Lab News

A Latin immersion experience where Latin teachers communicate with one another entirely in Latin, all day, every day


In August, High School Latin teacher Fran Spaltro spent a week at Conventiculum Bostoniense (Latin for: assembly in Boston), a Latin immersion experience, where Latin teachers communicate with one another entirely in Latin and became familiar with active methods for teaching and learning Latin in the language itself.

Supported in part by donations to Lab's annual fund, virtually every Lab teacher will participate in some type of professional development activity each year. While those experiences may not be as unusual as Ms. Spaltro's, the programs ensure teachers stay at the top of the game, are inspired with new ideas, and use those ideas to benefit their students and colleagues.

Before heading to Boston, Ms. Spaltro had to complete a three-week, online graduate level course, "Active Learning Methodologies for Teachers of Latin." The course focused on the most current research in second language acquisition, with special focus on how each of the language skills—reading, writing, speaking, hearing—helps to develop the others in second language learners, and what this means for Latin instruction, when reading (not speaking) is the primary goal.

Ms. Spaltro described the pedagogy and her experience:

"What we call traditional Latin instruction has focused on the rules of grammar and lists of vocabulary. But a compelling body of research on second language acquisition shows that just as reading and writing the target language aid in the development of comprehension and speaking skills, so do speaking and hearing the language help students to develop more rapidly as fluent readers. My immersion experience proved the research true.

"The immersion program was, like the online course, highly structured. Daily Latin readings were thematically arranged and we prepared each night in small groups (speaking Latin only) for the next day's reading. Every morning we had two classes focused on the assigned theme (family, leisure, cooking, geography, or comedy). The texts ranged in provenance from ancient Rome to 14th century Mexico, and the international faculty modeled for us how to teach a Latin text entirely in Latin, using comprehensible input. We students ranged in age, experience, and country of origin, but we had one language common to us all.

"Even outside the classroom, we communicated solely in Latin, whether over meals, on walks, in passing, and during all activities. We had an hour of each day set aside to write in Latin, and at the very end of the week, we each designed and taught a Latin lesson in Latin, observed by our peers and evaluated by the faculty. My own lesson was on teaching numbers to first year Latin students.

"The experience was an enormous challenge for me, as a visual learner, but it was the most important thing I've done in a long time. I grew as a Latinist and as a teacher. As a Latinist, within just two days of communicating solely in Latin, I was a better, more confident and fluid reader of Latin than I've ever been in my 35+ years of reading the language. So, it is true: hearing and speaking and writing in Latin makes one a better reader of Latin. And I have never been more excited at the prospect of sharing this with my colleagues and with my students. I have introduced Mensa Latina (Latin Table) for students to learn to converse in Latin, and we began meeting the third week of school during lunchtime on Wednesdays. My colleague Daniel Ristin has already expressed desire to attend Conventiculum next summer, and I will certainly be going back. Our Latin program can only become richer for this."

Read more about Say that again. In Latin.

It starts at the end of grade two when the eldest students at ESH make their way to the Historic Campus to visit their third grade colleagues


Just when you think you are at the top of your game—you know the rules, you know the playground, you know the classroom order—it's time to move out and up to a new grade, and sometimes even, a new building. The grade three transition is a rite of passage at Lab, as students move from Earl Shapiro Hall to the Historic Campus. And the faculty and staff charged with leading and guiding that transition do so deliberately and with meaning along the way.

It starts at the end of grade two when the eldest students at ESH make their way to the Historic Campus to visit their third grade colleagues. Meant to prepare students for the transition, this is an opportunity to learn a little bit about the layout of the buildings, classrooms, and playground. Planned visits to the Historic Campus culminate in the end-of-summer scavenger hunt for rising third graders and their families just before school begins. The hunt for classrooms, bathrooms, libraries, and other more nuanced experiences, enlarges the student's field of vision and developmentally ushers in a new phase of growth and independence.

"At the Historic Campus, grade three students are required to interact with more adults on an ongoing basis. Being intentional with advisory, spaces, and experiences help students learn how to do this" says third grade teacher Zack Ruelas.

Being intentional with spaces and protocols is reinforced by the Lab's newly adopted social-emotional learning framework, which points teachers to a developmental continuum that helps teachers support student growth.

The Lower School emphasizes its motto, "kind, thoughtful, and responsible," as the program helps students develop the new levels of independence, maturity, and critical thinking necessary for a successful Lower School experience.

"I love to see students grow in their confidence over the year," says third grade teacher Hee Park.



Read more about Becoming a third grader

Congratulations to the girls on a great showing at State and an excellent season


The girls tennis team finished 4th in the IHSA Class A State Finals on Saturday, October 20, This is our highest finish ever. In 2017 we were 10th, and 2016, 6th. The Maroons were lead by senior Jenny Lewis in singles and our doubles team of Emily Sun/Izzie Kellermeier won 4 of the 5 matches they played to finish in the top 10. The weather on Saturday stopped the Maroons from scoring more points in the back draw bracket. Jackie Brown and Ananya Asthana won one doubles match at State. Congratulations to the girls on a great showing at State and an excellent season.

Maroon Pride!

Read more about Girls tennis finished 4th in IHSA Class A State Finals

Girls cross-country team advances to the Fenton 2A Sectional

The boys cross-country team won the 1A Regional Championship at Lisle on Saturday, October 20. The Maroons finished 2-3-4-8-12 and were lead by senior Abraham Zelchenko, followed by Nicky Edwards-Levin, Luke Sikora, Seamus Flannery, and Eli Ginsburg. The Maroons advance to the Lisle Sectional next Saturday, October 27.

The girls cross-country team advanced to the Fenton 2A Sectional after a second place finish at the Latin Regional on Saturday, October 20. Freshman Amanda O'Donnell placed third in the Region. Sophia Park, Iris Xie, Viviana Glick and Franzi Wild were our top runners finishing 6-8-9-10 place respectively.

Maroon Pride!

Read more about Boys cross country wins 1A Regional Championship

The Maroons finished with a fine 14-5-1 record

The boys soccer team lost a heart-breaker in penalty kicks after overtime in the 1A Sectional Championship match to Acero Soto in Elmhurst on Saturday, October 20. Junior Jaden Lynch tied the match late in the second half sending the game into OT. Congratulations to the seniors for an outstanding season: Jamie Miller, Connor Smith, Jacob Beiser, Jonah Lindau, and Ivan Beck. The Maroons finished with a fine 14-5-1 record.

#MaroonPride

Read more about Boys soccer closes season in overtime

The Parents Fund drive runs through October 31 and our goal is for every family to participate.

The Fund is a way for parents to contribute to, and continue to enhance, the Lab student experience through philanthropy. You choose how you'd like to designate your contribution—to critical academic programs, tuition assistance, co-curricular activities, or the Schools' area of greatest need—the decision is yours to make.

Give Now

Pledge Now (give later)

Learn more about the Parents Fund drive here. You can also reach out to one of the many volunteers, or contact Lab's Office of Alumni Relations and Development, 773-702-0578.

Read more about Add your apple to the Parents Fund tree this month—give today

Lab has recently launched the ColLABorator Project, a talent database where Lab parents and guardians can offer their time and expertise in a way that allows all Lab educators the opportunity to find and work with these volunteers.

Today, we invite you, Lab parents and guardians, to add your information to this database—should this be a way that you might like to volunteer your time and talent to Lab.

We invite you to complete this form to indicate your occupation, area of study, hobbies, availability, and more, should you wish to volunteer your time. The forms will help shape a database so that faculty can more easily identify volunteers and discover parent/guardian expertise. (The parent form will always be available on the Parent page of the Lab website.)

To learn more, please read this introduction from Assistant Director of Schools, Carla Ellis.

Read more about Volunteer your time and expertise with the new ColLABorator database

Bookswap promotes literacy among our earliest readers, recycles books among Lab families and lends us the opportunity to share what we have with others. Parent volunteers (70+) collect around 10,000 books from students in grades N3–8 and sort the books into categories. Teachers in grades N3–5 bring their classrooms into the Bookswap, and children take home their "new" books. All remaining books are donated, and this year's main recipient will be the James R. Doolittle Elementary School.

Book collection: ESH & LS, October 15–19 in individual classrooms
For every book brought in, students will receive a ticket from their teacher that can be swapped for a different book of their choosing or deposited in the raffle for one of several new books on display at Bookswap. Note: Each classroom may have a different swapping process.

Book collection: MS & HS, October 15–18, 7:30–8:30 a.m., U-High Lobby
Middle School students will participate in an inter-grade challenge and an individual advisory challenge. Books may be brought to the Gordon Parks Arts Hall loading dock outside of morning collection times.

Read more about Donate your used books to Bookswap by Friday, October 19

The University of Chicago Comer Health4Chicago's team of health care providers will come to Lab to deliver flu vaccinations for students and their families, saving everyone a trip to the doctor's office.

This year Flumist will be available; however, the AAP recommends the inactivated influenza vaccine (shot) as the primary choice for children. Tdap and adolescent vaccinations will also be available.

Health4Chicago accepts UCHP. For all other private insurance, please review their Insurance Guide for tips on verifying your coverage. Please complete this form to pre-register to ensure a quick and efficient process. Pre-registration forms can be dropped off at or emailed to the nurse's office.*

*A parent or guardian must accompany children in Nursery 3 through 2nd grade.

Read more about Lab family vaccine clinic—flu, Tdap, and more, Tuesday, October 23, 2–5:30 p.m., ESH208

You're invited to an evening of family fun featuring a Bollywood & Bhangra dance-off, and plenty of mouth-watering Indian appetizers and refreshments!

Tickets are available here. You may also call to purchase your tickets at 773-702-0578 or email the Alumni Relations and Development office.

The Desi Culture Crowd is a new parent-led group at Lab celebrating our school's Indian culture. The group will host events, curate content and celebrate the rich and vibrant culture of India for the entire school community throughout the year. Questions? Contact Masha Sajdeh or Monika Bahroos.

Read more about Indian Boogie Night, Friday, October 26, 6–8 p.m., Kovler Gymnasium

Spirit Council is comprised of volunteers who support the Lab's athletic teams and all celebratory activities that generate enthusiasm around the accomplishments of our student body. As an organization, we provide the additional support that helps elevate the climate and culture on campus. Committee chairs and participation is open to all Lab parents.

Please email co-chairs, Tiffany Flowers and Angie Holleb, with questions.

Read more about Join the Spirit Council. Meeting, Tuesday, October 30, 8:30–9:30 a.m., MS conf room, C143 C


Mark your calendars for the first Parents' Association Speaker Series event of 2018–19. William Stixrud, PhD and Ned Johnson will speak about their 2018 book The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives.

RSVPs are highly encouraged. The book will be available for sale and the authors will sign books after the talk.

This is a free, adults-only event, and childcare is available (for children ages 3 and up). For childcare, please contact Amanda Norton by Thursday, November 8.

Praise for the book:

"Instead of trusting kids with choices . . . many parents insist on micromanaging everything from homework to friendships. For these parents, Stixrud and Johnson have a simple message: Stop." —NPR

"This humane, thoughtful book turns the latest brain science into valuable practical advice for parents." —Paul Tough, New York Times bestselling author of How Children Succeed

Read more about PA Speaker Series: The Self-Driven Child, Monday, November 12, 7 p.m., Gordon Parks Assembly Hall