25 May

13 Reasons Why

A year ago, the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why generated lot of strong responses, to the content of the series, to the dramatic nature of some of the scenes, and to the way it was seen to glamorize teen suicide. It did fuel lots of positive conversations about important issues, but it was also seen by some to be inappropriate for younger adolescents.

Well, the second season of 13 Reasons Why was released last week, and so I thought to let you all know that, in case you are not already aware. Apparently this season is also dark and intense, and includes scenes that are violent in nature as well as some that show sexual violence as well.

Not that it will necessarily be as popular as the first season, but if so then we can expect many of our students to be watching this over the weekend and during the next few days. In speaking with our psychologists, we thought to remind you that our Student Support Page on the D-E website has resources for you to read if you’d like. That page can be accessed by clicking here. I also wanted to point you towards Common Sense Media, a valuable resource that has prepared several pages that might be of help with this show. You can find them by clicking here. Of course, if you’d like some specific advice or information, feel free to call us.

25 May

HomeBase Activities

HomeBase advisors and advisees have spent the last two weeks engaged in their SAL Conversations.  These reflective, one on one, conversations are a wonderful way for students to discuss with their advisors the different facets about their year as learners in the middle school.

As the year winds down, we will take some time to connect once again with our community through sharing stories with one another. Through our Humans of D-E program this year, HomeBase groups have gotten to know different members of our community firsthand.  Faculty and students alike have shared stories during our Morning Meeting times. In a final community activity, students will get the opportunity to share with one another one last time. In concert with a Happiness Project that is part of the 8th grade Drama class, students will be provided with prompts which will allow them to strengthen the ties within our community.  It has been a highlight of our year to learn so much about the different members of our middle school and DE community as a whole.


25 May

In the Garden

Chickens have come to D-E!  Middle School problem-based learning (PBL)
invites students to tackle a complex, real-world problem and work
collaboratively to realize authentic solutions.  In D.I.G., a 7th and 8th
grade elective, students proposed adding chickens to the vegetable
garden ecosystem as a method of organic pest control and a source of
organic fertilizer.

The project has spanned several years, and several groups of D.I.G.
students, as they first discovered the City of Englewood town
ordinance would need revision to allow the keeping of backyard
chickens.  Students worked together to revise the ordinance for
presentation to the Englewood board of health and later, after the new
ordinance was passed, to solve myriad other problems that raising and
keeping chickens presents.  This spring, the 7th grade DIG class
presented their idea to Dr. De Jarnett and, after addressing some
additional problems he brought to their attention, received permission
to buy a chicken license for the school.  They are moving forward
now with plans for a permanent coop to be built inside the fence at
the Nettie Louise Coit Teaching Garden.

As part of their project, The DIG students have wanted to raise
awareness among their peers about some issues connected with chicken
keeping and sustainability.  For example, they have learned that
eating eggs from pastured chickens supports more environmentally
healthy and more humane agricultural practices than choosing eggs from
conventionally raised chickens. To bring some of their learning to
other students, Mrs. Christoph invited the class to present short
talks, or “chicken minutes” during Monday Morning Meeting.  DIG has
also posted a “pop up art show” next to the temporary coop in the
Umpleby Garden, where we are keeping the fledglings for the next week.

We invite community members to drop by a visit the show! The chickens
will leave campus for the summer but will return to benefit students,
and the garden, in the fall when they move to their permanent home in
the Nettie Coit Teaching Garden.

Note:  We would welcome any parents interested in supporting the
chickens by sharing their care on weekends and school holidays!
Please contact Tasha Urbanowski at the DE parents association Garden
Project urbant@d-e.org.


25 May

World Languages Highlights

In the World Language classes, our 6th grade Spanish students are learning the parts of the body and how to shop in clothing stores. Our 7th graders are learning about hobbies with possessive adjectives. 8th grade Continuing students are learning the past tense with more emphasis on the irregular verbs. They are also learning the appropriate use of the direct and indirect pronouns. As a part of their Food Unit now, the 8th graders are planting their tomato plants in the D-E garden. Others in the advanced level are learning about the art and some historic sites in Latin America and Spain.

French 7 Continuing students are watching and discussing “The Hunchback of Notre -Dame” Disney animated version. They are also finishing a grammar unit on the past tense and a vocabulary unit on shopping. Our Latin 7th students are studying the future tense and the 2 tense systems (present and perfect). Also, we are discussing the institution of slavery in Rome and students will be presenting mythology stories. With our Latin 8 students, we are beginning a discussion about clauses in general – what they are, how to recognize them, etc. – and about relative clauses (clauses beginning with “who” or “which”). In Latin 8th Advanced, we are learning how to form verbs into participles and how to recognize participial phrases.

25 May

Arts Update

The MS Arts Team has been collaborating on various projects that have culminated in exciting new ways throughout the Middle School, including of course most recently The Lion King, Jr. 

For the production of Lion King several Discovery classes were involved. The members of Construct cut out the large templates for students to paint a herd of wildebeest.  Art and Design Explorations self-designed and created the regal lion and lioness headpieces as well as the pack of hyenas costumes worn by the actors. Our 7th and 8th grade African Drumming ensembles played live at all of the show performances!. One Sunday afternoon prior to the performance the cast, crew and members of the community collaborated on building props and costume pieces for the show. A big thank you and emphatic “Go D-E Arts!” to all for making this production a success.

In early May, Mrs. Brusky and Mrs. Scrivanich visited the entire 7th Grade to guide students in creating a storyboard for the Refugee Children’s Book Project.  This is an exciting Project Based Learning (PBL) partnership with the seventh grade social studies teachers, and a great example of the power of interdisciplinary work. Students watched a slideshow, and were moved by the story and footage of Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr working on the imagery for the children’s book Stepping Stones.  During their flex time students able to see the various ways in which artists create imagery to tell a story.

The Sixth Grade Chorus was visited by parent volunteers and Mrs. Scrivanich who helped the students get started on designing and painting their colorful T-shirts for the Middle School Spring Arts Festival.  Mr. Lloyd prepared the class in an earlier session by discussing warm vs. cool colors, and explaining how they will layer a NYC skyline stenciled atop of their colorful creations.  These shirts were proudly worn during the MS Arts Festival last week entitled “NY, NY: A City of Revolution.”

In Studio Art 6 Students sculpted self-portrait relief sculpture in clay. For the project, students began with a 6″x 6″ self-portrait drawing to refresh their memory on the proportions of the face and have a reference to work from for sculpting their features with clay. Students used a variety of tools and techniques to add facial features, hair, and details on the clothing. In addition, many students created miniature relief elements in three-dimensions that represent their personality and interests. After the sculptural part of the process is complete, student works will be fired in the kiln in preparation for glazing. Students will partake in a simple glazing process through which they will learn about the chemistry, application, and process of glazing ceramic work.

Studio Art 7 students have been busily designing and constructing their “DIY Cosplay” 3D project for a fictional comic convention in studio art classes.  The pieces are wearable and range from traditional character masks to innovative accessories and headpieces!  For the final project students will create scenes that demonstrate their understanding of linear perspective, Color theory concepts and watercolor painting techniques.

In Art and Design Explorations Students viewed the work of Minimalist artist Joel Shapiro.  Then they too, created abstract figures to participate in a dance party music video shown in class.  The Paper dancer collage work was the precursor to a full in-the-round “box person” created from recycled materials.

In the 8th Grade Theatre classes, students worked on a choice project to fit the theme “Project: HAPPY.”  Students voice and choice is present in their decision for how to study and improve and sustain happiness within the D-E community.  For example, making motivational posters, videos and cards for other community members were a few of the many inspirational and creative ideas!

25 May

Message from Kathy Christoph, MS Principal


It’s hard to believe the last few weeks of the 2017-2018 school year are here, evidenced by annual Middle School (MS) programs and activities such as our Experimental Design Fair (in which our 6th grade scientists test chocolate, basketballs, sponges, glue, and disinfecting wipes, just to name a few); our 8th graders’ SciTube presentations; and a special 8th Grade visit to Collins House, with Head of School Dr. De Jarnett. For photos from these and other Middle School happenings, see above.

As you plan for the end of the school year, please remember that all MS students will be dismissed after lunch at 12:00 noon on Thursday, June 7. If your child needs to remain at school until later, please inform us so we can provide adequate supervision. School buses will depart D-E at their normal time of 3:45.

Friday, June 1 is a 3-Star Dress Day for all MS students because we attend the Academic Awards Assembly and our own MS Awards Assembly. 3-Star Dress is simply a collared shirt of some kind for males, collared shirt or dressy shirt for females, dress shorts, pants, or skirts. Tennis shoes are permitted. No jeans and no athletic wear. Please help your youngster dress accordingly. Thanks!

I also have a brief reminder of two upcoming events that may be of interest:

This Memorial Day weekend, on Friday, May 25 and Saturday, May 26, our Upper School Spring Theatre Production 2018 presents “Dogfight”. While this is a musical with some mature themes and profanity (parental guidance is suggested) this will be a compelling live production featuring an entirely student-directed cast and crew. For details visit www.d-e.org/arts. All show proceeds benefit the Jericho Project for veterans in NYC.

“Vaping: What’s in the Mist” will be  presented by the D-E Parents’ Association (PA) parent education committee on Thursday, May 31, 7:00 PM in Hajjar Auditorium. Middle and Upper School parents/guardians are invited to attend to learn about this timely topic affecting tweens and teens.  “Vaping” features Timothy Shoemaker, former DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance) Officer. Guests of D-E parents and guardians are welcome to attend. Click here to register or for more information.

Hug Your Child, and Go Bulldogs!


18 May

Dean’s Message

Summer Parenting Opportunity: Help Your Child Develop Good Social Media Use Habits

As the end of the school year approaches and students look forward to the change of pace and excitement their summer schedules will bring, they also may be thinking about how to stay in touch with their friends.  Using social media, and connected technology in general, has become second nature to many children today, so it is likely their use of instagram, twitter, group chats, snapchat, and the rest will increase — with all the pleasures, challenges and pitfalls of living life on line also lying in wait.

Facile as they are in the use of connected technology to communicate, middle school children are still learning to navigate the social environment with grace, integrity, empathy and restraint.  Parents, you are their guides!  The start of summer is an excellent moment to grasp this important parenting opportunity. Take advantage!

Many experts suggest that having a contract with children about their digital use can be an important part of making youngsters safe in the digital world that they so comfortably, and sometimes recklessly, navigate.  If you do not already have one, now is the perfect time to begin thinking about what you would include in such a contract at home. Even if you decide not to have a formal contract, just sitting down as a family to talk about electronic socializing is a great way to open the sort of conversations that help to keep your child safe on-line, help ensure the civility of their on-line communities, and allow you to stay aware and involved in your child’s on-line life. You might want to consider the following:

  • Agreeing that you will have access to your child’s on-line accounts and devices and discussing how you will monitor your child’s activity.  For example, Lauren Hersh, the speaker on social media who visited campus last spring to work with parents, teachers and students, suggested that parents “follow” their children who post on social media sites and discuss with them the interactions displayed there.
  • Encouraging physical activity, outdoor play, and face-to-face interactions.
  • Teaching conventions of respectful interaction directly as you, and they, entertain and interact with friends face-to-face — and then deliberately drawing parallels between on-line interactions and those face-to-face interactions you have modeled and taught.  Kids may not automatically see the connection!
  • Setting limits on screen time and establishing rules about how and when technology can be used.
  • Storing electronic devices in a supervised area outside of the bedroom at night.
  • Opening lines of communication with your children about their experiences using digital technology while paying particular attention to
    • potential anxiety around missing out when not online;
    • pressures to connect digitally with friends;
    • complicated interactions and conflicts and how students should respond.

The following links provide useful resources for your conversations with your child on this topic and recall our recent parent’s association events with Lauren Hersh and the viewing of “Screenagers”:

18 May

Grade Level Updates

Grade 6:  While the school year may be starting to wind down, we have been quite busy in sixth grade this month! There are a lot of exciting things happening on the hallway as students participate in work associated with final units.

In Math 6, students started work on an algebra unit. They learned to use letters to represent unknown variables and to write an algebraic expression in one variable. They also worked on evaluating algebraic expressions in one variable using substitution as well as simplifying algebraic expressions in one variable by adding or subtracting like terms. The classes will now move on 4-sided shapes and triangles, while continuing to work on algebra. In advanced math, students completed a unit on the area of circles, while at the same time continuing to work on solving equations. They learned to find the area and perimeter of compound figures made up of rectangles, triangles, semicircles and/or quarter circles. The classes will now move on 4-sided shapes and triangles, while continuing to work on algebra. In hyper math 6, students are working on graphing quadratic functions, also known as parabolas.

In science, students are working diligently on their Experimental Design Projects. Students are researching multiple brands of a consumer product, and then concluding which brand is more reliable based on their testing and price. Students will be presenting their findings May 23 from 12:15-2:00 PM in Hajjar Auditorium. We hope you can join us!

In English, after finishing reading the novel, Lions of Little Rock, students embarked on their second analytical essay. Students have been tracking two themes throughout the story, and they have been using these annotations to guide their essay planning. The students have been workshopping the essays over the next two weeks, focusing especially on how to best analyze the text in support of our ideas. Their final essay is due next week. Then, the students will work on a cumulative project to wrap up the year.

In social studies, students have been writing their first essay on the Minoans and Mycenaeans. The class also spent some time at the MET’s renowned Greek and Roman wing last week, where we explored how Greek art changed over time. Upon our return we have continued our exploration of ancient Greece, specifically the development of Polei – Greek City-States – and the governments of Athens and Sparta. Onward towards Greek Day!

Grade 7: With the warm weather finally arriving, the 7th grade is finishing out the year strong with their last full month of classes.  In science classes, 7th graders have been hard at work in the green house.  Small groups have designed experiments to test different variables on plants.  This activity will culminate with a final lab report.  In English classes, 7th graders have finished reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream and have begun learning their parts to act out scenes from the play. Last week, actors from the company, Shakespeare Live!, visited our classrooms to lead workshops with the students.  In Social Studies, students are working on the storyboarding and text for their Refugee Children’s Book Project. This an important step, as students develop stories that will capture the experience of refugees in a way that can communicate their hardships to 3rd grade students.  In 7th grade CP math, students are planning an outdoor festival fundraiser to raise money for refugee children as a connection to what they are learning in Social Studies. All the proceeds will go to UNICEF. During the planning process, students will be learning about ratios, proportions, percents, and applying equations. The date of the festival is still to be determined.  Please check for updates in your emails or school announcements.  In advanced math classes, students are beginning their final chapter of algebra.  They will focus on writing and graphing equations. Lastly, students in Hyper 7 math will finish their programming strand by coding a simple game. During that time, they will be finishing up our work with Quadratics and Parabolas as well.

Grade 8: The 8th grade is heading into the end of the year with productive purpose. Currently in science, lab partners are working on their SciTube projects which focus on the message that “the world we depend on depends on us.” In math class, the concepts of quadratic equations, factoring, and graphing are being explored by both college prep and advanced classes. The Shakespeare tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is being read aloud during English, and students are working on their final Portfolio project outside of class. Lastly, driven by the essential question, “what can we learn about human behavior from studying the Holocaust?”, Our 8th graders continue to explore the causes and effects of the Nazis’ rise to power.

18 May

Kathy’s Message


With less than a month of school left, students and adults alike all can see the end in sight. Of course, in order to get there, the traditional “May Dance” has begun; we are all jitterbugging, twisting and shouting, and cha-cha-cha-ing our way to finish up projects, squeeze in one more lesson or unit, figure out stuff for next year, and preparing to say good-byes. For some, it is a goodbye to the Middle School as they move to the Upper School or to other school communities. For others, it is saying goodbye to familiar teachers and HomeBase groupings. Closures can bring up many conflicting emotions in your children. Routines, schedules and faces will change. Author Lisa Wells (Wonder of Children, 2013) offers some sound suggestions that parents can do to help:

Look back – Literally, look back at photos, documentation, class books and journals. Notice what things looked like and sounded like earlier in the year. Children often notice the physical growth they see in pictures or how the arrangement of the rooms have changed. Dig deeper as you inquire about what they remember, how they felt, how they might tackle the same project or question now.

Make notes – At home, make a list of your family’s top 10 events or accomplishments of the year. Make a poster, a list or a video to share and plan a small celebration!

Keep it consistent – Change will come soon enough. Keep the same home routines and expectations. There will be plenty of days to be “slushy” about routines and sticking to what provided the structure and boundaries all year. Consistency will stabilize things if they are starting to unravel.

Celebrate – Most importantly, at home, set aside small blocks of time to celebrate accomplishments by sharing work, making a special meal, or having a family party that recognizes the hard work over the year and looks ahead to a summer of reading, adventure and fun!

Speaking of that first tip (“looking back”) — Bravissimo! to all our students who participated in both The Lion King, Jr. earlier this month, and, the Middle School Spring Arts Festival just last night. The photos included here do not quite do these events justice, but they will hopefully help to capture a sense of the energy and inspiration present in our Schenck Auditorium and Klein Campus Center.

With an historical and inspired performance theme of “NY, NY: City of Revolution” by our Show Choir and Middle School Choral ensembles,  and a superb showcase of 2-D and 3-D visual artwork (see below), the MS Spring Arts Fest was a feast for the eyes and ears. And to say that I was so touched by the grand finale, which included MS Show Choir alumni from the past 10 years, is an understatement. I am humbled to have been honored in this way, and thank you for this wonderful memory.

Make the most of the last few days of school – it has been a busy, productive and positive year. The work we’ve done every day—at home and at school– will provide the foundation for a smooth change that will benefit children as they move to the next chapter of life!

Hug your child, and Go Bulldogs!