The Foundation for a Meaningful Life
Kindergarten - Grade 9 in Southborough, MA

Metaphor to Design

During the spring term, Upper School students create Scull Essays, personal narratives on topics of their choice. Seventh graders build their essays around a central metaphor that provides structure and creative inspiration for their writing. Unlike the annual speech competition, where stories and ideas are shared with the community, the Scull Essay celebrates writing as a deeply personal and private form of expression. The English Department evaluates the essays using a comprehensive rubric, assessing each student’s mastery of essential writing skills. This includes appropriate vocabulary, sophisticated sentence structure, writing fluency, and effective application of grammatical conventions. 

For the second year, seventh grade English teachers encouraged students to stretch their creative muscles even further by using the metaphor from their Scull Essay to inspire a design project in creators class. Unlike other design challenges where students are presented with a specific problem to solve or an item to build, the Scull Essay metaphor project is unique. Students must take their essays and determine what they should make to reflect their metaphors. “I love this project because it allows the students to express their emotions through design,” says Creativity and Design Teach Deborah Morrone Bianco. “They have the metaphor from their essay, and now they come to our class and have to think about something that represents the idea or the feeling from their essay. It’s very personal.”Students begin by brainstorming and crafting their designs on a design sheet. Then, they bring their ideas to life using the laser cutter or 3D printer. 

The creative process culminated with a gallery walk in the Mars Room. During the event, students, faculty, and staff explored the exhibit, engaging with students who explained the connections between their objects and essays, discussed their decision-making processes, and shared the challenges they encountered during the design phase. The diversity of the creations naturally sparked curiosity about the essays and experiences that inspired them. For instance, one student utilized a 3D printer to create a “slippery when wet” floor sign. Her essay drew parallels between life’s ups and downs and the cleaning process, emphasizing that the final outcome is always worth the effort. Another student used a laser cutter to craft a detailed high-top sneaker out of cardboard, representing her essay “Sole Searching,” which celebrated the importance of trying new things and likened it to breaking in new shoes. Additionally, a student fabricated a boomerang to accompany his essay about friendship, illustrating how true friends, despite obstacles and distance, always find their way back to each other.

The gallery walk for this project was particularly fascinating because of the wide variety of items created, each one a testament to the unique essays and experiences behind them.
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