Mini Course Week: A roller coaster of emotions

Li Stalder, Achona Staff Writer

Returning from a restful spring break, Academy girls greeted each other with smiles and hugs on Monday morning, March 21, as they prepared for a fun-filled Service and Mini Course Week. Earlier on Sunday, some familiar faces had already departed for college tours or mission trips in Ruskin, Appalachia, Mississippi, and the Dominican Republic.

Sal Solo’s program, “We Cry Justice,” kicked off the first of two service days. Solo presented many interesting statistics about the world and its people today. He also led a “story-telling” bonding activity, as well as a rousing game of foot-stomping.

On Tuesday, girls traveled throughout the Tampa Bay area and visited various organizations, schools, or elderly centers to perform much-appreciated service. Some were able to directly provide their service to people by talking to the elderly or playing with pre-schoolers. Others provided their service indirectly by sorting canned foods or sorting shoes. Either way, everyone helped make a difference, even if it was only a day’s worth of work.

Mini courses officially started on Wednesday, with a lineup of informative and interesting seminars. Popular ones included Chinese Language & Culture, nursing, pathology, nutrition, and photography. Freshman Siobhan Plummer said, “I got really weird seminars, but they were so fun. If I don’t get into a mission trip next year, I am so going to do them all over again.” After school, some students left to go on a highly-anticipated 4 day, 3 night trip to Epcot.

The halls were close to empty Thursday, for half of the mini courses were off-campus at sites like MOSI, the Columbia restaurant, Ybor City, and a courthouse. Those who stayed on campus enjoyed watching Romeo and Juliet or Harry Potter movies, making cupcakes, or kickboxing. Sophomore Brianna Wharton described the cupcakes course as “basically just decorating cupcakes and eating them. Every Academy girl’s dream.”

The number of girls at school on Friday remained small, but ended up being the perfect size for activities in homerooms as an introduction for the Rachel’s Challenge program. After a short break, everyone assembled in the Brady Center to listen to a speaker from Rachel’s Challenge. Rachel’s Challenge is a program inspired by Rachel Scott, the first victim in the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. Scott wanted to impact the world through a chain reaction of kindness. Many girls were moved by Scott’s story, and eagerly waited to sign the banner, a promise to stick to the challenge, at the end of the presentation. Freshman Colleen McInerney was one of many who enjoyed the presentation. “I liked it a lot. It was very informative, and I think it touched a lot of us.”

Service & Mini Course Week 2011 certainly proved to be a roller coaster of emotions, ranging from laughter to tears. It was a successful mini course week that the freshmen will remember as their first and the seniors as their last.