Author: parentreports

Weekly Reports – 2024 Week Five – 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 putting the “finishing touches” on our performance music…adding instruments, adding accompaniment, etc. It can be scary as the voice parts are no longer there for them, but I have every confidence that they will succeed! They are also finishing their CHOIR FINAL PROJECTS and THEORY PREVIEWS.

Critical Thinking (Robert and Jessica Markstrom, Instructors)

This week the students played more Axis and Allies.  They also played Pandemic: Contagion and Bloodborne (the board game).  We had a party on Friday to celebrate Mrs. Markstrom’s last day as an instructor at the Program.  Below is a picture from before the party started.

Debate (Robert and Jessica Markstrom, Instructors)

This week students debated the resolution that the GPGC has lost its status.  A student presented their persuasion speech on the recent 10 Commandments legislation in Louisiana.  We had a party on Friday to celebrate Mrs. Markstrom’s last day as an instructor at the Program.

Mixed Ensemble (Brandon LaFleur, Instructor)

This week in ensemble, we were able to do more musical work rather than technical. Working on style, dynamics, and balance. Additionally we worked on changing our tempi together. (Specifically in Tetris). Lastly, we have worked through the first several chunks of the more challenging Stardew Valley Overture to great success. Only one more section with technical challenges stand in our way!

Dorms (Kathy Barrios, Coordinator of Housing)

To be updated.


Weekly Reports – 2024 Week Five – 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)

Chemistry: Lab Skills, Lab Safety, Endothermic/Exothermic Reactions

Flex Composition (Meilyn Woods, Instructor)

Students continued to work on their poetry, and built their class anthology

Freshmen Humanities  (Chris Hebert, Instructor)

We finished “Julius Caesar” and discussed the idea of power. Students came together to come up with this: people who desire and strive for power are more likely not suited for it than those who don’t want it. We finished the week with students tearing into strawberry cake. (Red Velvet was the first choice, but it looked too…meaty.)  Below are pictures from the cake “stabbing.”

         

Sophomore Humanities  (Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

This week we finished Jennifer Government and discussed dystopian topics like climate change, globalization, nationalism, oppressive governments, the importance of kindness, the importance of feeling emotions, and determining equality.

Monday – We finished Jennifer Government.

Tuesday – We discussed The Era and All Summer in a Day.  The focus was on how it’s important to evaluate how dystopias can be created by disregarding how we treat others.  Special attention was made towards in-groups and out-groups as well as the importance of kindness.

Wednesday – We discussed The Secret Source and Ten with a Flag.  Today’s topics relate to oppressive government regimes.  Both governments wield power but in different ways.  Discussions ranged from government control of important public goods (water) to government ranking systems for their people.

Thursday – We reviewed Harrison Bergeron and the poems Questionnaire and The Second Coming.  Students were mixed on which poem they preferred but all students enjoyed Harrison Bergeron as it deals with hampering rather than celebrating a person’s gifts.

Senior (Third Year) Classes:

Senior Science (Josh Brown, Instructor)

To be updated.

Senior Composition (Meilyn Woods, Instructor)

Worked on Tension Project and Senior Projects

Senior Humanities  (Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

This week students engaged with issues of governance around the world.  We evaluated oppressive communist regimes in Asia, oligarchies and dictatorships in the Middle East, and we discussed corruption in African regimes.

Monday – We discussed Lulu and City of Specters.  Both pieces are relatively modern (2019 and 1992) and deal with how communist regimes in China and North Korea have chilled freedom of expression and required party loyalty.

Tuesday – We discussed Cambodian Rock Band.  Students were able to learn about the Cambodian Genocide through the short musical.  I had the students listen to a few songs from the original production.  Parents interested in the music can listen for free on YouTube.

Wednesday – We discussed the investigative reporting piece The Fugitive Princesses of Dubai.  Parents interested in the piece can read it in The New Yorker.

Thursday – We discussed The Blues by Ladi Opaluwa (MFA and M.A. from McNeese State University and PhD Candidate for the University of Louisiana Lafayette).  It is a short fiction piece I was able to view as a student project for an English course at McNeese several years ago.  Ladi is from Nigeria and the piece relates to police corruption and bribery in Nigeria.  Students also read a poem on police corruption in Nigeria Harvest of Death.  We discussed the U.N. Ambassador to Zambia’s speech on governmental corruption in Zambia and ways to combat corruption.  We ended the class by discussing scenes from Persepolis, a graphic novel dealing with a young woman’s childhood in Iran after the Iranian Revolution.

Friday – Senior Project presentations.

Musically Gifted Studies  (Brandon LaFleur, Instructor)

During our final week of classes, we reviewed some of the more recent topics covered in class including 7th chords, non-chord tones and chromatic harmony including secondary dominants and modal mixture. We continued to analyze harmony in our Bach Chorale and sought to explain the cadences. (Points of harmonic resolution). On Wednesday we took our post-test and discussed several examples of popular music and film music that overtly references classical music or classical styles.


Weekly Reports – 2024 Week Four – 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)

In Week 4, we focused our attention on the last “NEW SONG MATERIAL.” The following songs were handed out: CHASSON POUR LES PETES ENFANTS, TODAY’S HOPE, 3-Part Arrangement of QUIET SEA, LET THE RIVER RUN, and the Traditional songs.

Critical Thinking (Robert and Jessica Markstrom, Instructors)

This week the students played Axis and Allies.  The Allies regretted not sinking the Bismarck.

Debate (Robert and Jessica Markstrom, Instructors)

This week students continued researching and writing prepared speeches and debated the resolution that the U.S. would defeat Russia in a conventional war.

Mixed Ensemble (Brandon LaFleur, Instructor)

This week we began working on the Stardew Valley Overture, transcribed and arranged by one of our musically gifted students! The original and transcription are in a fairly difficult key, and requires some ‘woodshedding’. We worked through the first 16 bar chunk successfully and will continue with this next week. We have isolated a few higher level musical issues with some of the more comfortable pieces to continue working through as well. Overall great progress and the performance should be of very high quality.

P.E. (Ancil Delaney, Instructor)

The students played pool and racquetball.

Storytelling Through Documentary (Julian Quebedeaux, Instructor)

This week the students got a chance to actually get behind the camera and ask some questions! As well as combining all of the topics we discussed this summer to shoot an interview!

Dorms (Kathy Barrios, Coordinator of Housing)

To be updated.


Weekly Reports – 2024 Week Four – 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)

To be updated.

Flex Composition (Meilyn Woods, Instructor)

Students learned the basics of poetry, specifically persona poems.

Freshmen Humanities  (Chris Hebert, Instructor)

This is the week we started Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”. Firstly, we spoke of the power of Shakespeare—that while his plays seem far removed from our way of life, the issues he explores are still very relevant today and to all time. This is why we see such a wealth of Shakespearean translations to other time periods and to different cultures: think “Throne of Blood” (a “Macbeth” that takes place in Feudal Japan) and “10 Things I Hate About You” (“The Taming of the Shrew” in an American high school). We also discussed the idea of power and its influence. I also have given students a mighty challenge: to memorize and give Antony’s “Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears” speech without a script and without errors.

Sophomore Humanities  (Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

This week, we viewed how government, economics, consumerism, status, and power influence dystopian environments.  We read through pages 127-271 of Jennifer Government.

Monday – We discussed pages 127-184 of Jennifer Government.  In this section, the students got a glimpse into the only family unit explored in the novel, several characters mentioned major events that provided life-changing perspective, and the limitations of a weak government were also present.  We discussed the social contract with more depth than in previous classes, how the government in the novel was unable to meet the requirements of the social contract, family units (and the importance of family in our lives), perspective, priorities, and actions versus words.  I asked the students to think about how family would be implemented in their utopias and whether the social contract would be present in their utopias.

Tuesday – We discussed pages 185-214 of Jennifer Government.  I played the song “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears and had them relate the song to a character, group(s), or society in the novel.  Considering there were many people and entities vying for power in this section of the reading, the song had numerous potential applications.  Students discussed their distaste for the main antagonist’s misogyny and general lack of care for others.  I had them compare similar attributes between the main protagonist and the main antagonist.  They realized that both characters behaved similarly.  However, they were able to note that the main difference between the characters was that one had morality and the other did not.  I also showed some students World War II propaganda to demonstrate the concept of propaganda as the novel referenced it with the phrase, “Loose lips sink sponsorship.”

Wednesday – We discussed pages 216-242 of Jennifer Government.  I started the class by having the students look at Banksy’s mural “Very Little Helps” and apply it to a person or group in the reading.  While the mural could relate to the entire society, there were specific parts in the novel regarding replacing government with corporations, that people would continue to buy from corporations that lacked ethics, and there was a protest group against corporate overreach that the students could use to apply to the mural.

Thursday – July 4th Holiday.

Friday – We discussed pages 243-271 of Jennifer Government.   A common theme in the novel is responsibility (or lack of responsibility) and we discussed how that related to the specific events of the reading.  We also discussed business regulations and their purpose.  I explained legal versus illegal protests in the U.S. as the reading had several illegal protests occur.  I asked the students whether they would allow or try to prevent protests in their utopias and how they might achieve the desired result regarding protests in their utopias.

Senior (Third Year) Classes:

Senior Science (Josh Brown, Instructor)

To be updated.

Senior Composition (Meilyn Woods, Instructor)

Students learned the art of crafting tension in their writing

Senior Humanities  (Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

This week students engaged with absurdism, realism and surrealism in review of government expressions of power, policing, and oppression.  Topics included:  revolution, immigration, borders, security, genocide, segregation, use of force, media, policing, and the justice system.

Monday – We discussed a selection of poems by Langston Hughes.  Students viewed Judgment Day! a comic initially published in 1953 and censored for having a black astronaut in it.  For parents interested in the comic, you can view it here for free.

Tuesday – We discussed The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil.  This novella uses absurdism to discuss important issues like immigration and borders, democracy, criminal justice, and the media.

Wednesday – Students started watching Ubu and the Truth Commission. This surrealist play depicts Ubu Roi in South Africa during the time of the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions hearings.

Thursday – July 4th Holiday.

Friday – Students finished watching Ubu and the Truth Commission.  For parents interested in watching the play yourself, you can do so for free on YouTube.

Musically Gifted Studies  (Brandon LaFleur, Instructor)

We discussed the scale degree names and how they are oriented around the tonic pitch rather than the scale order. This led to the default behavior of these pitches in a tonal context which leads to harmonic function. Later in the week, we discussed the neurological condition known as synesthesia, implications for composition, and discovered some aspects of the subfield music-cognition. Since synesthesia is an academic interest of mine, I presented an academic paper of mine to the students about two fugues (An imitative genre of musical composition) by the Lithuanian composer and painter M.K. Ciurlionis. One of these fugues is for the piano and the other is a painting.


Weekly Reports – 2024 Week Three – 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)

Ecology with a catch. Over the course of this week students learned about Ecology and the cause/effect implications of human interaction.

Flex Composition (Meilyn Woods, Instructor)

Students studied different forms of flash fiction and defined their writing styles.

Freshmen Humanities  (Chris Hebert, Instructor)

This was Philosophy week in Humanities I. We spent time discussing Plato’s ideal government and students explored the idea of “The Noble Lie”. With this in mind, students were to craft bills with Plato’s ideas to go before The Program’s Government. We then discussed Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and how we see it today in anti-intellectualism and language shaming (especially with students picking up modern slang). We talked about the film “The Matrix” and how it tackles that concept. To get ready for Shakespeare, we discussed the ancient idea of Stoicism. And to end the week, we discussed the history of Rome.

Sophomore Humanities  (Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

This week, we viewed how government, economics, consumerism, status, and power influence dystopian environments.  We read through pages 1-126 of Jennifer Government.

Monday – We discussed pages 2-34 of Jennifer Government.  This covered part 1 of the book.  In this section, we learned about the environment of the novel.  In this society, there are no government regulations of business, a person’s last name is determined by their employer (example:  Hack Nike works at Nike), there are no taxes, and consumerism is the ultimate value (both for those seeking profits and for those consuming a product).  We discussed the social contract, anarchy, supply and demand economics, the stock market, property, consumerism, public goods, taxation, valuation of life, and freedom.

Tuesday – We discussed pages 36-60 of Jennifer Government.  This reading covered the first half of part 2.  I explained satire and we discussed different types of satire, so the students understood that this is an exaggerated satire.  This helped provide perspective to some students who were taking the information at face value.  In this section, the students had to ponder issues like criminal justice and responsibility.  In this society, the government must receive private funding for retributive justice as they do not receive funding from taxes.  Additionally, many of the characters in this novel do not take responsibility for their actions and attempt to displace that responsibility onto others.  We discussed taxation, public goods, criminal justice, responsibility, death, the valuation of life, and had a side discussion on art as one student was fixated on visualizing a product from the novel rather than understanding how the product fits into the narrative of the novel.

Wednesday – We discussed pages 61-92 of Jennifer Government.  This covered the second half of part 2 of the book.  The society in the novel is obsessed with consumerism, money, status, and power.  I started the class by playing the song “Material Girl” by Madonna.  The students then had to explain, which, if any, of the characters of the novel did not align with the values in the song.  I was pleasantly surprised at how many students knew this song.  The students discussed the 2nd Amendment and gun violence in response to a slogan related to the NRA in the novel (the slogan was:  Freedom is an assault rifle).  We discussed materialism, the criminal justice system concerning representation and self-defense claims, transactional societies, computer viruses, entrepreneurship, customer loyalty programs, work/personal burnout, and trauma.

Thursday – We discussed pages 94-126 of Jennifer Government.  This covered the first third of part 3 of the book.  At the beginning of class, I showed the students two of Barbara Kruger’s collages regarding consumerism, money, identity, and happiness.  Barbara Kruger was listed as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2021.  The students were asked to relate the ideas of the collages to the novel and then asked to think about how they would implement those ideas or how they might avoid implementing those ideas in their utopia projects.  We discussed what are the “true” “important” things in their life, how do we find a balance between making sure everyday necessities are taken care of while recognizing the important things in our lives, understanding that compatibility plays a role in relationships, how status and power can define relationships and a person’s standing in society, how fanaticism is unhealthy even if the intent of the fanaticism is good, correlations between both novels regarding dystopian societies (lack of care for the environment, lack of time to think, fast-paced societies, lack of interest in life, lack of respect for death, etc.), loyalty programs, computer viruses (including a brief explanation of the Stuxnet virus), business regulations (including a brief discussion on the recent tragedy of the Titanic submarine and the safety precautions on the vessel), and whether it’s important for consumers to have choices.

Friday –Students worked on their Utopia Project.

Senior (Third Year) Classes:

Senior Science (Josh Brown, Instructor)

To be updated.

Senior Composition (Meilyn Woods, Instructor)

Our craft element of the week was character. Students learned the art of creating characters and brushed up on their dialogue and ending skills.

Senior Humanities  (Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

This week served as a continuation of power and government through allegories. Students read Animal Farm by Orwell and Rhinoceros by Ionesco.  We then moved our focus to the U.S. during the 20th Century with lectures on Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Movement, the Red Scare, and the House of Representatives Unamerican Activities Committee (HUAC).  The students watched the play Are You Now or Have You Ever Been regarding HUAC’s treatment of the motion picture industry during the Red Scare.  I also briefly explained Apartheid in South Africa and the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Monday – We discussed Animal Farm.  Students compared The International to Beasts of England regarding how well Orwell satirized the Soviet Union.  Students were particularly interested in the use of propaganda, the death of Boxer, and the phrase “some animals are more equal than others.”

Tuesday – We discussed Rhinoceros.  Students asked to see pictures of rhinoceroses and pictures from productions of the play.  They enjoyed the absurdity of logic and setting utilized in the script.  They admitted they would not have recognized it as an allegory for fascism in 20th Century Europe if I had not mentioned it. Still, they thought the play successfully illustrated why it is important to think for yourself.

Wednesday – The students received a lecture on the history of slavery in the U.S. Constitution and Jim Crow.  We discussed Plessy v. Ferguson, the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  They also received a lecture on the Red Scare, Lavender Scare, and the House of Unamerican Activities Committee.  I finished the lecture by focusing on Apartheid in South Africa and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Thursday – Students started watching Are You Now or Have You Ever Been.  Eric Bently, the play’s author, was a famous theater critic.  Most of the play’s script is taken directly from HUAC hearings.

Friday – Students finished watching Are You Now or Have You Ever Been.  For parents interested in watching the play yourself, you can do so for free on YouTube.

Musically Gifted Studies  (Brandon LaFleur, Instructor)

This week we explored musical intervals combining into larger harmonic structures, chords. This led to a discussion of the intervallic construction various triads and 7th chords, and an exploration of their functional tendencies. We then used our newfound skills to analyze a section of a Bach chorale, and discovered that some musical situations have multiple satisfactory answers. This is ultimately why we refer to it as music theory.


Weekly Reports – 2024 Week Three – 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)

The students are progressing nicely. The are solid on 3 of their performance pieces and are working hard on 4 more. A few pieces are still forthcoming, but will be handed out soon. Due to the shortened schedule, students will be using their music to perform this year.

Critical Thinking (Robert and Jessica Markstrom, Instructors)

This week the students mostly played games, but we did bring back a favorite activity from LEGO week.

Monday – Students started a game of Ticket to Ride.
Tuesday – Students finished their game of Ticket to Ride.  Students also played Zombie Dice.
Wednesday – Students played Machi Koro
Thursday – Students were put into 2 groups and given the task of building LEGO structures around a theme.  They will present their structures and theme as a group speech to the instructors next week.
Friday – Continued working on their LEGO theme.

Debate (Robert and Jessica Markstrom, Instructors)

This week we focused on basic debate concepts.  Two students worked on their debates for next week on the topic, Resolved:  The U.S. would defeat Russia in a conventional war.  Another student is working on a persuasion speech regarding the recent legislation on the 10 Commandments in Louisiana public schools.

Mixed Ensemble (Brandon LaFleur, Instructor)

The ensemble continued to work through the syncopated rhythms of The Pokemon theme and polished aspects of Pigstep and Great Fairy’s Fountain. Thursday we began working on the Tetris theme. We also began to explore the fundamentals of improvisation in the key of A minor (Pigstep and Tetris). The students generally find this daunting, but they’re getting more comfortable with it each day. Practice makes progress!

P.E. (Ancil Delaney, Instructor)

The students played pickleball.

Storytelling Through Documentary (Julian Quebedeaux, Instructor)

Sound on! This week we dug into some science about how sound works and how we use it to tell stories in film!  We also met our interview subjects. Exciting stuff!

Dorms (Kathy Barrios, Coordinator of Housing)

To be updated.


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.