This February, Berkshire School will celebrate the tenth anniversary of Pro Vita.
While much has evolved since the signature program was launched in 2008 in celebration of the School's Centennial, the essence of Pro Vita has remained true to Berkshire's motto: Pro Vita Non Pro Schola Discimus, "Learning—not just for school, but for life."
"Pro Vita has helped Berkshire grow and integrate its unique mission in the classroom," says Pro Vita Director Bebe Bullock '86. "What's exciting is when a student develops an interest during the week, and then pursues that as a career. And that's happening."
Scheduled at the end of the third quarter, just before the start of March break (Feb. 26-Mar. 4 this year), Pro Vita gives students the opportunity to step away from their regular classes and to engage in subjects and ideas passionately shared by teachers, students, parents, alumni, and friends of Berkshire.
The opportunity to learn something the students can take with them beyond Berkshire has inspired such classes as Saving The Season, in which students examine the impact of the amount food travels while learning how to preserve their own food, and Under The Hood, a class focused on seldom-taught life skills such as changing a flat tire or household budgeting. This year, new additions to the Pro Vita course catalog include Trump: The First 100 Days, Under The Circus Big Top, and One-Minute Film Festival.
"Every year our teachers, our students, and even our alumni and parents come up with incredible ideas, and the excitement builds from the moment we release the course catalog," says Bullock.
The classes, however, only scratch the surface of the Pro Vita that has emerged over the past decade. This year, groups of students will travel to places like Iceland to explore the country's renewable energy model, to Spain to make the popular pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago, and to Seattle to experience the city's vibrant theater culture. Other trips include a dogsledding adventure in Minnesota, cultural immersion in Arizona's Navajo Nation and sustainability work at the Island School in the Bahamas.
In addition, this year's Pro Vita evening lineup includes a visit by film producer and Berkshire parent, Allyn Stewart (Sully, Driving Miss Daisy), as well as the return of Telluride Mountainfilm on Tour. The week will kick off on Sunday night with A Cappella Palooza, a high-energy event that features performances by Berkshire students, as well as several college a cappella groups. Visiting teachers this year include New York Times Bestselling author and Berkshire alum Harry MacLean '60, renowned chef Jim Wilson (current parent), and Dave Hamilton, director of the EXPLO Studio.
By the end of the week, students are ready to put Pro Vita's motto—Make. Perform. Do. Solve.—into action, with presentations scheduled during All-School meeting.
"I'm looking forward to the end of February. The energy behind Pro Vita is really incredible and I can't wait to see what happens," Bullock says.