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by Erica Hager, Upper School Head
additional articles written by Upper School Teachers
Dear Upper School Families,
Things continue to be in full swing in Upper School! Students and teachers alike are working hard and beginning to prepare for the end of the year. As fast as it is speeding toward that end, there is much to do before we rest for the summer.
Below you will find helpful information about what to expect as the year winds up:
-Wednesday, May 29 is a busy afternoon. At 4:00, eighth grade students will be presenting their Public Service Announcements. These are the culmination of their work in Head’s Seminar this year. We expect that all eighth grade parents will want to come and enjoy, but all are welcome! This is also the evening of the Sports Banquet. Kyle Gillis will send details about this soon.
-Our Sixth Grade production is Thursday night, May 30 at 7:00. Sixth grade families, we have invited you for dinner beforehand in the Stone Family Dining Hall. Information was sent out recently. Please RSVP to Jen Raterman and let us know what salads or desserts you can bring to share. We are in for a delightful night of Shakespeare! See you then!
-Academic classes continue and content is taught right up through May 31. Teachers will devote the next two days after that to review. (Many teachers will begin review before this time.) I am reminding students to stay engaged and not check out yet. Please help by reinforcing that at home. It would be a shame if students allow their grades to drop after so much good achievement all year.
-Behavior: Please support us by reminding your kids that our expectations about conduct, academic honesty and citizenship remain steady to the finish of school. As I say, things are going very well, but separating from a “home” like Applewild can be hard for those graduating or moving on and one reaction can be to push hard against the adults and the rules. We know this is a time of year that we must employ new shades of understanding, but our Core Values remain constant.
-Exams will be Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, June 5th, 6th and 7th. The daily schedule is very different on these days. You will soon receive a detailed schedule of which exams happen on which days. Please note that Thursday, June 7 is a noon dismissal for Upper School only. Busses do not run at noon that day and Extended Day is not available.
Please don’t mistake the last weeks as time when kids could miss school. We have many rehearsals for our graduations ongoing- graduates, bands and choral groups all need to prepare.
-Sixth grade does not take formal exams with the exception of math. The date for the math exam will be determined soon. They do have a very full week of work and activities during exam week however. Sixth grade families- don’t forget to come enjoy their juried installation at the Fitchburg Art Museum on June 5!
-Graduation Dance: This dance takes place on Monday, June 10 from 7:00-10:00 for grades 7 and 8. This is a no school day for all students. This is a dress up event. The kids have taken to calling it “The Semi.” Don’t let this alarm you. For boys dress pants and a shirt and tie are just fine, and for girls anything from a sundress to a party dress will be lovely! There is more talk at this time of year about “going to the dance with someone.” Again- this is not an expectation. This dance remains age appropriate- kids should plan to come and have fun with everyone celebrating the school year and our graduates! The graduation dance will be in the Marshall Multi-Purpose room.
Eighth grade has a special dinner prior to the dance. At 5:45, the graduates are invited to gather at Mr. and Mrs. Williamson’s house for refreshments and pictures. Soon after we will head over to the Crocker Building for a special dinner before the dance.
-Dress up days: Recognition Day and Graduation are dress up days for all.
-Graduation Dress: Attire for the graduates on their graduation day is a suit for boys and a white dress for girls.
-Field Day: Field day is Friday, May 24. This is a blast of a day! We go over to Fitchburg State University and compete in track and field events as well as some other sillier events. This is the culminating event of our Green and White competitions for the year. There is a noon dismissal. Hopefully you ordered your Green or White t-shirt through the Student Council.
Enjoy the spring!
Erica R. Hager
Eighth Grade Head’s Seminar coming to conclusion
The eighth grade PSA’s have been shown to Lower School, except for one that we all agreed was not going to be accessed easily by the children since it relies on rapid typing of a Google search. The younger students and teachers asked good questions, and the eighth graders presented their pieces well and answered questions effectively. It is always a pleasure for me to see our students in this extemporaneous environment because they are so confident and well spoken.
The PSA’s have also been viewed by experts in the field, including the Director of the Fitchburg Art Museum and the Education Director of FATV. Here is a general comment that captures many of the enthusiastic ones about individual PSA’s: “First off I would like to commend the students for tackling such powerful themes. All of the PSA’s are great.”
Now each group needs to decide how much it wants to revise its piece based on the feedback. Maybe some will be able to be shown on FATV. One group hopes to find an age group athletic team to watch its video. We meet again May 17, 21 and 23. We will use some of that time to reflect on the process of the PSA’s and also to look back on our earlier discussion of ethical dilemmas. I look forward to our presentation to eighth grade parents on May 29.
So . . . remember to save the date for the formal presentations to parents:
Wednesday, May 29 at 4:00, Alumni Center Theater
This will be an opportunity to enjoy not simply seeing your student’s work but also to interact with members of the class and their parents before the blur of culminating events in June. It has been scheduled in conjunction with the Spring Sports dinner that evening to eliminate another trip to school in this busy time.
7th graders completed the chemistry unit with a research project on an element of their choice. They produced, either individually or in teams of two, a podcast using the application, Voice Thread. The podcast required that students organize the information they collected in the form of a script that convinces the listener of the importance and interesting uses or properties of their element. Students also collected online graphics to enhance and clarify their script. The final step in the project was to record their scripts to play with each of the graphics. Students had the opportunity to do an in depth investigation of a particular element and also to learn and implement the skills they will need for all future research they undertake.
We have now begun a unit on the physics of motion and forces. We have added a new and exciting component to this curriculum, LEGO Robotics. This will enhance our students' experience with an approach to science that integrates Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math also know as STEM. Students will build a LEGO robot and learn to program the robot to complete a variety of challenges. Many of these challenges require mathematical calculations and all will incorporate the concepts of motion and forces. Students will work in teams to problem solve, make use of trial and error, and develop effective strategies to successfully master the challenges.
8th Graders in the midst of Hands Across Time Finals.
All 8th graders have been taking a unique approach to learn the time line of US History in class called Hands Across Time or affectionately, HAT. It is comprised of 101 slogans and hand motions that contain key vocabulary and ideas that support our textbook, and other activities in class. Between now and May 31st, each student must visit me during an Extra Help or recess to run it for me. Students who come early can have a second chance to complete it, but all must be done by May 31st. Invite an 8th grader you know to run it for you as a practice; you might find your history coming back to you! If you would like to learn HAT we are offering it this summer, July 8-19th. See the Summer Programs website for details.
S'More No More
Lynda Gregson and Janet Cowan
A great season of S'More Math ended this week, with 13 Upper Schoolers making tessellations by using Geometer's Sketchpad software in the Ansin computer lab. Over 6 weeks, 26 students have participated in S'More Math after school math activities, each designed to be fun and expose students to math they don't usually see in the classroom. On April 2, we explored probability questions, including the likelihood of having a birthday buddy. After that, we explored patterns and fractals in the Sierpinski triangle. On April 16th, students made hypercubes, a 3-D model of a 4 dimensional cube and learned about thinking by way of analogy. On a sunny afternoon we solved sequences on the Crocker sidewalk. In a particularly lively session, students made Mobius strips, and explored patterns that occur when you split them with repeated cuts.
Some testimonials from this year's participants:
"I learned things that I wouldn't normally learn in class."
"Don't be afraid of the word "math." It's really fun!"
"Being with my friends made S'More Math especially fun."
"A fun blend of math and food."
"Interesting and great snacks!"
"I really enjoyed S'More Math. I wish there was more....."
It has been especially great for students of all grade levels and abilities to share their enthusiasm for math in this relaxed after school setting. We look forward to S'More next year!
“Forever -- is composed of Nows”—
Poetry in April in the Upper School
There’s something powerful about seeing poetry visible on campus in spring. Maybe it’s the careful choice of colors in the words dancing across the vinyl, or the obvious pride in the way a student glances back at her work pinned to the tree trunk. There are the words painstakingly crafted in masking tape on the wall that capture a favorite haiku, three lines stretching eight feet tall and ten feet wide. There are poems chosen by several students who collaborate on an illustration and then who ardently argue about the best place for it, and the rock that now boldly declares a poem while propping open a library door. Suddenly there are words where no words were before, above a fountain, in a bathroom stall, looking in a window, or flanking a shortcut through the woods. And these aren’t just any words, but words an Upper School student found interesting or beautiful, funny or provocative. They are published poems that students liked and wanted to share with others.
Every Upper School student picked a poem to share in English class, to pit against other poems for our annual April Madness. The “Sweet Sixteen” were read aloud at lunchtime, to be savored thoughtfully over French toast and quesadillas, day after day, considering, voting, whittling them down to our “Final Four”. Ultimately, there will be one favorite poem in the Upper School for 2013.
On several days in April, a visitor to the Upper School would have seen sixth and seventh graders wearing lines of poetry around their neck, walking billboards for language and imagery. One sixth grader began the trend of asking the red carpet question, “And who are you wearing?” Discussions were started, favorite childhood poets remembered, and students and teachers alike were introduced to unfamiliar poets and poems.
The eighth graders were fortunate enough to spend a beautiful spring day in Amherst, MA at the Emily Dickinson museum and homestead. After a tour of the house where she’d lived and written hundreds of poems, they sat beside weeping cherry trees and wrote poems and reflections of their own. They trekked to the local cemetery and visited her grave, stopping long enough to read some of her work aloud in tribute and to lay tokens at her headstone. Students left rocks, lines of poetry, and words from her writing etched in magnolia petals. “Hope is the thing with feathers--/ That perches in the soul--/ and sings the tune without the words--/And never stops -- at all--.”
(Please see our gallery of photos on the school website to see documentation of these events.)
Higgins Armory Museum’s Siege the Day 5
When the present 8th grade went on their Higgins Armory field study in the 6th grade we saw posters for "Siege the Day," Higgins Armory's annual trebuchet contest. This year we decided to give it a try and enter a team. Chief Engineer Derek Foresman designed and constructed the trebuchet in the Bowen Arms Works early in the school year. Armorer David Janoschek constructed swords, shields, bows, and arrows. George-Henry Werowinski also constructed weapons and my wife created uniforms.
Our group descended upon Higgins this past Saturday with a strong support team that included parents Carl Werowinski, Rob Janoschek, Rich Foresman, and Denise Foresman - sibling and chief advisor Delaney Foresman - classmate and crew member for the day Ethan Oliver. A bit later in the competition the Hillsgrove family arrived to cheer us on to the very end.
Several awards were presented, few of which made a lot of sense to us, and though our team did not win an award, we were one of the most spirited of the groups there. Getting into the spirit of the day, I determined that we won the award for best rear guard defense and my wife declared that our group presented the best tailgate lunch.
With Higgins set to close at the end of December we planted a seed by letting them know that we would see them in the fall for Siege the Day 6.
Final Spring Sports Schedule With Revisions
Parents- There are several changes to the athletic schedule for the last couple of weeks. Please read below.
No track meet- no make up
Girls Lacrosse @ Lexington Christian 3:45 Pickup 6:15
Boys Lacrosse @ Bancroft 3:45 Pickup 6:00
Games with Worcester Academy canceled- girls played makeup on 5-9; Boys no makeup.
There is no game at Hillside this day
Girls Lacrosse @ Park 3:45 Pickup 6:45
Boys Lacrosse home vs Bancroft 4:00 Pickup 5:15
Girls Lacrosse @ Carroll 3:45 Pickup 6:00
5/13 Jazz Band (last after-school practice)
5/16 Rising 6th Grade Parent Meeting @1:00pm
5/16 Spring Concert @7:00pm
5/24 Field Day – Noon Dismissal
5/27 Memorial Day – No School
5/29 Spring Sports Banquet @5:30pm
5/30 6th Grade Play @7:00pm
6/4 PA Appreciation Breakfast @8:15am
6/4 Yearbook Dedication @2:15pm
6/4-6 US Exams
6/6 Upper School Noon Dismissal
6/7 Noon Dismissal All
6/10 No School – Professional Day
6/10 8th Grade Graduation Dinner @5:30
6/10 8th Grade Graduation Dance
6/11 Recognition Day @10:00am – Noon Dismissal
6/12 Graduation Day @9:00am – 11:00am Dismissal
6/24 Summer Camp Begins
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