Spring Unit 2023: A Student Perspective

Spring Unit 2023: A Student Perspective

By Dana Lotito ‘24

Every year, Gill St. Bernard’s School concludes with a unique two-week program known as Spring Unit. This distinctive offering sets GSB apart from other schools, providing unparalleled opportunities for students to explore the world through travel or local concentrated study. At GSB, these dreams become a reality through the involvement of environmental sustainability, experiential learning, service learning, and interning.

In the Spring Unit of 2023, students ventured beyond national borders to destinations like the Netherlands and Romania. For those who preferred to remain stateside, GSB offered travel options, including the Florida Keys and the Pacific Northwest.

Spring Unit is more than traveling; it is an avenue for acquiring skill sets beyond the classroom. GSB believes in providing an education that goes beyond textbooks and lectures, and students receive the chance to ignite new passions.

Engaging units such as “Iron Chef” and “Cook Like a Pro” allowed students to refine their culinary skill sets, hone their knife skills, and acquire recipes that would accompany them into their college years and beyond. The student chefs ventured to places like Ninety Acres at Natirar Park to cook farm-to-table recipes.

Participants in “Flavors of Asia” had the opportunity to cook Asian cuisine with Chef Risa Boyer of Kings Cooking Studio. The “Visit to Korea” menu included:

  • Crunchy chicken wings

  • Grilled Korean short ribs

  • Kimchi fried rice

  • Cucumber pickles

  • Chocolate butter mochi brownies

“Food, Farms, and the Future” looked into food origins, production, and preferences, as well as bubble tea bubbles, Wi-Fi potatoes, global diets, farm characteristics, and economic impact. For insight, students engaged in hands-on activities such as growing seedlings, using farming robots, taste tests, and creating unique popcorn flavors.

Bruce Beck, a sports broadcaster, returned to teach the Sports Broadcasting unit for the fifth year. Students in this unit visited MetLife Stadium for a behind-the-scenes look at the stadium’s essential areas, such as the National Broadcast Suite. Students improved their public speaking skills and expanded their knowledge in the sports broadcasting department by co-hosting sports talk radio segments, becoming public address announcers, and doing mock field reports.

“A Chronological Journey Through NJ History,” “Our Great Garden State,” and “The Secret Sciences of NJ” all toured significant New Jersey landmarks to gain a better understanding of our state’s foundation.

This year’s service learning unit, “RU Grateful,” was incredible. Integrating the three different divisions (Lower, Middle, and Upper) on campus was one of GSB’s distinguishing features. Students of “RU Grateful” could take advantage of this component. Specifically, “RU Grateful” students hosted a field day for the Middle School students. Paul Mulcahy ‘19, a GSB alumni, returned to discuss his experience establishing the Grateful 4 Foundation. In an interview, Paul revealed that his inspiration for the foundation came from the Covid-19 Pandemic. “During Covid-19, there was a lot of isolation,” he explained. “I figured that emotion is something everyone can connect with, and gratitude is a powerful emotion,” he added. Paul made over 350 phone calls to tell people about his foundation’s plans, and 250 people sent in videos about what they were grateful for. Students in this unit put their gratitude into action by planning and carrying out various service projects.

“Somebody Call 9-1-1” allowed students to engage with First Responders such as police officers, firefighters, and EMTs. Students received search and rescue training from teams such as the Watchung Rescue Squad. The members of the unit all received CPR certification.

“Level Up” used hands-on learning to explore the history and origins of the most popular games. Students visited arcades, spoke with gaming industry professionals, escaped from an escape room, and created board games. In addition, students held a fundraiser, collecting board games to donate.

Dr. Steve Rossi and Mr. PJ Brennan chose to host the “Can You Dig It” unit due to their interest in the branch of paleontology, as well as their research into the paleontology history of New Jersey. They hoped to introduce young, aspiring paleontology students to this fascinating field. This unit traveled to various digging sites hoping to discover organisms from 500-600 million years ago.

GSB juniors and seniors had the option of participating in an internship. Some juniors and seniors who applied were selected to get involved in the internship program to gain experience in a potential career path. Finance, education, law, medicine, entrepreneurship, and communications were just a few fields in which students could apply for internships.

Gill St. Bernard’s Middle School had its own Spring Unit. Students investigated engineering by making Rube Goldberg machines or stop-motion videos. Including card games or outdoor activities in the Middle School Spring Unit added additional opportunities for learning and engagement. Card games helped students improve their cognitive skills like strategic thinking and decision-making. Outdoor games encouraged physical activity, teamwork, and social interaction while offering an alternative to traditional classroom activities. This method kept students motivated and engaged while promoting their development across various fields.

In conclusion, the Spring Unit at Gill St. Bernard's School demonstrates educational excellence by integrating travel, environmental sustainability, experiential learning, service learning, and internships. This allows students to expand their horizons and pursue their passions while becoming well-rounded individuals prepared to impact the world positively.

 (Dana Lotito ‘24 worked with the GSB Communications Office for her Spring Unit Internship.)

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