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  • Maya Chavez

Summer US History provides a convenient loophole for incoming juniors

While many Stevenson juniors are currently struggling to complete grueling AP US History assignments, the summer U.S. History course veterans are relishing the helpful outcomes of their decision.

Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History

The main allure and motivation for many students to take the course is the infamous Friday field trips. Every Friday students would board a school bus and travel to local museums and destinations filled with rich local history– this year students visited the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, Carmel Mission, and the Historical Monterey Walking Tour. After spending a few hours participating in a tour, students would be able to roam around and spend time together in Pacific Grove, Carmel, and Monterey. Cooper Kitson explains how the transition from being inside the classroom to out on the town was a nice change of pace: “The field trips every Friday, hands on learning; that was pretty cool.” Naiya Patel continues to explain that not only were the field trips a chance to get out of the classroom, but an opportunity to learn more about a previously untouched sector of our country’s history: “For a little while in the class we talked a lot about local history and that was what our field trips were about. We learn about the history of World War Two , World War One, everything around the world and in the U.S., but I’ve never dove deep into the history of my region.”

The Summer U.S. History course offered to incoming juniors spans five weeks, running from 9:00 am-12:30 pm. While this is definitely a big time commitment, Spencer Stornetta states, “three and a half hours everyday during summer was kind of rough.” Though Patel counters, “The [three and a half] hours a day is so worth it for 5 weeks because you get a whole free period during the rest of the year that honestly has been so beneficial to me in staying on top of all my homework. So even though I lost out on that bit of summer I still had the rest of the day and a whole free period now.” Sarah Vanoli shares her opinion: “I think that if you know for sure that you’re super interested in another class and history’s maybe not your thing, if you want to take a double science, or two art electives I think it’s a really good opportunity to be able to experience different classes and more classes at the school. I took it because I wanted to take AP Art History as a junior, which I’m now getting to do and I like it a lot more than a traditional history class.”

Additionally, many students argue that the arrangement of the class eased the longevity of the school day. Vanoli explains Cabral’s thoughtfulness in crafting the details of the course: “She taught in ways that maybe weren’t super traditional, but she knew how long we were going to be there everyday and how it was hard to keep kids active in the classroom. [So] she did more group work and our field trips were super fun, so I think she tried to teach in ways that were more engaging.” Stornetta expands, “I liked the structure of [the class], it gave us ten minute breaks when we sort of needed it. And I loved her activities, I loved how interactive she was and how it wasn’t just kind of sitting there and just listening to her lecture the whole time.” Jack Weber describes the use of group work not only as an alternative to the conventional classroom environment, but how it also helped to bring the students together: “It kind of created that companionship with other people in the class, and created friendships.”

While a lot of different factors played into the good nature of the class, many students attributed it to the hard work of the teacher, Dr. Cabral. Patel remarks, “Dr. Cabral is amazing, I would totally choose her as my advisor. She is incredibly thoughtful, organized, and thorough in her teaching.” Vanoli adds, “She [Dr. Cabral] was able to tie what we were learning about in past U.S. history into the present and the activities that we did reflected that.” Danilea Higgins, who was a part of the first summer class to have Cabral as a teacher, details Cabral’s impact on her work even now: “Without Dr. Cabral’s incredible feedback with specific corrections [on various assignments], my college essay writings would be extremely difficult. I truly learned how to write a well-read thesis with an impactful conclusion.” Higgins continues, “Finally, I have to add that I was the only girl in the class along with Dr. Cabral. Her influence in being a strong female in the educational field and now being the head of the history department makes it very easy to see her as an incredible role model.”

The class itself was full of the traditional history curriculum at Stevenson, though students also had a thoughtful start to their day with morning meditation and gratitude sessions. Vanoli admires the lessons she’s taken away from those sessions: “We’d start by meditating, which I really liked, and then we’d do things that we were grateful for which I actually think I’ve carried that on.” After that, as Patel puts it, the class would “do some group work, read a couple documents [and] analyze them. Then sometimes we’d present our findings to the class.”

The students provide insight about how the class is less stressful because it’s the only class they are taking during the summer: “Because it was a summer course …you’re only focused on that specific subject during the time. So it made what she was saying even more engaging and all the activities that we did I think I took a lot more away from them than if they would have been a year course,” Vanoli resolves. Patel emphasizes the impact of the class, now looking back on it, “Overall because it was summer, everyone was in a happier, lighter mood. The group we were with and everyone’s energy was just different than the normal school year would’ve had.” For three and a half hours a day, five days a week, and five weeks, the energy created in the Summer U.S. History classroom was infectious and an ideal environment to learn in an engaging way, making it a unique alternative to a traditional class.


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