January can sometimes be a tough month to get through following the holiday season and school break, however, for FIFTY years, Roycemore Upper School students have had something to really look forward to– January Short Term (JST). For three weeks, between the first and second semesters, all regular classes are suspended and students immerse themselves in either a group project or an independent JST. Participation is a graduation requirement and the project is listed on each student’s high school transcript. It provides an opportunity for hands-on experiential learning, getting off campus to understand something new, in-depth learning on a topic of personal interest, and a good amount of fun! Roycemore alumni will often comment on how a particular JST led to a specific major in college and even a future career!
Our Upper School students took full advantage of the opportunities available to them again this year participating in group projects such as Print Making, Museum Mania, and Girls in Film. The JST booklet describes the program in full detail, including the requirements if a student wishes to pursue an independent project. Tonight (Tuesday, February 8) students will share their experiences during the JST Expo, providing an opportunity for parents, faculty, and younger students to learn more about this unique program. Today’s newsletter will feature three JST projects.
Junior, Tariq E., wanted to learn about the field of IT so he engaged in an independent project as an intern with an Informational Technology Company, Net-Telligence Group. “I learned significantly more about IT business than I’d originally expected to,” says Tariq.” Over the span of three weeks, I had the opportunity to work with an IT company executive that took me through the benefits and difficulties of daily labor. I had the chance to meet with several clients from other companies that sought out IT support in services such as IT architectural infrastructure, cloud computing, technological deliveries, wifi management, property surveillance, phone installment systems, and many more. My personal role was to assist any associate or company executive on-site whenever actively pursuing a service, even if it was something I would struggle to understand. Personally, I learned the importance of client relations, associate relations, using resources, and different strategies to resolve an issue. Learning about the expertise of the company was a total success and greatly enjoyed having the experience.”
Senior, Steven F., pursued an independent project to learn how to sail. “The purpose of this trip was so I could learn how to set a course based on the weather from where we were to our next destination,” says Steven, “but the weather was pretty much the same every day! The term for this is ‘weather routing.’” The project took place in the British Virgin Islands on a rented boat with a professional captain as Steven’s project director. Of course, the side benefit was that it was sunny with temperatures in the low 80s each day. Steven also enjoyed swimming, snorkeling, and learning about local cuisine.
One of the popular group projects was Museum Mania, led by teachers Shannon Henry and Dan Dudek. Over the three-week period, the group visited nine museums in the Chicagoland area to not only explore world-class museums, but to look into the multifaceted roles museums play for a community, explore careers, and discover the elements of a meaningful and effective exhibit. Field Experiences included the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, and Museum of Science and Industry, as well as smaller museums such as the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian right here in Evanston. At each museum, students were free to explore the exhibits that interested them and carried a journal to keep track of what they saw: what factors of different exhibits were most (and least) effective at drawing their attention, conveying information, and engaging the viewer. Students also met with several museum employees to learn more about what goes into designing an exhibit. They spoke with curators from the Shedd, Northwestern Block Museum, International Museum of Surgical Science, and Illinois Holocaust Museum to hear about how a curator gathers artifacts and puts them together to tell a story. In some cases, such as at the Holocaust Museum, curators welcomed the students into the collections storage to see the behind-the-scenes work that occurs every day. Ronan M., gained a great deal from the JST week. He shared, “My experience with JST this year with Museum Mania was wonderful. It took me all over the city of Chicago, and I spent time working on a blueprint for an exhibit design of my own – something I never would have done otherwise.” Students took all that they learned and put it into practice by designing their own exhibits of any topic that interests them. Proposed exhibits ranged from a walk-through timeline of the Cold War Space Race, to an immersive experience as a mortician’s apprentice, to an interactive exhibit on biotechnology, and more! Exhibit designs will be on display for all to see at the JST Expo!
We’re so proud to offer such a special opportunity to Roycemore Upper School students, and equally proud of how they took advantage of the program to learn something new. We look forward to seeing what exciting and enriching projects students come up with next year.
In partnership for the education of your student,
Adrianne Finley Odell
Head of School