Opening a World of Doors

by Dashaya Linwood, Braxton Evans, Melaysia Wren
Quest Charter Academy
Above: Quest Charter Academy's three-day STEAM camp is a hands-on opportunity for students to gain real-world knowledge.

Quest offers a variety of activities to excite our learning, including a STEAM-focused camp each semester.

The first thing people say when I tell them I attend Quest Charter Academy is: “Wow, you must be smart!” Then they follow up with: “How do you like it?” My response is usually, “It’s different, but I enjoy it,” or “I really like it—it opened a world of doors for me.” 

Currently, I am a senior at the Glen Barton Campus and plan to attend Bradley University with a double major in political science and education. My peers writing this article with me are juniors. Quest offers a variety of activities to excite our learning, including a three-day Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM)-focused camp each semester. 

STEAM Camp is an opportunity for students to participate in activities that are not often experienced in a normal school day. It provides a break from the traditional work given to students and a more hands-on learning experience. Students can participate in many different activities during the three-day camps. For many of them, it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Teachers have the chance to watch students learn outside of the classroom, and in many instances, our instructors learn something new as well. 

The focus of STEAM camp for the high school is to gain real-world knowledge. At Quest Charter Academy High School, students went on college visits, coded, constructed furniture, spoke to career professionals, prepped for college, volunteered in the community, and took a trip to Springfield to visit the Capitol. Students met with military, police and medical professionals, which allowed them to explore their prospective careers. Additionally, every student had the chance to learn computer programming, a skill essential to the 21st-century workforce. Students were exposed to a variety of post-secondary options by visiting Western Illinois University, Carl Sandburg College, Eureka College, Illinois Central College or the University of Illinois Springfield. They also took the PSAT college-readiness exam at ICC and completed preparation courses for the ACT and SAT. 

Middle-school students had the opportunity to experience CareerSpark, try yoga, tour the Peoria Riverfront Museum, visit the Peoria Zoo, work with service dogs, learn to code, and participate in a variety of artistic and academic activities. CareerSpark exposed eighth-grade students to several career opportunities and allowed them to gain hands-on experience and talk to career professionals. They were excited to discover the multitude of career paths available to them after high school. While performing yoga, the students were amazed at the techniques they learned to calm down and relax from the stresses of school. They also truly enjoyed working with the service dogs. Students were able to touch the dogs and feed them treats when they learned their tricks correctly. These were a few of the memorable experiences for middle-school students during STEAM camp. 

From a student’s perspective, STEAM camp is a unique opportunity to make traditional classroom practices more engaging. The activities at both campuses (middle school and high school) made transitioning back to everyday classroom academics more effective. The camp allowed students to collaborate with peers with similar interests and mingle with students at different grade levels. It was enjoyable for all who participated, both students and staff.

As we wrap up another year at Quest Charter Academy, it is great to reflect on how it has served as a time for us to grow academically and personally. We’ve had the opportunity to take on countless leadership roles, be involved in the community, and gain experiences and knowledge for our college journey and the 21st-century workforce. If someone was to ask us if they should enroll their child in Quest, we would tell them, “Of course!” iBi

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Source URL: https://www.peoriamagazines.com/ibi/2019/mar/opening-world-doors

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