Hug A Student Leader!

By John Bishop

You can see the uptick in urgency; you can feel it, too.

Here in September (!) — with the first of autumn’s leaves turning color — there’s just something spectacular about seeing students stepping up.

Friendly faces all, here to give a hand to their fellow Spartans (as well as the faculty and staff). All weekend, they prevented nerves from taking center stage.

Even as Mr. Scheibe told new students, “It’s all new… It’s all good,” faculty and staff traversed the campus on Friday’s Athletic Preseason Registration with heightened purpose.

Summer was over and there was a necessary rise in the timbre of activity from the adults, all of whom were working their hardest to make the first few moments on campus as comfortable as possible for new and returning families.

But there, in the middle of it all, were Lawrence Academy’s student leaders — peer counselors, proctors, ambassadors, and Elm Tree Society members — ready to steady the hand of any nervous freshman (or uptight adult).

“Not only have the student leaders helped welcome and ground new students and families, they’ve made ME feel both comfortable and excited heading from summer into the school year. What a welcome and welcoming sight!”

Head of School, Dan Scheibe

As a result, this past weekend’s welcoming activities, practices, and — yes — there was some downtime, went off without a hitch. To which Mrs. Margraf, LA’s assistant head of school, this morning mused via email:

“If you see a student leader on campus, (decorated in tie-dye today), please give them a huge shout” out! They are working incredibly hard!”

Assistant Head of School, Libby Margraf

We’re all proud. But, honestly, nobody is surprised.

This is what LA leaders do: they rise to the occasion. But here in September (!) with the first of autumn’s leaves turning color, there’s just something spectacular about seeing all of the kids — and they are kids — stepping up to give a hand to their fellow students, as well as the faculty and staff.

Thank you, guys! #GoLASpartans!

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.”