have many. I ran out of excitement, my feet just started moving. I smiled the whole way, I couldn’t stop I was just so happy. To be able to follow my passions finally after so many years, who wouldn’t go running for it?

I’m gonna backtrack a little to catch you up on what’s going on. Thursday we visited the human rights museum. It was my first time seeing the inside, it’s breathtaking. I took tons of pictures. The exhibits were all extremely creative. Nothing like how I imagined it’d in my head. My personal favourite was a lounging area which had copious amounts of space. Filled mostly with stones and ponds, it’s beautiful once the sun hits it all. The way they portrayed the issues was very artistic and to my liking. Everything was quite visual. The idea of using red dresses to represent missing women was beautifully executed on a backdrop of white woods. The walkways of glowing marble, that crisscross, like the paths of life. Everything about this building was poetic. Something I nearly missed on our way down from the beautiful tower, was a room full of screens and headphones. Here you had the option to listen to music from around the world that the museum had in archive. Songs representing certain events in history.

Moving on, the next week was now upon us. Time to work hard on our passions, finally! At least for everyone except me. I had caught influenza the Sunday before the grand week of work. I missed four days of school, so practically the whole week. I missed quite a lot. They finally added a splash of colour to our black chalk wall. Drawing characters they love, rainbows, quotes and their names in various colours. The frames with our glorious photos have been placed on the wall as well. Also everyone’s been working on presentations. They’ve all already chosen their subject and researched it. Time management is important so test our skills we will be working on staying on time with our presentations. Though I haven’t gone yet because I wasn’t here everyone has done splendid. So as far as Propel go’s we are quite busy, and I am happy to be back.

Let the blogging commence.

Welcome my dear doctors, to Jurassic Propel. For the first time in decades education is being looked at differently. Gasp! I know, inconceivable! We aren’t simply filling out blank pages with answers we pulled from a text book. What defines education? A basic understanding of math, science, history, and english? Learning is more then basic facts and math equations. Learning is an endless process of growth, you will always be earning new knowledge. Knowledge, what does that mean? Ponder on that… Or keep reading and I’ll give you my ideals. Yes knowing how to read is knowledge, but so is knowing how to walk up stairs. Knowledge isn’t so black and white, it’s a part of everything thing you do, from holding a door for some to fixing a bike. So now that we’ve swiftly moved to the subject of life skills, I would like to point out that school didn’t teach me how to work with strangers, or how to properly communicate my ideas.

However, propel so far has. Within two weeks I was friends with people from all over the city, complete strangers. I also learned on a field trip to Code Breakers, how to think critically to solve problems, communicate my ideas, and work together as a team. We’ve also built our working environment to fit our needs and standards. It was no easy task choosing a colour between all fifteen of us but we used democracy to vote and come to a decision together. Our teachers didn’t choose for us, we had to come together as a group to decide. Everything we have accomplished so far was a team effort. We painted two classrooms in two days because of our joint efforts, divide and conquer. In our classroom everyone is treated with the same respect.

It’s been a blast being here these past few weeks, we have gotten a lot done. And I am excited to get too the good part. The main idea of propel is project-based learning, where you choose a project like writing a novel or creating a mural and you work on your project and learn through the six Cs. Now, it’s not all fun and games, we have to earn an English credit and a gym credit as well. So you might find us working hard in the gym, or like most I find, just going for a stroll. We also listen to Ted talks on Thursdays which contributes to our English credit by us doing some writing about the video and how it left an impact on us. Now, I’d love to stay and chat but, I’d really rather get to work! I look forward to every week at propel, and I am in agony waiting for our first projects to start off. I will see you guys next week!