“DON, DON, ZU-KU, DON, DON, ZU-KU…”
The high school Mini-Course Week began with Ron Collins and Julius Mendoza of Tampa Taiko pounding various types of “taiko” (Japanese drums) with their “bachi” (drumsticks). After several songs, they brought up Mrs. Dana Nazaretian, the Mini-Course Week coordinator, to join in the fun and she was soon followed by seniors Amanda McWilliams, Leigh Ann Russell, and teachers Mrs. Linda Nutter and Mrs. Beth Sawyer. As we learned from the presenters, the Japanese drums were traditionally used for many different purposes from warfare to rain dances to driving away evil spirits. I am writing this before the week comes to an end, so I hope I am not premature when I say that this week has been a rousing success without warfare or rain and we only had one “evil spirit” that delayed a bus leaving.
Due to careful planning by Mrs. Nazaretian and the help of many volunteers and teachers, students spent the week engaged in non-traditional learning environments that veered far afield from the standard rigor of “reading, writing and arithmetic.” Students were able to explore new forms of exercise as they tested their bodies (and their rhythm/balance) against Bollywood dancing, Zumba, kickboxing, yoga, ice skating and bowling. They learned about a variety of careers such as journalism, medicine, interior design, restaurant management, politics and the law; they engaged in handy crafts like cake decorating, pottery, flower arrangement, scrapbooking and Greek cooking; they broadened their understanding of academic subjects with courses such as Women’s Health, Chinese Language and Culture, Shakespeare and Acting; and they delved into science and culture with trips to MOSI and Epcot.
Of course there were also students who opted to spend the entire week visiting France and immersing themselves in French culture, or living our motto Esse Quam Videri (“To be rather than to seem”) as they served those in need with acts of charity in Ruskin, Florida; Pipestem, West Virginia (Appalachia); Jonestown, Mississippi (shown below singing with the choir at Immaculate Conception Church); and La Victoria in the Dominican Republic.
As assistant principal, one of my primary duties is to oversee co-curricular activities related to student life such as clubs and Mini-Course Week; while I love and respect our academic endeavors, Mini-Course exemplifies a complementary part of the education we offer here at Academy that seeks to educate the whole child. To emphasize that point, we started calling our non-academic activities “co-curricular” activities rather than the traditional “extra-curricular” activities. A reader might argue that, as Shakespeare put it, “a rose by any other name” has the same bouquet, and I would agree that Mini-Course Week and our other co-curriculars have always been roses in the hair of our graduates—roses that distinguish them far beyond other graduates because they develop their good character. Such a distinguishing feature deserves to be intentional.
Just the other day, I was speaking with the head of another renowned Tampa private school and he could not stop praising our students for their good character and our academic rigor, but it is notable that our students’ character is what really caught his attention. Of course, we might simply look to Blessed Marie Rose who sought and taught us to actualize the words of Jesus: “I have come to cast a fire upon the earth.” I think we have caught more than a little of that fire this week.
–Jack Mullarkey, High School Assistant Principal