Academics off the beaten path
In some ways, Dock's new Mini-Term is like Senior Experience for the rest of the student body, offering students in grades 9, 10, and 11 the opportunity to pursue hands-on learning opportunities outside the classroom.
Dock’s Senior Experience is a week full of hands-on experiential learning opportunities that are difficult if not impossible to duplicate in the classroom. For many Dock seniors, the week can be transformational, helping to discern college and vocational goals and interests.
Now, Dock is providing similar learning experiences for students in grades 9, 10, and 11. During the 2018-19 school year, Dock held its first-ever “Experiential Day,” offering students a variety of half-day and full-day options for on- and off-campus learning experiences. This year, “Experiential Day” was expanded to a week-long “Mini-Term,” with students pursuing elective learning opportunities in line with their passions and curiosity. These learning opportunities ranged from Russian culture immersion to tours of Philadelphia museums, sustainable agriculture, photography, video production, textiles and fabrics, medical career exploration, and many more (see the list, below).
Junior Ethan Lewis gets a new 'do thanks to a Jamaican friend. Lewis was one of 18 students who traveled to Montego Bay for Mini-Term. Among other tasks, students served in an orphanage, a boys and girls club, and helped renovate a home.
Dock students chose from a wide variety of Mini-Term options, including:
The Working World of St. Luke's Hospital
Russian Literature and Culture
Things That Fly: Rockets, Drones, RC Airplanes
Golf for Life
Taking Care of Yourself
Adventures in Living Lightly & Learning from the Land
Fishing & Conservation
Discovering Your Family Story
All Things Textiles and Fiber Arts
George Washington Slept Here!
Film Appreciation, Production, & Storytelling
"The whole experience was amazing. I especially loved the ambulance station and the clinicals. It really helped me realize what I might want to do in the future." ~ Lindsay Gouldey
Above: Students in "All Things Fabric and Textiles" made bags, pillows and other items.
Left: Many Mini-Term classes included field trips. On a visit to the Ten Thousand Villages store in Souderton, students in "All Things Fabrics and Textiles" receive a tutorial on fabrics from store manager Bonnie Moyer.
"I really liked that we had the freedom to go off campus and explore [Adobe] Premier Pro. It really broadened my knowledge of movie editing and I thoroughly enjoyed it."
~ Marlyse Geisbrecht
"It was my first time using sewing machine but it was fun and easy. However, on the last day, my hands were sore because of the scissors."
~ Ashley Park
"The best part was that we learned about something, then the next day we got to see the places we talked about, so the information stuck—even though we only had four days to cover two wars."
~ Tess Jones
"It was great having a little bit of freedom to wander around the campus and learn how to take photos. I had some cool perspectives, and it really helped me learn how to use my camera." ~ Kenzie Derstine
"I'd go back tomorrow!"
“One thing I learned from this trip is how awesome God is and how He works in insane ways. This trip gave me more than I could ever give. I would go back tomorrow.”
~ Abby Smith, sophomore
Traveling to serve in another country is almost always an eye-opening experience for students, and the group of 18 students from Dock that traveled to Montego Bay, Jamaica for Mini-Term in October was no exception.
The group traveled with an organization called Bold Hope, based in Doylestown, and served at an orphanage where they played with toddlers and held and fed infants. The group also served at a home for the disabled, where they visited, sang, and danced with residents, and helped staff with chores. The group also helped build an addition on a man’s home so that he could keep his children (they had been removed from the home because its condition was deemed unsafe). The group also played with children each afternoon at a local boys and girls club.
“The students did a great job serving. By the end of the trip they had really grown, both as a group and spiritually,” said faculty advisor and chaperone Mrs. Kellena Smith. “This trip was worth every hour of prayer and prep work I put into it. As is often the case with what we do for God, He took what I had to offer and used it for His Glory. I am ready to go next year!”
“Something that surprised me on this trip was how much my heart was changed. I now have a huge longing to help others.” ~ Casey Harper
“I have grown to know myself and my classmates better. I have seen sides of them that I would never have seen at school. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and learned that I can do things I didn’t think I could.” ~ Katherine Wenzel
“I was able to see some of my flaws and what I needed to do to change them. I was truly touched by everything that happened on this trip. I learned not to take things for granted, to be thankful, and that being kind and welcoming to people means a lot.” ~ Megan Wenzel
“I learned a lot about God and how faithful He is. I also saw how He can move in people and change lives.” ~ Isa Rodriguez
“It was so perfect. I loved everyone in our group. They are all loving people, have faith on God, and respect others. To be honest, my family is not Christian. I trust God but my faith was not really deep. After this trip, I feel like God is really close to us and is always loving us, always guiding us, always with us.” ~ June Park
“I had my eyes opened to another culture on this trip. I have grown spiritually, and emotionally.” ~ Lydia King
“One of the best things this week was when I saw the smiles of the children. The whole time, the smiles never left their faces.” ~ Songheon Kang
“I learned to not let the little things in life bother me. This trip was truly life-changing.” ~ Isabella Benner
"The second we pulled up to the gates, my stomach dropped. Everywhere you looked, you saw wheelchairs and bedridden people. In my head I was thinking over and over, 'No, I couldn't go, I couldn’t walk in, I can’t help these people, there was no way I would be able to do anything beneficial while visiting West Haven. Having experience working with children with disabilities, I thought this would be fun and exciting like my past experiences, but I have never been more overwhelmed. I was absolutely terrified..."
"...there was an overwhelming joy I was able to experience with these people. I have never seen this much laughter and happiness in people who may never experience their lives in the same way we would. Some of these people may never leave their beds, some might never leave the ward, but they feel joy just from having complete strangers give them a little bit of attention and love for a few hours. It was such a blessing in my life to have had this amazing experience; it is something I will continue to cherish."
~ Haley Harper
"I grabbed a chair and sat down next to one of the women. She had been in a wheelchair, unable to move her arms or legs, and unable to speak. At first I was nervous; I was sitting next to someone I didn’t know, in another country, about to feed them. As we were sitting there together, I noticed her smile every time I gave her another spoonful, and her patience with me when we both knew I didn’t know what I was doing. In that moment I felt God there with us, shining through her smile and telling me that this is exactly where He wants me. That I am called to be His servant and help without questions. So often these people are forgotten by the world, but each day the Lord sees them and calls them His children. He knows each of their flaws and imperfections and He loves them unconditionally."
~ Olivia Yetter
Students who participated in the Mini-Term trip to Jamaica had an opportunity to share their experiences with the rest of the school in chapel on January 10 (above).
It’s hard to describe what this experience was like. I could go on and on describing the babies' faces as they smiled at you and clung to you for dear life. I could try to make you understand what it feels like to hold a toddler knowing that they will most likely spend the rest of their childhood in this place, with no parents to love them. Blossom Gardens was hands down the highlight of my trip, and I hope I never forget what it felt like to hold the most precious and happy kids I have ever seen in my life."
~ Lydia King
On the last day we were working, and Carl started reading the Bible to Garfield and asking him questions about his faith. The conversation was quite long and moving. I was inspired. Seeing Garfield in tears after we handed him the keys to his new house was something incredible. I was so grateful I had the opportunity to help out someone in extreme need. The week in Jamaica is something I will never ever forget, working alongside people who taught me what it means to walk in the light."
~ Jake Derstine
Above: Garfield (center) with the Dock construction crew that helped build an addition on his house so that his children could live with him.