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The inaugural Haskalah term

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Sloane Warner, Co-Marketing Manager

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Chemistry of Cosmetics Exhibition

The inaugural Haskalah Term at The Weber School came to a close on January 26 of this year.  Many students and teachers enjoyed the opportunity to have a more independent and fluid style of learning.  Lindsey Gelernter and Cydney Wolchock, two sophomores, were energetic in their praises of Haskalah.  Lindsey, who participated in the “Cultural Dramatic Arts Exchange” class, gushed about her enjoyment of the drama class.  She said that if she could pick another course to take in addition to those she participated in this year, it would be the “Chemistry of Cosmetics” course.  Cydney participated in the cosmetics course, and she agreed that it was one of her favorite classes.  When asked what changes they thought could be made for Haskalah in coming years, the girls agreed they wanted more frequent breaks during classes.

 

Barbara Rosenblit, Director of Mentoring at The Weber School, said that she wanted “students to get to study in a deep way” and for “teachers to have a chance to develop themselves.”  She says that “progressive, independent, schools”, such as Paideia and Westminster, have programs in their curriculum that are similar to Haskalah.  Programs like Haskalah commonly occur in January, in order to jumpstart learning and curiosity after school vacations. While Mrs. Rosenblit has been developing the idea of Haskalah for many years now, it has only been in planning within the Weber community for two years.  Teachers were invited to be a part of the design team for their specific departments, and together they worked with Paideia representatives to create a mini-mester program that “reflects Weber.”  Weber has its own culture and social environment that vary from other schools.  Haskalah was meant to embody this culture in classes that benefitted students and teachers.

Cuba Trip Group

By working together, and out of their comfort zones, teachers were able to “remove artificial boundaries between classes…bridge many subjects,” Mrs. Rosenblit pointed out.  The teachers received training in PBL, or project-based learning.  They were able to get away from the “familiar” and “challenge their curiosity.”  Both Mrs. Pace and Mrs. Geppert chaperoned a class that went on a trip to Washington D.C., and they concurred with this idea.  Mrs. Geppert, when asked what she enjoyed about her class, responded that she “enjoyed creating the class, it made it more meaningful.”  Mrs. Pace agreed that she enjoyed being involved fully with the course planning and enjoyed taking the students to Washington D.C.  One of the other courses was a trip to Cuba.  Students were able to visit historic sites as well as experience the local culture of the country.  Two sophomores, May Abravanel and Jenna Lief, were a part of the group that went on the trip.  Jenna’s take on the trip was eye-opening.  She said,” It was life-changing to travel to a new place that is completely different from where I grew up.  It really opened my eyes to how fortunate I have been to grow up in such an incredible environment.”  May tried to sum up the culture of Cuba in one word, and all she could say was “happy,” while Jenna decided that it was “impossible” for her to sum it up in a single word.  Both girls thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity that Haskalah gave them to see and experience a culture that is completely different from our own.

Ruthie Stoloviz and Aliza Abusch-Magder with their Haskalah artwork.

There were 33 class options total for Haskalah this year.  They varied from cooking Israeli food and learning tango, to building (and breaking into!) safes and creating water pollution solutions.  Students were able to showcase their work at the end of Haskalah, during the Exhibition Day.  Many students and teachers discovered classes that piqued their interest, such as Mrs. Brite, who helped teach the sophomore class “Smells Like Teen Spirit: Hot Topics in Health and Wellness” and “Chemistry of Cosmetics.”  She says that while she liked her classes “more than expected,” she was intrigued by the “Fold It, Cut It, Pop It!” course.  She also would have liked a tango class, albeit with adults and not students.  No matter what course students participated in, Mrs. Rosenblit maintains that Haskalah was an opportunity for students’ “imagination (to) take flight,” describing the mini-mester as “an amazing opportunity.”

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