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Year-End Collaborative Program Relieves Stress, Re-Energizes School Community

The last few weeks of school can be stressful, what with upcoming finals or just year-end fatigue. Allendale Columbia School’s May Term combats this issue by transforming the final 12 days of the school year, re-energizing students and teachers, providing opportunities for collaboration, and fostering a love of learning.

Students in grades 6-12 are given the opportunity to choose two classes—one in the “real and relevant” category and one in the “creative and collaborative” arena. They are required to work together to solve real-world problems in ways that reach beyond their community.

Teachers select different topics and create 20-hour courses, which have ranged from Testing DNA and WaterBotics to a real archeological dig, cultural immersion, and service trips to countries such as Nicaragua, Senegal, and Madagascar. This year’s opportunities include “Oncology: Life of Cancer & Life with Cancer,” “Making Community Service a Way of Life,” and “Be Your Own Boss,” focusing on entrepreneurship. “I love the flexibility the school affords faculty members to try new things based on what’s best for students,” says Middle School Head Tina Duver.

There’s a new twist being established this year. Some students will take on the role of teacher, offering 7-hour mini-courses to their peers that they create, formally propose to a panel, and ultimately teach. They include “Conflict Resolution,” “Animation and 3D Modeling,” and “Friend-Able,” which will focus on exploring and understanding various disabilities.

Denzel Mwanangala ’17 looks forward to the program “because you get to interact with teachers outside the classroom, and our teachers get to learn who we really are—there’s more interaction and connection among everyone involved.”

Does your school do something similar?

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