School Dispatches: Dec. 20, 2017

Sheridan School seventh-graders are learning about geology. (photo courtesy of Sheridan School)

Annunciation Catholic School

Recently in the sixth-grade language arts class, we have been reading the book “Wonder” by R.J. Pacalcio. It focuses on a boy who has Treacher Collins syndrome and his experiences in school. The book has eight parts that tell the story from different characters’ perspectives. Recently, the book was turned into a movie, and since my class loves the book, our teacher decided to take us on a field trip to go see it!

According to my class, the movie was emotional, funny and heartwarming. It was good because it shows kids that life for some people is hard. We have been doing different activities in class based on the themes of inclusiveness and kindness as shown in the book. One of the activities was for us to research Treacher Collins syndrome and then to create a self-portrait of ourselves using the information we researched. The motto of the book is “choose kindness,” so my class was then instructed to write kind messages to one another on what makes each of us special! These activities really made us reflect on the importance of being kind, especially to our classmates.

I recommend other kids read this book and/or watch the movie, because it teaches a great lesson.Thank you R.J. Palacio for creating such a great book!

— Madison Mack, sixth-grader

Blessed Sacrament School

The Greg Gannon Canned Food Drive is held annually on the first weekend in December and was started in 1987 by Greg Gannon, who at that time was a school dad. This is the 30th anniversary of the food drive.

This year we collected over 5,000 cans! The class with the most cans won a prize. The faculty divided into teams to compete also. Participating families are assigned a territory of streets to deliver paper bags to, and then return to collect the filled bags.

The McGills, who have participated for over 10 years, say their favorite part is inviting friends to help collect the cans with them. They said, “It feels amazing to realize how collecting cans around the neighborhood can make such a big impact.”

Over the past five years, the drive has expanded throughout Montgomery County, Prince George’s County and other parts of Maryland. The cans are distributed to many soup kitchens and food banks including Capital Area Food Bank. One of the highlights this year was competing for the most cans with Holy Redeemer in Kensington. We won this year, after being narrowly defeated last year, but it doesn’t matter who wins really — it’s doing what we CAN for others that’s awesome!

— Grace Trifilo, eighth-grader

British International School of Washington

Holiday cheer has grown with each new day at our school. With Christmas break fast approaching, the school community has been eagerly organizing and participating in many holiday-themed activities. The Holiday Market and pupil-decorated Christmas trees throughout the building make students and teachers alike feel as if they are walking in a winter wonderland.

The Christmas spirit at the school was heightened by the occurrence of the Winter Festival on Dec. 13, which was planned primarily by the Year 12 students to fundraise for their February Tanzania Expedition. Every year, the Year 12 students participate in a week-long experience where they work alongside Seeway Trust (a nonprofit organization) to improve the lives of the Tanzanian population.

To raise the money needed for their Tanzania Expedition, the Year 12 students set up various booths at the Winter Festival. These booths included face painting, arts and crafts (such as snowflake making) and games. A raffle was organized with some of the prizes being Washington Wizards tickets and a mountain bike. In the end, the event raised over $1,500.

Many more exciting events are yet to come in the final week before break. From our school to you, we hope you have a merry Christmas and a happy new year!

— Ava Lundell, Year 12 (11th-grader)

Deal Middle School

Seeing as many sites are blocked on the D.C. Public Schools internet server, it’s no surprise that a religious website would be caught accidentally in the blocking. What is a surprise is the consistency with which the texts of certain religions are blocked, and the lack of censorship for others.

We attempted to identify why the majority of Quran websites were blocked, but none of the Bible websites. After a short period of research, we began writing an email to the school system’s filter team. The research led us to find that the only religions given clemency from banning were Christianity and Judaism. Thus, we drafted and sent an email.

Prior to the religion email, we had written about the blocking of The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang blog. With no response, the weather site was unblocked. However, when we sent the religion email, we received a response stating that the filter team could not take student input. Afterwards, we spoke to an assistant principal, who plans to investigate further who to talk to for our quandary. We find this unacceptable.

— Danny Bollag, Hugo Filmer, Adam Leff and Jennifer Nehrer, eighth-graders

Emerson Preparatory School

On Dec. 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was bombed in a surprise attack by the Japanese. Seventy-six years later, on Dec. 7, 2017, Dolly Rasmussen came to Emerson to speak about her experience as a witness and survivor. Invited by Mr. Malone to visit his third-period 20th-Century American Culture and History class, Rasmussen recounted her childhood as the daughter of a maintenance manager of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

The group listened in suspense as she described how a Japanese plane flew over the hill near her house and how she and her brothers saw the bombing, hiding under the dining room table in fear.

A student asked, “What emotions were going through your head during the attack?” Rasmussen confidently replied: “Mother wasn’t afraid, so why should I be frightened?”

However, the aftermath of the bombing took a toll not only on the U.S., but her family as well. Living in the heat of the conflict, Dolly felt afraid to speak English due to the fear of Japanese hostility that had triggered the life-changing event in her childhood.

As Emerson students, we are lucky to be able to listen to and engage with guest visitors who provide interesting personal experiences regarding the material we learn in the classroom. It was remarkable to see the similarities and contrasts between our lives and Rasmussen’s life 76 years ago, and how the political climate and culture affect our experiences as young adults in America.

— Isabel Fajardo, 11th-grader

Hearst Elementary School

Wow! What a fun first half of the school year we have had. Today during morning meeting, we tried to list the highlights of our school year so far. It took 15 whole minutes and we were barely even halfway through! So far we have had an awesome visit from our Thai Embassy friends, we created our own scientific inventions and innovations, and have had a couple of awesome field trips. In math, we all get a chance to teach since Mr. Levin has let us all take our turns student teaching. It is such a fun way to learn math. We can’t wait to see what happens in 2018!

— Mr. Levin’s fifth-grade class

Lafayette Elementary School

Here are just a few examples of how we are welcoming the holidays at Lafayette. This holiday season we are giving — for 12 days! For 12 days we will support Maddy Wagon, which in turn supports families with childhood cancer. Through a drive, the student council is hoping for pajamas, gift cards, healthy snacks, blankets, arts and crafts, books, puzzles and anything else that might be needed. For more information, visit

The winter concert is always a  highlight of the season. Many talented students celebrate with a variety of selections from our musical ensembles. This year that included our brand-new Lafayette choirs. There were two concerts held during school and an evening performance for parents, students and friends to see this wonderful holiday show.

Reading buddies is a Lafayette tradition that makes reading fun. Fifth- and second-grade reading buddies decorated the library loft with handmade snowflakes last week. The little buddies cut out the snowflakes and the big buddies hung them. This way the library is even more festive and fun. There are also fourth- and first-grade buddies who meet together to read twice a week in the library during FLEX time.

In classrooms and clubs, students are learning about and celebrating different holiday traditions, so these are just a few of many ways that Lafayette is welcoming the holidays.

— Natalie Broquard, fifth-grader

MacFarland Middle School

Our school was closed for three years and reopened in 2016. This year there are 132 students and only sixth and seventh grade. Next year we will add eighth grade. Our school mascot is a mustang, which is way more awesome than a horse.

In sixth grade we have three cohorts, 6A, 6B and 6C, and the same for seventh grade. Classes have about 23 students. This year we have basketball, baseball, track and DCIAA. The DCIAA girls soccer team won third place against Oyster-Adams. We also have clubs: creative writing, performance, reading and global gaming.

Every week we receive a paper called a MustBuck sheet for teachers to sign. Our monthly MustBuck celebration is a program to celebrate all the hard work students do. In November we had a scavenger hunt on the National Mall. We did an outdoor inflatable obstacle course in October. In September we had a soccer game, sixth grade vs. seventh grade, and in December we will go to an indoor swimming pool.

Our school schedule is based on A-, B- and C-days. A-days and B-days alternate every day until Friday, which is a C-day. C-days only happen on Fridays and the last day of an uneven week. A- and B-days each have four subjects, and C-days are a combination of all subjects.

— Pamela Campos and Juliana Lopez, seventh-graders

Maret School

In third grade, you get to do a lot of math, like multiplication, division and other ways to solve problems. You also get to do something called First in Math and Mad Minutes. A Mad Minute is where you do 50 facts in one minute. First in Math is a website where you have your own account and do math to earn stickers.

Another thing is that after every unit, you do an assessment. Assessments are where you do a couple of worksheets to test your work from that unit. Also in third grade, you study measuring. You start out by measuring around the room with your shoes. It does not really work, so then you start using a ruler.

— William Holden, third-grader

Our Lady of Victory School

While having a lot of snacks, I watched the Our Lady of Victory 2017 Turkey Bowl and started getting interested. On the first round, seventh grade won. Then in the second round the eighth grade won. Then it was over. I stayed mouth open all through the game. I loved this year’s Turkey Bowl. I hope all of the other students enjoyed it too. And that was the gobble Turkey Bowl!

— Jehanne B., fourth-grader

Oyster-Adams Bilingual School

On Dec. 4, Oyster-Adams girls basketball team had its first game at McKinley Tech and won 40-13, which is a very big difference. Gaby Eversley-Holland, one of our girls basketball team members, told us how she felt about her first game. She said, “We did really, really good because we had so much of a lead. We passed the ball and used a lot of good teamwork. It was so much fun.”

This week in the sixth-grade Spanish Humanities class, we have a project about how kids grow up in other countries and in different conditions. We have to present our projects on PowerPoint. Francis Csedrik explained that 15 percent of people in the Philippines have AIDS. Melani Perdomo learned that in Iraq, kids are obligated to go to school until they are 12. Lesly Bautista shared that 40 percent of kids don’t get their diploma for fourth grade in Puerto Rico. Our fellow students Thandi Kirk and Eli Parker both said, “I am proud of my project, hoping it will get a good grade.” They also said, “I feel proud and accomplished with my project.”

— Gabriella Eversley-Holland and Miles Sanchez, sixth-graders

Sheridan School

How do geologists and other people interested in minerals know what lies beneath the earth’s surface? Sheridan seventh-graders set out to explore this question.

First, they built the necessary skills to explore the earth for natural resources and study its dynamic processes. They collaborated and competed to identify the most efficient way to find iron ore by learning to read the stories of rocks. They developed skills used by Smithsonian scientists to identify geologic features in rocks, interpret geologic maps, piece together drill cores, and model how tectonic forces deform rocks. After honing their geologic skills, they competed in groups to see who could most accurately find the extent of the natural resource.

— Ms. Autry’s seventh-grade class