For the first two weeks of January, the Chatham Hall community set aside its regular schedules and curricula to follow its passions in the second annual January Term.
“January Term is a chance for students and teachers alike to explore a topic that is of interest to them, and may not be offered or offered as in depth during our semester curricula,” said Dr. Francis Yun, director of music and January Term.
“This year we were able to offer fifteen courses, everything from Quilting to Biochemistry Techniques to Ethics in the Equine Industry, as well as daily programming for each of our four grades. In the evenings we were lucky enough to have guest visits, lectures, and group discussions on a variety of different topics.”
Among the evening activities was a community concert
given by Dr. Yun and guest artists Dr. Nermis Mieses, associate professor of oboe at Michigan State University and faculty at Sewanee Music Festival, and pianist Mr. Xavier Suarez. Dr. Jonathan C. Friedman, professor of history and director of graduate Holocaust and Genocide Studies at West Chester University, Zoomed with students to discuss the concepts of his book Haunted Laughter: Representations of Adolf Hitler, the Third Reich, and the Holocaust in Comedic Film and Television
On weekday mornings, each grade met to explore topics related to life skills and Living Well. The Class of 2026 focused on health and wellness, and the sophomores learned about personal finance. The Class of 2024 jumped into the college process including taking a practice ACT, while the seniors got a taste of many topics to prepare them for life after graduation.
Several alumnae volunteered their time to speak with the Class of 2023 during their grade-level programming. Daisa Moore ’14 spoke with seniors via Zoom about finding your path and setting your own expectations for yourself. On campus, licensed social worker Mary Elizabeth Wilkes Chand ’03 presented about beliefs, boundaries, and balance, while Claire Mayo ’15 shared the story of her life after Chatham Hall. Mayo also visited the FIRST FRC Robotics January Term course as a TuTu Turtles alumna.
“January Term classes focus on the little interests or fixations people have and expand on them. Classes are engaging and they explore the complexities of a seemingly simple topic,” said Elinor Harrison ’24, who participated in the History & Politics in the Middle East and All That Jazz courses. “In January Term, students get to dive into a new educational experience without worrying about what they should already know.”
For Olivia Gioia ‘26, who participated in Italian Language Boot Camp, the opportunity to learn a great deal in a short amount of time was a huge benefit of January Term.
“The best part about Italian Language Boot Camp was getting to learn and better understand the culture,” she said. “I have learned many basic Italian words, and more about Italian history and culture.”
The term ended with a morning-long expo featuring presentations (and a few special performances) by members of each course about what they discovered in their two-week educational journeys.