Explore and Experiment
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 infuencing 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 ve areas: cultural immersion, academic eld 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.
Note: Individual programs are subject to change.
Basic Tools for the Long-Term
by Spencer Akers ‘18
When people outside of the Lawrence Academy community hear the word "Winterim", they may give a look of bemusement.
In short, Winterim at LA is a time for students to extend their learning outside of the classroom. There's no in-class learning in the month of March. There are no tests. No papers with a strict deadline. For students, this can create a feeling of joy, excitement, and curiosity.
The same goes for teachers...
Cheryl Bell, a first-year science teacher at LA, is in charge of the Winterim program "Quilting is Sew Easy", where students learn to sew and put together quilts. Ms. Bell is no stranger to the prep school environment, as she has worked for four different prep schools over the course of her career.
"[Other] schools have a two-week programs, but it doesn't compare to what we have here at Lawrence Academy,” Ms. Bell said. “What I found so intriguing about this Winterim was that I had a background in quilting and I was thrilled and shocked that the school had a two-week concentration on the subject."
Other than learning how to sew, Ms. Bell has other hopes for her students during Winterim as well.
“I hope that my students learn to problem-solve from this Winterim," she said. "When their machine breaks, when they cut a piece of the quilt too short, I hope experiences like these teach them to problem-solve."
English teacher Matt Smith, who will be leading the varsity boys’ lacrosse program in his first year working at LA, leads the woodworking Winterim.
"It's really an extension of the classroom learning, except more hands-on,” explained Mr. Smith. “We show the students the basics of using tools and safety instructions; otherwise, we let them just have at.
"It's their furniture to build, and they design it the way they want, and they know what materials they need."
When asked what he hopes his students get out of the experience, his responded, "I hope that they will learn how to plan and organize a hands-on project. I hope that they will learn the basics of using tools so if they're attacking a project they will know what tools they will need."
Coach Smith just bought a house two years ago; he was able to do the roofing and remodel the kitchen himself. When asked how he would relate that experience to this Winterim, he said, "I would love for the students to be able to do that if they are in that position as adults."
To all people who find the concept of Winterim different, you're not alone. However, and above all else, the idea is to find a hands-on activity that can teach you intangible lessons.
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