About the Immersion Program

Statement of Philosophy

Oakwood’s Immersion Program provides a dedicated two-week period in the academic year for students to be fully immersed in rich and challenging learning experiences in ways not possible during the regular academic schedule. Immersion courses are experiential: learning is hands-on, exploratory, and in the field, well beyond the boundaries of the regular classroom. Courses are designed to spark passion, to help students become deeply and personally involved in their work, and to encourage opportunities for service learning in the wider community. Recognizing the need for students to see and use relationships among disciplines, the Immersion offerings embrace multiple disciplines and provide opportunities for students to work collaboratively with peers and adults, including guest experts, in varied fields of study. Immersion courses are intended to stimulate curiosity, creativity and imagination,along with a deepened understanding of interesting and worthwhile subject matter.

The Immersion Program is experimental in the best of ways: we want it to provide an alternative space where students and faculty can take risks, gain self-knowledge, develop skills, and have a lot of fun in the process.

*Italicized phrases are excerpted from Oakwood’s Statement of Philosophy

Program Overview

Policies and Expectations
Oakwood students are bound by the school’s policies both on and off campus throughout the Immersion program. Please consult the Parent/Student Handbook for further information on behavioral and academic expectations.

Immersion runs from December 6 – December 16, 2016. Each Immersion class will have its own daily schedule, and some may include evening or weekend events. Some course descriptions include travel dates that may return later than December 16. All other schedules will be sent home in early November so parents and students can make appropriate arrangements. Students are expected to attend all sessions of their classes as scheduled, including any travel component. Since Immersion courses meet for only two weeks, absences for vacations, routine medical appointments, and other preventable causes will not be excused.

Student athletes will be able to choose from all Immersion courses and still honor their team commitment. The Athletic Director has arranged for practices and games to be mandatory only for the first week of Immersion (December 5–December 8) to permit student athletes to elect a travel course.  Athletes are expected to honor their commitment to practices during the second week of Immersion if there is not a conflict with their Immersion course.

Every student is required to complete one Immersion course each academic year as part of the school’s graduation requirement. These courses become part of a student’s academic record and will appear on student transcripts.

Course Scheduling
Students must complete course selection forms and return them to the front office by the appropriate deadlines (see Key Dates for Immersion, below). Students who do not fill out the selection form in its entirety may be placed in any open Immersion course. Maximum and minimum enrollments may vary by course, and the school may have to cancel or cap courses based on these limits. Every effort will be made to schedule students into their preferred courses.

Fees and Financial Aid
The cost for most courses is covered by the school’s Immersion fee. In some cases, and for all international trips, an additional charge is listed because of the expense of a given course. Every effort has been made to keep costs reasonable while maintaining the integrity of this program. Limited financial aid is available in cases where need merits it; as always, the school remains committed to providing an inclusive environment where students can enjoy a full range of programmatic opportunities. Information and forms related to financial aid are available for download here. All questions about financial aid forms and procedures should be directed to Pamela Tiangco at (818) 732-3060.

Course Expectations
Immersion courses are academically substantive. Depending on the course, students may be asked to read, write, journal, build, rehearse, perform, draw, or engage in other formal assignments and assessments. Course readings and other homework may be assigned.

Contact Information
For further information, please contact Laurie Lew or Margie Llinas, Co-Directors of Immersion Programs, at (818) 732-3015 or (818) 732-3014 or David Frankenberg , High School Principal at (818) 732-3004 or Erin Nowak, Middle School Director, at
(818) 732-3160.

The Goals of International Travel
The opportunity to travel to other regions of the world is both invaluable and difficult to accommodate during the regular academic year. This year we are offering five international trips that will travel to . These courses will involve a variety of components, including language immersion, culture, science, service learning, history, and interdisciplinary academic study. Course descriptions of the trips are included in the catalog, but complete itineraries can be found on our website.

General Requirements
Students involved in the international trips will be required to attend pre-trip orientations. These meetings will provide important travel preparation for the students. Students who fail to attend these meetings may be excluded from the trip, and refunds will not be granted under these circumstances.

Travel Costs
Costs are based on minimum enrollments, and each group will be accompanied by at least two Oakwood School chaperones. Inflation abroad and increasing fuel surcharges may necessitate a slight increase in the price of each trip as listed. You will be informed of any changes before the final payment date of July 1.

Passports and Visas
Each student is responsible for obtaining a passport for international travel. Passports must be valid for at least six months beyond travel dates. Please consult the U.S. Department of State’s website for passport application information. Students will need to submit copies of their passport for verification. Visa applications as needed will be handled through travel agencies involved in planning the trips.

Deadlines, Commitments, and Payments
All students must complete their course sign-up forms by Monday, June 1. Students whose first choice is an additional fee course must submit the sign-up forms form accompanied by a travel deposit of $500 (travel deposits are refundable if the student does not accept placement in the course). Final payments for trips are due by August 1. To be eligible for travel, students must meet all deadlines and be in good academic and behavioral standing. For information on financial aid for trips, please see Program Overview, above.

Key Dates for Immersion 2016
Monday, May 9→International trips information session
Wednesday, May 11→Immersion Course Fair for students
Friday, May 27, 12 pm→Immersion financial aid applications due
Friday, May 27, 5 pm→Immersion course sign-ups for all courses due
Monday, June 6→International trips notification for students
Thursday, June 10→International trips financial aid notification
Monday, June 20→All other course and financial aid notifications
Wednesday, July 1→Final payment due for additional fee courses
Early November→Daily schedules for Immersion courses mailed home
Tuesday, December 6→Immersion classes begin (some Immersion trips will return as late as December 18)

Video Credits
Produced by Laurie Lew and Margie Llinas
Directed, filmed, and edited by Christina Simons
Contributors: Oakwood faculty and the students of Oakwood School
Special thanks to Ethan Gruska ’08 and The Belle Brigade for use of the song “Where Not to Look for Freedom” (available for purchase from iTunes or at Amazon.com).