When I told people that I would be spending one month of my precious summer at summer school, the first reaction I got was shock. “Oh my god, what happened?” “Are your grades okay?” “Your parents must be mad.” That was when I had to explain that this wasn’t conventional summer school, and I was going by my own choice, not because I had to. But while I explained, I myself still wondered: what was I going to get out of this?
GRACE stands for Groton Accelerate Challenge Enrich. Yes, somebody was really trying to spell GRACE, but it’s accurate. That’s exactly what GRACE does. Over the course of four weeks, we got to take our education into our own hands and take necessary measures to get better and challenge ourselves, whether it be in Latin, English, math, or chemistry. But after two years on the Circle, I know what I’m going to get in a Groton class, in the normal school year or during the summer. I was more concerned about this one question: will it be fun?
The answer is a resounding YES. When we weren’t learning or studying, we sure were never bored. We got to do regular fun stuff such as bowling, go-karting, or whitewater rafting—and that was awesome. But we also got to help out and teach math to kids at the Epiphany School, who were borrowing some of our campus for the summer. We learned about Zydeco music with Ms. Lanier and attended an actual Zydeco concert by CJ Chenier, the son of the “King of Zydeco,” Clifton Chenier. Yes, lots of dancing was involved. We also got to dive into the world of improv theater with Laurie (Ms. Sales, but she insists we never call her that). That included a trip to a hilarious, brilliant ImprovBoston performance. Basically, it was a blast and that’s something you sure don’t expect out of summer school. Of course, it’s important to acknowledge all the teachers and Dining Hall staff who also took time out of their precious summers to help us have the best possible “blast” at GRACE
But for me, as vital as the academics and fun are, there are two other important takeaways:
- The additional time I got to spend with some of my formmates
Throughout GRACE, I was able to build even stronger bonds with my formmates. Through all our fun and adventures, I was able to get to know a lot of them way better than in the normal school year, as there were fewer people around us and we got to spend a lot of time together.
- A preview of Upper School
GRACE gave us much more freedom and flexibility in our schedule and daily life than we’d experienced in Second and Third Form. That and living on the Hundred House side of the Circle gave me a good idea what Upper School life looks like, so I’m definitely going to be better prepared going in this fall.
So to answer my original question, what I got out of GRACE was more than just a head start on chemistry. There’s what I said above—being closer with the people I’m going to be spending the rest of my time here at Groton with and getting a sneak peek of Upper School life (something that I had only secondhand knowledge of beforehand). But most importantly, I had loads and loads of fun. And who doesn’t want that?