Lincoln Park

You are part of this mission with us.

Dear Families and Friends of GCE Lab School,

This morning, Technology Director Marcus Duncan shared with me the above photo of the Apple Store at North and Clybourn—just a block north of our school building. It is a striking image. Designed as a building without walls, representing access and innovation, the monolith is now sealed like a vault, protecting luxury and privilege. Following the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, this monument reminds us of deep-seated, systemically-perpetuated inequality, of our nation’s despicable history of violence against black people. Protests across the city and the country in recent days demonstrate shared pain and outrage.

Chicago Morning

Morning Message: April 3, 2020

The sudden shift to Online Connected Learning requires every school to look again at the curriculum. We are reminded that we can’t teach it all. I have read countless pieces in recent weeks about how this pandemic is compelling particular intentionality in teaching.

At GCE we have drawn back requirements to the core and foreign language. We will still encourage students to participate in physical activity and wellness practices, including cooking, mindfulness, and good hygiene. We will create opportunities for students to engage in art, exercising creativity and relieving anxiety. We will continue to require expressions of care and service through civic engagement, for which we will develop a dynamic list of opportunities safely done at home, serving those outside and inside our school community. We will honor the trusting relationships we have developed while in the building through advising, one-on-one meetings, office hours, and other forums. We will create opportunities for students to express, develop, and challenge their own emerging passions. And, as we always have, we will invite community members to engage with students in the context of coursework and outside of it, exposing us to new ideas, occupations and preoccupations, and ways of working through field experiences and other special events.

Though we have made some shifts, I am heartened that at GCE we have consistently recognized — even before now — that syllabus construction is an exercise in editing. It has never been the task of good educators to fill students with knowledge. Rather, it is our job to raise provocative questions, direct students to compelling resources, and occasion practice of worthy skills in the context of trusting relationships. GCE was founded with attention to learning that might be most important for our students’ generation. This attention is the reason we refer so consistently to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

These days we are all concerned about Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

Standard 3.D.
Strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks

As I shared with students yesterday, I am proud that at GCE we recognize that the present situation — in every way disruptive of our previous routines — does not trivialize the work of school. In fact, this public health circumstance, like the concerns raised by the SDGs, provide the imperative for our learning.

We are in school today so that we can be agents rather than victims in this rapidly changing world, equipped with knowledge, maturity, and wherewithal to contribute to wellbeing of our communities local and global.

Partner Spotlight:

All year, La Boulangerie Bakery and Cafe has contributed fresh bread and pastries to the GCE meal program. With the suspension of school after March 13, we have no longer required their donations.

I am glad to share that they have quickly found a new way to contribute to those in need. Tuesday-Sunday, at 3:00pm, on a first-come first-served basis, La Boulangerie is giving away 20 free baguettes and additional products to medical workers and to restaurant workers whose hours have been reduced.

We are grateful for the generosity of the team at La Boulangerie!

Head of School

Cabell King
Head of School

Education Will Endure: Our First Student Presentations in the Days of Distance Learning

Shortly after we closed our campus for COVID-19, our learning community came together to design an online version of Final Presentations, where ordinarily, students demonstrate what they’ve learned. It was awesome.

You can help support our innovative high school as we step boldly into a changing world.

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Final Presentations Thumbnail

Winter Term Final Presentations now Online

If you missed our first-ever totally virtual Final Presentations live, it’s now available to watch the recordings. Check out how our amazing students embraced a new experience and explore ideas of significance through guiding questions, such as:

  • What do my dreams say about who I am?
  • What is the impact of legislation intended to curb climate change?
  • How do ideas from the past affect us today?
  • What is the future of renewable energy?
  • How meaningful are we?
  • How can questions shape the world?
  • What is an epidemic and how do we prevent one?
  • How can information act like a disease?
  • How do misconceptions about mental disorders develop?
  • Who defines what information is too sensitive for the general public?

…and more!

View Winter Term Final Presentations Here

COVID-19: On the Eve of Remote Learning

Dear GCE Community,

Routinely, we call the GCE community a family. Isolated now in our respective homes, navigating this unfamiliar landscape, we remain invested in the wellbeing of our students and families.

The Governor announced on Friday evening that all Illinois schools will remain closed until at least Tuesday, March 31. This week we will practice remote learning in the preparation of Winter Term Final Presentations. And together faculty are preparing for the possibility that we will spend a portion of Spring Term also working remotely.

In the meantime, members of our team will be in and out of the school building. Generous parents and community members have helped us put together a store of non-perishable food items and toiletries for any student in need. We can also be available to help troubleshoot technology issues and other concerns. Please contact me, Kiley, Kim, or any other faculty member you trust if you need anything.

All students should have received an email/calendar invitation from their advisor for a virtual meeting at 9:00 am tomorrow morning. If you have not received this invitation or do not know how to connect, please reply to this email now.

Inspired by a high school friend of mine, I have assembled these few nuggets to keep in mind as we enter this new mode of operation.

1. Be kind to yourself. Teachers, be kind to your students; students, be kind to your teachers. Everyone is stressed. And that’s ok.

2. GCE is better suited than a number of other institutions for remote learning. We maintain our curriculum online. A large number of course resources are also already available online. Our students have familiarity with these tools. Nevertheless, this is a shift for us, and faculty need to retool. Please be patient with them.

3. We will not recreate our classrooms online. We are working now to imagine creatively how the experiential elements of our program can be exercised over this new medium. We are a lab school, and this is a new experiment. We will learn together. In some times we will accomplish excellence; in others, we may not. Again, please be patient with one another.

4. We are all at home, but this is not a vacation. To be successful in teaching and learning. each of us must work, and we will require the support of whole households.

5. This public health situation is exactly the kind of global circumstance that animates GCE’s curriculum. Our sophomores have been studying public health for the better part of the year. It is the speculation of GCE that matters of global concern, requiring a collaborative and creative response, maybe increasingly routine. It is our responsibility and opportunity to learn together with our students at this moment.

6. Students, your teachers will miss seeing you every day. It is much more difficult to provide quality instruction when we cannot see you working. Communicate. Over-communicate. Then give us just a little time to reply. These are busy days, and we have other students too. We will do our best to communicate too. We will try to tell you why we are prioritizing some things over others, why we are assigning the work that we are. We want you to perceive that our choices are purposeful.

7. Seniors, we know you continue to angle toward graduation. Please, please, please communicate any college or aid decisions you receive. Or other kinds of opportunities too. If we are still working on applications, communication is even more important.

8. Families, the faculty are, in real time, doing very significant labor at no additional compensation and with not enough training. I am exceedingly grateful to our small team, working long hours, caring for our students, supporting one another, and delivering still a substantial, dynamic learning experience. Teachers – most of us – consider ourselves learners first. It is likely the reason we are teachers. We want students at all levels to learn and, more, to develop a lifelong disposition toward learning. What I have seen in the past days is nothing short of jaw-dropping—teachers coming together, creating communities across the globe, trying to help each other learn so we can help our students learn. Please support our faculty.

9. Anxiety is difficult to manage in “normal” circumstances, but it is compounded massively by a climate of anxiety and fear around a crisis. Schools are feeling tremendous anxiety. Teachers are feeling it. Students are feeling it. Families are feeling it. Make your own strategies for anxiety mitigation. Take a walk. Text a friend. Play a video game. Bake a treat. Whatever would be in any way soothing, do it. This is not normal; let’s not force ourselves to pretend it is.

10. Social distancing can feel very isolating. Even those who recharge by being alone are feeling isolated. Reach out. Talk to friends. If you have older neighbors or colleagues or family members, they may be particularly afraid right now. Reach out. Make plans to talk to and be with small groups of people, and keep your plans. Help build community. That’s what will sustain us. Community.

With great affection for this community,

Cabell King
Head of School