Freshmen digging into local history, sophomores discovering more about themselves, juniors learning the value of service, and seniors focusing on college applications—these were the scenes of the first Journey Day of the year.
Journey is a yearlong advisory program that aims to impart Santa Catalina culture to students, advance their leadership skills, and ensure them excellent college placement. Four times a year, a full day is given over to these pursuits and more.
Here is a look at what students experienced on the first Journey Day of 2016.
Freshmen took a deep dive into Monterey's roots with a tour of the Lower Presidio Historic Park (where the city was first claimed by the Spaniards and given its name in 1602) and a walk from Fisherman's Wharf to Cannery Row (Monterey was once a major fishing hub). They finished off the day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
It was a good way for the students to see where Santa Catalina fits in with the history of Monterey, the first capital of California. The original Santa Catalina convent and school was built in 1850 and served the daughters of town residents and nearby Spanish landowners.
Sophomores spent the day on campus learning more about their strengths and how to engage with their peers.
They started off discussing what they learned from their StrengthsQuest personality assessment, which identified their top five strengths. They later broke up into groups to come up with ways to tackle real-life situations using each member's strengths.
"We work best when we focus on things we're good at," Carrie Auwater, the dean of students, told them. "In the academic world, there's a lot of focus on what we're not good at—'I'm bad at math, I need a tutor.' ...
"It's helpful in sophomore year to begin to build awareness of yourselves."
The students followed that up with a design thinking project in which they were tasked with creating the perfect wallet for their partner. They interviewed each other to get ideas, then designed a wallet and built a prototype using materials like cardboard, bubble wrap, and duct tape. Some of the more creative creations: a wallet that acts like a personal ATM, an anti-gravity wallet that follows you around, and a wallet that deters robbers.
Juniors engaged in a day of service with a Salinas elementary school that has become a frequent collaborator with Santa Catalina. In the district the school is in, 35 percent of the students are homeless. The juniors broke up into groups of four to five students and taught classes of fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-graders. They also handed out over 800 bags of food from the food bank.
Seniors spent all morning in the library working on their college applications; Santa Catalina students apply to an average of nine schools each year. The opportunity came right on the heels of a campus visit by representatives of more than a dozen colleges on the Jesuit Excellence Tour.
The most valuable part of the day was time.
"It was basically a full day without interruption" of being able to work on applications, said senior Isabelle Redfield, adding that it was also nice to have the senior advisors and college counselor walking around to answer questions. "Nothing else was due, we weren't focused on our other classes, and we had quiet time to sit either in groups or alone and work on whatever we needed."
Such an intensive morning called for a little relief, so the seniors cut loose in the afternoon with Bollywood and Zumba dance routines.
As they look forward to the next Journey Day, students continue with weekly classes and advisory meetings that are part of the program. The year's journey has just begun.