By Campbell Lake and Emma Cartledge
One of life’s most difficult tasks is figuring out what career to pursue and Symposium gave students an opportunity to learn from experts in different fields of work, while also exploring fun workshops.
“My favorite session was The Burial, the painting with Mr. Crawford,” said Grace Wenk (’19), who enjoyed her first experience at Symposium. “I learned that you can interpret one painting to say so many different things.”
Symposium consisted of four 45-minute sessions, each session had a local expert discussing what to expect from their field of work – everything from cardiac surgeons to wilderness therapy.
“This year, I really liked the Viva la Cupcakes session,” said Blake Willis (’17). “I learned a lot about the art of cupcake making. Like, cupcakes go bad after two days and most stores throw them out. Baking is something I’ve never thought about as a career, but I really liked it so who knows.”
Students were exposed to things that they may have never thought they would be interested in. It gives the younger students more direction and ideas of things they might want to do. It gives the older students the opportunity to see things that they could study in college or do in the near future.
“My first session was an architecture class,” Kevin Bao (’18), who also attended a self-defense class led by police. “The most interesting thing I did was learning how to defend myself if someone were to attack me.”
Many parents spoke at Symposium. Lucas (’17) and Vincient (’16) Arnold’s father is a cardiac surgeon, who came and spoke about his profession. Sterling Moskal’s father, an orthopedic surgeon, discussed how doctors strive to stay on the cutting edge of their fields and how anyone can apply that mentality to their careers. Victoria Riegodedios’ (’19) mom spoke about her field, epidemiology. Jack Fishwick’s (’16) father spoke about being a trial lawyer.
“All of the different sessions I went to were really cool,” Ansleigh Graeff said. “It made me think about what I want as a career because it’s not as far away as it seems.”
The Symposium sessions were a great success this year, thanks to the hardworking staff members.
With 34 speakers in 32 different sessions, the student staff along with teacher-organizers Jennifer Landry and Emma Greenwell had their hands full in terms of preparation. Landry and Greenwell teamed up in the fall to send out preliminary save-the-dates to previous speakers, and around Christmas time sent out the official invitations to old and new prospective speakers. The duo then had to find a keynote speaker to kick off the day. Then came the t-shirts, usually designed by a creative student – in this case it was Sam Sawyer (’16). Once all students signed up for their desired classes, Landry and Greenwell spent a large amount of time organizing each presenter into an available session.
Landry noted that she came to campus on the Wednesday prior to Symposium for seven hours as she organized class schedules and made last minute adjustments.
“Overall it’s a very long process,” Greenwell said, adding that “this year was different due to the snow.”
On top of the faculty’s tireless efforts, Symposium wouldn’t happen without the student volunteers each year. This year’s staff included 13 members whose main tasks were following up with the speakers and answering any questions they had to ensure a smoothly run day. On the morning of the fun-filled event, the staff arrived to campus early to complete last minute tasks. One specific and important job of the staff members is to meet the speakers upon arrival and help them with anything they need, from carrying props and supplies to setting up a computer to project the speaker’s presentation.
Senior Madison Bloomfield has dedicated her time to the Symposium staff for three years and loves the experience.
“I think it’s really neat to be on the staff,” Bloomfield said, “and it is also a great time meeting the people when they arrive first thing in the morning.”
The 13 student staff members contacted 34 speakers - about three speakers per person. It is the students’ responsibility to make sure the speakers are well prepared.
Kerin Daly (‘15) is a four-year participant and was very enthusiastic about her involvement as a staff member.
“It was cool to participate and help out behind the scenes,” Daly said. “I enjoyed welcoming the speakers in the morning because it is so generous that they would give their time to North Cross.”
Nate Richardson (‘16) joined the staff for his first time this year and was glad to help out.
“I got to meet speakers that I wouldn’t have the chance to talk to otherwise,” Richardson said.
The staff was overwhelmingly appreciative of Landry and Greenwell’s hard work this year, considering the stress and pressure with the weather that put a damper on their progress.
“It was nice to help Mrs. Greenwell and Mrs. Landry after all they do to get everything ready so that Symposium can be the best experience possible,” Daly said.