Kai, who received awards for 100% of his college costs, will pursue a bachelor in science in business and entrepreneurship with a concentration in environmental sustainability. Forging new territory in college, Kai is a role model for New Roots students involved in the school’s new entrepreneurialism program.
Kai joined New Roots as a freshman in the school’s second year and served as the student representative to the Board of Trustees for two years. He was instrumental in helping form the school’s culture, taking leadership roles in the New Roots theatre program, the honors program and student orientation team. He was recognized with the Tompkins County Distinguished Youth Award in 2013, nominated by Dr. Sandra Steingraber for his efforts as a local environmental activist.
In his junior year Kai co-founded the Take Ten Theatre Company, a collaboration among students from New Roots, Lehman Alternative Community School, Ithaca High School, and the homeschooling community. He directed three productions for Take Ten. In addition to starring in New Roots theatrical productions, Kai performed in productions for Running to Places, Shakespeare in the Basement, R2P2, Theatre in Cognita, and Wolfs Mouth Theatre during the course of his high school career.
Prior to New Roots, Kai was home schooled, attending the Northern Lights Learning Center. When in high school, Kai volunteered his time teaching theater classes at Northern Lights. This summer Kai will be teaching Next Generation Summer Camp with the Hanger Theatre.
Reflecting on his education at New Roots, Kai remarked, “New Roots has changed me for the better. The community and support was really nice. I felt like I was able to express myself and to really be myself.” Kai also noted that he will remember his teachers, who were “kind and caring.”
Amanda Vorassi, daughter of Daniel Vorrasi and Tammy Haveman, graduated from New Roots Charter School on June 27th, 2014. In September Amanda will study pre-law, criminal justice and psychology at Sage College in Albany where she has been accepted into the Law and Society program.
Amanda was granted $11,000/year in scholarships, including the Deans Honor Award of $5,000. She says she chose Sage College because, like New Roots, it is a small school with an open campus offering hands–on learning opportunities.
Amanda says her career interests were shaped by experiences at New Roots, including two internships. Her first was with Stiller Guzman at Abovoagoga, where she helped teach art classes to younger children. Her second, an exploration of the judicial system, was with the Honorable Judge Scott Miller at the Ithaca City Court.
Amanda’s interest in psychology and body language was inspired by cases she observed in court and her experience of the positive impacts of art. “I want to work in prisons as a psychologist incorporating art into my work with inmates so that they can gain a deeper understanding of who they are, why they did what they did, and what they will do once they get out.” Amanda says Sage College offers an ideal program to prepare her to do this groundbreaking work.
In-depth art studies at New Roots during Intensives Week were also an inspiration, according to Amanda. Twice a year, students take a break from the routine schedule to study one subject in depth for a week. Amanda’s favorite intensive course was painting with New Roots art teacher, Todd Ayoung. In her junior year, she completed a painting that hangs in the school’s lobby.
Amanda, originally from Ovid, N.Y. transferred to New Roots Charter School as a sophomore. She says, “There was a lot of bullying at my old school and I just felt like one more person in a crowd of people. At New Roots, there’s a open, friendly vibe; people respect one another.” She describes this supportive social environment as a factor in her academic success.
Jessica Meyer, daughter of Denise and Steve Meyer from Dryden, N.Y., graduated with the New Roots Charter School Class of 2014 on June 27th. In the fall, Jessica will be studying Environmental Sciences at TC3, where she hopes to join the women’s volleyball team. Jessica plans to transfer to a four-year college to pursue a career in wildlife rehabilitation upon completing her two-year degree. “I want to work with nature and animals as a wildlife conservationist,” says Jessica.
In her first year at New Roots she was one of two students representing New Roots who attended the Green Schools Conference in Colorado. Later that year, New Roots was awarded the 2011-2012 NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Top Green High School Award. An equestrian through and through, Jessica began riding when she was seven and has been caring for horses ever since. While at New Roots she completed two internships, one at the George Junior Horse Program and the other at Healing Rain Horse Farm.
Jessica, who joined New Roots in her sophomore year, says she enjoyed the school’s hands-on, project and community-based approach to learning, and the personable relationships with her teachers.