By Sophie W, 12th Grade
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, it was a period of pondering, of questioning, of overwhelming doubt about everything we know to be true. Okay, all of that is false. What is true is that a short time ago, the staff of Shoreline Christian School decided to spice things up. They decided that some of our Fridays needed to be more...phenomenal. If you haven’t yet read Joel Bratt’s article on Phenomenal Fridays, I recommend you do so ASAP (which, of course, stands for Act Swiftly Awesome Person). He very nicely explained the conversations and reasoning behind Phenomenal Fridays. Now I present to you a student reaction - an after-the-fact review of our first experience with Phenomenal Friday.
The day went something like this: we arrived at school, as one does, and the high school students and teachers congregated for a short 4-hour lecture. Okay, it was a fifteen minute debrief, question time, and prayer time. We then went our separate ways, never to see those who weren’t in our groups again. Well, until the two hour “class” was over. I myself went with the Fiction Writing group, overseen by none other than Mr. Joel Bratt. (In case if you’re wondering why I preceded his name by the phrase “none other than”, please refer back to paragraph 1, where I spoke very highly of him. Come on. Pay attention.) In my group we wrote fictitious stories (redundancy intended). But before that we discussed in what direction we wanted to go as a group. Since there are only five of us, Mr. Bratt included, we had a lot of room to do what we would like. However, we found this task difficult; we’ve never really been asked what we want. Having the freedom is not as easy as it sounds. In addition to that, no one really wanted to make a decision (and the fact that all of us are introverts. We even have a slogan: Introverts Unite!)
Eventually we made a decision, and we began our epic journey. Since this class is fully student-run, we decided to begin by pooling the resources we had available to us. Some of us knew of websites we could look at, we watched a couple of videos, and one student had prompt cards, of which we drew a few to each begin a story. I greatly enjoyed seeing where each of us went with the same few prompts to choose from.
It’s interesting to be put into a room with fellow students, and a teacher whom I’m used to being taught by, and have him sit back and ask us where we would like the class to go. I found that it is difficult to switch from the tree to web mentality (again, see Bratt’s article), and to not look to this teacher for complete direction and control. However, I think it is very beneficial. Having a chunk of time set aside purely for one thing, but having control over what I am going to learn related to that one thing is liberating. I will say, having the teacher there is reassuring, even if he wasn’t running the show, since he provides “adult” direction.
All of the students I’ve talked to about Phenomenal Friday agree that it was an amazing and rewarding experience. We are gearing up for our second day of phenomena this coming Friday (Dec. 4), and I can’t wait. For me, fiction writing is something that I’m interested in learning about and practicing in order to improve my skills. Having the sense of community with a small group of peers is a fantastic way of going about this. Being able to learn what I want to, the way I want to, with students who are interested in the same thing, in the school building where I’m most productive, is my ideal way to learn. It is my goal to write a novella, and if that is completed this year with time to spare, I hope to possibly join another group I’m interested in and learn even more. #tgi(almost)f
For an overview of November's Phenomenal Friday activities, watch this video created by SCS teacher Mrs. Kaelyn Bullock. Phenomenal Friday returns Friday, December 4.