18 Sep

Back to School Night: Thursday, Sept. 20

Our annual MS Back to School Night is this Thursday, September 20, from 6:00 – 9:15 PM. Join us for the evening to meet your child’s teachers, learn more about the curriculum, and discover how we bring the School Mission to Life. Our schedule is as follows:

  • 6:00:  Schenck Auditorium Lobby: Light appetizers and drinks will be available.
  • 6:00: Umpleby Hall: Mr. Egan presents information about the D-E 360° International program’s Peru Spring Break 2019 Trip for Grade 8 parents/guardians who are interested in this trip for their child(ren).
  • 6: 15: Schenck Auditorium: Grade 8 Dean Mr. Aitken presents an informal, info. presentation about Discovery classes.
  • 6:30: Schenck Auditorium—Welcome remarks with MS Principal Jonathan Davis
  • 7:45: HomeBase—Please know the name of your child’s HomeBase teacher and the location of their room. You will receive your schedule for the evening at this time.
  • 8:00-9:15: Classes

We recognize this is a long evening. However, we know that meeting and hearing from a full complement of your child’s teachers is important to you. By the end of the evening, you should have a more complete picture of the full scope of our multi-faceted program.

If you would like to give us feedback on the evening, please return a feedback form (found at the Welcome Table.)

21 Apr

Event Reminders

A few event reminders:

  • The last D-E 360° Summer Connections Open House is this Saturday, April 22. Save the dates for Summer Connections 2017, in session from June 26 – August 4. The Summer Open House is a great opportunity to learn about “Enrichment” offerings in arts, athletics, business/entrepreneurship, STEM, and more. Intensive “Immersive” program offerings are also available. Click here or visit d-e.org/summer for details. Call 201-227-3144 or email de360info@d-e.org with questions.
  • D-E Spring Carnival is this Sunday, April 23, “RAIN or SHINE”! This FREE admission annual event is for all D-E families. Volunteer for “D-E Fights Hunger” (aka community service food packing), from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM in Modell’s Sports Complex. Volunteer online sign-up is here or Email gunams@d-e.org.  From 12:00 – 3:00 PM, enjoy activities hosted by D-E Student Activities and a NEW! STEM Festival in Hajjar STEM Center, featuring 3D Printing, Robotics demonstrations, “dry ice” ice cream. For more details click here or visit http://www.d-e.org/news.
  • Save the date & celebrate Cinco de Mayo in style on Thursday, May 4: the 8th Annual Fiesta Mexicana is for all D-E families and is held to support efforts for teacher education training in Mexico. Click here to learn more.
21 Apr

Message from Kathy Christoph, MS Principal

It continues to be an amazing year of learning for our Middle School students! With our small class sizes and such wonderfully engaged students, we are able to deliver a personalized curriculum and a rich array of experiences that fit the nature of our students and stretch them to reach new academic heights. Thank you for your continued support of Dwight Englewood and of education in general; your involvement is a huge factor in your child’s success.

The last of the cold weather is finally beginning to disappear and the newness, warmth, and freshness of a new spring season is beginning to unfold. The entire school community is energized by the promise of warmer temperatures, new growth, and beautiful weather!

As we move into spring, all three grades are taking a look at Mindset and how we can affect our own change.  Students will explore fixed and growth mindsets.  Hands on activities, as well as group discussions, are a part of this unit and allow students to consciously develop a growth mindset, which will lead to greater success in life and a healthier sense of self. Students will also be preparing for their Student as Learner Conversations that will be taking place in May.  These conversations take place with the HomeBase Advisor and they are an opportunity for your child to reflect on what type of a learner they are and to lead a conversation with their Advisor.  Student leaders will be sharing pointers and suggestions during the first two weeks of May with their peers in HomeBase.  This is a wonderful experience for both our students and their advisors to reflect on the past year and to celebrate and identify strengths.  Students walk away with a better sense of their learning style, having had an upbeat and engaging conversation.

Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 3.51.16 PM

The cast and crew of the Middle School play, “LIKES”,  is gearing up for their May 5th & 6th performances.  Reserve your tickets today –Click here for the “LIKES” ticket order form.

The Middle School Arts Council will be helping promote the play, upcoming Middle School Arts Festival and end of year Talent Show. And our Chorus classes are finetuning their numbers, as well as their costumes.

The Middle School Health and Wellness team is geared up and ready to end the year in a positive fashion through exciting courses that they will be offering such as Sticks and Rackets, Cooperative Games, and Creative Games. The Health and wellness team will also be completing the spring edition of the Fitness Gram assessment in which students are measured for flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, as well as muscular strength and endurance (upper body and core). The scores of the spring testing will be compared with the results of the fall analysis, and then given out to each student to share with their parents.

Write Night is fast approaching! The English Department has invited interested Middle and Upper School students to share their work at our traditional spring edition of Write Night, Wednesday, April 26 at 4:45. Because April is National Poetry Month, we like to devote this event to poetry. The group starts out enjoying cookies and juice for a bit, and then we’ll start sharing at 5:00. We should finish by 6:00 or a little after, in plenty of time for the late buses. This is a wonderful opportunity for our budding poets to publicly share their works.  See above for photos from earlier-held poetry readings, including the 8th Grade Poetry reading in Imperatore Library this week. And if you have an opportunity to walk through Umpleby Hall, you’ll notice lots of poetry up on our walls and in the stairwells.

Lastly, a note that next Thursday, April 27th, the GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) of the Upper School will be running our Middle School Assembly. The assembly, much like the Black History assembly, will consist of some personal reflections, some LGBT definitions and history, a couple of spoken word performances, and video clips. This assembly will help our students better understand one aspect of how our school embraces diversity.  As Josh Goodman wrote, “When heterosexual and cisgender youth learn about gender and sexual diversity, they are more likely to accept or embrace LGBTQ people. More acceptance and less bullying, besides being good in their own right, also mean that LGBTQ youth may feel safer coming to school and may experience better academic outcomes.”  Click here to read more from the national organization GLSEN.

Hug your child, and go Bulldogs!

Kathy Christoph
MS Principal

26 Apr

“News to Know” for Grade 8 Parents

Placement related information (and key dates for students) was recently shared by Grade 8 Dean James Aitken with all 8th grade parents.  This information is provided below here as well.  Questions?  Email aitkej@d-e.org or call 201-227-3235.

Dear 8th Grade Parents,

I just wanted to take a moment to prepare you for a process that will begin on April 26th.   We are entering the scheduling/placement period for 8th graders as they prepare to enter our Upper School.  This process will take a few weeks and will proceed under the guidance of the Homebase advisors.  It is important to remember that for the most part rising 9th graders only have real choice with regard to their Language and Art classes.  The History, English, Science and Math classes are scheduled by a placement process led by the department chairs and teachers which takes into account recommendations and other criteria.

You will be receiving some materials from me (attached in this email) and your child (placements – April 27th & sign up confirmation form – May 13th) over the next few weeks.  The Course Catalogue for 2016/2017 will be handed to your children in Homebase and is also on the school website for your reference.  Please note that on May 20th, schedule forms (which will be sent home) are due back to me with your signature.  I urge you to not worry about this process too much right now.  I can assure you that this process is methodical, thoughtful and inclusive.  I can also assure you that the 8thteachers and I work closely with the Upper School teachers and department chairs to ensure the smoothest system possible.  Our advisors will also be working closely with their advisees to help them make sense of their choices and support and help with any possible decisions.

We will have department chairs come and talk to the 8thgrade to help them better understand the Upper School curriculum and class structure.  As parents, you will likely be talking with your child about this at home and reviewing materials that come home.  The packets and the Homebase advisors should answer almost all of your questions, but please feel free to reach out to me if you have any additional questions.

26 Apr

Service Learning

Service Learning is an important component of our Middle School program and takes many forms.  Our 8th grade program is organized through our HomeBase system and involves student choice and voice. It’s interesting to see how each year unfolds and what projects the students choose. The recent fire at a local Englewood church has produced some meaningful moments of service. For example, Ms. Garcia’s HomeBase is running a carwash in early May with the proceeds to benefit the church. Mr. Kessler’s HomeBase boys are helping the church pre-school with any manual labor that they need, i.e. emptying boxes, setting up the classrooms, etc.  Mrs. Withrow’s HomeBase is baking goods to sell during lunch. Those proceeds will be used to purchase toys for the Church Pre-School and the girls are looking to spend some time with the little ones, playing and reading to them.

From Dr. Brown, whose HomeBase helped to raise over $5,000 for the John T. Wright skating rink: “It was a real treat to be in the audience at tonight’s Englewood city council meeting to watch our HomeBase present the proceeds from this past winter’s fundraiser.  Kudos to Peri and Angelina for taking the mic. You did a great job describing what we accomplished and learned in the process.  We worked in coordination with a number of schools locally, and the result was a $5,000 donation to the city of Englewood to support the John T. Wright skating rink.  “Congratulations to you all on a fine job!!!!”

The spring service learning project in 6th grade has begun!  We are building a garden for the Englewood Center for Food Action (CFA) so they can provide their clients with fresh vegetables this summer. Each 6th grade HomeBase takes a turn gaining and practicing their gardening skills in our D-E garden, in preparation for their work at CFA. For example, one HomeBase measured the beds and recorded those measurements on a site plan. Another HomeBase will use the measurements to figure the amounts of amendments needed for the practice beds here at Umpleby.  When the HomeBase groups go to the CFA, they will replicate their skills on a much-larger basis.

26 Apr

Focus on Fitness

Every year, all middle school students participate in the fitnessgram assessments during their physical education class. These assessments are a great tool for students to develop an understanding of their own personal fitness levels.  This past week, students completed their Spring fitnessgram activities based on the categories that are most important in achieving a healthy fitness level. Students laced up their running shoes and completed the PACER test, a 20 meter progressive, multi stage shuttle run set to music.  The results of this activity provide an indicator of the individual student’s aerobic capacity.  Students also participated in the push up and curl up assessments as a measure of upper body muscular strength and endurance as well as abdominal strength and endurance.  Lastly, students challenged their flexibility during the trunk lift and the sit and reach exercises.  We hope that students continue to exercise and participate in any form of physical activity for up to 60 minutes a day, 5 days a week.  As an alternative, students can count their daily activity steps using a pedometer or Fitbit type of watch. It is recommended to take 11,000-13,000 steps a day for kids and teens ages 6-17 years old. Healthy habits, healthy lives!

22 Jan

Special Message for Grade 6 Families

Dear Sixth Grade Parent or Guardian:

I am happy to announce our next New York City field trip occurring Friday, March 4th. To complement the 6th Grade social studies unit underway at that time, as well as content they will be studying in art classes, students will visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Greek galleries.  There they will engage in several observation and sketching activities 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.

Students will attend their usual morning classes on the 4th and go to lunch in our cafeteria at the usual time.  Busses will leave just before recess time and return to school in time for regular dismissal.  We will not be visiting gift shops or snack bars while on the trip, so there is no need to send money or snacks along with your child that day.

We hope to celebrate the occasion and our pleasure in being able to visit a world-class exhibit by dressing in a way that shows our respect for this great institution.  We request that students dress tidily and a bit more formally than usual, avoiding athletic wear and tops with slogans, though they should be sure to wear comfortable shoes.

If you have any questions about the trip, or if you live in NYC and hope to pick your child up there before we board busses, please contact either Ms Urbanowski or myself before the week of the trip to discuss arrangements.


Ben Fleisher

22 Jan

Happenings in our Middle School

We started out the New Year with Wellness Week, designed and coordinated by our Health and Wellness Department.  Throughout the week, students and faculty engaged in a variety of experiences that highlighted the different components of Wellness: physical, emotional, environmental, intellectual, and spiritual. It seemed like the entire school got involved, including Morning Meeting, Assembly, HomeBase, recess, Imperatore Library, Dining Hall, drama classes and health and wellness classes! Here are a few highlights:

Each day during recess, a fitness challenge was held between all students who wished to participate and faculty members. We held push up contests, plank contests, iron cross contests, wall sit contests, and sack races. Interestingly, students won a few and the faculty won a few. (And many of us decided to get fitter!)

Coach Muller as the “Wellness Guru” during Let’s Make a Wellness Deal.

Coach Muller as the “Wellness Guru” during Let’s Make a Wellness Deal.

Faculty was encouraged to pop over to the Modell Center and get in a workout during their free period.

Mr. Alan Lokos, the founder and guiding teacher of the Community Meditation Center

Mr. Alan Lokos, the founder and guiding teacher of the Community Meditation Center

The theme for our Thursday Assembly fit right in with the Wellness concept. Mr. Alan Lokos, our featured presenter, is the founder and guiding teacher of the Community Meditation Center located on New York City’s upper west side. He is the author of Pocket Peace: Effective Practices for Enlightened Living, Patience: The Art of Peaceful Living, and Through the Flames: Overcoming Disaster Through Compassion, Patience, and Determination.
On Christmas day, 2012, Mr. Lokos and his wife Susanna Weiss were in a horrific plane crash in Burma. Doctors in four countries said that he could not possibly survive his injuries. Yet he did and has gone on to thrive in his teaching and writing. Mr. Lokos captured the interest of the entire Middle School with his story and by sharing some simple mindfulness exercises we each can engage in.  (And as an interesting side note, Mr. Lokos is the grandparent of a D-E Lower School student, and the building neighbor of one of our NY MS students!)

It’s important to activate, energize, and stimulate our brains, especially after sitting for a period of time. So, during Wellness Week, teachers and students tried out several 10- to 30-second brain breaks. Research indicates that brain breaks improve students’ concentration and relieve stress and are a quick and effective way of changing or focusing our physical and mental state.

Watch our Middle School students participate in “The Wall”, one of the special Wellness Week recess activities.

The Middle School Honor Code is taking a leadership role in creating a Blog wall. Although they are still working out the details, they envision the Blog wall will be accessible to the whole Middle School to share successes, happenings, and current events (with adult supervision, of course!)

Our Assembly honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was simply fabulous. Over the past few years, we have worked with Mr. Clinton Carbon, Director of Multi-Cultural Affairs, to develop presentations that highlight not only the important work of Dr. King, but also the work of Up-standers who helped contribute and lead. It’s important to me that our students view themselves as leaders and realize that they can make a difference, and learning about others is one way to help further that vision. This year, the focus was on the power of students and their critical role in the civil rights movement. The film we watched, Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot and put out by the Southern Poverty Law Center, was one of the best films for young adolescents that I have ever seen.  I encourage you to watch it. Debriefing occurred in HomeBases, and these are some of the questions used to start the conversations:

Why do you think that students played the biggest role in organizing protests in Selma?

What role did Dr. King play in the Selma march and protests?

Can you see yourself reflected in the passions of the youth in the movie?

In a new student leadership experience in Drama class, the 8th grade students designed short lesson plans about Mindfulness practices. They then had the opportunity to actually teach their plans, but not to each other. This time, they had a different audience—Lower School students!

Our Chess Club hosted a special guest last week. A FIDE Chess Master, which means his international rank is higher than 2300, spent time with the students, playing and teaching.  He even played without looking at the board! Turns out that the Chess Master, Mr. Volkov, is the parent of one of our 6th grade students.  Thanks for sharing your expertise with us.

22 Jan

Grade-Level Happenings

In 6th grade, students are learning about themselves through many different lenses during the Identity unit. In Science, they are learning about their genetics and the traits that make them who they are. In English, students are creating a “Where I’m From?” poem using iMovie. In Social Studies, the students are reporting about a current event concerning the region of the world from which their family comes. They will use the app Explain Everything to make a video reporting on this story. The culminating event is the Identity Assembly next Thursday, February 4, when the grade showcases their learning and some of their projects to the other Middle School students. To have a look at those projects, and others that might not have fit into the assembly time, ask your child about accessing the class wiki where they are posting “Where I Am From” poems, country current events projects, and other artifacts created over the course of the unit. Parents who are available are welcome to attend the assembly at 8:10.  Parking along Woodland Avenue will be permitted on the morning of the 4th.

After the assembly, 6th graders will gather in the cafeteria for our celebratory “International Food Festival” at about 9:15- 10:20. Many thanks to our PA representatives for arranging this culminating event and to all the parents for making it happen through your generous contribution of samples of foods important to your family or cultural heritage.  All are invited to the food festival to mingle with students in an air of celebration as they sample the multi-cultural buffet.  Again, parking is available along Woodland Avenue. Please contact Rabia Ozden at rgozden@yahoo.com with any logistical questions about the feast or dropping off contributions.

On the 4th of February for part of the afternoon, we are also revisiting our service learning theme of helping address hunger in NJ.  In a presentation on campus by staff from the non-profit “America’s Grow a Row” and in a series of workshops, students will learn more about factors that contribute to hunger in some NJ communities and understand better why some communities and families struggle to eat healthfully and include fresh produce in their meals. And of course, we will talk about how we can help.  We plan a spring trip back to the farm to plant crops that can be harvested by other volunteers next summer.

Please visit the AGAR website http://www.americasgrowarow.org/ for more information about this organization and to check out opportunities for volunteering during the summer.  If you sign up on the AGAR website, they will send you announcements about harvest days on which your family might enjoy helping out by picking corn, cabbage or apples.  It’s a fun and rewarding way to extend the volunteerism that 6th graders begin this year.

Since returning from winter break, the 7th graders have been hard at work preparing for the end of the first semester.  In History and Math, the students completed their articles on China, including graphs that were created in math class.  The connection between the two areas of study peaked the interest of many of our students.  Graphs and articles were focused on an issue affecting China today. These articles are being collected and published to a private magazine on the Flipboard app. Our upcoming trip to Chinatown will be a culminating event for the study of China and the Chinese culture.  In English, the students began their study of poetry with a visit from the poet Joshua Bennett.  Listening to his insightful spoken word poetry was an inspiring jumping off point for the poetry writing unit.  The students will use iMovie to record their own spoken word poems in the upcoming weeks.  Science has been looking into cells over the past few weeks.  Earlier in the month, the students used microscopes to see plant cells.  Each group of students prepared a glass slide using onion tissue and iodine.  The iodine was used to help make several organelles visible to the eye under a microscope.  The classes enjoyed seeing rigid cell walls and the darker nucleus.

Our 8th grade students completed the first semester by putting the finishing touches on several projects in several classes.  As they inch closer to Upper School, we are mindful about transition points and have designed some experiences that will provide low-risk exposure and practice. One such experience is that of exams. The students just took a comprehensive exam in History that emphasized the synthesizing of first-semester information. While it may have seemed a bit stressful to the students, we provided support and ‘safety nets’ to help them be successful. In English, the students are engaged in learning an approach to poetry, choosing their own poem and studying it in depth. The driving question for this unit is: How do you communicate the meaning of a poem simply by reading it aloud? Science and math classes have been working on volume through hands-on experiences involving water and 3-D shapes.

This issue of MS Messages also includes just a few photos from the Grade 8 students’ class trip to Washington, D.C. this past week.

18 Dec

As I walk the halls

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Our Grade 6 students turned into Egyptians earlier this week as they created their vignettes about the various cultural aspects of ancient Egypt and brought the dioramas to life for audiences of parents, fellow middle school students and our lower school friends. It’s interesting to think about the skills that our young researchers employed in order to get to the final presentations. Solving research problems required them to work with the unknown.  Critical thinking, creativity, communication, organization, judgment and persistence are all skills that our students needed to use to make the leap from gaining knowledge from others to creating one’s own living diorama. These skills will serve our students well throughout their school careers and throughout their job careers; they are gaining experiences in skills that encompass every level of research in every discipline. Along the way, we want to motivate our students to solve problems and make discoveries, and the ability to conduct solid research is an important key.

December has been a busy month for the 6th grade students.  Mrs. Stott has been spending time in the classroom with Mrs. Macone and the students as she will be taking over as the 6th grade English teacher when Mrs. Macone goes on maternity leave in January.  The students have been working on their culminating projects for The Giver.  After completing the book, the entire grade watched the movie in Schenck Auditorium.  They compared the two versions and then wrote about which one they preferred, including the use of technology, the differences in community and what they thought of the adaptation.  The students were then able to choose from a variety of creative projects regarding the novel.  They did an incredible job of writing new endings to the story, drawing or creating images from the story or making iMovies of various scenes.  Students enjoyed each other’s work as they shared projects with their classmates.

In 7th grade, Mr. Akula and Mr. Schade’s historians have begun their research-based projects on China.  After deciding on a specific topic to explore, the students have begun crafting their research questions and searching for data to support their findings.  They will be working in their math classes to create graphs based on the data.  Students will be writing newspaper articles in order to share their information that will include the multiple sources they have utilized as well as the graphs that they create on their iPads.  In addition, students will share information based on surveys they created in Google Forms that relate to their research topics.

Our 8th grade students are studying the roots of the American Revolution. A recent field trip took them to the Metropolitan Museum of Art where students chose every-day artifacts. These artifacts then acted as an inspiration for a historical fiction story where students placed their character in an event of historic significance. By the end of this week, the grade will be finishing up with the Declaration of Independence and putting the finishing touches on their found poems (which words in the Declaration of Independence do you value and how can you rearrange them into a poem).

Last week was National Computer Science Education Week. Did you know…

  • Only 1 in 4 schools in the United States teach Computer Science? (By the way, D-E offers 2 Physical Computing courses in the Middle School and Programming I and II, Advanced Topics in Computer Science, AP Computer Science, Non-linear Dynamics, and an array of independent studies in our Upper School)
  • 67% of all new STEM jobs are in Computing but only 8% of STEM Graduates are in Computer Science

The folks at Code.org are out to change those statistics, and we are too! All last week in the library, we set up computer stations for the HOUR OF CODE and invited students to try one of the challenges at https://code.org/. Give it a try!

Oh my goodness, the MS Winter Arts Festival concert on Sunday hit a new high!  The many strengths and talents of our students continually amaze me, and Sunday was a glorious showcase of sound, visuals, performance, and teamwork. It began in Hajjar Auditorium with the string orchestra and the wind ensemble each playing beautifully. Then the African Drummers called and answered and danced the social dance of the Ewe people of Southeastern Ghana. They even got us up dancing! After a short break, the 6th grade choruses, the 7th & 8th grade chorus, Show Choir and all three 8th grade Handbells classes put on a unique thematic rendition of Peter Pan in Schenck.  When I read the credits, I discovered that Mr. Kacmar and Mr. Lloyd arranged all the music; what a labor of love! And finally, pieces of student artwork graced the halls of Klein.

During Tuesday’s Activity Period, we held our own Middle School Art Festival to help highlight the amazing artistic talents of our youngsters. The students in the Middle School Arts Council hosted the event and served as docents as the other MS students toured and viewed the Animal drawings, Masks and eighth grade Scratchboard and Landmark Illustration projects.  Finishing up with cookies and juice made for an enjoyable event!

Today promises to be filled with a lovely combination of academics and activities that bring closure to this first part of the school year.  Along with the usual array of classes, we’ve worked in a few special experiences for students and faculty alike. The “Jazz Rock” concert is one of our favorite assemblies of the year in that it captures the unique spirit that is D-E. In the early afternoon, our 8’s gather in Hajjar for a celebration of their Spoken Word poetry unit they completed in Drama this semester. Over the past four weeks, each student was actively engaged in the workshop approach as he/she wrote, refined, and performed his or her own Spoken Word poem. Several students will perform their poetry for their classmates; the trust and respect they show each other is quite touching.  And our last period of the day is devoted to Minute to Win It, a participatory friendly competition among the three grades. Who will win bragging rights to this year’s Golden Bulldog?!

As we head off to our Winter Break, I hope each of you has an opportunity to engage in experiences that will make for great family stories and memories.

Hug your child, and Go Bulldogs!

Kathy Christoph