Students learn Portrait of a Graduate skills through float-making


Students learn Portrait of a Graduate skills through float-making

October 5, 2023

The sounds of hammers and collaborating students have been echoing throughout the Warwick Valley bus garage each evening this week. Since Monday, Warwick Valley High School students have been gathering there to build and assemble their homecoming floats for the parade on Saturday. It’s an annual tradition like no other for the Warwick schools.

The homecoming theme this year is Disney. The four classes each chose a theme for their class float: Seniors – Toy Story; Juniors – Pirates of the Caribbean; Sophomores – Tangled; and Freshmen – Moana.

On Saturday, the class floats and skits will be judged on several criteria: Creativity, beauty, presentation, banners, movement, costumes, theme relevance and wow factor.

During the build on Wednesday night, the students were developing their Portrait of a Graduate Collaborator and Communicator skills. Collaborators foster strong group dynamics by remaining open to varied opinions and valuing the input of others. Communicators connect with people who are both like and unlike them. Communicators read and listen; they carefully research and ask questions. 

The students were in a feverish race to complete their floats by Thursday night. Students were meeting and strategizing; they were handing responsibilities to each other. 

“I think we’ll make it and I think it will be fantastic, but I’m just stressed with all the pressure of getting it done in four days,” said freshman Jenna Grady. “Four days seems like such a short period of time, but with the amount of work we’ve gotten done I think we’ll be able to pull it off.”

“When you’re in there you just zone out and it’s not three hours,” said freshman Mackenzie Sciarra. “It feels like you’ve been in (the bus garage) all day.”

“They’ve made a lot of progress,” said Jill Martinez, freshman English teacher and freshman class advisor. “Typically freshmen don’t make this much progress and it doesn’t look this good, but you guys have done well and the other classes see that.”

During lunches and breaks in the school schedule the students have been meeting and regrouping to make sure the building tasks were being completed and they have been adjusting their teams’ priorities.

The students were also Creators in the design and build process. They were building and painting structures, fastening them to flatbed trailers, decorating the trailers, drawing and painting banners, and attaching flowers and decorations to their floats.

“We’re kind of going around making sure everyone has a job and then doing our own jobs, which is painting and building,” said Mackenzie.

“I’m also working on our freshman banner, which is one of the first things that people will see when they see the freshman class coming up the street at the parade,” said Jenna. “It says, ‘There’s no telling how far we’ll go – Class of 2027.’”

Luke Delaney, a senior, was painting and drilling decorations to the Toy Story float on Wednesday night. 

“I came last year for a bit but this was my first year really getting involved in everything,” Luke said. “This is great. This is really fun. This year, I’m actually doing things and helping the process move along.” 


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