Arts Academy students recognized by Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs

  • Sua Lee (left) and Alexander Straus-Fausto (right) are introduced to the Traverse City Rotary Club by Interlochen Center for the Arts Director of Engagement Leslie Donaldson. Photo courtesy of the Traverse City Rotary Club.

May 29, 2018

This semester, fourteen Arts Academy students were recognized by both the Traverse City Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs for their artistic and academic achievement.

Brittany Sando, Luke Broyles, Hyeong Ju Kim, Jade Parker, Sua Lee and Alexander Straus-Fausto were recognized as Students of the Week by the Traverse City Rotary Club. Students of the Week are introduced at Rotary Club meetings, at which they give a brief address about their goals, accomplishments and ambitions.

Evan Schumacher, Michaela Staffin, Moade Jagusah, Lane McKenna, Marguerite Arbogast, Jenna Koch, Erin Jackson and Ben Schmitt-West were selected as Students of the Month by the Kiwanis Club of Traverse City. Students of the Month are recognized at a luncheon hosted by the Kiwanis Club, and are featured in the “Education Newsmakers” column in the local newspaper, the Traverse City Record Eagle.

Congratulations to all our recognees!

Intercultural experiences in Michigan and beyond

  • Students pose in front of a mosque in Dearborn.

  • Middle Eastern Literature students visit the Downtown Synagogue in Detroit.

  • Students at a traditional restaurant in Dearborn.

  • Students enjoy a vista in the mountains of Peru.

  • Spanish students go caiman-watching in the Amazon rainforest.

  • Students visit a ruin in Peru.

April 19, 2018

In late March and early April, liberal arts students applied their cultural knowledge with local and international trips.

Over Spring Break, Brittany Adams’ Spanish students had the opportunity to visit Peru. While in Peru, the students visited the cities of Lima, Cusco and Puerto Maldonado, where they spent their time touring churches, cathedrals and ruins. The students also spent three days in the Amazon rainforest, where they hiked, watched caimans and visited Monkey Island.

On April 7-8, students in Karen Libby’s Middle Eastern Literature class visited Dearborn, Michigan, to get a glimpse into the cultures they have been studying.

Dearborn, a suburb of Detroit, has the most concentrated Arab American population in the United States. During the visit, the students visited the largest mosque in the nation, the Islamic Center of America, as well the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue in Detroit. The students also had the opportunity to sample authentic cuisine at Habib’s Restaurant and other popular eateries in Dearborn.

The trip was used as an introduction to the cultures of Israel and Lebanon, which are the foci of April’s in-class studies.

Guests offer personal perspectives on international conflicts

March 16, 2018

In late February and early March, three guests visited liberal arts students to share their experiences of political displacement.

On Feb. 26, Karen Libby and Jeffrey Wescott’s classes hosted two guests: Ahnaf Rabbani and Dr. Jacob Atem. Rabbani, age 14, shared the story of his family’s flight from their native Bangladesh as a result of political persecution. Dr. Atem, the co-founder and CEO of Southern Sudan Health Care Organization, also shared his story. Dr. Atem fled from South Sudan at the age of six during the Second Sudanese Civil War. He was one of nearly 4,000 child refugees relocated to the United States as part of a program established by the United States Government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Dr. Atem went on to study at Michigan State University and earned his Ph.D from the University of Florida.

On March 12, Libby’s Middle Eastern Literature class hosted another guest, Talia Gerstle. Gerstle, a Traverse City native, recently returned from the Greek island of Lesvos, where she spent three months volunteering in a refugee camp. Gerstle spoke to the students about her experiences and gave them a digital tour of the camp.

Arts Academy faculty learn about learning

  • A snapshot of Dr. Agarwal's PowerPoint taken by Taoufik Nadji before the presentation.

February 21, 2018

On Feb. 19, Arts Academy faculty participated in a special Professional Growth Day with guest lecturer Pooja K. Agarwal, Ph.D.

Dr. Agarwal, a cognitive scientist, conducts research about how learning works. She was invited to speak at Interlochen after faculty members Jenna Scheub, Katie Wibby and Kirsten Hoffman heard her speak at the Learning and the Brain Conference in Boston in October. During her visit to Interlochen, Dr. Agarwal presented a three-hour lecture, “Unleash the Science of Learning: Transform Teaching with Strategies from Cognitive Science.”

In addition to her peer-reviewed articles, which have appeared in the Journal of Educational Psychology, Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition and others, Dr. Agarwal shares her research and its applications through professional development workshops for educators at all educational levels. She has lectured at colleges including Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Missouri, and has had her research published in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Education Week, Psychology Today and The New York Times, among others.

Celebrating the season in French, Spanish and English

December 15, 2017

On Dec. 15, Interlochen Arts Academy’s language learners gathered to celebrate the holiday season.

Classes of Spanish and French students, as well as English language learners, congregated in the Mott Rotunda for the annual multilingual carol sing. During the event, each class sang a traditional holiday carol in their chosen language of study. After the traditional carols, three repetitions of “Jingle Bells”—one in English, one in French and one in Spanish—concluded the caroling event. Fruitcake and other holiday treats were served when caroling was complete.

Exploring public buildings and public health

November 16, 2017

On Nov. 13, students in David Allen’s “The Rise of Modern America” classes had the opportunity to visit one of Traverse City’s most famous historical sites.

The two classes took a day trip to The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. The campus, which now boasts a retirement home, fashionable shops and private apartments, originally began its life as the Traverse City State Hospital. Built in the late 1800s, the Traverse City State Hospital was a prominent mental health facility until it closed in 1989.

While at the site, Allen’s class discussed two major ideas. The first was the structure’s architecture, which, consistent with the philosophies of the day, was as stylish as it was functional. The second concept was the difference between the mental health practices of the late-1800s and today’s treatments.

A moment of remembrance

  • Members of the U.S. Coast Guard color guard present the flags while an Arts Academy trumpeter plays Taps.

November 15, 2017

On Nov. 9, the entire Interlochen Arts Academy student body united in observance of Veteran’s Day.

During the morning, student volunteers visited offices and classrooms around campus, offering paper poppies, the symbol of Veteran’s Day, to each member of the student body, faculty and staff.

After abbreviated meetings with their advisory groups, during which each advisor explained the history and motivation of Veteran’s Day, the student body congregated on Osterlin Mall for the annual Taps ceremony.

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard Color Guard presented the flag during the ceremony. Academy trumpeters participated in a rolling performance of Taps, which began near The Writing House and concluded on Osterlin Mall. As the last note faded, the Coast Guard members marched back to the Giddings Concourse.

Alumnus shares experiences in International Relations

October 17, 2017

On Oct. 13, Interlochen alumnus Andrew Johnston (IAA 90-94) visited David Allen’s International Relations classes.

Johnston is currently the Deputy Chief of Party II at RTI International, a nonprofit which provides research, development and technology services around the world. In his role at RTI, Johnston oversees a USAID-funded project focused on early-grade literacy and reducing violence in Uganda. Johnston has previously worked for Relief International, the International Rescue Committee and the Clinton Foundation in nations including Pakistan, Congo and Haiti.

Johnston visited both sections of Allen’s class. During the sessions, Johnston answered questions that students had prepared for his visit and posted on their class blog. Guided by the students’ questions, Johnston covered various facets of how the U.S. selects aid recipients, why certain areas of need are prioritized over others, different types of aid, and how aid funds are managed.

Trips with purpose

May 9, 2017

Several Liberal Arts classes participated in field trips in the month of May.

On May 14 2017, students in Brian McCall’s Century of Conflict class traveled to the Detroit area to visit the Holocaust Memorial Center.

The students participated in a guided tour of the museum’s exhibits, during which they spoke with a Holocaust survivor who presented a short message and answered student questions.

After the visit, the students travelled to McCall’s hometown of Flint, Michigan, to donate several cases of bottled water to Joy Tabernacle, an area church that acts as a community outreach center. The trip concluded with a visit to McCall’s favorite Flint pizzeria: Luigi’s.

David Allen’s economics students experienced finance first-hand with their own field trip to Chase Bank.

On May 11, students visited the Traverse City branch of the national banking chain. The students enjoyed a tour of the facility, during which they learned about the day-to-day operations of a financial institution. Later, the students met with Chase representatives, who answered the questions students had prepared on their class blog.

After the trip, students responded to their experience with a brief essay.

Bowling over the competition

  • Interlochen Arts Academy's quiz bowl team competes during the March 8 competition at Interlochen.

March 13, 2017

Interlochen Arts Academy’s award-winning quiz bowl team returned to action in late February.

The winter quiz bowl league began on Feb. 15. The first two matches of the season were hosted at Traverse City Central High School, while matches three and four—on March 1 and 8, respectively—were hosted at Interlochen Arts Academy. Before competition began, students enjoyed pizza and lemonade in the Liberal Arts Rotunda.

The team also competed in the grand championship of WCMU's televised quiz bowl program, Quiz Central. The team finished in the top four out of 48 schools, losing to Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart Academy in the semifinal round.

The Academy’s quiz bowl team has qualified for the state finals in April, and will compete if artistic obligations allow them to field a full team.

Trivia pursuit

February 14, 2017

On Feb. 8, the Interlochen Arts Academy Quiz Bowl team traveled to Central Michigan University to compete on WCMU’s televised quiz bowl program, Quiz Central.

The Arts Academy team, led by Instructor of History and Political Science Brian McCall, won both of their matches to become the White Division champions. As winners of the White Division, the team is eligible to compete in the Grand Championship and earned $16,000 in scholarships to Central Michigan University.

The Arts Academy team was closely matched in the competition, winning its matches against both Frankenmuth and Big Rapids by only 10 points. During the championship match against Big Rapids, the Arts Academy team scored the winning points with only 0.05 seconds left on the clock.

“I'm really proud of this great group of young scholars,” said McCall.

Clergywoman helps students contextualize world conflict

December 14, 2016

Religion and conflict are two common themes in Karen Libby’s Middle Eastern Literature course. To help students grasp the conflicts in the Middle East, Libby invited her friend Meredith Hunt, a retired Episcopal clergywoman, to speak to her class.

Hunt’s presentation featured numerous photos of her journeys to Israel and Palestine. While Hunt lectured about the geography and religious conflicts in the region, students passed rock, soil and pottery samples around the classroom. As Hunt’s presentation came to a close, she left the students with many thought-provoking questions. “These people have the same DNA, but can’t get along,” she said. “How do you practice religion in such a tense land? How can we help both Palestinians and Jews?” The students will spend the weeks leading up to the holidays discussing these questions in their class blogs and essays.

Cuban student puts Castro in context

December 14, 2016

David Allen’s International Relations class has been discussing the recent passing of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. To help his students gain a firsthand account of life in Cuba, Allen invited a special guest to his classroom.

Arts Academy senior Claudia Hernandez was born and raised in Cuba, immigrating to the United States only 20 months ago. Hernandez visited Allen’s class to answer questions that the students submitted through the class blog.

Hernandez answered questions ranging from politics to religion to art. Students were especially interested in Claudia’s opinions on technology: internet access in Cuba is very limited. “I didn’t use the internet for school; I had to go to the library,” she told her shocked fellow students. “Books exist! I learned everything I know from books.”

Hernandez also discussed the differences between Cuban and American culture. “The people in Cuba are very warm,” she said. “Here in the United States, everything is a bit more formal. We don’t kiss everyone,” she said, referring to the Cuban custom of greeting others with kisses on the cheek. In addition, she shared that friendships in Cuba are much closer than friendships in America—almost like family. “I haven’t connected with someone that much here,” she said.

At the end of the hour, the students enthusiastically thanked Hernandez for sharing her insight. “I wouldn’t change growing up in Cuba at all,” she said.

Exercising the right to vote

November 16, 2016

In honor of election season, liberal arts students learned about the American electoral process by participating in a campus-wide mock election.

The mock election was headed by instructor of history and economics David Allen, who began mock elections at Interlochen in 2012. Green Lake Township provided two authentic polling devices--one for students, one for staff--to more closely simulate the voting process. The mock election was scheduled for November 2, a week before the actual election, to enable Allen and the students to calculate the results prior to election day.

Allen impressed the importance of voting in his American students. “I want them to be conscious of what happened to enable us to vote,” he said. He also gave international students an introduction to the American electoral process, explaining the details and answering questions.

Liberal arts students learn about architecture, mental health

October 15, 2016

Students in the Rise of Modern America classes visited the Traverse City State Hospital to gain perspective on the concepts they have been learning in class.

Built in 1885, the Traverse City State Hopsital spent most of its lifetime as a mental institution. Today, most of the complex has been renovated and repurposed as retail and living spaces. Students toured the older, unrenovated portions while a guide explained the site's history. Through the visit, students learned more about two primary concepts: the treatment of mental health disorders and the detail employed in the construction of public buildings in the 1800s. One of the students' biggest revelations was that many illnesses now treated with medication and therapy by outpatient care providers were cause for institutionalization just a century ago.

Students researched the issues in question prior to the tour, and responded to the experience in blog posts following the trip.

Fresh perspectives on English, French and Spanish

October 14, 2016

Liberal arts welcomed a new instructor of English, Dr. Air-Anne Edgar. Dr. Edgar came to Interlochen from the University of Kentucky, where she taught writing, rhetoric, literature and digital composition. Dr. Edgar is also an active social scholar and researcher, serving as the research assistant for the Committee on Social Theory at the University of Kentucky. Her academic and pedagogical publications can be found in a variety of publications; her latest is “Suburban Subversions,” which will appear in the Journal of Sexuality and Culture.

Interlochen Arts Academy also welcomed two interns from the Amity Foundation. Founded in 1962, the Amity Foundation seeks to aid foreign language students by providing direct contact with the languages and cultures they are studying. The two interns, Marta Ballester Navarro of Spain and Clarisse Commauche of France, serve as living models of language and culture to Interlochen Arts Academy foreign language students.

Literature comes to life in Dearborn

October 14, 2016

Last year, English teacher Karen Leland Libby debuted a course in Middle Eastern Literature at Interlochen Arts Academy. She has brought the course back for a second year.

On October 15, Ms. Libby took the students in the class on a field trip to the city of Dearborn, which holds the distinction of having the largest Middle Eastern population outside of the Middle East. During the trip, students visited a mosque, toured the Arab Museum and ate Middle Eastern food.

“It was a great cultural experience for the students,” Ms. Libby said. “They gained a great understanding of Arab and Islamic culture.”

Flowers and remembrance

May 13, 2016

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, students in David Allen's A History of Hatred classes planted a Holocaust Remembrance Garden on campus as part of a global effort to remember the victims of this dark chapter of humanity's past. Daffodils were the flower of choice, selected as such to recall the Stars of David that Jewish targets of the genocide were made to wear. The garden will be perpetually endowed so that, annually, students may commemorate these victims of hatred and commit themselves to working against discrimination and bigotry in all its forms.

Better understanding Israeli-Palestinian literature

April 14, 2016

Middle Eastern Literature students welcomed Episcopal priests Meredith Hunt and David Lillvis to lead a conversation about Israel surrounding their study of Israeli-Palestinian literature. The syllabus includes Sarah Glidden's graphic novel How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less as well as short stories by S. Yizhar, Ghassan Kanafani, and Amos Oz. Hunt and Lillvis' collective experience includes working with ecumenical groups around the globe, presiding at various Episcopalian churches in Michigan and studying at St. George's College in Jerusalem.

Hunt shared a slideshow with four themes: "The past is always present," "Contested real estate," "Who is my sister/brother?" and "How to find peace: Come to the table." Emphasizing the layered past and present of Jerusalem, she told students of the many languages, religions and claims to sacred sites that make up the complex nation of Israel today. Hunt and Lillvis returned to class for a second visit to continue the conversation with a question and answer period and some lively stories.

Mapping the hero's journey in Liberal Arts

March 1, 2016

East met West in a colorful and engaging evening of music, theatre and storytelling on Feb. 22 in the Mott Rotunda, as students in Marvine Stamatikis' English Language and Jeff Wescott's Classical Mythology classes presented The Hero’s Coming of Age.

The collaborative performance is part of the two classes' studies of the Hero Quest as it is portrayed in Homer's Odyssey. Telemachus, Odysseus' son, is called to go out and find his father, learn his true nature, and return to his homeland with his father. This quest is a symbolic journey as well—the young man's "coming of age" story.

Classical Mythology students performed scenes from Homer's work that illustrate this journey, while students in English Language performed rituals that attend the "coming of age" process in their home cultures.

The goal of the collaboration was to learn about the universal aspects of certain myths, alongside the cultural elements that make such stories unique. The project also promoted the exchange of ideas between native speakers and students whose first language is not English, in order to foster new connections and expand our knowledge of different cultures.

Students Compete in Academy WorldQuest

February 11, 2016

On Feb. 11, Interlochen Arts Academy students competed in The 3rd Annual Academic WorldQuest Competition in downtown Traverse City. This nationwide high school Academic WorldQuest tests students knowledge of international affairs.

Carols in the Mott Rotunda

December 16, 2015
Each year the Interlochen Arts Academy English Language, French, and Spanish classes team up for a small holiday celebration in the Mott Rotunda at Interlochen Center for the Arts. They sing carols in the target language and then enjoy traditional holiday snacks afterward.

A political visit in Liberal Arts

December 11, 2015
Students in Brian McCall's History & Political Science classes received a vist on Dec. 2 from Dan Scripps, current Democratic Party candidate for the Michigan 101st District House of Representatives. Scripps spoke to students about how to run a campaign in today's political world.

Also, on Wednesday, Dec. 16, a group of students from French, Spanish, and English Language classes will join together to go caroling on campus, singing songs in a variety of different languages.

Liberal Arts plans a tribute to France

November 20, 2015

International Relations classes taught by History, Economics & EL Instructor David Allen spent some time recently thinking about how they could affirm the human spirit, and how they will not countenance evil such as was visited upon Paris last week. Being an arts school, they settled on a form of expression: Students would dress themselves in red, white and blue clothing, representing the French tricolor, and sing La Marseillaise. This took place on Friday, Nov. 20 at 8 a.m. on the stage of Kresge, with the saying regarding the universal language of the arts as a backdrop: "Dedicated To The Promotion of World Friendship Through The Universal Language Of The Arts."

Liberté! Egalité! Fraternité!

Liberal Arts students visit International Affairs Forum

November 6, 2015

On Wednesday, Oct. 21, 68 Interlochen students rode the bus to Traverse City to hear a presentation by Dr. Curt Rhodes, founder and international director of Questscope, at Northern Michigan College's International Affairs Forum.

Questscope is an organization that works with marginalized youth, specifically the young Syrian population living in refugee camps in Jordan. Following Dr. Rhodes' presentation, the students engaged in a question-and-answer session, taking away new perspectives on the unfolding of this humanitarian crisis.

English Language Learners collaborate on "sonic translation" project

  • Creative Writing and English as a Language students work together on a project in October.

November 6, 2015

On Oct. 27, Creative Writing students studying with Adam Atkinson collaborated with English Language Learners in Marvine Stamatakis's EL 3 class on a "sonic translation" project. The ELL students came to class with a favorite poem composed in their first languages. Together with the Creative Writing students, groups then worked to create "sonic translations" of the poems. The process entailed first translating the original poem into pure sounds, divorced from any original meaning, then translating those pure sounds into similarly sounding English words. This mode of translation relied first on the ELL students' expertise in pronouncing their first languages, then on their developing skills in English (with help from the native-English-speaking Creative Writing students).

Poems put through the process of sonic translation were composed originally in Mandarin, Spanish, and Russian. After a great deal of spirited repetition of sounds and fascinating translation, the students had a concluding discussion about the difficulties and opportunities arising from translating words and meanings. 

Following another translation session in the future, the students are planning to perform their sonic translations at the end of the semester.

What's going on in Liberal Arts

  • In Liberal Arts, a guest speaker recently spoke with the British Literature class on Prometheus and transhumanism. This is one of the images from her presentation. (Andrea Danti/

October 8, 2015

Liberal Arts talks transhumanism and the lessons of Prometheus 

English instructor Karen Libby recently welcomed guest speaker Elizabeth Wolterink into her British Literature class. Ms. Wolterink, who is enrolled in the doctorate program in Mythological Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute, led an energetic discussion with students about the transhumanism movement and its ties to the myth of Prometheus, all within the context of creativity and what it means to be human.

English One students worked on an activity to help them explore narrative and presentation techniques within a collaborative setting. The project culminated with a student enactment of the narratives they wrote during the class.

Nora Robinson, instructor of English as a Language in the Liberal Arts department, spoke to faculty about some of the lessons she learned while spending the 2014-15 academic year teaching at Capital Normal University in Beijing, China.

Off-Campus Events Draw Year to a Close

Eric Blackburn
May 19, 2015

On April 26, a group of eighteen Interlochen students presented the second annual Wild Wild midWest Film Festival at the historic State Theatre in downtown Traverse City. The students had worked over the winter with IAA instructor Eric Blackburn to build this year’s festival from the ground up: a full day of great films, live performances by IAA Singer-Songwriter students, and an original musical score performed live by an IAA student Jazz Combo during a silent film. The festival was open to the public, free of charge, and raised money for the Native American Heritage Association and the Father Fred Foundation.

On April 30, David Allen’s Economics class traveled to Chase Bank in Traverse City in order gain some first-hand insights into the realities of banking. Prior to the visit, students researched banking and Chase in particular to create a list of questions for our hosts. The Branch Manager was most generous with his time and answers on matters ranging from building sound credit to interest rates. And on May 5, Karen Libby and Marvine Stamatakis took a group of international students on an EL field trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes. The students picnicked, played baseball, buried each other in the sand, and ran up and down the Dune Climb, enjoying a day at one of the most picturesque locations in the state.

It has been a great year here at Interlochen: curious and energetic students; thoughtful and dedicated faculty and staff; arts, academics, and student activities everywhere. We’re looking forward to another great year starting in September!

Our Path Ahead

Eric Blackburn
April 13, 2015

Interlochen Arts Academy recently named Eric Blackburn as the new Director of the Liberal Arts Division. His tenure began on April 1.

Nearly four years ago I joined the Liberal Arts faculty here at Interlochen. I remember opening my classroom door on the first day of school, a few ninth graders waiting in the rotunda. Before I could take a breath to calm the first day nerves one of the students announced, “We’re you’re first class.” I imagine we all must have been feeling somehow similarly: strangers in a strange land, everything new, everything unknown. That first class of ninth graders is now only about six weeks away from graduating.

Over their four years here, they have experienced a host of changes: new daily schedules, widespread integration of classroom technologies, changes in faculty and course offerings. The graduating classes following them will only continue to see more changes that will impact not only Interlochen, but the world of education more broadly. Questions are everywhere. How will deeper understandings of the brain affect the ways we approach schooling? What can be gained or lost through the implementation of online courses? How can we best explore the rich areas of overlap among the arts and the various academic disciplines?

These questions and more will continue to face us in the years to come. We will explore them and search out what we believe will be the best ways forward. This is much of the joy of being part of a school community: stepping forward into the uncertainty of what will come next, knowing that sometimes your expectations will be met, other times foiled, and still other times greatly exceeded.

We do not always know what we will get or how we will manage what we get. The changes will continue, and we will continue to ask new questions and explore new paths. In the midst of these changes, though, a key focus will persist: we will remain dedicated, faculty and students, to helping each other grow into evermore thoughtful, conscientious citizens of the world. This mission is at the heart of a liberal arts curriculum, and I look forward to being a part of all the new ways we will carry this mission forward.

The Feminine Journey Quest

Liberal Arts
April 13, 2015

On Wednesday, Academy instructor Jeff Wescott welcomed guest speaker Elizabeth Wolterink into his course on Classical Mythology. Ms. Wolterink, whose work appears in “Evolving God-Images: Essays on Religion, Individuation, and Postmodern Spirituality,” is currently enrolled in the doctorate program in Mythological Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute. She led an energetic discussion with students about feminine archetypes in myth and psychology and provided an overview of the key aspects of the feminine journey quest.

English Language Trip to Lansing

David Allen
April 6, 2015

Twenty-one of David Allen's international students traveled to the Michigan State Capitol on April 3 for an up close learning experience about democracy. The visit took the group to the Senate and House chambers where the responsibilities of elected officials and the law-making process were explained. Holly Allen, Mozart-Beethoven Housemother also chaperoned the trip, which included a lunch stop and quick look at the Michigan State Campus.

Rites of Passage

Marvine Stamikakis
March 10, 2015

Mrs. Stamatakis' English Language (EL) students and Mr. Wescott's mythology class are meeting during tutorial time to share their understanding of rites of passage based on their reading of The Odyssey by Homer. The EL students will act out or demonstrate a rite of passage from their country. The mythology class will share a reading from the poem or an interpretation of the story. In the photos, the EL students are creating a timeline of events in The Odyssey.

Quiz Bowl Returns to the Academy

Brian McCall
February 17, 2015

The Liberal Arts Division is sponsoring a new Quiz Bowl team of Arts Academy students to compete with other local high school teams in matches sanctioned by the National Academic Quiz Tournaments. It is a great chance to use a little bit of their liberal arts and humanities knowledge that they pick up here at Interlochen.  

Quiz Bowl is similar to "Jeopardy," except teams of four members play each other and the answers do not need to be in the form of a question. Several local high schools are forming teams or planning to, as Northwest Michigan is the only region of the state without an established Quiz Bowl league.  Winners of local matches can qualify for the Michigan State Quiz Bowl Finals, held in East Lansing in April. 

The Interlochen Arts Academy team are preparing for their first competition during the upcoming Academic World Quest event on February 24th, sponsored by Northwestern Michigan College and its International Affairs Forum. Advisor and history instructor Brian McCall and his students will face off against over a dozen area high school teams. Wish us luck! 

Intermester in the Liberal Arts

Karen L. Libby
January 12, 2015

The Liberal Arts faculty stretched beyond their usual disciplines with a wide variety of offerings during Intermester 2015. Interpretation of Dreams, Nollywood: Films of Modern Nigeria, DORMED: Boarding School Life in Literature, Film, and Popular Myth, Creating Children's Literature, French Cooking and Geography, Wild Wild midWest Film Festival, Finding My Cultural Roots, Award-Winning Foreign Films, The Arc of the Teenager, Shark Tank for the Arts, and Nonverbal Communication are some of the offerings this year. DORMED students satirically portrayed Interlochen life through light-bulb jokes, while Madame Hittner and Madamoiselle Salaun taught students to create tartes aux pommes, macarons, buche de noel, and creme brulee. Mr. Blackburn's students have begun plans for their second annual festival at Traverse City's State Theatre, while Ms. Libby's students were in the visual arts building, writing and illustrating fifteen children's books. Ms. Stamatakis led students through explorations of their cultural roots, culminating in presentations about their family history and traditions. Mr. Johnson's students discussed and screened a series of Nollywood (modern Nigerian) films chosen by guest lecturer Rahim Ilemobade, a specialist in this genre, who visited to discuss the films with the class. With two weeks of eclectic experiences like these, students will be renewed and inspired as they enter their demanding second semester schedules. 

Carols Around the World

Karen L. Libby
December 15, 2014

Students of English, French, and Spanish gathered in Mott Rotunda for the annual tradition of World Language Holiday Caroling.  One by one, these groups shared carols in in their language of study, vying for enthusiasm, expression, and volume! Students from China surprised the crowd with an impromptu version of Mandarin Jingle Bells. Madame Hittner's Bûches de Noël, a traditional French dessert, was divine!  

Student Radio Project Wins First Prize

David Allen
November 25, 2014

The Intermester project from January 2014, Two Gentlemen of Verona, has won First Prize from the Terri Hemmert High School Radio/Audio competition at Columbia College in Chicago. The contributing students each received a trophy and $100 prize check to the school. 

This fall, the students were also invited to attend the 11th Annual Columbia College Chicago High School and College Radio Conference co-sponsored by Intercollegiate Broadcasting System, where they were congratulated by Barbara Calabrese, Chair of the Radio Department at Columbia College.

Tim Johnson Earns National Honor

David Allen
November 17, 2014

Liberal Arts Instructor Tim Johnson has been recognized by the Scholastic Arts & Writing Awards as an "Outstanding Educator." Mr. Johnson has served on the Academy's English Department Faculty since 2003.

French Week

Karen Libby
November 14, 2014

Vive le France!

French week at Interlochen included food, research, presentations and performances.  All French students spent some time choosing and researching a French speaking artist.  Colorful, creative, and sometimes elaborate posters displayed biographical information.   Students from French levels 1 and 2 spoke about the artists using their native English, while students in levels 3, 4 and 5 spoke French for a 3-5 minute presentation.  Students also enjoyed making and feasting on French crepes, beignets, and apple tarts. The week's grande finale was student performances of poems, song, and scenes from French Literature in the Grand Room of Met Cal.  

Interlochen Observes Veterans Day

Karen Libby
November 12, 2014

The Interlochen community observed Veterans Day with an annual tribute featuring Mr. Ken Larson's trumpet students playing a rolling performance of "Taps" across the campus, with the last note from the final trumpet on the Mall, and a honor guard from the Traverse City Police Department who presented the colors. Wearing the red poppy as a sign of respect and recognition of the service and sacrifice paid by our nation's veterans, students stepped outside at 10:50 to hear the trumpets start at 11:00 am. Taps was followed by a brief moment of silence. Brian McCall, a history teacher who coordinates this annual event, reminded students to honor those who served our country, and remember those who didn't come home.

Testing the TOEFL

Marvine Stamikakis
November 7, 2014

I was invited to participate workshop to develop standards for the TOEFL Jr, English as a Second Language (ESL) Placement test. The workshop took place on the campus of the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, New Jersey. The participants were ESL students from boarding schools around the United States. During the workshop, we worked to identify the minimum TOEFL Jr. scores that correspond to the three levels of English language proficiency for students who speak English as a Second language, applying to schools in which English is the language of instruction. The lowest level corresponds to students who need to develop sufficient language skills before being admitted to the school, the middle level responds to students who can be admitted on the condition that they will attend ESL support classes. The highest level corresponds to students who do not need any ESL support. We learned the process of stand setting to consider what test scores align with the skills needed for the three proficiency levels. The last step will be to identify the TOEFL Jr. scores that align with each description. The researchers were relying on our judgments as experts to set the standards. I appreciate the opportunity to use my skills in a challenging new way.

The experience was new to all of us, and we all enjoyed the work and the discussions. We respected the two researchers, a psychometrician and a linguist, who were responsible for the study. I made contacts with 15 other teachers whose teaching experience is similar to mine, so we had lively discussions about teaching and curriculum. On a personal note, two of the participants had an Interlochen connection: Meredith Hanson, an Academy graduate, and Lisa Bouloustreau, wife of former Amity scholar, Arnaud Blouloustreau.

French Week!

Teresa Hittner
November 7, 2014

French Week is Nov. 5 - 11.  We'll be making crêpes and baignets. We'll be eating cheese, French apple tarts and playing French games. The upper-level students will be going to Pâtisserie Amie a wonderful French restaurant in Traverse City. The grand finale will be our French Soirée in the chapel, where all students will perform in French!

Halloween in Chaucer's England

Karen Libby
October 31, 2014

British Literature students bring Chaucer's Canterbury pilgrims to life on Halloween.

It was Halloween, and it was 1373. A knight, a squire, a nun, a monk, a friar, and most importantly, a wife were introduced by students in British Literature. Students worked in partnerships to bring Chaucer's characters from The Canterbury Tales to life, reading modern translation of his Middle English verse. In Chaucer's General Prologue, we meet a large groups of strangers who gather at a tavern in the south of London before going on a pilgrimage to the shrine of a holy saint in Canterbury. Chaucer's vivid descriptions of these characters give us a shocking view of what people really said, thought, wore, and pretended to be in this late medieval period. Students arrived to class in costume with props and pantomimes that communicated their assigned characters' personalities. It was a Halloween morning full of surprises!

A Field Trip for Rise of Modern America

  • Many of the buildings at the complex have been restored and repurposed. Others await restoration.
  • In the lower level of the historic buildings.
  • Visiting the former Michigan State Hospital in Traverse City.
David Allen
October 30, 2014

Students in the Rise of Modern America class toured the unreconstructed areas of the former Traverse City State Hospital on October 29. This excursion afforded students some keen insights into public-health priorities of a century ago, as well as how public architecture was often created with an eye towards the aesthetically pleasing, not just the bottom line. In advance of our visit, students posted questions for our tour guide on the class blog site. Enjoy the pictures from the trip! 

Peace Corps Guest in Spanish

Brittany Adams
October 20, 2014

Dan O'neill spoke with Spanish classes on October 17th about his former Peace Corps services in Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. He is now waiting to be accepted into his third service in Peru. We will be following him over the next two and a half years as he navigates his way through the Andes.

Language Students Going Out

Karen Libby
October 9, 2014

Going off campus for trips related to their academics is a favorite activity among Interlochen students, and language students have had some rich experiences without traveling very far. The levels 4/5 Advanced French students read "Waiting for Godot" in French and then saw it performed at the Old Town Playhouse Theater in Traverse City. Students appreciated the experience of reading and watching this play, and they especially admired the creative use of lighting in this local production.

Another trip off campus took all levels of the English language students to Moomers dairy farm and ice cream shop. After studying readings and vocabulary related to small businesses and agriculture, students toured this family operated farm, where they learned that creative innovation can lead to a lucrative business. Their question and answer sessions with Moomers owners gave them plenty of opportunity to practice their English and taste some delicious ice cream!

The Spanish language classes won't go beyond their classroom walls for their next cultural experience: the famous Spanish market run by Adolfo Mendez of TC Latino Grocery will visit the Mott Rotunda on Wednesday, October 29 to give students a taste of the food and culture of Latin America.

Liberal Arts Welcomes New Guests and a New Academic Year

Karen Libby
October 7, 2014

One month into the 2014-15 school year finds Interlochen students settling into both academic classes and academic related evening activities that both support their work and develop learning communities.  

Guest artists, thinkers and performers are a very important part of the Interlochen experience and we have already had several notable visits this fall. On September 22, British Literature students gathered on Interlochen's beachfront to experience Leelanau County's Beach Bards. This performing troupe of poets and storytellers modeled the oral tradition, the connecting theme of the fall British Literature course.  On October 6, we welcomed Misty Copeland, soloist with the American Ballet Theatre. She worked with Interlochen’s dance students, of course, but she also visited Jeffrey Wescott's Illuminating Lives class. The students, who had recently read her published memoir, Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, had a rare opportunity to talk about her life, her dancing and the process of writing and publishing a book. 

Faculty members from both arts and academics joined members of Interlochen’s IT staff at the Oesis Symposium in Boston, Massachusetts. Oesis stands for Online Education Symposium for Independent Schools, and it brought together faculty and administrators from over 135 independent schools to facilitate innovative conversations about online opportunities both in and out of the traditional classroom environments. 

Interlochen's Academic Quiz Bowl met for the first time on September 29th, led by history teacher Brian McCall.  Students enjoy engaging in his question and answer game designed to test their knowledge in myriad topics.