School dispatches: April 11, 2018

The Sheridan School playground, which has been under construction since last October, is almost finished and sports a gaga pit, a spinny cone, swings and multiple tree houses. (Photo courtesy of Sheridan School)

Alice Deal Middle School

On April 4, eighth graders attending Alice Deal Middle School’s art class visited the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. I was one of these students. Analyzing specific themes in each portrait, we looked at the facial expressions of figures in portraits, the garment worn, the background, and even small props. We discussed the hidden themes and meanings of the portraits in small groups and filled out a simple worksheet.

As an eighth grader, I personally enjoyed seeing the portrait of Barack Obama by Kehinde Wiley. I had seen Wiley’s portrait of LL Cool J, so it was a refreshing experience to see another well-known person – the first African American president to be specific – drawn by the same artist. As someone who uses social media, I had seen the painting online almost every day, but seeing it in person made me realize how big it actually was and how vibrant the colors were.

One interesting fact I learned about the painting was that each flower represented a significant part of Obama’s heritage; for example chrysanthemums are the official flower of Chicago.

It was fun to visit the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery, and if you haven’t yet, it’s a great attraction and unique to D.C.!

– Lindsay Miller, eighth grader


British International School

The British International School of Washington (BISW) is bustling with activity as spring break draws closer.

Every year, Year 12 students lead the planning and execution of the BISW prom, which is held at the Dumbarton House in Georgetown. The various planning stages include fundraising for the event, choosing the theme and decorating the site. This week, to raise money for the event, students sold doughnuts during breaks and after school. With the much-anticipated prom only a month away and more fundraising on the horizon, there will be plenty more doughnuts in BISW’s future.

Additionally, throughout the week, Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9 students were extremely busy rehearsing, tweaking costumes and working to refine the set design in preparation for the musical, “We Will Rock You. We Will Rock You,” by Ben Elton. It is a futurist comedy based on more than 24 of the British rock band Queen’s most popular songs, including, “We Will Rock You” and “Don’t Stop Me Now.”

For months, the students and staff have heard echoes of “We Will Rock You” rehearsals drifting down the halls from the auditorium, which has caused anticipation for the event to grow. Students and teachers alike were excited to attend opening night of the musical this week.

As activities wind down, the BISW community is looking forward to the two-week spring break. At the end of the break, students and teachers will return to school with revived spirits and a hop in their steps.

– Ava Lundell, 11th grader


Emerson Prep

Similar to its unconventional course offerings, midterms at Emerson Prep are not always your typical exams.

Emerson’s philosophy is one that does not primarily focus on rote memorization. Instead, teachers ensure students have a solid understanding of the material rather than a large pile of arbitrary and unnecessary assignments and tests. Often, a fun project or presentation will supplement the material better for students and give us a more beneficial understanding of our classes.

As Emerson students recently finished up their midterm exams week, which was expectedly quite strenuous, it was relaxing to take a break and listen to Mr. Kelly’s music class’ midterm. Mr. Kelly recognizes that to showcase effectively what they have absorbed and practiced throughout the semester, music students should compose and exhibit a live performance instead of taking an exam that would not accurately display their talents.

This event was not only beneficial to the class, but the rest of the Emerson community got to listen to the new musical abilities of the class.

– Isabel Fajardo, 11th grader


Hearst Elementary School

Hearst’s third through fifth grade communication and education support class love science.

For our science fair project, we set up a mold growth experiment. We asked, “Which ingredient will make bread turn moldy first?” We used sugar, salt and water. We also set out a piece of plain white bread. Each classmate and teacher made an individual hypothesis.

Many friends made a hypothesis that the water will turn the bread moldy first. After spring break, we found this to be true!

“Green!” Aiden Williams said.

“The bread changed!” Briana Roye-Jones said.

We learned that mold can grow in different shapes and colors. Which piece of bread will “change” next? We hope to see changes before our next science unit, the butterfly lifecycle.

– The Proud Lions


Horace Mann Elementary

This year, Horace Mann Elementary had a book drive before and after Valentine’s Day for our friends at Garrison Elementary. Each kid, no matter their grade, got three books in a bag. Ms. Whisnant, Horace Mann’s principal, and Ms. Macias, the vice principal, carefully arranged this special book drive.

“This book drive has been going on for just about two years when I came up with the idea,” Whisnant said. “Giving the books away makes me feel good about doing a good deed because I feel everyone should be able to read.”

The impact of the book drive is stunning. A former teacher from Mann, Mr. Kiplinger, who has moved to Garrison as the principal, told us all the students at Garrison are just thrilled about the books they are getting from their friends at Mann, and feel so thankful for the love and kindness they’ve shown in collecting them.

“We’re working really hard to read a million minutes by May, and these new books make us excited to keep going. Just like the Horace Mann Centaurs, the Garrison Wildcats love to ‘Read, Baby, Read!’” she said,

So this book drive has affected many children and everyone is super happy! The students at Mann have donated really good books and are humble about the donation. Mann is very happy to be able to be so kind to others!

– Gabrielle Cutts, Giulia Ibi and Simone Rogers, fourth graders


MacFarland Middle School

MacFarland is a dual language school. This means we have classes in English and in Spanish.

We have science, history, geography and humanities in Spanish. The other classes – art, music, PE, math and advisory – are in English. In music, we are learning a few songs for our spring concert. In PE, we started our racket unit. We are learning to play racket sports like badminton and pickle ball.

Advisory is a class where we let our emotions go. It is kind of our break, or free time. We do projects like door-decorating for heritage months, or sometimes we are given things for reflection.

Some special events MacFarland has are dances and candy grams. The way the dances work is that when it is the month with a holiday like Valentine’s Day or Halloween, those are the themes of the party. The cafeteria is decorated and students do not have to wear their uniforms. The dances are free except you need money to buy snacks like soda and chips.

The way the candy grams work is you choose a color: red, yellow or pink. Red means “I love you,” yellow means “friendship,” and pink means “I am an admirer.” The candy grams last one week. When the week finished, we give out the candy grams that were purchased. They cost one dollar.

– Evelyn Margarito, seventh grader, and Jason Ochoa, sixth grader


National Presbyterian School

Every year at NPS, fifth grade hosts a Mediterranean feast to celebrate our learning of ancient civilizations around the Mediterranean Sea in social studies class.

This year, the feast was on March 22. We had grape juice in faux wine glasses. We had a lot of food, but my personal favorite was the falafel. We also had white rice, pita bread with hummus, grapes, cheese pies, Bulgarian feta, and for dessert, rice pudding.

The food came from Shemali’s, a restaurant near NPS. Many thanks to fifth grade moms who helped: Mrs. Mattison, Mrs. Martz, Mrs. Leahey and Mrs. Paleologos. And of course, thanks to our teachers Mr. Sumner, Ms. Cox, Mr. Murphy and Ms. Dunne.

– Erin Neifach, fifth grader


Sheridan School

The Sheridan School playground has been under construction since October. It has taken about seven months to complete, which is just about finished. The playground will fully open when our new turf has set, which should be soon.

Some new things on the playground are the gaga pit and the spinny cone, which we are excited to try out! We also have tree houses that connect and wrap around multiple trees with bridges connecting the different parts. We also welcome back the swings, which are new and beautiful! People love these changes!

We asked third, fourth and fifth grade students how they felt about the new playground. “I think everything is fun for all ages” and, “The slide is amazing and the playground is awesome!” said fifth graders.

Fourth graders told us, “I think it looks cool and the construction team put a lot of work into it” and, “It’s a really good playground and it brings people together from different grades.”

Third graders felt that, “It is super fun and awesome. I like it, and I like to finally have swings again,” and “I like the playground, especially the gaga pit, the spinning cone and the tree houses.”

As you have read, students think these changes have worked great so far and improved the Sheridan recess experience! Stop by after school hours to check it out!

– Marielle Van Meter and Jeremiah Farr, fifth graders


Washington International School

The WIS fifth graders are finishing our final project for the international baccalaureate’s primary years program, called “Exhibition.” This is an in-depth, seven-week long investigation on a variety of topics that students explore in groups of four. Some subjects we researched include refugees, diversity, water pollution, climate change and racism.

We began by working on a central idea to guide our research. Then we decided which aspect each person would study. To answer our research questions we used books, magazines, databases and websites, and also contacted experts who helped us explore our issue in detail.

As the project developed, everyone created posters, wrote texts for oral presentations in English and in French or Spanish, and every group started using the acquired knowledge to take action for their topics. One group dealing with environmental issues even decided not to eat meat for a week to support their cause. As exhibition approaches, we have to finalize every detail of our work and practice presenting because parents, students and interviewees will attend the event.

One highlight of this project is the creative component. Each group has to develop two creative elements to accompany the poster, and groups have outdone themselves by creating sculptures, musical compositions or choreographed dances, and they look forward to sharing them with their audience.

This experience has made us more aware of the global and local issues that we need to solve and helped us understand that the smallest actions can make the biggest difference.

– Ilaria Luna, fifth grader