D-E’s annual all-school Spring Carnival, sponsored by our US student clubs and the Parents’ Association, is set for Sunday, April 29, on Leggett Field (or, in the Myrna B. Sherman Gymnansium in the event of inclement weather). 15+ booths and activities including free BBQ lunch, live music by our US students, tie-day Tshirt making, photo booth, ‘make your doggie treats’, and a STEM Festival with drones, “dry ice” ice cream, slime making station, and more. Free admission and open to D-E families of all ages. For more details click here or go to www.d-e.org/activities (D-E LogIn required).
On Thursday, our Upper School GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) were the leaders for a Day of Acceptance assembly for our Middle School. This informative assembly has been a MS tradition for the past 10 years and aims to help educate our student body in regard to the topic of LGBTQ+, using middle school language and concepts.
Last Thursday, our assembly, Holocaust Remembrance Day (or Yom HaShoah), was planned and presented by some of very own Middle School youngsters. In an age-appropriate manner, the participating students gave an explanation of the event itself as well as sharing their family’s stories of survival It was quite a moving moment to hear the personal stories of some of our D-E family members. As Mr. Kessler said, “I wanted to let the students share all that they could, because these stories are too important to be lost to history.” Over in Imperatore Library, our librarians (Thanks, Mrs. Shaurette!) assembled a corresponding display with age appropriate books (both historical fiction and nonfiction). And in HomeBase, each advisor had access to follow-up discussion questions to use if needed.
This week 6th graders took the next step in their yearlong service learning project focusing on hunger in our local communities. At the Englewood Center for Food Action, we built raised beds to create a vegetable garden where the CFA will grow food for its clients this summer. We also planted seeds and potatoes in the beds and transplanted seedlings started earlier in our campus greenhouse.
Students in the 7th grade DIG class are working on a project that potentially will add chickens to our garden ecosystem. In their current PBL, they are raising chicks that can help to control insect pests in the vegetable garden in an earth-friendly way and which will produce manure we can compost into valuable organic fertilizer. In the process of their research, students also have discovered there are a variety of food-system and humane issues at play in conventional egg-production systems. They are learning about the increasingly popular backyard and small-scale chicken-keeping movements that aim to address some of those issues. Students plan to share some of what they have learned with the Middle School student body in a series of “chicken minute” presentations at Monday Morning Meeting. They are also preparing a pop-up art show to post in an outdoor installation of the chickens for a week at the end of May in the Umpleby Vegetable Garden. Interested in chickens? The DIG students are also looking for volunteer families in the D-E community to help look after the chickens on weekends and during school vacations this summer and next fall. If you would be interested in helping, please contact Ms. Urbanowski!
Lastly you may enjoy watching two video presentations in the genre of timely and insightful TEDTalks, presented by Simran and Sunjin, as part of the 7th grade UN Sustainable Goals PBL.
In the World Language classes, our 6th grade Spanish students are learning about food in the Hispanic world in addition to the appropriate use of possessive adjectives. Our 7th graders are learning about sports and hobbies as well as certain stem changing verbs and the verb “gustar”, to like. Our 8th grade Continuing students are learning the past tense, now using some irregular verbs. They are continuing to practice how to shop in a supermarket and in a clothing store. As a part of their food Unit, they went to plant tomato seeds in the D-E Greenhouse as a hands-on experience. Soon they will plant them in our Garden. Others in the advanced level are learning the present and past perfect tense. Here, they are using vocabulary about health and how to keep a healthy life style. Our French 7 Continuing students are learning vocabulary focused on clothing stores. Our cultural theme is the major sites of Paris; at the same time, they are applying the past tense and the “RE” verbs conjugation. Here they are expanding sentences by including adjectives, adverbs, prepositional phrases. Our Latin 7 students are studying the imperfect and future tenses and will continue to review the first 3 declensions. Our cultural theme is the institution of slavery. Students will present their “Traveler “reports on word origins and derivatives. With our Latin 8 Students, we have just finished talking about noun-adjective agreement. The students carefully learned the charts for the adjectives and figured out how to match nouns with the correct forms from the chart. The Latin 8 Advance students have been learning about the Iliad in preparation for a parody of the Iliad that the kids are preparing for World Language Festival.
Spring is in the air!! The trees and flowers are starting to bloom and brighten, the Spring rains have watered the earth, the birds have begun their annual migration back from the south, and the Health and Wellness department has sprung into the last Marking Period of the year!
Our Middle School students will participate in classes such as “Fitness Fundamentals” in which individuals will learn important aspects of fitness such as finding their resting heart rate and determining their Target Heart Rate. Classes such as “Introduction to the Fitness Centers” will teach the students the beginning steps of using the Weight Room, Spinning Studio, Yoga, and basic Physiology. In our “Sticks and Racquets” classes, individual will learn the basic rules and skills of sports such as tennis, lacrosse, field hockey, badminton, pickleball, and street hockey. This is just a taste of the wonderful things that our middle school children will be learning and discovering.
Lastly, the students will be completing the Spring-time testing of the fitness assessment and reporting program, the FitnessGram. This evaluation test allows teachers, administrators, parents, and most importantly, students, to know, comprehend and make positive changes to their health, which will in turn help them build a healthy lifestyle needed to carry them into the future. Students are assessed in the areas off muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and cardiorespiratory endurance.
The pace here at school continues to be a steady upward push as we head into May. With the end of the school year in sight, teachers and students alike are beginning to think about closures, transitions, and new beginnings. Here in the MS Office, we are hard at work, pulling together ways to bring closure to our various groupings: HomeBase advisories, classes, grade-levels and the Division as a whole. To that end: Thursday, June 7 will consist of several closure activities, one of which is our MS Field Day. The 8th grade Move Up Ceremony is at 7:00 pm that evening. All Middle School students will be dismissed at noon on Thursday, June 7. The school buses will make their normal afternoon runs at 3:45. If your child needs to stay on campus in the afternoon, we will provide supervised activities.
In March, HomeBase (HB) advisors had the opportunity to once again reflect with their advisees about their Spring Comments and then their Interim Grades (for grades 7 and 8). Students take time identifying and reflecting on their areas of strength and areas on which to focus, both academically and in regard to their student skills. This time between advisor and advisee truly allows the students to celebrate their growth over the course of the year and then to set goals for the remainder of the year. As students begin to look towards the end of the school year and beyond, advisors are getting ready to share course recommendations and placements in HomeBase in the coming weeks. Advisors will be guiding them on what electives are available and what offerings will help them to create a course load for a successful school year.
Our Student As Learner (SaL) Conversations will take place in mid-May. The focus of these conversations revolves around our SaL traits and the goal is for them to be student-led. For further details on the SaL traits please click here. While our 8th grade students take on more of this lead role than our 6th graders, we have found in the past that the students are comfortable sharing which traits they excel at and which ones they wish to continue working on. Having an awareness of how they participate, collaborate, engage, prepare and organize themselves, in addition to the other traits, allows our students to be the best learners they can be. HB advisors are able to discuss various projects, HB activities, participation in all of their classes and their comments in order to guide the conversations as needed. Be sure to ask your child to share with you what they enjoyed about these conversations!
This weekend brings to our beautiful D-E campus the annual All-School Spring Carnival and STEM Festival, on Sunday April 29 from 1-3 PM. Free admission, this event is co-sponsored by our Upper School student clubs and the D-E Parents’ Association and will be held rain or shine. Complimentary BBQ lunch, 20+ booths and activities areas, and fun for all ages. For details visit www.d-e.org/news.
Parents and guardians are also invited and encouraged to attend a special presentation on vaping, a very timely topic, on Thursday, May 31, at 7:00 PM in Hajjar Auditorium. This “VAPING: What’s in the Mist” event is sponsored by the D-E PA’s Parent Education Committee, and will be led by Timothy Shoemaker, a former DARE officer. D-E parents may bring guests with them. To learn more about the May 31 Vaping presentation and to RSVP please click here or go to pa.d-e.org. Questions may be directed by Email to email@example.com.
Finally we eagerly anticipate the MS production of The Lion King, Jr.! Performing May 3 – May 5, the incredible staging and costuming work done by students, parents, and teachers/staff thus far (see photos above of a recent collaborative working weekend) – not to mention the hard work underway by all our cast and crew in rehearsals and lighting and set design preparation – is a testament to our mission of being a “community of learners.”
Hug your child(ren), and Go Bulldogs!
Have you ever wondered why there is not an elected student government in Middle School? In the D-E Middle School we want as many students as possible to have an opportunity to lead. We know that our students will be leaders in the world and want to help them feel empowered to take action and to help them develop their leadership skills. So, we offer a range of leadership opportunities throughout the year. Some opportunities are offered up for wide volunteerism during Monday Morning Meeting, are created in HomeBase groups, or spring from projects in classes across the curriculum. In other cases, deans or faculty members may reach out to students who have been nominated by their advisors. This spring, students are serving on committees such as SEEK (which plans the 8th grade overnight) and the service learning committee, training to become “buddies” who welcome new students to the school, and planning our field day events for the last day of school.
Research and experience have shown us that middle school student elections are often popularity contests and usually give just a few students most of the leadership opportunities. We look to build the confidence and skills of all the students, not just a select few. To this end, we want students to play an active role in shaping their community, to take responsibility for their environment, and to cultivate leadership skills and the habit of stepping up.
As students move through the Middle School, the overall program challenges students to clarify their understanding of ideas and information, and it presents them with experiences that cultivate their ability to articulate their ideas — often a first step in taking a leadership role. We want to help them discover things they care about and act for positive change without waiting for someone to elect them to it. We guide them in understanding the logistics of taking action and supporting a cause.
Projects such as 8th grade “MaD” (Making a Difference), in which students research a current issue they care about and prepare a persuasive proposal of a solution to a problem, is a good example. In another forum, regular HomeBase activities, such as the recent “Intent vs Impact” discussions, help students reflect on how their daily actions and words impact their community and invite them to act in specific ways out of that new understanding. Other leadership-skills cultivation opportunities are optional, such as the invitation we extend to all students to design and launch a new club during activities period. This last example offers students the experience of working through a protocol in order to realize their idea.
There are formal, more active types of leadership, and there are less formal, more everyday types of leadership. At D-E, both types are emphasized and taught through our advisory program, grade meetings and discussions, assembly program and in many other ways as well. While specific formal opportunities vary by grade, they generally increase as students become older, culminating with a rich variety of committee, club, event, curriculum and general planning leadership opportunities in 8th grade. Some of the more formal leadership committees students can volunteer for in middle school include the Arts Council, the Pep Rally Committee, and the Honor Code Committee, to name a few. Students also take a leadership role as Admissions Buddies, Open House Guides, sports team captains, and in the service learning projects coordinated at each grade level.
Student choice and voice is very important to us, and it shows. To be a middle schooler at D-E is to have an active role in shaping your own experience and the experiences of your classmates. Cultivating leadership and nurturing skills and habits of leadership is a thread that runs through everything we do. Opportunities to practice leadership at every level of skill and commitment are available to all because this is a community of future leaders whom we expect to “meet the challenge of a changing world and make it better.”
The period of time from April ‘til the end of the year represents a major growth period for your young adolescents and their schooling. The curriculum in every subject and in every grade ramps up a notch, taking advantage of the developmental growth that is occurring in our students. Our 6’s are gaining more confidence in their skill sets and are attacking challenging assignments, such as the book study of Lions of Little Rock, with vigor and enthusiasm. Our 7’s are deeply engrossed in the work that they see as purposeful, which fits nicely with the UN Sustainable Initiative PBL. And our 8’s respond well to challenge and choice as evidenced by their enthusiasm with our new Robotics unit. And of course, they are beginning to outgrow us—just when they should!
In this issue you’ll hear from our Deans on cultivating leadership in the middle years, and the MS/US Nurse (about allergies) as well as learn about grade level updates and community happenings. I encourage you to “Save the Date” for the annual D-E Spring Carnival and STEM Festival on Sunday, April 29 on Leggett Field, co-hosted by our Upper School (US) student clubs and the Parents’ Association, which is a free event open to D-E families of all ages. And in the meantime enjoy the photos above, of our Middle School String and Wind Ensembles, which performed together with the Upper School Symphony in a fantastic “Orchestra Extravanganza”here last Friday evening in Schenck Auditorium. For more on the arts at D-E, visit http://www.d-e.org/arts. And don’t forget to catch up with all our Middle School athletics teams which are now full ‘swing’ into the Spring 2018 season, at http://www.d-e.org/athletics!
The sixth grade picked up right where we left off after a relaxing March break. April has been busy, and the pace will continue to pick up throughout the spring.
In Math 6, students have been working on circles, relating the circumference of a circle to its diameter and finding the circumference of a circle when given the diameter and radius. They have also been finding the perimeter of a semicircle and quarter circle and related shapes, as well as finding the perimeter of a compound shape made up of rectangles, triangles, semicircles and/or quarter circles. In Math 6 Advanced, students reviewed circumference and how to find the perimeter of a semicircle and quarter circle and related shapes, as well as finding the perimeter of a compound shape made up of rectangles, triangles, semicircles and/or quarter circles. They are now working on how to solve the area of a circle. While the class has been working on circles, they have also been working on solving basic equation and equivalent equations. The Hyper 6 class is currently working on factoring expressions to allow them to find important points on a parabola like the x-intercepts and the vertex more easily. The current unit, on quadratic expressions and equations, will include two projects on parabolas.
In English class, students started reading our last novel, Kristen Levine’s Lions of Little Rock. The book takes place in 1958, the year after the Little Rock Nine attended Central High School. The students are enjoying reading the book so far. Starting this Wednesday, students will be asked to select two themes that they see emerging in the story. They will track these themes in their annotations, and eventually they will use these themes to help them write an analytical essay. In the meantime, students are going to continue practicing the TEA and ICE structure in other writing assignments.
In social studies, students have finished a timeline project on Greek History. Mr. Fleisher will be meeting with each group to evaluate both the timeline and the group’s teamwork. Afterwards, they turn their attention to the Minoans and Mycenaeans – early Greek cultures – and prepare for their first essay. To connect to the unit on the ancient Greeks, the students will go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 4th. They will be sketching Greek pottery to show how Greek art has changed over time.
Finally, in science, students are learning about the periodic table, atoms, and the pH scale. Student have also been working on their Adopt-n-Element presentation. Each student was assigned one of the 118 elements, and he or she is asked to create an iMovie and a poster explaining it to their classmates. The poster will be used to create a living periodic table in the back of the room. After the chemistry unit, students will be learning about Newton’s Laws of Motion and flight. On April 26, students will be going to the USS Intrepid Museum for tour and a flight workshop that will tie into what they are learning in class.
After returning from spring break, the 7th grade kicked off their new English unit based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream by watching the 1999 movie. Students will soon begin reading and performing scenes from the play during class this week. Meanwhile, seventh graders are continuing to work on their collections of original poetry at home. In Social Studies, students are learning about some world religions, and are working on creative review videos to help their peers understand more about these different religions. Students will soon begin a unit on the refugee crisis as well. The advanced math students continue their study of ratios. They have been using dimensional analysis to solve complex conversion problems. Lastly, in science students are studying the human impact on bees as well as the role bees play in the pollination of our food sources. A beekeeper will be coming in to speak with the grade about bees and their role in the environment later this week. This unit will eventually lead into our study of plant reproduction.
The 8th graders recently visited the Takasago Corporation in Teterboro, NJ. Takasago is one the world’s largest flavor and fragrance companies, and the students enjoyed hands on activities and witnessed “science” in the real world. Back on campus in English class, students recently finished a unit on Advertising rhetoric and are beginning a unit on Poetry. The culmination of the Poetry unit will be to present and recite a poem to their classmates in celebration of April as National Poetry month. Using the terminology explored during their rhetoric classes, history classes will begin to research and examine Nazi propaganda during the Holocaust. In an effort to continue to create more connections between the disciplines, students in math class used the program Tynker to explore block programming before starting a unit on polynomials. This investigative work in programming will help the 8th grade during the Robotics Unit in science class. All in all, the 8th grade is certainly busy heading into Spring.
Along with our many leadership opportunities available to our youngsters as outlined in the Dean’s Page this issue, we’ve experienced a wonderful increase of specialty groups for middle school students to join. Affinity groups, safe space groups, and specialty groups have mushroomed this year, all to the benefit of our young adolescents.
Affinity groups, or safe space groups, were formed this year because our middle school community recognized the need, and interest, for people to connect around their experiences as members of social identity groups, particularly those from historically marginalized or minority groups with respect to race, ethnicity and culture, religion, gender or sexual orientation. Affinity/safe space groups can be a vital part of empowering members of minority or marginalized groups in diverse communities. They provide support for emotional well-being and camaraderie around common experiences.
The middle school supports periodic, lunchtime identity-based gatherings with adult support of these groups. This year, we started out with two groups: A Kids of Color (KoC) affinity group and a Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) safe space group. The Kids of Color group is for students who have racial minority experiences— students of African descent, Latino/a studies, students of Asian heritage, biracial and multiracial students, etc. The GSA is a space for those who support diversity around gender identity and sexual orientation among middle school students. We have also started two specialty-interest groups: Club Etare and WISE (Women in STEM Education). Club Etare was actually initiated by an 8th grade girl and is based on the goal of older girls mentoring younger girls about life in general.
Wow! We go from cold temperatures and snow directly into allergy season! Itchy eyes, stuffy noses and sneezing have made their appearances.
Spring allergies usually begin around mid-March with the rise of tree pollen. It usually reaches its peak sometime in April with its warmer temperatures and is followed by grass pollens in May and June.
For those with known spring allergies, if you have not already done so, begin taking your medications now, including eye drops. This also applies to those affected by allergies later in the season as “pretreating” can lessen the severity of symptoms.
Please know that no allergy medication is provided by Health Services. All medications are to be taken at home.
Be sure to check the pollen count daily. When it’s high stay inside. If you must be out, once indoors, change your clothes and shower to rinse off pollen on skin and hair. If you have pets that have been outside, wipe them down once they come in.