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J-Term 2020: Healing a Divided World

V. Parker
"As teachers, we always wonder if, how, or when something we have taught our students will impact their lives. During J-Term, these amazing ninth graders passionately teach us about what matters to them, and it has an immediate impact on our lives." John Higgins, St. Luke’s Ninth Grade Co-Dean and Science Teacher

For the sixth year, St. Luke’s ninth graders spent a week immersing themselves in the School’s annual J-Term. From January 13-17, the Class of 2023 paused its daily school routine to research and wrestle weighty issues that all fell under theme of Healing a Divided World. Through collaborative project-based learning, the students had the opportunity to dig deep and approach subjects through a new lens.

Healing a Divided World was selected as this year’s theme in response to the students’ ideas and suggestions. The 77 ninth graders worked in groups of eight to nine students, with each group dedicated to a single issue. This year’s topics included technology and its effects, poverty, women’s rights, discrimination in the justice system, racism, drugs (including Juul), gun violence, and climate change (causes and effects).

From the start, students stepped into various leadership roles during a weeklong deep dive into their topic and how it impacts the world around them. Head of Upper School Liz Perry shared, “Students worked in teams to interview experts, do research, and come up with ways to educate our community and take action.”

On the final day, St. Luke’s Middle School gym was transformed into the J-Term Showcase. Displays, videos, games, interactive activities, lists of facts, practiced “elevator pitches,” and more were used to convey all they had learned in just five days. The ninth graders were not only challenged to present their findings but also offered suggestions and actions people can take to help heal a divided world. "The Class of 2023 blew us away with their independence, seriousness of purpose, and collaboration. I loved the energy all week, and the final showcase was a testament to what is possible when students truly own their own learning," Perry reflected. “Many students continue working on solutions long after J-Term concludes. They create clubs, lead assemblies, and do volunteer work in the community.”

Thanks to the St. Luke's faculty who participated as J-Term facilitators and the many parents and friends who came to St. Luke's for the showcase.

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St. Luke’s School is a secular private school in New Canaan, CT for grades 5 through 12 serving 25 towns in Connecticut and New York. Our exceptional academics and diverse co-educational community foster students’ intellectual and ethical development and prepare them for top colleges. St. Luke’s Center for Leadership builds the commitment to serve and the confidence to lead.