Heathwood Senior Savannah Hillmeyer spent last week with her schoolmates, but, as her video about the experience attests, it was not a typical week of school. Savannah and 18 other Heathwood students traveled to Iceland for the week to explore the island nation's culture, geography, and history as participants in Heathwood's Winterim experiential learning program.
Winterim gives Upper School students an opportunity to step out of the classroom for a week and pursue a hands-on learning experience. Many students travel nationally or internationally, while others pursue internships or take short courses that broaden their knowledge or skills in an area of interest.
This year's Winterim program took place the week of March 5-12. Students traveled as far afield as Taiwan, India, Ireland, and Iceland, or had the opportunity to stay closer to home for a college tour of the Southeast, a "Road Trip South" exploring the literary and culinary traditions of our region, or a series of day hikes to scenic areas in the Carolinas.
Students who wanted to explore areas of vocational interest had an expanded list of internship opportunities thanks to Heathwood's Columbia Connections program. Columbia Connections Director Donnie Bain helped students secure internships with the Columbia Fireflies, EdVenture, local law firms and medical practices, and more.
Other Winterim destinations this year included Barbados, Cozumel, the Green Mountains in New England, and Florida, where eight students pursued SCUBA certification. Students who elected to remain closer to home could enroll in an exercise science class with Coaches Spearman and Lattimore, attend an artist residency at the Rensing Center in Pickens, or sign on for mock trial preparation.
The Winterim curriculum focuses on five main areas: academic and cultural enrichment, leadership, service, wilderness education, and internships. Students are required to choose one of these areas each year and at least one internship during their four years.
“Winterim is an Upper School program of distinction in which students have the opportunity to explore new disciplines and discover passions in ways that transcend the day-to-day classroom experience," said Upper School Head George Scouten, who was one of the faculty leaders on this year's trip to Cuba. "They not only interact with new people and cultures, but also gain new skills and knowledge. We know—through both research and experience—the enormous value of experiential learning, and Winterim allows students to learn in just such a manner.”