Julia Mills ‘22
Springboard presentations have always been regarded as one of the crowning jewels of a Mercersburg senior year. While this year looks a little different, the creative processes within the senior class continue to flow with little obstruction. In a normal year, a Springboard class is scheduled for the entire year, with a wide variety of courses to choose from: Maker’s Lab, Open-Topic, Commarts, Novel-Writing, Activism, Application Design, Food for Thought, Mercersburg Online Radio, Mercerburg’s History, Positive Psychology, Scriptorium, and The Fight Against Disease. Although all seniors typically finished and presented in the spring, the exhibition process needed to be updated due to COVID-19. Whether you’ve attended one or not, Springboard presentations from courses completed in the Fall are in full swing.
Needless to say, the wide variety of programs resulted in a plethora of projects. Madi Norris ‘21 of Commarts decided to create her own album. Norris ‘21 says, “After 3 years of mixing music with classes at school, I knew I wanted to do something I loved and I wanted to create an album.” The task of producing an album requires a strong devotion. She describes her creative process, saying, “I had to listen to a lot of music in the beginning, basically I spent all my time with headphones on, and a lot of people around me asking to turn my music down. I had to come in a lot after school to work in the Burgin so I could just mess around with my music to find something I enjoy.” On the other hand, Marlee Ecton ‘21 of Maker’s Lab decided to build her own chair. Ecton explains that, “Throughout the fall term, I had experimented with other furniture design projects and had really fallen in love. There is so much room to add creative touches to everyday furniture, and balancing that with the need to have support and structure is what makes it special.” In this way, no matter the theme of a Springboard class, the aim is to help students tune into their passions and give them freedom to tinker with artistic license.
One of the obstacles the Springboard program had to overcome was its absence of in-person presentations. As a replacement, seniors were to make a short, pre-recorded video of their project with a brief explanation, followed by a “Question-and-Answer” session. Francesco Oliva ‘21 of Maker’s Lab brings up the concern of technical difficulties. He says, “Presenting virtually was an interesting experience since it was hard to show the physical object due to bad Wifi and camera quality.” While a pithy and difficult Google Meet hardly illustrates year’s worth of work, John David Bennett, Director of Springboard, explains that the presentations this fall were to be held virtually regardless of the status of in-person learning. He says, “The fall Springboard teachers and I decided that because of how unpredictable everything has been that it would be prudent to do the presentations like we did them last year, even if students would be back on campus. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the right decision.”
While there are a number of cons that come with distanced interactions, there are also a few notable pros. The virtual presentations seemed to be more appealing to students, who often dislike the discomfort of presenting to live audiences. Norris ‘21 continues, “I almost like it more that I was able to record my presentation and send it away so I never have to look at it again. I also like the fact that all I have to really do is answer questions, nothing else.” Ecton ‘21 agrees, describing her Q&A session as “fun and laid back.” Additionally, while the new academic schedule condensed all classes, it also opened the door for students to complete multiple Springboards. Max Bratter ‘21, who took Commarts in the fall, is taking an Application Design course in the winter. He says, “I think that it could be a really cool opportunity to pursue two of my passions instead of only one.”
Although any school year during a pandemic will be remembered in years to come, Springboard was a positive way to keep the senior spirit alive. Whether the experience was 9 months or 9 weeks, students were still able to utilize the class to pursue their interests.