January 10, 2020

Winterim: Week 1 Recap

Winterim Ceramics Class

Winterim is a unique time in the Wheaton Academy school calendar. First adopted in 1991 when the January term was gaining popularity at the collegiate level, Winterim shows our enduring commitment to innovation in the classroom.

During these two weeks, Wheaton Academy students can take specialized courses on campus, complete an internship, or travel. This year, courses range from Military Intelligence Operations to Aviation and Mixed Martial Arts. In these courses, students have opportunities to immerse themselves in the subjects they love, explore new skills, and discover new passions. As we look back on the first week of Winterim 2020, we are highlighting a few of these innovative learning opportunities.

Make That

In “Make That” students work with Mr. Burick in the IDEA Lab to create all types of projects. “It’s a very open-ended class—students can learn to create anything they want,” shared Mr. Burick. “If they need to learn to use a tool, I’ll train them. I have a student building a rocking chair, and another student building a radio-control car completely from scratch.

The atmosphere in the IDEA lab is focused. Students work individually on their projects and consult with Mr. Burick when they have questions. Sophomore Elijah Felix shared, “I am a huge Star Wars fan, and I’m making a model of a lightsaber to hang up in my room. I’m using 3D printers to make the lightsaber hollow so that I can put an LED light inside of it. I’m also making a Mandalorian paintball helmet out of polycarbonate since that is a strong material. It’s a difficult project, but it is a great challenge.”

Rock Climbing

In rock climbing class, students are learning climbing techniques at Vertical Endeavors with Miss Hazel.

“Rock climbing is a unique opportunity for students to develop their physical, mental, and social skills in harmony,” Miss Hazel explained. “As they work to ascend complex routes, students are challenged to think and move creatively. And it all happens in the context of a supportive and safe community, where students can experience the joy of sharing adventure and challenge with others.”

Before tackling the walls at Vertical Endeavors, students worked on their balance by slack lining in the Atrium. Now they’re working towards their belay certification. Sophomore Penny Shackelford shared,  “I think it’s really cool how we are learning our different strengths. Some people are more flexible, some people have more upper body strength, it’s cool to see how we are all unique.” And Freshman Stockton Ereneta added, “When you’re rock climbing, you just keep on going—it takes perseverance.”


In “Inklings,” students are studying literature in an Oxford-style tutorial with Mr. Dominguez. The class meets in coffee houses, tea rooms, and the Marion E. Wade Center, home to an extensive collection of resources from C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and other authors.

“In this class, we are looking at authors who shaped global culture because they were in a safe community where they could share and critique their literary work and support each other theologically,” shared Mr. Dominguez. Inklings is created to be a safe group for any student wherever they are at in their faith journey, just like the original Inklings group in Oxford. Mr. Dominguez added, “What makes this class innovative is that we’re not just studying about Lewis and Tolkien, we’re literally doing what they did.

Students browse Lewis’s personal copy of the poems of T.S. Eliot at the Wade Center

In reflecting on the first week of Inklings classes, Senior Phil Miner shared, “Part of the fun isn’t just analyzing the texts themselves, but also sharing our own opinions about it. Each different opinion isn’t really a source of conflict as much as it is another thing to talk about.” Sophomore Hannah Fritz added, “It starts with literature and then it all bounces back to faith and to real life—which is what learning is all about.”

For over twenty years, students have enjoyed unique and intensive hands-on learning experiences during Winterim. But don’t just take our word for it, learn how a Winterim class changed someone else’s life.

Stephanie Gregersen

Winterim at Wheaton Academy changed the direction of my life. During my freshman year, I took an Aviation class. During that class I gained a passion for flying. I did not know how to process it at the time, but I now know that it was in that Winterim class that God called me to become a pilot!”

Stephaine Gregersen, ’19

Stay tuned next week to hear more about trips and internships…