Pro: The Upper School Should Institute Minimester

Alix Nikolic de Jacinto '24, Opinion Editor

Diversifying Sidwell’s curriculum is critical for student enrichment and engagement, and nothing is more effective to this end than Minimester.

Minimester is a week-long trip or educational opportunity offered to Sidwell Middle Schoolers before Spring Break. Minimester would provide Upper School students with a well-deserved break from academics and a rewarding experience in which they could apply their skills directly.

Minimester includes trips abroad and local programs, with grade-based priority granted for trip applications. Middle School Minimester destinations range from the Grand Tetons to Beijing, while local offerings include community service or enrichment experiences, such as working with animal shelters or touring museums. Both types of Minimesters leave a lasting impression on students and hold substantial educational value. Destination trips facilitate cultural exchange, allowing students to practice a foreign language or explore a new region of the country. These trips foster a more inclusive and international worldview in the Sidwell community, especially with exchange programs — like Sidwell’s program with its sister school in Beijing — which allow direct connections between Sidwell and foreign students. Trips expose students to creative fields of study, such as marine biology in the Florida Keys, which cannot be replicated in a traditional classroom setting. Local opportunities encourage students to explore Washington, emphasizing the cultural and historical richness of the city. These programs promote group community service, building connections across grades while also giving back to the community. 

Because these trips require an application, students’ Minimesters often reflect their interests and allow them to delve further into topics they are passionate about. Minimester is invaluable for community building and learning. It also provides a break from the stressful academic period before vacation, allowing for a smooth transition into Spring Break. Minimester is just as beneficial to Upper Schoolers as Middle Schoolers, if not more so, given Upper Schoolers’ high-pressure academic environment. The cross-grade Minimester groups encourage friendships between students who otherwise would have minimal interaction. Students emerge from Minimester with newfound friendships, academic and cultural interests and an appreciation for their city or for a new region. Minimester instills a sense of community and confidence that aids students in all areas of their academic and social lives.

Diversifying Sidwell’s curriculum is critical for student enrichment and engagement, and nothing is more effective to this end than Minimester. Continuing Minimester from Middle to Upper School establishes a core tradition. Upper School students would graduate with years of memorable Minimesters, having gained irreplaceable experience to serve them in their futures. The absence of Minimester, an incredibly valuable program, is a glaring loss in the Upper School experience.