Walk down the halls of the middle school at St. Paul’s School for Girls (SPSG) during the second week of April, and you’re likely to hear excited chatter about new ideas, new projects, new friends, and outside of the box thinking.
Minimester is what they call the week-long break from traditional learning, where students are able to choose a topic that matches their interests, work with girls across different grades, connect with the community, and create an outcome to share with others that demonstrates their accomplishments. This year marks the third year of Minimester at SPSG, where past topics such as “Australia” and the “Mid-Atlantic Region” have been explored.
This year’s theme? Choose Your Own Adventure.
Intrigued? So were we!
We visited the campus, and found Head of Middle School, Montanna Wilson, working with students and taking part in the week’s adventures.
“During our Minimester week, we suspend regular classes for a week to give our students the opportunity to have an interdisciplinary and project-based experiences where they are offered alternative topics of study and unconventional approaches to learning in an effort to ignite students’ passion for discovery and exploration,” she shared. “Students help to develop and guide each project, with faculty serving as facilitators. The week also gives faculty an opportunity to show a passion that they have with the students which helps to build community by uncovering common areas of interest between students and their teachers.”
Students, teachers and staff were enthusiastically participating in “Choose Your Own Adventure” themed workshops such as “The Power of Illusion,” “RenoGators,” “Outdoor Survival,” “Gators Give Back,” and “Make a Musical.” Thirteen courses were offered in all, and students were given the opportunity to choose their favorite, and participate for a full week of fun, learning and connection.
Eighth grader, Aaliyah McLaurin, chose the RenoGators group, who spent the week renovating an unused storage room within the SPSG building, because she wants to be an interior designer after college.
“We were able to choose colors and furniture with the guidance of a real interior designer,” said Aaliyah. “It’s been a lot of hard work, and we’re creating a room that we’re all really proud of! Our teachers are really supportive and have given us their undivided attention. We’ve really had an amazing time.”
“This week is so special to us!” said Jasmine Saluja, also in eighth grade. “We usually spend a lot of time with our own grade level. This week allows us to work closely with girls from other grades and build relationships and apply skills that we’ve learned through the years. It’s a fun time for us to connect and learn new things.”
What other things were happening during Minimester? Girls created their own musical. Some students focused on service to the outside community. Others developed their own products and businesses while some learned about different cultures. Other girls were intrigued by outdoor experiences. One group even created a magic show.
The one constant: everyone was smiling. On our tour were heard lots of engaged conversations and witnessed each student enthusiastically participating.
Watching students diving headfirst into their intellectual curiosity and creativity — that’s what teachers, parents, and students dream of! The skills SPSG students learn during Minimester and beyond are sure to inspire for years to come.
This article is sponsored by St. Paul’s School for Girls as part of our Cool School Partners series. Read more about SPSG in our Independent Schools Directory or call them at 443-632-1046. Photos by Laura Black.