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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How Wonderful to Feel Appreciated!

The following is from this week’s Room 105 newsletter column:

Wednesday was Teacher Appreciation Day! This is one of the only times during the year that all MHS adults stop collectively at lunchtime to sit, eat, chat and dare to relax for an hour. Families organize lunch fixings, which include main dishes, side dishes, various salads, fruits, drinks and the coveted desserts!


Teachers and staff have an opportunity to sit and eat together. Tables are thoughtfully decorated with flower arrangements AND families take over lunch and recess duties so that everyone may enjoy the amazing meal!

The variety of dishes was incredible. There was even a separate dessert table!

The variety of dishes was incredible. There was even a separate dessert table!


Families ALSO provide everyone on staff with a beautiful handmade gift. This year's was a handpainted cookie jar!

Families ALSO provide everyone on staff with a beautiful handmade gift. This year’s was a handpainted cookie jar!

Complete with cookies from our dear neighbors at Fiore's Bakery!

Complete with cookies from our dear neighbors at Fiore’s Bakery!

This year, more than most, it was awesome to have a few moments to stop, reflect and celebrate all that we have accomplished thus far. We have had a tremendous school year. We have successfully settled into our new home. We have welcomed new members- staff, students and families into our community. We have begun to establish new relationships with members of our surrounding community. Our moments of celebration on Wednesday were much appreciated yet there is a lot still to be done. There are curricula to be wrapped up and assessments to be made. Portfolios for 7th and 8th graders are about to begin. We have field trips planned and more end-of-the-year celebrations will take place. Report cards need to be written and rooms need to be packed up. As we move closer to the last day of school, our moments of celebration and appreciation push us on.

Thank you Mission Hill Families for the splendid Teacher Appreciation Day!

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







Screen-Free Week at MHS

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

From “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.



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.

Mariners in the Making…

Last Tuesday, Sarah’s class was told that they would no longer be sixth grade students. They were given this information while standing on a floating dock in Fort Point Channel, simultaneously strapping on life jackets and also trying to keep from losing their balance. A student asked, “What are we going to be if we’re not sixth graders?” The reply echoed loudly under the bridge “You are all now officially Mariners!”

Ed McCabe introduces students to rowing equipment

Rowing, a longstanding and popular middle school tradition, began last week. The program is run by Ed McCabe of the Hull Lifesaving Museum, and combines rowing skills with geography, history, and science. This type of hands-on activity (also known as experiential learning) is one of many different ways that students learn at MHS.

Helping hands.

In addition to the physical challenges of the sport and the academic topics interwoven throughout the curriculum, there is also an important element of community-building that takes place when rowing. Middle school is a time for young people to expand their horizons and start applying their experience as community members within school walls, to the outside world. Each person must do his or her part to get the boat to respond effectively, which is great incentive for figuring out how to work together.

Students row with the city skyline as a backdrop.

For the next eight weeks, Mission Hill School’s 17 newest mariners will explore Boston Harbor and the Charles River by way of wooden rowing boats. Many thanks to Hull Lifesaving Museum’s Boston Rowing Center for providing students with this unique and exciting experience!