- William Briger ’21
For many years, the Creative Inquiry (CI) department has been a small but essential part of the Sacred Heart environment. The department offers a crucial piece of student development not found around campus; it is a space for the non-traditional, where the students explore their interests and find inspiration in a diversity of projects.
As the 2019 school year starts, the Creative Inquiry department experienced a significant transformation: a new location, more and larger classes, additional funding, new teachers, and greater recognition. When discussing Creative Inquiry in the new seven virtues campaign, Director of Schools Richard Dioli, said that “the Inquiry Lab is a perfect place to drop those [virtues]. Every project you will do, those [virtues] will fit in.” Inquiry department leader, Mr. Jake Moffat added, “Inquiry gives the opportunity to consider and expand our mission.” This department has the opportunity to be a beautiful center point of our bright future.
The previous main focus on the department were the independent classes. Independent Inquiry remains a crucial part of the department but is now attached with a second focus on school-wide use of the Creative Inquiry Hearth. Explaining his thoughts on the Independent Inquiry classes, Mr. Dioli said, “I want all kids to have the opportunity to be creative for at least one semester, to think outside the box, to do something exciting.” In the Independent Inquiry classes, students engage in independent projects where they decide what they want to work on and how they want to work on it.
Students first choose from an array of different project genres, including design for good, leadership inquiry, and workshop inquiry. These genres allocate different spaces for all different project styles. Of course, students can always change your project. After deciding the type of work that a student wants to do, moderators guide them in picking a project that they will enjoy and will help them learn. B Period Inquiry student, Fiona Perkocha, said, “I went into the class not knowing what my project was, and I was given endless options and lots of support in choosing a meaningful project.” Projects range from sports fundraisers to student government work, and even art shows. The department is extremely excited to showcase its many new projects.
The second main focus this year stems from the new funding and the new CI home, the Campbell Building Hearth. Around Sacred Heart campus, students and faculty are talking about the new building. The Inquiry department has been taking advantage of their state of the art area to inspire and help students learn. The Hearth allows students to expand the possible project ideas. The new radio lab, TV studio, and kitchen provide spaces for different project styles and advancements on other projects which the school has not seen. “My vision for inquiry starts this semester,” says Mr. Moffat, “I want to see inquiry shift from a place where only independent projects are happening to a place where classes are regularly coming in to do project-based work and use that inquiry lab. [Resultantly, the creative] ideals of Inquiry will be infused into the SHP core curriculum.”
Mr. Moffat’s goal can already be seen in action. For example, Ms. Sweeney’s AP Biology and Dr. Whitcomb’s Monsters in Literature class have used the Hearth kitchen to make food and teach in new, more engaging ways. Another great new project is proceeding through the language program; Profe Krista Hinton’s Spanish 3 Honors class is using the Hearth’s film and radio studio to make a documentary on the growing exchange program.
A final crucial piece of the inquiry department is that it has the powerful potential to change the campus. The Creative Inquiry department has a past foundation of bringing change and making a community on our campus. The car project has brought and continues to bring different years of students together as they work hard to build a vehicle. Play In A Day unifies actors, writers, and other artists together as they all create an entire play. Jack Briger ‘19 made an art magazine in order to make art more valued in our community. Bertil Chappuis ‘20 is making an art show to highlight Sacred Heart and local artists. Fiona Perkocha ‘21 is working to increase the support of women’s sports on our campus. Jake Moffat said that “because of the Hearth, our learning is becoming interdisciplinary, providing an opportunity for justice and community growth.”
“If they use it the right way, the Creative Inquiry department will be an attraction to our school. Everybody will want the education that encourages to think outside the box and be creative,” says Mr. Dioli, pointing at the wise freedom that students will cultivate this year. The Creative Inquiry department has immense potential and students should be constantly checking in to see the exciting projects and developments.