Winter Term Wastes No Time Starting Up!


Brooks School students kicked off the new year with new classes yesterday: the first day of our annual Winter Term!

Each year in January following winter break, students return to campus for more than two weeks of an intensive, one-topic course of study at school and on excursions to museums, companies and monuments in Washington, D.C., Boston and all over New England. This focus allows students and teachers to dive deeply into the subject matter and include interdisciplinary content, collaboration among classmates, and experiential and project-based learning. The best part is, it's fun!

Students in the Winter Term "Make It Uncommon..." interior design course begin the first stage of revamping the sixth-form coffeehouse on campus.

Every student takes just the one class — selected for them by Brooks' academic deans from a list of six that the student chose in the Winter Term catalog. And the 31 course options include a great range of interesting topics, from food to philanthropy.

Returning classes in 2019 include beloved courses such as "Making the Brooks Band: Creating Original Hip-Hop/R&B Music" (in which student performers create a track with original beats and lyrics, working in a custom-designed, 1100 square-foot commercial audio studio, then make a corresponding music video) and "The Complexity of War." The conflict-focused course, that challenges students to consider the complex challenges facing those who have authorized and waged wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, is offered for the first time to third-formers this year. Per tradition, the class will interview veterans to get in touch with living history, and travel to Washington, D.C. to visit the Vietnam Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery, among other monuments, memorials, and museums.

Visit our Winter Term page for more details about the unique program and photos from last year's classes.

But there are a number of brand-new courses, as well. "Toy Stories: The Role of Toys in Imagination, Culture, & Development" features an outing to Hasbro and a meeting with executives at the American Girl doll company as part of an examination of the history around toys and childhood and how companies develop these toys. "How much of it is marketing, child development research or just plain fun?" history teacher Michelle Musto asks in her course catalog write-up of the class. "To what extent do toys and toy companies create and reinforce gender and racial stereotypes?" The class will also visit museums, toy stores and speak with psychologists and marketers to get a sense of how toys are developed. For a final project students will create their own toy!

Read about last year's Winter Term courses in the "Winter Term Offers Exciting New Courses" news story.

"A Taste of Ancient Greece: A Quest through Language, Culture, & Food" is another fresh offering. "Odyssey with us through ancient Greek language and culture!" urges the catalog's description, which details the class' plan to survey the ancient civilization including trips to Greek restaurants, a Greek Orthodox church, and a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

"Lying with the Truth: Don't be Manipulated by Numbers," on the other hand, dives into data. Students in this hands-on course will "investigate methods and tricks by which marketers and executives, pollsters and pundits ... craft 'stories' supported by real data."

"Health & Human Disease" students learned to use pipettes yesterday.

Brooks' new school ministers, James Chapman and Shrestha Singh, lead "Soulful Conversations: Exploring the Life of the Spirit." This first-time course invites students to ponder how to live a meaningful life, with discussion, meditation opportunities and visits to houses of worship.

A poetry version of Brooks' beloved "Still Waters" creative writing Winter Term is also offered this year. Students will "play with a wide range of poetic styles, written and spoken, listen to and learn from the work and wisdom of contemporary poets and some favorites from the past," according to information about the class. Activities include interviews of working poets, poetry reading events and workshopping time for students to craft their own works of poetry.

Of course, Brooks' brand new Center for the Arts offers students an opportunity to do even more in the arts this Winter Term. Thanks to the just-opened facility, two new classes are able to run.

"Dance Exploration: An Introduction to Dance in Techniques, Pop Culture, History & Community," will use the building's new black box theater and its wall of floor-to-ceiling mirror and ballet barre for students' practice and performances.

And "Drawing the Music" — a course held in conjunction with a solo show hosted in Brooks' Robert Lehman Gallery of New Orleans artist Emilie Rhys — challenges student artists to create drawings while watching live music and musicians perform. The class will bring performers to the Center for the Arts stages so that the students may practice drawing them, and include a trip to Boston for two nights to see musicians perform at the Berklee School of Music, New England Conservatory and Symphony Hall.

The term's film-inspired play this year will be "Jurassic Park Live!" (previous years focused on "Titanic" and "The Dark Knight.") For this largest and most complex performance yet, students in the class will be responsible for writing the script, building 3-D dinosaurs and sets, creating props and designing costumes, as well as crafting the score and sound effects – then performing the "movie" live on the main stage during our final week of winter term.

With all this work to do, in all of the classes, it's no wonder students dove right into their activities this first day of term. Health & Human Disease students got busy learning how to use pipettes as part of their study of cancer diagnosis.


The home renovation and interior design enthusiasts in "Let's Make It Uncommon..." began dismantling the academic building's sixth-form "coffeehouse" area, which they'll redesign during the next two weeks with a $3,000 budget. The students' agenda includes meeting with interior designers and DIY experts to learn a few tricks of the trade.

Meanwhile, a few doors down the hall, other students focused on figures in their coding class: "learn_code { < 3 weeks}; Vidcode."

Day one began with coding on calculators and moved on to the Vidcode website platform on laptops this afternoon, with the goal of getting an understanding of the logic of coding.

"It's a nice way to get started," said Skyler Zheng '20, who took the course as a third-former and is back again this year – as a teaching assistant. "I'm so excited to T.A.," she said. "I really like this class. It's such an encouraging learning environment."

Follow Brooks School on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to see how Winter Term classes are progressing and learn more about all the unique activities as they happen.

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