Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Non-Traditional Courses Unveiled

Students and faculty attending the Advanced Studies Program at St. Paul’s School have united within these past few days, but many students remain in the dark regarding the non-traditional programs offered here at the ASP. We at Media Machine would like to change that.  

Sustenance and Sustainability, a course run by master teacher Courtney Jackson, delves into the realm of agriculture, environmental issues, conservation, energy, food and even happiness.  Global issues connected to food systems as well as our impact on the environment are additional major areas of conversation.

Student Maddie Smith indicates that, “everything connects.”  No class discussion is dominated by one subject in particular, but reflects a culmination of all of these ideas.  “Every year it [the content of the class] changes according to the news,”  Jackson mentions.  

When asked what makes Sustenance and Sustainability a unique aspect of our community, student Sumana Shashidhar immediately responded, stating that in this class a person is exposed to, “information you don’t hear elsewhere, but it’s pertinent.”  

Similarly, Smith indicated that the world, “needs our help right now!” and broached the importance of reinventing how we think of our environment and conservation as a relevant aspect of everyone’s life.  

Not only are students engaged in their classroom studies as Jackson hopes to, “inspire intellectual curiosity,” but they are anxious to utilize their skills through application on field trips.  Smith states that she’s excited to, “play with the cows,” as they plan on venturing out to local farms and farmer’s markets to observe the skills they are learning in action.  

From these experiences, Jackson hopes that her students will one day become, “agents of change,” and will, “see humanity as part of the environment” as, “conscious consumers.”  To incorporate these ideas into an active involvement project, the class hopes to connect the exercise bikes in the personal fitness center to a generator in order to recycle the energy created by their users.   

The Quest, another non-traditional course here at the ASP, proves to be a mystery to several students walking the campus.

“Any teacher is teaching, ‘The Quest’,” comments master teacher Mark Holding during an interview on June 26. Holding includes that he teaches students the valuable lesson of wisdom.  “You have to earn your wisdom,” Holding exclaimed, “knowledge and wisdom comes at a price.”  
Holding also mentions that he hopes his class will encourage his students to reinvent themselves and their communities.  “We’re all in this together,” Holding proclaimed.

Two students, Pauline Yates and Kay Torrey, responded to the inquiry regarding what the content of the course entailed as well as class discussion questions.  Their response? A mutual murmured giggle. “There’s a running joke in our class…” Torrey explained.  Not even the students taking this course can pinpoint one specific subject area on which Holden focuses.  

Torrey stated that the class operates on discussions regarding, “english, history and philosophy.”  To Torrey, “it’s a fun class, it doesn’t feel like school.”  

The girls explained that they are excited to see if they will go on any field trips this summer.  Yates expressed interest in going on a hike to experience, “The Quest,” that climbing to the top of a mountain entails.

Although this course focuses on the study of knowledge, the students and Holden made a point to avoid disclosing too much information regarding the class.  According to Yates, “if we told you [about the course], we’d have to kill you.”

Holding would also like to mention that, “The Quest is the official ASP course of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.”  If you’d like to challenge this comment, Mr. Holding would love to defend his adamant stance regarding this subject!

The next time you find yourself roaming aimlessly through the halls of the Lindsay Building, or while giving your parents a tour, be sure to stop and think about how these classes are contributing to the community at ASP and beyond.


  1. Meghan!
    I'm so glad you did this article. I really wanted to learn about these two classes, and I'm really grateful that you're providing that insight. You did a great job getting a lot of different opinions in your article, and you have a great balance of humor and factual information.
    Awesome job!

  2. Meghan,

    I loved this! I have some friends in each of these courses, but their responses on what the class actually did was ambiguous. It's interesting to see what these courses discuss, I like how your interview of The Quest was informative, but also left a little mystery about the class. Great job!

  3. Meghan,
    This article was great, I really enjoyed it. I loved the amount of quotes you used, and how they were not only from students, but from the teachers as well. I also liked how you added humor to this story, it made it even more interesting. I loved getting this insite!

  4. Thank you guys so much! I'm really glad you enjoyed the article, and your feedback gives me great insight as to what I should continue to do and what aspects of the article may not be necessary for next time!

  5. Meghan, This is a great article. I enjoyed finding out about these two classes!

  6. I'm so glad to watch my friends Pauline and Kay practically become famous having a feature in an article. It's so true that The Quest is a mystery; what happens in The Quest stays in The Quest!

  7. They were so helpful! I guess we'll never really know for sure what to expect from The Quest!