On Friday, Jan. 25, from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. students and parents attended the Summer Programs & Career Exploration (SPACE) Fair in Mead Dining Hall to learn about and explore the various summer opportunities offered from a multitude of local and national organizations.
More than 15 vendors greeted the student body, offering a variety of programs ranging from public speaking to community service to outdoor activities.
Some of the organizations were the Westfield Academy, Where There Be Dragons, Junior Achievement, and Hurricane Island Outward Bound. Many of the groups have been coming year after year to offer their programs; however, some of the newer ones included Outlander and Global Roots.
Associate Director of College Advising Peggy Clark said that the purpose of the fair was to encourage students to try new things or hone in on one of their interests. “In general, one of the things KO wants students to be doing is to exploring their interests and trying new things,” she said.
Ms. Clark said that in addition to academics, activities outside of the classroom are equally important to who students are. “The SPACE fair is an extension of that idea. You have a stretch of time which we want you to use productively and thoughtfully,” she said. “Yes, do use that time to recharge but also continue to refine and sharpen your interests.”
Ms. Clark said the fair was a success because it was a one stop shop that would give students ideas of how they could effectively use their summer. “They are all learning opportunities,” she said. “The major idea is that we don’t want kids not doing something because they haven’t planned ahead.”
A great number of students who attended said they really enjoyed the fair. Sophomore Shreeya Chalikonda said that she was amazed by the number and variety of organizations there. “It was really interesting, and I’m excited for the summer,” she said.
Junior Sydney Taffe said she agreed that students had many options to choose from. “There was something for everyone,” she said.
Sophomore Rinese Sterling said that the fair was a way to open up to new interests and learn more about how you can spend your summer.
Freshman Lucia Volin said she agreed that the fair was a great opportunity for students. “It’s very interesting that there are all these places, all these different cultures, and ideas and how you can merge yourself with them,” she said.
Freshman Amrita Natarajan said that the fair saved her a lot of time from researching on her own. “It’s a wonderful place to discover new opportunities that you otherwise would not have known about,” she said.
Freshman Ajay Ganesh said he agreed that he found many topics and programs that suited his interests.
Many vendors also enjoyed talking about their programs. “I think it’s awesome to see so many kids here thinking about the summer,” representative from Overland Lauren Earls said.
Representative Sam Roy from Travel for Teens said she agreed that the event was very organized and accessible to parents and students. “KO does a great job putting this together,” she said. “It’s nice it happens during the day and students and parents can get to know their options.”
Representative Meghan Henderson from Westfield Academy said that she enjoys being part of the fair every year. “We have had wonderful students at Westfield from KO,” she said. “I come here because I am really passionate about the power of respectful oral advocacy for kids, and I think that KO is this community that’s ripe with students who are inclined to do it and can change the world.”
Representative Ann Henderson said she agreed that she loves to talk to students about how they can spend their summer. “We are here to promote good educational summer opportunities to students at KO and make sure everyone has an awesome summer,” she said. “We think that debate and public speaking is a great way of doing that.”
Dean of Students William Gilyard said that at the end of the day, it’s about encouraging students to go out of their comfort zone and try something new. “The reality is that you come to a place like KO because you are afforded these opportunities and it’d be a waste to not take advantage of all these incredible events and trips and possibilities that are out there for you,” he said.
Ms. Clark said she agreed that the fair was a way for students to get the most out of their high school experience. “It’s about creating the understanding that making active choices to pursue what interests you and what it is that you love to do is how you set yourself up well to get the most out of KO,” she said. “I encourage students to continue that approach.”