Students and teachers remember summers past and present


Photo courtesy of Aaron Besser

Amelia Bergeron and Margot Durfee

When sophomore Caroline Durr took a summer job working at a local farmer’s market, she figured she’d learn to tell a McIntosh apple from a honeycrisp, and parsley from parsnip. Instead, she found herself solving a crime.

“I was gone for one weekend when this guy came to the market and didn’t sign his check for 75 dollars of groceries,” she said. In the following few weeks, she was on the lookout for the customer, whose first name was Alexander. “Any time someone would pull out their credit card to pay, we would quickly look over to see if it was his name on the credit card… then we would flag [the manager], and be like, ‘Ooh that person’s name starts with an A,’” she said.

After a month of searching for the man and his 75 dollars worth of fruit, Durr was close to giving up. Then, “One of the last weekends we are open, [a woman] comes and signs his name and we thought, ‘this is the guy!’, but it was his wife. So we pulled out the other check and said, ‘sign this, you owe us so much money.’ She was like, ‘Oh my god! My husband does this all the time.’”

Social studies teacher Aaron Besser spends his summers working at Camp Ramah in the Poconos, a Jewish summer camp an hour from Scranton, Pennsylvania. He has been working there for about six years. This year, he will be a unit leader, meaning he is “in charge of all the rising fourth and fifth graders and all the staff that are cabin counselors for them,” he said.

One summer, their bunk theme was “Around the World,” so to keep the large number of kids engaged they reenacted the French Revolution. “We got cups of red paint, and we played this game where me and my co-counselor were obviously going to win, and [the kids] were the rebels,” said Besser. “Every time we ‘killed’ a rebel, we got to throw cups of red paint at them. They thought it was hysterical.”

Besser also builds in a week before school where he can get organized and refresh himself with the content he will be teaching. “My goal is to look over the first advisory stuff over the summer, so that way when I get to school in August I have a pretty good idea of what each day will look like for the first advisory,” Besser said.

Spanish teacher Amy Wopat also uses time during her summer to prepare for the next school year. She spends about three to five weeks to focus on work for Wilson. “I take classes, do training, go to conferences. This summer I’m doing a three-week training for mindfulness and meditation and yoga that’s for educators,” she said. She hopes to bring what she learns to the classroom or a club for the next school year. She also spends time going over her curriculum to make it interesting for her to teach.  “If I’m not excited about teaching, that can easily be read by the students in my classes,” she said.

Additionally, Wopat is an AP Reader, so at the beginning of summer she will take part in an AP reading to help prepare her for the classes she teaches.

Wopat also has plans to travel to the Basque region in Southern France and Northern Spain this summer. She is going to do research about the culture of the area to potentially write a book. “Half of it is for fun. My profession, obviously being a language teacher, allows me to travel and there is a huge part that is satisfying to me as a teacher,” Wopat said. She also plans to visit family and friends for about a week or two.

During the summers and the school year, senior Sophie Weich works at Party Hands, an event planning and catering company. Last summer, Weich learned how to put out fires, literally and figuratively.

“One time I was working at a party and they had a very old oven,” said Weich. “I was trying to get something out of the oven and had a hot pad in my hand, and it touched the coil at the bottom and caught on fire. I had to rush it to the sink and put out the fire,” she said.

Another time, Weich found herself in the midst of a client crisis, when a client refused to use cash or checks to pay. “He only used credit cards, which is the one way you can’t pay for this job,” she said. “The guy was like, ‘I’m not paying,’ and I was like, ‘But you have to pay, I just worked for six hours.’ He didn’t want to so I called my boss and she got him to pay.”

Overall, Weich enjoys the quirks of her job. “Don’t do a job that you are going to dread going to,” she said. “Because, while you are doing it for work and to get money, you also want to have some sort of fun with it as well.”

When August arrives, students and teachers’ vacations will come to an end as they try to complete last-minute tasks, like setting up their classrooms and finishing summer assignments, before they return for the new school year.