Student & Faculty Standouts for September 1, 2023

Student Standouts: Mikulec ’24, Zlatic ’24, Alpaslan ’27, Munshi ’28

Faculty Features: Nichols

Congratulations to this week’s standouts below. Way to go #RamNation! And as always, if you have a story to share, please email


Mikaela Mikulec '24 Named on Top Five Players to Watch List

Congratulations to Mikaela Mikulec ’24 on being named by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as one of the top five high school girls’ tennis players to watch this fall. Mikulec shines in singles and doubles and has garnered several top-three finishes in Class 3 tennis. Click here to read more about this fall’s lineup. We’re looking forward to a great season on the court!


Senior Develops Experiment and Will Fly on Zero-G Plane

Congratulations to Zoe Zlatic ’24 for earning a flight to run an experiment designed by her on the Zero-G plane (also known as the “Vomit Comet,” a NASA program that was originally started in 1959 to introduce astronauts to the feeling of zero-gravity spaceflight). She was selected while attending a summer internship with the STEM Enhancement in Earth Science (SEES) joint program between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the University of Texas at Austin Center for Space Research. At her internship on the campus of UT-Austin, Zlatic served as Mission Commander for Team Visionary, which designed an entry, descent, and landing vehicle for Venus. Her team met an astronaut, scientists and engineers, and the head of NASA’s DAVINCI program, a mission to investigate Venus.

Over the next few months, Zlatic will work with a new team of engineers, scientists, administrators, and teachers to design a centrifugal experiment, write test procedures, and select instrumentation to capture results, all in anticipation of her flights out of Fort Lauderdale in late November. Her project is Testing Procter & Gamble’s Water Purification Powder in Micro and Artificial Gravity. She and three other students (plus two alternates) were selected for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Each student is designing their own experiment.

Zlatic was inspired by her junior-year AP Chemistry class with Dr. Megumi Yoshioka-Tarver, where she first learned about the amazing technology behind Proctor & Gamble’s powder and its application in solving water insecurity on Earth. She is looking to expand its use as a secondary (backup) water purification solution for astronauts on the Moon and even Mars. Keep shooting for the stars, Zoe!

Arissa Alpaslan '27 Represents Panama at St. Louis Festival of Nations

Arissa Alpaslan ’27 participated this past weekend in the Festival of Nations in Tower Grove Park, representing the country of Panama. She danced to folk music dressed in Panama’s national outfit – the pollera. Arissa and the Panamanian group are part of Grupo Atlantico, which promotes the folklore and rich heritage of Caribbean and Latin rhythms. Produced by the International Institute of St. Louis, the Festival of Nations is the region’s biggest multicultural event of the year. Originated in 1934, the two-day event is open to the public and attended by over 100,000 people and features the traditions, flavors, sounds, and art of more than 75 nations. Congratulations, Arissa, on a wonderful weekend of performances!



Priyasha Munshi '28 Selected for Ignite Theatre Company Performance

Congratulations to Priyasha Munshi ’28 on being selected for the fall production of Matilda by the Ignite Theatre Company, a non-profit organization that believes in “creating great people first and great performers second.” They stage annual full-scale theatrical productions with young performers from the St. Louis area, and this will be Priyasha’s debut on stage with a company of this caliber. Priyasha’s experience in Middle School Talent Shows, in the MICDS production of The Hundred Dresses, and her performances within the St. Louis Indian community have propelled her into chasing her dream of being an actor. Over the next three months, Ignite will hold intensive performance workshops and life skill classes for all cast members to equip them on or off the stage. Break a leg, Priyasha!

Katy Nichols Wins Scholarship for Music Instruction

This past summer, Lower School Music Teacher Katy Nichols attended the Orff Schulwerk and Popular Music course at the University of Kentucky under the direction of Dr. Martina Vasil and David Dockan. The course focused on infusing the Orff Schulwerk philosophy of music education with popular music. Orff Schulwerk was founded by the composer Carl Orff (of Carmina Burana fame) and educator Gunild Keetman to encourage children to sing, say, dance, play, and create in every music class. The Orff philosophy encourages teachers to use the music of the culture of their students, which for many students today is popular music.

During the course, Dr. Nichols thought about how beginner recorder songs are often boring for students and wanted to create something accessible for beginner players. This inspired her to write an arrangement of Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga’s Rain on Me as a piece to teach to beginning recorder students. The chorus of Rain on Me has a short, simple, repetitive melody that can easily be played on the recorder. Students could practice their new recorder skills and improvise on these notes within small groups within this pop song’s framework. The arrangement she wrote and taught of Rain on Me was for the barred instruments (xylophones and metallophones) as well as modern band instruments such as the bass guitar and drum kit, where the recorders would be featured during the chorus of the song.

Dr. Nichols applied for and won a scholarship that will reimburse her for the course based on sharing this lesson with other educators in the Orff Schulwerk community, and her lesson will be featured as an example of how to incorporate modern band and popular music in elementary music using the Orff Schulwerk approach. Dr. Nichols shared, “It was exciting to win the scholarship and to know that other music teachers can share my arrangement of Rain on Me with their students and hopefully be inspired to create their own arrangements for their students, too!” Congratulations, Dr. Nichols!