Forty sixth grade students at St. James Episcopal School found themselves immersed in some wonderful learning adventures last week, and distracted from the onslaught of middle-school acceptance letters in the mail. The hands-on learning programs, dubbed “Sixth Grade Intensives” took place for the second year in a row and gave students an out-of-classroom intensive course on a single subject.
“In the course of a single week, these 6th grade students have thrown themselves into immersion activities that have changed their lives,” Deborah David, Head of School at St. James told the Larchmont Buzz. “They not only learned facts and skills, they have learned the more important life lessons of perseverance, tenacity, courage, curiosity, self-mastery and cooperation.”
The Intensives offered four distinct, and some unusual, opportunities to the St. James students. The “Circus Intensive” offered five days of soaring through the air, tumbling and other ‘circus arts’ by C. Derrick Jones of FOCUSfish in which students faced physically exhilerating challenges.
The “Screenwriting Intensive”with Anthony Maranville and Shana Stein took kids to writers’ rooms and film studios to learn from working writers, and try their own hand at writing a bit of screenplay.
Those students who chose the “Shakespeare Intensive” led by John Staley, traveled to Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum to study Shakespeare in-depth, and later to prepare their own Shakespeare scenes for an assembly at the week’s end.
Perhaps most exotic of the offerings was the “Marco Polo Intensive” in which author/explorer Denis Belliveau immersed the students in the geography, culture, art and history of 13th and 14th century Asia, giving them a look into the world he personally traced in following Marco Polo’s route along the Silk Road. The kids built a fabric yurt, worked with indigo dyes, and learned what it felt like to travel in a camel caravan.
“They have become, in one short week, more sophisticated in their understandings of the world around them,” Ms. David said. “They are more compassionate with each other, more engaged in life-long learning, and more confident than they have ever been before.”
See the St. James students build a yurt in record time:
Read more: In the Footsteps of Marco Polo