Next week, our campus will be rather quiet. In the wee hours of Saturday and Sunday mornings, sleepy-headed middle school students will be boarding buses and planes to travel to the East, to the West, and to the Four Corners. Following closely behind on Tuesday, the fifth graders will travel to our state capitol in Phoenix. We send them out not only for experiential learning in American and Arizona history and government, marine biology, and archeology, but also as ambassadors from St. Michael’s. It is a magnificent experience that we offer to our students. We see them leave town, some for the first time, feeling a bit tentative and unsure of what lies ahead. They return self-confident, exhilarated (but exhausted), and more tightly bonded as a class. The students and chaperones are often pushed out of their comfort zones, but in the end, they would return, in a heartbeat, to experience everything over again.
What we hear back from those who view our students from the outside is amazement at the poise, maturity, and self-confidence exhibited by the kids. They are polite, helpful, articulate, and proud. Proud of themselves, their class, their teachers, and their school. They seem to grow up overnight as they learn new skills and experience new things. In the midst of the trips, however, are plenty of opportunities to simply be kids. There is bountiful laughter, socializing, games, and cultural experiences. A bit of shopping is also thrown in to support the local economies and to bring back memorabilia from the trip. The students and the faculty represent St. Michael’s well, and we view them all as ambassadors sent out to show the world what an awesome school we have.
Throughout our school year, all grades, including Kindergarten, are sent off campus for hands-on learning. Field trips open the doors to see new knowledge in action, and, as a result, connections are made that bring relevance to what is taught in the classroom. Seeing things in real life often ignites the passion for learning and can make words from a textbook come alive. Hands-on learning can make the difference for one student, just as delving deeper through supplemental reading appeals to another. It’s just another way that we strive for balance in how we teach and how we learn. After all, our goal is not just to prepare our students for the next grade level. Our goal is to create lifelong learners who continue to get excited about knowledge as they see it, touch it, taste it, and feel it.
So “Bon voyage!” to our students as they head out to experience the world. Represent us well on your adventures as you head across town, down the road, across the country, and north to the canyons and mountains. We’ll await your return and the stories that you’ll share from the road. Godspeed.
Head of School