This year ISTP parent Jim Armstrong stepped into the position of Chinese New Year Parade Chair, and was immediately greeted by a problem: How do we replace the float visionary & designer who had just moved to Switzerland?
Gary Meeker, the electrician on the float, also serves as the Arts Night Electrician, and PTA Vice President. Jim pondered if it was even fair to ask Gary to double his duties on the float. ”Gary has said all along if it was just him, we would basically have to repaint the dragon from last year so it looked like a snake.”
“As he was passing the torch to me, Ken told me something to the effect of, ‘Gary can probably handle it all by himself plus we have some alumni guy that says he’s interested. Maybe he can do something.’“
“Some alumni guy” was Stephen Sun. Stephen’s qualifications made him more than just an extra pair of hands. Presently a Junior Architect at AEDIS in San Jose, Stephen actually has a history of float-building.
“I attended Mountain View High School and for four years led the creative/design/fabrication efforts for the floats in the homecoming parade. The passion involved in designing and building such visions launched my academic journey at both Carnegie Mellon University and sci-Arc where vision, design, and fabrication become inseparable entities of the architectural discipline.”
When asked what it’s like to have Stephen on the team, Gary said, “creating a great parade float requires an individual with creativity, enthusiasm, and motivation to develop a vision and turn it into reality. This year, Stephen brings that magic combination to the float build team. He clearly shows great pride in ISTP and brings a fresh enthusiasm to the team that has helped to keep all of us excited about the work ahead.”
“Using his training as an architect and the tools of his art, he created a 3-D computer model of the float, a first for this team! He went a step further and used the computer tools to convert the model into sections that we could actually cut out and build. In spite of our late start, we’re making rapid progress, largely due to Steve’s ingenuity.”
In reflecting on his experience on the float thus far, Stephen shared the following:
“The past few months have been filled with saw dust and hot glue gun burns, yet it brings energy ridden conversations ranging from generational gaps, cultural paradigms, and most interestingly: experimental models of education. It’s so very humbling to be working alongside such accomplished individuals and such caring parents. I only wish that somehow the students could also be involved, because building something from nothing is one of the most empowering feelings one can ever have. [Former ISTP French teacher] Olivier Nocella taught me that.”
Stephen has made a point of maintaining a relationship with ISTP through the years. In fact, when Stephen started to plan his return to Palo Alto, he contacted ISTP’s Alumni Office seeking out ways to become involved at the school. The timing of Stephen’s return to Palo Alto, and our need for a float building visionary could not have been better.
There’s no doubt that the 2013 Chinese New Year Parade float team would have found a way to make ISTP proud. It’s exciting, though, that an alumnus of the school so willingly “came to the rescue”. To see our own students returning to ISTP and using their talents to give back is truly heartwarming.
Find a seat along the parade route or tune in on Saturday, February 23 to see ISTP’s float rolling through the streets of San Francisco.