Students, faculty ponder IC Day expansion

Rashid Black Jenkins ’21 works on a still life during last year’s IC Day – photo courtesy of Communications

The Church Mice have May Term, the Quakers have Seminars, and we, of course, have IC Day.

     Haverford’s fourth annual Intellectual Curiosity Day will take place on Wednesday, February 19. Led by faculty members with expertise in a given field, the day-long activities will educate students about a topic of their interest, fostering learning in areas that core curricula do not cover.

     In the past three years, IC Day has offered a single-day break to the school routine, but a fourth successful year could lead to an expanded program down the road.

     “At the end of this experience, I will be very interested in talking to student leaders about whether the idea of expanding IC Day is something students would like to see,” Upper School math teacher Mr. Bridge said. “If it’s something that we all feel strongly about, I see no reason why we shouldn’t do it.”

     Mr. Bridge, who serves as the primary organizer of IC Day this year, believes that IC Day is an excellent example of “real-world learning”—the type of hands-on learning that will prove critical to high school students as they enter college and eventually the professional world.

     “Unshackling ourselves from the confinements of the everyday curriculum on IC Day, teachers can do whatever they want to get at the most pressing educational questions for our community and for our students,” Mr. Bridge said.

poll by Austin Zhuang ’22

     Sixth Former J. Pierce Berkman is a three-year veteran of IC Day. Although he will graduate this year, he feels that expanding IC Day’s length could be an appropriate measure in the future.

     “I think having multiple days of intellectual curiosity would be more beneficial than going to school and doing the exact same thing and continuing down the same textbook curriculum,” Berkman said.

     Math specialist Ms. Katharine Hudson agrees.

     “Removing the restraints of a core curriculum and common standards allows students to learn other life lessons valuable to someone of a Haverford student’s age,” Ms. Hudson said.

     Berkman also noted the benefits students reap from a day outside of the classroom.

     “During last year’s Escape the Room activity, we used strategy and teamwork,” Berkman said. “You really rely on those skills more in Escape Room than you would if you were doing a project or other assignment.”

“Since every student is able to pursue one of the [seven] IC Day options that appeal most to them, the day is very productive.”

Matej Sekulic ’20

     Sixth Former Matej Sekulic said, “Since every student is able to pursue one of the [seven] IC Day options that appeal most to them, the day is very productive.”

     Spanish teacher Ms. Brooke Kenna, who runs the “Business of Baseball” IC Day activity with Health and PE teacher Dr. Peter Vanni, also foresees her activity expanding in the future.

     “Dr. Vanni and I were actually talking about how we could turn our IC Day activity into a three-to-four day option if we really wanted to,” Ms. Kenna said.

     While IC Day’s possible expansion lies in the future, Mr. Bridge and other faculty organizers are taking measures to improve this year’s IC Day.

Upper school math teacher Mr. Nathan Bridge, the primary organizer of this year’s IC Day – photo by Ryan LaRocca ’20.jpeg

     “There are going to be two small changes to IC Day, both of which are leading us in a bigger direction,” Mr. Bridge said. “The first one, which is perhaps going to be more noticeable for the students, is the presence of student facilitators. The teachers who have led IC Days in years past will go to students who have participated in and enjoyed their respective groups. These are students with whom the teachers most likely have a strong connection.”

     “We look to expand this student-leadership presence—in the execution and planning of the IC Day experience—going forward,” Mr. Bridge said. “We would even like to see students play a role in the originating of IC Day activity ideas.”

     Mr. Bridge also said that the second of the two minor changes to this year’s IC Day “will get at the heart of each IC Day activity’s respective goals and purposes.”

     “This year, teachers are formulating ‘guiding questions’ pertaining to each IC Day activity, which will be referred back to throughout the day to ensure productivity and that progress is being made,” Mr. Bridge said.

     These changes may facilitate an expanded IC Day in the future. But it will remain up to the Haverford students’ to solidify IC Day’s expansion in the future.

     “If students bring a great amount of energy, I can only foresee great things for IC Day in the future,” Mr. Bridge said. “That’s one of the great things about being at a place like Haverford. If we all decide that the expansion of IC Day is something worth pursuing, there is nothing stopping us from doing it.”

Author: Ryan LaRocca '20

Ryan LaRocca is an editor-in-chief of the newspaper, previously serving as the editor of the sports section. Last year, his article "J.R. Leitz emerges as leader in the pool" received third place recognition for sports articles in the Philadelphia-area Scholastic Writing Awards. This year, his piece "Swimming & diving look to spring back" earned a Gold Key and his feature "Rise of the Jewish Student Union" earned a Silver Key. Outside of The Index, Ryan acts as the captain for the water polo team and the vice president of the Entrepreneurship Club. In the classroom, his favorite subject is history.