MHS on Roller Skates!

Last week, 200 MHS children, teachers, staff, and family members traveled by city bus to Chez Vous roller-skating rink in Dorchester. What followed was a morning full of nervous anticipation, (more than a few) falls, some tears, and a whole lot of excitement, pride, accomplishment, and joy.

Enjoy the slide show!

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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.

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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

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Screen-Free Week at MHS

Join the Mission Hill Community in celebration of Screen-Free Week!

From www.screenfree.org: “Screen-Free Week is an annual celebration where children, families, schools, and communities turn off screens and turn on life. Instead of relying on screens for entertainment, participants read, daydream, explore, enjoy nature, and enjoy spending time with family and friends.

Screen-Free Week isn’t just about snubbing screens for seven days; it’s a springboard for important lifestyle changes that will improve well-being and quality of life all year round.”

Click here for a list of Screen-Free Week resources.

Read this week’s Mission Hill News article about Screen-Free Week, by teacher Geralyn McLaughlin.

A group of MHS teachers kicked off the celebration with an entertaining skit, which was performed at Friday Share.

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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Acts of Kindness

Each week at Friday Share, the MHS community acknowledges people who have exemplified the Mission Hill Way (Be Kind, Work Hard). Acts of Kindness are submitted anonymously by students and staff on handwritten cards. Wheelock Intern, Kailah Simon, decided to take this a step further, by documenting Acts of Kindness by photographing them. Here is a selection of MHS Acts of Kindness from the first months of the school year.

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Recollections

We congratulate our fifth grade students and families who celebrated their Mission Hill School Recollections today!

Recollections is a tradition which acknowledges the first six years (or less) of a student’s time spent at Mission Hill School. It is a year-long collaborative project which uses an archived collection of work to help the student reflect on his or her past and also consider his or her future as a middle school student. Fourth/fifth grade teachers James McGovern and Nakia Keizer, work with tutor/newsletter editor Betsy Caruso and long-time volunteer Caroline Hoppin, to help children translate their memories into finished essays. Students then create self-portraits with art teacher, Jeanne Rachko, and the two pieces are edited and bound into a book, which is presented at the event.

An excerpt from the Recollections booklet welcome letter reads: “The Recollections project began one evening ten years ago in May, when children shared work from their Mission Hill School archive folders with their families. On that night the children’s work spoke eloquently-the self portrait from Kindergarten, the science journal from third grade, the King Tut poem from fourth grade-telling the story of our thematic curriculum as well as the history of each student’s individual journey. What our students did that evening-recollecting, making connections, and demonstrating what was most relevant to them-we now do in a more deliberate way with our fifth grade class each year.”

Below is a slide show of student self-portraits alongside their learning record photo portraits from this year.

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.

Full Circle

The Friday before vacation week, a group of enthusiastic Boston Arts Academy student volunteers visited MHS as a part of BAA’s annual School-Wide Community Service Day.

A BAA student artist draws with a young MHS artist.

Visual Art majors from grades 9-12 worked with students in classrooms, helped in the art room, read to kids, and packed up a room of equipment for our impending move.

 

The working visit was made sweeter by the addition of MHS alums Althea Bennett (MHS class of 2008) and Emilia Onthank (MHS class of 2011). BAA has been a destination high school for many MHS students since the first eighth grade class graduated in 2001.

Althea and Emilia giving back to the MHS Community. Thank you!

MHS parent and BAA Visual Art Chair, Kathleen Marsh, also joined her students, visiting classes and helping out with a sewing project.

Many, many thanks to Co-Headmasters Linda Nathan and Carmen Torres (who also is a MHS Governing Board Member and grandma of two MHS students!), Kathleen Marsh, and all of  the BAA students for lending a helping hand!

The amazing Boston Arts Academy volunteer team!

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