14 Mar


Our Middle School students have a wonderful opportunity to see their work published. Open Roads, our literary magazine, is looking for poetry and narrative fiction or non-fiction no longer than 2 pages, double-spaced and photography or fine-art (drawings, paintings, graphic designs, mixed-media, etc.) Parents, you may want to encourage your child to submit a piece of work. The deadline is April 8.

If you’re the parent of a 7th grader, you may have noticed that the Pinterest app is now on some of the iPads. I am a crafter and DYI’er, so I thought we were getting the students to do some hands-on craft activities. However, it turns out that there’s a board called “Girl Empowerment” that one HomeBase advisor wants her girls to add to!

As schools approach major breaks, like Spring Break, teachers tend to pull major units and projects together. The resulting crunch-time may lead to some stressful moments for students. Recognizing this, we encouraged our HomeBase groups to engage in a low-key activity that helps to alleviate stress. One such activity, in case you’d like to try it at home:

Hand out a piece of paper and marker to each person.  Ask everyone to quietly make a list, write sentences/free write and/or draw pictures of things that stress them out.  Have the students do this in silence for about 3-5 minutes.  If students would like to share out, have the students go around in a circle and share.  At the end, have students roll their paper into a ball and they can choose to slam dunk, shoot, alley- oop their stress away!

One of our 8th grade HomeBase groups just finished up with a meaningful experience in Service Learning. They supported local efforts right here in Englewood, joining forces with Friends of the John T. Wright Arena in hosting a Skate-a-thon at Mackay Park.  The funds raised are being used for the John T. Wright ice rink to help maintain public access. Through their efforts, the HomeBase girls were able to donate over $800.00, donated by Middle School students, and many of our kids enjoyed hours of skating! The opportunity to present to the Englewood City Council on March 22 along with student representatives from other schools is terrific.

3.14.16MSMessagesReminders3Dr. Brown, the HomeBase advisor, wrote: Dwight-Englewood’s eighth grade HomeBase Advisory curriculum includes a focus on service learning.  The skate-a-thon was a terrific opportunity for my advisees to do a collective project around community engagement, community space, and community building by lending their support for improvements to the local ice rink at Mackay Park.  Leading up to the skate-a-thon, my HomeBase group discussed with some seriousness the need for town communities to have access to public recreation centers, and they were enthusiastic about taking on the work.  In addition to collecting sponsors for their participation, the girls devised a plan to promote the event to other students in the Middle School by sending e-mails, placing posters around campus, making announcements during Middle School assembly/HomeBase times, as well as by organizing a sign-up table during Middle School lunch.  We found that the participants’ active involvement provided wonderful leadership learning for the girls in the HomeBase, which is one of our objectives.

Here’s a ShoutOut to Kirin Mueller ‘20, who has officially qualified for the 2016 New Jersey State Geography Bee! This Bee will be held on April 1st. Kirin has a chance to go on to the National Geography Bee in Washington D.C., which will be held in May.

Finding one’s passions in life is not always easy nor does it always follow an expected path and trajectory. At a recent Assembly, our Middle School students had the opportunity to hear from some Upper School students. Chris, Claudine, Robyne, Erika, Lucy, Hartej, and Junlin are all senior Focus students and shared their individual and unique ways they found and have pursued their passions through school.

14 Mar


As we know, middle school is a time of growing minds and increased awareness of the world around us. Something as simple as turning out the light and going to bed may suddenly feel like a challenge to your adolescent. Similar to how we helped our very young children soothe themselves to sleep, we often must guide older children in creating “sleep hygiene.” Sleep hygiene means establishing habits that promote a good night’s sleep, such as setting a routine. Here are some general tips:

  • Provide time to wind-down before sleep. At least 30 minutes before bedtime should ideally be quiet, relaxing activities. If your child suffers from sleep disturbances, encourage them to turn off devices before bed. Screens emit a blue light that is found in the light spectrum present during daytime hours. Acting as artificial sunlight, blue light decreases your production of melatonin, the powerhouse hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle.
  • Tea Recommendations (Drink one or more hours before bedtime) – Drinking liquids can interfere with sleep if you need to get up to use the bathroom.
    • Yogi Tea – Lavender Stress Relief
    • Yogi Tea – Caramel Bedtime
    • Celestial Seasonings – Sleepytime Vanilla
    • Celestial Seasonings – Sleepytime Tea or Sleepytime Extra
    • Celestial Seasonings – Tension Tamer
  • Reading with a dim-light on will help distract your mind into falling asleep.
  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule—go to bed and wake up around the same time every day.
  • Avoid caffeine-containing beverages for several hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid large, heavy meals just before bedtime.
  • Exercising for at least 20 minutes per day at least 4 or 5 hours before bedtime improves sleep quality.
  • A note on Melatonin: While many students believe that Melatonin is relatively harmless, we recommend that parents talk to their child’s pediatrician before allowing them to take it on a regular basis.
14 Mar


This past Monday during morning meeting, the Health and Wellness team presented their March wellness theme.  The theme entitled “March Madness: Swoosh Your Stress Away” focuses on the benefits of exercise as a tool for stress relief.  Students volunteered to read aloud stress relieving tips and benefits associated with exercise and physical activity. Students were also asked to make predictions on winners for the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournament and post their vote on the bulletin board in the Umpleby lobby. So far, it appears that UNC, Duke and Michigan State are early frontrunners!!!

Also, during recess, students will be encouraged to “swoosh their stress away” and compete in a free throw tournament that mimics the NCAA brackets. A bracket will be posted in Umpleby and a winner will be crowned prior to Spring Break.  With the Spring weather approaching, we encourage families to get outside and shoot some hoops or do some sort of physical activity together in whichever form they choose!

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14 Mar


Our Arts classes continue to offer our students rich, robust experiences that stretch each child in creative thinking, doing, and performing.

Drama 7: Students are finishing up theatre terminology. They will soon engage in a backstage tour and lesson with our DE Technical Director of Theater Facilities. After spring break, students will be venturing into play writing.

Drama 8: Students are finishing up the spoken word PBL. Several students shared their work in a memorable Middle School Coffee House Assembly.  They brought to life many of the universal themes of which young adolescents struggle, using personal stories to illuminate. It was quite a fantastic 50 minutes!

Studio Art 6: PBL City Design Remix began this Tuesday! In addition to watching clips from the film “Urbanized”, students voted for their favorite places on campus and we went for a campus walk to each site to discuss what about the space was appealing. The top places were STEM (first in both sections!), Graham Field and “Purple Playground”.

Studio Art 7: Students are finishing their Shoe Drawings. Once complete, they will self-reflect and offer feedback to their peers. They will create a personalized website using Crevado.com

Art Explorations: Eighth grade students are using places that are special to them and their family as the subject matter for the Landmark Illustration Project. They will use linear perspective to create an ink and watercolor depiction of this meaningful place.

14 Mar


In Grade 8, students in English classes are wrapping up their study of To Kill A Mockingbird and continuing to refine topic sentences and thesis statements.  Students are also learning grammatical concepts in order to help increase the specificity of their arguments, namely using dependent clauses and proper comma placement.

In history, the 8th grade just finished up with their MaD (Making A Difference) projects.  They have been fine-tuning their websites, populating them with their research, and preparing their public service announcements.  They are all getting ready to Make a Difference. Their final presentations were made to groups of experts: a combination of Upper School teachers, media experts, and non-profit executives.  It was an incredible display of research, synthesis, evaluation, creativity, and passion all rolled into a multi-layer project. Kudos to our 8’s for their level of intellectual curiosity!

Our 8th grade science students have spent the last several classes learning about different types of volcanic eruptions. Math is beginning a new unit on graphing involving trend lines and learning how to reproduce graphs on their iPad. This will help prepare them for the culminating project in science later this year called SciTube.

The 7th grade students are hard at work for their Conservation Conversation projects. Parents of 7’s should have received an email invitation to the parent event on April 15th.  In class, students compared the similarities between their animals and other endangered, threatened, or vulnerable species.  Some classes created mini posters of their animal and others worked with the taxonomy of the animals. This week the students also had the opportunity to watch Racing to Extinction.  This moving documentary that was featured on the Discovery Channel last year helped put species in perspective.  If you have a chance, this movie is worth the time to view it.

In history classes, the students are starting an international conflict simulation where students will have the chance to play different roles to resolve a major conflict. Taking an active role in the simulation will help the students understand what really happens in these situations.  In English, students participated in a mini mock-trial in class based on Lord of the Flies, debating whether or not the characters on the island were guilty of committing murder. They enjoyed it and were able to come up with evidence to support both sides.

Our 6’s spent last Friday at the Met. To complement the 6th Grade social studies and art units underway, students, along with their HomeBase teachers, visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Greek galleries.  There they engaged in several observation and sketching activities designed to enhance their understanding of how art reflects culture and how artifacts and sculptures in the museum’s collection help to reveal developments in the society of Ancient Greece.

In the World language classes, our 6th grade students are learning about foods, and the students read through an authentic Burger King menu in Spanish. In 7th grade, they are studying the family unit, and the students wrote two paragraphs in Spanish about their family and their home. In 8th grade, some classes are studying the restaurant unit. In Sr. Bautista’s class, the 8th grade learned the future tense. As an assignment, students had to create or design their own invention for the future. Sr. Bautista was quite impressed about the student’s creativity and command of the language and vocabulary used during their presentation.

14 Mar



Wow: the level of activity here in the Middle School continues to be of high quality with plenty of intellectual challenges and academic experiences for every student! As we head into Spring Break, I share below some of the good stuff that I get to see every day.

As you will see, we continue to roll!  Have a wonderful Spring Break.

Hug your child and Go Bulldogs!

Kathy Christoph