Building character & leadership through experiential learning
Dear TGS Families:
You will soon be hearing more about Interim Week, if you haven’t already, from our wonderful faculty leaders. (With the excpetion of our junior class, Interim Week will be October 10 - 13. Juniors will travel October 6 - 9.) This week’s message is intended to help you better understand just what Interim Week entails and why we set aside time in the academic calendar for this special experience.
A significant part of our school’s mission is to develop leaders and citizens of good character. Historically, the school utilized outdoor camping and ropes course experiences to foster teamwork, relationship building, and communication skills. As we continued to evolve and improve programming for students, we realized that these types of trips throughout the first semester, by grade level, were actually pretty disruptive to our regular academic classes.
Why? Because we believe in placing students where they need to be academically, faculty have classes composed of a mixture of grade-level aged students. The grade-level trips, then, would often mean that a teacher wouldn’t have a “whole” classroom for weeks. So…when we were developing our 6 Cs and looking at how they would be integrated throughout our programs, we took a hard look at our leadership and experiential learning experiences and decided it would be more meaningful, and less disruptive, to simply set aside a week for these activities.
Hence, Interim Week. Each grade level experience is carefully planned based upon the age of the students and the academic themes that may be present in that given year. For instance, our junior interim trip has evolved around the Utah Shakespeare Festival, as it’s a perfect fit for the literature juniors read. The majestic national parks in Utah also lend themselves well to hiking and team building activities in the outdoors. Here is a very brief description of what each grade level is planning for October:
Fifth graders embark on a journey across the Oregon Trail to learn about Westward Expansion and the life of a pioneer. However, the trail experience becomes so much more as we meet challenges along the way that help us learn to persevere, solve problems and successfully collaborate to reach our final destination. The Oregon Trail looks for parent volunteers, so please keep an eye out for those opportunities!
Sixth grade students will focus on “building community in the outdoors.” Opportunities will include trips to Kartchner Caverns and Sabino Canyon, and a two-day camping trip with the Ironwood Tree Experience. Sixth graders can look forward to an interim week of fun and adventure.
One of the most legendary Interim Week experiences has seventh graders staying on campus to participate in Restaurant Wars. Using The Gregory School kitchen and dining hall, students form teams to create two restaurants, from concept to menu planning to shopping, and finally prepare a full-course meal to serve to parents and a panel of judges. A third team will create an edited video to document the entire process.
Eighth and Ninth grade students will join together for a journey to Friendly Pines Camp in Prescott, where the theme will be “building community through camp fun.” Friendly Pines offers a full camp experience with cabins, archery, climbing walls, community-building games, camp fires, and much more. Students will have opportunities to work across both grades but time is also set aside for individual grade-level experiences.
Sophomores will explore all things New Mexico—from its history and nature, to its museums, culture, and urban areas. Students may experience everything from Bandelier National Monument in Los Alamos to the International Folk Art Museum in Santa Fe to the traditional cuisine of New Mexico.
Another time-honored tradition is the junior trip to Utah. This trip combines hiking in some of Utah’s gorgeous national parks with tickets to see two shows at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, and a good dose of other fun along the way. The Utah trip is a wonderful opportunity for the class to bond as they prepare to be the next year’s school leaders. (Because of the dates of the Shakespeare Festival, the junior trip will be October 6 - 9.)
During Interim Week, Director of College Counseling Ms. Carey Eskesen encourages all seniors to do "anything and everything" college-related, whether they stay at home to work on applications or schedule time with her on campus. Ms. Eskesen will also be available for one-on-one meetings with students and their families. Interim Week provides a good opportunity for students to go on college visits without the worry of missing school: Mid-October is a perfect time to get a good "feel" of a college campus! The seniors’ traditional class trip to California is planned for February 19 - 22. This trip is considered the kick-off of the countdown to Commencement.
We believe, deeply, in the merits of these special experiences for our students. I’m personally very grateful for the time commitment and planning required of faculty to travel and leave their families during Interim Week. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to any of our deans if you have questions!
Julie A. Sherrill, Ph.D.
Head of School
"The Gregory School is a place that is transforming learning and transforming students' lives. Gregory students lead institutions; they found movements; they invent technology; they run cities. Students leave TGS with a sense of agency; they believe they can change the world for the better and it is our aim to ensure we give them the knowledge, skills, experiences and confidence to do so."