Winter Study

Winter Study Electives

During the winter term, Buxton offers an array of intensive six-week classes to further enrich students’ educational experience. These courses emphasize integrated learning, hands-on experience and team-teaching. Listed on this page are the 2019 Winter Study courses.

Materials Workshop- Matt

Students will be introduced to three disciplines: metal welding, automotive repair, and wood-working along side professionals that work in these fields. Mike St.Pierre will instruct wood-working, shop and power-tool use and safety; Jacinda Deeley will introduce welding techniques for practical and sculptural applications with metal; Kevin Leonard of Flamingo Motors will oversee the dissembling of a car engine as a teaching tool, and cover basic car maintenance. There will be a writing component to this otherwise hands-on class and students will be expected to keep a weekly journal.

Life Skills 101 – Story and Chiara

Does the idea of growing up freak you out? Do you ever wonder how you’re going to manage everything that comes along with “being an adult”? Fear not! In this class, we will embrace the “unknown” and deliver on the question “why didn’t they teach us this in school?” Each class will focus on a particular skill or skill set, such as filing your taxes, reading a map, changing a tire, feeding yourself, etc. We’d like your input as well and plan to meet casually once everyone is assigned to Winter Study classes to work on the list together. Come learn some practical information that you will definitely use again at some point in your life!
Maximum # of students: 8

An Illustrated Guide to Your Rights – Cordelia

Together, we will research the rights of citizens, legal residents, and undocumented immigrants in the United States. Using our research, we will create an illustrated guide that clearly and simply explains what people’s rights are in different situations. If we have some advanced or fluent Spanish speakers in the class, we will also create a Spanish version! Copies of our illustrated guide will be made available in the Holyoke Public Library, in Holyoke Massachusetts. We may do a little bit of field research and surveying to find out what kinds of issues and situations are most pressing for people in the Holyoke community. Everyone will participate in the research process and collaborate to contribute to the final product, but your role may vary depending on whether you are more interested in writing, translating, or illustrating.

Lounging – Henry

If there is one space on campus that seems underutilized it is the barn lounge. This class will approach and potentially follow through on a design/build project aimed at reworking the lounge space in a way that will better serve that end of campus. Using a variety of design approaches and, if there is time, practical building techniques to fulfill our vision we will rework that vital social space. We may have even knock down a wall or two…

Musical Theatre Performance Intensive – Allison and Dave D

From early ballad operettas to raunchy burlesques, from exploitative minstrel shows to musical comedies and romances intended to build a sense of patriotism, from Yiddish musicals to the narrative musical of our time- musical theatre has reflected and shaped the development of American culture since the 1700s. Our current day examples mirror contemporary popular music (think “Hamilton,” “Dear Evan Hanson,” even “Rent” in the 90s)- but this has actually been a trend since the early 1900s, when popular songs were used as the score for musicals. In this class, we will learn about the history of American musical theatre. We’ll listen to, and think critically about, our favorite musical numbers. Most importantly, we’ll learn musical theatre performance skills, from singing to embodying a character on stage to interpreting the lyrics of a song. (Maybe we’ll even incorporate a dance number or two!) We’ll approach this class from the perspective of covering a rich array of American musical theatre through the decades, with at least two ensemble numbers and a number of solos and duets. This class will conclude in a musical review performed for the Buxton community. No performance experience is necessary!

High Heel Movement / Choreography – Nick

In this class, students will work in their best heels to master stability, walking and doing turns in heels. Once that is established we will then work on learning a few moves à la Afro-beat or RuPauls Drag Race with the goal to create a routine AND simultaneously build self-confidence, self-awareness, and intuition. This class is offered in the spirit of getting us up and moving and feeling good about who we are. The only things required are a pair of heels that either fully cover the foot or have straps, and a willingness to be yourself, make mistakes and feel good doing so. Class will take place in the theatre (on the stage specifically).

Language History and Myths – Derek and Gabe

This course offers an overview on language history and transformation. We will briefly explore the origin of language and dive into how languages change, mix, and interact with one another. We will focus on how and why Modern English became what it is today.  In addition to exploring the history of language, the class will dedicate time to analyzing and debunking various language myths that pervade modern American society. Such myths include “Everyone Has an Accent Except Me”, “Italian is Beautiful, German is Ugly”, “Women speak too much”, etc.  This class will involve readings from academic and non-academic sources. The course will also incorporate in-depth discussions, research, and a final project. Throughout the course we will watch a BBC documentary series on the history of English. You do not need to know a foreign language in order to take this class, though it can be quite helpful and illuminating.

Escape Room – Adrian and David B

Together we will design and build a high quality escape room from scratch. From start to finish this will involve deciding a theme, coming up with a story, developing a series of puzzles, and furnishing/finishing the room to fit the theme and include the puzzles. The ultimate goal is to create a commercial grade escape room that is both challenging and doable for a group of people (while requiring the group to work together). If completed successfully, it can then be used to challenge other members of the Buxton community

Practical Politics – Timothy and Geoffrey Feldman

The goal of this course is to help students become more knowledgeable and able political actors.  The course will cover multiple aspects of voting—different voting systems and possible reforms, gerrymandering, voter suppression, etc.  It will also examine campaigns—how they are organized and run, how money is raised and spent, the software that helps identify what voters to contact (Geoffrey Feldman is a Buxton alum who has run numerous campaigns in Massachusetts and is interested in giving students an inside look).  Once candidates are elected, we will look at how laws are written and passed and how citizens try to influence that process. We will examine the relative methods and effectiveness of lobbying, contacting representatives, giving money, internet activism and public protest. Geoffrey is trying to arrange for a few elected figures to visit the class and talk about their experiences.  There will be a certain amount of outside reading and research expected for the class.

Board Game Design – Micah

For hundreds of years, board games were static and unchanging artifacts of ancient design. These designs were uncritical and many times obtuse in their choices of rules and customs. Modern game development began to challenge these assumptions, and especially in the last 15 years games have developed revolutionary design elements. Cooperative games, simultaneous turns, group games, asymmetric games, catch-up mechanics have changed the field radically. We will first try to define what a game actually is, and then begin to dive into the mechanics and aesthetic elements that make a gaming experience. We will analyze board games with a critical eye, understanding how each piece in a game contributes (or doesn’t) to the final experience in playing that game, why certain pieces are necessary, and how they can be improved upon and combined. Our class time will consist of, predominantly, playing a game during class time and then analyzing it afterwards and outside of class, with written analyses for each game session. Finally, we will work exercises in improving current games and in making our games, with a final project to make a complete game using any mechanics or elements that students find most fun.

Resiliency – Callie

An important topic in the field of positive psychology is resiliency, the idea that one has the ability to bounce back quickly from adversity. How are some people able to quickly recover from an event in their life and become stronger after it? Do they think differently than other people do? Do they behave differently? Is resiliency a trait that some people possess or is it something that can be learned? These questions will be answered as we learn about the research conducted on the protective factors that help us build our resiliency such as, grit, mental agility, self-compassion, and optimism as well as read about evidence based strategies to help us improve our resiliency. Also, we will take a strength assessment and learn about the top strengths that resilient people have in common.  The book we will read is “Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success” by Matthew Syed, an Olympic table tennis athlete, who writes about resiliency in the perspective of sports, people who persist and develop traits that allow them to become superior performers, and that can be applied to school, life and business. The class will have two major assignments, a short paper (on a resilient individual of your choice) and a creative project, and outside of class there will be two discussion questions per week and readings from the book.


  • “Learning doesn’t stop when you leave the classroom, it’s continuing through every moment of the day and your life, constantly shaping and reshaping you.”
    Hollis Lane
    Hollis Lane San Francisco, CA
  • “At Buxton you get to focus on what you want to be learning; whether it is social skills or in-depth studying- you learn to take responsibility of your education.”
    Francis Magai
    Francis Magai Troy, NY
  • “Living your education means to not only learn things, but to use what you learn in your everyday life.”
    Naima Nigh
    Naima Nigh Mexico
  • “To me, living your education means to be independent, to take charge, to not be afraid of asking for help, to learn from your peers, to love to learn, to take what you have learned from a loving environment and take it into the world.”
    Kat Hallowell
    Kat Hallowell New Hampshire
  • “Your education is more than just your time in class, it’s your life as a whole. Learning is not limited to a teacher teaching you something in a classroom.”
    Cynder Johnson
    Cynder Johnson Missouri
  • “To me, at Buxton, it’s not boundaries that you make, but the ones you break through.”
    Roy Malone
    Roy Malone New York, NY
  • “At Buxton, I can choose what I want to do with my education. I can design my own path and invest my time studying topics that I’m really interested in.”
    Nora Mittleman
    Nora Mittleman New York, NY
  • “At Buxton you can experience your intellectual development in a community that accepts your perspective of the world.”
    Ben Nigh
    Ben Nigh Mexico
  • “I felt instantly at home when I stepped on the campus. At Buxton, we are in school 24/7. We learn things in the classroom, but we really learn valuable things outside of the classroom. We learn how to work with others and respect each other’s spaces. Our education surrounds us and we learn new things everyday.”
    Emily Woodside
    Emily Woodside Albany, NY
  • “I chose Buxton over public school because I think I function better in a smaller environment. You’re able to get to know students and faculty on a deeper level, which is rare.”
    Charlie Starenko
    Charlie Starenko Williamstown, MA
  • “Students should be happy when they are learning. They should not feel like studying is a burden to them. You learn things from your living space and environment - you are learning every second you are living.”
    Jiayi Cao
    Jiayi Cao China
  • “Living your education means you become an active learner. You are not just learning in the classroom or while you are doing your homework. You live your life learning and taking in the world’s various educations.”
    Lena Meginsky
    Lena Meginsky Northhampton, MA
  • “Buxton has shown me that it is possible to forge close bonds with teachers as well as students. It also gives you the ability to try new things in an environment where there is no judgment.”
    Kristhal Ayala
    Kristhal Ayala Puerto Rico
  • “I chose Buxton for a small community-based education with focus on the individual as part of the world at large, along with the learning settings.”
    Katie McAvoy
    Katie McAvoy Boston, MA
  • “I love the atmosphere and how tightly knit the community is. At Buxton you take what you learn in the classroom and use it in everyday life - you learn from the world around you and see how you can make it better.”
    Cheyanne Williams
    Cheyanne Williams Boston, MA
  • “At Buxton you bring your education into everything you do, and learn important, relevant things that you can utilize all the time.”
    Rebecca van der Meulen
    Rebecca van der Meulen New Lebanon, NY
  • “At Buxton, wherever I go, whatever I do, I’m learning. Formal classes are just an extension of the learning that happens everywhere else in my life.”
    Kullan Warner
    Kullan Warner Wilton, CT
  • “Being academic feels important. It really helps forge relationships between students and faculty, which is such an important thing here. It is so important that the faculty live in the dorms and everyone has a faculty advisor. You get to know your teachers outside of school life and having those relationships really strengthens the joy I have in learning.”
    Rose Shuker
    Rose Shuker Williamstown, MA
  • “To me, “live your education” means to aim for learning in everything you do - not just in the classes and schoolwork. Every experience in life has educational value, so the more experiences I have the more educated I can be.”
    Will Harris
    Will Harris East Chatham, NY
  • “There are no boundaries between our times for learning and our times for living; this is because of the fact that we have classes at all different times of day, and because all our activities are intermingled with our classes. We live at the place we go to school, so people learn everyday all day even outside of the classroom.”
    Iona Green
    Iona Green Chatham, NY
  • “A sense that everybody matters, that you are in a community where everyone can make a difference and reach their full potential, where you are interdependent and you work together, and most importantly where you understand that you can do whatever you want to do and whatever it is that you do, you have got to make a difference. I think that, more than anything, defines my experience at Buxton.”
    Peter Shumlin
    Peter Shumlin Governor of Vermont, Buxton Alumni

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