Cuernavaca | John-Alex Mason ECS Scholarship Recipient 2016

February 25, 2016

John Churchill ‘17, a junior at The Colorado Springs School (CSS) will participate in the Cuernavaca ECS as the 2016 recipient the John-Alex Mason Experience Centered Seminar (ECS) Scholarship. As a CSS alumnus of the Class of 1994, John-Alex Mason had been active in the life of the school and even planned and led a Blues ECS alongside faculty. As a student, John-Alex’s passions were explored and nurtured at CSS; his family credits CSS for offering transformative educational experiences such as ECSs that allowed John-Alex to pursue his music career and become a well-known Blues musician. After John-Alex’s passing in October of 2011, memorial gifts from family and friends established a scholarship fund to fully fund an ECS experience for a deserving student.

John is prepared to take full advantage of the language immersion opportunities offered by travel to Cuernavaca, Mexico. A Spanish student since 1st grade, John has put considerable personal effort and devotion into improving his Spanish skills, crediting the perseverance of Middle School Spanish teacher Marianna Pereda with his success. Currently enrolled in AP Spanish, the highest Spanish level offered at CSS, John also seeks opportunities to use his language skills outside of the classroom, including listening to Spanish speakers and using the language in his daily life.

When asked about what he hopes to gain from the three-week immersion, John is looking forward to blending his technical hold of the Spanish language with knowledge of Spanish-speaking cultures and history. He is ready to be a student of local dialects, influences, and pride, and to take what he learns in his homestay and on the streets and bring it to the classroom. His parents, who both hold degrees in history, also shape his excitement for the history of the area, from the ancient Aztec city of Teotihuacan to the modern Mexico City.

With such an appreciation for the big-picture of the Spanish language, it is not surprising that John is also a well-rounded student in his extracurriculars. He is a member of State Champion Matchwits team, Model UN, Band and Pep Band, Robotics Club, and Book Club. The CSS community can look forward to his talents on the clarinet at the upcoming Masterpiece Gala and Auction. In previous years, John participated in the Geology ECS and the Vision ECS. In true CSS spirit, it is also not surprising to learn that John is interested in pursuing a degree in Engineering Physics from the Colorado School of Mines, with the goal of achieving a Ph.D., adding yet another layer to his vault of deep and wide knowledge.

More about Cuernavaca ECS

This ECS spends a week in Colorado Springs and then travels to Cuernavaca, Mexico and Mexico City, Mexico in order to better understand how Meso-American culture has both affected and been affected by other cultures. Students will hone their Spanish language skills, explore topics related to the Mexican conquest and Revolution, and engage in a meaningful service learning project. They will experience a traditional Mexican lifestyle via a homestay experience provided by experienced host families. On weekdays, students will attend language classes tailored to their language level at the Cuauhnahuac Language Institute, a school established in the 1970s, that uses full immersion experiences both in and out of classrooms to help students learn Spanish (and English, in fact). There will also be local cultural excursions, art and music activities throughout the week. The experience will provide global perspective and improve complex communication skills as well as challenge students to step outside of their comfort zones, take initiative, adapt to a new environment and work both as leaders and team members. Also, the final project will demand use of their digital literacy skills.

More about Experience Centered Seminars (ECSes)
Experience Centered Seminars (ECSes) are an integral part of the Upper School program and give our students the skills necessary to conduct large-scale investigations in college and beyond. Each March, our students participate in a three- to four-week-long study that immerses them in academic subjects through a hands-on, interdisciplinary approach. ECS’s approach broad, interdisciplinary questions to optimize the teaching of critical thinking, organized inquiry, in-depth analysis, and synthesis of information. They demand direct active participation and primary research in an environment outside of the classroom. Academic requirements include oral and written presentations, term papers, group work and projects, or final exams. The ECS experience sets our students apart as they move into the collegiate world and beyond.

More About the John-Alex Mason Scholarship
John-Alex Mason '94Established by friends and family of alumnus, John Alex-Mason ‘94, the John-Alex Mason ECS Scholarship is a full, merit-based memorial scholarship for a deserving student to explore their passion through an ECS. John-Alex Mason played an active role in the life pf the school and even planned and led a Blues ECS alongside faculty. As a student, John-Alex’s passions were explored and nurtured at CSS. His family credits CSS for offering transformative educational experiences such as ECSs that allowed John-Alex to pursue his music career and become a well-known Blues musician. An application and essay are submitted by students and reviewed by a scholarship committee.

Past Recipients:
2013: Travis McDowell - The Blues
2014: Carl Churchill - Peru
2015: Kristi Tilghman - Sojourn in South East Asia

John-Alex Mason '94