Students seek to solidify their summer plans

Service, learning and adventure lead students across the globe

Max Minogue, Staff Reporter

With summer closing in, students are finalizing adventurous summer plans.

The common factor for these trips is students reaching out to past connections.

Senior Ike Nierman will be traveling to New Zealand and staying with a friend that he met while working as a camp counselor.

“I’m gonna arrive at the end of his finals, and then we’ll mellow out and check out the city of Christchurch for a little and see what college life is like there,” Nierman said.

“He lives on a farm there. I’ll meet his family, work a little, then we’ll hit the road and drive around the country.”

Junior Bizzy James discovered her summer experience through the local Kenilworth Union Church Impact Youth Group, which will be taking her to Kingston, Jamaica.

“We’re working with a high school and a church doing some building projects along with helping out the school.”

This is the second trip James will take with the group, as she went to Guatemala this past summer.

“Originally I decided to join youth group because all of my cousins did it and loved it, and it was a great opportunity to give back to the world and strengthen my religion,” James said.

Meanwhile, junior Rachel Skolnik plans on spending two weeks in Hungary through the Szarvas Fellowship program.

“Every year they select 20 Americans per session, like 50 people total, to go to this camp and be the American ambassadors. There are Jews from all over Europe, Israel, and then the 20 of us from America.”

Adding to the diversity of summer plans, senior Cristiano Rotolo will be continuing his Senior Project by working on Bridge Initiative as the Chicago Director. Bridge Initiative is a nonprofit founded by high school students.

According to their mission statement, “The Bridge Initiative is a nonprofit organization that connects these individuals [with disabilities] to long-term employment opportunities.”

Rotolo will be working with high school students throughout the country to create a network of relationships between local businesses and programs or residencies for people with disabilities.

“We’ll also research by doing job shadows and volunteer work with local organizations to find the best way to differentiate ourselves as a company and to best utilize our skill set to be the most impactful for the people we are trying to help,” Rotolo said.

Still, summer is months away and many students have not decided on what they’re doing.

For service, there is the Winnetka Volunteer Center, which can get interested students in touch with a wide variety of organizations.

To simplify it even further, under Naviance there is an Enrichment Programs section which provides a list that can be refined to any interests. All programs are handpicked by Mary Washelesky, who works in the career center.

For students who need help finding and forging new connections, Susan Thorngren, the coordinator of the New Trier Development Program, went in-depth on the personalized opportunities that can be found through the post-high school department;  “I can work with students to make a list of opportunities that suit them.”

Thorngren went on to say that there were opportunities to be found in nearly every interest area: engineering, humanitarian, medicine, the arts, education, language, technology, and business.

“You don’t have to grow up and have a career, but you do need to think about how you spend your time.

What’s important is passion and doing what you enjoy.” There are opportunities to live at and experience a college, go on service trips around the world, and real life internships with professionals, among many other options.

Of course, many options can be expensive, but expense is not always a deciding factor for a good summer.

Thorngren talked about Career Exploration courses that run through Oakton Community College, three week courses with professionals that cost the same as a New Trier summer school class.

Thorngren’s main point is that time spent over the summer is, and should be, different for everyone.

“It’s important that students use their time wisely. For some, it’s camp; for others, summer school, or a job, an internship, an intensive one week program, or just spending time with family. The important thing is to not remain sedentary.”