Semester Schools Give Juniors a Home Away From Milton
by Kailee Silver on Friday, February 10th, 2017
Between The Mountain School in Vermont, Chewonki in Maine, or CityTerm in New York City, students from Class II have the opportunity to take a semester away from Milton. The junior class is missing several members who are at semester programs or School Year Abroad (SYA) and is excited to have some returners for second semester.
They may seem similar, but these three programs certainly differ in their locations and the experiences they provide. In addition to attending academic classes, students engage with the environment around them. Mountain School and Chewonki are in rural settings. Chewonki focuses on sustainability and nature on the coast of Maine. According to its website, The Mountain School adopts a “work program” of farming and labor in which students and faculty work to keep the campus running. At CityTerm, students live at the Masters School and spend much of their time in the city. CityTerm students learn to navigate the busy city by subway and even spend some classes on the streets of New York.
In terms of academics, students say that classes taken at the respective programs were very similar to those taken at Milton. Rachel Handler (II), who just returned from The Mountain School, describes that “people always ask if we took classes… the classes were actually really difficult and rigorous!” Other students share the opinion that the classes at semester programs were at the same difficulty level at Milton and typically followed similar curriculums as Milton does. Teachers made classes enjoyable by making connections to the students’ lives and the current world. CityTerm cites interdisciplinary learning as a key element of its program. Students from semester programs noted that, oftentimes, the same topic would arise in two different classes. Thus, through exposure to two different viewpoints, students enjoy an interesting education format.
The classes at semester programs are often held outside and involved the environment of the program — whether it be on the coasts of Maine or the bustling streets of downtown New York City. The classes directly correlate to the given environment and make for unique and engaging classes. Students said that the programs were nice getaways from the Milton campus and gave them a chance to try something new by living in an unfamiliar area for a few months. For day students, these programs provided a great opportunity to experience dorm life for a few months.
The students who returned all said that they thought that the biggest difference between these semester programs and Milton was the social experience. Those who went raved about the friendships they had made. The programs are vastly smaller than Milton at sizes of around 40 students each. Chris Mehlman (II), who went to the Mountain School, explained that “you become incredibly close with the amazing group of students and teachers.” Caleb Beebe (II) gushed about how he “not only became friends with all the kids and teachers in [his] semester but also joined a pool of thousands of incredible alumni.” Although each program was just a semester, students from the programs say that the friendships and connections made at these programs will last a lifetime.
The overall experiences of being at the semester programs were described as “the best thing I could have done” and one of students’ favorite aspects of high school thus far. Rachel Handler explains that she would absolutely recommend The Mountain School to sophomores, saying it was “one of the greatest experiences of my life,” but adds that “the manual labor and small environment of The Mountain School might not be for everyone.” For those students who may be interested in attending one of these programs, look for upcoming assemblies and information sessions.
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