Trinity-Pawling School campus 2020

As Thanksgiving Vacation came to a close, Trinity-Pawling students and faculty prepared for their first-ever remote Wintersession. Wintersession at Trinity-Pawling is a 2.5-week student-centered learning period in which students participate in a multi-disciplined Winter Project or a Global Collaborative Challenge (GCC), depending on their grade level. Guided remotely this year by faculty and staff, the Winter Projects and the GCC are focused on what it means to be a Trinity-Pawling student — working collaboratively, thinking critically, solving problems, and becoming creative, lifelong learners.

Winter Projects and the Global Collaborative Challenge are two of the three parts of the Practicum for Civic Leadership, a graduation requirement for Trinity-Pawling students. “Both the Winter Projects and the GCC require students to strengthen the skill of synthesizing information from different disciplines and sources,” explained Headmaster Taylor. “In every project, there is also an emphasis on critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, communication, citizenship, and character — 21st-century skills that are essential for students today.”

In the Global Collaborative Challenge, all juniors, new seniors, and postgraduate students are placed into randomly-selected groups of five, and each group chooses a topic from a wide range of global issues — from healthcare to mass pollution to international policy. Students collaborate to take on these relevant global issues and are challenged to fine-tune their communication skills when showcasing their findings to a virtual faculty panel. Questions for the GCC this year include: “Should the electoral college be abolished?”; “Is nuclear energy a feasible option for meeting future energy demands?”; “With homeless shelters and soup kitchens closing due to the pandemic, how can cities continue to best support their homeless population?”; and more.

“In the GCC, students learn how to work as a team, put forth a quality presentation, and literally think on their feet — especially when asked questions by the faculty panel,” shared Slade Mead, Co-Director of College Counseling and a GCC advisor. “These skills are essential.”

The selection of Winter Projects this year also reflect the active, engaged, and dynamic learning that takes place at Trinity-Pawling. Before the end of the Fall Term, students chose from a selection of 18 multi-disciplinary projects, featuring concepts from economics, philosophy, multiculturalism, electronic music production, foreign film, sustainable energy, and much more. The ultimate goal? “To help students discover and foster their gifts and talents,” shared Headmaster Taylor.

Faculty members Cyrus Rothwell-Ferraris and Father Danny Lennox, for example, are leading the Winter Project entitled Global Lens. “One of the goals of the project is to explore how we interpret the world through film and philosophy,” explained Lennox. The group is watching multicultural films (Korean, Argentinian, Mexican, Norwegian, Hungarian, and Chinese, just to name a few), reading relevant works alongside the films, and diving into the themes in each. In the end, students will produce a film critique or a short script incorporating the concepts they’ve learned.

Director of Choral Music Mark Templeton and digital media teacher Connie Rafferty are leading a project centered on virtual music production, in which students are learning to mix, master, and edit virtual music videos. “As a choral conductor I am biased, but I believe singing in a choir is the ultimate collaborative project,” shared Templeton. “Musicians use their voices as instruments to create sounds, and these sounds must be precisely coordinated within time to create lush harmonies and melodies.” Students in the project are recording, editing, and mixing songs performed separately by themselves and other members of the School community to bring one cohesive virtual choir video to life.

Faculty members Cody Doyle and Chris Gillman ’05 are leading the Winter Project entitled Moneyball, based on the work of Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane. The project focuses on the concept of using data and statistics to try to gain a competitive advantage over other teams. “In more recent years in the world of professional sports, statistics and analytics have become an increasingly important resource, perhaps to a fault,” shared Doyle. “The goal of this project is to allow students to explore a particular sport and learn how to use data and statistics to arrive at a conclusion or hypothesis of their choosing.”

And the list of projects goes on!

Both the Winter Projects and the Global Collaborative Challenge have been redesigned for this year to accommodate 50-60 hours of student engagement spread out over the 2.5-week remote Wintersession — with daily team meetings, advisor check-ins, and time for individual exploration. “The Wintersession is just the beginning of students discovering their interests and following their passions,” concluded Headmaster Taylor. “Our goal is for each of them to emerge with a better sense of self-awareness, responsibility, and direction in the midst of our ever-changing world.”

For more information on the Wintersession at Trinity-Pawling, watch the Pride Perspectives webinar held on November 18 detailing the two-week student-centered learning period.

by Emma Christiantelli