At Mount Vernon, learning isn’t confined to the walls of a classroom; it’s a journey that spans cities, cultures, and experiences. Rooted in our mission to prepare all students to be college-ready, globally competitive, and engaged citizen leaders, the Middle School Interim experiences are an important part of this transformative approach to learning.

Interim 2024 offered 4 unique opportunities for Middle Schoolers to learn, connect, and grow.

Building Character and Community: Sixth Grade Adventure in NC

For sixth graders, the journey begins with a focus on character-building and community development. The interim experience revolved around challenge-by-choice, where students had the opportunity to cultivate resilience through adventure-based activities. From scaling rock walls to navigating through wooded landscapes using compasses, every moment was a chance for students to stretch their imaginations and see their capabilities in action.

The emphasis on decision-making skills, collaboration, and relationship-building created an immersive environment for growth. As students faced challenges head-on and overcame obstacles together, they not only developed confidence in their abilities but also forged bonds that laid the foundation for a supportive community.

When asked about their experience in North Carolina, here is what several sixth graders had to say:

  • “It was a fun experience and we got to do family meals and new activities. The counselors were so nice, and I loved sharing a room with friends.” – Payton Durant
  • “I really enjoyed the ropes course because it was challenging so it wasn’t too easy but it was doable.” – Lily
  • “The trip helped grow community by letting us share experiences outside of school.” – Fletcher Cheek

Boston Bound: Seventh Grade Exploration

In the seventh grade, students embark on a captivating journey to Boston, Massachusetts. This trip wove together history, culture, and education, offering students a rich tapestry of experiences that left a lasting impact. From tracing the footsteps of revolutionaries along the Freedom Trail to immersing themselves in the academic legacies of Harvard University and MIT, every moment was an opportunity for discovery and inspiration.

Through student reflections like those of Noah Grafton, who said he “loved seeing all the history inside the city of Boston” and Megan Hubbard, who shared that she “had lots of fun and enjoyed all the places we were exposed to or visited,” we catch glimpses of the profound impact these experiences have on young minds. From broadening their worldview to sparking a love for history and exploration, the Boston interim trip became a catalyst for personal and intellectual growth.

Washington, D.C.: Eighth Grade Leadership

For eighth graders, the journey culminates in the nation’s capital, where they explore the corridors of power and the echoes of history. The trip to Washington, D.C., is a testament to the school’s commitment to nurturing globally competitive and engaged citizen leaders.

The trip included visits to iconic monuments such as the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument. Students also explored the nation’s history at several Smithsonian museums and engaged in serious reflection at the National Holocaust Memorial and the Smithsonian Museum of African American History.

In addition to educational visits, the students enjoyed team-building and recreational activities, including an evening at Dave and Buster’s in Silver Spring, Maryland, bowling and bocce at Pinstripes in Georgetown, as well as an evening river cruise on the Potomac complete with dinner and dancing. Students also had the opportunity to visit and explore the grounds of George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate. While there, students connected with a real “Mount Vernon moment,” bringing history to life.

Mamie Bowen spoke fondly of a highlight from her trip: “When we visited the Lincoln Memorial, the trip, for me, went from being a class trip to a trip with friends. We were taking pictures together and were in the moment. I realized we would have those pictures to look back on and remember this trip for the rest of our lives.”

This trip was an invaluable opportunity for our students to connect their classroom learning with real-world experiences which is essential for developing well-rounded, college-ready individuals who are prepared to lead with compassion and empathy.

The Washington, D.C. trip is just one example of how MV is dedicated to fostering a learning environment that encourages curiosity, critical thinking, and a commitment to learning by doing. By exposing students to the broader world, the school continues to uphold its mission of shaping engaged citizen leaders who are ready to make a positive impact globally.

Phoenix Fest: A Celebration of Learning

For students who did not participate in the grade-level overnight trips, Phoenix Fest offered an action-packed alternative. Led by Saira Panjwani and Jeanine Englert, this week-long celebration was all about exploration and creativity. This action-packed week was all about exploring the city and leaning into the MV Mantra “Have Fun.” Students had an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the Braves Stadium, the heart of Atlanta’s baseball scene. They toured the Coca-Cola Factory, dove into the history of this iconic drink and got a taste of Atlanta’s cultural scene. They unlocked their creativity at the High Museum of Art with a guided tour and had a fun STEAM Workshop. Lastly, they had a hands-on experience at the Splatter Studio in Sandy Springs where they created a one-of-a-kind art piece.

Through the eyes of students like Leighten Duckett, who said the experience was “super fun and very active” and Jocelyn Towns, who shared “The Splatter Studio was fun as I could get messy with paint but come out clean,” we glimpse the joy and excitement that permeated these experiences.

Middle School Interim experiences transcend traditional notions of education, offering students a journey of discovery, growth, and transformation. Rooted in the school’s mission to prepare future leaders, these experiences not only foster academic excellence but also cultivate essential skills and attributes such as resilience, empathy, and curiosity. As students navigate through challenges, forge connections, and explore the world around them, they emerge not just as scholars but as empowered individuals ready to make a meaningful impact on the world.