Charlotte Latin School incorporates experiential learning opportunities into the curriculum to create dynamic learning environments that engage students and inspire individual initiative as well as collaboration with others.
Latin's hands-on learning activities are integrated into a broad range of programs and subjects at all grade levels. From Hawks Quest challenges to multidisciplinary projects that combine science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics, Latin's students benefit from teachers who foster innovation and creativity.
Upper School students may participate in programs that provide opportunities to explore career interests, such as the optional Lower School Student Teacher Internship and the "Observe and Serve" program, which is conducted during the senior year and is a graduation requirement.
The Hawks Quest Program adds an important dimension of experiential education to Charlotte Latin's curriculum.
Hawks Quest is a "challenge by choice" program in which a student challenges himself or herself by choosing to take risks in a safe environment. Students work together in teams on a variety of classroom and outdoor initiatives to overcome obstacles, solve problems, and resolve conflicts. These hands-on experiences engage students in active learning, enhance community, promote leadership, encourage creativity, and teach critical thinking skills.
The philosophy of experiential education that the Hawks Quest Program embraces is based upon a "Do, Reflect, Apply" model. The "Do" component is the actual experience, which is followed by time to "Reflect." The reflection is tailored to a particular group's experience and is carefully guided by an experienced facilitator who prompts group discussions. The "Apply" component may take time as students learn to incorporate the lessons they experienced into their own lives.
A key component of the Hawks Quest Program is the outdoor team challenge course, which is unique among independent schools in Charlotte. The course is composed of 18 distinct elements, which together foster students' resilience, perseverance, and self-confidence. The course was custom-designed and installed by a firm that is accredited by the Association for Challenge Course Technology. Safety is a priority at all times as students experience the natural beauty of Charlotte Latin's campus.
Charlotte Latin's engineering program has evolved over the past quarter century into a multidisciplinary STEM program. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
The curriculum is designed to engage students in experiences with civil, mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering through project-based work and simulation activities. The engineering labs are alive with activity as students work individually and collaboratively on projects ranging from building model bridges to running flight simulations to producing products using a 3D printer.
These experiential learning opportunities are designed to teach critical thinking skills. For any given project, students study the underlying math and science concepts, then apply the principles to solve a problem, meet a challenge, and create something new. The program is evolving into a STEAM program as art students collaborate on STEM projects to explore new media and to express their creativity.
Charlotte Latin's STEM program is known for its innovation. In 2014, Latin was the first school in America to introduce the Oculus Rift virtual reality program as an instructional tool. Engineering students, often in collaboration with visual arts students, are creating virtual environments to bring dimension to their studies, such as a virtual Bunker Hill to better understand the significance of the first battle of the American Revolution.
In 2013, the School also was the first school in the nation to adopt the Raspberry Pi to teach computer engineering. This simple computer allows students to re-engineer its internal parts to learn basic computer engineering skills while encouraging their creativity and developing their confidence to solve problems.
Charlotte Latin's Environmental Science program provides students with the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the interrelationships of the natural world, to identify and analyze environmental problems both natural and man-made, to evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems, and to examine alternative solutions for resolving and, or, preventing them. The field component focuses on developing observational skills and learning the natural history of the local ecosystem, including identifying trees by their leaves and bark and identifying birds by sight and sound. In addition, the environmental footprint of the School, including the campus' 32-acre forest, is investigated. An Upper School course is offered as an elective, and students also may opt to participate in the Environmental Club. Students learn to care for the environment by composting the School's waste, recycling, and a group even replaced a utility truck's combustion engine with a battery to make it more energy efficient. Students engage in practical, hands-on activities to practice environmentalism in their daily lives.
In 2012, Charlotte Latin's waste reduction program was recognized by Mecklenburg County's Wipe Out Waste program as an example of excellence in environmentalism.
Learning at Latin is energized as students connect their classroom studies to real world solutions in collaboration with their teachers, alumni, parents, members of the Charlotte community, and people across the globe. These dynamic relationships bring people together who have different talents and expertise to create environments that foster innovation and develop our students' critical thinking skills.
Charlotte Latin's seniors may elect to take the Entrepreneurship and Global Marketplace Leadership course, which focuses on a multidisciplinary approach to problem-solving. Students apply skills from a variety of areas such as art, drama, engineering, computer programming, economics, and finance to design and produce a product. Their language skills and analytical skills also are developed as they research a product's viability and present its business plan to a potential investor. Through these capstone projects, Latin's students learn to turn concepts into realities. This course's project-based methodology is combined with the opportunity to network with Latin alumni and local business leaders through the LatinRedde Program. This entrepreneurial experience is engaging and valuable to students who have a variety of career aspirations.
In addition, students who have taken required prerequisites in computer science and engineering may elect to take a Macintosh Systems/Integration course that prepares them to take the Apple Certification for Mac Integration examination.
Charlotte Latin alumni have experiences and passions to share, some of which were inspired by the Latin Community. Now alumni can inspire the next generation of Latin students and young alumni by participating in LatinRedde, which is sponsored by the CLS Alumni Governing Board.
LatinRedde, which incorporates the Latin 'redde' meaning 'to give back' and 'restore', is a new set of programs connecting Latin students and alumni. The first two LatinRedde initiatives are Life after Latin and LatinWorks.
Life After Latin is an opportunity for alumni to share their knowledge, experiences, and passions with students. Alumni can present to a class, be a guest coach, or speak with a student club. Alumni are invited to return to campus, virtually or in person, to share what they care about with the next generation.
LatinWorks is a program that connects students with alumni for internships, job shadowing, and volunteer opportunities. Young alumni who need that first job or internship, and alumni who need interns or great candidates, can connect through LatinWorks.Be LatinRedde by signing up here.