In the Upper School, The Hilltop is designed to empower senior students to take control of their learning by allowing them to develop an essential question that goes beyond a simple, factual-based answer. Answering this question requires critical thinking and a mix of in-depth research, collaborative discussions, and individual contemplation. Each student determines the mentors and resources necessary to explore and address the query. The Hilltop students typically spend the first half of the school year in discovery mode, learning all they can about their topic and then narrowing their field of study to an essential question. During the second part of the year, students are answering their essential question and preparing a formal presentation that they are required to share with the Elgin Academy community.
Jim Kidston, Upper School Computer Science teacher and resident tech guru, was named the 2019 Kane County Private/Parochial Teacher of the Year at a banquet sponsored by the Regional Office of Education (ROE) on Friday, May 3, 2019. For the past 44 years, the ROE has held an award ceremony celebrating education in Kane County to recognize exceptionally skillful and dedicated individuals in any pre-kindergarten through grade 12 public or private school. In 2019, more than 40 Kane County educators were nominated.
To nominate Mr. Kidston for the award, Elgin Academy submitted to the ROE a scrapbook of documentation demonstrating his superior ability to inspire a love of learning in students, his commitment to professional growth, his distinction as a leader, and the active role he plays in school and community. Additionally, letters of recommendation were submitted attesting to the respect and admiration that students, parents, alumni, and colleagues have for Mr. Kidston.
At ages three and four, learning and play go hand-in-hand. And it is the particular expertise of Elgin Academy's preschool teachers to intermingle the two in just the right amounts, at just the right intervals, so our youngest students not only love coming to school each day but learn the foundational concepts upon which they’ll build their intellectual and interpersonal lives. At the opposite end of the educational spectrum are those junior and senior students who elected to take Child Development, an Upper School elective.
Child Development focuses on development as it relates to learning and school behaviors. The course includes seminar time, with Lower School teacher Heather Giebel, where students discover the groundbreaking theories of educational theorists and how these ideas influence best practices in child care and education. Students are also assigned to various early childhood and lower school classrooms throughout the year, which function as a lab.
This year the Middle School Project-Based Learning (PBL) assignment asked students to provide plans of recovery for twenty-two critically endangered species around the world, including unique animals like the Javan Rhino, Saola, Yaquita and Vancouver Island Marmot. The students worked collaboratively in mixed grade groupings to become "experts" on a selected species. Armed with their knowledge, they crafted plans to protect the species from extinction, created a public service announcement, and drafted a call-to-action letter to Congress. They were required to present their findings before a panel of judges on the morning of April 25th, and in the afternoon, they showcased their results in poster sessions before an invited audience of family, friends, and middle school peers.
Immersion is an annual Lower School event where students focus on the cultural aspects of a particular country. The year our Hilltoppers studied the colorful nation of Brazil. Immersion kicked-off in early April with a spirited assembly in Sears Gallery. The energy was high as students engaged in a fun-fact quiz game and drank mango juice following the viewing of an educational movie about the county. They returned to a Lower School that had been decorated with all things Brazilian by an enthusiastic group of parent volunteers.
The day before Spring Break, the Upper School Worldwide Youth in Science & Engineering team competed at the Sectional competition held at Northern Illinois University. The team secured Elgin Academy's sixth consecutive Sectional Championship, winning 589 out of 500 points, and several students received individual medals. Congratulations Kristina Beligratis, Madigan Boborci, Candace Feng, Neha Karna, Haolin Liu, Jack Peak, Danielle LaVigne , Ethan Moore, Christopher Perez, Jaden Tabak, Joseph Hargrave, and Shiraz Baxamusa.