Winchester students showcase Passion Projects at Acera School | Winchester |

2022-07-15 22:03:46 By : Ms. Aries Tao

Partly cloudy. Low 62F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph..

Partly cloudy. Low 62F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.

Elise Shoemaker created a paper mache dragon inspired by the movie Raya and the Last Dragon.

Elise Shoemaker created a paper mache dragon inspired by the movie Raya and the Last Dragon.

WINCHESTER -- Nearly 50 middle school students showcased their Passion Projects at Acera School this month, including works by numerous Winchester youth. Projects included robotics, compute programming, entrepreneurship, video editing, and more. 

Student Ashley Byrne of Winchester created a website where people could play games like Sudoku.

“I enjoy programming a lot, and I wanted to learn more about web design, so this was the perfect project for that,” said Byrne. “I used javascript and python to write the frontend and backend of the website. I also worked with flask, HTML, CSS, jinja templates, and heroku to deploy my website on the internet.”

Saketh Arun learning how to shoot and edit video to create a tribute to one of his favorite athletes, Tom Brady.

Camille Cranston created a business plan and a website for a nonprofit organization that collects food to be delivered to people in need. 

Jonathan Gilmer designed and made wooden spice racks, and created a business on Etsy to sell them, with all profits going to the National Forest Foundation.

“One of the biggest challenges I needed to overcome was choosing a price and adding up the costs of making each product as well as shipping, Etsy fees, tax and material cost. This could not have been possible without the help from my mentor Mr Linwood!”

Mia Lock designed and made a wooden plant stand that could hold up to eight plants and withstand the outdoors.

“I chose to do this project because I was interested in building my woodworking skills, but on a bigger level than I have done before,” said Lock.

Anders Magnusson built a working drone, which involved experimenting with different weights and sizes of parts.

“I decided to choose this project because I am passionate about drones and I thought it would be fun to build and experiment with them,” Magnusson said.

Elsie Shoemaker designed and created a paper mache dragon sculpture.

“This project has turned out to be exactly what I wanted so it’s really exciting to have my vision come to life!” Shoemaker said.

Malia Soderland created a blog where she could write and post literature reviews.

Christo Zacharia created a robotic arm that can be controlled with potentiometers.

“I chose this project because I really like programming. I also wanted to learn more software coding,” said Zacharia.

Acera, a nonprofit K-8 STEAM school based in Winchester, features IMP projects as part of its annual middle school curriculum. Every week, middle school students have blocks of unstructured time, during which specialist mentors are available to advise on independent projects. 

“Passion projects are a way to unleash the initiative and creativity inherent in all children, and harness middle school students’ desire for independence while supporting them in learning what it takes to reach a goal,” said Courtney Dickinson, founder and director of Acera. “It’s not about perfection; it’s students exploring ideas, making mistakes, and learning from them.”

Founded in 2010, Acera engages students in individualized, project-based learning that is designed around their passions and aligned with their own abilities. In addition to K-8 education, Acera offers daily after-school enrichment programs as well as February, April, and summer vacation camps. For more information, visit

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