Oakwood’s Immersion Program provides a dedicated two-week period in the academic year for students to be fully immersed in rich and challenging learning experiences in ways not possible during the regular academic schedule. Immersion courses are experiential: learning is hands-on, exploratory, and in the field, well beyond the boundaries of the regular classroom. Courses are designed to spark passion, to help students become deeply and personally involved in their work, and to encourage opportunities for service learning in the wider community. Recognizing the need for students to see and use relationships among disciplines, the Immersion offerings embrace multiple disciplines and provide opportunities for students to work collaboratively with peers and adults, including guest experts, in varied fields of study. Immersion courses are intended to stimulate curiosity, creativity and imagination,along with a deepened understanding of interesting and worthwhile subject matter.
The Immersion Program is experimental in the best of ways: we want it to provide an alternative space where students and faculty can take risks, gain self-knowledge, develop skills, and have a lot of fun in the process.
*Italicized phrases are excerpted from Oakwood’s Statement of Philosophy
Policies and Expectations
Oakwood students are bound by the school’s policies both on and off campus throughout the Immersion program. Please consult the Parent/Student Handbook for further information on behavioral and academic expectations.
Immersion runs from December 5 – December 15, 2017. Each Immersion class will have its own daily schedule, and some may include evening or weekend events. Some course descriptions include travel dates that may return later than December 15. All other schedules will be sent home in early November so parents and students can make appropriate arrangements. Students are expected to attend all sessions of their classes as scheduled, including any travel component. Since Immersion courses meet for only two weeks, absences for vacations, routine medical appointments, and other preventable causes will not be excused.
Student athletes will be able to choose from all Immersion courses and still honor their team commitment. The Athletic Director has arranged for practices and games to be mandatory only for the first week of Immersion (December 5–December 9) to permit student athletes to elect a travel course. Athletes are expected to honor their commitment to practices during the second week of Immersion if there is not a conflict with their Immersion course.
Every student is required to complete one Immersion course each academic year as part of the school’s graduation requirement. These courses become part of a student’s academic record and will appear on student transcripts.
Students must complete course selection forms and return them by the appropriate deadlines (see Key Dates for Immersion, below). Students who do not fill out the selection form in its entirety may be placed in any open Immersion course. Maximum and minimum enrollments may vary by course, and the school may have to cancel or cap courses based on these limits. Every effort will be made to schedule students into their preferred courses.
Fees and Financial Support
The cost for most courses is covered by the school’s Immersion fee. In some cases, and for all international trips, an additional charge is listed because of the expense of a given course. Every effort has been made to keep costs reasonable while maintaining the integrity of this program. As always, the school remains committed to providing an inclusive environment where students can enjoy a full range of programmatic opportunities, and limited financial support is available in cases where need merits. Information and forms related to financial support are available for download here. All questions about financial support forms and procedures should be directed to Pamela Tiangco at (818) 732-3060.
Immersion courses are academically substantive. Depending on the course, students may be asked to read, write, journal, build, rehearse, perform, draw, or engage in other formal assignments and assessments. Course readings and other homework will be assigned.
For further information, please contact Phu Tranchi, Director of Experiential Learning, at (818) 732-3195 or William Perkins-Tift, Secondary School Principal at (818) 732-3004 or Erin Nowak, Middle School Director, at (818) 732-3160.
International Travel Courses
The opportunity to travel to other regions of the world is both invaluable and difficult to accommodate during the regular academic year. This year we are offering six courses with international trips to Bangladesh, China, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, England, and Spain. These courses will involve a variety of components, including language immersion, culture, science, service learning, history, and interdisciplinary academic study. Course descriptions of the trips are included in the catalog, but complete itineraries will become available through Oakwood Connected.
Students who are invited to enroll in courses with international travel must submit a secondary application to assess their fitness for these intensive experiences. Students enrolled in the international courses and their parents/guardians will be required to attend pre-trip orientation meetings to prepare for all aspects of group international travel, including school policies, travel requirements, and country-specific preparation. Students who fail to attend these meetings will be excluded from the trip, and refunds will not be granted under these circumstances. The first general meeting is scheduled for October 18, 2017.
Costs are based on minimum enrollments, and each group will be accompanied by at least two Oakwood School chaperones. Inflation abroad and increasing fuel surcharges may necessitate a slight increase in the price of each trip as listed. You will be informed of any changes before the final payment date of July 1.
Passports and Visas
Each student is responsible for obtaining a passport for international travel. Passports must be valid for at least six months beyond travel dates. Please consult the U.S. Department of State’s website for passport application information. Students will need to submit copies of their passport for verification. Visa applications as needed will be handled through travel agencies involved in planning the trips.
Deadlines, Commitments, and Payments
All students must complete their course sign-up form by Wednesday, May 17. Students whose top choices have an additional fee course must submit the sign-up forms form accompanied by a travel deposit of $900 (travel deposits are refundable if the student does not accept placement in the course). Final payments for trips are due by August 1. To be eligible for travel, students must meet all deadlines and be in good academic and behavioral standing. For information on financial support for trips, please see Program Overview, above.
Contributors: Oakwood faculty and the students of Oakwood School
Special thanks to Ethan Gruska ’08 and The Belle Brigade for use of the song “Where Not to Look for Freedom” (available for purchase from iTunes or at Amazon.com).