The Student Site of Castilleja School


The Student Site of Castilleja School


The Student Site of Castilleja School


All hope is not lost for experiential learning

Chloe Cheng
Though the school is indefinitely suspending their ICA program, the future of experiential learning at Casti looks bright.

The last ICA session this past Wednesday had me thinking about my journey with experiential learning. Reflecting on my experiences at Castilleja, I can’t help but reflect on the aspects of my life where I learn by doing. My future in experiential learning is bright, and the rest of Castilleja can have the same hope if they seek out learning by doing.

As I started my senior year, I began actively searching for lessons in my day to day life. Thus began the beginning of my “Life Lessons Compendium.” I keep track of the things people say to me or convey to me through their actions that teach me something in my Notion document. I didn’t know this was experiential learning until Ms. Bergson-Michelson pointed it out to me.

From lessons from my teachers to long commutes conversations with my parents to quotes from my best friends, I take a moment at the end of every day to reflect about what I learned and from whom. In the past month I’ve listed 38 different lessons and counting.

I also employ the learning by doing philosophy in nearly all my extracurricular activities, though I haven’t listed them. It may astound you (or not) to know that I regularly go into leadership positions in extracurriculars with absolutely no idea what I’m doing.

When I was a freshman in Gatorbotics, I learned how to program simply by watching the older members do it first. Then they would hand the computer to me. They would sit with me and teach me through every stumble and stupid question that they insisted wasn’t stupid. Through the years, they taught me enough for me to fill their shoes, and I now try to push my young members in the same way.

I’ve never been more afraid than I was the first time I jumped into experiential learning headfirst. I was a shaky freshman programmer, an even worse teacher in the beginning of my sophomore year when I taught preseason robotics curriculum and we got almost nowhere in my junior year when I was put in charge of researching a concept we’d never used before in Gatorbotics. But the thing they never tell you about experiential learning is that it’s hard and the only way you’re going to actually learn anything is if you get back up when you stumble and try it again.

I was a leader in my affinity group before I knew what an activist really was or how I could fit myself into that category. I didn’t know how to be an activist, so I did what I knew how to do. I knew how to be a leader, an organizer and a fighter. So I did what I knew how to do and I learned the rest. I learned more than anything that anyone can be an activist because whatever you bring to the table is valuable.

Now in Counterpoint I have a segment called Q&Avery. The entire story of how this series came to be was because I was curious about who the new teachers were. I became an interviewer and a more serious journalist before I had time to question if I really knew how to do that, because I knew I’d learn.

Experiential learning doesn’t need to happen in a classroom or a scheduled block in our schedule. It can happen anywhere. There will be numerous opportunities extended to you at Castilleja, and you can take the ones that interest you even if you don’t know what you’re doing. You will learn through experience.

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About the Contributors
Avery Neuner
Avery Neuner, Editor of Opinions
Avery Neuner ‘24 is the Editor of Opinions for Counterpoint. She has been writing for Counterpoint for three  years and has been a writer her whole life. In addition to journalism, she is a published author in short story and poetry.

Chloe Cheng
Chloe Cheng, Digital Artist
Chloe Cheng ‘27 is a digital artist for Counterpoint. After working on her NHD podcast and learning from Ailsa Chang, she wants to learn more about what being a journalist is like. She enjoys various art hobbies from drawing to wheel throwing, is a XC runner and loves reading books (especially memoirs and romance).

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