AOF Intersession: The Future Starts Today

Stories, know-how, and guidance from the experts in educating boys.

AOF Intersession: The Future Starts Today
Jacqueline Keller

Intersession Intensive Class: Doing One (AWESOME) Thing for a Week

Theodate Pope Riddle, the founder of Avon Old Farms, strongly believed in an approach to education that saw students working alongside their faculty mentors to produce their own meaningful work. Intersession honors that tradition by encouraging students and faculty alike to delve deeply into a single topic that interests them and to produce something tangible and valuable with their efforts. During the week, students and faculty devote all of their academic attention to one course; the course may explore a traditional academic topic in great detail, or it may focus on an area outside the traditional curriculum. The idea behind Intersession is to broaden the curriculum while creating opportunities for excursions, experiential learning, and interdisciplinary work. Beyond that, we hope that their experience in Intersession will influence how students and faculty approach their work in the traditional curriculum.

From examining politics and religion to changing a tire or cooking an Italian feast, our students took the first week of January to learn a little something that will serve them well in the future. Here’s what a few of our students had to say:

Sports Journalism

“I’ve learned about the interviewing process—what goes in to formulating good questions, how to listen, to take good notes,” said junior Shane Cooper, taking the Sports Journalism course with hopes of learning a bit more about sports. “I’ve also learned that journalism takes a lot of creativity and planning. I’ve enjoyed writing in a new way.”

The Sports Journalism course looked at the intricacies of media coverage in sports. They discussed everything from the style of writing, meeting immediate deadlines when it comes to covering live games, interviewing techniques, and the differences between print and digital media.

Cooper and about 20 others heard from big names in sports, including some words of advice from the Emmy-award-winning AOF parent and SportsCenter anchor John Anderson, longtime New York radio and TV personality and published author Ed Randall, sport radio's Chris Moore, owner of the Boston Red Sox John William Henry II, and many others.

Introduction to CAD and 3D Printing

Junior Matt Son signed up for the Introduction to CAD and 3D Printing Intersession course because he had never done anything like it before, but knew Avon now had 3-D printing courses available.

The purpose of this course was to introduce students to Computer Aid Design (CAD) through using a program also used by other industries and universities-AutoDesk Inventor. Each students worked on a computer and had the opportunity to 3D print their final projects. Students also used their newly-acquired skills to design and etch new trail signs for on-campus hiking paths.

“This was a great introduction to 3D printing,” he said. “I was always interested in it, but now I am thinking that next year, I might sign up for the actual course to learn even more than we could in one week of intersession.”

Freshman Nathan Walters also signed up for the 3D printing course, and his first project ever was to print a new cap for his water bottle.

Sophomore Steven Hu hopes that he can apply the skills learned in the class to his work with the robotics team: “Instead of being limited by our budget to buy new parts we might need, we would be able to 3D print them using the resources we have right here on campus.”

Guided Tour of the Vietnam War

Sophomore Liam Curley signed up for the Guided Tour of the Vietnam War course with Major Bourgault so he could connect with something from the past:

“My grandfather fought in the Vietnam War,” he shared. “I wanted to learn more about it so I could have better conversations with him while he’s still around to share his memories with me.”

In the course, Major Bougault guided students in students understanding the underlying causes of the War and the United States’ involvement. The group also examined the international strategies and battlefield tactics employed by both sides and the lasting impact this war had on our nation and on the international community.

"What IS that?" Understanding Modern Art

Henry Culhane signed up for the "What IS that?" Understanding Modern Art course with hopes of gaining a new perspective.

“When we go to a museum and look at a piece of art, I’ve learned that we each can see something different,” he said. “We might pay attention to color vs. brushstroke,  but we also might look at it from a different frame of mind. I think that has helped me gain an appreciation for how each of us is different, and how sharing that can be important.”

A day in the life of this class included looking at the most famous works of art of the 20th and 21st century, lively discussions, and field trips to New England’s finest museums.

“I love science and engineering, and looking at something in contrast to that has helped me understand that it is important to not shut out the arts all together,” said senior Matthew Lucente, also in the Understanding Modern Art course.

And in a very practical way, one sophomore shared that he signed up for the Model UN Intersession ‘so he could add it to his college applications.’ Fair.

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