Mikeala Rubak-Mazur has an eye for a good story.
When her mother Tina wrote a children’s book called Jackpot Jill about a pirate protagonist, Rubak-Mazur decided she would try her hand at illustrating it.
“She’s a lot of fun,” said Rubak-Mazur of the main character. “She’s small and spunky.”
She also lives with amblyopia, a condition commonly described as lazy eye that reduces vision on one side of a person’s face. The condition can lead to vision loss if not treated early, usually in the form of an eyepatch.
Rubak-Mazur, an artist and Grade 12 student at L.V. Rogers, said her mother wrote Jackpot Jill after noticing a lack of books about amblyopia.
“Representation in media is incredibly important, especially for how children see themselves,” said Rubak-Mazur. “A lot of children with this will experience bullying from other students who don’t understand what’s going on. When they see themselves in media it will help normalize their experience and hopefully encourage empathy and understanding of themselves and other people.”
Rubak-Mazur’s illustrations form her capstone project, which is a requirement of the class Career Life Connections 12 as well as for graduation. The projects are meant to connect a student’s interests outside of school with learning opportunities that can translate to future education and employment.
For Rubak-Mazur, who dreams of drawing graphic novels, the project was her first foray into children’s illustrations. For other students, presentations made Wednesday included a variety of topics from climate change and music history to more eccentric research.
Zarah Murray wanted to apply her love of rugby to workshop settings. So she set up and ran rugby clinics for beginners at LVR and Salmo Secondary.
“I really wanted to develop my leadership and communication skills, especially being in Grade 12,” said Murray. “I really wanted to have those assets be super strong going into work and college. That was super important to me.”
Colby Walmsley said his project started out as a joke between friends that led to learning how to use C# programming, Adobe Photoshop and the game engine Unity to create the video game Segway Cave.
During his presentation, Walmsley showed a video of a small man on a Segway bouncing from platform to platform in a cave while being chased by a small creature.
“I’m going to go to SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology) to learn about programming for websites, apps, games,” he said. “I don’t really care what I get into, just as long as I can program.”
Marisa Price meanwhile wants to help women find careers in the sciences.
A Statistics Canada report in May 2019 showed women are underrepresented in Canadian STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and computer science) fields and as of 2016 made up just 23 per cent of the workforce among Canadians aged 25 to 64.
Price, who said she fell in love with sciences after attending the national science fair while she was in Grade 7, wants to help improve representation with a workshop for Grade 1 to 12 girls in February.
“Since it is such a male-dominated field I wanted to show girls how cool science actually is.”
Price’s presentation included a small VR box made out of cardboard.
“I got that for free and it’s been entertaining kids for hours,” she said. “Even the simplest of things in science and engineering and technology is really cool.”
And then there was Willow Mohr’s project.
After reading about a girl in Seattle who began to receive gifts from crows after feeding them, Mohr decided to see if the crows living near her Uphill home would recognize her.
She bought unsalted peanuts, then kept a sack in her pocket. Every time Mohr went out last fall she put down a small pile of peanuts when she saw crows and would wait to see if they accepted the offering.
On her first attempt, the crows appeared suspicious. On her next try, the crows decided Mohr was a bird of a feather.
“I just wanted to see if they could recognize who I was and possibly build a relationship with me. Because after a little research I figured they could recognize my face, but I didn’t know how long that would take and whatnot,” she said.
“Turns out, second time doing it, boom, crow mafia.”
Mohr fed the crows 10 times from September to November. It wasn’t entirely clear how her project might lead to career opportunities, but now she has a murder of crows for pals.
“I actually ran out of peanuts,” she admitted. “Now I feel really guilty when I’m walking. I see them watching. They’re like, ‘hey man, got any peanuts,’ and I’m like, ‘No.’”