Journey Has a Long Way to Go

By Ivana Kosir

“The storm is passing over!” was repetitively sung at Journey’s “Gospel Choir Jam” session on Friday. I think I can safely say that many students could relate to the storm as Journey at the end of the third session.

All week, students have been complaining about Journey and how it would be a waste of time. I wasn’t sure that Journey would be as unsuccessful as people were saying it would be, but I’m starting to understand where those claims were coming from after today.

On Thursday, sophomore Athena Hilentzaris and I interviewed random students in the IRC. A lot of students signed up for sessions they were interested in, but for those who didn’t, they had low expectations for Journey.

“I honestly feel like my time will be wasted. I’d rather study for my quizzes and tests,” said junior Paul Fulara.

While walking through the halls and peeking into classrooms and sessions during the first and second sessions, I noticed that Niles West students looked extremely bored. Literacy center students were talking about how to introduce themselves to tutees for some time; students in “Pay It Forward” were watching a movie about how a seven-year-old was assigned to change the world for a school project; and kids in the “Learn About Travel Through U.S. National Parks” were talking about volcanoes in Yellowstone. My favorite session to observe was “Gospel Choir Jam.” A lot of kids were put in there against their will, and you could definitely tell. Only a small percentage were actually singing and trying, and the rest were just standing there looking more bored than in math class. The kids who were singing were mostly in choir or some singing club associated with Niles West.

So was Journey a success? Not this year, but it has potential to be in years to come.

Senior Marta Villalobos went on the nature walk, and she had a good time but thought Journey needs to be better organized.

“It went really well. I like the concept of Journey, but it was way too disorganized and chaotic,” she said. “Most people got their permission slips yesterday, and we didn’t have much time to pay.”

And she’s right. People were running around, not knowing where to go or pick up their forms. If Journey is going to be successful, the school needs to organize it better, which includes sending out permission slips and schedules earlier.

A lot of the sessions were really bizarre. Some like “Gospel Choir Jam,” “Basic Bike Riding,” “Organic Vegetable Gardening,” and “Primitive Fire Building” would only be considered interesting to a select number of Niles West students. If Journey becomes more successful in future years, the sessions will have to be more intriguing than building a fire like the Neanderthals did.

After sitting in classrooms and desks for weeks at a time, I think students would have a much better time if they had a chance to walk around, talk, or do something of the sort without getting in trouble or being scolded by teachers and administrators. Sessions like yoga, weight training, and nature walks are good sessions because they allow students to do those things.

From what I saw, the people having the most fun were those in International Fest and “Photography.” Being with friends and being able to actually MOVE make kids happy, believe it or not, especially after sitting through a Chicago winter with minimal opportunities to go outside.

On a related side note: Not that it’s a big deal, but Nature Valley granola bars are very messy. They aren’t the best granola bars to give high school kids who eat them while walking the halls. Chewy bars would be a better alternative.

Athena Hilentzaris contributed to this article.