Although the number of students on campus over the past two weeks has been smaller than it is during the regular semester, our school has been anything but quiet. The sounds of Intersession are everywhere: the buzz of saws cutting into wood for sculpture projects, the hum of a robot prototype, the harmony of two singers composing a song together in the Recording Studio, the sizzle of falafel frying in the Teaching Kitchen. Whether they are creating sculptures that harmonize with nature, doing burpees and deadlifts in the weight room, learning the basics of video game design riding camels in Morocco, or walking in Shakespeare's footsteps in England, the students participating in Intersession courses are reveling in the thrill of the new.
Intersession is an eight-day period between the fall and spring semester designed to give students opportunities for exploration, risk-taking, world travel, community engagement, and leadership. During this unique interlude, students have the space and support to dig deeply into a subject they are already interested in or to investigate a new area of possible interest as they expand their knowledge in an experiential way. Intersession courses are designed to be fun and engaging, encouraging students to experiment and explore in a way that cannot be accomplished during the normal school day.
Our on-campus classes this year range from the athletic to the artistic and everything in between: Set Design, Ceramics, Robotics, Music Composition, Performance, & Recording, Fast Film, Bicycles & Bicycling, Cooking Around the World in 8 Days, Humans of the Bay Area, Inner & Outer Adventure, Art in 8 Days, Sculpture, Screenprinting, Sewing 101, Video Game Design, CrossFit, Dance Choreography, and Out & About in the Bay Area . Each course is decidedly “real world” in the sense that the learning or experiences take place in real-world environments and teach real-world skills.
Don't let the "on-campus" name fool you; many Intersession courses venture out into the world. In Humans of the Bay Area, students learn the basics of interviewing and documentary photography as they talk with a cross section of the people who make up Northern California their home. In Inner and Outer Adventure, they are getting to know themselves and pushing their limits: surfing, climbing, meditating, improvising, kayaking, and more.
Meanwhile, students off-site are having once-in-a-lifetime experiences in all corners of the globe. Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, our Passport Program allows every Sonoma Academy student the chance to embark upon a trip like this during their time here. In Morocco, Brandon and Laila are leading a group immersed in the study of colonization’s effects on North African culture. In Costa Rica, Colin and Nancy’s students are studying intricate ecosystems and the social implications of eco-travel. Jen and Danielle are leading students through the history of the performing arts in London. In Death Valley, Marco and Amber led a group of seniors through a deeply meaningful Wilderness Quest. More Intersession trips will head out during Spring Break to study a wide range of topics: mythology in Norway; language, history, and culture in China; art and history in Japan; the intersection of sports and gender in the United Kingdom.
This exploration isn’t limited to students; Intersession offers our staffulty opportunities to teach new subjects and to pair up with partners from other disciplines. For example, Humanities teachers Kerry and Jamie are spending these two weeks far away from their typical wheelhouse: Kerry is working with the CrossFit and Dance Choreography groups, and Jamie is in the art studio teaching Screenprinting with Hillary. French teacher Florence is using the language of stitches in Sewing 101, and Director of Technology Sean Freese is using his background in theater to work with students on set design.
Intersession is a time devoted to one of our deepest values: students must be given opportunities to explore and to take risks in order to grow and thrive. No matter which Intersession course they choose, our students are challenged, and by the end of the course, they will be changed in some way. We embrace and celebrate this process of challenge, experimentation, and accomplishment, not just during Intersession but all year long.
For a glimpse into this year's Intersession, watch this short video!