Rivers Students Share Summer Experiences

Rivers students are gearing up to return to campus, eager to share the various activities that have kept them busy all summer, including sports camps, summer jobs, and travel with family and friends. Others have already posted their summer adventures on Rivers’ social media channel— Medium.com—where they’ve chronicled Rivers-sponsored programs ranging from an internship at Amazon Robotics to making paella in Cádiz, Spain. Check out the photos and posts about Rivers’ service learning trip to Montana, Spanish language immersion program, and science and business internships, all providing students with remarkable hands-on experiences.
“First off, I would like to thank Mr. Schlenker (Rivers’ internship coordinator) and everybody at Amazon Robotics for the amazing opportunity afforded to me,” wrote Xavier Zuvekas ’19 at the conclusion of his internship. “I have learned an incredible amount ranging from the intricacies of robotic design and production engineering to the structure of the corporate environment. I came into this summer knowing almost zero about anything involving operations, manufacturing, or even making spreadsheets in Microsoft Excel. Everybody welcomed me with open arms and did everything possible to get me up to speed wherever they could help. Over the course of the summer I developed strong relationships with people ranging from the line workers who build the robots to the engineers who design the robots being manufactured.”
Xavier was one of ten rising seniors whose internships ranged from one to six weeks. Other students included Kian Behjat at Fidelity, Lisa Byrne at Energy Action Partners, Stephanie Dailey at Harvard Medical School MEDscience program, Emilia DeJesus at Children’s Hospital Simulation Lab, Alexa Francesconi at Histogenics, Thando Khumalo at Dr. Riester’s Internal Medicine Practice, Estelle Luong at Fidelity, Colette Meier at Bruker Daltonics, and Owen Pfannenstiehl at Jackpine Coding.
Students who travelled to Montana in June also tried their hands at robotics, working with a 4H group at the Cheyenne reservation in Montana where they spent part of their ten-day trip.
“The robotics day was certainly one of the more interactive and fascinating community service opportunities we have experienced during our trip so far,” wrote Mason Tuff ’21. “To start off, we got the opportunity to work with kids involved in the 4H program, one of the largest youth development programs in Montana. They explore a variety of different aspects of human life and they were able to work with us to stretch their creative minds while building robots. I found it interesting that even though the age range of these kids was vast, each of us were able to make a personal connection with them.”
In addition to working with the 4H group, the eight Upper School students made and repaired little free libraries for the reservation, and found time to explore the West, sightseeing in Yellowstone National Park, horseback-riding and whitewater rafting, and immersing themselves in the culture of the reservation and the community.
Students participating in Rivers’ Summer in Spain program experienced a very different culture, immersing themselves in the language and life of Spain by living with Spanish families and studying both in and outside of the traditional classroom setting. While in Cádiz students attended classes each morning taught by native Spanish-speaking teachers, and then traveled to sites directly connected to their classes both at Rivers and in Cádiz, exploring the history, religion, architecture, and art of the region and its influence on present day culture and life.
“My host family could not have been more welcoming and kind,” wrote Rachel Mann ’20. “We were extremely comfortable in their home and could not imagine anywhere better to spend these past two weeks…Classes were extremely enjoyable, and Andrés was a wonderful and patient teacher. We learned a lot of useful vocabulary, and there were a lot of activities that helped us improve our listening and communication skills. Our group became extremely close throughout these classes where we would help each other out if one person was confused.”
In addition to their Spanish classes, students met with several people who contributed their personal and professional stories to augment the Rivers Interdisciplinary Studies course they’re enrolled in—Cádiz: At the Intersection of History and Contemporary Spain. Fernando Rodríguez Izquierdo, from Sefarad Judería Cádiz, spoke to them about Jewish heritage and culture in Cádiz. His talk, which took them from early history to the Franco era to the present day, was enlightening. Students then looked for the many secret symbols all around Cádiz left by the crypto-Jews throughout the centuries. As part of her IDS project Lauren Barich ’20 interviewed (in Spanish!) renowned artist Manuel Ortiz Ventura, known for his landscapes and scenes depicting life in Cádiz. He enthusiastically answered her questions about all aspects of his art during her interview; Lauren will complete her IDS project by creating her own visions of life in Cádiz in acrylics.
Closer to home, students enrolled in a variety of Rivers on- and off-campus summer academic and music programs, ranging from the perennial Middle School favorite, Writing Workshop, to the end-of-summer math offering, Algebra/Geometry Combat, a skills-honing week of instruction and hands-on activities. Other students kept their creative juices flowing with online classes like Experiential Writing, or one of the many jazz and classical music programs offered at the Conservatory.
While everyone hates to see summer draw to a close, these summer experiences will continue to shape the students’ lives in many ways and for many years.