In a variety of settings, ranging from their upper school campus to downtown Cleveland, Washington, D.C., and Paris, Hawken School students and teachers in grades 9-12 spent the three weeks between Thanksgiving and winter breaks immersed in “Intensives,” which offer hands-on, extensive study of a single subject.
With the school’s unique schedule, students can practice stage combat under the tutelage of professional actors in the Shakespeare Creativity Lab; volunteer at various service sites around Cleveland for a Homelessness class; scuba dive at the Island School at Cape Eleuthera Institute in the Bahamas; present projects from a Creativity Process class to experts at Harvard and MIT; and more.
Now in its seventh year, the program supports a variety of memorable learning opportunities that each semester provide uninterrupted time to delve into a particular subject without the distractions and interruptions that occur in a traditional school’s 45-minute class schedule. Students gain the experience and skills to help them navigate a changing world while also strengthening their empathy, resilience, and confidence.
In the ninth grade, Intensives are part of the core curriculum. As students progress, they have a greater degree of choice; some offerings are life-changing, leading to a deeper understanding of a selected topic. “These types of classes help students learn things they really want to learn about,” says one senior. “And everyone’s engaged in the study because we get to see it all right in front of us. Learning about a topic on location resonates much more fully than learning in a classroom.”