Tuesday, April 23, 2013

New Jason Project Students Named

Two eighth-graders at Spring Branch ISD middle schools were named to the 2013 JASON National Argonaut team earlier this week and will learn later this spring what area of the Caribbean they’ll explore as part of a student research trip on the E/V Nautilus ship.

The district’s newest student sea explorers are Chase Gonsoulin of Spring Woods Middle School and Paloma June of Westchester Academy of International Studies. Surprise announcements were made at the campuses on Tuesday and Wednesday, and both eighth-graders were elated about the chance to learn about oceanography aboard a research vessel.

They may explore sea life from the Bahamas to Grenada. “I have no idea what we will be doing, but I know that it will be fun,” said Chase, who credits teacher Ashley Jones with his burgeoning interest in science.

He put in long hours on his Jason Project application, which included a video and a personal essay that addressed a struggle in his own life – his father died when he was only 8 years old. “Mrs. Jones is a great person who is extremely nice, and she has spent a lot of time helping me,” Chase said of his 8th grade science teacher.
Chase Gonsoulin of Spring Woods Middle School (Photo Right)
Chase is active in band and National Junior Honor Society. He recently received the “Character Without Question” Award for his campus as well. Joining Chase for the announcement were his mother and grandmother. “I’m elated for him, and proud of all his work. He wanted this bad, and did what he could to be the winner.

I feel like we just won the lottery,” said his mom, Carol Gonsoulin. At Westchester Academy on Wednesday, eighth-grader Paloma June smiled as her mom, school and district officials, crowded into her morning class. “I’d like to be either a doctor or engineer, I think, and I wanted to get into the Jason Project. I love science and going on trips, and it’s fun to see new things and take risks.”

Paloma June of Westchester Academy of International Studies (Photo Center)
Born in Holland, Paloma already has a multicultural world view. She was raised in Singapore, and became a Westchester Academy student last year after moving here with her family. Her mother, Maria-Luisa June, noted that her older brother and sister tended to put her in the No. 3 spot, but no more. “She has always been in the shadows. This new opportunity will give her time in the sun,” she said. Interestingly, one of the June’s distant relatives explored the Arctic with a National Geographic-sponsored trip almost a century ago.

The Jason Project is supported, in part, by National Geographic. The two eighth-graders will learn in late May or June what region of the Caribbean they will explore on the Nautilus Expedition. Their options range from Bahamas to Cayman; Puerto Rico to Montserrat; and Dominica to Grenada. Last summer, two SBISD middle school students and a sixth-grade teacher had the adventure of a lifetime onboard the E/V Nautilus, a research ship equipped with remotely operated sea exploration vehicles (ROVs).

In separate but related news, the Jason Project leadership team has chosen SBISD District Instructional Specialist Ro Luecken and Northbrook Middle School sixth-grade teacher Sheena Guevera to become certified as National Lead trainers.

To meet the requirements for this position, Luecken and Guevara will attend a four-day training on the Virginia campus of George Washington University in May. They may later earn stipends for other training, and even travel around the world to train others in middle and high school classrooms.


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