Winnetka’s eclectic summer school caters to many interests
Kylie Davidson, 10, of Kenilworth tries her hand at a balancing challenge called "the Frankenstein" in the Minute to Win It class, one of dozens of summer offerings in Winnetka District 36.| Rob Dicker ~ Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 20, 2012 6:24AM
WINNETKA — Collin Souter does some unconventional brainstorming with students in his Star Wars Adventures class before settling on the plot that will be turned into a five-minute movie in a matter of weeks over the summer.
After figuring out what students already know about the six Star Wars movies, Souter turns to a pressing matter of practicality.
“I start out by asking them what costumes they have at home,” said Souter, whose Star Wars class is one of more than 100 summer offerings in Winnetka School District 36.
“Inevitably, a lot of them have old Halloween costumes at home and we develop a list of possible characters based on the wardrobe,” he said.
“Is this going to be a Darth Vader movie, or an Anakin movie?” said Souter, noting it can’t be both because Anakin Skywalker turns into Darth Vader. The next question is, What toy spaceships might they have from the films?
“We take a couple of days to brainstorm a story,” said Souter, who then types out a script, keeping the lines of dialogue intentionally short.
In the past few weeks, students have been acting out their chase-through-space movie and manipulating objects against a green screen. The green background will be replaced with galactic images of space and the planets the Jedi and Sith inhabit.
“The point of the class is to introduce them to the process of filmmaking; we’re sort of taking the veil off,” said Souter, a resource center teacher at Crow Island School during the school year.
“These movies don’t come from nowhere. They are made with a lot of hard work and passion.” There’s another filmmaking class for students who want to delve further.
More than 550 youngsters have spent five weeks of their summer sampling the interest-based classes, which range from magic, yoga, computer animation and animal care, to high-ropes gymnastics and cooking.
Winnetka fifth grader Andrew Moerschel has been snapping lots of photos in a photography class, so he can be highly selective when picking the best ones for enhancing and editing.
Using his Sony Cybershot digital camera, Moerschel has taken as many as 168 photos in a single outing.
On Monday, teacher Judy Campbell and helpers hung one matted, photo from each student along a corridor at Carleton Washburn School.
Elsewhere around the building, pupils were whipping up truffles, hand-threading beaded jewelry and racing against the clock to accomplish silly tasks using common household objects in a new Minute to Win It class, a take-off on the popular television game show.
A visit to the school’s cafeteria found students flicking coins, in this case quarters, off a table and toward an empty water-cooler jug some 15 feet away. The object of the nearly-impossible challenge was to get the quarter into the tiny mouth of the jug, which was only 1 3/4 inches in diameter. Students were awarded points for hitting the top of the water jug.