January Term 2015

What is Jan Term?

From January 6 through January 23,  all West Sound Academy students participated in Jan Term 2015. In Jan Term, the normal seven period class schedule was suspended and students studied two intensive classes for three weeks. Jan Term provided a forum where students could put the academic skills they have been building into practical application. The day was divided into a morning Jan Term class and an afternoon Jan Term class. Students were graded and earned 0.25 elective credits for each of their Jan Term classes. 

A total of thirteen classes were offered for Jan Term 2015. Twelve of the offerings were half-day classes meeting for three hours per day. Students chose a morning Jan Term and an afternoon Jan Term for a total of two separate classes.  The thirteenth course was WSA's traditional Jan Term music class, led by Paul Burback and D’Arcy Clements, with the entire day devoted to music. 

jan term 2014 paul directing

With winter break and Jan Term representing five weeks without our traditional academic schedule, the transition back into second semester was made smoother for all with enrichment assignments during the break. Students were given three specific tasks to do on their own time during Jan Term:

  1. Complete an individualized math practice packet.
  2. Read a book (either assigned or free choice depending on their English teacher’s directions.)
  3. Watch a movie chosen by the teacher for the language the student is currently learning.(Each movie was screened once at school in the evening for students' convenience during Jan Term.)

All Day Jan Term Class

Music Immersion  (This class met from 8:20 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.)

Instructors: Paul Burback and D'Arcy Clements

Paul Burback & D’Arcy Clements offered a supersized music class during Jan term this year. Students taking this class were required to have intermediate to advanced experience on at least one instrument, although being able to read music wa not mandatory. The class worked together as an ensemble.  

Students were actively involved in putting together a concert for their final performance - they came up with the material and decided how it should be arranged. 

mark gsellman upper school music

The final performance featured an eclectic mix of styles of music. The performance included World Music, Classical, Gypsy Jazz, Rock, movie and video game themes and much more. The idea was to  'free your mind and see where the music takes you!' 

Morning Jan Term Options

(These classes met 8:20 to 11:20 a.m. every day of Jan Term.)

Food Art

Instructor: Gary White

A feast for the eyes; treats for the tongue.

Students played with their food and created bushels of delicious artwork. They examined traditional and contemporary cultures for inspiration. Projects ranged from Día de Muertos Sugar Skulls to Bento Box Beasts. The class explored a variety of aesthetic concerns, and sampled a range of techniques including carving, arranging, mold-making and more. There were a broad range of projects, all simple enough for anyone to accomplish, yet beautiful enough to be hung in an art museum (or to be served in its restaurant).

biq ice cream in melon

Before students handled anything edible, they studied the Washington State Food and Beverage Workers' Manual.  Part of the materials fee covered the cost for students to obtain a Food Handler Permit (Food Worker Card.)

Appetizers (aka Class Projects)

  • Gingerbread Tardis (it’s even sweeter on the inside)
  • Grilled (pancake) Dinosaur
  • Powdered-Sugar Graffiti, public art alla Banksy
  • (Francis) Bacon Fondant
  • Toast Ghosts
  • “Too Cool to Pool” Ice Carving
  • Fried (dough) Cthulhu
  • Better in Butter
  • Shrunken (apple) Heads
  • Maori (Banana) Skin Tattoos
  • Fimo Dough Snackettes
  • Eat Your Face, by Arcimboldo
biq-ice sculpture

Gender & Contemporary Culture

Instructor: Eric Bright

This class sought to explore, demystify, and critique cultural constructions of gender—beliefs about what it means to be a man, woman, or someone who identifies with neither category—which structure and govern our perception of ourselves and the world in which we live.

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To this end, students read some theoretical works on gender which they used as an analytical framework to interrogate and examine how these constructions affect our daily lives and inform the creation and reception of art, literature, pop culture, institutions, and contemporary social and political policies.

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Students drew upon the knowledge and insights they acquired through reading and discussion to develop their own individual or group reflections on gender through a work of art, short fiction, documentary, or presentation.

West Sound to West Hollywood:  An Acting Experience

Instructor: Chris Soldevilla

Chris has been an adjunct instructor with West Sound Academy since 2007. A professional actor, coach, and principal owner of The Studio located on Bainbridge Island, Chris specializes in preparing actors for today's acting industry and confidence building for life in general. No experience was necessary for his Jan Term class, just a willingness to try.

chris soldevilla

Relying heavily on improvisational games and techniques, this class explored ways to communicate, perform, and create scenes using these acting methods. The class worked to create an improvised performance as well as scripted scenes designed for stage and camera. Students honed their acting skills and dabbled in the environments of not only performing, but what it’s like to write, cast, create, and even shoot scenes, ads, and shows.

There was a final performance to demonstrate the improv games learned and a previewing of the taped work that was accomplished. Soldevilla's class was a great experience for any creative minds wondering what it is like to pursue a career in acting, and the necessary skills needed to do so.

filming 1935

The Art of Cinema

Instructor: Catherine Freeman

This class challenged students to consider film viewing as a conscious, critical and analytic activity, as well as a fun one. Students learned about the elements of film language and aesthetics as they explored the development of cinema as an art form and cultural artifact.

This course was designed to be a journey through the world of film.

biq damsel in distress
biq clint eastwood fistful of dollars 1964

Students watched movies of a variety of film styles as well as genres including but not limited to silent film melodrama, film noir, comedy, the war film, and the western.

Members of the class talked and wrote about these movies as they analyzed them with a number of engaging activities. Popcorn was included!

The History of Fun

Instructor: Allan Batchelder

This class explored the history, nature and various manifestations of fun, from early man to the present. Members of the class examined how fun is experienced in many cultures and even species, around the world.

Students experimented with active, creative, scientific, and even culinary activities from a wide range of regions and historical periods.

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There was something to suit every interest and learning style, and students found joy and enjoyment in things they were never aware of before. The goal was to help students find a reliable, repeatable recipe for fun as a method for stress management and overall quality of life!

Gohn Dagow Martial Art

Instructor: David Miller

Self-defense is a valuable skill for anyone to know regardless of age, size, or gender. This class taught students an ancient form of kung fu known as Gohn Dagow.

Gohn Dagow originated in 2800 B.C. The art centered within the secrecy of religious temples until approximately 638 A.D., when a monk named Chin Li brought the art out of the temples.

gohn dagow

A fifth generation grand master, also named Chin Li, brought the art to the United States from China in 1945.

In Gohn Dagow students learned and practiced physical techniques for health and self defense. Hand and foot techniques, as well as holds and throws were taught. Ancient philosophies were also shared with the students.


Through practicing the physical techniques, students developed their inner chi (energy) and learned the self-discipline, patience, perseverance and humility that comes from within.

Mr. Miller has been a student of Gohn Dagow for almost 30 years and has trained over 200 students in the art of self-defense. This course focused on self-defense, prevention, philosophy, and strength conditioning.

yin yang

Afternoon Jan Term Options

(These classes met 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. every day of Jan Term.)

Awesome Athletic Adventures

Instructors: Barrie Hillman and Lisa Gsellman, with guest instructors

This Jan Term class was a physical education experience taken to a new level of adventure and fun. Students experienced a variety of sports both indoor and outdoor. They learned new skills that promoted a love of exercise and a firm commitment to the belief that there is no bad weather, there is only inappropriate clothing.

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Students learned everything from building a fire to playing rugby to fly fishing to yoga to ultimate Frisbee to rock climbing and many other adventures. Their fearless leaders began by conducting team and confidence building activities and then introduced new adventures with background information, instruction and practice. No experience was necessary - just a love of exercise and willingness to work in all kinds of weather.

All during their journey the class captured photos and videos which were edited into a final documentary of the class. Students were graded on their participation and engagement, preparation, proper clothing, and their sportsmanship and team work. 

september2013 climbing club 5

Craft Sensations

Instructor: Jen Silvernale

In our busy, fast-paced world having the time and space to create functional art with our hands is a luxury. Students in this class who had dabbled in the past with hand-crafted projects or were interested in learning new skills were introduced to multiple craft mediums. Each afternoon, this group had the chance to create new and fun CRAFT-centered inventions.

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Projects included: knitted and crocheted scarves (and a knitted tree in our school garden!), beaded jewelry and accessories, scrapbook pages with students' favorite photos included, glass etching, felt-stuffed animals and any other projects the class could concoct over their three weeks of right-brained-learning freedom.

No prior experience was necessary other than a willingness to try new things! Students who joined this craft-stravaganza were able to let their inner crafter roar!

Devised Theatre: Think It, Share It, Create It

Instructor: Gretchen Nordleaf-Nelson

This class was an invitation to dive into the world of theatre! The Devised Theatre Workshop was an extraordinary opportunity for students to immerse themselves in the theatre experience in a great atmosphere that only West Sound Academy can offer. Students worked hard, learned along the way and made new friends – and found out that many in the class had similar dreams, ideas and visions – imagine that!

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biq red velvet curtains

The Devised Theatre Workshop was for beginning, intermediate, and seasoned actors who love to learn and want to build their theatre skills through hands-on workshops and rehearsals. Workshops included Theatre Games, Improv (so much of Improv), Acting, Movement, and Script Writing all tied into rehearsals for their final show.

Devised theatre is an exciting way to create theatre and get your voice onstage! Using personal stories, news articles, music, dance, and pop culture, students in this class created scenes and vignettes inspired by their own and their classmates’ experiences. Funny and poignant, devised theatre is sure to leave an impact on performers and the audience alike. The final performance of the class took place at the end of Jan Term.

This was an incredible three-week experience that will last a lifetime!

biq coffee and biscotti

Star Trek: Its Influence on Technology & Culture

Instructor: Lionel Pummell

Star Trek has embedded itself in our daily lives and sparked the minds of scientists to go where no man has gone before. In Star Trek 4 (1986) Scotty sold the formula for transparent aluminum, today Surmet makes ALON transparent aluminum armor. Communicators, transporters, tractor beams, Phasers, tricorders all things of the far future in 1966 when Star Trek first aired are now currently used or being developed.

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biq star trek tv 1966 transporter

And it’s not just for the tech-literate among us: “Set Phasers to stun”, “Beam me up Scotty”, “Live long and prosper” have become part of the American lexicon. Through discussion, writing, online and scientific exploration as well as viewing selected episodes students in the class learned why Star Trek has endured the test of time. Students in the Star Trek Jan Term set warp speed ahead because resistance is futile.

Imposters in Film, Literature & Culture

Instructor: Julieta Vitullo

Impersonators, imitators, con artists, pretenders, deceivers, fraudsters, hoaxers, tricksters, swindlers, scammers: the world is full of them, although one might wonder why people risk so much to be someone they are not. Throughout history and across the planet, artists and writers have expressed different renditions of imposture, drawing from real life events and the real social and historical conditions that lay the ground for those narratives to come into being.

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mata hari 1906 dance of the seven veils

One needs not to look only at fiction because history is full of examples that were later fictionalized, from numerous adaptations of spy and femme fatale Mata Hari’s life, to Steven Spielberg’s account of Frank Abagnale, one of the youngest conners in history, in Catch Me If you Can. In this class, students explored the figure of the impostor through films, short stories, plays, music, art, and texts on psychology and the animal world. Students read, discussed and participated in hands-on activities that even involved a delightedly deceitful culinary experiment. They were given writing prompts to write their own impostor stories, create visual art pieces and theatrical performances.

By exploring some of the sociological, historical and political implications underlying these narratives and analyzing their relationship to identity, the class tried to answer the question: what are the conditions that allow imposture to emerge and what do these narratives tell us about the status of authenticity in a society.  

Students who thought they knew who their friends truly were, signed up for this class!

george harrison pushes john lennon in wheelchair 1965

Writing, Walking and Wondering

Instructor: David Sumner-Smith

Afoot and afield, putting pen to paper, this intrepid and mellifluous Jan-Term course combined creative writing and local treks.

This class crafted creative writing – poetry and short stories – and took attentive, purposeful walks in the woods and along the shores of our area. They also explored some book arts.

biq wet driveway bainbridge island

For centuries writers have used walking as a way of being mindful, clearing cobwebs and generally sorting out ideas as they sought inspiration.

biqthe wordsworth lake rydal water lake district cumbria england

A journey on foot integrates mind and body: the legs move, and the mind wanders. By being forced to focus on quick-passing logistical realities such as stepping over uneven ground, the brain is freed up from having to contemplate background worries, which are both more tedious and less specific, than the ground underfoot.

Walking for us can be like a phonograph needle that has been lifted up off its original track, and is now free to land along a new groove of its own choosing. The trick of forgetting can be used to the poet’s advantage, if he or she can get free from the same old thoughts for a little while - long enough to land in a new space of creativity. The writings of William Wordsworth, the English Romantic poet, are correlated to walking the Lake District and all over the English countryside.

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biq colvos passage kitsap peninsula in distance

In this sense, Wordsworth’s walks were clearly (or nearly) transcendent. Whether or not his walking brought him into a state beyond the ordinary realms of space and time, certainly he escaped the collected tedium of his daily life.

The walks this class took were not strenuous; nonetheless, clenching and carping were strictly forbidden! According to the instructor:  "They will be pun(ished)."  Carpe-ing the diem on the other hand was encouraged.