Experimentory Voices: Hear from Our Students

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The Experimentory at Deerfield Academy is an amazing opportunity to innovate, grow, make friends and have fun… But don’t just take our word for it!

 

In this mix of videos and reflections, hear how seven EXP16 students describe the projects, friendships, lessons, and fun they experienced during their summer at the Experimentory.

 

Amethyst: Maximizing Communication

Amethyst discovered the satisfaction of seeing rough ideas mix and develop into a final product during her Music + Film course cluster. The result was even better than she imagined, and she became a better communicator along the way.

Sami: Maximizing Collaboration

Working hand-in-hand on a Theater + Electronics project team, Sami discovered that she has what it takes to explore a subject she’d never tried before: coding.

William: Maximizing Character

William left the Experimentory with new friends, new confidence, and a better understanding of himself.

Xander: Maximizing Risk

Xander reflects on how the teachers in his Architecture + Culture class drew out his academic curiosity and encouraged him to take some chances to produce work he was proud of.

Natasha: A Summer of Personal Growth

natasha-l-experimentory-testimonialWhy did you choose to participate in a summer program? What drew you to the Experimentory?

For the past four summers, I had been going to the US to attend summer programs. I have always loved the experience of living away from home as it made me more independent. Exploring different communities and new environments has always challenged me to discover a new part of myself.

The Experimentory looked like an engaging and fun program. I’d heard many good things about it from one of my dad’s good friends and decided to apply. I also knew that the Experimentory would be held on the Deerfield Academy’s campus and taught by Deerfield faculty. I wanted to experience what it was like living on a preparatory school campus, and this seemed like an excellent way to do it. When they accepted me, I was excited (and a little nervous), but I had a feeling that it was going to be worth it.

What were your favorite team projects? What role did you play?

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Natasha and Noah’s building design

One of my favorite team projects was designing a multipurpose building (including a restaurant) using a computer program called ‘Sketch-Up’ for my Architecture + Culture class. I was partnered with Noah, a boy from New York, and I’d say we worked pretty well together. We both played crucial but equal roles in the development and completion of the project. We designed a menu for our restaurant and even got to prepare one of the foods on our menu: bruschetta. We thoroughly explored Spanish culture, and we drew inspiration from buildings found along Española Way in Miami for the design of our multipurpose building.

Tell us a little about the friendships you made at the Experimentory.

I met and made friends with so many amazing people from all over the world.

The forty kids I got to spend my summer with were bright and engaging. We quickly became friends with each other despite our many differences. It didn’t matter that we were in different grades in school, or that we came from different countries and had such diverse backgrounds. We became a family.

We made so many inside jokes that I can’t even count them all. The memories we created were full of laughter and pure joy. I remember spending warm afternoons playing ping pong and walking to the campus store to get some Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. I recall how we had this strange obsession with Rubik’s Cubes, and soon enough, almost everyone knew how to solve one in record time! We were all weird in our different ways, but for the first time in forever, I felt like I’d finally met my people.

I especially loved my dorm mates. We became sisters over a surprisingly short amount of time. We would share snacks and just enjoy each other’s company, laughing and joking. In the early mornings, we would wake each other up, and make sure everyone was ready for the day ahead.

I can sincerely say that I will cherish the unique friendships I made at the Experimentory forever.

What is one important thing that you learned or one way you grew because of your time here?

I learned to try new things and be a little more adventurous. I went white water rafting down the Deerfield River and rode giant roller coasters at Six Flags. I had the opportunity to experience a bizarre ropes course, and dance on a cruise ship that took us down the historic waterways of Boston Harbor.

As I learned to be more daring, I also grew as a person. I realized that I had not discovered the full extent of my potential and that the only way to fully understand myself would be to try things out first. An experience I‘ll never forget is hiking during my ‘nature walks’ co-curricular. We set out with nothing but our water bottles and pure determination. There were so many noisy bugs flying around us as we hiked, and it was excruciatingly hot. Beads of sweat would form at the top of my forehead, and I would trip over big rocks. As I climbed and screamed internally, I remember wondering when I’d ever reach the top, and how I’d ever make it. I was so tired that my legs ached to the point of feeling numb. However, despite my fatigue I kept on going, and eventually, I was one of the first to make it to the top. I felt a sense of accomplishment looking at the view from where we were standing. I felt an exhilarating rush and pride for pushing through relentlessly through the thick summer heat. I felt like I was on the top of the world.img_4402

I am eternally grateful for having the chance to go out of my comfort zone during my time at the Experimentory. I tried so many new things and would never have had the opportunity to do them if I had not gone to the Experimentory.

What would you say to someone thinking about applying?

My experience at the Experimentory was extraordinary, and I have to say it was a once in a lifetime experience.

I think the opportunity to live on Deerfield’s beautiful campus for a month was already a privilege in itself, and the community the Experimentory staff had nurtured was so unique that it was unlike anything I’d ever known before.

My summer was full of adventure, challenging course clusters, and genuine friendships. I felt so welcomed by the Experimentory staff from the minute I arrived at registration to the day I departed campus. And when I had to say goodbye, I cried harder than I ever had before.

I can whole heartedly say that I could not have asked for a better summer experience and that I will only ever have positive things to say about the Experimentory!

To those thinking about applying, take the plunge! The Experimentory will be a summer experience you will never forget, where you will discover your true self above everything else and a program you will remember for the rest of your life!

— Natasha, December 2016

Max: Diving Deeper into Music and Film

Why did you choose to participate in a summer program? What drew you to the Experimentory?max-w-experimentory-testimonial

Every summer my parents encourage me to go somewhere or do something that I have never done before.  The Experimentory appealed to me because my favorite class in school is in a lab which focuses on innovative technology.  Since I live in Southern California and had been exploring boarding schools, I wanted an East Coast experience which would allow me to creatively pursue my interest in science and at the same time introduce me to life at boarding school.  The Experimentory at Deerfield Academy seemed like the perfect fit.  I loved the idea that I could experience challenging classroom lessons at the same time as having a fun social schedule!

What were your favorite team projects? What role did you play?

The fact that we were able to choose from multiple clusters for our classroom lessons made the summer very interesting and it was difficult to pick!  All of the clusters were built around a project that was team/group oriented, and it was incredible to see the improvement in our projects from the first draft as compared to the final version, and to realize that each member of the group contributed to this improvement.  One of my favorite assignments was in my Music + Film cluster. I had worked a lot with my GoPro back home, but this class brought my knowledge of film making to a whole new level.  We worked with real cameras, sophisticated editing software and had to do everything – write the script, act in and direct the movie, write and produce the musical score, and edit the final project.  Everyone played a character in the movie, and everyone helped with the other tasks.  Because we worked so closely together, kids that were strangers at the beginning of the class became some of my closest friends that summer.

Tell us a little about the friendships you made at the Experimentory.

In addition to the friends I made in my course clusters, my closest friends were the people that I lived with in my dorm.  I lived on Doubleday 2 and the dorm life was a great way to bond with people from all over the world.  I had never been away from home for 4 weeks, but I felt like I had a built-in family with the living arrangements.  Because we knew we were going to be together for a month, all of my hall mates made a true effort to get to know each other.  The relationships we formed in the dorms enhanced our classroom time together and our social outings. Two of the main events that were memorable for me because I became very close with my hall mates were the trip to Six Flags and the ropes course.  The hall proctors, most of whom were recent Deerfield graduates, were very involved in our day-to-day life at the program and they became friends as well.  I stay in touch with several of my Experimentory proctors and friends worldwide.

What is one important thing that you learned or one way you grew because of your time here?

The Experimentory made me a more independent and confident person because it was a very safe place to try something new and take risks.  The collaborative nature of the program meant everyone was “in it” together and you img_5932weren’t afraid to fail if you were trying to do something for the first time.  One specific example I recall was my participation in the talent show.  My friends and I each had some skill (vocal, instrument, dancing) so we decided to form a band and perform.  But, we had very little time to practice and on the day of the show, we had to get out there and just do it!  In spite of our apprehension and minimal preparation, we performed to an enthusiastic and cheering group of our peers.  The performance was not perfect technically, but we had the time of our lives and were wholly supported.

What would you say to someone thinking about applying?

Don’t think about it anymore, get on your computer and apply!  The Experimentory is a unique program experience.  It is a great balance of school work, outdoor adventure and fun.  When my dad came to pick me up at the end of month I had very mixed feelings.  I was very happy to see him and was excited to show him my movie and our other projects, but I was sad to leave Deerfield and my new friends.  I have been at several other camps over the past years, but The Experimentory was the best summer experience I have ever had and I highly recommend it to anyone who is considering applying!

— Max, December 2016


Sami: Finding a Whole New World of Friends

sami-d-experimentory-testimonialWhy did you choose to participate in a summer program? What drew you to the Experimentory?

I chose to participate in a summer program because I wanted a new experience. Meeting new people is one of my favorite things, and summer programs are a great way to do this. Specifically though, I chose the Experimentory because of what it would offer me individually. My brother goes to boarding school so I looked at many boarding schools’ summer programs that would give me a glimpse of what it’s like. The Experimentory does just that! What puts it above the others, though, is that they don’t just have normal academic courses, they have courses like Theatre + Electronics and Music + Film that teach you many things in ways that are so exciting! Plus, trips to Boston, Six Flags, white water rafting, and more are great bonuses of the Experimentory, too!

What were your favorite team projects? What role did you play?

My absolute favorite team project was a strobe light/ still image challenge called “Freeze Frame” in our Theatre + Electronics cluster. We were challenged to write computer code to activate strobe lights to light up a scene on stage for the Electronics aspect of class. Meanwhile we were challenged to tell a story using just the moments lit by the lights. We chose Sleeping Beauty and with the help of the wonderful teachers at the Experimentory, ended up with a beautiful piece!

Tell us a little about the friendships you made at the Experimentory.

I’ve been with most of my current friends since Pre-K. I thought we had the closest friendships in the history of friendships, but after going to the Experimentory I started to rethink that. I had basically lived with the girls in my dorm for only 4 weeks. But over those 4 weeks, we had practically become a family. Not only my dorm, but also the boys, proctors, and teachers have made lifelong bonds with me. I still talk to a lot of these friends regularly. It’s an amazing feeling knowing you actually had the opportunity to make these wonderful friends.

What is one important thing that you learned or one way you grew because of your time here?

I have grown up in the same close-knit small town of Natchez, MS basically my entire life. I’ve gone to the same school, with the same friends, for as long I could remember. I thought my whole life was in Natchez; I never even thought there was more to the world. Then my brother, mom, and dad pushed me to try boarding school, or at least try a summer program that would give me an idea of what it was like. So I did. And it was probably one of the best experiences I will ever have in life. I met new people, experienced a new side of the world, learned many new things, and even want to go to boarding school now. The Experimentory helped me to dream even bigger than I had before, and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

What would you say to someone thinking about applying?

If you’re applying to the Experimentory, I can give you one piece of advice. I know it’s a cliché, but I promise you, it’s so, so important. BE YOURSELF!! The Experimentory wants to see the real you. When I could just be myself, I never felt better. If you’re a little reluctant about leaving home or living in a dorm, let me tell you: I was in the same boat when I first started! I did not want to leave my family, friends, and home for a whole month. But I decided to give it a go with the help of my parents and brother. It’s an experience that you’ll never get anywhere else, and anyone with the opportunity should definitely try it! So I hope you apply, because it’s an amazing program that will impact you life forever!!

— Sami, December 2016

Aidan: A Summer Full of Fun

Why did you choose to participate in a summer program? What drew you to the Experimentory?

My sister, Kristin, went to the Experimentory last year. She came back home bursting with energy and saying that it was one of the best experiences she had ever had. That made me want to go, too – not just because it would be fun, or because I’d make friends, but also because I thought it would be very much like just one month of boarding school. I wanted to get a feel for Deerfield Academy.

What were your favorite team projects? What role did you play?

One of my favorite team projects was “Wherefore art thou, C3P0?” and was all about making Arduino robots. Our task was to make robots that could follow black lines. We would then strategically place black lines on a tabletop so that they represented two characters’ paths through a scene from any movie we chose. Finally, we could film our robot “actors” and voiceover the movie lines. We chose a scene from Tangled and I voiced Flynn Rider.

I found making the robots to be really fun and creative. We had to think of different ways to make the lines match up to the voiceovers.

Tell us a little about the friendships you made at the Experimentory.

I’ll take you week-by-week.

In the first week, nobody really knows anyone and feels a bit awkward – but that’s normal. In the second week, people start opening up to each other and start becoming good friends. By the third week, people are now best friends and hang out all the time. In the final week, you reflect on all you’ve accomplished together and friendships you now have, and you start to feel sad knowing you have to leave. I clearly remember the last night: everybody was crying their eyes out as we left one-by-one to go back home.

The friendships you make in this program are long-lasting. Even now we are all in touch with each other. We regularly chat and Skype together.

What is one important thing that you learned or one way you grew because of your time here?

I learned the importance of collaboration. In the Experimentory, you always work in groups, no matter the project and you have to learn to work well in a group to succeed. It is essential to be open to ideas and find solutions that everyone can agree on.

What would you say to someone thinking about applying?

I would say to go for it! If you have the initiative and you want to learn skills like coding, acting, and filming and make lasting friendships, then take the risk. You’ll learn and grow in many different ways. The people you’ll meet, the things you’ll do together – they’ll make wish you had more time. Apply and make the most out of your time there!

— Aidan, December 2016