Month: June 2024


Weekly Reports – 2024 Week Two – Afternoon Classes and Dorm

Please let us know if there’s anything else you’d like to see or if you have any questions for specific instructors. We are also posting regularly on Facebook. You don’t have to join Facebook to see our posts. The link is: https://www.facebook.com/gpgcla/

Afternoon Classes:

Choir (Colette Tanner, Instructor)

We are working on songs that use “water” as an analogy for the “journey of life.” If you would like to see and hear the repertoire we have been working on, here is a link to the CHOIR BLOG: https://gpgcsings.blogspot.com/

Critical Thinking (Robert and Jessica Markstrom, Instructors)

This week was puzzle week.  We challenged students with different puzzle activities Monday through Wednesday.  On Thursday and Friday, we played games.

Monday – Students worked as a group to get as many pieces of a 1,000-piece puzzle together during the period.  This activity rewards good communication skills, rewards organization, and establishes that not all challenges will be completed.
Tuesday – Students worked individually on Sudoku packets.  The packets test critical thinking skills like logical deduction and inference.
Wednesday – Students got to work with many 3-dimensional puzzles.
Thursday – Students played Risk.
Friday – Students played Forbidden Island, a cooperative game, and Risk.

Debate (Robert and Jessica Markstrom, Instructors)

This week we focused on basic debate concepts.  Toipoi, the Toulmin Model for argumentation, how to structure an Affirmative case, and Negative arguments like takeouts and turns were all discussed.

Mixed Ensemble (Brandon LaFleur, Instructor)

This week we continued to work out technical challenges in Pigstep from Minecraft and The Pokemon Theme. The students were also given Great Fairy’s Fountain from The Legend of Zelda. The students are also given daily rhythms to sight-read and a random scale (Decided by a D12 to suit our theme!) These are intended to strengthen students’ sight-reading abilities and to improve their performance vocabulary. (It’s easy in school settings to get stuck in just 3 or fewer scales for ease of access). Students are working hard, and adapting to challenging musical moments with tenacity!

P.E. (Ancil Delaney, Instructor)

The students played pool.

Publishing (Christa Bell, Instructor)

The publishing class works every week to think of story ideas that are relevant to The Thinker’s readers and to write a lay out those stories for the paper. This week the students have been expanding their ideas of what counts as a story and have begun to think more deeply about what their readers are interested in and what information might be useful for them. They have started to learn the basics of Adobe InDesign and the idea of good design principles.

Storytelling Through Documentary (Julian Quebedeaux, Instructor)

This week we focused on lighting and how we shape light to help tell our story and create the right mood for our production.  Lighting all week!

Dorms (Kathy Barrios, Coordinator of Housing)

Week 2 began with a weekend filled to the brim with fun activities for the students both in and out of the dorm. It also brought elections and inaugurations for the Government and fundraising for the Seniors.


Weekly Reports – 2024 Week Two – Morning Classes

Please let us know if there’s anything else you’d like to see or if you have any questions for specific instructors.  We are also posting regularly on Facebook. You don’t have to join Facebook to see our posts. The link is: https://www.facebook.com/gpgcla/

Freshman (First Year) and Sophomore (Second Year) Classes:

Flex Science (Ryan Patin, Instructor)

Common Lab Tools, Practices, and Experimental Design

Flex Composition (Meilyn Woods, Instructor)

Students spent the first half of the week in the library typing and printing their work to contribute to our class anthology. The second half of the week was spent learning the basics of flash fiction. Students are now tasked to write compelling fiction in less than 1,000 words.

Freshmen Humanities  (Chris Hebert, Instructor)

Week 2 is the week in which Humanities 1 starts their plunge into the general concept of Philosophy and the establishment of Western Philosophy. Students and I discussed that Philosophy, whether or not they are aware, is constantly being packaged to them and to be able to recognize it. We spoke of Big Questions that humans often ask ourselves: “What is the meaning of Life? Existence? Why am I here? What is Good? Evil?” We talked about how our experiences can affect our perceptions can often lead us to having our own Big Question that we tend to linger on—and how that can draw us to materials that help us grapple and understand that question. Students then ended the week starting to read Plato’s “Republic” and having class discussions about it.

Sophomore Humanities  (Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

This week, we further discussed dystopian environments with a focus on the individual’s emotional journey in a dystopia where they are different from the rest of society.  Concepts included friendship, loneliness, bravery, giving yourself room to make mistakes, discussing what were the “right” mistakes, government power structures, the importance of being able to think, time, sensory overload, humbleness, rebirth, and plagiarism.  We read through parts 2 and 3 of Fahrenheit 451 (50th-anniversary edition).

Monday – We discussed pages 71-110 of Fahrenheit 451.  This covered part 2 of the book.  In this section, Guy begins reading books and meets with Faber.  At the end of the reading, Guy arrives at an alarm and realizes he will have to burn his own house.  I had the students look at Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream” and relate it to a scene in the book.  We discussed sensory overload, the importance of being able to think, bravery, allowing oneself to make mistakes (and to learn from them), and developing meaningful connections with other people.

Tuesday – We discussed pages 113-136 of Fahrenheit 451.  Then, I explained how the song was written as a critique of the Chinese government’s propaganda after Tiananmen Square.  In this section, it’s revealed that Guy’s wife, Mildred, turned in the alarm, Guy kills someone, and he is almost killed while evading the police.  We discussed the role technology plays in society, the role that technology can play in a dystopia, bravery, jealousy, why intelligent people can be ostracized in society, why a society’s morals matter, the effect society can have on shaping generations of children, and the value of life.

Wednesday – We discussed pages 137-165 of Fahrenheit 451.  This reading covered the first half of part 3.  I played the song “Shiny, Happy People” by R.E.M. and had the students relate it back to the novel.   This reading covered the second half of part 3 and ended the novel.  Guy focuses on the importance of having time to think and runs into other book readers.  Discussion topics included how oppressive governments must maintain control, the spectacle of criminal justice in dystopian governments, plagiarism, the importance of sharing knowledge, how time allows us to think critically, rebirth, friendship, and making the “right” mistakes.

Thursday – No class; Field trip to SOWELA

Friday –Students read and discussed A Modest Proposal.  I introduced satire, discussed elements satires and dystopian works share, and we watched La Jetée (1962).  The students responded positively to the movie, which deals with a post-WIII apocalypse, the search for time travel, and the importance of memory.  The movie is in black and white and primarily is shown through still pictures.  The movie is narrated and dialogue is limited to incoherent whispers.  The students were impressed with how much emotion the film evoked considering its mediums were black and white still images, some instrumental music, and a heartbeat.

Senior (Third Year) Classes:

Senior Science (Josh Brown, Instructor)

This week was a little short due to a couple of reasons – on Thursday we were able to go, as the whole Program, to SOWELA which is the regional community college / technical training center. SOWELA has some great facilities that we were able to see – including their flight aviation center – the students even got to climb into an old Air Force plane. And then, frankly, one of the disadvantages of teaching while also being the director – on Friday I was called away unexpectedly and didn’t have time (actually didn’t think to be prepared for this – but I am now) to set something up ahead of time). So, what we did get accomplished was to delve into the book’s introduction on why we should study scientific reasoning – and then more importantly , how? And that reasoning is a skill that can be taught and learned – just like Billy would say about Drawing! We also then started discussing theories, models, and theoretical hypothesis, focusing on evaluating evidence and how that evidence helps to either confirm or deny a hypothesis, which then can tell us more about whether or not a theory or model fits the “real world.”

Senior Composition (Meilyn Woods, Instructor)

Students spent the first half of the week in the library typing and printing their work to contribute to their individual portfolios. Students were introduced to the idea of what makes compelling characters in creative writing. Students also began to more clearly define their writing styles.

Senior Humanities  (Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

This week served as a continuation of power and government, especially in regard to understanding totalitarian states and their extreme ability to oppress.  The last day served as a brief history lesson regarding fascism and communism in Europe during the 20th century.  The students finished 1984.

Monday – We discussed pages 156-224 of 1984.  The students did not enjoy Goldstein’s book.  They found that section of the novel repetitive.  The students were interested in the concept of an oppressive state controlling the ability of people to form relationships.

Tuesday – We discussed pages 225-260 of 1984.  We discussed how isolation can affect people’s relationships, the power of torture, and the different weapons a government will use to oppress its people.  We also had a focus on what it means to betray someone.

Wednesday – We discussed pages 118-156 of 1984.  The class discussion focused on whether they liked the book (all but 1 student liked it), what they thought of the ending (it was predictable but they were not happy that it ended on a defeatist note), and discussions on how an oppressive regime like the one in the novel strips a person of all personhood.  I also compared the society in the novel to North Korea as many students thought some aspects of the novel were unrealistic.

Thursday – No class; Field trip to SOWELA

Friday – The students received a lecture regarding the rise of fascism in Spain, Italy, and France.  Unique characteristics of each regime were mentioned along with media from each country.  The rise of Franco and use of force after the Spanish Civil War was noted along with diving into Picasso’s Guernica as a means to show how art can be an outlet for historical government oppression and provide a warning to future people regarding the extreme impact of power and cruelty.  We discussed how Mussolini used Italian Combat Squads to take down socialists and eventually rule as an authoritarian.  We also dissected the change in the lyrics to Giovinezza, the Italian national anthem, during Mussolini’s rule.  I used sections from Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will to demonstrate the adoration of an autocrat and explain Hitler’s rise to power in Germany.  I also provided a brief overview of the Bolshevik Revolution in the Soviet Union; discussed famous U.S.S.R. theorists and party members like Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin; and provided an overview of how communism was subverted into a totalitarian system under Stalin’s regime.

Musically Gifted Studies  (Brandon LaFleur, Instructor)

This week the MGs discussed two systems for identifying intervals between pitches. (Integer notation often called Ordered Pitch Class intervals and the more traditional system) We spent the start of each class practicing interval identification since it is a fundamental concept in more complex musical theoretical discourse. This was connected to the acoustical realm by explaining that the ‘senarius’ (first 5 intervals found in the harmonic series) sounds a major triad. We then found the triads that are subsets of the diatonic scale. This will lead us next week into diatonic harmony, the foundations of tonal music. (c 1650-1880).


Weekly Reports – 2024 Week One – Afternoon Classes and Dorm

Throughout the summer we will be posting weekly reports from the classes. Please let us know if there’s anything else you’d like to see or if you have any questions for specific instructors. We will be posting the first issue of The Thinker (the student newspaper) as soon as the online version is ready.

We are also posting regularly on Facebook. You don’t have to join Facebook to see our posts. The link is: https://www.facebook.com/gpgcla/

Afternoon Classes:

Choir (Colette Tanner, Instructor)

We are working on songs that use “water” as an analogy for the “journey of life.” If you would like to see and hear the repertoire we have been working on, here is a link to the CHOIR BLOG: https://gpgcsings.blogspot.com/

Critical Thinking (Robert and Jessica Markstrom, Instructors)

This week the students played Risk so the instructors could discern the students’ personalities while playing games.  On Friday we played several games:  Get Bit, Tile Chess, and Twixt.

Debate (Robert and Jessica Markstrom, Instructors)

This week we introduced students to basic debate concepts and the speech side of forensics (individual events).  Students started debate concepts by arguing whether a weapon existed or whether a person died after viewing a 20-second video of a video game.  Later in the week, students learned about Aristotle’s 3 modes of persuasion and the 3 types of debate resolutions.  For individual events, students were shown videos of national forensic finalists in college and high school speech and debate in Impromptu Speaking, Informative Speaking, and Humorous Interpretation.  We also showed them a humorous spoken word poetry performance and a dramatic spoken word poetry performance.

P.E. (Ancil Delaney, Instructor)

The students played racquetball.

Storytelling Through Documentary (Julian Quebedeaux, Instructor)

This week we got to know each other a little by sharing some of our favorite videos. Next we began to discover how to be a good interviewer by using our body language to give off positive and curious vibes to whomever is telling the story. We finished off the week with some mock interviews!

Dorms (Kathy Barrios, Coordinator of Housing)

Week 1 was jam packed with a lot of informational meetings for the students. Throughout the week, they learned about different traditions at the program, our rules and expectations, and our student/staff government system.


Weekly Reports – 2024 Week One – Morning Classes

Throughout the summer we will be posting weekly reports from the classes. Please let us know if there’s anything else you’d like to see or if you have any questions for specific instructors. We will be posting the first issue of The Thinker (the student newspaper) as soon as the online version is ready.

We are also posting regularly on Facebook. You don’t have to join Facebook to see our posts. The link is: https://www.facebook.com/gpgcla/

Freshman (First Year) and Sophomore (Second Year) Classes:

Flex Science (Ryan Patin, Instructor)

What is and what is not Science

Monday: Meet & Greet

Tuesday: What is Science? Discussion and differentiation between objective and subjective aspects from a Science perspective.

Wednesday: What is the Scientific Method? An overview of Scientific Methodology and using higher order thinking aspects of how this problem solving process is applied in everyday life.

Thursday/Friday: Digging deeper into the steps of the Scientific Method. Students participated in an in-depth discussion of each step of the Scientific Method and what each step truly means in the real world.

Flex Composition (Meilyn Woods, Instructor)

Students answered the question, “What is a Story?” and used those answers to brainstorm and develop their own personal aesthetics. Those aesthetics informed their reading of several works of fiction in order to write their own short stories. We read, The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World by Gabriel García Márquez, There Will Come Soft Rains by Ray Bradbury, and The World is Ending Tomorrow by Kimberly Terasaki. Students also did in class writing and brainstormed their short story assignment.

Monday- students did icebreakers and got to know each other before we all set goals for what we wanted to achieve this summer. After setting our goals we did a spontaneous writing sprint where they had to impress me with their writing.

Tuesday- Students learned the basics of fiction writing, especially the Short Story. As a class we answered, “What is a story?” then we read The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World by Gabriel García Márquez and used their definition to decide if we considered this a story as well as commenting on the craft elements such as theme, metaphor, form, and structure.

Wednesday- Started class with a writing sprint to begin writing their short stories. We also set rules for our creative writing workshop (establishing the environment that we want to embody) for the summer. Then we did in class writing.

Thursday- Read “There will come soft rains” by Ray Bradbury and discussed its craft, his voice and aesthetic. Then we did in class writing.

Friday- Went over the guidelines for grading and deadlines. Then we read “The World is Ending Tomorrow” and did a mini workshop on it. Then in groups of 2 the students shared their ideas for their weekly project with each other. Then we ended with in-class writing.

Freshmen Humanities  (Chris Hebert, Instructor)

On Monday, I sat with the Freshmen and held introductions. I told them of my educational background and what I do during the normal school year. We discussed what grades they were advancing into and where they were from. I discussed with students my plan for the class—a three pronged approach to the large area that is “Humanities”: that we would discuss history (in particular of that of the Mediterranean world), philosophy (heavily focusing on Plato’s Republic), and literature (applying the concepts of “right and wrong” and “justice” to Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar). Tuesday, we began with history and started with the different groups that immigrated to Greece, with focus on the Minoans and the Mycenaeans. We discussed how the myth of Theseus is now thought of as a metaphor for how Greece overthrew the Minoan civilization through the conflict between Theseus and the Minotaur. Students and I drew parallels to this myth and The Hunger Games series. We explored the topic of the Greek Dark Ages and the earliest writings of Greek Antiquity—those being the surviving epic poems of Homer. (We also discussed the real life Troy and how archaeology has found burnt ruins and rubble in modern day Turkey, which correlated with the area that was thought to be Troy.) Students then were assigned to investigate the idea of foundational myths and summarize it and share it with everyone else on Wednesday. For rest of the week, we continued looking into foundational myths of the various city-states of Greece and how these myths influenced their various outlooks on governance and took a crash course through the overall concept of Greek mythology, as it will be referenced more than once throughout various points in history, philosophy, and literature.

Sophomore Humanities  (Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

This week served as an introduction to utopias and dystopias.  Concepts included power and social structures (top-down versus bottom-up organization), censorship, happiness, developing meaningful relationships, communication, access to information, personal expression, the role of technology in our lives, and government oppression.  We read through part 1 of Fahrenheit 451 (50th-anniversary edition).

Monday – we went over the syllabus.  Students learned about how Thomas More’s book transformed the word utopia.  Utopia used to mean “no place” and eutopia meant an idyllic or perfect place.  More intentionally changed the term eutopia to mean utopia.  We discussed how this meant that creating a utopia would be difficult.  We defined dystopia and we discussed whether our current society is a dystopia or utopia.  The students agreed it was a mixture of both but leaned more towards dystopia and shared their reasons for that answer.  To highlight critical thinking, I provided students with information from Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now regarding how much society has progressed since the Enlightenment.

Tuesday – We discussed pages 3-24 of Fahrenheit 451.  We discussed censorship, happiness, the effect book banning had on that society, the role technology plays in that society, reasons why that society is a dystopia, meaningfulness in communication, government regulation of people’s activities, pressure to conform to society, and ways in which our society is like and different from the society in the book.

Wednesday – We discussed pages 24-46 of Fahrenheit 451.  I played the song “Fake Happy” by Paramore and asked them to apply it to a character in the novel.  Discussion topics included how it’s important for people to recognize (or “see”) us, why it’s important for society to value the lives of children, how technology can isolate us from others, the importance of meaningful communication in order to build relationships with others, authoritative government structures, literary motifs like foreshadowing, and post-trauma responses.

Thursday – We discussed pages 47-68 of Fahrenheit 451.  The class discussion focused on how societies that limit thinking and promote immediate satisfaction can impart short attention spans (several students related TikTok and other social media platforms to the society in the novel); how constant stimulation can make it difficult to think and communicate with others; that oppressive societies will force uniformity and equality, will attack intelligent people, and will attack people that are seen as different or that refuse to conform; that authoritative government systems will suppress freedom of expression, freedom of speech, access to information, and access to communication; parasocial relationships and how societies will sometimes use technology as a means to supplant person-to-person interactions; and how do we determine happiness.

Friday –Students worked on the first assignment for the Utopia Project.  The assignment was Utopia Project:  Describing Your Utopia.  This requires the students to think about the size of the population, territory, social structures, inclusions of family, use of technology, and access to concepts like religion within their utopia.

Senior (Third Year) Classes:

Senior Science (Josh Brown, Instructor)

We spent most of the first week of Scientific Reasoning introducing the concepts that we will be discussing all summer. We talked about the scientific method in general (I gave them a pre-test on certain topics, and this was one of them), a general definition of science, and why it is so important to be a critical consumer of science – especially the scientific results that eventually make their ay into the mass media. We talked about what their assignments will be – they have two outside of class assignments, one paper for the end of class, and daily, to make at least three observations about the world around them and to record them in some sort of journal or method of their choosing. Their long term assignment (and what will be their senior project if they choose so) is to pick a chapter out of the following books and write a short paper on that chapter – summarizing and explaining it well enough for the rest of the class to benefit from their study. The three books are: The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments by George Johnson The Prism and the Pendulum: The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments in Science by Robert Crease The Great Equations: Breakthroughs in Science from Pythagoras to Heisenberg by Robert Crease The main text we will be using is Understanding Scientific Reasoning by Ronald Giere, et al.

Senior Composition (Meilyn Woods, Instructor)

Seniors are required to produce a piece of creative writing every week. Before writing, students answered the question, “What is a Story?” and used those answers to critique other works in order to help students indirectly think about their own writing for their portfolios. On top of in class writing we read the following craft essays: Perfectionism by Anne Lamott, Beginnings by Anne Hood, and Endings by Elissa Schappell. We read Thrush, a poem by Gabrielle Grace Hogan, The World is Ending Tomorrow, a short story by Kimberly Terasaki, and The Weatherman’s Heart, a flash fiction piece by Tessa Yang.

Monday- students did icebreakers and got to know each other before we all set goals for what we wanted to achieve this summer. After setting our goals we did a spontaneous writing sprint where they had to impress me with their writing.

Tuesday- Students learned the basics of fiction writing, especially the Short Story. As a class we answered, “What is a story?” then we read The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World by Gabriel García Márquez and used their definition to decide if we considered this a story as well as commenting on the craft elements such as theme, metaphor, form, and structure.

Wednesday- Started class with a writing sprint to begin writing their short stories. We also set rules for our creative writing workshop (establishing the environment that we want to embody) for the summer. Then we did in class writing.

Thursday- Read “There will come soft rains” by Ray Bradbury and discussed its craft, his voice and aesthetic. Then we did in class writing.

Friday- Went over the guidelines for grading and deadlines. Then we read “The World is Ending Tomorrow” and did a mini workshop on it. Then in groups of 2 the students shared their ideas for their weekly project with each other. Then we ended with in-class writing.

Senior Humanities  (Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

This week served as an introduction to power and government, as these themes coincide with the subject “man and the state.”  Concepts included power, division of power within governments, where governments get their power, use of government power with a focus on oppression, censorship, control of information, public goods and the distribution of public goods, and loneliness.  We read halfway through Part 2 of 1984.

Monday – we went over the syllabus. Students learned why we have government by examining anarchy, the social contract, and the use of force through Locke and Hobbes.   We discussed public goods with a focus on the government being responsible for providing public goods.  We defined government and explained sources of power in government with a focus on government types (autocracy, oligarchy, and democracy).  We examined limited power governments (constitutional governments, separation of powers, checks and balances, and federalism) and compared them to governments that have little to no limits on their power (authoritarian governments and totalitarian governments).

Tuesday – We discussed pages 1-48 of 1984.  We discussed censorship, surveillance, public goods, happiness, meaningfulness in communication, government regulation of people’s activities and thoughts, and ways in which our society is like and different from the society in the book.  The students were fascinated by the two minutes hate and the watchful eyes of Big Brother posters.

Wednesday – We discussed pages 49-81 of 1984.  There was a strong focus on public goods and the lack of quality provided to the people in the book.  Propaganda was a central discussion, especially in relation to the lack of public goods versus the state’s propaganda regard production.  We discussed the extreme lengths of the government to use power as a tool of oppression by making thoughts and facial reactions crime.  Students were very interested in Syme, an intelligent character, and were worried that he would be “vaporized” by the government.  The students were particularly interested in the following statements by Orwell: “the past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became the truth,” “in the end the party would announce that 2 and 2 were 5 and you would have to believe it,” and “the party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears.  It was their final most essential command.”  The students were surprised to find out that Orwell did not come up with 2+2=5 but repurposed the concept from Soviet Union Propaganda for their 5-year plans.

Thursday – We discussed pages 82-117 of 1984.  The class discussion focused on how the government prevented a person from developing their ownlife.  The students recognized that in order for the totalitarian state to have full control there could only be allegiance to the government.  The students also noted how the society had become numb to violence.  They learned about the proletariat aka “proles.”  We discussed the importance of language, especially due to Orwell’s inclusion of newspeak, doublethink, and thoughtcrime.

Friday – We discussed pages 118-156 of 1984.  The class discussion focused on how the government prevented a person from developing relationships with other people as a means of control.  We discussed loneliness and the importance of human connection.  The students understood that Julia wearing makeup was a political act, as well as noting that most of the acts within this section were both personal and political.  Again, we explored the theme of oppression within totalitarian governments.

Musically Gifted Studies  (Brandon LaFleur, Instructor)

To be updated.