Each January, YISS middle and high school students in the Oasis program participate in Special Emphasis Week (SEW), and this year’s event took place from January 22-25. This year, Oasis decided to take a new approach to SEW. The theme was GROW, and the focus was on characteristics that are commonly valued by humanity.
For the high school, each day, there was a theme around which the questions, discussions, and activities revolved:
Thursday: Empathy and Care
Friday: Teamwork and Togetherness
The first day, there was the first annual Oasis SEW games, during which the students competed in various fun sports, like most pushups, longest paper airplane throw, farthest throw, and many other events. Participation was optional, and the purpose was to allow the students to show courage. Most of the high school Oasis students showed great courage, and some of the teachers did as well.
The rest of the week, there were quotes to respond to, discussions held, and a presentation given by Ms. Roberts, a high school science teacher, on tolerance and acceptance. Each student was also given a journal to write in and to help guide them in discussions.
The middle school Oasis group took a similar approach and focused on themes from The Greatest Showman, such as courage, individuality, and teamwork. The middle schoolers also journaled and had the opportunity to hear from Ms. Roberts, who spoke about diversity and the strengths that come when people are different. Students were challenged to think about whether they accept others or just tolerate them.
The middle schoolers also had a day devoted to creative expression. They were given the opportunity to show their unique talents and abilities through different arts and crafts. Painting, origami, clay, and drawing were some of the outlets they used to create works of art that reflected their personal styles.
The end of the week culminated in an exciting laser tag event. MS and HS Oasis got together and played laser tag in the gym. Teams had to work together to win their event. There were three digital zones that students had to get to, control, and keep. To do this, it required some people to run to the zone and others to support them. This was probably the highlight of the week for many students and staff, and even Ms. Sevey got in on the action!
Overall, this year’s Oasis SEW, though different, was a success. The students worked hard, and and the teachers enjoyed interacting with them in a different capacity. The hope is that Oasis students remember the week and their time at YISS as a time when they were encouraged to grow and were pushed to be the best version of themselves.