Middle Grades Design an “EPIC” Extended-Day Experience at TCS Atlanta

While brave learners play, learn, and discover during the TCS Extended Day program, the oldest students on campus are designing their own “EPIC” experience!

EPIC students (grades 5 – 7) participate in a one-of-a-kind, extended-day program that focuses on entrepreneurial development and allows them to be leaders on campus. Just this semester, students have explored the culinary arts by making beignets from scratch, dived into STEM activities such as building bridges and robots, and explored what it means to be a leader by planning outreach projects.

Exciting partnerships and innovative projects take place because of the collaborative effort between EPIC Coordinator  Sam Rathvon, who joined the TCS Atlanta community this year, and the EPIC students.

“Student voice is the most important factor when it comes to project/unit development. Students have begun to plan and carry out many of their own breakout group projects,” said Sam.

Day school teachers also play a part in  developing units for EPIC students. In order to establish a more connected experience, Extended Day program units are aligned with what students are learning during the day.

“We have overarching units which all students in the Extended Day program participate in related to leadership, entrepreneurship, research, and team cooperation. Projects and activities are chosen by students based on interest, and my [job] is to connect their interests to mirror and supplement day school units. I meet with the Middle Grades teachers on a regular basis to ensure continuity of ideas and concepts that are being taught from day school to the Extended Day program,” said Sam.

As the older kids on campus, EPIC students serve as role models for the younger students during the Extended Day program. “It’s important to be a leader on campus because you have so many eyes watching your every move, so you have to take responsibility and act the role,” said Alex, a seventh grader at TCS who participates in EPIC.

Through student-led initiatives, students are more engaged in group activities and take ownership over their learning experience. Projects build both skill and character, which prepares students to become young, responsible citizens in the world.

“In many of the breakout activities students hold the majority of the responsibility to organize themselves and work together,” said Sam.

During a recent LARP (live action role playing) unit, students designed and built their own foam swords and shields. They researched construction methods and developed a blueprint with a materials list. When materials are provided, Sam does a demo on the processes that need to occur in to reach the final product. Sometimes, students who are further along in the process can demo the process in question.

With our expansion to eighth grade next year, projects and units will transform to fit the needs and interests of new and current students. EPIC will continue to grow and  include more community partnerships to expand opportunities for students to explore interests.

“EPIC will continue to grow as a community of students that are genuinely pursuing their interests, while growing as individuals who are compassionate, responsible, and more than just problem solvers, but problem seekers. The students of EPIC will not say ‘I can’t do that,’ but rather ‘how can we make this happen?’,” said Sam.