Every term we provide three written updates to our parents and colleagues. These letters provide information about new offerings, what our students are accomplishing, helpful advice for parents, our future plans and COVID-19 updates.
Spring Term 2021 Mid-Term Update and News
Written by John Wright, Academic and Curriculum Development Manager
Greetings from Bend, Oregon where longer days, higher temperatures, and lots of sunshine are signaling that Spring is in the air! As we move into Week 5 of Spring term, I want to take a moment to share with you recent activities at College Excel as well as some of our plans for summer.
As Spring unfolds in Central Oregon, we continue to offer an increased focus on fun, outdoor activities to keep students moving and motivated. Over the last month students have joined staff for local hikes, river dips, forest walks, and park games. We are also building a small community garden, and students have planted seeds that they are tending and watching grow. Many of our coaches are opting to have active coaching sessions outside. After a year of Zoom calls, our students are showing up to these activities with high energy and excitement.
Since my last update, students have also attended an aerial silks workshop with local dancers, and an art workshop with a Bend artist. We host a weekly cook night via Zoom where we provide students with the ingredients and supervision to make a fresh, healthy meal for themselves and their roommates. Building on this, last Friday students attended a cooking workshop with a professional chef where they learned to make pasta from scratch. We have more springtime activities lined up in the coming weeks including a visit to a local farm, trips to outdoor areas around Bend, and an afternoon of archery lessons.
Earlier this term, our staff had an information session for students about our plans for summer programming. Among the innovations happening this summer is a project based learning experience where students will work on 1 or 2 term-long projects. Through project based learning, students will practice solving real world needs through executive functioning and planning, teamwork, working on a budget, and communicating with their peers to accomplish physical tasks. We are currently researching four different options and will narrow down our options in the coming weeks.
This summer will also see a return of Service Learning to our curriculum–an exciting part of our curriculum that has mostly been on pause due to the pandemic. This summer students will have a weekly opportunity to give back to the community through service projects on local trails, farms, and cultural institutions. We are in the process of confirming our partnerships this summer, and our goal is to have three community partners where students can volunteer.
Among other innovations, I will also be hosting a weekly Academic Symposium focused on journaling, creative writing, and self-exploration through personal narrative. Our Mindfulness Program will continue to build on our Mindfulness and Rock Climbing curriculum and begin to incorporate yoga and Tai Chi into the schedule. In addition students will have the opportunity to participate in weekly outdoor activities including climbing a Cascade Mountain- Broken Top, whitewater rafting, moonlight canoeing, and more. Check out our Mindfulness and Rock Climbing curriculum here.
Though Central Oregon Community College will continue to offer the majority of classes in online or remote formats for the Summer term, the campus itself will officially reopen on June 14th. All remote staff are expected to return to campus at that time and offerings such as tutoring, the writing center, advising, the library, and other student services will be offered in-person. This will be the first time in over a year that these resources will be offered in-person, and we remain optimistic that we will see a full return to in-person classes as well as services by the Fall. I am watching this situation carefully and will continue to send updates as the status at the school changes.
As we move through midterms, all students on full services will have a middle of term update call. The middle of term call is a great time to check-in on a student’s progress and to provide helpful support and collaboration to keep students on track. The purpose of this mid-term update is for students to give a progress report on their goals, current grades, levels of attendance and effort, and resources they are using to keep on-track.
This call allows students to share factual information with you about their progress at College Excel while practicing adult communication, emotional regulation, and owning their own progress. For more information about our update calls, and how you can best support your students and their coaches in these calls, please reach out and we will share this great information with you!
Each term we offer a parent weekend, which gives parents, staff, and our parent coaching partners the opportunity to connect in-person. For the past year this service has happened virtually, but in the hopes of being able to offer this experience in-person again, we are postponing our Spring parent weekend until July 30th, 2021. More details are forthcoming.
Despite vaccines being widely available to the general public in Central Oregon, Deschutes County remains in the High Risk category as declared by Governor Kate Brown on April 9, 2021. At College Excel, we continue to operate with an abundance of caution and safety measures in place to keep our community safe. We have also secured vaccines for all students and staff who wish to receive them. We will continue to monitor this situation and I will send an update when the status in Deschutes County changes.
Thank you all for your ongoing support of your students and our program. May this Spring find you health, happy, and hopeful.