All Hands

All Hands

For the last two weeks, students and faculty have been immersed in Project: Pomfret — imagining and building, conceptualizing and creating.

Bicycles lined the basement hall of the Centennial Academic & Arts Center and filled the Makerspace. Planks of wood covered in tape and paint took over the floor in the Chick Cole Art Studio. Messages of happiness plastered the walls of the Dining Hall. The Hilltop was brimming with activity throughout the Project: Pomfret period.

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Students visit the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia.

For ten days, students and faculty focused on questions that intrigued and perplexed them and aligned with one of the six domains of our Certificate Program. Twenty-five project groups explored a variety of topics, including permaculture in the School’s community garden, aerial photography in the sky above the Hilltop, and the connection between cooking and community in the Dining Hall. Most groups took their investigation off-campus with local day trips to nearby cities and towns. Others spent the night in a tent in the mountains of Vermont, studied plants and animals in the Costa Rican rainforest, or visited the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park Visitor Center in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Students appreciate the collaborative mural on display during the Project Fair. 

The Pomfret Mural group also used the project period to make something they are proud of — an eight-by-forty-foot mural — one of the largest pieces of student artwork on the Hilltop. They pushed aside the easels to create room on the floor for the eight-by-four-foot sheets of plywood that made up their collaborative piece. “P-O-M-F-R-E-T” was spelled across the ten panels before the sixteen artists added color and designs to make the unique mural. “It’s cool to see everyone express their different styles. I love how the mural came together,” said Arina Sinogeikina ’24. Arina drew on her experience during last year’s Project: Pomfret — when she went on the Global and Sustainable Development class trip to Costa Rica — and added birds, butterflies, and a jungle background to her panel. “I love that I had the opportunity to draw and paint every day during Project: Pomfret.” 

Shep Wilcox '25 works on a repair in the Ye Olde Bike Shoppe.

After learning the basics of bicycle mechanics, the Ye Olde Bike Shoppe group turned the Makerspace into a bicycle repair shop. They began by inspecting each bike and cleaning the parts before replacing brake lines and other necessary components. By the end of the project period, they’d repaired more than fifteen bikes for members of the Pomfret community. “I enjoyed learning the skills needed to repair a bike,” said Max Pertsoff ’23. “It was great to see the finished product and know I made the repairs myself.” 

The Happiness Project makes snack trays to thank the dining hall, facilities, and housekeeping staff.

While happiness was experienced by many groups throughout the Project: Pomfret period, the Happiness Project focused on it. The group journaled, practiced yoga, went sledding during the season’s first snowstorm, spent time sharing their hobbies, and set twenty-three goals for 2023. And while they could have spent the entire time focused on their personal happiness, the group primarily focused on ways to make others around them happy. They shoveled snow for members of the School community, made snack trays for employees, baked treats for faculty, and created interactive displays to help their peers express their happiness. Venturing off the Hilltop, they expanded their reach to the greater local community by interacting with customers at Target, Aldi, and Saw Dust Coffee House & Dessert Bar and offering to pay for their purchases. “Many of the people we spoke with were so happy to see students involved in the community and paying it forward,” said Louie Marcellino '24. The group plans to continue to spread happiness after the project period ends by participating in Socktober — an October community service project that donates new socks to those utilizing TEEG services.

The Project: Pomfret period culminated in a two-day project fair where students presented their findings to their classmates, teachers, and families. Each group shared the memories and artwork they created and the skills and knowledge they learned during the two-week project period. 

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