High school students from the Boston area flocked to Boston College on Sunday, Nov. 4, to learn about political structures in the world of Harry Potter, how to avoid awkwardness, and ways to prepare for college life.
Over 200 BC students volunteered to teach 150 separate classes for BC Splash’s fifth program, using classrooms in Devlin, Fulton, and Gasson to acommodate approximately 600 high school students. Students arrived for registration at 8 a.m., attended an orientation at 9 a.m., and had the option to attend classes anytime from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“Our focus this year was a lot on student experience, so that’s where the orientation came in, and the lunches,” said Alexis Cox, co-director of this semester’s BC Splash and LSOE ’14. “We really feel that if we can improve the student experience, students will want to come back. It improves their day, they’re more willing to participate, which makes it better for our teachers who are participating.”
Cox and co-director Barron Flood, A&S ’13, both said that Education for Students by Students (ESS) co-president Conor Sullivan, LSOE ’13, encouraged them to get involved in the program. ESS is the Registered Student Organization (RSO) that includes BC Splash, BC Talks, and BC Nighttime Education Students Teaching Students (NESTS), which is new this year. Both Cox and Flood taught for the third BC Splash and afterward ran for the program’s executive board, which consists of 15 students.
BC Splash, which was based on MIT’s model when Hanyin Cheng, BC ’12, established it at BC in 2010, has since grown into its own distinct program. “Originally, when we started doing this three years ago, our events were pretty similar,” Flood said. “MIT was the basis. As we’ve grown, we’ve been establishing ourselves as an independent Splash, and we’re actually trying to stay away from doing things like MIT does. Kids going to these programs either go to MIT Splash or BC Splash, and we want them to think of them as separate things, and not see BC Splash as a little brother. I think we’re getting there.”
While MIT’s Splash classes focus on math and the sciences, BC Splash offers more in the liberal arts. “They’re a source of support for us-we always borrow supplies from them, they always come to our event, whenever they hold an event, we always send a representative or two,” Cox said. “We don’t really help each other too much with the planning, but we’re always supportive of each other, always reaching out, exchanging ideas.”
This year, Flood said, BC Splash has added classes geared toward high school seniors and juniors focusing on college prep, which have been very popular. The subjects of those classes range from how to prepare for the SAT and how to write a college essay to making friends and designing dorm rooms freshman year.
“If there’s anything I could tell to everyone on this campus, it’s that BC Splash is something that you definitely should try at least once,” Cox said. “There are so many ways you can get involved. You could be a Splash leader, you could be a general volunteer, you could be a teacher, you could be an e-board member-and each of those four components offer such a different experience, and it’s such a great experience at BC. It’s something I suggest everyone get involved in at least once.”
Flood agreed, noting that students, worried about what topic they would choose or how they would present it, are often initially reluctant to teach classes for BC Splash. “But once you get someone to do it once, they’re stuck,” he said. “The number of returning teachers we have is huge. Once you’ve taught, you do it again, almost invariably.”