MB Student Senate’s 26 Random Acts Of Kindness Project

Over the next three weeks, the Moses Brown Student Senate invites all members of the KindnessMB community (students, faculty, and staff) to engage in a “Random Act of Kindness” exercise to honor the memory of the 20 students and 6 educators of Sandy Hook Elementary School. Read a letter from the Senate below which describes how you can participate:

On December 14 2012, 20 students and 6 staff members were fatally shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. This senseless random act of violence permanently scarred the emotional well being of many innocent citizens and raised some serious questions about gun laws in our country.

This tragedy affected so many. As a way of dealing with the pain and sadness, communities around the country have found unique ways to pay tribute to the innocent children and staff of Sandy Hook who lost their lives on that fateful day. Last spring, Theo Murray (Tolman HS baseball coach) organized a baseball game between Tolman HS and Newton HS at McCoy Stadium to help enlighten the spirits of a stricken community. All proceeds from the game went towards a memorial in Newtown. Recently, MB sophomore Hannah O. shared with the Student Senate a gesture that was done by her local high school in Attleboro, Mass. – 26 random acts of kindness in memory of the 26 people who died in Newtown on 12/14/2012. This concept originated with an internet challenge from NBC News correspondent, Ann Curry. The Senate quickly embraced this intriguing idea with a few Moses Brown added twists.

We encourage you to share your random act of kindness by posting it on the upper school Opinion Board (temporarily being renamed the Random Act of Kindness Board) with a brief description of what, where, and when using the provided index cards and push pins. Signing the card is optional – the actual act of kindness is more important than who performed it.

On Friday, March 14, the Student Senate will collect all the postings. Using variety as the main criteria, the Senate will then choose a “final 26” and make a presentation that will be shared after spring break.

The Senate respectfully asks that you follow the guidelines listed below when making a post:

MOSES BROWN – SANDY HOOK 26 RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS
GUIDELINES

1.    FACTS – Please clearly list the what , where , and when  of your act of kindness on the provided index cards or a piece of paper.

2.    RESPECT – This is a community wide activity designed to publically honor the memory of those who lost their lives at Sandy Hook.  There is no room on the Opinion Board for any posts that are, sarcastic, insulting, or not true. All posts should be honest and genuine.

3.    VARIETY – The Senate recognizes that many acts of kindness could easily take place on the Moses Brown campus. However, to ensure more spontaneity and creativity, please consider the value of doing something off campus, out of your “comfort zone”.

4.    COMMENTSAlthough the Opinion Board is being used, the “Random Acts of Kindness” posts are not opinions and are therefore not inviting written reactions. Please refrain from putting comments on any post.

5.    SHARING – Please make an effort to stop by the opinion board once a day. You may be surprised what you see!

6.    FREQUENCYYou can make more than one post if you perform more than one act of kindness!

7.    ENDING DATEAll posts will be taken down at 3pm on Friday March 14.

Thanks,

Your Student Senate
Josh J., Benji P., Eric C., Conor F., Charlotte F., Reed B., Margaret C., Max H., Cole T., Andrew B., Liz K., Sara G., Sydney H., Nainoa N.

Photo by Nutmeg Design. Creative Commons License.

6th grade letter to President Obama: our thoughts on American involvement in Afghanistan

This year 6th grade students read and studied Afghanistan, and discussed their opinions in mini Harkness or class-driven discussion. The below letter summarizes the results of these discussions to send to President Obama. “Creating the letter helped students to see that their informed opinions matter,” says English teacher Debby Neely.

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

February 5, 2014

Dear President Obama,

My class has recently studied the causes of American involvement in Afghanistan, the Taliban, and what life is like for children of war in Afghanistan. We are the sixth grade class at Moses Brown School.  We also read a novel The Breadwinner by Deborah the-breadwinnerEllis, about the effects of the Taliban rule on children and families in Afghanistan. 

We had four classdriven discussions based on our knowledge about whether or not the United States should still be in Afghanistan. I will say that the results of those discussions show that we are quite divided on the issue. William said, “There is no reason for us to stay.  We have avenged 9/11, and it is impossible to eradicate Al Queda. Our troops have suffered and given enough.”  Conversely, Sarah said, “We should be at war against the terrible things the Taliban have done. They don’t even treat women like they are people.”

As we are a Quaker school, we had many voices offering Karl and Julia’s perspective: Karl: “Our troops should be helping the Afghanis start a new life.” And Julia: “We shouldn’t stay to fight but we should stay to help people.”

Delphine added, “We should compromise and not sink to the level of the Taliban by having drones kill innocent women and children.”  Harry suggested an alliance with the Taliban.  And David added, “Let’s not contribute to a neverending cycle of death.” 

We hope our opinions in the sixth grade at Moses Brown help inform a more peaceful, helpful solution to the problems of those suffering in Afghanistan.

We wish we could do more to help the children suffering there and our study has made us realize how very fortunate we are.

Sincerely

Debby Neely,
Sixth Grade English teacher and adviser

GREEN tinted dining, campus planning

Where does your food come from, and what is done with leftover waste after you are done FoodFocuseating? Was your house or the building you are in built sustainably? We hope so! These are important questions when considering how to live more sustainably, at school or at home.

MB’s Sustainability Committee has been mulling over these ideas as well. To that end, the group is partnering with SAGE Dining to look at issues of food sustainability. Rob DeReamer, our food service manager, has played an instrumental role. First, SAGE makes every effort to source its food locally with cafeteria signage indicating which food items come from which farms. [See for yourself in this video]

But that’s not all: the cooking oil used in MB’s kitchen is now being collected for reuse by Newport Biodiesel, New England’s first sustainable producer of biodiesel fuel. Finally, we are proud to announce that Moses Brown is the first school in Rhode Island to partner with the Compost Plant, a local start-up with plans to collect and compost food waste from APenvirokidsProvidence-based restaurants and schools.

Sustainability has also been a focus during recent campus planning efforts, with an emphasis on green design and energy saving potentials. One of the highlights in this process was a presentation to members of our Sustainability & Building & Grounds committees by students in MB’s AP Environmental Science class. They made an impassioned and convincing case for green design. [See a glimpse of their presentation]

Quaker Youth Leadership Conference lights a flame

Kieran, Meghan, Ananya, Cam, Gabbie R-G, Gabbie S, and Reed at Westtown School for the Quaker Youth Leadership Conference.

Kieran, Meghan, Ananya, Cam, Gabbie R-G, Gabbie S, and Reed at Westtown School for the Quaker Youth Leadership Conference.

“We often become complacent in our own communities, but in a new place with new people, I woke up to the idea that we can make a difference.” – Cam C.

For the tenth consecutive year, a delegation of Moses Brown upper school students took part in the Quaker Youth Leadership Conference. Reed B ’15, Meghan B. ’15, Cam C. ’15, Ananya H. ’15, Kieran H. ’16, Gabby R.-G. ’15 and Gabbie S.15 traveled to Philadelphia with teachers Galen McNemar Hamann and Meg Fifer to engage with peers from Friends schools all over the world. “I was delighted to see that so many kids could come together and be comfortable,” Reed said, “merely on the premise that we attend Quaker schools.”

With integrity as its overall theme, the three-day conference included the plenary session “Letting our lives speak: learning how to express our witness in the world”; a panel/case study of student activism and leadership; meetings for worship; and workshops led by students and teachers on themes related to Friends decision-making, disciplinary committees, and integrity in practice.

MB’s delegation created and led a workshop on social media: Integrity in 140 characters #RESPECT. The workshop encouraged conversation about social media dilemmas in schools, presenting three scenarios in which social media has been detrimental to an individual or school community:

  • Teammates argue on Facebook over losing a game. As friends chime in, the situation escalates, with consequences including suspensions. “If you were one of their friends, how could you help diffuse the situation? How would you have kept your integrity, and helped them keep theirs?”
  • A boy celebrates his first-choice college acceptance on Facebook. “Feedback from 20 of his 726 Facebook friends appears positive but, as with any story, not all of the details lie directly at the surface… How should social media be used in relation to the college selection process?”
  • An anonymous Twitter account “@RIconfessions” surfaces with posts about schools and their students. Confessions range from harmless to cruel, graphic and rude. In school, some find the account entertaining but many are uncomfortable with it. “How do you respond? Follow? Block? Participate? Which choice maintains your integrity? How can you take steps in your school to prevent people from being hurt by social media?”

The discussion explored: how can we stand behind the words or images we post? We should feel confident putting our names next to our posts. Know your audience – who might see this? Reading a message aloud before posting can serve as a simple reminder: anything we’re uncomfortable saying or hearing doesn’t belong online.

Kieran: “I’ll bring back the ideas from the workshop, so we can revamp and continue our discussion on integrity and social media at MB.”

Gabbie: “It was so interesting to hear different students’ exposure to social media and their solutions to cyber bullying.”

Ananya: ”Thanks to the workshop, I could both teach and learn at QYLC, which was rewarding.“

Cam: “Leading a workshop was a great opportunity to see what a difference we can make. It was also great to see just how similar our school’s issues are to some others.”

At Philadelphia's Race Street meetinghouse

At Philadelphia’s Race Street meetinghouse

The conference imparted an untraditional sense of leadership:

Kieran: “A leader can solve problems with what they’re given, and can follow their own path instead of just going with a trend, or what’s ‘cool.’”

Meghan: “A leader doesn’t have to be the loudest person in the room, but someone who leads by example, who can bring people together in order to make change.”

The students learned some new things about Quakerism, too:

Ananya: “The idea of a Meeting for Business is a new aspect of Quakerism for me.”  Gabby: “I learned how the peace testimony relates to social justice, and how to implement it.”

Reed: “In the simplest terms, I discovered my roots in Quakerism. I strongly believe in ‘keeping it real,’ living simply, and seeing people for who they are at heart. It’s for this reason that I care so much about how my generation carries itself and the integrity that people can uphold in their every encounter with others. After the conference, I’m eager to more whole-heartedly embrace Quakerism in my interactions with family, friends and acquaintances.”

Kieran: “I learned that Quakers aren’t always Quakers right away, but some grow into the faith and continue to grow with it.”

1Friends ctr

Science electrifies Carol Entin, and her students

“Art and science go together so well. They share elements of experimentation and electric valentinesdiscovery.”

At the heart of Moses Brown’s faculty cohort program are cohort projects, each teacher’s big idea for personal research to be shared in the classroom. Two ideas sprang to mind for lower school science teacher Carol Entin: electricity/electronics or brain research. “I knew that electronics would offer far more project opportunities for my elementary students!” She proposed the following:

  • advance her own understanding of some of the fundamental skills and concepts required for working with electricity and electronics
  • become familiar with the currently available components, educational resources, and desirable equipment
  • determine various ways electricity and electronics could be used in lower school projects, across all grades, as well as subject areas, naturally supporting the principles of project-based learning and the “Maker Movement” in the classroom

Her project combines her love of learning, teaching, and creating. “Electricity and valentineelectronics are topics I wanted to learn about myself. I’ve always found them fascinating, with new innovations like LED technology developing within my lifetime.”

Carol created a curricular project for her second graders: making simple electrical circuits, using coin cell batteries, LED light bulbs and another innovation, carbon-based paint that conducts electricity, so no wires are needed. (watch video) Tiny hands painted along the lines of Carol’s paper template and glued down the battery and bulb. During the previous week, the students worked with art teacher Sarah Barnum to make Valentines that could accommodate the circuit cards, lighting up the hearts. “Art and science go together so well,” Carol says. “They share elements of experimentation and discovery.”

Carol’s research led her to another project that combines her interest in electronics with her affinity for anatomy and textile design. She designed and created a hand-knit “a-knit-omically” correct neuron: a battery inside the nucleus powers tiny chip LEDs at the ends of the dendrites and axons (watch video). Eventually, when coupled with more knitted neurons, it will demonstrate how the body’s electrical impulses travel along the nervous system, jumping across synapses from one neuron to the next on their way to and from brainhatthe brain. Carol’s hand-knit “brain hat” features 40 yards of knit tubing, coiled in place to represent parts of the brain: purple for the frontal lobe, maroon for the motor cortex, yellow for the sensory cortex, green for the parietal lobe, blue for the temporal lobe and red for the occipital lobe. Next she plans a model eye, built with polymer clay and photo sensors, showing how images travel from the eye along the optic neurons to the brain for interpretation. “I recorded twenty-five pages of notes during the neuron design, and five pages of drawings. The students can see how I use the documentation skills I teach them. An artist documents, just like a scientist does.”

“This was a real stretch for me,” says Carol, “because I’ve never played with electronics. I had to figure out which components to purchase and how to safely connect to which kind of battery. I had to learn soldering, wiring, basic terminology. Academic Dean Laurie Center found a set of child-friendly electrical components called littleBits that connect to each other via magnets, and introduced them to art, technology and science teachers. As a result, the lower school science lab now has 9 sets for children to use. littleBits are real, visible electronic components, not toys, so children become familiar with the real thing as they tinker and invent.

“I have more ideas than I can ever develop. It’s my job to develop experiences for our students that energize them about learning how the world works.  I’m so lucky to spend my days with kids who fall off their chairs with excitement when the lights light up. They light up themselves!”

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Moses Brown’s faculty cohort system is a professional development and evaluation program for veteran teachers. Evoking our commitment to lifelong learning, a year of transformational study launches a five-year cycle of professional development. A cohort of teachers drawn from all three divisions sets goals, serves as resources for one another’s evaluations and shares professional development plans at year’s end. At the heart of the program are cohort projects, each teacher’s big idea for personal research to be shared in the classroom. The benefit to students is clear: teachers are continuously engaged in deepening their expertise, refining their curriculum, bringing the latest research back to the classroom and partnering with colleagues to improve the learning experience. A pilot cohort of six faculty began work in 2011-12, and a second group of sixteen followed in 2012-12. This year’s seventeen are well on their way to integrating their cohort projects into their curricula. Three years in to the program, roughly 40% of faculty have taken part in the cohort system.

Ice Side: Michael Farber ’69

Moses Brown is pleased to share thoughts from Michael Farber, Class of 1969, who will be in Sochi, covering the men’s hockey tournament, primarily. Since Michael joined Sports Illustrated in 1994, hockey has been his principal Olympic assignment:

“These are my tenth Winter Olympic Games, and 18th overall, and almost certainly my last. I am leaving Sports Illustrated‘s staff after Sochi although I will stay on with the magazine as a special contributor.

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     “What makes my last working Games special is they coincide with being the first for my daughter, at least as a journalist. (She came to Vancouver 2010 as a tourist for a few days.) Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber, 25 this month, is a reporter with The Moscow Times, the English daily newspaper in Russia, although she is working for NBC in Sochi as a ‘platform supervisor,’ working in research and helping with translation. French is her mother’s tongue, and she is fluent in Russian. Gabrielle has been living in Moscow since October.
     “Starting with ‘The Miracle on Ice’ in Lake Placid 1980, I have had the best seat in the house for some of the sporting moments that have gripped the globe. Some of my highlights revolve around hockey – Sidney Crosby’s Golden Goal for Canada in Vancouver and Peter Forsberg’s spectacular shootout winner for Sweden in Lillehammer 1994 – but most do not. I have been privileged to watch Ben Johnson run faster than any human before – 9.79 for 100 meters at the Seoul Olympics. (The positive dope test is a side issue. I had witnessed mankind surpassing itself.) I have seen Muhammad Ali light the Olympic cauldron in Atlanta. I also was lucky enough to see many of Michael Phelps’ races, including a relay in Beijing, in which the USA anchor, freestyler Jason Lezak, had a near miraculous leg to defeat the French and keep Phelps’ chance for eight gold medals alive.
     “As you might have guessed, I have had the most privileged professional life of anyone I know. I have travelled the world, seen where-were-you-when moments? and had many laughs in the course of four-plus decades of sportswriting.”
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     Thanks to Michael Farber for sharing these thoughts from Sochi. Michael was a boarding student at Moses Brown who scored one point for the MB varsity basketball team, 1968-69, and was sports editor for The Quaker. He is a member of the Moses Brown Athletic Hall of Fame and has been recognized for his sports writing by the Hockey Hall of Fame. In 2007, he was named Canada’s Sportswriter of the Year. Post-Sochi, Michael will continue writing and doing feature/documentary work and also appear as a weekly regular on TSN (“sort of the ESPN of Canada”). Since August, Michael has been a consultant with NBC Sports on its mid-week hockey rivalry and top 10 shows. Follow Michael on twitter @michaelfarber3. 
     Read Michael’s thoughts on Storytelling from Cupola, the MB alumni magazine: