Right Here, Right Now

Every school year is a new beginning. Students always return from their summers having had a variety of different experiences, and the early weeks of September are dedicated to building the routines and mindsets that will feed us for the rest of the year. We’re deeply grateful that this Fall’s BCL students arrived ready

Maybe it was the chaos of the past school year (including a global pandemic, the closure of BHS, remote learning,  hybrid learning, in-person Wednesdays at the Middle School, a transition into a defunct mall, etc.), but whatever the cause, students were primed to dive in. Our early days were spent building community, awakening curiosity, introducing key frameworks (including inquiry, systems-thinking, and storytelling), and collaboratively building a new sense of potential.  With the students as the wind in the sails, the transition has been filled with positivity, collaborative spirit, a game-faced sense of adventure.

Each Morning Meeting includes an activity. On one of our first days, at the Old North End Community Center, our game of “WAAAH!” got pretty heated. 
Each morning, students facilitate small-group discussions about news events.
Journals are a common element in the BCL day. 
Small groups, called Crews, rotate through a series of daily contributions. Apparently, even trash pick-up can be fun!

Along with establishing new routines, BCL students have begun to ground their learning in the city they call home. Connection-to-place is a core theme, one that carries throughout the semester. It begins with a basic grounding in geography and history. And while we do use texts and primary sources, we also practice reading the city itself, a practice that invites us look at something we may have seen a hundred times with new eyes. 

If you know where to look, fossils that are hundreds of millions of years old are clearly evident in stones that line North Avenue.
Archival maps took us back in time…
…and allowed us to see modern places through a historical lens.

Being in BCL has felt good. I’ve never enjoyed learning in a traditional classroom so being engaged and learning stuff about my community is very interesting. The stuff I learn in this class also applies directly to me and my community which is interesting.


It feels way different than a traditional classroom and it almost feels more useful for now. It’s very interesting to hear about the place I’ve been living almost my entire life. It’s also a good way to stay active and take in information rather than sitting at a desk.


It has been a more open learning experience where questions without answers are welcomed. It is a place to learn freely and explore connected topics that interest you.

Familiar places, like Battery Park, began to look different thanks to texts from the 1930s.
Exploring a historical text in small groups

The most engaging part for me has been the group discussions. I really like to see what other people are thinking about and it’s dope that everyone actually engages


It has felt good to be given the time to actually reflect on our own questions and ideas, and to actually work with our peers around us, building off their ideas. Regular school feels very orderly, for example there’s a certain time for our questions. In BCL we’re encouraged to always be questioning what we’re learning, I like that.


Some of the discussions we have are amazing. They are so in depth…they’re all just so interesting and meaningful.


BCL is grateful for a myriad of community partners. One of those partners is the Burlington Surf Club, which opened its doors to our group for three consecutive days. There, we focused on what it means to thrive, personally and as a community. We also explored several core theoretical frameworks that are essential to understanding the city we call home, and society at large.

Not a bad  setting for a few days in September… 
There was space to reflect…
…to play…
…and to explore beyond the shoreline.
“The yoga and meditation was a good experience, and it made me feel a lot calmer than I usually feel in my daily life.” – Aya
Andy introduces Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Maslow lives on in our journals.
Pairs of students engaged in a storytelling activity, making deep connections with someone they had known only superficially.

I thought it was really neat to get to know J Finn more, I’ve never really talked to him. I knew he plays hockey but I didn’t know much about how he felt about it, what position he plays, or why he started playing. That is also something we can connect with now. I enjoy how we have these experiences that help us connect with one another about something specific.


I really like BCL. There are activities that we are able to do that make us more connected than a regular classroom. With this connection, we are able to learn at a deeper level.

Diagramming systems — with the transportation system in the background.

BCL has felt very engaging from the start. I’ve been actively learning, and the learning is based on what you want to take in, not what is lectured to you. I enjoy the outdoors and the hands on experiences. I enjoy the connections that are built in this class.


I like BCL because we have more fun and are outside more. I like how BCL functions.


It’s been fun learning this way makes you want to come back the next day.


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