Passport to Discovery
A playful, curious energy infuses our Griffins on Fridays because Friday = Discovery Day!
On Discovery Days, our students are dedicated to exploring their interests, pursuing their passions or making one last push to finish their weekly goals. The anticipation starts each Tuesday, when Friday’s workshops are announced and sign-ups are posted. Some Griffins know immediately which workshops they want to attend. Others spend the next couple of days thinking about it and rush to add their name on Thursday, before sign-ups close.
First thing each Friday morning, the Griffins spend a few minutes setting their daily goals so they will be focused and intentional as they journey through their day. Then, it’s time for the students to grab their passports and travel to their first Discovery Day destination.
Griffins must spend their hard-earned Hero Bucks if they want to purchase a passport to participate in the amazing array of Discovery Day workshops. Griffins earn these Hero Bucks by completing weekly studio maintenance jobs, leading Discovery Day workshops, participating on a committee, and earning academic milestones. Griffins who choose not to purchase a passport will still participate in P.E. and intensives in the morning but will then focus on their core work in the afternoon in lieu of additional workshops.
All students spend an hour in an intensive study of their choice – art, music or drama – all of which are led by adults with deep passion and experience in these areas. In one recent music session, the tinkling sounds of glass bottle xylophones filled the foyer as Griffins attempted to create musical scales by varying the level of water in each bottle. Meanwhile the students in art were learning the fun and slightly messy process of monoprinting. Griffins pursuing drama dabbled in play-based acting and giggled as they practiced reading the unfamiliar lines of Shakespeare. To be an actor, artist or musician one day – might just start with the inspiration from a workshop one Discovery Day.
P.E.workshops are lead by guides, parents, visiting heroes and even Griffins who want to share their passion for a special sport or physical activity. The Griffins burn their energy in relay races and flag football, gaga ball, line dancing, yoga, running, tennis and maybe even Parkour. At the end of the workshop, Griffins get the guide or visiting hero to sign their passport before jetting off to their next destination of inspiration.
After intensives and morning P.E. sessions, a half hour is set aside for clubs and committees to meet. Recently, the student-led Halloween committee met to brainstorm decorations, party ideas and make plans for a spooky Haunted School. While the Halloween committee discussed the pros and cons of scary music, a yearbook committee started forming in the library. Interested Griffins gathered on the rug and looked through the yearbook created by last year’s student yearbook committee. They asked questions of their parent advisor and expressed interest in being the writers, photographers, editors and other staff who will bring life to this year’s Greenfields yearbook.
Meanwhile, the Physics Club met outside to create foaming fountains with Mentos and 20 oz. bottles of Diet Coke. They experimented to see if more Mentos created a higher fountain and if there was a difference in the height of the fountain if the cap was set back on the bottle after the Mentos were pushed down inside of the bottle. Bursts of excited laughter and enthusiastic suggestions filled the alley as the kids worked together to try and achieve a more impressive, volcanic-scale soda explosion. While no record-breaking soda geyser happened, the small, foamy fountains were enough to fire their enthusiasm.
After committees and clubs, the Griffins break for lunch and free time. Then they dive into afternoon workshops or stake out a space to continue working independently. There is a nice blend of cooking, arts and crafts, athletics, music, and science for them to explore. Recent workshops included calligraphy, decorating sugar skulls, making corn tortillas, and creating artist trading cards.
Griffins who aren’t in a workshop can work independently on their passions like sketching or music mixing or dig deep to meet the weekly academic goals they set on Monday. Others have set a personal challenge to reach a milestone in math or polish a piece of writing and they decide to go solo on their journey this week. They get the chance to make deeper connections with what they are actively exploring.
Discovery Days also allows Griffins to explore the city and meet new heroes. Students can sign up for an optional Adventure Trip and end up touring ChinaTown, learning to cook from a Michelin-starred chef, or making recordings at the WBEZ studios. Or they may elect to listen to a visiting hero talk about their life as a CIA operative or the many paths to starting a business.
As the afternoon starts to wind down the students get to work on studio maintenance. When the school is clean, they come together and spend fifteen minutes engaged in “Griffin’s Pride.” Students who want to share with the group have a chance to talk about their project, passion or accomplishment from the day. Many Griffins enthusiastically share their self-portraits, sketches or inventions, to the delight of their peers.
At the conclusion of Griffin’s Pride, it’s time to go home. Some Griffins carry plastic bags with homemade tortillas to share with their parents or painted leaf prints to hang on their wall at home. Other Griffins carry just a sparkle in their eyes. A newly-discovered passion is bubbling in their brain as their day of discovery kicks off a weekend of unlimited possibilities.