Winterim at Lawrence Academy
For nearly five decades, Lawrence Academy has embraced the idea of experiential education through Winterim. The two-week mini-term in March is a central feature of LA’s educational program, breaking students out of their normal routines and encouraging them to open their minds, bodies, and hearts to new experiences. For some, Winterim is a cool, fun, and unique experience; for others, a Winterim program will end up influencing their chosen path of study in college or their future career.
Roughly 44 Winterim options are offered each year, with each course falling into one of five areas: cultural immersion, academic field study, service-learning, crafts, and skills, or outdoor adventure. Students can stay on campus and in the Groton area or venture out of state – or even out of the country – and are encouraged to take advantage of the diverse areas of study and explore a variety of options throughout their time at Lawrence Academy.
For Example The Maripositas
As part of Winterim, Lawrence Academy students have been working with the Mariposa Foundation in the Dominican Republic since 2001. Spanish teachers Nate Cabot and Rob Moore lead the trip to the northern coastal town of Cabarete where, under the guidance of LA alumna parent and Mariposa Foundation Executive Director Patricia Suriel, students work with the 7-16-year-old girls, nicknamed “maripositas” (“butterflies” in Spanish), who are part of the program.
“These girls are so voracious and full of energy and optimism. Despite coming from extreme poverty, they want to learn all they can and fulfill all their dreams,” shares Rob Moore. While teaching, mentoring and playing with the Maripositas, Lawrence students “see the joy and happiness in these little girls and think deeply about what happiness is and what sources of happiness are.” They also spend time visiting some of the Maripositas’ homes, working to better the Mariposa Foundation’s facilities, and cleaning up plastic debris from the nearby Yásica River.
Experience It Firsthand...
In addition to the Lawrence Academy group’s vital work at the Mariposa Foundation, students also explore their surroundings and the Dominican culture through excursions to the Waterfalls of Damajagua and a trip to La Boca, where the Yásica River meets the sea. Although knowledge of the Spanish language is not a prerequisite for the Dominican Service Project Winterim, students in the program learn and experience the language in an immersive setting, and Spanish lessons at the beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels are taught throughout the two weeks.
“It’s one thing to hear about life in developing countries on the news and from other people, but it’s another thing to actually see it and experience it firsthand,” says Matt Noel ’19. “The students and the teachers alike seemed extremely grateful that we were there to help them, and I felt the same in return. It’s something special to be part of a community that cares so much about the betterment of the world and encourages its students to be good people.