Our School Spirit Lasts An Eternity

Summer Experience Focuses Horizon: Learning at Shedd Aquarium

SCA junior Belle Schooley at Shedd Aquarium internship

SCA junior Belle Schooley at Shedd Aquarium internship

Summer Experience Focuses Horizon

While observing dolphins at play at a beach in Florida as a middle school student, SCA student Belle Schooley developed a love for Marine Biology.  Belle was assured of this interest after taking a biology class at school. Belle, now an 11th grader at SCA, began to search for opportunities that would provide her with experiences needed to satisfy her interest and knowledge in this field. 

Belle’s exploration found an extraordinary program at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois.  Shedd Aquarium, founded by John G. Shedd, plays host to more than 32,500 animals from around the world.  It is a non-profit institution dedicated to caring for a vast array of species, as well as educating the curious observer and the newfangled researcher, alike.  Shedd offers several learning opportunities for high school students to investigate the lives and habitats of nearly 1500 species of water animals.  For Belle, this was the ideal environment to satiate her appetite for Marine Biology.

 After Belle engaged in an extensive interview process that included a trip to Chicago, Shedd invited her to participate in their High School Lake Ecology program.  While it was not the Marine Biology experience she had hoped for, Belle decided to take the opportunity.  “The Lake Ecology program was not even on my radar,” Belle said.  She considered that the offer to study lake ecology was an honor and would help her confirm her interest in sea life.  Shedd Aquarium only invites students from Illinois or an adjacent state to participate in their programs.  Belle was the only student from Missouri.

The High School Lake Ecology (HSLE) program proved to be a wonderful experience for Belle. She and 15 other students, along with Shedd Aquarium staff, kayaked through sea caves and explored the ecology of the Great Lakes region in the Apostle Islands.  “It was the most fun, “ said Belle.  “We even hiked and saw beautiful sunsets.  It was a great outdoors experience.  At night, we were able to star-gaze,” Belle said. 

Belle’s weeklong visit to the Apostle Island included undertaking a focused research project.  The students were divided into teams and immersed themselves in an investigation of some aspect of lake ecology.  Belle and her team chose to study plankton.  “We studied plankton at various depths.  We are working on summarizing our findings and will present our project at a banquet (at Shedd) in August,” said Belle.  

The experience at Shedd Aquarium’s HSLE program helped Belle to learn about herself and discover interest in a very unexpected educational path.  Kari Schooley, Belle’s mother, said, “Belle was taking a path toward Marine Biology, but that path took a magnificent, breath-taking detour to Lake Ecology.  This trip has made a big impact on Belle.”  In fact, as a result of her opportunity and experiences at Apostle Island, Belle’s interest has shifted from the aquatic sciences to Parks and Forestry!  “My experience was nothing like expected,” commented Belle.  “It was life-changing and really helped me to grow.”  Belle will concentrate her college search on schools with Parks and Forestry as a degree option.

“It’s funny how life gives you the path you need to go in, even if it isn’t the path you start out on,” Belle commented.  We are proud of Belle’s accomplishment and thrilled about all that she was able to learn this summer.  This is only the beginning of her adventure, but we trust that it will continue to be an exciting one.

SCA is proud of Belle’s accomplishment and thrilled about all that she was able to learn this summer.  This is only the beginning of her adventure, but we trust that it will continue to be an exciting one.

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