Diploma Students & Teachers Call IB Retreat ‘Amazing’

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Clare Ravizza, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Before the sun appeared in the sky Friday morning, 15 of NDA’s IB Diploma seniors boarded a bus with Mr. Matt Schultz, Mr. Chris Gray, Ms. Michele Mahlock, and Dr. Diane Mulroney and ventured off towards Chicago for the annual IB retreat.

The purpose of the trip was to provide work time and reflective experiences for the students’ prescribed titles, a requirement for our Theory of Knowledge class.

“I thought the trip was amazing,” said Mulroney. “This is the second year that Mr. Schultz has planned the trip, and he did a wonderful job. I was impressed with the students overall.”

Once arriving in Chicago, the students met with a group of professors and teacher education students at Loyola University Chicago. LUC is unique in that its teacher education students graduate with an IB certification, so the students that worked with us had experience with IB.

NDA students met in small groups with a member of the LUC community to discuss prescribed title prompts and outlines.

“My meeting with an education student at Loyola helped me gain insight and new perspectives on my prescribed title,” said Grace Zellner, an IB senior.

“When the NDA students were working with the Loyola students and professors, they were wonderful ambassadors for the school. They embodied the IB Learner Profile as they engaged with total strangers,” said Mulroney.

The group then received a student-led tour of the LUC Waterfront campus before heading to volunteer at a Chicago public elementary school.

NDA students and staff helped the staff of New Field Primary school by organizing classrooms, libraries and supplies while students had the school day off. New Field Elementary is a school that community members of LUC often work with as part of their PLAN 2020, which encourages LUC students to engage with Chicago public schools (CPS).

“The service was interesting because it opened my eyes to a school setting that is very different from NDA,” said Kate Stumpf, who helped a New Field teacher in her classroom. “Over half of the students spoke a language other than English and struggle learning with standard teaching methods.”

Senior Jenn Cluckey added, “I wasn’t sure what to expect stepping into an inner-city public school, and although we weren’t there while students were there, we were still able to see the dynamic of the staff and how much work they put into providing a good education for their students despite the challenges that the CPS System is struggling with.”

After volunteering, we headed back to the hotel. We then walked a few blocks to dinner at an amazing Armenian restaurant.

“I enjoyed trying foods that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to try in Green Bay,” said Cluckey. “The meal created a camaraderie among people by sharing dishes and trying new things. We were all experiencing new things together.”

The next morning, we headed to the Art Institute of Chicago for several hours, where students were encouraged to pay specific attention to how the artist statements related to their prescribed titles.

“The Art Institute was my favorite part of the trip. We got to see how artists reflect their life in their art, specifically in the modern art section, and how it’s different across different cultures, like in African art and European art,” said Stumpf.

Afterwards, we headed to a tapas restaurant for lunch.

“As far as language and Spanish, we heard it in the street, restaurant, at school. We had tapas, which we had studied in IB Spanish class, so we were able to directly relate to something we had learned,” said Mulroney.

We walked to Saturday evening Mass at the Holy Name Cathedral before heading back to Green Bay.  

“I said to Ms. Mahlock, it feels like I’ve been away from home because we did so much on this trip,” explained Mulroney Saturday night.  

Not only was it a busy trip, but many students felt like they grew closer to their fellow IBDP students.

“The trip was great because I was bonding with people I wasn’t really acquainted with before. It brought us all closer. We all got along really, really well, which is pretty neat,” said senior Lilly Brada.

Personally, I thought it was a very fulfilling trip. I made a lot of progress on my prescribed title, and I was able to see connections across all of the activities we did to our prescribed titles, as well as to my academics and IB in general. Being globally-minded is one of the pillars of IB, and we definitely practiced that in Chicago.

“It was a very well-rounded trip,” said Mulroney. “There was an academic component for the students’ prescribed titles, service at the CPS, cultural with the food and languages, spiritual with mass, as well as the Chicago Art Institute. It was amazing.”