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The Definition of an Exceptional Education: St. Luke’s Scholars

Throughout their years at St. Luke’s, students learn to find your voice and make a difference—the motto of St. Luke’s Center for Leadership. In April, a group of seniors demonstrated their ability to showcase their mastery level research and presentation skills during the annual St. Luke’s Scholars Symposium.

The Highest Form of Independent Scholarship

The Scholars Program and Symposium, run by Director of Studies Jim Yavenditti, offer students a chance to propose and execute a yearlong, deep-dive research project on a compelling topic. There are three categories of Scholars: Global, Classical and STEM. This year’s topics included The Effects of Microfinance on Communities in Developing Nations (Global), Historicity in Latin Literature: Comparing Two Accounts of the Roman Civil War (Classical) and Data-Driven Discovery of Effective Marketing Hashtags (STEM). (See the full list of Scholars & Topics)

Unexpected Silver Linings

Yavenditti refers to the annual Symposium as “the highest form of independent scholarship here on the St. Luke’s Hilltop.” This year, the Hilltop was virtual, as all 16 Scholars’ presentations took place via Zoom over four nights. According to Yavenditti, this was an unexpected silver lining: “Normally, our Scholars present their findings in a classroom with a dozen people or so watching. This year, thanks to the wizardry of Academic Technology Coordinator Matt Bavone, 50 to 60 people watched each presentation live and asked questions. It was incredible for our Scholars to get that kind of support and engagement from our community.

Committed Students Guided by Incredible Teachers

Though Scholars work independently, they are guided by faculty mentors who help them through the bumps and frustrations that occur with any serious research project. “One of the most interesting things to observe is how Scholars react to academic setbacks,” commented Yavenditti. “How do they respond when their scholarship takes them in a direction they didn't anticipate? We can see their academic resilience and creativity develop, and they experience first-hand the importance of process in a learning experience.”

Head of School Mark Davis calls the Scholars Symposium a St. Luke’s distinction: “These presentations are an example of what happens when committed students engage their passions in a year of research, guided by incredible teachers. Several times, I forgot I was listening to high school students — it’s more akin to watching a PhD candidate present a doctoral dissertation. The level of knowledge and the sophistication of the presenters...truly astounding.”

St. Luke's Scholars included:
Ellis Beurle, Kayleigh Bowler, Will Chuhta, Peter Gutstein, Henry Jodka, Ashley Kelley, Laura Mercedes, Ruth Mercedes, Ally Riley, Jerry Rutigliano, Connor Rosow, Emma Scanlan, Jack Truwit, Jamie Ullman, Chris Walsh, and Amelie Warneryd

St. Luke's Scholar Advisors included:
Classical: Jim Yavenditti (Director of Studies) and Leo Mahler (Classics teacher)

STEM: Alec LeBris and Jason Warner (Science teachers)
Global: Beth Yavenditti (Director of Global Education) and Jason Haynes (US History Department Chair)

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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.