Natchitoches –A wide variety of projects were available to students during Special Projects Week held Jan. 3-6 at the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts.
Topics included the history of dance, American musical theater, modern quilting, precalculus, bio ethics, World War II discussions and much more.
Special Projects Week offers students a chance to pursue a topic or skill that is of interest to the faculty member leading the project. This may represent a cultural experience or an academic topic or a practical skill.
The activities this week give students the opportunity to explore an area which they may not encounter in a traditional classroom setting, but one which is enriching for them all the same.
“Special Projects Week is a long-standing tradition that allows students and faculty alike to build on academic and cultural interest that may lie outside the traditional curriculum,” said Dr. Kristi Key, director of academic services.
“The opportunity to spend time together this week, pursuing areas of interest, before we move back into academic session, is part of what makes LSMSA what it is.”
Charlie Roppolo, a junior from Denham Springs, enjoys the simplicity of Special Projects Week the most.
“We’re not focused on getting homework turned in or balancing nine classes at once,” said Roppolo. “We are put into something that interests us for the day. I love being able to have one thing to do and that being something that I love.”
Roppolo chose to participate in the Moth with Dr. Jocelyn Donlon and Jeff Thomakos.
“I love anything to do with acting,” he said. “I love performing for an audience and sharing my personal and imaginary experiences with them.”
Lauren Bartels, a junior from Natchitoches, participated in Once Upon a Time with Dr. Pamela Francis.
“I like that we get to choose between a wide variety of topics, and it is not as stressful as the regular school year,” she said.
Jacob Spielbauer, lecturer of health and physical education, likes that the school shows more of a commitment toward the students’ enrichment, along with the freedom for faculty and staff to be creative during the week.
“I am able to further develop a professional relationship with most students that I do not get the chance to teach during the fall and spring semesters,” he said. “To me, there are a lot of positives from this week, including our culture.
“This is another way to show our care and connect with our students to further our trust with them and their families.”
Jeff Thomakos, lecturer of theater, uses Special Projects Week as a lab for subjects he would like to teach, but is not sure about. In the past, he has taught sketch comedy, musical theater, acting for the camera and improv games that are too advanced or different than the stuff he usually teaches in his improv classes.
This year, Thomakos teamed up with Dr. Jocelyn Donlon, associate lecturer of English, to teach a storytelling special project.
“Student voices has been a passion of mine for years and years, and Dr. Donlon wrote her Ph.D. on storytelling, so, naturally, we have been trying to team up for years on a project like this,” said Thomakos. “The timing was finally right this year, so we jumped in.”