Immersive Open House

Join us for an open house like no other. At GCE, students learn in a totally unique, project-based environment that allows them to truly experience the learning. What does that look like, you ask? We’re hosting you this fall to find out by immersing yourself in the global citizenship experience.
community day

Operation Breakfast

Help us start Community Day off with a bang as we welcome both current and prospective students and families to GCE Lab School for a potluck breakfast. There’s no better way to start your day than a breakfast with friends and an act of service that helps feed someone in need, so register for Operation Breakfast today!
Photo Gallery

Democracy Is A Verb

GCE Lab School students in partnership with the Newberry Library and a number of amazing organizations successfully hosted the first youth-led Bughouse Debate as a part of Newberry’s Annual Bughouse Square Debates. All of the speakers, volunteers, and partner organizations proved that democracy is a verb. Youth speakers stepped up to the soapbox to speak honestly and provocatively about the causes they stand behind. The day was full of empowerment, inspiration, and momentum to create a better tomorrow. Rising GCE Sophomore, Gimena served as Bughouse Square Mayor. She hosted the youth soapbox with CBS Chicago’s Vince Gerasole. GCE students, Jayden, Cora, and Maeve also stepped up to the soapbox. They shared the stage with youth speakers representing Gather Activism, Students Demand Action, Justice Debate League, and many more. All of the youth speakers received the ACLU’s Future Leaders Award and were named the founders of the New Dill Pickle Club. We are so grateful for all of the hands and minds that made this event a success. We’re looking forward to next year!

2018 Bughouse Square Debates

Call for orators, slam poets, activists, dreamers, doers!

Exercise your First Amendment rights at historical Washington Square.

At a time when political polarization is intensified by the extremes of digital discourse, the Bughouse Square Debates are a public forum where people can encounter new ideas and share their own in person! Ground Rules
  • Speeches under 3 minutes.
  • Participants under 25 years old.
  • Solo, pair, team, whatever. Bring it.
  • Your words or someone else’s with attribution.
  • Competitive, if that moves you.
  • Hate has no home here. Racist, sexist, homophobic, gender-biased, ableist, or otherwise derogatory speech that is degrading to any specific group of people will not be tolerated.

Event Details

Join the Newberry for Chicago’s favorite free speech event! Bring your loudest heckling voice, mount the open soapbox, and exercise your First Amendment rights. Take it to the park this summer! And don’t miss the Newberry Book Fair before and/or after the Debates!

Full Event Schedule

12pm Live music from Environmental Encroachment
1pm Welcome Rick Kogan, Master of Ceremonies
1:10pm Presentation of the 2018 John Peter Altgeld Freedom of Speech Award to the University of Chicago on behalf of President Robert Zimmer
1:25pm Performance by Genesis Academy Summer Institute Students
1:35pm Main Debate
2:30pm Soapbox Speeches, including the Youth Soapbox organized by students from GCE Lab School with special guest emcee, CBS Chicago’s Vince Gerasole
3:30pm Performance Interlude while the Soapbox Judges make their decision
3:45pm Dill Pickle Awards to the Soapbox Champion and The Windy City Pickle Speaker of Truth Youth Bughouse Award

Youth Soapbox Awards

Windy City Pickle Speaker of Truth Youth Bughouse Award

As a rule, grownups cannot be trusted. They have left us a ginormous mess. However, we honor some exceptional old-people doing a rock-solid job righting wrongs, slaying dragons, and empowering youth voice (since we’re the ones who are going to need to clean it all up). This year’s Speaker of Truth Awards will be presented to:

Lisa Madigan, Illinois Attorney General and Edie Canter, Executive Director of the Chicago Debate Commission

Our esteemed panel of Bughouse judges will determine award winners in the following categories:

Windy City Dill Award The highest honor. This award goes to the most memorable speech of the day.

Firestick Award

Given to the most passionate speaker.

Cauliflower Award

Given to the speaker who draws attention to an under-recognized issue.

Green Bean Award

Given to the youngest speaker.

Beer Briny Award

All talk is exhausting. Coveted spectator award for the person or group adding the most color and charm to our Bughouse. Humor, costume, theatrical appeal, sparkle and general good vibes are always a plus.

Future Leaders Awards

Given its tireless work to protect the most vulnerable among us, student organizers have chosen the ACLU of Illinois’ Next Generation Society to receive the Protector of Everything We Hold Dear Award. On behalf of ACLU’s Next Generation Society, Peter Hanna will be honoring all Youth Bughouse participants with the Future Leaders Award.

Food Trucks

Information Tables

  • About two dozen local organizations and causes will set up information tables in the park, with volunteers to answer your questions. Would your organization like to be represented? Write to [email protected] or call 312-255-3610.

Learn more about the history of Bughouse Square.

Supported by a grant from the Chicago Free for All Fund at the Chicago Community Trust. Your generosity is vital in keeping the library’s programs, exhibitions, and reading rooms free and accessible to everyone. Make a donation today.
Special Thanks To:
Photo Gallery

Last But Certainly Not Least

We ended the 2017- 2018 school year with Final Presentations and Graduation at the National Museum of Mexican Art. Even though it was the last presentation before summer break, our students still brought the same energy and passion that they usually do. Freshmen, Brooklyn, Paolo, and Aura conducted a taste test to see if guests could tell the difference between non-GMO and GMO grapes for the Food class. Sophomore, Claire demonstrated the process of suturing for the Cure class. Juniors, Meg and Marcellus walked guests through re-designed city blocks for the Urban Planning class. Seniors, Manny, Jess, Shay, and Genesis talked about the business plans they created for the Social Entrepreneurship class. The evening was a perfect way to wrap up an exciting and challenging school year.

Schools Say Enough Sidewalk Challenge at St. Sabina Church

Join us at the Faith Community of Saint Sabina’s Annual End of the School Year Peace March & Rally

We’ve been invited to do a massive Schools Say Enough Sidewalk Challenge around Saint Sabina. The entire Church. HUGE. Chance the Rapper, Jennifer Hudson, Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Emma Gonzales, along with Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School of Parkland, Florida.

We’ll start writing names of schools, victims, and survivors of gun violence at 1pm, with the most community activity around 6:45-7:30 pm. Stay for a little. Stay for a lot. Many hands make light work.

Saint Sabina Church at 78th Place and Throop Street.

Check out the Chicago Sun-Times coverage of the National Die-In protest across from Trump Tower:

Photo Gallery

Congratulations to the Class of 2018!

Congratulations to our Class of 2018!!! Our 2018 graduates endured an academically and emotionally challenging year and they came out on the other side stronger and smarter. We are so proud of our graduates’ accomplishments and we can’t wait to see how they impact the world. Thank you to everyone who helped us send off the Class of 2018 with love and support.
Schools Say Enough Sidewalk Challenge

The Chicago Wear Orange Party for Peace

We’re thrilled our Schools Say Enough Sidewalk Challenge has been invited to participate at The Chicago Wear Orange Party for Peace on June 2nd!

All are welcome to volunteer or to simply enjoy the event. We’ll be asking people to write the names of schools affected by gun violence on the pavement, creating a massive public representation of the ever-growing problem.

Field Experience

Endurance Bootcamp with Sensei Lavin

The Seniors in the Endurance class have been pursuing the guiding question, how much are you willing to endure to change the world?. In the first unit of this Humanities course, students are investigating endurance as demonstrated by well-known visionaries. Through this investigation, students will find inspiration to set goals and identify a mission for their own path. Furthermore, the students are asked to assess qualities that they possess that may help them achieve their mission. As a part of this self-assessment, the students must endure both physical and mental challenges. For this Field Experience, the Seniors were visited by Sensei Lavin who put their mental and physical endurance to the test.  


The purpose of this Field Experience is for students to undergo “boot camp” that tested their endurance.


Under the guidance of Sensei Lavin, the students participated in a series of exercises that pushed them to overcome mental blocks in order to defeat physical ones.
Field Experience

Investigating Organics at Uncommon Ground

Hello, I’m a Freshman at GCE Lab School. Recently, our class traveled to Uncommon Ground at their Devon St. location to see the first certified organic brewery in Illinois, and the first certified organic rooftop farm in the U.S.! Visiting Uncommon Ground was a unique and enlightening adventure; I personally had never seen an actual rooftop garden, let alone one that is certified organic! I now know a lot more about the regulations of being a company who is certified organic, and how difficult it is to maintain and sustain an organic organization.

We, the Freshmen, in the Food For Thought class have been examining the question of whether GMOs are truly beneficial to humans and the environment, and what ‘organic’ means and why it is in higher demand. In our second External Investigation of our Humanities course, we are investigating the industrialization of food and the sustainability of our current ideals for food. As a part of our investigation, we have been watching the documentaries Food Inc and reading In Defense of Food by Micheal Pollan. We took to Uncommon Ground to see what organic means and how Uncommon Ground could sustain itself in this harsh economy full of industrial and cheap food. We spoke to Brandon Kik, a farmer at Uncommon Ground, who gave us a tour of the rooftop and spoke to us about how and why they became the first organic rooftop farm in the U.S.


The purpose of the Field Experience was for us to see what an organic farm and company look like, to see if being an organic company is sustainable, and to learn about why companies put so much effort into becoming organic and how they do so.


We took a tour of the Uncommon Ground rooftop farm and spoke to one of the farmers to get more insight on the whys and hows of becoming a certified organic farm, restaurant, and brewery.

— Reflection & photography by Gimena, Class of 2021

Field Experience

Urban Farming at Patchwork Farms

The Freshmen in the Food class have been pursuing the guiding question, what does a balanced ecosystem look like?. In the first External investigation of this STEAM course, students are investigating the types of organisms and the interactions between those organisms that are necessary in order to sustain a healthy ecosystem. As a part of this investigation, students are studying the importance of companion plants especially when sustaining a farm in a limited amount of space. To gain more insight into how farmers make the most of their space, the students visited Chicago Patchwork Farms, an urban farm in Humboldt Park. At the farm, the students learned more about the make-up of soil, worked with their hands, and even met a couple of cute farm dogs.


The purpose of this Field Experience is for the students to see an urban farm and to learn about what it takes to sustain one.


The students will tour the space, ask questions, and do some actual work to learn firsthand about farming.
Photo Gallery

Truss In It!

During the first Unit of the Urban Planning course, Juniors investigated the elements necessary to build a strong bridge. The engineers studied examples of bridges in order to understand the concepts of weight and force, tension and compression, and trusses. Equipped with their newfound knowledge, lots of glue, and 60 popsicle sticks, they set out to build a strong, functioning bridge. After days of hard work, the bridges were put to the test with a set of weights. We were blown away by the results.
Field Experience

Urban Foraging with Odd Produce

Freshmen in the Food For Thought class have been investigating the guiding question, How are food systems shaped and how do they shape the world?. As a part of this investigation, the students have been studying the Agricultural Revolution which led the class to the question, What would it be like to return to humanity’s roots as foragers?. The students went on a foraging walking tour of the neighborhood surrounding GCE with Dave Gold from Odd Produce. The experience showed the students that there is food all around us, we just have to know what to look for.
Photo Gallery

We Say Enough!

291 schools across the country have suffered horrific gun violence since 2012, the year of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre. 7,000 kids have been gunned down. More than 187,000 students have been traumatized. Enough is enough. In March, GCE students held a Soapbox Speakout in Washington Square Park, aka Bughouse Square, ground zero to Chicago’s radical free-speech movement. Students returned to tie 7,000 pieces of orange fabric on the fence, representing all the kids who have lost their lives to gun violence since Newtown. As a part this project, the students stenciled bullets and wrote the names of the 291 schools affected by gun violence. The art installation spans the block-long sidewalk in front of Washington Square Park. Best of all, the students inspired community members to participate. This is proof that this generation’s voice will impact change.
Field Experience

From Bean to Cup @ Metropolis Coffee Company

Freshmen in the Food For Thought class went to Metropolis Coffee Company’s roastery to learn about the life of the Coffee plant. Students were welcomed into the state-of-the art roastery where they got a behind-the-scenes look at each step of the process. Metropolis is dedicated to serving a stellar cup of coffee, but what’s even more important to them is respect. Respect is at the core of the company’s philosophy; from farmers to consumers. It was an eye-opening lesson on the impact of coffee and the effort it takes to be a responsible part of the production chain.
GCE Fun'raiser Photo Gallery

Home Run! 3rd Annual GCE Fun’raiser was a Great Success

An incredible night, last Friday’s 3rd Annual GCE Fun’raiser had it all; pizza, hot dogs, an auction, raffle, poetry, live music, Cracker Jack, and a brilliant community raising money for GCE’s food program.

We were able to raise over $10,000 for the food program — that’s 5 months of food service for the entire school!