Overcoming challenges and building relationships at Project Week
“I valued my friends, and got to make new friends, and do things I hadn’t done before!” - Stefan, Student
Where were our middle school students last week? Everywhere! From Ameland to Zeeland (and many places in between), our students engaged in learning experiences, team building, and all sorts of fun activities. Beth, Middle School Principal, went on a trip with grade 8 to Soest, Utrecht, and shared:
"The mission of Project Week is to provide safe, fun, and engaging experiences designed to facilitate personal and interpersonal developments. A range of adventurous activities are designed to overcome challenges, develop independence and resilience, while strengthening established relationships and developing new ones. That is a lengthy statement, but it hits why we believe Project Week is so important.”
It sounds like Project Week doesn’t end by the end of the week!
Beth: “No! It’s the kickoff for the school year.”
Gale, Grade 7 Project Leader and Teacher: “Being away helps you to get to know each other in a way that just isn’t possible in a regular school day.”
Beth: “Project Week changed during COVID-19. During that time we still organized activities, but these were day trips, so you missed the extra step of really getting to know someone. That includes everything, from having to be a roommate with someone, sharing meals, having to pick up after yourself... All these things help to get to know each other and yourself in a way that’s much deeper. When you go on a day trip you miss the time at night, before bedtime, when you speak about the things that you succeeded in, or that made you scared or happy throughout the day.”
Did the trips go back to the way they were pre-COVID-19?
Beth: “We also evolved the trips. At first, every trip went away for three nights. And we realized that it was developmentally challenging for our youngest students, and so what we ended up doing was take a look at our local options, that still give our kids that element of being away, and being together in this deeper way. So therefore, this year our fifth grade did an overnight stay at the ABF fields of ASH Main Campus, where they camped out.”
How do these trips influence students throughout the rest of the school year?
Beth: “One thing that’s really important that happens is that those relationships strengthen.”
Noemie, student: “You create connections, and as a new student I made friends that I otherwise wouldn’t have.”
Beth: “That is so great to hear, that she came back from Project Week feeling more connected to the teachers and her peers than she did before she left. This is true for every student. Even students that have been here for years meet the new students and they all become a part of this year’s group, and they celebrate that in each other”
Beth: “In eighth grade we had another new student, Navaal, who brought her guitar. The first night around the campfire she asked if she could sing a song. You could have heard a pin drop in the area while the students gathered around her in a circle, and she sang this very popular song in a very quiet but lovely voice.”
“And then at the end, the kids just erupted in applause and support. I think it was a moment for her, and all of us to feel like, wow, look at the side of her that I wouldn’t have known or seen without this opportunity.”
What is the connection between Color House and Project Week?
Beth: “The purpose of Color House is to come together as a community, and Project Week is an extension of that. I would say if Color House was an introduction to the kickoff of the year, Project Week is the full on kick into a year of relationships and connection. It’s a deeply fun opportunity to learn about each other, and with each other.”