St. Andrew's-Sewanee School faculty, staff, and students suspended regular classes for the week of February 5-9. No, this was not an outbreak of the flu. It was an outbreak of creativity, adventure, and hands-on learning.
Each February, SAS takes a break from normal studies to engage in a week of short courses based on the interests and passions of its students, faculty, and staff. Some of this year's courses explored science and technology, such as Middle School Maker Challenge, biotechnology, and astronomy. Popular culture courses introduced students to classic philosophy through Game of Thrones, compared the Harry Potter books and films, and offered deep dives into the anime films of Hayao Miyazaki, classic cinema, and sci-fi movies. Guest teachers, Dee Eichler and Brown Hobson brought new skills to campus with courses in psychology and fly tying.
Students explored their creativity in a variety of media, including clay, painting and drawing, knitting, architecture, audio story-making, radio, video, and music. Some students spent half of each day providing food, home repair, and company to residents of our area. Other students gained important life skills such as learning to fix home electronics, play popular board games and futsal (a form of indoor soccer), iron a dress shirt, tie a tie, and raise vegetables and animals. Cooking courses are always popular, and students had their choice this year of courses on the science of food cooking, grilling, and Korean, Spanish, and Chinese cuisines.
The week was also an opportunity for students to explore the region. Groups of students participated in an ongoing archaeological survey on the SAS campus, explored area caves, ventured to some of the historically significant spots in Grundy County, and visited the Ralston Listening Library and art galleries at the University of the South. One group of students spent the week braving rain and cold to hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail.
At midweek, the SAS community enjoyed a Chapel talk by guest speaker Matt Reynolds, Associate Director of Archives and Special Collections at the University of the South. Reynolds spoke about his circuitous path of education and the way that his current job and hobbies combine his interests and passions. The week ended with an all-school celebration in which students from the classes shared their experiences.
Head of the Upper School Kelley Black, who taught a course on biotechnology, carefully guards regular classroom instructional time at SAS, but she believes Winterim is a great way to help students and teachers make it through the dark days of winter and provide an opportunity for everyone to explore new areas of interest. "Sometimes Winterim courses even become a good way to test courses for future inclusion in the regular SAS curriculum. This year's robotics course is a perfect example."
Freshman Hannah Warmbrod of Belvidere, Tenn. participated in the Design Challenge: Architecture and Voyage to Space classes. "It was fun to do things that we don't usually get to do and to take a break from regular classes. In my architecture course I got to design a tiny house. It was a totally new experience for me."