Academically outstanding 7th-9th-graders got their first taste of college life July 25-30 at PUC’s PacificQuest, an annual program designed to expose middle school students to college-level coursework and encourage them to aspire to higher education.
Students participated in two courses, a core class and an elective. This year’s core class was Telling Tales, which abandoned written documents to explore history through oral tales, photographs and artistic images, and everyday objects.
Students also chose between Pushing Boundaries, an art course that explored non-traditional techniques using graphite, ink brush, charcoal and pastel, and Chemistry, in which students learned a fun way to understand the periodic table and engaged in lab experiments.
Both electives challenged students. The goal of Pushing Boundaries was to inspire visual creativity. This was accomplished through unusual activities, such as drawing standing up with ink brushes attached to the end of long sticks and paper on the floor, copying an image that begins blurry and becomes progressively clearer, and drawing expressive lines. Deangela Samonte a ninth-grader from San Francisco Adventist School, recalls drawing expressive lines with her feet. “It’s not as easy as it looks,” she says. Instructor Thomas Morphis, a fine art professor at PUC, comments, “[The students] didn’t hesitate when faced with unusual challenges—they jumped right in! Some of them would make great art majors in college.”
Chemistry was the favorite course of many students. The class introduced students to the inorganic, organic, biological and analytical branches of chemistry. Each class period was made up of one hour of lecture and two hours of lab experiments and worksheets for lecture application. “Chemistry is very mentally stimulating and we get to do fun experiments!” exclaims Lauren Chang, a ninth-grader from Pine Hills Adventist Academy.
Learning, however, was not limited to the classroom. PUC prepared a number of co-curricular activities to promote a well-rounded educational experience. Greg Schneider, PUC professor of religion and social science, and PUC student Jessica Cerda brought students’ attention to global humanitarian issues through a lecture on Amnesty International and involved them in packaging rice and beans for the Angwin Community Food Bank. Molly Reeves, class of 2010 and the first graduate of PUC’s environmental science program, gave a presentation on biodiversity in which students were able to interact with various animals.
Other highlights of the program included a talent show, luau and pool party, and an awards ceremony to recognize students for excellent work. Chang describes the PacificQuest as being “in one word: awesome.”
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