Summer recharge

Students discover their inner inventor at Camp Invention

For students who needed to recharge this summer, Camp Invention’s curriculum was made to order. In fact, the theme of the camp was Recharge.

Camp Invention, a program of the National Inventors Hall of Fame in partnership with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, came to Pierce Middle School the week of June 28 through July 2. The nationally recognized summer enrichment camp challenges children in kindergarten through grade 6 to find their inner inventor by learning the process of innovation. Through hands-on activities, Camp Invention promotes STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning, builds confidence, leadership, perseverance and resourcefulness, and encourages entrepreneurship — all in a fun and engaging environment.

These lessons were made all the more valuable following a difficult year due to challenges presented by the pandemic.

Each year, the program features a new curriculum inspired by some of the country’s greatest inventors — the NIHF inductees. This summer, the curriculum included Open Mic, in which students amplified their creative voice, reverse-engineered a wireless microphone, and developed and promoted their own invention.

In Duck Chuck, they built their own device to launch rubber ducks around the world through hands-on experiments with trajectory and velocity.

In Road Rally, campers designed nature-inspired vehicles that zoomed across land and added prototype elements for moving through air and water.

In SolarBot, inventors built and took care of their own solar-powered robotic cricket and created protective gear, a customized habitat and a cricket playground.

Director Caitlin Kefgen said the camp was a hit, with many of the campers excited to be with their peers again and engaged in such an array of hands-on activities.

What we heard: An interview with Jon Dean

The latest episode of “Voices” features GPPSS Superintendent Jon Dean, who discussed what he heard during the series of community listening sessions.

Prior to assuming his new role on July 1, Dr. Dean held a listening session at each building, including Barnes and 389 St. Clair, between May 27 and June 23. In this video podcast, he shares common themes he heard, what he most wants community members to know, and plans to host more sessions in the future.

“Voices” gives voice to teachers, administrators, parents and students about topics of interest to the school community. Click here to watch the first episode on the fifth-grade middle school experience.

Next up is an interview with Summer Connection co-directors Katie Parent and Kevin Shubnell on how these enrichment courses are engaging and recharging students for a successful return to school in the fall.

Email with topics you would like to hear about.

Graduate spotlight: Hayden Barry

Hayden Barry chose Dartmouth College because the moment she stepped foot on campus, she felt she could fit in well there.

“People talk about that kind of moment and I definitely had it,” the recent Grosse Pointe South graduate said.

The fact she could compete as a swimmer at a Division 1 level “sealed the deal,” she added.

Hayden moved to Grosse Pointe Park with her family from Washington, D.C., when she was 3. She attended Defer Elementary and Pierce Middle schools in addition to Grosse Pointe South.

She started swimming when she was 6, including one summer with the Grosse Pointe Park Mutants. She swam competitively at the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, Country Club of Detroit and Lochmoor Club. She also competed with the Grosse Pointe Gators, Pointe Aquatics and Grosse Pointe South her sophomore, junior and senior years. She was team captain her senior year and earned All-State honors two times in the 500-free style.

Hayden also was active in South’s Student Association, where she served throughout her high school career, and DECA, where she made states all four years and qualified for internationals as a senior.

Hayden said she particularly enjoyed seeing the growth of her classmates over her four years of involvement.

“It created this culture and everything was built from the ground up,” she said.

Her teachers were among the highlights of her high school experience.

“The teachers were absolutely great,” Hayden said. “I think that they did a really good job and especially during COVID this year, which was really difficult, they tried their best and did a very good job with that too. Once we got back to in-person, you could see that everyone was really excited, the teachers especially, to be there and help us learn.”

She has a lot of favorite teachers over the years, but she attributes her decision to major in chemical engineering to her chemistry teacher, John Theisen. She also plans to major in Spanish because of her Spanish teacher, Cynthia Morefield-Pinder.

Hayden also credits an earlier influence — her 4/5 magnet teacher at Defer Elementary School.

“Kari Mannino was a huge part in creating my enthusiasm for learning and she has been a continuous resource for me as a I go through my academic career,” she said.

This summer, before heading to Hanover, N.H., Hayden is working as a lifeguard at Lochmoor Club and training for her swim season.

She also is taking advantage of her free time to do as much reading as possible.

“It’s one of my favorite things to do and I don’t have much time usually to do it,” she said.

Look for a spotlight next week on Grosse Pointe North graduate Cate Gagnier.

School Pointes is a publication of the Grosse Pointe Public School System. To submit story ideas or Pointes of Pride, email