2024 Winterim Provides Experiential Learning Opportunities for Students

GPS students returned to classes on Tuesday after a week of experiential learning on campus, in Chattanooga, and around the world! 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, upper school 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.

Middle School
Middle-schoolers participate in Winterim at the grade level. This year sixth-graders enjoyed an in-town adventure that focused on the heart, mind, and body. Their days were spent learning and exploring math and science concepts with heart-themed games and activities, serving the community by making sweet cards for our elderly friends, engaging their creative sides through art, and being active with nature hikes. 

Seventh-graders traveled to Cumberland Caverns for lessons on cave geology and habitats as well as cave conservation. The girls examined fossils and discussed the geological time scale before heading to Knoxville and Gatlinburg where they visited Ijams Nature Center and challenged themselves on the multi-course Treetop Zipline Adventure. They even got to visit Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies for their Sleeping with the Sharks overnight experience! They concluded their week with budgeting lessons at the mall and community service around town.

The eighth grade spent the week on a tour of Southern cities. They explored the diverse history of Chattanooga and the role the city played in the Civil Rights Movement with on-campus activities before heading off to Atlanta for two days of connections to art, history, and science. They visited the High Museum of Art, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and The King Center to learn more about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy of the principle of nonviolence in social change. Trips to the Georgia Aquarium to learn about biodiversity and iFLY Indoor Skydiving for a real-life STEM experience were topped only by an incredible opportunity to see Hamilton: An American Musical at the fabulous and historic Fox Theater.

Upper School
In upper school, students are encouraged to select Winterim opportunities that align with their interests and passions. Some of this year’s options included 
  • a trip to Costa Rica that allowed students to practice their Spanish language skills while learning about sustainable community projects related to food, health, and conservation
  • volunteering at the Humane Education Society of Chattanooga, where girls had a chance to learn from the experts who work behind the scenes to provide medical care, training, daily enrichment, and rehabilitation to rescued animals
  • a trip to New York City to engage with the arts through museums, dance classes, architectural design, and performances
  • learning about sustainable processes through collaboration with community partners and hands-on projects using existing materials such as clothing, items for everyday use, art, and paper, to create new and beautiful pieces
  • an introduction to wilderness medicine where students learned about common injuries that occur during outdoor activities, what you can do (and what you shouldn’t do) to address them, and how to get people injured in the backcountry to professional medical care as efficiently and safely as possible
  • an exercise in urban planning that allowed student to meet with city officials to gain insight into our local urban planning process; understand how transportation drives where people live, work, and play; and glean expert knowledge on the current state and future vision of our city
Alumnae Connections
In planning Winterim agendas, many of our faculty take the advantage of our incredible alumnae and schedule visits with them so current students can envision what their paths could look like. For instance this year, Mrs. Tracie Marlin Durham ’80, who led the a Winterim experience about everyday engineering, organized visits with Haley Smith '13, who is an engineer at Y-12 in Oak Ridge, and Anne Campeau Burley '05, Director of New Product Development at Invista in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Dr. Steve Harrison’s group, who stayed on campus to glean skills and knowledge about becoming an adult and living on their own, met with Kathleen Siciliano '11, an attorney with Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel. She spoke to them about their legal rights and responsibilities when they turn 18. 

The GPS Singers ventured to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall, and they were invited to attend the GPS alumnae gathering being held that same weekend. They performed and were able to network with alumnae who had taken the leap to the Big Apple to follow their dreams!

Winterim is a unique experience for GPS students and an incredible way for them to really engage with experiential learning. Students always look forward to their trips or activities, and they make the most of them while displaying pride in GPS and forming lasting bonds with girls across grades.