AGATE Hosts Monterey Field Study

Amanda Young, Business Editor

36 juniors in the district-wide Gifted and Talented Education (AGATE) program stayed in Monterey from November 3-6.

Student participants in the trip visited the Monterey Museum of Art, learned about Julia Morgan’s architectural style at the Asilomar Conference Center, went on a kayaking tour through the Elk Horn Slough with local naturalists and scientists, saw the California constitution at Colton Hall, and hiked at Point Lobos, among other activities.

Campolindo AGATE advisers Paul and Stephanie Verbanszky also attended the trip.

“The students were super excited, honestly. They were very verbal about liking it and learning about things,” said Paul Verbanszky. “I always like to say that we ‘nerded out’ on some of the items. It was just awe-inspiring, the sheer beauty of the Monterey area, especially at the Point Lobos hike.”

Paul Verbanszky added that the beautiful weather, which was “clear as a bell” and the students’ enthusiasm “to learn about new things, from the whaling industry to history to the environmental impact of humans on Monterey” made the trip particularly enjoyable.

Junior Maddie House said the trip was an “amazing experience” because she was able to revisit and learn more about Monterey. “We went to places that I’ve never been before and [it was nice] really digging into the history and the culture that’s there, that I’d never realized was there,” she said, “It was also just fun to hang out with a bunch of people I hadn’t met before from the different schools.”

For House, the experience also provided a new perspective on everyday sights. “I honestly have never taken much interest in plants, and you see plants all the time but you don’t really notice them. When we were [hiking at Point Lobos], we learned about each of the species that we were seeing on the path and learning about the role that they play in the ecosystems and specifically the uses they had for Native Americans that lived in the area a while ago,” said House.

As part of the AGATE program, students must create a project relating to the Monterey area that uses 2 different disciplines. The projects will be displayed in the Campolindo library on December 4.

Junior Christine Massoni plans to combine art and science for her project. “I’m going to do a painting of the kelp forests and the degradation of them. I’ll have a painting of how they were 100 years ago and compare it today,” Massoni said.

House, who is planning on creating a sculpture of a fish that incorporates trash she found in Monterey and at Campolindo, said she plans to combine marine or environmental science with art. “I was able to talk to a bunch of people there that are marine scientists or environmental scientists, and I got contacts also for people they know, so I can learn more about trash specifically affecting marine species in Monterey,” she said.

According to Verbanszky, the benefit of the field trip is that it provides a “different way of learning.”

“It was really fun to be with other motivated students and we got to learn about things in a different setting, outside the classroom,” Massoni said.

House recommends AGATE for any who wishes to apply. “You might think that you’re too busy for it, but everybody there is really busy, and it was worth a couple late nights and some make-up homework stress because the experience was just really amazing,” she said.