Aidan Stromdahl spun his first record before he could walk. He hasn’t stopped since.
“I can feel pretty confident when I say I’ve DJed my whole life,” the 16-year-old said.
Last month, Stromdahl had one of his biggest gigs to date: an afternoon spinning records at Parkway Pizza in Northeast as part of a school project.
Stromdahl, who goes by the name DJ FunSize, played music for of a crowd that included dozens of friends, family and several Edison High School staff. He curated a playlist for the event, designed fliers for it and marketed it on the school announcements.
Stromdahl’s effort for Parkway Pizza was part of his personal project, a required component Edison’s International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme. All Edison ninth- and 10th-graders participate in MYP, the precursor to the IB diploma program.
Edison ninth-graders select an individual project that they complete in 10th grade. Students are encouraged to choose a topic they enjoy and are required to keep a process journal, which they use to write a report after completing the project.
Students work on their projects in class and outside of school, said Sharon Cormany, Edison’s MYP Coordinator. They have done everything from writing songs to starting clubs and creating instruction soccer videos.
“They really develop some project management skills, which is something not a lot of 10th-graders necessarily have,” she said. “… I think a lot of them really just get a sense of pride and accomplishment.”
For Stromdahl, there never much question on what he could do his project.
His dad, David Stromdahl, instilled in him his passion for music as a baby. David Stromdahl, a longtime Electric Fetus employee and DJ himself, got Aidan his own turntable as soon as he could sit up.
“I figured if I didn’t want my records to get damaged, I should get him his own stuff,” David said.
Aidan’s passion continued, and he had his first DJ gig when he was 7, playing at the King and I Thai restaurant. He’s played at record-store days at Electric Fetus over the years and has worked with DJ Kool Akiem, a local DJ, through the Beacons afterschool program.
Stromdahl incorporated his passion for drawing and digital design into his project, designing a flier that utilized the Parkway Pizza logo. He appeared pleased with how the event went, noting that the restaurant reported better-than-expected sales for a Saturday afternoon.
“Everybody loved it,” he said.
Edison was authorized as a MYP school in 2012 and had three kids finish the individual project that year, Cormany said. Last year, 122 students finished the project.
When students get to 11th grade, they have the opportunity to apply for the IB diploma program, which includes six two-year-long classes, an extended essay, a class called Theory of Knowledge and community service. Students can also take individual IB classes, such as math or literature, or other advanced courses at Edison.
About 20 students are going for their IB diplomas this year at Edison, Cormany said. Edison is one of eight schools in the Minneapolis district with the Middle Years Programme.
Cormany said the personal project gives students project-management, time-management, planning and goal-setting skills as well as a sense of pride and accomplishment. She said the post-project paper forces the students to be reflective and explain how they grew as a learner.
Edison teacher Aberdeen Rodriguez said the project is the first true test of academic autonomy for the students.
She said Stromdahl deepened his confidence and learned how to connect with the community more by undertaking his project.
“Aidan’s just really one of those likeable kids,” Rodriguez said. “He’s such a likeable, fun student to be around that everyone’s really drawn to him and was happy to support him in the event.”