Discovery: Session 1, Week 1

This week we opened the doors of Acton Academy of Bergen County to returning and new learners! Each learner stepped over the threshold ready to start their Hero’s Journey. Despite being a short week, our learners packed the two days with fun and adventures.

On the first day of school the Discovery Studio learners opened their day with free time and introduced themselves to each other. Our first morning launch consisted of a discussion about whether or not our futures are pre-determined or can be changed. Many of the learners argued that our futures are not fixed, and we have the power to make decisions that will impact our futures. Some learners added that while our futures are fixed, our pasts are not and no decision we make can change them. After our launch the learners played a team building game where they were given a category and had to sort themselves based on that category, For example if a guide said “eye color,” the learners had to group themselves according to their eye color. Two learners were ecstatic at the end of the activity because they had never met someone with green eyes until they met each other!

They also began planning for their Lip Dub challenge. At Acton the first big challenge of the year is the Lip Dub where the learners are given a song to memorize and then choreograph moves to do while they lip sing the song. After all the preparation they have to film it. The learners have as many tries as they like but the video must be shot in one take, no editing is allowed! To kick off the challenge they watched Lip Dubs done by previous Acton and discussed what they liked and didn’t like about them. After they were given the lyrics to the song “Best Day of My Life,” by American Authors to memorize. The memorization and choreography are done in squads. The squads are teams of five learners with a leader who helps them organize and complete tasks. These squads will also be used for core skills in the coming weeks where the squad leader will help them set and review goals, as well as be the point person for challenges they might encounter while doing their work.

Both days, the learners were introduced to unique systems we have at Acton. On Thursday we introduced them to DEAR Time or Drop Everything And Read. Each learner chose a book from our studio library and read it in a spot they chose for a half hour. They were also introduced to meditation, something every learner participates in every day at Acton. They watched a short video explaining the importance of meditation and then rested on rest mats with quiet music for ten minutes. At the end of the day, the learners took part in studio maintenance, a fifteen-minute block of time where each learner works on a task to clean up the studio from that day’s activities.

The learners also enjoyed free time indoors and outdoors this week. While indoors, some learners chose to play quiet games such as Battleship and Blokus. Other learners moved into the small room for a game of gaga ball, a studio favorite last year. When we went outdoors the learners could either choose to go to the woods, or the grass area next to the school. Being outdoors gave the learners the change to commune with each other while exploring the nature the nearby grounds has to offer.