Pro Vita 2014: A Period

ARTS

INSTALLATION ART

PAUL BANEVICIUS
Using fabrics, cardboard, wood, plastic, paint, and perhaps even twinkle lights, students will transform the School’s Art Gallery into something new, something unexpected, something magical! With two different periods working on one final project, the groups will collaboratively explore large-scale installation art, work to bring abstract ideas to reality, and tackle the challenges that confront artists as installations expand. The final project will be a giant three-dimensional, multi-sensory sculpture encompassing the entire gallery that completely alters the space—how we perceive it, how we walk through it, and how we experience it.

A CAPPELLA MUSIC

JEAN MAHER and LIZA JANE BRANCH ’15
Do you find yourself singing in the car, in the shower, among friends... and even to strangers? Do you watch American Idol or The Voice and think to yourself, I could do that... and win? Ever wonder what it would be like to join a group of like-minded singers, to come together to rehearse and perform current covers from popular music, and leave audiences screaming for more? Then it’s time to sign up for A Cappella Music with Mrs. Maher and Liza Jane! Some singing talent is desired, but no prior formal singing experience is required. We’ll arrange and learn at least three current covers and perform them at the end of the week. 

 

Culture, Literature, and Society

ALLEMANDE LEFT: GERMAN LANGUAGE AND KULTUR

CLIVE DAVIS, CHRIS KREKE ’15, AND EMMI GRAEBNER ’14
Sprechen Sie Deutsch? While a contingent of Berkshire students travels to Germany this Pro Vita, in this class we will engage in a very different immersion opportunity right here on campus. Students will learn the beginnings of conversational German, increase their vocabulary, and have an introduction to German culture and the arts. Each day, students will learn a set of conversational skills, work on pronunciation, and study an aspect of German society and culture and its impact on the world. From Karneval and Oktoberfest to the Easter Bunny, we will examine the impact of German society has had on many current Western traditions. Finally, we will Skype with our counterparts abroad to share and compare impressions and experiences.

B! TRUE HOLLYWOOD STORY

CENCY MIDDLETON AND BRITT PLANTE
The average woman is bombarded with 400-600 gender-targeted advertisements on a daily basis. These messages celebrate youth, beauty, and women as sexual objects. Although these advertisements only emphasize the ideal woman implicitly, the messages are internalized. According to a Dove study, only 2% of women describe themselves as beautiful. 2%! How can we empower our youth and encourage both men and women to fight back against these archaic ideals? This course will examine the messages that we receive on a daily basis from romantic comedies to Super Bowl advertisements, and explore how to challenge this distorted yet all too common perspective.

BASEBALL: THE AMERICAN NARRATIVE

DAVE OLSON
Known as America’s pastime, baseball has provided entertainment and excitement for fans for well over a century. While it is easily recognized as an enjoyable summertime diversion, what often goes overlooked is the way in which the sport so accurately reflects, and often predicts, the cultural tenor of the country where it originated. From historic figures and events like the Chicago “Black” Sox scandal, Jackie Robinson and desegregation, to the emergence of steroid use, and the unionization of baseball, this course will examine the multitude of ways in which every spring, summer and fall baseball tells the ongoing story of America.

BON APPÉTIT!: JULIA CHILD’S LIFE IN FRANCE

ANNA BARTER
Bon appétit! Julia Child made these words famous in her PBS specials that taught Americans about French culture and cuisine. Whether she was flipping an omelet or boning a duck, she had a way of making her audience fall in love with not only her food but also with her. In this course, we will study Julia Child’s life as well as the influence she has had on both sides of the Atlantic. We will read excerpts of her memoir
My Life in France and discuss its film adaptation, Julie & Julia. The course will culminate with a day in the kitchen in honor of Julia Child and her most famous recipes.

DESCARTES’ MEDITATIONS

CLAY SPLAWN
Descartes’ work signifies a critical turning point in the history of thought. He has been dubbed the “Father of Modern Philosophy.” Why? What was significant about Descartes? More importantly, what remains significant in the 21
st century? We will investigate the philosophy of Descartes by reading his Meditations on First Philosophy, a short but profound work that, while imminently readable, contains some of the most famous arguments in the history of philosophy.

THE LITERATURE, ART AND LIFE SKILL OF FLY FISHING

MICHAEL BJURLIN AND JOHN WEST
Arguably the greatest American short story ever written, Ernest Hemingway’s
Big Two-Hearted River has at its center the sport of fly fishing. This class will investigate the rich literary and artistic traditions of fly fishing in America, balancing a rigorous reading program and classroom discussion with fly casting instruction. In addition to Hemingway’s masterpiece, Norman Maclean’s A River Runs Through It will be an important part of the class’s work. This course promises to be quite a catch!

MURDER, MEDIA, AND THE MOCKINGJAY

CHRISTINE FITZGERALD AND HEIDI WOODWORTH
Why do we kill? In this course, we will use
The Hunger Games as a foundation for our study of what drives humans to kill and how are we affected by these actions, along with why we are so intrigued by atrocity. To supplement the book and movie, we will take a multimedia approach to relating these themes present in The Hunger Games to both historic and current events. We will explore topics ranging from the gladiators of Ancient Rome to the terrorist attacks of September 11th. At the conclusion of the course, students will no longer see The Hunger Games as simply a bestselling novel and blockbuster film, but also as a greater dialogue about the culture in which we live. Students should be familiar with both the book and movie.

THE STAR WARS LEGACY

KEVAN BOWLER AND STUART MILLER ’97
The
Star Wars saga is the third highest grossing film series ever. What began in 1977 as a simple tale of good versus evil eventually became a world-wide phenomenon. The idea for these movies was conceived by George Lucas in the 1970s, a time of political upheaval and social unrest related to high oil prices, the Vietnam War, drug use, and the Nixon resignation. This class will study Star Wars: Episodes IV, V, and VI and compare the movies to themes found in literature, mythology, religion, politics and history.

TED TALK

JENNIFER ANDERSON
Begun in 1984, TED is a non-profit that brings together professionals from the fields of technology, entertainment, and design. They are best known for their TED talks, which are all readily available on the Internet. TED’s website says they are “Devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading,” and oftentimes those ideas are pertinent to our everyday lives, so what better place to watch, discuss, and make TED videos than in a Pro Vita classroom? This class will focus on how and why these talks are successful: what does the speaker use for content? What makes an interesting subject? How does a speaker present his or her information and insight? Why are some more successful than others in communicating their ideas? After pondering these questions and others, we’ll work on our own TED videos, and share some ideas worth spreading within our community here at Berkshire. 
 

History, Politics, and Current Events

“BUILD” AFRICA

ADDIE BULLOCK ‘14 AND ANDREW BOGARDUS
Using the African Leadership Academy model, one based on Stanford Business School, students will explore pan-African issues, U.S. involvement in those issues, and modern portrayals of Africa in the media. Students will interact with ALA students, located in South Africa, to utilize the BUILD concept (Believe, Understand, Invent, Listen, and Deliver) to collaboratively develop solutions to the most pressing needs. After receiving feedback, the class will present the best model to the school.

CARRYING THE TORCH: THE OLYMPICS

DANA ANSELMI AND KELLEY BOGARDUS
It happens every two years: the lighting of the torch, the roar of the crowd, the blend of the colors, the symphony of dialects, the march of the athletes, and the thrill of the battle. The Olympic Games represent over 100 years of global collaboration and healthy competition. On the heels of the winter games in Sochi, Russia, this class will examine the origins of the Olympics as well as noteworthy historical, political, and social themes through documentaries and clips of memorable moments. Students will have the opportunity to travel to a nearby ski jump and a curling facility (where they will try their own hand at this Olympic sport) to see how these global sports are important cultural pastimes, even in small town USA. A local Olympic medalist will also address the class and answer questions about her experience as a member of the 1996 Bronze Medal US Women’s Hockey Team.

CHINA: THE ROARING DRAGON

LU XU
As the world’s second largest economy, China wields incredible influence in the global marketplace. How did this come to be? Through a study of its history, culture, and political system, students will gain an appreciation and understanding of this country’s storied development. After discussing the issues facing China today and its unique relationship with the United States, students will practice Chinese calligraphy and preparing traditional Chinese food. The class will culminate with student presentations of a research project on a topic of interest.

JOGA BONITO

JON MOODEY
Why has soccer, a simple game of modest origins, become such a dominant and influential force around the globe? By viewing segments of a six-part documentary series called
History of Soccer: The Beautiful Game and reading portions of Franklin Foer’s How Soccer Explains the World, participants in this course will explore the history, evolution, and impact of the game of soccer around the globe. Participants will have an opportunity each day to play futsal, a version of soccer in which creativity, improvisation, and technique are emphasized. Made popular on the streets of Brazil, futsal gave birth to a new and beautiful style of play, one which Pelé would later coin joga bonito.

MAGIC VS. BIRD

JAY CRONZE ‘09 AND J.J. JEMISON ‘09
Not only a battle between two of the greatest players of all time and two of the greatest franchises, but also between two men from very different backgrounds, the rivalry between Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird reveals much about both the state of the NBA and the state of our society. In this class, we will review the historical context behind this relationship and both players’ unique paths to super- star status. We will also examine the concept of rivalry, where it comes from and who creates it, and how this specific rivalry impacted the U.S. well beyond the realms of the basketball arena. Finally, we will analyze Johnson’s announcement about his HIV status and Bird’s reaction to it, and chart these two icons’ transformations during the twilight of their careers.

POLITICAL ADVERTISING, PROPAGANDA AND FILM, 2000-2013

BRIAN SULLIVAN
This course will explore the media’s impact on American culture during the War on Terror as
well as its portrayal of the battle over gun control. Students will explore the context surrounding these ideological clashes, including 9/11 and Columbine, through essays, political advertisements and short films. They will also examine how advertising and film influence American culture. Students will be expected to read various propaganda advertisements as well as create one of their own.

SPORTS AND POLITICS

BILL GULOTTA
Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Joe Louis, and the Miracle on Ice: What do these major athletic figures and events teach us about the social and political climate of their time? In this course, we will examine various periods of U.S. history through the lens of major athletic events. Joe Louis’ victory over the German, Max Schmeling, in a turbulent pre-WWII era; Jesse Owens’ Olympic triumph in Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympics; the defeat of the Russians by the U.S. men’s hockey team at the height of the Cold War. These events, and others, provide unique insight into our nation’s history.

WHO AM I?

BEBE BULLOCK ’86 AND JASON GAPPA
Do you know that you are the sum of all your ancestors? Your grandmother’s choices, your great- grandfather’s risks, and your great-great-grandmother’s adventures are your foundation. Find out why you live where you live; discover where your name comes from; delve into the history of your past. Perhaps you will discover that your ancestors emigrated from Russia via Canada, that your great-aunt was the first woman to run a bank, and your grandmother was part of planning the Columbian Exhibition of 1893. Using online and local resources, including a visit from the head of the New York Genealogical Society, we will discover ancestors’ occupations, household status, property ownership, native language, and country of origin. Discover the parts of your history, to make them a part of your present. 

Math and Science

PHYSIOLOGY AND NUTRITION OF SPORTS (A and B Periods)

DEVON AND JACKIE O’ROURKE
There will be two components to the course: classroom sessions and a “laboratory” in the form of a structured training program. The classroom component will introduce the students to the physics, chemistry, and biology of their own body systems. Daily readings and homework will be used to learn about major areas related to exercise physiology: cardiovascular training, strength training, injury prevention, nutrition and dietary supplements, and performance enhancing drugs (legal and illegal). Laboratory sessions will explore applications of each of these areas. The exercises are strictly regimented, and do not provide students with freedom to complete a routine of their choice. 

ANDROID APPS

DAN SPEAR
Mobile apps are becoming more and more relevant with each passing day. Have an interest? Search and you will most likely find numerous apps related to that interest. Not only for fun and games, apps are now used in education, medicine, and even public safety. This course will introduce students to the very basics of app development using Google’s App Inventor for Android. The program presents users with a visual representation of their app as they build it, and the programming end is done by snapping bits of code together like puzzle pieces. This is a great way to learn some of the basics of application development, which could then be used to develop more sophisticated programs. Although an Android phone or tablet would be beneficial, it is not necessary because the program has a built-in emulator that can be used to test and debug.

MAP IT!

MANDY MORGAN
Have you ever hiked up to Black Rock and wondered about your elevation gain? Students in this class will learn about topography firsthand by cooperatively creating a large three-dimensional topographic map of Berkshire School to be prominently displayed in the Bellas/Dixon Math and Science Center. In addition to constructing a scaled map, students will explore the history of cartography and the role maps have played in human exploration.

MATH: CARD COUNTING TO KNOT THEORY

TIM LANCE
While you might not always realize it, there is so much more to mathematics than proofs and
problems. After a historical overview, we will quickly move into modern day classic math games such as Sudoku and Kakuro, and also develop some of our own puzzles. We will examine the intersection of mathematics and art, from the tessellations in Islamic tiling to the work of M.C. Escher, and create our own tessellations. Finally, we’ll explore how math has been used to cheat the system, including counting cards. The class will finish with an analysis of solvability. Math really is everywhere, and we will explore some of its many uses and the beauty it creates.

NATURE VS. NURTURE: ANIMAL BEHAVIOR

JESÚS IBÁÑEZ
Ample research has shown that animals are rational beings and that they also share with us many other traits that were once thought to be uniquely human, including manufacturing and using tools, having culture, having a sense of self, using complex systems of communication, producing art, and having rich and deep emotional lives. This course will study the interesting behavior of some species of animals, and whether these behaviors are learned or innate. We will learn about music appreciation in animals, complex hunting techniques in chimpanzees, practical sheep behavior, the “emotional” lives of cows, and other intriguing aspects of animal behavior.

SAVING THE SEASON: THE HISTORY AND CHEMISTRY OF FOOD PRESERVATION

STEPHANIE TURNER AND KRISTINA SPLAWN
Since 12,000 B.C. humans have been preserving food. Civilization itself depended upon this ancient practice as society needed to harness the abundance of food during the growing season to weather shortages. Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte called for a new method of food preservation to supply his army and canning was invented. No matter where or how it occurred, the goal of food preservation has always been to eliminate or slow the micro-organisms that cause food to spoil. We will learn about a multitude of ways to achieve this (some ancient and others very modern), the science behind each, and will try our hand at preserving several different types of food. We will also visit a local farm that grows crops to use for their own vegetable fermentation!

SNOW SCIENCE: BACKCOUNTRY TRAVEL IN AVALANCHE TERRAIN

ROB LLOYD
Snow. You can form a snowball with it, build a snowman, go sledding in it, melt it to drink, be trapped or killed by it, or dig a cave and survive in it. It can be a resource or a hazard. Using pit diagrams, grain composition, snow accumulation and stability tests, we will explore the physics and trigger points behind avalanches. This class will explore how snow impacts our corner of New England and examine the big mountain areas where avalanches are more common.

TOUR DE SOL: SOLAR POWER

ANITA LOOSE-BROWN
How does a solar panel transform a ray of sunlight into the electricity cooling your common room’s fridge? What determines how effective a solar panel is at producing that electricity? Using Berkshire’s own 8.5-acre solar array on East Campus, we will examine these questions and more, build scale models, and meet with local experts in the field. After learning the fundamentals of a simple circuit, students will design and build a model race car powered by solar cells. On the last day of class, students will test out their racer designs in a solar-powered race. 

 

Professional and Personal Development

 

BEAR OF WALL STREET (A and B Periods)

CHRIS PERKINS
Interested in a job in economics or finance? This course, held at the non-profit American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) in Great Barrington, will introduce students to economic and financial research through hands-on analysis. As a culminating project, students will submit either a short report (on the importance of Affordable Care Act, for example), a spreadsheet (formulating a model for financial asset valuation), or a list of steps they have taken in structuring economic analysis of the business cycles. Working closely with AIER research fellows, students will be immersed in the economic research process from “conception to completion,” enhancing their understanding of economic concepts, theories and real world applications. 

A SPIRITUAL JOURNEY

PETER KINNE
The Sweat Lodge Ceremony is an adaptation of the sweat bath common to many ethnic cultures found in North and South America, Asia, Eastern and Western Europe, and Africa. Some say it is a tradition that is thousands of years old. The Sweat Lodge is a place of spiritual refuge and mental and physical healing, a place to get answers and guidance by asking spiritual entities, totem helpers, the Creator and Mother Earth for needed wisdom and power. Spend the week learning about the various types of lodges and the rituals involved. The week will culminate with an actual sweat in a Cheyenne Little Boy Lodge. Come delve into the spirit world!

GOTTA GET SOME SLEEP

LINDA BELLIZZI AND CATHERINE XU ’14
We all talk about needing more sleep, but we do little to address our sleep problems. According to current research, teenagers are healthier and function better in academics and athletics if they begin their days at 8:30 or 9 a.m. In this class, we will review the reasons that our bodies need sleep and the problems that can result when we do not get enough of it. We will run an abbreviated sleep trial, with class members as subjects, using the smartphone app Sleepbot. Students will have a better understanding of why sleep is important, debunk common misconceptions about sleep bulimia, learn to use an app that will help track their sleep patterns, and propose changes that could positively affect academic, athletic, and lifestyle outcomes for the entire Berkshire community.

MINDFULNESS, YOGA & THE RELAXATION RESPONSE

SUZANNE MAZZARELLI, MSW, E-RYT
Do you want to improve your ability to handle stress? Learn to modify your sleep patterns? Do you want to improve your performance in sports? Do you want to be more flexible and adaptable? Are you interested in learning about ancient practices with modern relevance? This course will give an experiential overview of several yoga practices, including asana (yoga postures), meditation, and svadhyaya (self-study). You will learn how to tap into the body’s innate healing power, switch off the “fight or flight” response, improve flexibility and self-knowledge, learn about Hindu mythology, and take part in an Indian feast. Come stretch your body, expand your heart, and still your mind!

THE TOUGHEST JOB YOU’LL EVER LOVE

ANNA ROMANO
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization believes that 925 million people are undernourished in the world. According to the World Health Organization, 1.8 million deaths a year can be attributed to a lack of a sanitary water supply. These are preventable issues that the Peace Corps is addressing using American volunteers. Using Peace Corps’ Webquest Program, students will choose a development topic ranging from closing the gender gap to improving environmental sustainability, perform guided research and analysis, generate their own suggestions for the Peace Corps, and present their findings to the class. Students will also follow a current Peace Corp volunteer’s blog throughout the week. By the end of the course, students will understand the mission of the Peace Corps, have a good understanding of what often appear to be intractable issues, and may have already prepared an application to join the effort to help humanity. 


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