Colloquiums add choice and energy to DePaul Prep’s schedule

Julia Martin and Grace O'Brien

This year, along with a new schedule, including Blue and Red block days, DePaul College Prep was introduced to colloquium, as part of a twice-monthly Vincentian Day. Colloquium is held every other Wednesday from 12-3; all grade levels mix for semester-long seminars, ranging from baking to camping to meditating. Students choose their semester-long colloquium, and the teachers design the colloquiums based on what they want to teach.

Mr. Baum, DePaul Prep’s data manager, explained the design and origin of colloquium. Colloquium was actually brought to DePaul Prep from the inspiration of Walter Payton’s former principal, who happens to be a close friend of Dr. Stanton-Anderson. Mr. Baum shared why this inspiration was such a win for the Rams: “The idea of having dedicated time and space for students and teachers to learn and grow in something that is interest and hobby oriented, rather than just the academic structures we have to follow as a school, fit the ticket for community building. From there it was just a matter of teachers putting together their Colloquiums which they chose and designed themselves”. One of the best parts of colloquium is how varied they are. Each colloquium is one semester, which gives students the ability to explore their options and creativity.

Bitty Martin, class of 2024, who participates in “Find Your Happy Place,” says, “I love everything I’ve done like taking the train downtown to Maggie Daley Park. I also love how the grade levels are mixed, so I’ve had the opportunity to make so many new friends from different grade levels while exploring Chicago.” Ben Bates, class of 2025, who participates in camping and backpacking explained, “I love learning about camping, especially learning how to cook freeze dried food.” Carly Cloutier, class of 2024 who participates in jewelry making also said about her decision, “Jewelry seemed simple but also fun and I liked the idea of making my own jewelry that’s custom to me. We’re making earrings next week and we’ve made necklaces and mask chains for a service project.”

Ms. Wilson, one of DePaul Prep’s history teachers, runs the baking colloquium. She chose baking because it’s something she grew up doing with her Mimi, and she wanted to pass it on to her DePaul Prep students. Even the recipes she shows students are from her Mimi, her favorite blogger, and a family friend. So far in baking she’s made bread, pretzels, and apple crisp all of which had extremely positive feedback from the students. Ms. Wilson says her favorite part is “Watching students eating and enjoying their homemade work.” Ms. Wilson is also a fitness guru being that she is one of the Cross Country and Track coaches. She explained she would love to teach an exercise or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) colloquium. ”If I were a student at DePaul, I would choose Mr. McDowell’s bike riding class!” Ms. Wilson said. “I have always been interested in becoming a better cyclist!”

When choosing colloquiums, students select their top choices on PowerSchool, with the intention that most students get one of their top choices. This is also why senior priority was vital when selecting colloquiums: Seniors have two chances to get their first-choice while freshmen have eight. It was important for seniors to spend their last year trying new activities and branching out, Mr. Baum explained. The hope of adding this to our every-other week schedule was to give students and teachers a break from their typical 80 minute teaching period and spend just three hours doing something everyone can enjoy. Students have given positive feedback and DePaul Prep plans to keep colloquiums as a central part of Vincentian Day.