18 Jun

Grade 8 Updates

From Mr. Aitkin: Our 8th graders are wrapping up an exciting year of growth, leadership, fun and of course learning!  I think back to our SEEK trips in September and just how far this group has come.  Whether through their tremendous commitment to committees, events, PBLs, field trips or just their everyday routines, the class of 2022 has truly excelled when it comes to setting the right tone for our Middle School.  We celebrated together at field day with the entire middle school, but I really enjoyed our day together on Wednesday where we had several fun grade activities planned.  It was the last time we were together in that grouping, before they move on to the Upper School.  This year will be an especially hard one for me as I wrestle with saying goodbye to this terrific group but I am comforted knowing they will go on to do great things and they will make our entire school community stronger. I can say with confidence that the class of 2022 is ready for the Upper School and I wish them the best of luck!

The 8th grade is finishing the year in grand style and preparing to move on to the Upper School.  Math and Science classes met in the STEM building for the annual viewing of the SciTube presentations, and in addition to showcasing their experiments, students fielded questions from peers and members of the Science department. In history class students continue to work on Holocaust and Civil Rights projects. These units are meant to define the difference between a bystander and an upstander with the hope students will one day feel emboldened to participate in our democracy. Finally, in English, students are finishing Romeo Juliet by exploring who or what is really to blame for the deaths of the two young protagonists. Overall, this year’s 8th grade has been eager to learn and willing to work. Their teachers will miss them as a group and wish them the best of luck in the years ahead.

18 Jun

Grade 7 Updates

From Ms. Traub: The start of this this year was very exciting with 21 new students joining the D-E 7th grade. From Orientation week to our overnight on Shelter Island, the students made new friends and learned the stories of each other. Participating in the Water PBL, simulating Refugees spread out across campus, acting out A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and completing many other projects, the students were challenged to use their research and collaborative skills, creativity and perseverance, to solve real world problems. With their many talents in and out of the classroom, the class of 2023 is ready to be the leaders of the Middle School next year.

The seventh grade is quickly coming to a close. Students in English spent the last weeks rehearsing scenes from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and successfully performed for the seventh grade Thursday. Social studies classes completed writing and illustrating their refugee books and read them to the DE 3rd graders. Next, students will create a video of themselves reading their book and reflecting on the project, and a small group of students will read and discuss their books with a local school. The science students are putting their STEM skills to the test using recently mastered experimental design skills to create paper airplanes.  Students tested paper type this week, next week they will test shape.  Advanced math played a lively round of KAHOOT to wrap up the year.  The competition in problem solving was fierce.  Mr. Jung’s CP classes held their UNICEF festival Tuesday, it was a great success.  The Hyper classes demonstrated coding during the activity.  The festival raised a good amount of money to help refugee children.

18 Jun

Grade 6 Updates

From Ms. Urbanowski: What a tremendous year of growth it has been for the class of 2024. Beginning middle school is a significant event in our children’s lives.  When they enter 6th grade, they step over the threshold of a time and place where they will develop their identities and independence, take on the social and organizational challenges of a larger world, and experience an environment of intellectual and creative opportunities arranged on a steady incline toward the high school construct.  Your children have taken all this on with a sense of possibility and purpose — from “flipping the mat” at the overnight trip to “the beast” on the penultimate day of school, they have worked to communicate and collaborate well, building teamwork and group skills.  They have wrestled successfully with the logistical and intellectual challenges of open-ended and long-term projects from Egypt Day to the Experimental Design Fair and the earthship challenge, have mastered any nervousness with their many oral presentations, have figured out systems for managing homework, materials and complex schedules, and have built academic skills across the curriculum.  In short, they have made a success of it all!  It has been such a pleasure to work alongside them, to watch them all grow this year, and to see how they have embraced the launch of their middle school years.  I can’t wait to see what they will do in 7th grade.

As your children ramp up to return to school in the fall, finish their required summer reading and math assignments (see the summer mailing for details), please remind them to prepare their Levenger and ipads for another year by cleaning them out, removing links, apps and shortcuts not related to school, and freeing up memory by erasing non-school videos and pictures.  In the meanwhile, I wish them all, and you, a happy summer of diverse experiences to complement all the work of this past wonderful academic year.

The sixth graders have been very busy wrapping up the end of the year. An important culminating experience took place on May 23, when the 6th Graders presented their Experimental Design Projects to a public audience that included parents, students, and faculty. Students really enjoyed presenting their findings! This was one the capstone experiences for the 6th graders that encompasses what they have learned throughout the year in science.

In math 6, students been hard at work on an algebra unit about operations on integers. They have worked with prime numbers and prime factors, adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing integers, and following order of operations. In advanced math 6, students have completed a geometry unit where they found unknown angles in problems which involve triangles and/or quadrilaterals. Students have also continued their algebra work focusing on polynomials. Finally, in hyper math 6, students are finishing up our work on quadratic equations and graphing quadratic functions. The class presented a project that they have “completed” at the MS STEM Extravaganza.

In English, students wrapped up the unit on Lions of Little Rock. Last Tuesday, each English class interviewed the author of the book, Kristen Levine, over Skype. Students enjoyed finding out more about her life, what inspired her to write the novel, and why she thinks historical fiction is so important. Then, students spent the last week working on a cumulative project. Projects include pretend social media accounts for the characters we’ve met this year, soundtracks for the novels we’ve read, and maps of the communities in the books. The students also conferenced with Mrs. Macone about their essay.

Finally, to culminate on our study of the ancient Greeks, students in social studies have been preparing for Greek Day! Students designed chariot armor, created krater-inspired black figure pottery, and practiced polis cheers to get ready for the Greek Day Games on June 6th! We look forward to seeing you there!

18 Jun

Summer Work for Students

At D-E, we believe in keeping children’s minds engaged in intellectual work. In years past, we have had required Summer Reading as a means of keeping reading skills sharp. This year, we are adding math work. In an effort to start the next mathematics year off with a solid foundation for all of our students, we would like to make summer ALEKS work mandatory for current students entering the 7th, 8th and 9th grades. Each student will be required to complete a set of ALEKS assignments given by their current year’s Mathematics teachers, due by September 1. The current teacher will monitor their students’ progress throughout the summer and will communicate this data to next year’s Mathematics teacher.

Please note that if you received specific instructions from your Dean about summer work already, above and beyond what is stated above, the ALEKS assignments are optional.


Click here for Summer Reading 2018.

For Community of Readers List, click the grade below:

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!