MHS Debate Team takes First Place at Harvard Competition!

On Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 12 debate team students from Mission Hill School traveled to Harvard University to participate in the day long 2013 Debate Mate Boston competition against other Boston middle and K-8 schools.

DebateMate_SignThree teams of four students each participated in three rounds of debates addressing possession of nuclear weapons, equal access for men and women sports teams to TV coverage, and fines for sagging pants. Our teams won seven of their nine debates. Judges evaluated each debater and awarded points for content and style. We placed second out of 22 teams on points, and qualified for the final championship round against debaters from the Edison School.


Faces were serious during the final debate.

Our debaters argued in support of making gun possession illegal. The judges awarded the win to the Mission Hill team on the basis of number and depth of arguments and rebuttal.

The MHS Debate Team at Harvard University.

The MHS Debate Team at Harvard University.

The Mission Hill Debate team, comprised of students in grades five through eight, has been meeting after school since February with debate coach, Brandeis student Sarah Pizzano, and MHS mentor and middle school teacher, Ann Ruggiero. The team is eager for next year’s debate season to begin, and promises to work hard to defend their title.

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The Cup!

A Team Effort

Check out the new article in Community Playthings about project-based learning, co-written by MHS teachers Geralyn McLaughlin (K0) and Kathy Clunis D’Andrea (K1/K2).

The Project Approach: Using Schoolyard Ecology to Support Student Learning







Farewell to Ancient Greece!

This morning, the Mission Hill School community celebrated the final days of the school-wide Ancient Greek curriculum. Families and friends gathered for a Greek-inspired potluck breakfast, which featured everything from Greek salad to honey cake and stuffed grape leaves. Harpist Mason Morton played exquisite music while children showed off art work and discussed architecture and history with adults. Displays ranging from detailed mosaics, to myths and renditions of the Greek alphabet covered the walls, adding to the festive atmosphere. Below is a slideshow with some images of our last few months, studying this fascinating ancient culture.

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A green day at Mission Hill School

Last week’s Ecoteer Day at Mission Hill School was a great success. Students and teachers dressed in green and took advantage of the beautiful, sunny weather-a welcome sight after a week of rain and indoor recess. While most activities took place out-of-doors, there were also some indoor alternatives on this special day of school-wide environmental volunteerism.

Ecoteer Day Activities included making bird-feeders and eco-friendly cleaning solutions.

We were joined by friends from area environmental organizations: teacher/naturalists Andrew MacBlane and Ben Driscoll from the Mass Audubon Society Boston Nature Center; Wendy Simard from the Boston Natural Areas Network’s SLUG Program (students learning through urban gardening); and Green Schools Fellow for BPS, Phoebe Beierle, a sustainability coordinator working with the school district to advance whole-district sustainability initiatives.

Sixth graders making signs for the recycling bins.

Workshops were offered to students of all ages throughout the day. Early on, Sarah’s class (grade 6) created signs to label recycling bins with (K/1 teacher and event organizer) Kathy D’Andrea, while Nakia and James’ students (grades 4/5) built worm composting bins for classrooms with Andrew and Ben.

Worms, worms, worms!

The fun continued mid-morning for Jenerra and Jacob’s classes (grades 2/3 and 7/8), who did plantings in the schoolyard garden and created bird feeders, also with Andrew and Ben. Kathy lead Emily’s class (grades 2/3) in making eco-friendly cleaning solutions for classroom use.

Planting in the schoolyard garden with Andrew.

Ecoteer Day culminated in a tree-planting event for our neighbors at the Parker Hill/Fenway Headstart. Kathy D’Andrea’s K/1 class, along with the help of Andrew, planted an apple tree in front of their building on Parker Street.

Digging the hole for the apple tree planting!

All of the students had an opportunity to dig, add compost and plant the tree, which was generously donated by City Farm. Many thanks to all who participated!

Planting the apple tree for our neighbors at Parker Hill/Fenway Headstart.

Farm to School Initiative

Food and nutrition are popular subjects at MHS. The school has been working hard to improve school food choices and create a healthy and happy cafeteria experience for all students. School Lunch Boston is the official blog of Boston Public Schools Department of Food & Nutrition Services (FNS). On the website, families can find monthly menus, nutrition news, recipes and other information.

Farm to School Initiative Hummus and Carrots!

Principal Ayla Gavins recently wrote an entire MHS Newsletter article about food choices in the cafeteria. In it she mentioned the BPS Farm to School Initiative, a great program that brings local produce into BPS school cafeterias. This week, freshly-made hummus and carrots will be offered as an option in the cafeteria at lunchtime. The healthy snack comes with a recipe and information sheet about the ingredients. Download the recipe here!

Baking in Kathy's Class (photo from schoollunchboston website)

Additionally, the Department of Food & Nutrition Services’ Alex Emmott recently paid a visit to Mission Hill and taught baking with Kathy D’Andrea’s 5, 6, & 7 year-olds. You can read her blog and see the photos by clicking here!

Students and the World of Work

MHS has always believed in the importance of young people learning and partaking in the world of adult work. As we begin our third and final school-wide theme of the 2011-12 school year, the World of Work, it is fitting that middle school students are busy with a work-related writing project, supported by the amazing literacy volunteer program 826 Boston.

826 Boston supports children ages 6-18 in creative and expository writing. They work in and outside of schools, helping to find ways to inspire students to write. This year MHS sixth, seventh, and eighth graders have worked closely with 826 Boston to produce a feature publication, which will be released in coming months. The book will focus on student-lead interviews with adults who have fascinating careers and jobs. Students have been involved in every aspect of book publishing, from concept creation to planning the publication party.

This week, eighth graders Malick and Sela conducted an interview with a very interesting adult: the Honorable Mayor Thomas M. Menino!

The students traveled to City Hall along with 826 Boston Executive Director Daniel Johnson, where they were welcomed by the Mayor. Questions ranged from “What are the challenges of your job?” to “What are you most proud of?” Both students conducted the taped interview with poise and humor. They were however, a little unprepared when the Mayor spontaneously began questioning them!

“What are your plans for the summer?” “Are you reading enough books? What is the last book you read?” “Are you involved in sports?” “What do you do after school?”

During the 30-minute interview, it was clear that Mayor Menino felt happy and relaxed in the company of young people. And it was also obvious that Malick and Sela felt confident and relaxed spending time in the company of an interesting adult with an interesting career.

Photo Credits: Isabel Leon, City of Boston

Building the Forbidden City…With Blocks!

If you have visited MHS recently, you may have noticed a hive of activity in the first floor hall  outside of the Family Resource Room. Groups of children color in a large replica mural of the 9 Dragon Wall, while others paste small Chinese and African-themed drawings and pictures under the appropriate letter on the newly-created Wall of Words.

When you make your way into room 101, you are met with a  colorful variety of books, maps, and objects all   sharing the same African and Chinese themes. And in the middle of all of this, stands the central focus of the student work: a large, scale model of Beijing China’s Forbidden City.Welcome to Malindi’s Journey: The Forbidden City Project, an interdisciplinary, global elementary school project, created by former MHS teacher and BPS New Teacher Developer, Alicia Carroll. The Forbidden City Project focuses on the study of the Forbidden City during the Ming Dynasty. Ms. Carroll developed the project as a vehicle for standards-based learning in a range of academic disciplines in the classroom.

For the next month, Ms. Carroll and a support team of artists, former MHS students, and para professionals will lead students through the task of building the Forbidden City model. Ms. Carroll will work with students in grades K-5 and families of students are welcome to join in the fun!

There is a website devoted to Malindi’s Journey: The Forbidden City Project at Mission Hill School, which describes the entire project in detail. Visit it to read about the extensive curriculum, learn more about the people involved, and see a slideshow documenting the progression of the project. Click to Visit the Malindi’s Journey Website.