This edition of Student Spotlight shines on Prairie School’s Abby Wagner. Abby connected with the professor of her textbook during “the most difficult course” of her high school career, one that got her excited about Constitutional Law.

Tell me about yourself! What school do you attend, what grade are you in, and which MSON course(s) have you taken? 

I am a senior attending the Prairie School in Racine, WI. I participate in the school musical, play on the tennis team, and am the president of the French Club. On weekends you can most likely find me reading a book by my favorite author, Stephen King. I took Turbulent Times: History of the First Amendment and Dissent During the American Wars taught by Dr. John French during my first semester!.

Why did you decide to take this MSON course?

I decided to take Turbulent Times because of my lifelong passion for history and experience taking AP U.S History my junior year. My APUSH teacher was Dr. French, and as the year progressed I learned that his teaching style aligned well with how I learn best. I really wanted a class that built off of what I learned junior year and I found exactly what I was looking for in the MSON course catalog!

What was your experience like?

My experience was very positive! The course covered all the major American wars and why dissent was important to each war which built upon facts I learned during APUSH. I especially enjoyed the unit on McCarthyism during the Second Red Scare. It was also really nice to be surrounded by classmates who were equally as enthused about the class as I was. Turbulent Times met at 7:30 a.m, and I have to say it was well worth it to get up an hour earlier!.

What surprised you about the MSON course?

The thought that first comes to mind is my opportunity to connect with a University of Chicago law professor, Geoffrey Stone regarding my final paper. I contacted him on a whim explaining the unique MSON program and how I had exhausted the expertise of my teacher on wartime dissent. I reached out to him directly because Professor Stone wrote our textbook and I thought if he couldn’t answer my question no one could! He surprisingly got back to me and answered my questions while also praising the MSON program. Geoffrey Stone is a big deal in the field of Constitutional Law and it was exciting that I got to connect with him.

Did you grow at all over the course of the semester in the class?

Yes. I can safely say that Turbulent Times is the most difficult course I have ever taken in my high school career, and completing it unlocked a confidence I never knew existed. I am a vastly different student now than I was before taking the class. The course was a challenge and being surrounded by other like minded students pushed me to be my best. I noticed growth in my self advocacy and writing skills especially. Our final project was to write a paper on lessons we learned from wartime dissent and I would say it’s one of the best things I have ever written due to the writing skills I honed over the semester.

How did this course influence your future plans, academic or otherwise, if at all?

Turbulent Times solidified the fact in my mind that I have a true passion for history and want to study it in college. It also opened my eyes to the field of law, specifically Constitutional Law which is something I might pursue.