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Intensives 2021–Let the Fun Begin!

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By Phoebe Grace Aseoche
Published December 13, 2021


  • Below are the intensives that are going to be offered this year for middle school and high school both new and old. 

  • Get a new teacher’s perspective on their first intensive experience. 

  • The perspective of a 6th grader on their first year of intensives. 


Intensives at TYWLS 2021

Welcome back TYWLS to another long-awaited 2-week course, intensives, happening just before winter break. Many students have voiced out how much they have missed intensives over remote learning, with which I 100% agree! It is one of TYWLSA’s unique characteristics and opportunities for students to branch out from learning academically to expanding extracurriculars. 


Both middle school and high school have been used intensively as a way to destress from school assignments and learn a new skill or give those a chance to deepen their passions while also taking the time to meet new people. Striving to make new connections. Below is a list of intensives being offered this year. We hope you are having a great and intense experience with those around you! 


Teachers TYWLS Intensive (For the First Time)

Not only are intensives a fun and engaging time for students but for teachers as well experiencing one of the best opportunities to teach their own interests to their students. Many teachers this year have also gotten the chance to create a new intensive which has drawn many students in joining. 


And one of those teachers was Nick, U.S History and Government and Politics Teacher to both Middle School and Highschool Students. For his first intensive, Nick has collaborated with Xenia –AP literature teacher– were able to create their own intensive: My Next Guest: Philosophy and Film.  If you are interested in philosophy and are curious about the intent of philosophers are considered the foundation of knowledge, check out this intensive expo day! Get the chance to ask yourself “Do you agree with this statement?  With that logic, do robots think?” and analyze why. This intensive allows students to examine classical philosophy, technology, artificial intelligence, and psychology in their daily lives.  Take a look at praised philosophers including Plato, Socrates, Aristotle’s minds, and their innovative ideas that still impact us in the present day. Maybe they will fascinate you!


“I'm really enjoying it! The students really seem to be into it and that's what matters most!” Nick remarks. He recalls how his high was definitely just seeing everyone engaged and having a good time exploring all the topics! However, his low being (and not really a low) but just the planning to make sure everything went well since this is a brand new intensive! However, this hasn’t stopped Nick from thinking into the future and possibly making his own intensive again! Both Nick and Xenia have made a very in-depth and informative intensive that allowed many students to capture the perspective of philosophers in the past and if the rationale could be applied in the future. His takeaway was that “In 10 years of teaching I have never experienced anything like this before. Not many schools do something like this and it's a wonderful change of pace! Such a great learning experience!” and with that, I couldn’t agree more! 


I also had the pleasure of interviewing Joan Nieh, TYWLS Math Teacher and Tech Coordinator, who has been teaching at TYWLS for about 2 years. Her intensive this year is the Fitness Challenge along with James –PE Director–.  The Fitness Challenge has been a recurring intensive for several years and has exposed students to a healthier lifestyle and the awareness of their health. The intensive is about teaching students about nutrition and a variety of fitness activities through experiencing it. When asked how she liked the intensive so far she responded “Intensives have been fun so far, getting to know high schoolers, and going on trips together. Going on trips is really fun to explore new things with students but, simultaneously, tiring because you have to make sure everyone is safe and sticking together.” She observed how close the TYWLS community is and engaged herself in these activities to try and get to know the high schoolers have created a positive and enlightening experience for her. Joan has proven not only her creative ideas but how much of the student’s interest she has at heard to create the same positive encouragement.

How do intensives make TYWLS unique? “TYWLS intensives are unique because project-based learning is based on activities scholars are interested in.” 


And lastly, Cheryl and Emily have also celebrated their first intensives experience this year co-hosting one of TYWLS’s annual intensives, Digital Dance. Cheryl –Inclusion Teacher– and Emily –School Guidance Counselor– have enjoyed putting together dance and technology to make an awesome multimedia production! Together students have been working together to create choreography that integrates a variety of different styles and portrays our theme in a visual and dynamic way. “I love it! It is so great to get to know students in a new way and see them working on projects they are passionate about” have been consistent praises from both sides! Not only has this journey been fun and fascinating, but explorative. As Cheryl updates us on the current milestones the digital team has been making she explains “We have also been exploring ways of integrating new technology throughout the dance to prepare for the addition of robotics, coding, film, and graphic design elements to the final performance piece. Using equipment and resources from Cornell Tech with the Robotics team.” She has even hinted at joining them in the future! 


Emily recognizes the passion and commitment that is being brought into this project by each member. When asked what her high and low were she explained “The high is seeing how invested students are in our dance. I am constantly blown away by their hard work and leadership! We've had to work together to overcome challenges (like our costumes going missing!), but I wouldn't consider it a low, because that is all part of the real-world learning that intensives offer.” Through this process, Emily and the Digital dance team have been determined to succeed and show TYWLS their creativity! Would you like to create your own intensive in the future? “I have been really enjoying Digital Dance. As a former dancer and CS teacher, it feels like the perfect intensive to me!”  How do intensives make TYWLS unique? “I haven't heard of any other school with a program like intensives! It shows how authentic learning is embedded in everything we do at TYWLS and how our mastery outcomes apply to real-world projects. I think intensives is a way to acknowledge, foster, and celebrate all our students' diverse strengths and skills.” 

Students TYWLS Intensive 

For the whole month of December and the end of November as soon as students learned about the interest form for intensives being sent out, students couldn’t contain their excitement! Intensives have always had perfect timing where students may use it to ease into vacation and it is right before the holidays/winter break! Intensives are about a one or two-week event where students get the chance to engage which different peers and participate in different subjects/activities. There are numerous class options students can choose from, testing out their creativity, knowledge, and their collaboration. 


Recently, I have been reacquainted with an old friend, Cloey Cabasal –10th Grader– who excitedly joined Hobby Corners with Franchesca and Tanya. In this intensive, students got to choose their type of hobby or which hobby they were interested in. Cloey came to TYWLS when she was in 6th grade and has looked forward to intensives yearly. For the next 2 weeks, Cloey decided to learn “finger crocheting and using loop yarn. There are about 5 hobbies we can choose from each group having a finishing product by Expo day. For my hobby, we get to make scarves and blankets and it's perfect for the winter season right now.” Although I had interviewed her three days before intensives ended, she couldn’t stress how relaxing and calm it has been in class. 


Here are her honest feelings towards her intensives journey: 

“For intensives, they usually make me a little nervous because most likely I won't know everyone in the class and there are many different grades in the intensive. However, having students put into groups truly helps you have a chance to collaborate with people you usually don't ever talk to. A big high for intensives is that it's a chance to settle down in school before winter break. In my perspective, intensives is a chance to participate in many activities and events, and being honest I would most likely want intensives instead of having regular classes before Christmas.”


A senior at TYWLS had a similar experience during this year’s intensive. She has been committed to the intensive TYWLS Time of Our Life this year where the Senior Committee has been working diligently to create a  "yearbook intensive" and the school approved it. As a class, seniors have different parts of the yearbook set for the team to do, and every day are working on perfecting everything. “I am really enjoying it, I am able to voice out my opinions and hear a lot of feedback and it is an amazing learning experience.” How do intensives make TYWLS unique? “This is a specialized time for students to pick something THEY like and not what the SCHOOL is giving. It helps with our learning and knowing that our grading system can be applied to something besides generic learning is good for students. I believe it also gives students a little bit of a "pre-break" before the break because, in all honestly, sometimes a week isn't enough of a break.”


My Last Intensive Experience as a Senior

Although it is a bit sentimental, this is my last intensive at TYWLS before leaving for college. One of TYWLS' unique experiences that have always been part of my highlights every year would be intensives; a two-week course for students to find a new passion and explore their own curious minds. Funny enough, every year I have chosen a Writing/History/Creative intensive including Drop The Mic (poetry with Yana), A Creative Writing Intensive (with Sylvia and Valerie), Urban Discovery (with Norman and Devin), She’s the First (Mrs. K and Sylvia), and more! All gave me new skills and unforgettable memories. This year, I had the best experience with Digital dance I could have ever gotten!  


Aside from dancing since I was 5 years old, this was my chance to learn a different technique in a different environment than I am used to. However, digital dance included all dances including majoret, STEP, and jazz, ballet, and a bit of acrobatics! Seeing students who I wouldn’t have known dance before coming into a space where they feel free to was inspiring and motivated me to really give my all to the performance along with everyone. The two things that stood out were leadership and unity. With amazing choreographers like Nicole and Hennessy and hardworking mentors including Zaniya, Alanna, Arianne, and Meriel, the dance wouldn’t have gotten this far without them. I felt more relaxed and destressed not only because dance had always been my stress reliever but because I knew everyone loved to dance as much as I do, even more so. 


On top of the dance, what I am so excited about will pull together and enhance this annual performance is the digital part! Being a part of the tech side for a short period of time, I got to witness Andy, Cheryl, Mia, Afsana, Asiamae, Ishrath, Iffath, Aishe (Juniors and Seniors) and the Robotics Team work hard to understand the LED strips and the code used 3 years ago. Using programs including Arduino and micro bits, this team has been pulling resources from past performances and Cornell Tech to contribute to a memorable performance! I can’t wait to see it all together and be a part of a dance that not only brings people together but gives the power and uniqueness of dance/STEM. 


Digital Dance

Here at TYWLS, we have many talented students who practice dance outside of school. And due to TYWLS’s STEM-based curriculum, students are exposed to Computer Science, Robotics, and the art of Filming. But why not combine all! Digital dance is a space for both middle school and high school students who are experienced/want to learn different types of dances including hip-hop (majorette, STEP, and jazz). It is an annual intensive where students get to express themselves through actions and music. This year, digital dance is reviving the 2019 dance routine “The Elements!” with exciting new choreography and ideas to bring this production to life. Stay tuned for details on the final performance and workshops hosted throughout the year!

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