28 Mar Dreaming Big at the Centre for Imagination
Over these last weeks, so many good things have emerged from our Centre for Imagination (CFI), including two fantastic student-led events profiled below The CFI is Woodstock’s dedicated interdisciplinary space, which cuts across different areas of the academic curriculum and aspects of our enrichment programme.
Embracing an interdisciplinary approach is one of three key threads we have identified as necessary to ensuring that Woodstock remains distinctive into the future. Alongside leveraging our environment and creating cutting-edge virtual spaces, facilitating students’ exploration of interdisciplinary studies is crucial to preparing students to thrive in leadership and life. The social and environmental challenges facing us today are too complex to be solved with a siloed approach. We need complex analysis across disciplines to find innovative solutions to twenty-first century problems.
Interdisciplinary studies can mean anything which combines two or more subjects or areas of knowledge; for example, combining literature and science, drama and social studies, or mathematics and music. An interdisciplinary approach is already integrated into many aspects of the school’s IB curriculum, with these opportunities arriving organically and by design. During our MYP interdisciplinary unit, students and teachers work on projects which cut across different subjects, and the Theory of Knowledge course in the DP uses multiple areas of knowledge to approach broad themes such as language, technology, and indigenous societies.
At the Centre for Imagination, students... are encouraged to think outside the box and dream big, in order to discover their grand passions in life and make their own unique contributions to the world around them.
The CFI plays a holistic role as a dedicated interdisciplinary focal point on campus. It provides an outlet where students can pursue their passions and interests, with support and encouragement to take any project they want to accomplish from imagination to reality. The space itself is important, and the CFI building has been completely renovated into a sophisticated space where the whole community can learn, meet and collaborate. But the CFI is so much more than a building. It provides a support network, with CFI Director Jamie Williams, and CFI and CAS Coordinator Priya Rollins, who are available to help students realise their ambitions, talk through any challenges, and facilitate the practical requirements of their passion projects. In turn they are supported by a team of students who are learning valuable skills and gaining experience through a variety of CFI internships.
The events over the last week are powerful demonstrations of this in practice. The Coffee House event pulled together students under the banner of music, literature and performance, with the Greenhouse+Café spreading its message that sustainable healthy food is not only nutritious, but delicious. ‘Don’t Shut Up’ brought together politics, history, and a service mindset to give students an understanding of the reality of living in Ukraine, right now, from the perspective of a Woodstock alumnus who graduated just seven years ago.
While these are great examples, they are just a moment in time and provide a glimpse of the scope and potential of the CFI, and what it can mean as part of students’ personal development. At the Centre for Imagination, students – and indeed, the entire Woodstock community, from staff to parents to alumni – are encouraged to think outside the box and dream big, in order to discover their grand passions in life and make their own unique contributions to the world around them.
Dr Craig Cook, Principal
Healthy Food and Wholesome Fun
Healthy homemade food, good company and some homespun entertainment – what better way to spend a Saturday afternoon? On 18 March the Centre for Imagination (CFI) hosted the first Coffee House event of this semester. Coffee House evenings offer students and staff the chance to get together and perform in front of an audience, whether it’s music, poetry, comedy, or whatever medium they choose. The intimate and supportive atmosphere is a wonderful way for students to share their talents with their friends.
The atmosphere wasn’t the only thing that was wholesome at the event, with food provided by Greenhouse+Café. The café is another student-led CFI initiative with a mission to encourage students to be mindful of what’s really in their food and its journey from field to plate. Krittika from the Class of 2024 was one of the Greenhouse+Café team members who prepared and served healthy, sustainable and most of all delicious food at Saturday’s Coffee House.
The initiative literally starts in the school’s purpose-built greenhouse, which uses repurposed lab tables from the science wing renovations as a way to integrate sustainable design principles into new construction. Students have taken an active part in designing the plant map of the greenhouse, and are starting to grow plants such as mint, basil, and lemongrass for use in the kitchen. Krittika, along with classmate Asha, are interns, focusing on the cafe side of the project. She explains what encouraged her to get involved.
“I have a passion for cooking and my MYP Personal Project was about healthy alternatives for unhealthy food items. I also had farm at home and wanted to learn more about food production,” explains Krittika. “Whatever we are planning to plant, we are thinking of ways that we can use those ingredients in healthy organic recipes. For Saturday we put three easy organic healthy recipes on the menu – banana bread, sweet potato chips and rhododendron, mint and honey water.”
With rhododendron flowers blooming throughout the local woodlands, it’s a great example of using locally available produce.
“We prepared the food beforehand and served it in mudcups and leaf plates,” continues Krittika. “Everyone liked all the food items, and hearing it was healthy, lots of people came along. It was really nice to be able to show them where the food came from. It was a lot of work, and we were learning as we went along, but we got there in the end!”
Above Photos: Navya, Class of 2025 and Pritish, Class of 2024
Don’t Shut Up Gives Students an Opportunity to Talk about Ukraine
On Monday, 21 March, the Centre for Imagination hosted the first ever in-person ‘Don’t Shut Up’ session. Don’t Shut Up aims to give students the opportunity to discuss global issues and topics that our community cares about, with expert speakers invited to share their perspectives. The series, which was initiated by Anoushka from the Class of ’24, has until now been completely in the virtual domain, so it was great for students and staff to be able to meet live in the same space to listen to experts who were both live and remote, discuss the situation as a group, and use artwork as a way to express messages of peace.
This week’s session focussed on Ukraine and how the consequences of war impact us all. I-Hsin Yang, a Woodstock alumnus from the Class of 2015 is currently in Ukraine. He joined us through a virtual recording to share his story and the ways in which his community is helping to build and repair shelters for Ukranian refugees. Woodstock Global Politics teacher Katerina Vackova provided context by sharing current and historic political developments within Ukraine and in terms of its relationship with Russia. The student discussion that followed focused on understanding the problems faced by refugees and the work required to efficiently address those problems. It was a powerful example of how our students, faculty and alumni community can come together to address and share insights about the most important current issues affecting the world today.