Immersive. Interdisciplinary. Practical. Experiential. These adjectives offer good insight into what this week’s Intersessions experience was all about for middle and high school students at MSR.
Intersessions, a one-week period when students— accompanied by MSR teachers, staff, and sometimes outside experts or parents — provide an opportunity for students to take a deep dive into an area of interest outside the typical academic program. Intersessions are part of the MSR curriculum for students in grades 7-12 and occur twice a year—once in the fall and once in the spring. Some Intersession projects are offered year after year, others are newly designed to meet students’ unique interests. In past years, students have learned to write a screenplay, shoot and edit film, create special effects, and ultimately produce their own short films; studied the history and science of bookmaking, applied math and physics concepts to designing rockets; built robots; and practiced design-thinking skills to create their own mobile apps.
Being in the midst of a global pandemic, this year’s Intersessions have shifted to focus on community service, self-care and community-building, allowing students to observe COVID-19 safety protocols as they work individually and in small groups, on and off campus, both indoors and outdoors. This week, Middle School students (Grades 7 and 8) spent their mornings focused on self-care with yoga, hiking, and journaling. Upper School students in 9th and 10th grade spent their days engaged in a range of student-led service and community building projects both on and off campus; while students in 11th and 12th grades spent their mornings focused on their International Baccalaureate (IB) World Diploma projects and core IB assignments and assessments, before joining 9th and 10th graders for afternoon Intersessions.
The wide array of Intersessions offered this week reflect the unique and varied interests of MSR’s Middle and Upper School students. Middle schoolers focused their community service activities on our Brier Creek Campus, building and planting raised garden beds, clearing erosion fencing to improve natural habitats, and other projects. Upper School students made children’s blankets for Project Linus, partnered with St. Francis Church to prepare food for those in need, among other activities.
While Intersessions may look a little different this year, they remain an extension of the Montessori approach to teaching and learning and align with the high school IB curriculum, as they allow students to encounter new experiences, places, people, and ideas that spark curiosity, understanding, and a passion for lifelong learning. This week, whether learning survival skills in Umstead State Park, creating a video featuring what students most love about MSR, learning yoga, or engaging in campus beautification projects like building a living garden wall, creating upcycle art works for school spaces, or finishing an outdoor mindfulness labyrinth, students collaborated, invented, generated, and created. And that is what it’s all about.
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