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Colorado CollegeBulletin | March 2006
by Leslie Weddell

Immersion in Half-block Program

Brings Insight into CC Experience

Half-block 2006 began with a reception at Tutt Alumni House and ended with dinner at Stewart House, the home of Colorado College President Richard F. Celeste. And the 10 days between?  “Stimulating, intense, thought-provoking … and tons of fun,” says Anne Tearse P ’06 of Eugene, Ore.

“Every parent who has a kid at this school should do the half-block program at least once,” says Tearse, who took “Ethics in Journalism,” taught by English Professor Ruth Barton. “The total immersion in one subject is totally amazing. CC offers such a different program from other schools. Most CC parents didn’t go here, so doing a half-block really gives you insight into what your kids are going through.” Half-block courses are open to the entire CC community, and parents have been some of the most enthusiastic participants.

Marney Craig P ’07 of San Rafael, Calif., enjoys the program so much she has taken three half-block sessions. “It almost doesn’t matter what courses they offer or what course I end up taking,” she says. This year she opted for “Mozart and the Age of Enlightenment,” offered in honor of the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth and co-taught by professors Timothy Fuller of the political science department and Michael Grace of the music department. “It was truly wonderful having experts in two different fields. We got the benefits of both of their expertise and knowledge — it was an amazing experience,” says Craig, who plans to return for a fourth session.

Craig cites multiple reasons for participating in the half-block program: the classes themselves; the relationships that develop between students and between the students and professors; and the joy of continuing to learn.

“One of the strengths of the half-block program is the opportunity to learn for the sake of learning,” says Stewart Shacter P ’08 of St. Paul, Minn. “Going to school now, as an adult, I have a genuine interest in learning and exploring new topics.”

Other participants cited the intellectual stimulation, classroom discussion, and camaraderie as highlights of the program. “Everyone is here because they want to be — because they have an interest in the subject,” says Elaine Chan P ’06 ’09 of Chevy Chase, Md. “And everyone brings different life experiences to the class.

“You never stop learning. Coming to a program like this sends a subliminal message to the kids,” says Chan.

An unexpected benefit of the program was a different relationship that developed between the participating parents and their kids. “You’re in their venue, on their turf,” says Shacter. “How often does that happen?” Shacter made the most of his time on his son’s campus: Father and son met for breakfast, then went to their respective half-block courses. After classes, they ran trails or went to the gym before hitting the library.

Sessions often extended beyond the allotted time — in which case, the entire class would reconvene at a local restaurant and continue the discussion. “It’s intense,” Chan says. “You have to get up to speed quickly, be creative, and produce a product. It’s excellent preparation for life: You have an assignment due, or a project, or something for a client — you get it done.”

Said Tearse as the program drew to a close, “I haven’t had so much fun in a long time.”

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