Bonavita of Cazenovia is student innovator at Pomfret School

In a “new and different way of learning,” Matthew Bonavita of Cazenovia recently was part of a student-faculty team that worked together on a project entitled “From the Iroquois to the Lax Bros: The History and Evolution of the Game of Lacrosse.”

Bonavita, a member of the class of at Pomfret School in Connecticut, was recently part of an all-school academic experiment called “Project: Pomfret.” From Dec. 3 to 18, the students and faculty at Pomfret were at school, but not, in the conventional sense, in school. In place of class time and homework, they were out tackling one of 29 innovative projects — among them designing and building a real footbridge, conducting statistical and laboratory analyses on the economic and nutritional value of organic produce and trying to make sense of the Middle East, the environment, hip-hop music, the practicality of dams and actually producing and using biodiesel fuel.

Bonavita was in the group of students and faculty who collaborated on “From the Iroquois to the Lax Bros: The History and Evolution of the Game of Lacrosse.”

Project: Pomfret represented an experimental retooling of the 120-year-old school's academic matrix, harvested from the year of self-examination that resulted in a new strategic plan. Project: Pomfret was based on the principles of project-based learning (students engage to the fullest when they can experience and solve real-world problems). Everyone involved got to break away from the established academic routine and focus instead on their one particular topic.

The goal: to make the learning viable and real. After two days of final Project: Pomfret presentations, Head of School Tim Richards was impressed. “I found [this] the two best days I have spent in my life as an educator,” he said. “I believe we all saw a new and different way of learning.”

Founded in 1894 and coeducational since 1968, Pomfret School is an independent college preparatory boarding and day school for approximately 360 students in grades nine through 12 and postgraduates, and the more than 40 faculty members involved in their lives.

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