Mr. Smith Goes To The Dungeon

It’s always interesting to see what is going on behind the scenes. And nothing more more interesting to students than to see what makes their teachers tick, right?

Case in point: This week Scott Smith is debuting a Kickstarter for his latest off-hours project – a tabletop game called “Dungeon Drop.”

Yep, one of the teachers who offers the Winterim, “Beyond Monopoly: Board Game Design,” is producing an actual game of his own invention – neat how that works!

Scott Smith and “Dungeon Drop”

Growing Up Gaming

“I grew up with gaming as a thing, you know?” explained Scott when he visited the Communications Office to show us the new game. “I’m a father now, but I’m kind of part of this first generation of people that aren’t innately averse to gaming.

“But at this phase of my life, just sitting down at the computer and doing that type of gaming is not so appealing anymore,” continued Scott. “Board games are a wonderful way to make gaming a part of your adult life; where you can sit down at a table with your friends… [and] I can game with my kids and it feels good.

“We’re talking together and we’re sharing actual time at a real table together,” said Scott, with a smile. “As opposed to the kind of guilt that goes along with just staring at a screen.”

Dungeon Drop: Game-Play

With a quick paced game like “Dungeon Drop,” there’s very little staring at any one thing. Check out the game-play video from Tantrum House, who reviewed “Dungeon Drop,” below:

The impetus for Smith’s game was a contest on “Game Crafter“; a game design competition, which employed restrictions that had Mr. Smith’s mind churning (about a game that needed to be constructed only from “bits and pieces”).

“I kept thinking about it and just was on ride home from the grocery store one day and came up with this idea,” said Scott. “I was going to design a game that didn’t have any [board or traditional printed components] and I wanted a way to visualize something cool that made sense to me.”

Voila! Thus was born the unique design for “Dragon Drop.”

Creating Abstraction

“So basically the whole idea for the game was kind of circumventing the restriction of having this really abstract game. I wanted to actually be able to see a ‘picture’,” explained Smith. “So I came up with this idea that you drop all these random pieces, but once you understood what you were looking at… you actually started to visualize an actual dungeon on the table.”

And as far his team, Scott was thrilled to see both the game, and the team take shape.

“Everybody wants this; this feeling that a whole small team of people are working really hard together for the same goal… So that’s another great thing.

Scott Smith

“And in the Winterim, that’s a part of it, too,” added Smith, who saw shades of his own process in the work of his students. “For their final project, the students are in a small group and trying to work to each other’s strengths.”

English, Art… Game Design?

Looking at Mr. Smith, and watching him explain the ins-and-outs of the rules, and the game’s design, it was fun to think that the once English teacher, turned Art teacher, may now carry the title “Game Designer.”

“Oh, right now I still say I’m an arts teacher, which is absolutely true,” said Smith. “That is what I do for a living.

“But yeah, the more you do some of this stuff, the more you do start to incorporate it into your language of who you are.”

Congratulations to LA’s Class of 2019

Lawrence Academy’s 226th Graduation Exercises

Groton, Mass. — Sunny skies greeted Head of School Dan Scheibe as he moved from the Schoolhouse to the Quad and stepped to the microphone to preside over Graduation 2019.

“226 graduation exercises at Lawrence Academy,” he began. “That is an awesome substantial history and you, the class of 2019, are an awesome, substantial class.”

No doubt feeling the crescendo of joy that back-dropped the morning, and with 109 smiling senior faces staring back at him, Mr. Scheibe took a moment to take it in and revel in the wonder of the Class of 2019’s collective accomplishment.

An Awesome Class

“Things can be so good,” said Dan of life’s ups-and-downs. “We have this sense of exaltation, but we have this sense of vulnerability too.

“You may feel giddy and sad and agitated all at the same time. There’s nothing wrong with us. We’re just experiencing constant recovery from the human condition.

“The fact today, and any day is that life can be complex. It has beauty and it has its burdens, but somewhere in life’s extremity, there is this transcendent, disruptive, transformative mystery and maybe that’s where life’s real energy emerges and we happen just to be sensing it now,” he said.

Change The World

In the “now” was where Kate Williams (of “1% for the Planet”) placed her keynote remarks.

“I know you have a million thoughts and emotions running around in your head on this big day and that’s as it should be,” said Williams, who brings a deep passion for and commitment to the power of collective action. “I hope this one point, this one gift of perspective that I can offer you can penetrate and stick: Our world needs you and you have power to change the world.”

To that end, Ms. Williams spoke to the work of LA’s current students and that of former Spartans.

“At Lawrence Academy, you’ve not only learned in the classroom but you’ve also learned by doing; you consider the real issues facing the world,” added Williams. “You rolled up your sleeves and you’ve gotten to work.

“Through Winterim projects, both near and far, that are focused on improving communities, to awarding your Greater Good Award to alumni like Rob Kaplan, [who is] investing in solutions to plastic waste in the ocean, to working diligently right here on campus to eliminate single use plastics.

“[I want to thank] Shelby [Guinard ’19] and Emily [Leung ’19] and the Environmental Sustainability Council for their great work right here on campus,” she said. “So as you leave here today with your diplomas in hand, I invite you to act. I invite you to keep an eye out and an ear to the ground.

“And invite you to own your stake in a healthy and dynamic planet.”

From Now to Nostalgia

From the now to nostalgia, senior speaker Will Adam took to the stage to paint a picture of life at Lawrence Academy, and admonished the Classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022 to look up from their books.

“This is by no means me supporting an indolent, carefree lackadaisical mindset for you,” he said. “But it is me encouraging you to focus on making memories; because you won’t remember that homework you took hours to complete or that test you studied a week for or that bad grade you got at midterm, but you will remember the good times you had with friends.

However, Adam reminded students to choose those friends wisely.

Learn From Your Peers

“Most importantly, learn from your peers,” said Will. “They are by far the biggest influence on who you are in high school, but also who you can become…so make sure you are surrounded by those who will make you your best self.”

Nicole Winthrop ’19 added to Adam’s painted picture, speaking to the building blocks the Class of 2019 had garnered along the way at LA.

Building Blocks

Nicole Winthrop ’19. Jon Chase photo

However, Nicole explained that those “LEGO blocks” of experience don’t come in one shape or size, and didn’t necessarily come from inside a classroom.

“They can be ideas, mannerisms, friends, or just straight up joy; whether I’m playing with record on stage as you guys walk into assembly or making a winning dragon fruit smoothie with Justin [Chen ’19], I’m showing not only my classmates but also myself, who I am,” said Winthrop.

“And yeah, I’m not exactly sure what I’m building with these LEGO-type clocks.

“And I know that the things that I did at la, are not the only thing is that the defined me. It simply added on to who I am and who I want to become,” she said.

Get After It

Scheibe, who set the caps flying to complete the ceremony, left the graduates with final words of instruction.

“Class of 2019, make of yourself a light,” he said. “Absorb as much light as you can, spread as much light as you can.

“The world needs your radiance. Get after it,” he said.

Click here for the 2019 Graduation Program.

9th Graders Learn About Intersectionality Via Artistic Expression

Mrs. Jenny Cooper always keeps us informed about what is happening in her classrooms, and Wednesday she sent in:

Educator John Hunter Asks Students to Help Their Teachers

The Inventor of the “World Peace Game” reminded LA students to bring their mentors up to speed…

As 2019 Mees Visiting Scholar John Hunter began his first full day with Lawrence Academy students with a request.

Hunter, a renown educator, featured in the documentary “World Peace and Other Fourth Grade Achievements” asked a packed Richardson-Mees Performing Arts Center (RMPAC) to assist their teachers.

“I can’t see as far as you can,” explained Hunter, now in his 60s. “So, what I am going to ask you is to reveal the future…and help me to be a better teacher.”

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“I just can’t keep up,” added, Hunter, point blank and speaking on behalf of his fellow educators. “I can’t know everything.

“There’s [many] of you in a classroom and one of me; with my old Atari or Commodore [64] brain.

“I invite you to help me design our curriculum,” he added.

No, Hunter has not joined the Lawrence Academy faculty.

However, in essence, Hunter was asking the students to do precisely what Head of School Dan Scheibe wants LA’s scholars to do as Lawrence Academy (under the direction of Hunter’s friend and colleague — LA’s new Assistant Head for Academic Life — Jamie Baker).

“We are trying to use [John Hunter’s] visit to inspire us as teachers to think about the ways that we can create ‘space’ for students,” said Mr. Scheibe, speaking both literally and philosophically. “to learn to fully respect what you have to offer.

“We want to create the type of relationships — not only between students — but between faculty and students… that will make your learning come alive.

“So you can see why we, as teachers, want to be able to work with John Hunter,” he said.

In turn, Hunter is glad for the opportunity to work with LA’s students.

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“To prepare you, we know that we can’t just teach you information anymore,” he said. “Teaching you information is almost useless.”

Then, holding his smartphone aloft, Hunter added, “You can find the sum total of human knowledge… in your pocket on one of these. So what do you need me for?

“It can’t just be knowledge; [however] teachers do have a purpose and function. But it’s in collaboration with you. If you are waiting to receive an education, you’re not going to get much of an education.

“So, I invite you to be involved with your own learning and get involved in your own learning,” he concluded.

John Hunter will be collaborating with the community through Tuesday morning…

 

Elm Tree Press: Academic Support at LA

By Kerri Murphy ’19

When I first came to Lawrence Academy, I was unsure what to think about the Academic Support program and what it meant to have a learning coach.

Before starting at LA, I fought my parents about needing the program but settled on meeting with my learning coach one time per week. However, my preconceived perception of the learning support at LA couldn’t be more different than the reality.

And, after having a learning coach for all four years I have been at Lawrence Academy, I now wish I could bring the program to college with me next year.

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During coaching blocks, the student dictates what they want to work on during that time. Therefore, it is an excellent time to do any tough homework with your learning coach’s assistance. They are willing and wanting to help you with any problems you may encounter – whether it is planning out a history essay or reading an English assignment out loud to go over the meaning of each paragraph of prose.

Having a learning coach is like being able to ask your English teacher to take a look at your work before she grades it, or having someone willing to quiz you on Spanish vocabulary for 30-minutes until you have memorized each new word. Even if it is not an essay that I planned to do with my learning coach, I can still send it to her for a grammar and punctuation check, along with making sure the information flows correctly.

Each week, I look forward to meeting with my coach. First, we talk about my schedule, and I then tell her what I hope to accomplish during the block. During each meeting, I continuously find myself smiling and laughing, and I leave at the end of the block feeling accomplished, with a solid plan to stay on top of my work.

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In short: Learning coaches and the LA Academic Support Office are there assist you! The office picks your coach based on your specific needs and personality to find the match that will lead to the best and most productive results.

They are all very knowledgeable in many different subjects, and they want to share their knowledge with each student. They take their job personally, genuinely care, and will do anything to help you succeed during your time at LA and beyond.

Not only has my learning coach helped me with my school work, but she has also helped me make sound academic decisions throughout my time at LA.

She encourages me to take challenging classes, giving me the confidence that I will succeed.

She has not yet been wrong…