Eight rising seniors spent the summer doing research supported by Dan Leslie Bowden Fellowships in the Humanities, and they have begun preparations to present their work to fellow students this fall. Ian Barnett '23, Lucia Rose Dahn '23, Olivia Drulard '23, Sofia Gudino Ruffa '23, Jack Harris '23, Kyle Ng '23, Mason Signorello '23 and Liv Steinhardt '23 examined the question of "what makes us human" through their summer exploration in a variety of fields.
The students applied in the fall of their junior year for the prestigious fellowships, which offer stipends and faculty mentorship to pursue their passions in the humanities. The fellowship program was created in honor of revered English teacher Dan Leslie Bowden 2016 by Jeffrey Miller ’79, who provided the seed funding for the Dan Leslie Bowden Endowment in the Humanities. Since then, 52 students have been named Bowden fellows. All work under Associate Head of School John A. King Jr., who directs the program at Ransom Everglades.
Ian Barnett ’23
Innovations in Composition Pedagogy: Encouraging Expression through Classical Music
Barnett created and taught a two-week music composition course for the Greater Miami Youth Symphony this past summer. He created a course with the goal of making classical composition less intimidating and more approachable by relating it to speech and language, things people deal with on a day-to-day basis. He used this approach while tackling the following individual concepts: melody, harmony and voicing. The students created a melody, then added harmony and later voicing to create short, unique pieces at the end of the camp. The students participated in five one-hour long sessions, and at the end presented the pieces they composed.
Lucia Rose Dahn ’23
Facilitating the Art of Storytelling: Why Encourage a Culture in Creative Writing
Dahn explored the impact of writing programs and competitions on the development of young writers this summer. She interviewed Brigitte Kishlar and Lara Jonasson, founders of the La Plume Young Writers’ Contest, as well as Michael Bell, who has had extensive involvement with the creative writing division of the Miami-Dade County Youth Fair and Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. These educators provided insights into how writing programs facilitate a personal artistic process and provide opportunities for recognition and skill development. Through hearing educators’ personal experiences reading and judging creative writing, Dahn gained a deeper understanding of how writing can foster human connection. She is currently surveying high school students to obtain a student-perspective on the value and experience of participating in writing competitions. The edited interviews and compiled survey results will be organized on a project website.
Olivia Drulard ’23
Menstrual Health Education: Is it Effective?
Drulard created a website designed to provide important information to adults and adolescents experiencing menstruation, and she is currently working to convert seven research outlines into digestible essays for the website. The goal for the website is to reach a wide audience; she also plans to host workshops at the local level. The purpose of the project is to provide those experiencing menstruation with information that allows them to care for themselves effectively.
Jack Harris ’23
Operation Peter Pan (Pedro Pan): The Jewish Experience
An Example in History When Doing What is Right for Another Human Matters More than Religion
Over the summer, Harris interviewed professors with knowledge of Operation Pedro Pan, people that helped during the Pedro Pan operation, and those who were from Cuba brought over through Operation Pedro Pan. More specifically, he worked to shed light on the Jewish stories within a primarily Catholic operation. One conclusion Harris has reached during the course of his research is that everyone finds a different path to freedom and success.
Kyle Ng ’23
Seeking the “Human” in Reimagined Mythology
This summer, Ng researched various world mythologies in preparation for his fellowship's final product, an original short story collection drawing from ancient stories, contemporizing them and reintroducing them to contemporary audiences. Ng read extensively from various collections of myths, including the Celtic, Near Eastern, Chinese and Norse traditions. He also read original works of fiction engaging in similar projects of retelling and adaptation. Ng traveled to the Yale University library in order to view its East Asian exhibit and access several rare texts. At the end of the summer, he began composing the first of his stories, which deals with an ancient Chinese monster called the Nian. He plans to continue writing throughout the year, concluding his project by early spring 2023.
Sofia Gudino Ruffa ’23
The Evolution and Societal Implications of Monetary Systems
Over the summer, Ruffa refined her research project topic question to be: "How does a means of exchange reflect a society’s wants and needs, strengths and weaknesses, and more importantly, fears? What does the rise of cryptocurrencies say about modern-day society?" Ruffa outlined the evolution of monetary systems from the beginning of time, from the barter system to the gold standard. She is currently outlining the timeline of the banking system and its implications on modern-day society.
Mae Signorello ’23
The Soul of the Small Town: Discovering Humanity in Castine, Maine
After spending eight summers visiting the small Maine town of Castine, Signorello set out to explain how the small-town experience aids in the discovery of our shared humanity. She spent the summer connecting with town leadership and patrons, attending town meetings and events, and conducting interviews that are now being compiled into a podcast highlighting varying themes of small-town life. Signorello notes that humanity in a small town is distinct because of a shared commitment to a selfless community structure, where all members feel an interconnected responsibility to one another and their township.
Liv Steinhardt ’23
Of the Land: A Glastonbury Documentary
Steinhardt filmed a documentary about Glastonbury, a town in southwest England with less than 9,000 residents but over 81 different active faith groups. Throughout the centuries, the town has become a place of pilgrimage for many belief systems, and Steinhardt researched how sacred spaces in the region influence the town's uniquely expressive and accepting community. After spending two weeks in Glastonbury, Steinhardt acquired 19 interviews with key figures and over 24 hours of footage while immersing herself in the town's diversity of thought and tradition.