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Middle School students are once again closing the school year with Mini-mester, a weeklong experiential learning program.

This year's Mini-mester began June 2. Ninth graders left that day for the woods of northern Virginia, where they experience Leadership Lab until June 7. Leadership Lab helps the class form closer bonds as they test themselves with challenging experiences in nature.

Seventh and eighth graders chose from 20 different courses, many of which are taking them off campus. Among this year's choices: Aspiring Aviators; Computer Science Discoveries; Forensics Detectives; Global Health; Operation Smile; Tour de Virginia; Women in Sports; and Woodworking.

Mini-mester debuted in 2017. It has been held every year since then in some form, except for the pandemic year of 2020.

Among this year's examples:

  • You can make this at home students learned Friday from NA's refectory chefs how to make hot pretzels and more;
  • Woodworking 101 students learned the importance of tried and true measurements and cutting;
  • Dance Master Elbert Watson had Move like Kobe students mastering dance moves that they used on the basketball court;
  • Biking students got their exercise in and explored the history and environment of the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge;
  • Introduction to Sports Management toured Old Dominion University's athletics facilities;
  • Forensic detectives visited the Suffolk Courthouse to learn how evidence is presented and then learned from FBI experts. They later learned from FBI agents who walked them through handling a crime scene;
  • Computer Science Discoveries students worked toward their development of a new app by problem solving; they built the sturdiest tables they could out of newspaper, tape and a chipboard top;
  • Sea Scouts students learned from Old Dominion University sailing coach Mitch Brindley about float plans, boat rigging, and risk assessment before hitting the water;
  • Aviation students toured Naval Air Station Oceana with Navy Captains Brian Becker and Craig Yager;
  • Livestrong students visited YMCA headquarters to meet Livestrong at the Y directors and then continued the theme of having an active lifestyle with a trip to The Adventure Park in Virginia Beach;
  • Mrs. Staub brought art students to The Stitching Studio in Richmond, where they learned about the history of needlepoint and achieving success as a small business owner;
  • Global Health students explored mental health with a presentation from alumni of the Global Health Fellows and took a trip to Plum Point Park in Norfolk for a mindfulness journaling activity and yoga. They also learned from Jack Warburton, Vice President of CHKD Mental Health, on a tour of the mental health care facility in the new CHKD Children’s Pavilion;
  • Refurbish and Reuse Wood students are sanding, staining, and painting furniture including a kitchen table, study hall room table and chairs, and teacher's desk. They're also creating a corn hole set for the Pit;
  • Budding Naturalists created nature frames and leaf art before visiting Wild Woods Farm, where herbalist Vickie Shufer taught them about the healing and preventative properties of various herbs;
  • Tides of War students learned about World War II and visited the USS Wisconsin (which was commissioned as a battleship in 1944);
  • NYGN students tried their hands at painting needlepoint canvases 

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