Creating Oneself as an Individual

Extracurriculars as Enrichment and to Develop Personal Identity

Extracurricular activities at LePort play a key role in our goal of helping children develop a strong sense of personal identity—by allowing them to make individual choices about academically optional interests.

We view a strong core curriculum as a prerequisite for a variety-filled extracurricular program. Just as in language arts every student learns the same foundational writing and grammar, but then each student applies those writing skills in radically different ways depending on his own choices, so too with the LePort education in general. Our curriculum presents each child with essentially the same core content, yet this very content then enables different children to enjoy the radically different personal values that make them who they uniquely are. For example, two children develop core communication and thinking skills—which one then applies by choosing to join debate club, and the other by taking a theater class.

Since our goal is to prepare each individual student for his life—that is, for living in the pursuit of his own individual values—we go beyond a strong, common core, and facilitate our student’s individuation in every aspect of their lives. Our curriculum is full of opportunities for children to make personal choices—from selecting between different Montessori works to choosing original essay topics. At a symbolic level, this is why we have deliberately rejected the option of implementing school uniforms.

At LePort, we understand that each of our students is irreplaceably unique; we value and want to nurture that individuality.

Our enrichment and extracurricular programs incorporate this individualization process. They have three broad purposes:

  • Experience rewards and relaxation made possible through their school day work. Our extracurriculars—from our many field trips to the LePort Spirit days, from afterschool art classes to a weekend mud race—are fun ways for the children to relax and celebrate their achievements, and to be introduced to a broader range of pleasures offered by the world.
  • Provide an opportunity to pursue a chosen activity—something that calls to a student, given his own unique interests. At LePort, we believe a child’s personal development continues after the school day ends. We therefore offer a range of interesting afterschool extracurricular activities. We also enthusiastically support our students who are passionate athletes, musicians or artists and who pursue those interests outside of school. Whether as part of our after school programs or in other forums, we want our students to develop and explore their unique passions!
  • Support social interaction and bonding. A big part of our personal development program happens outside the classroom: extracurricular and enrichment activities enable social interactions and relationship building among students, and between teachers and their students.

Field Trips

Going out into the world to concretize what students learn and to enhance motivation

Our preschoolers take at least one field trip each year, and our elementary and junior high students take a wide range of field trips to keep the lessons learned in class connected with the world outside of school. From the Huntington Library to the OC Register, from the Pacific Marine Mammal Center to the South Coast Repertory: we take our children out in the world to concretize what they’re studying and keep them excited about learning.

Playground Learning

A supervised environment for personal development

In contrast to many schools, where recess is an unstructured free-for-all and where bullying and harassment can make children dread school, we view recess as a time for enjoyment, relaxation, and personal development. We structure the environment and ensure teacher participation, so children can develop socially in joint games and during lunch table conversations.

Our Montessori toddlers and preschool children play outside several times a day, enjoying our spacious playgrounds. Our teachers actively engage with them: they help solve the little problems that naturally emerge when young children try out their emergent social skills. Our teachers also join the fun, and demonstrate by their joyful involvement the value of being physically active.

Our Elementary and Junior High/Middle School students also enjoy supervised recess. At LePort, we see it as our role to prepare the children in their entire being for the adventures of life. Developing mature social skills and acquiring a benevolent attitude towards others is crucial to adult success and happiness. Much of that development happens during recess and lunch time, when children interact with each other.

At our school, teachers do not view recess and lunch as an opportunity to take a break away from our students. Rather, we supervise and engage with them, we coach and mentor, we help them solve problems that occur, and we work to draw everybody out to join the games.

Helping students become more socially confident. For students who haven’t yet acquired good social skills, lunch and recess can be a period of trepidation. At public schools, these periods are often where cliques form, and bullying and harassment take place. Even at a small private school, it is easy for shy children, or those not naturally inclined to physical activity, to sit out the social interactions by grabbing a book or a video game and sitting alone.

At LePort, we view it as our responsibility to ensure that every child learns good social skills and builds good relationships with peers, and experiences the joy of physical activity. We prepare our environment at recess carefully to support this goal. We never leave students to their own devices—whether it is a lunch table or a game of dodge ball, one of our teachers is always there, eating with the children or throwing the balls around.

We also set some simple but important rules. For example, we do not allow our students to read books or do homework during lunch or recess, and we expect every student to spend those times outside, weather permitting. A socially, less confident student may sit by herself for a while and watch the goings on—the dodge ball game, the hopscotch, the hula rings—but our teachers will notice, and will gently encourage her to join the action. Because the focus is always positive, and on the activity, over time, we find that shy students can’t help but get engaged during recess. They soon learn to enjoy themselves, and acquire social confidence as a result.

Special Events

Playful bonding and celebrating life and student’s achievements

At LePort, our educational goal is Knowledge for Life, and we embrace the “Life” part as much as we embrace knowledge. Our Spirit Days and Special Events are not just add-ons to our curriculum—they are a core part of our school’s environment. They are recognition of the fact that even in our dedicated preparation for tomorrow, we never forget to thoroughly relish today.

Roughly every six weeks, we have a Spirit Day, a day where we come together and do things a little differently. Teachers, administrative staff and students, all get into the spirit: On Halloween, everybody comes in costume, and our schools are filled with witches, Spidermen and Harry Potter characters. On Wild West Day, cowboys and cowgirls populate our junior high Campus. During Valentine’s Day, all of our classrooms are filled with hearts, as children prepare special treats and share them with each other. St. Patrick’s Day sees a wave of green, and Mothers and Father’s Day are special celebrations, especially for our preschool students, many of whom take the opportunity to prepare yummy treats for their parents or other family members.

In our Upper Elementary and Junior High/Middle School program, students demonstrate their special skills and knowledge at our Fall and Spring Recitals. These events are wonderful for our students and families, and they integrate well with our overall approach: they provide our students with yet another opportunity to apply what they have learned, to make knowledge relevant to their lives, and to practice important skills, such as speaking in public.

A special Spirit Day is our annual “Color Competition.”

During this special day, everybody dresses in the school colors of green and blue—students, teachers and administrative staff—and the whole school is full of blue and green decorations. The teams, randomly selected, have a friendly competition—cheering, a relay race, throwing water balloons, playing soccer—and everybody gets into the school spirit.

As a student wrote for the yearbook: “Although the green team felt good about winning, the purpose of that day was not to annihilate the other team, it was about building up school spirit. Every year, these spirit days show us how truly important it is to have a school with so much spirit because it makes school more exciting and it makes us want to learn more and more!”


Applying knowledge towards a practical goal—and developing work-world and leadership skills

One of the highlights of the year for 8th grade students is the creation of the full-color, hard cover, 100+ page yearbook. The students select the theme and work together as a team to host events, take and edit photographs, design individual pages, and write articles about school events. This project gives them a chance to put many skills into practice, from writing to long-range project management. The yearbook also gives students an opportunity to develop leadership skills: students apply for yearbook positions, and go through an interview process before being selected for their assignments.

Teamwork is also big: students edit each other’s work, and collaborate to create the aesthetic, content and design of the yearbook. The yearbook team members also have the opportunity to go on special field trips, and to attend workshops presented by design professionals to learn about the design process.

Once the yearbook is finished, the students present it to their peers, and have an opportunity to share their experiences and pass on lessons learned to the next group who will do the yearbook the following year.

For all of us at LePort, the yearbook is a wonderful keepsake we receive every June—and for the yearbook team, it is one of their proudest accomplishments of their time at LePort Schools.