Winchester Students Present Passion Projects at Acera School | Winchester

WINCHESTER — Nearly 50 middle school students presented their passion projects at Acera School this month, including works by a number of Winchester youth. Projects have included robotics, computer programming, entrepreneurship, video editing and more.

Winchester student Ashley Byrne created a website where people could play games like Sudoku.

“I love coding and I wanted to learn more about web design, so this was the perfect project for that,” Byrne said. “I used Javascript and Python to write the website’s frontend and backend. I’ve also worked with Flask, HTML, CSS, Jinja templates and Heroku to deliver my website to the web.”

Saketh Arun learns how to make and edit videos to honor one of his favorite athletes, Tom Brady.

Camille Cranston created a business plan and website for a non-profit organization that collects food to be delivered to those in need.

Jonathan Gilmer designed and crafted wooden spice racks and set up a shop on Etsy to sell them, with all profits going to the National Forest Foundation.

“One of the biggest challenges I faced was picking a price and adding up the cost of making each product, plus shipping, Etsy fees, taxes, and material costs. This would not have been possible without the help of my mentor Mr. Linwood!”

Mia Lock designed and crafted a wooden plant stand that could hold up to eight plants and would hold up outdoors.

“I chose this project because I was interested in expanding my woodworking skills, but at a greater level than before,” said Lock.

Anders Magnusson built a working drone experimenting with different weights and sizes of parts.

“I chose this project because I’m passionate about drones and thought they would be fun to build and experiment with,” said Magnusson.

Elsie Shoemaker designed and created a paper mache dragon sculpture.

“This project turned out to be exactly what I wanted, so bringing my vision to life is really exciting!” said Schuhmacher.

Malia Soderland created a blog where she could write and publish literary reviews.

Christo Zacharia has created a robotic arm that can be controlled with potentiometers.

“I chose this project because I really like programming. I also wanted to learn more about software coding,” said Zacharia.

Acera, a non-profit K-8 STEAM school based in Winchester, offers IMP projects as part of their annual middle school curriculum. Each week, middle school students have unstructured blocks of time where subject-related mentors are available to advise on independent projects.

“Passion Projects are a way to unleash the initiative and creativity inherent in all children and inspire middle school students to seek independence and help them learn what it takes to achieve a goal,” said Courtney Dickinson, Founder and Director of Acera. “It’s not about perfection; It is students who explore ideas, make mistakes and learn from them.”

Founded in 2010, Acera engages students in individualized, project-based learning that aligns with their passions and their own abilities. In addition to K-8 education, Acera offers daily after-school enrichment programs as well as February, April, and summer vacation camps. Visit for more information.


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