The Lyceum has been investing in local youth for 62 years, bolstering programming that expands the mind.
By Agata Popeda
The best way to describe The Lyceum of Monterey County is to say that it offers educational programs that local schools don’t necessarily have, filling gaps in public and private education throughout the county. If you’ve heard about local students preparing for the Expanding Your Horizons STEM Conference, killing it in a spelling bee or engaging in History Day, it’s thanks to the Lyceum’s quiet work behind the curtains. And after going virtual due to the pandemic, interest is stronger than ever. “We are so excited to finally be giving in-person classes again,” says Joyce Breckenridge, executive director of the nonprofit. “We have the highest number of schools participating this year.”
The Lyceum was founded in 1960 and named after Aristotle’s famous school. Aristotle named his lyceum after the temple of Apollo Lyceus, interpreted by some to be related to the “wolf-like” nature of the god (the word lycus comes from the ancient Greek word for “wolf”).
The Lyceum runs Mock Trial that introduces ninth – through 12th-graders to the American legal system, and Model United Nations, where middle-schoolers and high-schoolers get exposed to global affairs and international negotiations. There, students take part in debates similar to those UN ambassadors hold, discussing current foreign policy and security issues and learning about conflict resolution. Within Mock Trial, the trials are structured like “real” court trials and follow the same rules. To participate, students first learn rules of evidence and then are paired with mentors from the legal community. The 2022/2023 edition touches the problem of cyberbullying, asking what discipline the school should impose and what potential legal consequences would be.
The STEM conference is a free event offered to girls in fifth through 10th grades, where the students get a chance to participate in fun and challenging hands-on math, science and engineering activities led by female mathematicians, scientists and engineers. In November, it was offered in-person again after a pandemic hiatus. By using local volunteers to lead workshops, the girls met with industry professionals who live and work in their community and who may serve as their future mentors.