DaVinci Retreat Reflects and Connects

By Publications Class


On Valentine’s Day, Lusher seniors who earned the newly instated da Vinci distinction, Lusher's first-ever da Vinci scholars crop, went on a retreat to the Audubon Nature Center Planetarium in New Orleans East to celebrate their accomplishment and learn about da Vinci’s blend of art and science.  

The retreat offered students the opportunity to walk the paths of the nature center, see a planetarium show, and complete creative reflection and "maker-space" activities. The activities were led by Lusher's PLTW and Arts staff members, Matt Owen, Allison Campbell, and Kelly Mueller. One of the main attractions of the retreat were the panelists, who allowed students to ask questions about their future and to explain their own part in the program.

Panelists at the retreat included the following:

  • Peter Horjus, Food and Nutrition Security Analyst, Consultant to the U.N. World Food Programme, Fiber Artist

  • Kent Jordan, Jazz Musician and Lusher Teacher

  • Aaron Miscenich, President & CEO of the New Orleans BioInnovation Center

  • Elise Moore, Engineering Physics Major, Tulane University, Entergy Intern, Lusher Graduate

  • Matt Sakakeeny, Associate Professor of Music, Tulane University

  • Robert A. Thomas, Professor and Loyola Distinguished Scholar Chair in Environmental Communication and Director, Loyola Center for Environmental Communication

  • LuAnn White, Professor of Environmental Toxicology at Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and Director, Tulane Center for Applied Environmental Public Health

  • Kevin N. Wilkins, Founder and Managing Director of Trepwise

"If you take the time to look for the connections between subjects, you'll see that they are there, and your perception will change," Ms. Duffy said.  

"To me, that is a powerful take away and an affirmation of my career choice as a teacher," she continued.  "I'm so lucky to  be able examine with my students the connections between literature, reading, rhetoric, social studies, cultural anthropology, linguistics, Latin, travel, art, theater, politics, etc.  Nothing stands alone."  

da Vinci scholar Autumn Routt also commented on the trip, saying, “I really enjoyed it. I definitely think the Da Vinci Scholars in the next few years should get to experience something similar.”

The da Vinci curricular pathway was added this year to Lusher high school’s nationally recognized Certificate of Artistry program, PLTW Engineering and Biomedical programs, and areas of concentration in math/science and humanities/communications. 

Named after Leonardo da Vinci, the da Vinci program challenges students to merge learning across content areas in an interdisciplinary fashion.  In Walter Isaacson’s recent biography, Leonardo da Vinci, Isaacson writes that “the ability to make connections across disciplines-arts and sciences, humanities and technology-is a key to innovation, imagination, and genius” and “an enduring recipe for creativity.”

 To earn the da Vinci distinction, interested students are required to complete 4 arts credits(Certificate of Artistry or electives), 2 years of rigorous coursework in Math/Science or PLTW, one year of rigorous coursework in the humanities, and an interdisciplinary culminating project.