Junior Holland Carlton collects residue from the river. Photo: Leah Mautner

In an effort to let students gradually readjust to Pace’s academic rigor following winter break, many of the core sciences are substituted for minimesters for the first schedule rotation. These science-based classes, in addition to the beloved Spirit Week, prove to lower student stress levels as students ease into second semester. “Because Spirit Week takes up a lot of after-school time, having one less class that gives homework is amazing,” said freshman Lane Brickley.

Rain or shine, students in Swamp Ecology, taught by environmental science teacher Kevin Ballard, braved the cold weather as they explored a new swamp destination every day. “We learned about the types of different trees and fish that live in and around the swamps,” said freshman Sloan Baker. “It was fun learning by actually being outside instead of a classroom.”

In addition to being outside while learning, many people enjoy this minimester because they get to learn while being with their friends. “Swamp ecology is really fun; you just need to bring a change of clothes when you go,” said junior Veronica Sandoval. “One day we went to the swamp and my boots apparently had holes in them. The current in the river knocked me down and I ended up falling in the swamp.”

Forensic Science, taught by biology teacher Taylor Randell, was a new addition to the list of offerings this year. In this minimester, students applied the sciences to criminal investigation. “We learned about the misconceptions around forensic sciences,” said junior Lane Goldman. “We also had a day on fingerprints and how to dust for them. It was cool learning about the different forensic sciences and how the police use them in investigations.” Many students loved it for how informative it was. “It was cool solving crimes and using sciences to solve real-world and important things,” said freshman Jack Brown.

Although minimester classes in general are stress relieving, Exercise For Stress Reduction, offered by chemistry teacher Melody Walter, was a minimester designed specifically for that purpose. “Exercise for stress reduction was no joke,” said junior Joe Hirsch. “We went for a walk in the brisk air, swam in the [Pace] natatorium and also had a 30-minute yoga lesson. We learned how exercise can help us reduce stress and mentally focus.” Just like Swamp Ecology, this minimester let students learn outside of the classroom, which is not typical of a Pace student’s daily routine.

As second semester kicks up a notch, students are excited for future minimesters. “I’m already looking forward to it next year,” said sophomore Claire Wierman. “It’s my favorite week with Spirit Week and seeing everyone after break.”