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.


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Winterim Reflections

by Viraz Mahanti ‘19

"Quilting" is one of the many Winterims here on Lawrence Academy’s campus. It’s unique to Lawrence Academy and is a testament to our awesome education.

Winterim is something that has been going on at Lawrence Academy for almost 50 years. It involves two weeks of self-discovery, and an ability to get involved in something you love. Students are offered a tremendous range of activities, from board game design to building houses in the Dominican Republic.

While upperclassmen often end up getting the better pick of the international travel programs and coveted off-campus Winterims, there are still many excellent on-campus Winterims in which students can participate.

Our campus is as active as ever during Winterim, with the binders and pencils exchanged for wood and saws, chess-pieces, and quilts. As Tony Hawgood, LA’s Winterim director, says, “There are so many different things that make Winterim what it is. It’s getting kids outside of the classroom and realizing that the world is an incredible classroom. It’s getting kids to see adults getting passionate about different things, both our teachers and the leaders they see.”    

Winterim is many things; it’s a break from the routine of the school year and a very, unique chance to indulge in your interests. It’s as much of a learning experience as it is a chance to enjoy yourself. It’s arguably one of the best times here at Lawrence Academy and not an experience one would be likely to forget.

In most Winterims, you end up creating something, whether it’s a canoe or a documentary; either way, you come out with more than you came in with, both literally and metaphorically. This is true whether you’re on campus or the other side of the world.

I got the opportunity to speak with Ms. Mosely, who, along with Ms. Bell, is in charge of the “Quilting Is Sew Easy” Winterim. Their base of operations is in the Schoolhouse, with all of the partitions between 3 classrooms being withdrawn to make a significant quilting center.

The room was abuzz with activity, with students each getting two tables to themselves to further their quilting ideas. They were all hard at work, moving quickly with their textile machines creating quilts in many magnificent arrays of color. Ms. Mosely was in the center of it all, helping her students if they had any questions, all while making a quilt herself. I asked her what she hoped, as a teacher, her students would get out of this experience.

“Our hope is to have them finish an entire quilt by the time they’re done, but also to have them learn how to make a quilt of their own, how to sew straight seams, and to gain the skill of persistence and patience and to enjoy the product when they are done,” she explained.  

I then asked her what she hoped to get out of it as a teacher, seeing as this wasn’t a first-time experience for her, yet still, a very interesting one, filled with responsibility. She replied, “Well, I really enjoy watching the students learn how to sew, and I love looking at the designs they have created, and it gives me great satisfaction to see the look on faces when their designs start coming to life.”

Teachers not only get to explore their own interests but also enjoy seeing their students succeed. When asking Ms. Mosely how long she had been doing the Winterim, she said, “I feel like it’s been at least five or six years, I don’t remember; I have been quilting quite a bit myself for a long time, and so when I was first invited to join the quilting program, I was very excited.”

 “It’s been fantastic,” she said of the overall experience. “The students are pretty motivated. The fabrics and designs they have chosen have been really interesting, and the work we have been seeing is really good.”

Students were following Ms. Mosely’s lead as they made their own quilts and put together their own pieces, with great results. All of the students were hard at work and had made great progress, and this was a great example of an on-campus Winterim where the students were fully immersed in their work.

Most Winterims involve a degree of creativity and building something. Personally, my Winterim experience has been terrific. Last year was my first year at Lawrence Academy, and I took the “Beyond Monopoly” Winterim. I had the unique opportunity to figure out the mechanics behind board games, and also worked with a group to make a battleship-esque game. It was indeed a significant challenge, and we had to master the mechanics of teamwork, along with board games to make it work. While it was my first on-campus Winterim, it never felt dull, and I always felt fully immersed in the program.

This year I had the chance to join the Winterim News Team, and this experience, although much different from Monopoly and Beyond, was just as rewarding.

The news team was comparable to quilting, in a way. The final products felt like tapestries, and they were interwoven between many different layers of challenges. We took many trips off campus and visited both Providence College and Harvard Square.

We were always immersing ourselves in the journalist’s world and were still busy filming B-roll, recording interviews, or even doing food reviews on the restaurants in which we ate. I learned a lot about video reporting and doing interviews, all the while -- and once again -- working with a team to make things work and found the experience highly rewarding once again.

Posted by John Bishop in Story on Friday March, 16, 2018

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