Sophia Casati

Studio art: Portfolios that pop

The Sculpture Studio in Hiestand Hall at Miami University has become a place for students in the Summer Scholars Program to learn and create. In the Studio Art Module, Professor Matthew Litteken guides students through different art projects over the course of two weeks. The students spent the first week working on 2D drawings and the second week working on 3D sculptures. During their time in the program, they visited the Hefner Zoology Museum on campus to sketch the wide variety of subject matter there such as seashells, skeletons, and taxidermy. The projects covered in the second week include three types of sculptures: wire, wearable, and laser cut. These are all college-level projects that are included in the program to help students expand their art portfolios for colleges.

“Our job is to present some kind of new and invigorating projects for their portfolio all the while helping to increase their skills, increase their knowledge base, allow them to work with new materials,” Litteken said.

The class is also designed to give students some freedom on how much or how little they want to invest into a project. With class Mondays through Thursdays, new projects are assigned each Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Thursdays give students time to go back and finish any projects they got behind on or further develop one of their projects that they want to make stronger for their portfolio. Litteken begins each class with a short lesson and demonstration that covers the basic techniques of their project for that day. He then allows students the rest of class time to work freely. The class setting is beneficial for students because “making art by oneself is one thing but when you’re kind of in a group dynamic you’re constantly bouncing ideas off one another,” he said.


Three students in the Studio Art module use wire to make 3D sculptures. — Photo by Sophia Casati

Ava Miller: The winning dancer

Earlier this month, Ava Miller celebrated with her tap dance team after qualifying for nationals of the Showstoppers dance competition. They had been working on their set since October of 2017. Their performance to an acapella version of the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams won them their spot at nationals. In order to make it to nationals, the team attended and won three regional competitions.

Ava Miller, third from the left, and her dance team perform “Happy” in competition. — Contributed photo

After placing in a Top 10 spot at the nationals of the Showstoppers competition, the team qualified for the America Love to Dance finals. Theirs was the first senior large group to make it to finals from Miller’s dance studio. Miller recounts the memorable moment saying, “it was very special because not only was it the first time our studio had a senior large group make it, but there were four seniors in that routine so they got to make it to finals for their last year.” Miller has been dancing most of her life — tap, plus hip hop and jazz. She is looking forward to the upcoming competition at the America Love to Dance finals as she and her team continue to train.

Lindsay Lees: Fencing to the finish

Lees gears up before a fencing match. — Contributed photo 

For Lindsay Lees, getting comfortable in a big high school was not as easy as she expected. She decided to try new things, one of these being a fencing class that she signed up for with a friend. “I never thought fencing would actually be something I wanted to do, but the class actually turned out to be super fun,” Lees recounts. Even though her friend ended up dropping the class, that did not deter Lees from her newfound interest. Eventually she decided to join the school team at her Chicago high school. “When I joined the team it was incredible because I found a whole new group of people who were part of a tight community even though we are in a huge school.” Lees practices with her team after school but that doesn’t stop them from developing their connection outside of school. “Some of my best friends I met when I joined the team.” Although Lees is still an amateur fencer, the team works together to better each other. Despite being an individual sport, the team shares techniques and tips to make sure their teammates are improving. “Everyone on the team is really open with each other and willing to give criticism and help each other out.”

Ailinn Santos: Best friend by chance

Ailinn Santos is fast friends with Nich, who took this photo of her. — Contributed photo

Ailinn Santos met her best friend of five years in her seventh- grade reading class. At the time a stranger, her now friend Nich had just moved from Florida to New Hampshire. With such a far move, it took some time for Nich to warm up to Santos but once he did they were fast friends. The two began to do almost everything together. “I mean everyone either thought we were siblings or even twins just because of how much time we spent together. It also helped that we both look really similar.” Nich and Santos have helped each other through many hardships in life. “I was there when his parents got divorced and it was messy but I think it turned out OK and he turned out OK because he had me to lean on.” Their friendship is one that is incredibly important to both of them and they have grown together, says Santos. “I can’t imagine where I would be without him.”

Media Matters: Exploring journalism mediums

All forms of journalism are meant to inform and tell story. Most mediums of journalism are pretty fast-paced and always working on new stories. Monthly magazines seem to be in less of a rush than newsrooms that put out newspapers or broadcast via radio and television. After our visit at Cincinnati magazine, that was easy to see. Although they are not rushing to get things done, they do have projects that they are constantly working on because of the many editions of their magazine such as the wedding issue and the college issue. Television stations seem to be the busiest of all, especially right before a live show. Everyone is always working on something there. I would see myself most in the television world. I don’t think I’m interested so much in the collecting of stories, more of the writing and organizing of the stories themselves. I think I would fit best in the technical side of television news or the production side. After touring WCPO-TV in Cincinnati, my enthusiasm for television heightened. It was very exciting to see the newsroom in action and see everyone doing such different things. It was interesting to be able to talk to one of the news producers there and see how he was preparing for the upcoming show later that day and how he organizes all of the stories and scripts. I also enjoyed touring the studio and control room areas to see how everything is set up and the equipment they use. In my high school, we put on live shows and have our own studio and control room as well so it was a cool experience to see everything on a larger, more advanced scale. I think this program really helped me learn about forms of journalism that I’m not so interested in and help strengthen my interest in broadcast journalism.


About the author

Casati accepts her NHS enrollment. – Photo by Amy Casati 

Seventeen-year-old Sophia Casati lives in Carmel, Indiana, with her parents, one of her older brothers, and her two dogs. She is an incoming senior at Carmel High School where she is a member of the cross country team in the fall and the track and field team in the spring. Outside of sports, Casati is a member of the CHTV staff. As a staff member, she produces news packages, puts on a live newscast – rotating between the director position and a news anchor– every other day, and sometimes produces creative projects such as music videos and short films. Casati is also a Greyhound Kickoff Mentor which is a mentor for incoming freshmen throughout the school year. Outside of school activities, Casati spends time hanging out with friends, reading books, playing with her dogs, and getting food from Piada and Chipotle too many times for comfort. In the future, Casati is looking forward to studying broadcast journalism and political science.