School Dispatches: March 14, 2018

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The Key School Press Corps visited the White House Press Room. (Photo courtesy of Key Elementary School)

British International School of Washington

As winter slowly turns to spring, life at the British International School of Washington picks up pace. With year 11’s General Certificate of Secondary Education and year 13’s International Baccalaureate exams fast approaching, as well as year 12 students sitting for the SAT and ACT, an atmosphere of anticipation has settled upon the school.

Immediately before the February half-term break, year 11 and year 13 students sat for a series of “mock exams” in each of their subjects. These exams were administered to assess accurately the level each year 11 and year 13 student is currently working at and to identify areas for improvement. Additionally, the mock exams were held under formal test conditions to ensure that the students become acclimated to the testing environment. From this point forward, students will use the results of the mock exams to improve in the areas where learning gaps were identified.

To prepare year 12 students better for the SAT and ACT, BISW offered students the opportunity to take practice tests for both. The results of these tests, very much like the mock exams, will be used by the students as they study for the formal test.

Despite the focus on the preparation for upcoming exams, BISW remains a warm and friendly environment. At all times, teachers are open to student queries or concerns and students support and encourage each other.

— Ava Lundell, Year 12 (11th-grader)

Deal Middle School

Students ended February with a much anticipated presentation, celebrating Black history.

In the performance, we recited poems from Black icons, such as “Can You See the Pride in the Panther?” by Tupac Shakur, and poems written by the students themselves. We gave historical facts, whether about U Street, which used to be called “Black Broadway,” or about former Mayor Marion Berry.

Leahno Dicks, a seventh-grader participating in the event, said, “I wanted to be in the assembly because it’s important for Black people to share our feelings and thoughts about Black history.”

This performance itself is a powerful one, spreading information about the rich Black history in D.C, but nothing is more powerful than the closing of the performance, when we have our fists up, proclaiming, “We are Black history!”

— Aigner Muschette, eighth-grader​

Eaton Elementary School

At John Eaton, every month we have a school-wide morning meeting where all the students learn a new “principle word” and we talk about how we can use the word to help others do their best. We have learned cooperation, assertiveness and responsibility so far. 

This month, we are focusing on the word “empathy.” Empathy is when you put yourself “in another person’s shoes” to feel what they feel. When you are empathic, you are trying to understand what another person feels without having the same experiences. When you are showing empathy, you are not just listening to the person talking, you are listening for how they feel. Showing empathy is noticing that someone is sad and trying to understand why they are sad.

Ethan gave us a good example of showing empathy. He told us about when his friend tripped on a hula hoop at recess. Ethan sat down with the friend and told the story of when he had an embarrassing fall too. The friend felt better because he didn’t feel alone and he knew Ethan cared about him and also understood how he felt. Justice said it’s important to know that someone “gets you” and that’s why empathy is important.

At our morning meeting, we discussed the Empathy Challenge. The class that shows the most empathy at school will get recognized. The grown-ups are looking for kids being respectful and quiet in the hall to show that they know that other classes are trying to concentrate. They will be looking for kids to share their feelings in order to know and understand other kids more.

— Lia Feleke, Justice Lamar, Marianne Treguer, Hillary Zavala, Ethan Fausten and Zadie Hunt, fourth-graders, and Roman Bystriakov, fifth-grader

Emerson Preparatory School

On Feb. 24, a group of Emerson students volunteered at a community service event at the Capitol Area Food Bank. Our school counselor, Ms. Reinhart, accompanied the group and facilitated Emerson’s participation.

An Emerson partner organization, the Student Global Ambassador Program (SGAP), as well as the Capitol Area Food Bank sponsored this great chance to earn community service hours.

As we filed into the food bank, we were given a quick safety briefing for working in an industrial warehouse. We were also informed about the great work that the staff at SGAP does for youth around the world through various programs that “[empower] young leaders to think critically and to design answers to real-world problems.”

Now that SGAP is a partner to our school, we are fortunate to have many of those opportunities available to us. We are especially lucky in this instance because we are serving our communities and working on team-building skills, which are a crucial part of a successful academic career.

This time, with the help of food pantry staff, we stacked wooden pallets, labeled, and packed up dozens of boxes of sliced turkey. Although frozen solid, the turkeys were flying! Across the table, that is.

This rewarding experience will bring more stability to those in the area who are food-insecure, and hopefully inspired all of us to continue to serve those around us.

— Isabel Fajardo, 11th-grader

Key Elementary School

Last week the Key School Press Corps visited the White House Press Room.  Key School parent and White House reporter for the Associated Press, Ken Thomas, kindly arranged our visit. Arlo’s father, a White House reporter for The LA Times also met us.

When we got there at around 4 p.m. it was crunch time. Outside the entrance of the press room, we saw a bunch of people running to cover two senators who had just come out of a meeting with President Trump on the Florida school shooting.  It was exciting.

Then Mr. Thomas took us inside the main press room itself.  Built from 1969-1970, it clearly has a long history of questions and amazing answers. The surrounding cubicles and small workspaces were so tight in some places it was hard to understand how they get things done.

We hoped we could see the president but he was tied up in another briefing. Then we learned that Hope Hicks, a chief White House aide, was going to resign and we had to leave. The hustle and bustle overall inspired some of us to be a reporter.

— Arlo Bierman, Jackson Mello and Robert Swift, fourth-graders, and Michelle Dunkley, fifth-grader (Key School Press Corps)

Lafayette Elementary School

On March 9, students of Lafayette jumped their hearts out with classmates, teachers and friends.  At Lafayette every year students aim to raise approximately $20,000 for Jump Rope for Heart.  The organization helps kids with heart problems, including some who need surgery. In the gym there were hearts hanging with jumping goals on them like 100 jumps, jump for a minute and even 250 jumps. When the student achieved that goal they could write their name on the heart. The hearts filled up quickly!

Speaking of the gym, the PE teachers, Mrs. Howes and Mrs. McClure, got students physically active and heart-healthy. They taught about how you need to get at least 60 minutes of exercise every day.  During the event, the teachers took time to teach about the importance of the heart.

Fifth-graders were especially excited, as it is their last year. According to fifth-grader Molly Hutchinson, “I was really excited to have fun and exercise with my friends. Everyone can have fun.”

The fun spread to the Art room where the students decorated posters that were hung around the gym. Students created signs to encourage and inspire the jumpers.  As of Friday morning the fundraising total was $20,000, but money will continue to come in for a few more days.  The school can’t wait until next year!

— Natalie Broquard, fifth-grader

St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School

When you think of Haiti, what words and thoughts pop into your head? Maybe you think of poor people, dilapidated houses and that earthquake that rocked the country in 2010. These were some things that I thought of when news came out that St. Patrick’s was sending three students there.

From the moment we reached our home for the four days, we had so many friendly people greeting us. I immediately could just see the love and openness that the Haitians show to each other and to visitors. Visiting our sister school, St. Etienne, was an experience like no other. The kids were curious but friendly at the same time. We brought out ukuleles and taught some of the kids how to play them. They were ecstatic and couldn’t wait to simply pluck them. Finally, we delivered the medicine that the St. Patrick’s community donated to St. Etienne. I hoped so much that the medicine we gave to the school would actually make a difference in the community.

Probably the most amazing person we met was Ephesian, whom we met in Jacmel. His lifelong mission is taking in orphaned children in the area, schooling them and teaching them trade skills. As an orphan himself, Ephesian did not want children to experience the hardships that he had. His dedication to nurturing and raising these children is just beautiful to me. This part of the trip was a turning point, the part where I realized that Haiti isn’t just some poor country that shares the island with the Dominican Republic. Haiti is a friendly nation with resourceful, kind and optimistic people.

—Simeon Swaby, eighth-grader

Sheridan School

We have been having fun in Spanish class for the last few weeks because we have been using the Olympics to practice our Spanish skills.  We took academic work, like essays and questions and answers, and mixed it with Olympic sports such as figure skating, biathlon, curling, hockey and many more!  The Olympics are important because countries and people come together in peace to compete. We learned that Ecuador competed for the first time in the Winter Olympics and also that athletes have to make a promise to compete fairly and not cheat. As classroom Olympians, we signed the contract too!  We ended our experience with a closing ceremony celebrating our success and teamwork!

— Sr. Bremner’s third-grade class   

Stoddert Elementary School

The fifth-grade at Stoddert is learning ballroom dancing. Our teachers are Ms. Vivian, Ms. Melissa and Ms. Cynthia from Dancing Classrooms. They come twice a week for 20 classes and we are going to do a performance in April for the school and our families.

We have learned the merengue, fox trot, rhumba, tango, heel-toe polka and the sugar dance. The fox trot was created by Harry Fox in 1914 in the U.S. The merengue was created in the Dominican Republic by Rafael Trujillo in the 20th century. The tango was from Argentina and created in the late 19th century. The sugar dance is the name for a special dance we do at the end of class. My favorite is the rhumba! We are all having fun participating in Dancing Classrooms.

— Maya McLaughlin, fifth-grader

Washington International School

Seventh-graders are hustling to finish our civil rights project in our English classes. After reading John Lewis’ book, “March,” this project allows us to dig deeper into the civil rights movement and choose a topic of interest, varying from notable activists to anti-discrimination campaigns.

Some seventh-graders are doing their projects by hand, meaning tons of effort to get every detail right. However, two seventh-grade sections are using HTML to create websites that demonstrate their knowledge.

Walking into my class in the middle of us learning code together can be interesting. Some students are so focused on what they’re doing that they tune out everything else. Some students may have their hands raised high, still confused on which code is used in order to insert an image. Some students are even kind enough to help solve their peers’ problems.

The process to getting this far in the project was stressful, but an experience to remember. We had to write a persuasive essay to our teacher letting her know why we should work with certain partners. Then, we had to pick three different topics to research, before choosing our top one. We looked at sample websites to understand how they tell a story, and we had to create a mockup design to showcase everything we wanted to include before learning to code it ourselves.

All seventh-graders are anticipating the day when our parents and other students have the opportunity to visit the “7th Grade Civil Rights Museum.”

— Sophia Rees, seventh-grader