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Expansive about the Intensive

September 16, 2022 at 10:00:00 PM

Derrick Park '25

My past year at Mercersburg Academy was a year of adaptation. As an incoming freshman, it was a struggle for me to get used to the Mercersburg traditions and its communal atmosphere. As I assimilated to the school environment, I found the Intensive program to be enriching and supportive for all students, particularly new students who are looking for transitional experiences. Though it has only been two years since the Mercersburg Intensive was incorporated into the school schedule, the program has already contributed to the uniqueness of Mercersburg Academy.

The two-week, immersive experience provides students with time to gradually transition into summer break. The program offers students with diverse choices of working spaces, so they can participate in subjects that they are truly interested in. All students are welcomed to join courses that they may have no prior experience or knowledge in. Thus, it is a great opportunity for people to explore a potential passion or extend their background knowledge on a chosen subject. Last spring, I joined the Chamber Music course to practice my instrumental abilities and prepare for future band classes. It is certainly beneficial that students can devote themselves to 2-week courses that not only relate to their extracurricular interests but ones that can prepare them for their next academic year and beyond.

Perhaps the best part of the Mercersburg Intensive is that it replaces final exams at the end of the spring term. No one (including me) is eager to take final exams at the end of the school year because students’ minds are filled with vacation plans. Students slowly lose their focus in their academics as they wrap up the long and arduous school year. The Intensive program instead gives students a brief respite from their grade-oriented environment. It is important to expose students to learning environments that are not only constrained by grades and scores because the Intensives don’t report grades. Since the only evaluation is a pass or fail, they can work freely and efficiently without high pressures on reaching class expectations.

Though there are discussions about whether the Mercersburg Intensive should be moved to a different time in the year, I am confident that the program is most successful remaining as it was last year. It has been so influential and memorable to me, and I am already looking forward to the Intensive program in the beginning of my sophomore year. As I talk about the Intensive courses and reminisce with my friends, I hope the program takes root as another Mercersburg tradition.

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