New MELPs at Rectory in 2019


Editor’s Note: We hope to add more photos soon, so check back again to see Rectory students in action on their MELPs!

March Experiential Learning Program or MELP, as we know it, is an exciting opportunity for Rectory students to enrich their awareness of the world. This program occurs annually during the week following March break. This year Rectory introduced Five NEW MELPs! Allow us to give you a “tour” of each of them:

Surf and Turf: Exploring Anaheim, CA (Faculty – Long, Slocum) – Theme: Water and Terrain of  the “Gold Coast”

Activities included volunteering at a food shelter, visiting a bird sanctuary, and watching an Anaheim Ducks NHL game. The days were busy and the students didn’t have much downtime. With lots of traffic and long car trips, they weren’t able to complete some of their activities such as bicycling or going to Griffith Park. However, the students experienced many new skills and opportunities. The group also went on a few whale & dolphin watches and hiked Runyon Canyon. The MELP leaders agreed that some events will be adjusted next year, including more surfing and hiking with rescued wolves. Surf and Turf had sixteen students during its first year.

Unlocking the Everglades: Key Largo (Faculty – Haines, Ames) – Theme: Understanding your place in the world and respecting the environment

Divided into three parts, land, water and Everglades, this trip focused on exploring the natural wilderness in Florida. On land, students biked 20 miles from Key (island) to Key, listening to stories of the history of local areas. On the water, students had planned to swim in an underwater coral national park, the first underwater national park in the U.S. Unfortunately, this activity was canceled; however, it is expected to happen next year. Also water-related, the group learned about dolphins and even got to swim with them. In the Everglades, the group went on a wet walk on the slog. This water is about knee-deep and underneath are leaves and dead animals. They found frogs, owls, and occasionally walked alongside alligators! Can you say Jurassic Park? They also visited a wild-bird hospital and learned that most of the bird injuries were caused by humans.

When interviewing Ms. Haines, we learned she chose this new MELP because it provided her and the students opportunities to explore activities in which they do not normally participate. Mr. Ames agreed that the Everglades experience taught many essential virtues. Students learned the importance of team building via kayaking through the alligator river; moreover, they learned to respect the environment and recognize how human activities can have a domino effect on the ecosystem.

Animation, Innovation, and Imagination: Orlando, Florida  (Faculty – Wiegel, Caldwell, Finnegan) – Theme: Exposure to artistic, scientific and creative hands-on experiences at Disney World

Activities focused on Disney and the filmmaking industry. By examining the evolution of technology and communication, students were shown ways to visualize and conceptualize certain experiences, which will continue to develop throughout their lifetime and beyond. Additionally, experiences at Epcot Center gave students exposure to real-life arts, music, culture, and the history of many European countries. Students examined “Motion and Physics” at Magic Kingdom park, which allowed them to see how the math and science that they work with each day can be applied to real-life situations such as ride construction and audio-animatronic figures.

At Animal Kingdom Park, students learned about wildlife conservation and sustainable living practices. They learned about the diverse ecosystems within the world and how their lives can impact those around them. Moreover, they volunteered at Ronald McDonald House which is a hotel accommodation that helps families whose children are staying in the hospital. The students made brownies and cookies for guests and cleaned up around the house while the families were at the hospital. The students really enjoyed lending a helping hand and agreed that they should definitely go back next year. The group ate delicious dishes too! One favorite was the skolebrød from Norway. It is similar to a Bavarian cream donut. Its pastry is covered in coconut and vanilla glaze and filled with vanilla cream cheese.

When speaking with Ms.Wiegel about why she chose to do this new MELP,  she said that she has loved Disney movies since she was a kid. Before becoming a teacher, she seriously considered going into voice acting to become some of the voices of the Disney characters and princesses. As a music teacher, she is fascinated with how music fits into everyday life and how, more recently, music plays such a big part in movies. “Did you know that sometimes the movies they create get advertised even before the music has been written?” Questions like this were among those that inspired Ms. Wiegel,  Mr. Finnegan, and Ms. Caldwell to join this MELP.

Lights, Camera, Action: Hollywood, CA (Faculty – Mr. Nagle, Mrs. Deojay) – Theme: The inner workings of creating and executing a TV show or movie

Mr. Nagle has an interest in the entertainment industry, so he thought this MELP would be a good way to show Rectory students what he knows and who he knows (so LA, right?) by introducing them to Los Angeles and the world of TV/Movie production.

The students visited two major movie studios and took a tour of their front and back lots. They got to walk through two TV show sets and saw how they were created and shot. The highlight was sitting through two live tapings of America’s Got Talent! The group sat in and near the first row, so they not only saw first-hand how the show was filmed, but they also sat next to the judges. The students had a tour of pre-production and post-production companies and learned about their involvement in making a TV show or movie. The students also took a tour of Netflix and learned how they became the number one production company in the world. Mr. Nagle feels that the students enjoyed the experience and learned a lot about the entertainment industry.

When Mr. Nagle asked Mrs. Deojay to join him in Hollywood, she jumped at the chance, as she was new to Rectory and thought it would be a good way to get to know the students. The group visited Warner Brothers Studios, Universal Studios, and Universal Picture Studios. They all enjoyed being able to see how TV sets were made and how shows are recorded and edited. Mrs. Deojay said that it was amazing to see how different the scenes look on TV than they do as they’re recorded on the set.

How It’s Made, The Grand Tour (Faculty – Mrs. Bastow, Ms. Gregory) – Theme: Exploring the heart of American industry and the rapid change of industrialization post Civil War

Having had a previous amazing trip to Hershey Chocolate World, Mrs. Bastow, along with Ms. Gregory, returned with Rectory students to not only show them how chocolate and candy are produced but to also teach them about the incredible vision and commitment of Milton Hershey. He is known for investing time and effort into nurturing a workforce that was efficient, effective, and highly valued.

In addition to Hershey Chocolate World, the group had a busy itinerary visiting the National Museum of Industrial History, and touring the plants at PEZ Candy, Turkey Hill Ice Cream, and Julius Sturgis Pretzels. A few of their non-food stops included Bluett Brothers’ Violins, the National Clock and Watch Museum and Harley Davidson. Their last stop before returning to the Northeast was to Gilson Snowboards where they observed the full process of snowboard building, from a plank of locally grown poplar wood to a patented snowboard.

This MELP clearly demonstrated to students the immense influence industry has on an economy with first-hand examples of manufacturing processing. Especially important was the awareness of how one American town, such as Hershey, PA, can highlight one employer, Milton Hershey, and nurture an entire community. Next year they hope to include a visit to the Milton Hershey School, which Mr. Hershey built for orphaned children. Overall, it was an incredible trip that opened students’ eyes to the hard work and ingenuity that goes into making products that we all enjoy on a daily basis.

The DiRectory spoke with Mrs. Bastow, Rectory’s MELP Coordinator, to ask her why we try to add new MELPs to the program every year since students can never take the same MELP twice. Mrs. Bastow said that adding new MELPs keeps the program “fresh” and offers new and exciting learning experiences to our students each year. She is open to considering new ideas for MELPs from faculty, staff, and even students and their parents. So if you have some suggestions for possible MELPs, please send them our way via the “comments” section below. We will be sure to get your ideas to Mrs. Bastow asap!! Thank you!