The National Honor Society (NHS) at 21st Century Charter School recently took a field trip across state lines to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).  The students – a group of Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors – got a feel for a renowned university campus, met with professors and the Associate Dean of Academics, and even attended a free public colloquium offered monthly at UIUC.

The colloquium, titled “Towards a Model for Developing Community-based Collaborative Spaces: The Urbana Free Library Teen Open Lab”, brought 70 attendees together for a lunch panel presentation led by Martin Wolske, Senior Research Scientist with the Center for Digital Inclusion at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at UIUC.  The colloquium gave voice to various community, student, and academic professional perspectives regarding the two-year-long initiative and imminent unveiling of a Teen Open Lab at The Urbana Free Library.  The Teen Open Lab project has since initiated, and is offered on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons.  Available activities include music recording, 3D printing, sewing, reading, drawing, crafting, gaming, and film-making.

NHS students were accompanied on their field trip by Mr. Velasco and Mr. Swanson, high school teachers and heads of NHS at 21cc.  As an alumnus of UIUC, Mr. Swanson was able to offer a behind-the-scenes tour of the campus.  The group visited the beloved Alma Mater bronze statue, and headed to the UIUC basketball court, home of the Fighting Illini.  They also met with Dr. Justin Rhodes, Associate Professor of Psychology, who taught Mr. Swanson as an undergraduate.  Dr. Rhodes gave a tour of his lab, showing the students his ongoing work with marine animals.  Next, Mr. Swanson introduced the students to Academic Dean Ruth Hoffman, who took the time to sit down with the group for a snack and talk about college and career pathways.

NHS strives to support well-rounded students and citizens, who are engaged in academics as well as community engagement.  This field trip provided an in-depth look at both academics and community engagement, and provided a great look into college life! Thank you Mr. Velasco and Mr. Swanson for making it possible!