What Is Winterim?

GPS Blog
This long-standing GPS tradition offers experiential learning opportunities outside the traditional classroom setting. 

Each year, our teachers jump at the chance to plan educational itineraries that encapsulate enrichment experiences you can’t find in the classroom. These offerings, which run the gamut from local volunteer days to worldwide travel, comprise Winterim, a week of learning during February. During Winterim, students are free to participate in the opportunity that interests them, allowing them to experience hands-on learning while also building new relationships and making lasting memories.

As we look forward to this year’s Winterim week—with travel offerings including a Spanish language immersion trip to Chile with a focus on sustainability; a trip to Silicon Valley to learn about tech and innovation at the center of it all; an Italian adventure complete with glass blowing, gondolas, and good food; and a New Orleans adventure with trips to the WWII Museum, Mardi Gras World, and Café du Monde, of course; and local options that include creating skeins of yarn on a fiber farm while learning about the art form; learning to produce, star in, direct, shoot, edit, and premiere a high quality short film; and earning a lifeguarding certification for a summer job—we reminisce on some of last year’s memorable experiences: 
  • A trip to Hawaii was jam-packed with trips to the Polynesian Cultural Center and Iolani Palace, shopping in the little town of Haleiwa, riding the Pineapple Train at Dole Plantation, and hiking to the Diamond Head State Monument.

  • Participants in the CSI: GPS Winterim had an opportunity to learn about forensics and crime scene investigations with a field trip to learn how the SWAT team practices and see K9 units in action, as well as an afternoon spent learning self-defense and self-awareness techniques to nurture their self-confidence.

  • Some students ventured to Charleston, first taking in the sights and sounds of the water on a dinner cruise to Fort Sumter, followed by a trip to the Heyward-Washington House, where they learned what life was like for Thomas Heyward Jr., who signed the Declaration of Independence. A ghost tour was obviously a must.

  • Haman's Driving School was on the docket for some of our Upper Schoolers. They learned everything from defensive driving strategies to road test preparation, how to check mirrors, read parked cars, safely change lanes, and so much more. Plus, they learned about the dangers of drinking and driving and had a chance to try on drunk impairment goggles.

  • Some of our students traveled to the Florida Everglades where they snorkeled along the reefs, kayaked among the mangroves, and took an airboat ride and tram tour through the Everglades, beginning in Everglades National Park, the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. Oh, and they swam with dolphins!

  • Several of our Upper-Schoolers elected to stay in town for a Winterim experience all about the art of being well! Throughout the week, they took a yoga class, created their own dreamcatchers, splatter painted masterpieces at Pinspiration, released their inner children at Riverview Park, and learned how to arrange flowers with one of our GPS parents, Jenny Johnston! The week provided a nice (and well-deserved!) opportunity to take things slowly and focus on mindfulness.

  • Our seventh-graders headed to Greece for their Winterim learning! (Well ... sort of ... ) On campus they learned all about the ancient Olympic games in Greece (which, of course, meant a physical challenge and team trivia!), then spent time reading and writing poetry. In the afternoon, students formed squads of 16 for the hoplite phalanx challenge (referring to the classical periods in Greece when the hoplites would line up in ranks in close order and lock their shields together for combat), before constructing their own lithobolos (catapults) in the GPS makerspace and competing to see whose had the best accuracy and distance. 

When our girls embark on their Winterim adventures, we know they will represent our school well. Last year, we received confirmation of this fact via an email, sent by an attorney from Alabama, who happened to be on a Walt Disney World bus with our students. He shared this: "This evening I had the pleasure to meet four of your seniors at Disney World while on a bus returning to our hotel. They were all very engaging and polite. I cannot think of better ambassadors for your school. Too often in today’s times, young people are flippant and disengaged except for others in their immediate social circles. These four ladies were extremely outgoing and exuded class. Congratulations on obviously doing something very right!"

Students always look forward to Winterim, making the most of their experiences, displaying pride in GPS, and forming lasting bonds with girls across grades. We can’t wait to hear about this year’s adventures!