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.

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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!

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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.

Field Experience

The Walls As Canvas

This Spring term, the students in Art are planning and installing an orginal mural inside the school. Before the muralists begin work on the walls, they must understand why and how murals are created. As a part of this investigation, students vistied muralist, Jeff Zimmermann at his studio in Humboldt Park. Jeff talked about the use of sybolism in his work, and the importance of the images representing the neighborhoods they occupy. His advice to our muralists: “create a plan and stick to it”. Jeff’s work is iconic in Chicago and it was such an honor to learn from him.

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Our First Visit to St. Vincent

We spent the first Wednesday of Elective Term volunteering at St. Vincent de Paul Center through the Blessings in a Backpack program. Blessings in a Backpack mobilizes communities, individuals, and resources to provide food on the weekends for elementary school children across America who might otherwise go hungry. We completed our first service project with St. Vincent earlier this school year when we created motivational cards that went into the bags of food that went home with the students.

It’s been a couple of months since then and we’ve been looking forward to our next opportunity to volunteer with St. Vincent. For this Community Day, we took a stroll up to St. Vincent to fill bags with food and to meet some of the students who would receive the bags. We got to work as soon as we got there. Some of us worked on an assembly line packing the bags and some of us went down to the classrooms to play with the students. We are so grateful for this partnership and we can’t wait until we visit again next term.

Listen to the Poem!

Our poets left their hearts on the stage during this year’s Louder Than A Bomb Poetry Slam Festival. Louder Than A Bomb or better known as LTAB is an annual event organized by one of our City2Classroom partners, Young Chicago Authors, which invites thousands of young poets to speak their truths on stage. LTAB was started in Chicago as the first youth poetry slam festival and the model has been replicated across the country and across the globe. This is our 6th year competing and the community of poets across Chicago continues to grow. It is always such an incredible honor to be amongst such honest and brave voices.

Our team worked tirelessly for 7 months in preparation for the competition and the work definitely paid off. We were fortunate enough to advance to Quarter Finals as a team and shared the stage with amazingly talented poets. While our team’s season ended at Quarter Finals, one of our poets advanced as an individual poet to Semi-Finals. He took the stage at the Metro and blew the crowd away. It has been an amazing LTAB season. Congratulations to our 2017 GCE poets! See you next year, LTAB!

Chicago Area Educators Reflect on GCE’s Model

Through a partnership with UrbanX Learning, GCE Lab School implemented our curriculum at five schools across Chicago as a part of our Summer Institute. In running this program, our professional development team hoped to provide educators with the tools to genuinely take on the task of implementing more inquiry- and project-based instruction in their classes and to create student-centered, dynamic, and purpose-driven courses. Across the board, we observed educators create a shared sense of ownership in their classrooms as students engaged in discussions and hands-on activities with each other. We look forward to future collaborations with many more schools, educators, and students.

Special thanks to our signature program sponsor:




The Future is Not Satisfied By Today’s Education

We Are Not Satisfied.

Download the presentation here

Eric Davis, founder of GCE Lab School, emboldens students and families by affirming GCE’s commitment to an educational model that equips students to thrive in today’s complex world through an innovative approach to education—one that hones relevant skills, incorporates adaptive technologies, and embraces the inspiration and practicality of real-world learning.

GCE Lab School is a private high school located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. Our inquiry and project-based curriculum cultivates global citizens through experiential learning.


The End… or just the Beginning?

Dear Friends & Families:

The 2013-14 school year draws to a close, and while we celebrate closure and the significant experiences of this year, we also set an eye on the 2014-15 journey. Thus we look at four+ items in this news blast:

  1. Final Presentations & Graduation 
  2. Summer Programs 
  3. GCE Lab School’s New Website
  4. 2014-15 Enrollment 
  5. Bonus: Beachstravaganza

1. Final Presentations & Graduation (June 4 @ 4pm, at the Midwest Buddhist Temple)

2. Summer Programs (Monday June 23 – Wednesday July 30, 9:30am-1pm; no classes Friday) 

Hiu To, GCE instructor extraordinaire is teaching Public Art & Its Social Impact. This course will lead you on an investigation of famous and not-so-famous public artworks in Chicago and how they tell the History of our city. We will be out in the field examining sculptures and murals in order to replicate their artistic styles and techniques. You will re-tell historical events from your own perspective using wire sculptures, paintings, or mosaics.

BEGIN registration by emailing us today. Credits: 0.75. Cost: $1,000 (Financial Aid available)

3. GCE Lab School’s New Website Officially Unveiled at Final Presentations
A new website which more accurately reflects our innovative program is available for sneak peaks now, and it officially goes live at Final Presentations & Graduation on June 4th. Please take a look at two key pages and scroll from there:

4. 2014-15 Enrollment 
Enrollment happens, and there are just a few spots remaining for 2014-15. Apply now if you’re interested, or tell a friend so they don’t miss out.

Thank you. Warm regards and enjoy the gorgeous weather! We hope to see you at Final Presentations!
p.s. if you made it this far … a couple photographic treats from the Beachstravaganza 5/28
       –not as warm as we would have wished 🙁

Dear GCE Friends & Families:

GCE Lab School students will present project based learning ideas at the May 19 #TutorMentor Conference in Chicago. See This conference is intended to connect leaders and supporters of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs along with people who support them.

I’ve attended Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference often in the past. The next is May 19th at Metcalfe Federal Building, and I (Eric) along with 3 students from GCE Lab School will be sharing information during a mid day presentation.  

Visit to learn about the conference or register.

PBL + CCSS + MDGs + C2C = OnIn

Recently, GCE was visited by a group of foreign delegates and one of the women asked me how we are different? Her challenge provoked a different response than my typical elevator speech because she did not speak much English, and I had to provide the simplest answer possible. 
My response: “The education GCE offers is real, relevant, and it changes lives. We break down the walls of school and subjects, exposing students to the lessons that come from life itself.” 
Since then, I’ve thought a lot about our City2Classroom design as a key differentiator between GCE and other schools. Our students are themselves the examples of City2Classroom learning — their courses are dynamic, relevant, and their learning is transparent. They immerse themselves in skill development, exposures that test credibility and doubt, and they demonstrate mastery which they share through digital portfolios. 
We are the lucky ones. Each GCE student will experience upwards of 150 exposures in their 4 year high school career. But every student cannot attend GCE, so how does this model scale? How may students in other schools and other programs achieve similar experiences that result in similar gains — 100% college enrollment, 71% merit aid, and more importantly, purpose-driven ownership of their education and their lives.
GCE produces a blog that features Online Installations (OnIns) of student work. Each installation (blog post) is structured to include the course title, guiding question, problem scenario, samples of student work, CCSS & MDG alignment. In sum, we are demonstrating how inquiry and project-based learning may be showcased and highlight student education and quality of life standards without dumbing down student work or creative curriculum.
In our presentation at the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference on May 19th (click the link to register), Eric Davis (Executive Director) and 3 GCE students will provide the lunchtime keynote. Hear directly from them why our Model is designed this particular way, how it impacts student desire to learn, and what we do to showcase their inquiry and project based discoveries. The workshop will include 3 distinct stages: an introduction to GCE and our model for learning (why we do what we do); 3 student presentations of individual work that is work representative of the whole; and we will close with Q & A.

By sharing what we do at GCE we hope that others working with youth, in non-school, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs, or in other schools in the Chicago region, will look for ways to add project based learning into their own learning activities and that at some point we’ll be getting new ideas from some of them just as we hope we’re inspiring them with our ideas.

Lastly, we hope that you will have some fun in the session which turns acronym-heavy education conversations into real-world discussions and opportunities for improving your programs: after all, PBL + CCSS + MDGs + C2C = OnIn.
Thank you.

Spring Term & Hybrid Pilot

Dear Families:

Welcome to 2014 Spring Term, the final phase of this school-year (holy cow!). Students, we’ll see you at 8:45 on Tuesday morning, April 8.

In this news-blast you’ll find information about a few things:

  1. Courses
  2. Key Dates
  3. Hybrid Model Pilot Program

    Global Health: CURE (home page)
    Spring Term Courses — STEM then Humanities:
    • Freshman: Food & Food for Thought
    • Sophomores: Cure & Drama
    • Juniors: Urban Planning & Policy
    • Seniors: Enterprise & Endurance

    • Graduation: June 4, 5:30-7pm. Location & agenda TBD and info shared in early April. Information about Final Presentations, also likely to be held on June 4th, will be sent in the coming weeks.
    • Parent Event: April 16, 6pm @ Amazing Edibles. More details coming soon. 
    • Enrollment Paperwork will be sent to families the week of 4/8. Please also check the 2014-15 school calendar so that you may begin scheduling your family activities. 

    Hybrid Model Pilot Program (seniors only)
    Courageous as always, our students beta test the cutting edge educational programming that we design! And thank you! This term, the seniors will be piloting our new Hybrid Model which is intended to serve both juniors and seniors beginning in the fall of 2014. What follows are a few essential pieces of information:
    • This is a tame pilot. For the most part, the schedule for seniors is business as usual: Monday-Friday, 8:50am-3:30pm. 
    • One significant change: classes meet 3 days/week instead of 5.
      • Monday & Thursday are regular classes (Tuesday 4/8 and 5/27 run Monday schedules)
      • Wednesday focuses on Field Experiences, although seniors have several inspiring exposures scheduled for other days.
      • Tuesday & Friday mornings are scheduled time for each student to meet individually with teachers (think college professor office hours!).
        • As seniors demonstrate autonomy & accountability they may earn their way into remote work during the Tuesday & Friday morning sessions.
    • Apprenticeship Classes take place on Tuesdays and Friday afternoons. We are piloting the first term of a 2-year apprenticeship program, so much of it focuses on preparation. Among other topics, specific Tuesday and Friday afternoon sessions will focus on:
      • Student interests & career research
      • Resume building
      • Cover Letter drafting
      • Interview prep & practice
      • Anticipating and dealing with challenges in the workplace
      • Job Shadowing/Apprenticeships (TBD for each student)
        • A FEW Tuesday & Friday afternoons (specific dates shared directly with students on 4/11) will be open for students who already have apprenticeships to pursue these positions in place of the Apprenticeship Course, and students will complete their course-work remotely and asynchronously. 
    As always, these news-blasts are just the tip of the iceberg and there’s much more happening below the surface at GCE. We invite you to visit and to inquire for details specific to your family.

    Many thanks. Best wishes. And Happy Spring!