Agora - Experiential Learning

Discover Illinois! 7th Grade




The 7th grade students will be exploring their state of Illinois. This trip will be a three day, two night trip supervised by several teachers and administrators.  The remaining two days will be spent in Chicago. The trip will begin on Wednesday at the geographically beautiful Starved Rock State Park. The day begins with a 5-mile hike, check into the lodge and then heading to the Great Hall for dinner and Charter Story Telling in the Lodge by Steven Seaborn.  The journey will continue on Thursday to the state capital where the students will get an up close look at our state capitol, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, a tour of the Lincoln home, the Old State Capitol, and the Lincoln Tomb. On Friday, they move on to Conner Prarie Interactive History Park in Fishers, IN, where the students will explore Indiana's natural and cultural heritage through hands-on, immersive and interactive experiences. The students will travel via coach bus and leave from and arrive at school.

Cost: Included in Tuition

Illinois and Springfield Trip Faculty: 

Mary Jo Kent is in her third year teaching 6th-12th grade Art at SBPS.  She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Art Education from Northern Illinois University.  Mrs. Kent has experience teaching Art at Maine West High School and St. Joseph High School.  Her students have won Art Awards at the 7th Congressional Art Competition, the Lemont Loves the Arts and the Skyline Newspaper Holiday Art Competition. Mrs. Kent enjoys history and looks forward to exploring the history of Chicago and Illinois with our students.

Christine Zapf teaches 6-12 Theology. Christine completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Notre Dame and her MBA at Washington University in St. Louis.  She has served as a catechist at Saints Faith, Hope and Charity Parish since 2002, where she was also a member of the Religious Education Board. Prior to coming to St. Benedict Prep, she taught Religion to junior high students at Sacred Heart School in Winnetka. She is currently completing a Master’s Degree in Religious Education at Loyola University.  

Matthew McDowell teaches Secondary Social Studies. Matt McDowell completed his Master’s Degree in Education at DePaul University in 2014. He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in History and Political Science from Saint Xavier University. Prior to joining the faculty at St. Benedict Prep he spent many years in the construction and trades industry as a Machinery Mover and Rigger, with projects including the relocation of the U-505 submarine at the Museum of Science and Industry and using helicopters to place machinery on top of some of Chicago's tallest buildings. Additionally he worked at Northwestern School of Law, redesigning the classroom environment to ensure optimal learning for all. When not cultivating minds and teaching students to think historically, you can find him on his bike racing for a cycling team based in Evanston as well as enjoying time with his wife and one year old daughter. 

Anne Reiley is a 6-12 Inclusion Facilitator. Anne is a graduate of the University of Illinois-Chicago and has a Master’s Degree in Special Education. At St. Benedict Prep, Ms. Reiley is the High School Inclusion Facilitator.  Working with students to set and achieve goals, be their own advocate and to actively engage in their education is her priority.