School Dispatches: May 3, 2017

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Annunciation Catholic School

Seventh-grade science at Annunciation Catholic School is definitely a complex and fun subject, especially what we are currently learning. This year in science we are learning about life science/biology. While at a glance biology may not seem as interesting as quantum mechanics or astrology, if you give it time, biology definitely blooms into a very interesting topic.

In science, we have just finished the forensics section and are moving on to the anatomy of the human body. We have finished the skeletal and muscular system and are now focusing on organ systems, which include the digestive system, nervous system and reproductive system. In order to make sure we are all comfortable with the reproductive system, our teacher is doing something similar to a Q&A for us.

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Since any subject can become boring if the syllabus is dull, we are doing a lab where we will dissect a sheep’s heart! While this may seem disgusting, it is extremely fascinating — because by dissecting this sheep’s heart, our class is learning how our hearts work (they both pump blood).

If this still doesn’t convince you how fun our science class is, every week our class has a current events assignment (two to three kids at a time) for which we can choose anything science-related and explain it to the class. It is great since it is based on our interests! Overall, science this year has been very interesting.

— Felemon Abebu, seventh-grader

British International School of Washington

The British International School of Washington’s community began the week with saying goodbye to the Year 13 students. Every year, the graduating class prepares and presents a Leaving Assembly in front of the Year 7 to Year 12 pupils as well as faculty members. Following this assembly, the Year 13s take study leave — a two-month period where they come to school only for their International Baccalaureate exams. However, the option to come into school to discuss particular topics or subject matter with the teaching staff remains open to them.

Additionally, the International and Communications Technology Year 11 students sat this week for one of the first International General Certificate of Secondary Education exams. This exam, as well as the Language oral exams, was staggered over the last two weeks, and marks the beginning of the Year 11’s exam period.

Even with the many exams and revision sessions occurring, students are still able to partake in the many enrichment opportunities at our school.

For example, this term marked new PE class options: softball or tennis. Whilst both selections require vastly different skill sets, both allow students to take advantage of the idyllic spring weather.

Whether students are catching softballs with leather mitts or hitting tennis balls with rackets, all will have the opportunity to welcome a breath of fresh air and the beautiful sunshine.

— Ava Lundell, Year 11 (10th-grader)

Lafayette Elementary School

Letters About Literature is a reading and writing contest for fourth- through 12th-graders. Each child reads a poem, speech or book and then writes to the author (whether living or dead). The contest has state winners and national winners. The program is sponsored by the Library of Congress.

Lafayette’s fifth-graders started working on our submissions in the fall in order to meet the contest’s January deadline. Ms. Campbell, a fifth-grade teacher at Lafayette, has several students who are finalists in the Center for the Book’s contest: Ella Barton, Alex Benach, Hailey Fox, Natalie Gordon, Eddy Hoover, Alice Stillerman and Dalton Tatchell. “I feel very proud about being a finalist. I’m very thankful that my mom helped me through it,” says Ella Barton, a fifth-grader.

Mrs. Harn, a fifth-grade teacher who helped organize the program at Lafayette for the fifth-graders, says, “I like the project because students have a chance to share their opinions.”

As you can see, Letters About Literature is a fun and imaginative learning experience for students. “I feel very happy [to be a finalist] because I’m proud of my writing. I’m grateful because my teachers were so supportive,” added Natalie Gordon, a Lafayette fifth-grader. All D.C. finalists will be recognized on Saturday, May 6, at 10:30 a.m. at the Tenley-Friendship Library.

— Parker Fendig, fifth-grader

Murch Elementary School

Across Murch, third- through fifth-graders are thinking about the upcoming PARCC test. PARCC stands for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, which is given in eight states and the District of Columbia as part of Common Core. Teachers have been preparing students for the test, as Principal Cebrzynski says that the school starts preparing on Day One and that it is a great tool to plan for the next year.

Math teacher Tara Mabrey says that she has been showing her students how to apply knowledge to answer multi-step word problems using the standards of mathematical practices. She believes her students are ready to perform well. Another teacher, Monica Davis, describes her feelings about the test. She says that “despite its challenges, I think it is a great tool to gauge where students are.” In her class, she says that they’ve “read text and written in all the writing styles.” She thinks her students “have the tools to do well.”

Students have their own opinions. Van Harllee says that he enjoys PARCC because it tests all of your knowledge. He thinks that anyone can do well if they pay attention in class. Paulina Stewart-Aday believes that “teachers put too much pressure on [students to perform well on] PARCC.” Francesca Purificato agrees, saying, “I am nervous and dreading [PARCC].” Eighteen states have dropped out since PARCC’s creation, mostly citing fear of government encroachment, although most say that it’s a more rigorous test.

— Devan Tatlow and Kate Rodriguez, fifth-graders

Washington International School

Grade 4 has started the IB PYP unit Sharing the Planet, which focuses on plants and their role in our lives. We inaugurated this topic with a trip to the Botanic Gardens, where we visited different rooms, each representing a natural habitat — for instance, the Tropics, Hawaii or World Deserts. There was also one room devoted to Plant Adaptations, which offered not only a variety of plant species but also explanations about the parts of a plant, their preferable light exposure and the process of photosynthesis. We filled out a booklet with prompts that made us carefully observe our surroundings and answer questions. Now that our exploration is continuing in class, we realize how useful that knowledge has become.

In April not only plants are blossoming. This is Poetry Month! Our school celebrated this occasion with poet Joseph Green, who shared his work with us and, to our great delight, offered a poetry workshop for our grade. First Mr. Green told us a story we had to retell in six words. Then we did the same with stories we created, first in English and then in another language. Afterward, we chose an inanimate object that was important to us, gave it a proper name and wrote a poem about its role in saving the world. Mr. Green picked the best ones to be read in front of the whole school.

As budding botanists and poets, our minds and our imaginations are in full bloom!

— Ilaria Luna, fourth-grader