At The White Mountain School all students complete an independent project through our LASR program. LASR stands for Leadership, Arts, Service, and Research. These general categories demonstrate the range of projects that students choose to undertake. This program is our way of saying that curiosity and student interests matter, and that we know each and every student has a spark that we want to help kindle, a fire we want to help focus. Let us be clear: We find it trite to ask students to “pursue their passion” (since many have not yet “found it” or may have many), but we find it absolutely meaningful to help students learn to engage in work passionately, which they do through the LASR program.
The LASR program is emblematic of our goals of helping students develop curiosity, critical thinking, and communication skills. Engagement in this program encourages students to think about learning not in the traditional way, where the teacher determines the topic, the content, the skills, the scope and sequence. Rather, students develop questions rooted in their own interests and then pursue projects that flow from these. Through LASR, students develop the skills needed for successful independent thinkers. They learn to ask great questions, find and use resources, deal effectively with ambiguity, manage their time well, and communicate clearly. LASR projects focus squarely on these skills. Furthermore, in our commitment to inspiring curious, courageous, and compassionate learners, LASR projects are designed to add value to the world in some form; WMS students work to make a positive contribution to society.
Over the course of a year, students: pose a question, perform academic research, find, contact and then interview experts, develop a hands-on experience to immerse themselves in the question, and then communicate their results. Students submit their original research in the form of a paper. And finally, they present their findings publicly to our community.