Winterim Leadership Change Proves Successful

by Lauren Fogelstrom '15

Upper School students sailing in the San Juan Islands during Winterim. (Photo: Catlin Gabel)

Upper School students sailing in the San Juan Islands during Winterim. (Photo: Catlin Gabel)

Although Upper School students have been leading Winterim since the program began decades ago, this year it took an ambitious new turn.

The junior class took on the leadership of each Winterim by initiating, organizing, and leading them. Students submitted 24 proposals, of which were 20 were ultimately selected. Students initially seemed to have mixed feelings about the shift, which added more work to the junior class’s already busy schedule, but in retrospect many felt that the change was a success.

Both the junior leaders and several faculty advisors were happy with how their Winterims were conducted. Adele English, who led the “ART$ AND CRAFT$” Winterim with Kallisti Kenaley-Lundberg, said “Leadership is a natural part of Winterim and as Catlin students, Kallisti and I readily took on the leadership role. Our overall experience was successful!”

Similarly, Emma Marcus thought her “Art in Seattle” Winterim was also successful, but for different reasons. She commented, “I think I was able to have a more fun time because I got to have a central role in deciding what activities we took part in.”

Faculty advisors and peers participating in the Winterims agreed with these overviews. Outdoor program director Peter Green, an advisor for the “Sailing in the San Juans” Winterim said, “[Finn Schneider] was my most active leader for a Winterim ever.” Underclassmen agreed with the positive reviews. Sophomore Vishal Vanka thought overall the planning of his Winterim led by two juniors was much organized than last year.

While the final experiences turned out enjoyable and successful, the actual process was a little more complicated. Since the the lead had never been placed so completely on a single class, the deadlines and structure were a bit overwhelming for some.

English thought, “The process seemed very sudden, and many people were surprised that their Winterims were put into effect.“ Furthermore, Marcus said, “I found it hard to put my all into leading my Winterim because it was easy to get overwhelmed.” Even Green said, “Yes it was successful, but I don’t know that it was a good idea. I think it is a huge burden on the juniors, and I think the faculty could and should take on a larger role in the individual Winterims.”

Participants had some advice to offer regarding the program. While the three or four days of Winterim may have been successful in the end, the process of getting to that point was less fluid.

“The key is to start early – I think any student should be able to partner with a faculty member to lead a Winterim, but it needs to begin in October,” said Green, referring back to his point of stronger faculty involvement. And even though English enjoyed her Winterim, in retrospect she said it would “be helpful to have more feedback on our Winterims before we really start planning them.” Also, since some Winterim ideas were simply offered to the class without the intention of leading them, Marcus said, “I wish we would have had more of an option of whether or not we wanted to commit to leading one.”

Junior co-class president Zac Torng ’15 and Matthew Bernstein ’15 helped to organize the juniors and keep every Winterim plan moving along, but he agreed that, “if there were more clear guidelines for what we needed to have [and] by when, the planning process would have been a lot easier.”

While the success of Winterim came with a few struggles and added pressures, the first year of the transition seemed to go well overall. In the next few years, many of the minor problems will hopefully be worked out and the future junior classes can continue to lead and improve the program. Winterim overseer Glenn Burnett commented, “I hope that we continue the idea that planning great Winterims is a team effort.” Indeed, the future looks bright.