Sometimes the biggest learning experiences happen outside the classroom. That’s what Glenbrook North and Glenbrook South High School students recently learned when they had opportunities to work with professionals in the “real world” who helped them hone in on their budding talents.
It started in January when GBN sophomore Ellie Kim and her quartet were chosen to represent the Music Institute of Chicago in a master class with professional cellist Yo-Yo Ma. The opportunity allowed for Kim, a violinist and co-concertmaster for the Glenbrook Symphony Orchestra co-curricular ensemble, to perform at the famed Orchestra Hall with Ma, while also receiving his valuable input and advice.
Three additional students of Glenbrook’s combined orchestra program also earned spots in Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s biennial Youth in Music Festival after intensive rehearsals. The program allows them to participate in workshop sessions designed to unlock their passion, explore their musical talent and celebrate with other young classical musicians.
The finale event happens on Monday, February 23 when GBN senior Ki-Deok Park, clarinet, GBN junior Alec Mawrence, tuba, and GBS senior Marissa Takaki, bassoon, will take part in an open rehearsal with Riccardo Muti, music director and conductor for the CSO, and will join other outstanding musicians from around the state to serve as the Festival Orchestra.
Glenbrook Orchestra Director Aaron Kaplan said the experience was extremely beneficial for Glenbrook students because they were treated the same way as professional musicians.
“They tell them what is good about their performance and what needs work; they don’t sugarcoat and treat them differently just because they are young; they play an active role in helping them understand not only how to create the music but how to connect to it, and how to make audiences connect to the music as well,” he said. “Exposing the students to different ideas and ways to think about music helps to inform and grow their musicianship and makes them better musicians.”
Another opportunity arose for five students of GBS’ Family, Career, Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) department, an in-school career and technical program with a focus on family and consumer science. For the first time in the program’s history, several of the group’s culinary talents were selected to compete against 30 of their peers in Illinois’ regional STAR Culinary Arts competition held at Kendall College this February.
Working as a team to produce a quality meal using industrial food service techniques and equipment, the team developed a plan, prepared the menu and served their items to judges within the allotted time. Congratulations to Anna Hofmockel and Matt Skeweres, two of nine finalists chosen to continue on to the State Competition on Tuesday, March 31. Other participating students included Priya Seth, Gabriela Santana and Alex Freidinger.
The two examples capture the success of Glenbrook’s eight-year-old Senior Projects program. Nearly 100 students apply for and are accepted to spend the last 4 to 6 weeks of their high school career dedicated to a “real world” project, including but not limited to, internships in offices, making films, creating apps, even restoring cars. The program allows students dedicated time to focus on a passion, skill or talent and is wholly supported through the schools’ Career and Technical Education departments. At the end, all completed projects are displayed in a special finale showcase for parents, teachers and administrators.
“Senior projects are intended to be a capstone experience where students demonstrate the culmination of work here at GBS, explore future careers through internships or fulfill a service project,” said Dawn Hall, instructional supervisor. “[They] are [able to] end the senior year working hard but having relevant experiences that are real and meaningful.”