The 8th Grade theme for Unit II is Order and the 6th and 7th Grade theme is Challenge.
We are excited for the start of the WMS basketball season. WMS supports four basketball teams: Girls, Boys and two Coed teams (Blue and Silver). All games are noted on the school calendar. On the WMS website you will find our Athletic Philosophy and Mission Statement. Please take a look.
It’s wonderful for parents and students to have an opportunity to cheer on our Middle School basketball teams. We do, however, have guidelines we would like everyone to observe:
- No food or drinks allowed in the gym.
- Children must remain with their parents at all times.
- Spectators must stay in the bleachers, both at half-time and during the game.
We love to see you at games, and helping in these ways makes it more fun for the coaches and team.
WMS Ski Race Team will be offered to 5th-8th graders this winter season. Practices and races will be held at Mohawk Mountain on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays with pick-up at WMS at 6:00 pm. This is a development program for students who are proficient at skiing all runs at Mohawk and are interested in ski racing.
“The War That Saved My Life” by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
First Book club will meet on Friday, November 30th, at recess in Lauren’s room. The club is voluntary and will also meet again in the winter and spring. Discussion will be led by Cecelia, Piper, Lauren and Emma.
On Friday, November 30 our eighth grade class will be hosting the second Middle School dance of the year. There will be music in the Middle School Commons, as well as a room set up for games and talking. Middle School students are encouraged to attend, but guests from outside the school are not allowed. The dance will begin at 7:00 and end at 9:00. Parents should know that we lock the front doors of the school at about 7:15 and open them back up at 8:45. If you need to get into the school between these hours, come up the back stairs to Middle School and knock on the double doors. Eighth year students responsible for cleanup should plan to be picked up at 9:30.
The annual Polar Plunge is happening Sunday, December 2 at the Lake Waramaug State Park Beach! The Polar Plunge is a fun event that supports an important initiative: the Washington Montessori School Community Partnership Program (WMSCPP). Students (aged 6 & up) are encouraged to take the plunge! You can register to plunge for $20 or get friends to sponsor you. You will receive a commemorative tee-shirt, complimentary snacks AND ULTIMATE BRAGGING RIGHTS! We hope to see you all there!
HOLIDAY IN THE DEPOT
The Middle School Chorus will have an opportunity to sing at Holiday in the Depot on Friday, Dec. 14th at 5:30 PM. Singers should meet at the Town Hall in Washington Depot. Please dress warmly, be prepared to sing two or three songs in performance as well as to lead a few carols. All WMS families are encouraged to attend.
MIDDLE SCHOOL PLAY
This year’s play is The Wizard of Oz, directed by Laura Hutchins. Rehearsals take place Tuesdays and Fridays after school until December 7. From December 10 – 13 rehearsals will take place during the school day. The performances will be on Thursday, December 13 at 1:30 and 7:00pm. Laura depends on parent help to do a good job with these plays, so please contact her (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you can volunteer your time. We need you!
Middle School progress reports will be sent home the week before winter break. This progress report covers the work your children did during the fall and is considered an informal communication between teachers, parents and students. It does not become part of any permanent record. The one exception to this involves only eighth grade students. This first report is forwarded to high schools during the application process. Our second written report comes at the end of the year. This one is a cumulative report and becomes part of every student’s permanent record.
Theater Lab (begins January 8 and runs until the May 2 sharing) and is a chance for students to hone and develop skills relating to acting and directing through scene work, improvisation and critical reflection. Students will have a chance to act in, write and direct their own work, peers work or work from theatrical literature. Creating definable goals is crucial to participation and there will be a final performance.
Parents are invited to the MS Commons on Friday, January 18 at 2:30 p.m. All students will have an opportunity to share the music that they studied and practiced (guitar and drumming) during the first half of the year.
SCIENCE WEEK & SCIENCE FAIR
Our annual Middle School Science Fair will be on Thursday evening, January 24. All sixth and seventh grade students participate in this event. Research is just beginning in Science classes and students are planning their specific experiments. Earlier in the day on the 24th, younger students at WMS will have an opportunity to visit and view our Middle School experiments.
It is our expectation that students spend an hour and a half to two hours each night on schoolwork (five nights a week). As parents, you can help by making sure your schedule allows this. We find that at the beginning of the year everything takes longer and that we seem to become more efficient when we get into the swing of things. If your child is regularly spending more time on homework than two hours (or much less than that!) please let us know.
One of the most important aspects of the Montessori philosophy is that education serves children best when developmental tendencies are taken into consideration to foster positive growth. Adolescence is a significant time in a child’s life, a time when they are trying to understand themselves and where they fit into the world. This pivotal developmental period sets the stage for passage from childhood into adulthood, however it can be a time fraught with sensitivity and confusion. To acknowledge this important time in the adolescent life, WMS offers classes in Life Skills designed to support students as they deal with the social and emotional issues of growing up.
Life Skills classes meet by grade: sixth, seventh and eighth separately. The theme for sixth grade Life Skills is joining the Middle School community. During weekly meetings we focus on what makes a community and what is the students role in it. We also talk about respectful communication, acceptance of individual differences, and the peaceful resolution of conflict. Students also work on small projects built around the exploration of these themes. Sixth years also take part in a practical life application, a pizza business one day a week that serves participating customers from the Middle School community.
Seventh Grade Life Skills focuses on The Hero’s Journey, a program designed to challenge a student throughout the year with their own personal undertaking. Based on Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell notes that every culture features stories of the hero who undergoes a series of trials and emerges transformed. With the help of an Ally, who aids the hero along the way, the hero returns to their ordinary world wiser and more fulfilled. These myths offer lessons for the challenges we all face in life and nowhere more so than on the road from adolescence to adulthood. The Hero’s Journey enables the student to develop a deeper understanding of themselves as well as deepening the relationship with their chosen Ally as they communicate about different aspects of both the Ally’s and student’s life. The Hero’s Journey also examines the adolescent brain as well as ethics, rites of passage and the transition from childhood to adulthood. Our goal is to help students understand the changes that take place in this critical time and to know how to handle the roadblocks that inevitably present themselves along the way.
Eighth Grade Life Skills focuses on the question “What is my connection to and responsibility for the world outside WMS?” We begin the year exploring the role of leadership that eighth years have now assumed as elders in their school as well as the responsibilities they have both to themselves and others within and outside their community. Throughout the eighth grade year, students are also looking to the schools they will attend the next year as they prepare for the next steps in their journey. Students also take part in internships which give them the opportunity to experience real world skills in areas of interest to them outside of the school environment.The culmination of the year is a service trip outside of Connecticut where students go far from home to work together to help others. The trip, which has been to places such as Puerto Rico, Arizona and New Mexico, usually includes cultural aspects and learning about people and places very different from what they’re used to.
Life Skills also covers topics about friendship, social media, bullying and stereotyping, giving not only information but the opportunity for students to voice their ideas, concerns and opinions. In addition to these areas of discussion, specific and appropriate health issues are addressed at each grade level. Alcohol and drug education, decision-making, body image and human sexuality are all covered. Health and sexuality issues will be discussed in seventh and eighth grade Life Skills during the winter and spring terms. Sixth grade Life Skills will not begin this portion of the curriculum until spring when they cover puberty. This may be a good time to initiate some family discussions around these topics. We recommend the What’s Happening to my Body? books (there is both a book for boys as well as one for girls) written by Lynda Madaras, Area Madaras and Simon Sullivan.
With the second unit of the year, 8th grade students are beginning research for their Expert Projects. This long-term project mostly takes place during the third unit, but we thought it would help to give you some basic information now. The climax of the project will be the publication of each student’s research and a formal presentation on the evening of March 5.
We set aside time at school to help students do research, read, make note cards, and organize their information, but they will also need to work on this project at home. We expect students to go to the public library to find books, reference works, and articles from magazines and newspapers. Videos and audiotapes are also acceptable sources of information. During Unit II students will be learning how to use the library and how to get help from the library’s staff.
Each student will be expected to write letters to experts in their fields. Locating willing experts can sometimes be difficult, so any contacts that parents have would be helpful to all of us. We recommend that the 8th graders begin their search for experts by using the authors of the articles they’ve read. Faculty at colleges and universities and private professionals can also be experts that can help. We will be sending out a list of topics soon. If you have connections or expertise in any of these fields, please let Tom or Kresta know.
Just a reminder that if your child misses all or part of school day due to illness, we ask that they stay home to recover and do not attend afternoon/evening activities (sports, dances, activities, etc) that day.
With a belief in the value of fresh air and exercise, we expect students to go outside during recess time. Because this time of year can be cold and wet, we impress on students the importance of coming to school dressed appropriately. Boots, hats, coats and gloves are highly recommended. We know that Middle School students dress themselves, but please do what you can to help them be prepared for the weather. All of our students have lockers, so extra clothing can easily be stored.
SNOW DAY ACADEMICS
In middle school, students are expected to follow their workplans, even on snow days. Keeping learning consistent and continuous is important in these years. We remind students to bring home all of their books when there is inclement weather in the forecast so they are prepared for any eventuality. Please help your students by reminding them to check their email on snow day mornings for messages from their teachers and please also encourage them to get in touch with teachers if they are unclear as to the expectations for the day.
THE DARK DAYS OF WINTER
As teachers we are committed to keeping in touch with our parents. That said, please call or email whenever you have questions or concerns. Every middle school teacher has email and voicemail and checks messages daily. The more information we have about your child, the better we are able to understand and make sure that their experience at WMS is both successful and pleasurable.