Mini-mester is learning outside of the classroom

Editor’s Note: Grace Hanna, a junior at St. Joseph’s Catholic School, wrote on the school’s mini-mester program for The Miscellany.

GREENVILLE—This year, as we approached the spring semester, excitement grew for mini-mester, which was offered for the first time in 2010.

Mini-mester provides an opportunity for both students and teachers to explore areas of interest beyond those typically offered in a high school curriculum. Some of this year’s options included a trip to Atlanta, wood working, pottery, Photoshop, and baking.

After much deliberation, I finally chose “Health and Fitness for Young Women,” and I could not have been happier. It was led by two of my current teachers and turned out to be even more enjoyable than I had anticipated. Initially, I was ecstatic simply because I would be out of school for a week, but after the first day of activities, I grew more excited because of the course itself.

Grace HannaWe began the week at a local karate studio. First, we covered the basics: turn your body to minimize the target and protect your vital areas, keep your hands up and ready but not clenched in fists, give the aggressor a quick finger flick to the face to deter him. From there, we moved to a basic defensive move called edge of hand which, if used properly, can break the grip of an assailant and force them away or incapacitate them. Following some practice on the punching bags, we progressed to learning what to do if an attacker gets on top of you. After several practices and some questions, many of the girls went from rolling their attacker over to rolling around on the spongy floor laughing. It wasn’t all goofing off, however, and we all learned a valuable lesson.

Our next activity took place right next door to the karate studio at Nine Rounds.

Nine Rounds’ kickboxing workout takes you through nine stations working core, arms and legs. Here I experienced what was probably the most intense and rewarding 30-minute workout of my life. I persevered through the speed bag, jab cross, upper cut, front kick, and various other rounds before staggering out the door. When I joined the rest of my sweaty classmates outside, I felt ready for anything, even another day of activity.

The next day, I discovered a form of physical activity that was both fun and a great workout.

Zumba, which involves easy-to-learn dance steps for both pop and African music, kept me moving and entertained throughout the entire workout.

“I loved going to Zumba even though I can’t dance,” one of my fellow students, Madeline Hester, said. “Everyone was having too much fun to notice or even care how everyone else danced.”

We ended our session in an explosive way with some “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz and then moved into some core exercises that also stretched us out and acted as a cool down. Considering how muscle soreness the next day made even laughing painful, I do not think I will try for six-pack abs just yet.

To finish off the week, we learned about yoga and nutrition at the Mauldin Cultural Center.

Under the calming guidance of our instructor, the class went through some of the more relaxing yoga moves. Once we finished wobbling back and forth trying to maintain our balance, everyone pulled their mats together to sit and listen to a nutrition talk.

I have several food allergies, and because of them I tend to be more conscientious of what I eat. The nutrition talk further broadened my perspective on what was considered a healthy diet and provided some new things to be wary of, such as sodium and portion size.

Our week culminated with a trip to McAlister’s Deli, where we attempted to make healthy choices.

The mini-mester was definitely a positive experience that taught me skills I hope to use for years to come, and proved that sometimes learning is best done outside of class.