Wednesday marked the end of the school’s first-ever May Term, a seven-day immersion experience that takes the place during what used to be finals week. This year students picked one mini class from a wide variety of subjects, designed to allow them to engage deeply in dynamic topics while collaborating with faculty and peers from different grades.
“The result has been enormously gratifying: students engaged in their learning, continuing to work through breaks, talking about class outside of class, and showing up refreshed and ready to engage in the morning,” according to Andrew Jones, Head of Upper School. “We are ending the year in a way that foregrounds every aspect of our school's mission statement in an exciting, immediate way, and we couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity.”
Some of the classes took place off-campus — from animal care at Beardsley and Bronx zoos, to overnight camping at Mohawk Mountain State Forest, to fashion exhibits at The Met Museum, among many others — and on campus, where groups heard from experts in areas of business, civil rights, screenwriting, and much more.
For the last three years, senior Kyra Lerner endured the finals week experience along with her peers, and appreciated this year’s fresh approach to the end of the year.
She explained, “During exams, you’re being tested on things you know, in theory. This time I actually learned something new, and I appreciate that. The stress level is very much decreased. You can actually enjoy the end of the year and have fun with it.”
One budding businessperson thought that the course “Becoming an Entrepreneur” would be a logical choice: he and his friends already had the idea to start their own food truck, and this class might offer them some of the know-how they’d need to get started.
“It was a good introduction to basic skills — things like budgets, employees, and equipment,” he said.
Sophomore Ali Tauck was among a group of students who said they actually didn’t mind taking finals before, but they still appreciated the stress-free ambiance that May Term brought with it.
“The transition from the last week of academics to May Term was really interesting because the energy at school just changed so much,” she said. “The week before May Term started, you’d walk in and it was this tense, almost explosive energy. But then you get here during May Term, and it starts a little later, you have no homework, it’s working with smaller groups, and you don’t feel like you’re in a pressure cooker. So that was very nice. It was very chill, and everyone just seemed so happy.”
The week of camaraderie and community culminated — appropriately — in a final gathering of food and friendship, where students were eager to share their week's work. Like a scene from a Fellini film, the front lawn was filled with activity: songwriters performing original compositions, fashion-designers donning unique creations, Hamilton-style rap battles just off center stage, and math-magicians wowed on-lookers, while campers dried out their tents and sleeping bags.
"Being able to take what I learned in the classroom out to the hallways and physically show it and see the wonder on people’s faces, that’s the think that’s been the most worth it," smiled junior Norelisa Nascimento.
For photos from the week, visit us on Flickr.