Adventures & Applications (A&A)

Fridays at Sami, Sota and Idea are host to two one-of-a-kind classes: Mentor group, and Adventures and Applications. A&A works to broaden the individual student’s perspective by offering a deeper look into a topic of their choice. 

After lunch ends at 1:20, we make our ways to our chosen A&A classes where we will stay until school lets out at 3:20. (However, seniors , juniors in their second semester, have Junior/Senior Breakouts in place of an A&A.) While it is much like mini and microterm, this Friday-only class takes place almost exclusively at the student’s home school. Popular SAMi A&A’s include Makerspace, creative shop class lead by Johnny Devine, Superbridges, a mentorship program for high school students to get to know elementary school students, and any one of the political science or psychology courses taught by Matthew Sherls. A number of other classes are one shots with students who fit into a certain niche in mind. These include topics such as video game design, mathematical art, and exploration of the outdoors. Even if none of the descriptions on the course catalogue appeal to a student, there is always the chance to expand your horizons.

Lauren Anderson's A&A learning about bee keeping

Lauren Anderson's A&A learning about bee keeping

As a sophomore at the beginning of my second semester of the year, I have taken part in three A&A classes so far. The first of these was centered around Nation Novel Writing Month. My  mentor and humanities teacher, Carol Brouilette, taught this class. NaNoWriMo takes place in the entire month of November. A&A however, lasts from the end of September (or the beginning of October) until the middle of December. Brouillette took advantage of the extra months by teaching us various planning and narration skills. I did not leave the course with a finished novel. In fact, nobody did. What I did walk away with was a partially told story, and better-honed tools to complete it with.

The second semester of my freshman year I decided to take a class working with the Point Defiance Visitor’s Center with Laurie Woodward as our teacher. Our class met in the smallest room downstairs. There we would begin our afternoon by either brainstorming ideas to improve the park, or by reflecting on our work from the week before.At least every other Friday we met with Phedra Redifer, the supervisor of rentals, permits and visitor services from the Point Defiance Visitor’s Center. Ms. Redifer got our class started right away on thinking up fresh ideas for park activities to draw in the public. We split into groups after completing and sorting a list of potential events and exhibits. Each group organized a presentation which they gave to Phedra and two or three of her partners. By May and June, we were out in the gardens and kiosks getting to know our guests and surveying them. On our final day of Spring A&A of 2016, each student in the class received a certificate for our work with the Visitor’s Center.

I spent this last semester with yet another Humanities teacher. Duncan White, a brand-new SAMi staff member, taught the Journalism A&A of Fall 2016.  Mr. White led discussions around the purpose of journalism in today’s media, and how to be literate while consuming news and information from various sources. The class’ main project was one article per student detailing their chosen topic from the Fort Nisqually. Each of the dozen or so students chose one feature of the fort to write an article on. My topic was the fort’s defense system of bastions and the palisades. We used multiple resources with the purpose of drafting an in-depth article on the subject. After skimming the texts available to us, and speaking with Fort Nisqually archivist Lane Sample about our specific topic, we each began to write up an article on what we had learned. On the second-to-last Friday of the semester, Mr. White arranged a field trip to the Tacoma News Tribune, where we talked with writer and editor Randy McCarthy about journalism’s place in today’s world. Although the A&A is now over, I have taken with me a heightened appreciation for the process of news research and production.

Adventures and Applications do just what their name entails: They invite further exploration on a subject, and then release students to channel what they’ve learned into relevant projects. I only have two more opportunities to experience these classes before I move on to Junior Breakouts, and I intend to make the most of it. This final period of the week has been an ever-changing part SAMi/SOTA/iDEA history since its beginnings, and it will be around for as long as the schools are.