• Summer Programs
Critchley ’22 & Dongre ’22 Recall Their Summer as New Jersey Scholars

Fifth Formers Colin Critchley and Kaj Dongre were selected to attend the annual New Jersey Scholars Program (NJSP), which took place virtually June 28-July 30.

NJSP is an intensive, interdisciplinary academic program for 39 intelligent, outgoing, and highly motivated students who have completed their junior year at a New Jersey high school. The program is funded entirely by private contributions; there is no fee to the students. Scholars are selected based upon a guidance counselor's recommendation along with a group interview and discussion session on Lawrenceville’s campus, where the program is usually held.

Each year, a new topic for discussion is chosen, then studied via the Harkness method from four different approaches. Scholars tackled “Mind and Body: The Future of Being Human” through the lenses of anthropology/sociology, science, literature/philosophy, and history/ethics/policy. Scholars routinely report that one of the best parts of the program is that there are no grades, leaving students free to let their minds to creatively soar and learn without fear of failure. 

Each student completes the program with a final project of their choosing. Critchley wrote a paper defending the views of Roger Scruton, as outlined in his book “On Human Nature.” Critchley said, “Within my argument, I argue against certain aspects of biological reductionism and solidify the distinction between ‘humans’ and ‘persons.’ Additionally, I support Scruton’s assertions regarding human exceptionalism and explore the transcendent nature of personhood.” Dongre was most intrigued by the scientific approach to the topic and wrote her paper “on the impact of technology on students’ patience, and therefore the impact on students’ abilities to form meaningful connections with people around them.”

The Fifth Formers agreed that their experiences around the Harkness table gave them a definite advantage in their NJSP studies. “I felt extraordinarily comfortable in expressing, and defending, my ideas in argumentative seminars within the program. The nature of Harkness discussions at Lawrenceville –and by that I mean students’ ability to challenge and dissect others’ arguments in class– made me accustomed to presenting logically sound and coherent views to my fellow scholars,” said Critchley. Dongre also mentioned time management, noting that she knew “how to balance lengthy reading assignments with limited time - a skill that was of great help when it came to preparing for each day’s seminars and lectures.”

Calling NJSP a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” the Lawrentians would definitely recommend the program to their friends. As New Jersey Scholars, they explained, students are able to explore the naturally interdisciplinary nature of the world, sharing those connections with equally interested and enthusiastic learners. “I’m very grateful for the lifelong friends I got to make through this incredible program,” Dongre said.

For additional information, please contact Lisa M. Gillard Hanson, director of Public Relations, at lgillard@lawrenceville.org.