How La Salle’s STEAM Team Has Become a Sanctuary of Community, Creativity, and Acceptance

Isabella Simonutti and Megan Snyder

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  • La Salle students are pictured working on the Innovation and Design Center’s Cricut machine.

  • Ms. Carie Coleman, Director of STEAM at La Salle, pictured next to the Innovation and Design Center’s laser engraver.

  • Student Leader of STEAM Team Ella Bright pictured operating the Innovation and Design Center’s band saw.

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New to La Salle this year, the STEAM Team is dedicated to helping students who are passionate about science, technology, engineering, art, and math grow in their talents, while also giving them the opportunity to develop leadership skills in their community. 

The STEAM Team is a “group of students who have demonstrated commitment and curiosity to creativity, and trying new things,” Ms. Carie Coleman, director of STEAM and moderator of the team, said.

Ms. Coleman knew she wanted to make the STEAM Team a reality when she noticed the strong sense of community that the Innovation and Design Center (IDC) had to offer. She intended to turn the “real sense of community in [the Innovation and Design Center]” into something with “more organization,” she said.  

Meeting almost daily in the IDC, the STEAM Team has become a safe space for many students at La Salle. 

“When you become a part of the… ecosystem that is this place it feels, for me at least, like another home,” said senior Ella Bright, student leader of the STEAM Team.

Bright also praised the group and classroom for its acceptance of everyone, and said that it reassures her to know that “the people who are in here and everyone who comes into the room is going to be an accepting person,” Bright said. 

The ability to make and create anything with assured acceptance is what made many students gravitate towards joining the STEAM Team, Bright being one of them. “You can come in here with the aspiration to learn and do whatever you want to do, and you can do it,” she said. 

Giving students a break from their busy day, and allowing them to express themselves creatively and freely is one of the many things the STEAM Team has to offer. “This space offers me, personally, a reprieve,” Bright said. “It’s like a break from the noise and the bustle.” 

The STEAM Team has offered a space for those with shared interests to speak to each other, and dive more into new things they wish to explore. 

“I fell in love with it immediately,” sophomore Henry Cechini said. “I felt really accepted here, because, you know, being a nerd is accepted here.” 

Currently, the group is hoping to expand both their workspace and the technology they have available, while also planning new activities to involve more of the La Salle community. 

“Down the road… we are going to have student-led sessions,” said Ms. Coleman. These sessions would involve STEAM team members teaching sessions on issues they are passionate about to students brand new to the subject.

In five years, Coleman hopes to see a larger student workspace, as well as the opportunity of more electives revolving around design and thinking. 

“I think that’s a big need, and just a huge interest that students have, and I love to be able to create more space for students,” she said. 

After 16 months off from school due to COVID-19, the IDC has become a comforting and safe place intended for fun and socialization.

“This is probably one of the only areas in the school where you truly feel the community,” Bright said.

Despite being new to La Salle, one of the only challenges the group has faced has been getting more people involved. 

“At least for me, one of the hardest things is just the confidence to go and talk to people about science and technology and not scare them away,” Cechini said. 

In order to get involved in STEAM, the best way to get started is to “come by and say hi,” Ms. Coleman said. “Everyone has a place in here. If you’re willing to put yourself out there and want to do something cool, we’re going to support you.”