Students gain real-world experience
Northbrook - Josie Santi with a dog. Students from North Shore Country Day School are spending the week volunteering at Heartland Animal Shelter in Northbrook.They'll be cleaning and from they'll be assembling goodie bags for Heartland's weekend fundraiser, as well as spending time with the dogs to encourage socialization. | Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 16, 2012 6:06AM
NORTHBROOK — The upper school at North Shore Country Day School in Winnetka was quiet last week while a majority of students stepped outside the classroom for real-world experience.
Interim Week has been in place at the school since the 1970s. Traditionally, an early week in November is dedicated to allowing students to take part in learning and service projects.
“The principle behind it is that we want to do things that the normal school day or curriculum doesn’t allow,” said Interim Week Coordinator Drea Gallaga. “I think it’s considered to be an integral part of our program and a thing that makes us unique.”
The high school’s 200 students chose which course they would like to take part in and were placed based on seniority. Each student is required to participate in one service-related project before graduation.
Some students spent the week learning the culture in St. Malo, France, while others helped volunteer time in a Hurricane Katrina ravaged area just south of New Orleans. A majority of the students spent their week in and around the Chicago-area learning from and helping various organizations.
Closer to home, six North Shore Country Day students volunteered their week at the Heartland Animal Shelter in Northbrook. Beginning at 9 a.m. each day, the students would clean cages and assist staff in the day-to-day operations of the shelter.
“I do enjoy working with animals and wanted to do a service project,” said junior Cam Chung. “It’s the small things you do and it is hard work, but a lot of fun.”
Fellow junior Josie Santi owns several rescue dogs and could think of no better place to donate her Interim Week time.
“I’m a big animal person and I love dogs,” Santi said. “I know what a big thing shelters are and it’s been interesting to see how much work they do everyday. It’s been great to play with the animals. It’s going to be very tough to leave them.”
Additional Interim Week courses saw students working in a downtown art studio, attending classes with a Second City instructor, exploring regional conservation efforts at the Skokie Lagoons and tutoring students in a bilingual classroom, among others.
Students will share their experiences with each other, staff, parents and community members at an open-house at North Shore Country Day School on Nov. 29.