Youth prepares for transition from private to public school

Jesse Levine poses at the Niskayuna High School library during the Engineering Institute. July 14, 2016.INDIANA NASH/GAZETTE REPORTER Jesse Levine poses at the Niskayuna High School library during the Engineering Institute. July 14, 2016.

NISKAYUNA — Eighth-grader Jesse Levine is no stranger to big projects.
In 2014, around her 10th birthday, she began the nonprofit 10sGive10, which encourages kids to donate to charities with monetary donations and through volunteering.
“Just because we are young doesn’t mean we can’t make a big impact on the world. Who knows, if we keep on helping people less fortunate than us, there will be less poor, sick, uneducated, homeless and hungry children all over the world,” Jesse wrote on the 10sGive10 website.
But Jesse is working on a different sort of project now.
This year will be her last at the Bet Shraga Hebrew Academy of Albany. While she plans on savoring the time with her friends there, she’s also looking toward building relationships before transitioning into Niskayuna High School the following year.
Having grown up in Niskayuna, Jesse said she has some friends in town but that she is still anxious about the big move.
“I’m nervous about it, but I’ve got a plan,” said Jesse, smiling as she cut out nylon scales during Niskayuna’s Engineering Institute for Young Women program.
Attending the Institute was the first part of her plan.
“I’ve always been interested in math and science … my mom is a doctor and I always get to hear about all of the exciting things going on in the medical field,” Jesse said, of her mom Carolyn Levine.
“So I’d like to be a medical engineer, but I also joined the camp so I could meet these guys,” Jesse said, pointing to two girls sitting near her. From the way that the trio interacted, it seemed as though they’d been friends for much longer than a four-day span.
The third part of Jesse’s plan is to participate in school sports starting right in the fall season.
“That way I’ll be involved on a team right from the start,” Jesse said, she’s considering a few of the school’s options but is leaning toward volleyball. She is also on the town’s swim team and takes tennis lessons.
Although Jesse’s strengths mostly lie in the math and science field, she also enjoys music and reading.
“I play the piano now, but I’m going to take viola lessons too,” Jesse said.
This again is part of her transition plan.
“I figured that there is only one piano player for the school’s orchestra, but not a lot of students play the viola so they’d probably need one of those,” Jesse said.
From the way she talks about the transition, she’s just as excited as she is nervous about it.
“My brothers, Ari and Noah, went to Niskayuna High School, so I know what it’s like,” Jesse said.
During her last year at the academy, Jesse plans on working further on her math skills and on participating in the Olympics of the Visual Arts again.
“I’m in a club called Math Counts, and we do these math problems that we wouldn’t normally see in the classroom,” Jesse said. There is also a competition at the end of the year that she is already gearing up for.
In the Olympics of the Visual Arts, Jesse worked with her school’s team this year to build a dress out of trash and build a model of an architecturally sound building out of recycled materials.
“They give you certain problems to solve in the beginning and you have to work with all the other kids on your school’s team to come up with the best solutions,” Jesse said.
This sort of creativity mixed with her math and science-adept mind will lend well to a career in the medical engineering field. It also just might make the transition into public high school a bit easier too.