The annual Warren Baird English Symposium is a beloved tradition at KO. Each year, a selected class of seniors intensely studies the works of one author for an entire semester; in addition, every English class at KO reads at least one work by the chosen author. This tradition culminates in a school-wide assembly featuring the author along with a special dinner for Symposium students, offering them the chance to connect with the author and ask questions. This year, Symposium teacher Anastasia Sullo hopes to expand this unique tradition into the Middle School.
In previous years, the Middle School has engaged with Symposium by reading at least one work from the author. Yet, the new schedule in the Middle School has allowed for the addition of skills incubator classes, non-graded electives that allow students to explore topics they typically wouldn’t study in the classroom. Ms. Sullo hopes to use this period to create a Symposium skills incubator course in the second quarter, building a place where students can read books from this year’s author, Ibi Zoboi, and spread their curiosities.
Ms. Sullo commented on the differences between what the Middle School course would look like compared to the traditional Upper School senior Symposium class. “Well, first and foremost, the Upper School experience is totally unique and can’t be copied,” she said.
“The Middle School class would be an age-level appropriate exploration of Ibi Zoboi’s texts within the time frame that we have.” Ms. Sullo mentioned that she hopes the class would dive into Ibi Zoboi’s short stories and “Star Child,” a biography of Octavia Butler.
No matter how the structure turns out, the main goal is for students to enjoy their time together and learn a lot about Ibi Zoboi. For Ms. Sullo, her favorite part of working with the seniors is the thoughtful decisions that they have and she hopes to build this same learning environment within the Middle School.