"Oh, you went to summer school," is the response I receive from most when I try telling them about my summer. And I try to explain, "No, I didn't go to summer school. P.C.C. is not summer school! It's so much more than that."
The letters P.C.C. stand for Project Contemporary Competitiveness (quite a mouthful). It's a six-week advanced studies program held at Bridgewater State College for students who come from many Massachusetts towns and are entering the 9th or 10th grade. During the week, students stay overnight at the college. They go home for the weekends.
In the morning, we took courses, I took Modern Theatre and Creative Writing, but there are many different courses, including microbiology, mathematics, archaeology, painting and drawing, music and movement, learning about law, and much more. Many of the courses, including Mathemagic, deal with things you might not learn in any other school, including college!
In the afternoons, after a silent study hour to do assignments, the students are free to do what they want. Some students choose to hang around their rooms, talking with their friends, but most get involved in the many tournaments and clubs. There were competitions in a wide variety of sports as well as chess, Scategories, pool, ping pong, and several others. There were also clubs, such as the Dungeons and Dragons group, and the well-like Improv., which is improvisational acting. Students did improvised skits, and at the end of the six weeks, put on an excellent show of skits and monologues, as well as demonstrating a couple of the games played during Improv.
In the evenings, we went over to the auditorium. Every night there was a speaker/guest, a show, or a dance. Some of the speakers dealt with AIDS, date rape, drugs, and alcohol, as well as topics like poetry. We were also entertained by a mime. The shows included a lip sync, a talent show, the Improv show, a music and mMovement show, and the modern theatre show. Every week we had a dance with a different theme: '60s, country, clash, as well as a masquerade ball and a semi-formal. The last night we had a "weeper" dance, appropriately named because of all the crying that went on. (You have never seen so many boys crying in the same room.) And the last day we had graduation.
As evidenced by the "weeper" dance, it is easy to see the close bonds we formed with each other. This year's theme described P.C.C. as "Where you start with friends, and build a family," and is so true. During those six weeks you become closer to people than you would normally in six years. It was such an awesome experience.
P.C.C. gives you a feel for college life and helps you grow both socially and mentally. I must admit that during the first couple of weeks I wasn't too fond of it, but I learned, especially when it was over, just how special and unique the P.C.C. experience is. I am hoping to return next year for a second summer.
The only problem is the cost, which is about $800. Some schools will help with the cost, but not all, and this year, especially with the economy the way it is, some schools may stop offering support.
But, hopefully, the next time you hear someone talking about P.C.C., or wearing a P.C.C. T-shirt, you'll think twice before suggesting that they went to summer school, because it's definitely a lot more than that. Words can't express how great P.C.C. is. n
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.