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Faces We Wear: Traverse Academy students create mask project

MasksAfter officially opening to students on October 13th, Traverse Academy has seen success in educating and caring for its initial class of students. As of today, 21 students are enrolled in the program with the first cohort of students starting to transition back to their original educational settings. To date, there have been more than 70 referrals made to Traverse from across the district at the middle and high school levels.

"I’m incredibly inspired by how students have engaged and made advancements in this program so far," said Principal Kim Avalos. "When you're the first to launch a school like this, there's so much to learn. I’m so proud of the energy and intentionality of my staff to make sure this program works in the best way for students and provides them with the care and support they and their families need,” said principal Kim Avalos. 

MasksAn example of a project that students have worked on is the Faces We Wear project where students were asked to design and create a mask sculpture, front and back, to reflect how they believe their outer image appears to others and the inside or back of the mask depicting the inner workings of their personality, beliefs, fears and aspirations. The art and language arts teachers at Traverse teamed up on the project to provide a lesson on character development and how this can be portrayed in both a visual and written manner.

“Students used symbology to create an intriguing diorama as they reveal parts of themselves they wear only on the inside,” said Courtney Throndson, art teacher.

Students collaged words to the front of the mask that their peers and teachers wrote to describe them, and they used various art elements such as colors and patterns for the visual design. Each student wrote a paragraph to describe the visual elements of each side of their mask. Students noticed how the two sides of their masks were different inside and out and discussed how everyone feels as though they have to wear masks sometimes, regardless of what’s going on inside. The discussion also included strategies for students to better understand when and with whom they can be their true self.  

Kendall Fredericksen, Traverse’s English language arts teacher, noted that, “Students introspectively analyzed what they choose to reveal about themself versus what they want to conceal behind a mask.”

Starting in January, Traverse Academy will open the Intermediate Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for students in grades 4-6. Traverse will be able to serve between 48-60 students at one time.

The intentional design of Traverse to be welcoming and inclusive was recognized by the Association for Learning Environments; the school was awarded the Peak Merit Award and Educator’s Choice Award in December.


Posted 12/19/23.