October Days Bring Community Connections and College Readiness

Upper School students build community, reflect and rest.
October Days are an Upper School tradition. Regular classes pause to make time for students to explore community engagement activities and pursue various steps on the path to college. The three-day break also creates space for rest and reflection. 
This year in mid-October, students participated in grade-appropriate college related activities and in programming that allowed them to work together as a class, learn about the surrounding community and continue to cultivate close relationships with administrators and teachers. Each grade had its own focus and schedule.  
Ninth Grade
Ninth graders spent Wednesday and Thursday taking part in service learning workshops and a beach cleanup at Will Rogers State Beach.
On campus, student activities were anchored in visits from two service organizations: GO Campaign, which raises funds for youth-centered nonprofits, and PS Science, which provides science education in underserved public schools and was initially launched through the Crossroads Community Outreach Foundation. After learning about how GO Campaign chooses nonprofits partners, students crafted Shark Tank-style pitches for real charitable organizations and voted on which should receive (imaginary) grants. PS Science engaged students in the nuts and bolts of providing science lessons, putting them to work creating hundreds of supply kits for classroom experiments.     
In addition, Crossroads teachers offered workshops to share their personal interests and skills. Choices included crepe-making with French teacher Armelle Courcelle-Labrousse, a hip-hop history lesson with English and Publications teacher Brendan Whitt, cross stitching with math teacher Connie Kim, and many others. 
After two days of service activities and community building, ninth graders had Friday off to rest, recharge and enjoy some free time.  

Tenth Grade
Tenth grade students began October Days with the PSAT exam on Wednesday morning. The PSAT is a practice test that has no bearing on college admissions but gives students the opportunity to experience standardized testing and identify their potential strengths and weaknesses. 
With the PSAT behind them, students spent Thursday and Friday engaged in service learning programs at Edison Language Academy, an elementary school in Santa Monica, and Kindred Spirits Care Farm, a sustainable farm and animal sanctuary in Reseda. At Edison, students connected with fourth and fifth graders, forging reciprocal relationships through art and athletic activities that will continue throughout the year. The trip to Kindred Spirits gave students a chance to spend time with animals as well as learn about soil, permaculture, and sustainable farming. 
Eleventh Grade
Many 11th grade students also took Wednesday’s PSAT. Though the test is optional for juniors, it’s a valuable opportunity to practice and prepare for the upcoming SAT or ACT.   
On Thursday and Friday, 11th graders visited three local colleges: Occidental College, a small, liberal arts college; the medium-sized Loyola Marymount University; and the University of Southern California (USC), a large, private research university. These tours exposed students to schools of varying sizes, atmospheres and focuses to consider as they plan their own personalized college lists.
Twelfth Grade
October Days provide valuable time for seniors. Rather than engage in organized programming, seniors are encouraged to visit colleges, work on applications and essays and get ahead on their school work. It’s also an opportunity to get some rest during the busy, often stressful, college admissions process.