Field-trip-based H-term courses bring students outside


Media: Jason Zhou '23

Students from Mr. Nelson’s Go Outdoors PA class enjoy the nature.

Many of the H-term courses held in December gave students the opportunity to go off-campus and experience local businesses or get closer to nature. These field trips marked a highlight of the H-term.

Mark Nelson’s “Get Outdoors PA” class put a twist on traditional classroom courses. This class got students into nature and let students discover local adventures that they might not know about.

Mr. Nelson created this course so he could share his love of nature with students. Unlike many students at Hill, Mr. Nelson is very familiar with the nature surrounding Pottstown. He spends much of his time in local nature spots, and, he said, “Hill kids rarely get to go out and enjoy them.”

The course was set up so that students took three hikes weekly. Mr. Nelson explained that students were broken into groups and assigned an area each week. After that, a leader researched the area and then guided their group on a hike. The students got to know the area on a deeper level than what just meets the eye.

“Introduction to Fly Fishing,” taught by Karl Mellander, was an immersive course that taught students everything they needed to know about fly fishing. The course started with the history and background of fly fishing, and after that students had the opportunity to learn and try it out themselves. Students began by learning the skills needed for fishing on the quad; shortly after, they took their skills to the Dell. The class was extremely successful and collectively caught 85 fish from the Dell throughout H-Term.

Jesse Corser-James ‘23 signed up for this course as soon as he read the course description. Corser-James said that students like him will benefit from taking this course because there might be something they’ve never experienced before. He also said that the thought of getting to go outdoors for a class seemed awesome to him.“Sitting in a class all day can get boring, but going outside would be a new adventure each day,” Corser-James said.

“Upcycling” with Vanessa Giannikas was another hands-on class in which students were able to turn old clothes and other materials into something new. Students were instructed to bring things from home that they no longer use, and the class also had the chance to go to Liberty Thrift to find things that they could make new. 

Giannikas gave the students ideas, but the projects were totally up to them. It really gave the students a chance to use their creativity while also getting guidance from an expert. Elle Molyneaux ‘23 took this class and loved being able to use her creativity. “Everyone in our class takes it seriously and has created some really amazing things out of old clothes,” Molyneaux said. Giannikas hopes to offer this course next year so that students can keep making things they love.

“Up Close & Personal: Connecting with Pottstown Nonprofits & Businesses” with Cathy Skitko immersed students into the places and people of Pottstown. The group visited a variety of organizations that help make Pottstown a great place to live. Meeting the people behind all of these organizations gave the students a much better look at the town that they live in. 

Along with visiting non-profits, the students also visited local small businesses where they were able to learn the history and entrepreneurship in Pottstown. This course was a great way for students to connect with Hill’s shared hometown.

Sam Cifra ‘23 took this course and truly benefited from learning about these organizations. “This class really taught me about our community and allowed our class to connect with many small businesses and nonprofits,” Cifra said.