The 3-day “J Term” experience, which provided students more intensive opportunities for deeper dives into curriculum, real-world experiences and service, was an overwhelming success. Students were exposed to a wealth of opportunities to learn from experts, test new boundaries and try coursework that the regular school schedule otherwise would not allow.
Wednesday’s All Class Experience Day had our freshmen exploring ancient treasures at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Anthropology and Archeology. Sophomores made an authentic connection to their study of Church History with guided tours of both the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul and the St. John Neumann Shrine. Juniors spent the day retracing the historic and hallowed grounds at the Gettysburg National Military Park.
Seniors got a special treat as they participated in the first annual “Business Etiquette Conference: The Villa Difference.” Students followed a program designed by Villa alumna Karen McGuckin Spofford, and were treated to three break out sessions that covered the following topics: Packaging Brand “YOU”, The Art of Effective Communication, and Behavior and Body Language for the Workplace. Villa alumnae Tara McCawley Teberian, Tessa Cleveland Scheurle, Karen Walters and Krista Zaccaria Finegan were joined by current Villa parent Lynn Bevevino, and friend of Villa Maria, Sandy Wu, who presented interactive workshops for students in these topics. The day culminated with a white tablecloth business luncheon to give our young aspiring professionals an opportunity practice what they had learned. To quote one senior, “It was the best day of my Villa career!”
Thursday’s Service day permitted our juniors and many of our seniors to show case muscle, grit and heart. They participated in a multitude of activities from being teaching aids, to office administration to cleaning to moving furniture in support of a wide variety of social service concerns in the area. Without exception, all of the charitable entities who hosted our students were complimentary about their work ethic and willingness to help. Freshmen stayed on campus for a social justice retreat led by the Romero Ministries. Sophomores and Senior Peer Ministers also stayed back for the Sophomore Retreat.
Friday’s Chose Your Own Adventure Day was a rousing success. Students participated in a variety of on and off campus opportunities to take deeper dives into areas of interest. Onsite courses included Learning Korean Culture, Musical Theater, Leadership, Stress Management, the Science of Food and a Murder Mystery meal. Offsite adventures included a guided discussion and viewing of the hit movie, “Hidden Figures” which recounts the story of the unsung women who ran the calculations for the Gemini space missions. Other students exercised (literally) their right to try new things by participating in a Ninja gym or CrossFit workout. Additionally, some adventurous students took to the new craze of the ‘Escape Room Adventures’ while others traveled to the Franklin Institute or took a French Trolley Tour of Philadelphia.
As the Administrative Team shared with the students on the Eve of the J Term, other schools think about these types of opportunities. Villa Maria does them. Thank you to everyone who made this opportunity a memorable one and we will be looking forward to planning for next year’s excitement!