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.

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!

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!


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.

Welcome to our new website!

Hello families and friends,
We are excited to introduce a newly-formatted Mission Hill School website. Please check this page for updates about school happenings, events and occasional features. We would love feedback as the site grows and takes shape. What would you like to see here? What sort of tools would you find helpful? You may leave comments below, subscribe to the blog, or email your suggestions to info@missionhillschool.org.