Woodlands Academy has Middle Schoolers Performing Service, Shakespeare

Posted: July 13, 2016

Lake Forest, Ill. – Some North Shore middle school students got a brief preview of life on a high school campus by participating in Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart’s 2016 summer school program. Girls entering grades six through eight in the fall joined in two of the enrichment classes offered this summer at the all-girls college preparatory day and boarding school in Lake Forest. Most of them experienced community service firsthand by performing it at 10 Lake County sites, while the others learned about Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” and then performed an abbreviated version of it.

In all, 14 middle school students from Glencoe, Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, Lincolnshire and Winnetka spent two weeks participating in either Service with a Smile or All-girls Shakespeare Boot Camp at Woodlands Academy.

There was a great deal of interest in Service with a Smile, which filled to its maximum capacity of 14 and had a waiting list of more wishing to participate. Some parents of the 10 middle school students who enrolled said they’ve wanted such involvement for their children, but service opportunities were hard to find due to the students’ ages.

Service with a Smile provided participants with a variety of enlightening and rewarding experiences, such as at: Brentwood North Nursing Home and Center for Enriched living, both in Deerfield, where the students interacted directly with residents; St. Paul’s summer camp (YWCA) in Waukegan, where they bonded with the pre-kindergarten students; Equestrian Connection in Lake Forest and PADS in Waukegan, where they helped with general clean up and beautification projects. Other activities included helping pack starter kits for the homeless at Love Inc. in Waukegan and rice packs for children in South America at Feed My Starving Children in Libertyville.

It was an eye-opening experience for Sydney Rubenstein, who’ll be an 8th grade student at Lake Forest’s Deer Path Middle School this fall. What she saw and did at the various community sites reinforced her passion for service which has included helping friends with special needs and volunteering at church. “It made me think about my life and how I can to do more to help,” she said at the conclusion of Service with a Smile. Sydney believes students her age should consider taking some time away from their smart phones to do things that can help change people’s lives.

The curtain came down on Woodlands Academy’s summer school session July 1 with a delightful performance of a condensed version of “The Tempest,” which the boot camp students helped create following a brief study of this enduring Shakespeare drama. In just the first week alone, the girls came up with a concept for the show, assigned roles to themselves and each other, collaborated and created a piece of choreography, and learned how to read and perform the text in poetry’s iambic pentameter form – the way Shakespeare intended it to be read.

During a Q & A session with the audience following their performance, the students – most of whom will be entering grade 6 in the fall – said that while they may not have understood every word they were saying, they did understand what the story was about. Woodlands Academy English teacher/theatre director Shannon Walsh said, “I guided them the first couple of days and they took it from there in putting this production together.”

Summer School Director Amy Perlick is pleased with the results of what she sees as the mutually beneficial experience of including middle school students in some of Woodlands’ enrichment classes. She’s already considering the possibility of doing so next summer in these, and perhaps additional, course offerings.

Last Updated: July 13, 2016