Considering Light in ourselves and others, around our communities, and in cultures and religions

Second grade students were the leaders of our all school Meeting for Worship prior to Lightwinter break. In class they have been looking at how light is used as a symbol in many of the world’s major religious and cultural holidays. In Meeting, they shared a bit of what they have learned and invited us to reflect on the below queries:

When was a time when you saw someone’s Inner Light Shine?

How well do we pay attention to one another? What can we do to be more attentive to our friends?

How can we practice listening to one another even beyond words?

If we work to honor the Light of others, can we grow the goodness of our community?

Here’s what they said:

Israel: The second grade has been looking at how light is used as a symbol in many of the world’s major religious and cultural holidays. We looked closely at six of these practices. We read books, took notes and learned from invited guests.

Hana: The Hindu holiday of Diwali celebrates the Indian New Year. People celebrate good overcoming evil by lighting rows of clay lamps called diyas.

Griffin: Next we studied the Spanish and Mexican holiday of Las Posadas. We noticed that people lined the streets with farolitas, or paper lanterns.

Ella: During the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, families light the menorah to remember the victory of the Maccabees and the miracle of the oil that lasted for eight nights.

Jasper: Kwanza is a cultural holiday celebrated by African Americans. A kinara is lit for seven nights. Each candle represents one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

Xavier: During the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, Muslims do not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset for an entire month. Instead, they spend their days in worship, praying in mosques. At the end of Ramadan, people celebrate with a festival and they line their houses with lights.

Ilaria: Quakers believe that every person has an Inner Light. They believe the Inner Light is that of God. The Inner Light can also represent goodness we carry inside ourselves.

Eric: For the last three weeks we watched and listened to each other for moments when we saw one another’s Light shine. We recorded these observations in our light journals.

Emma: We have been using queries for written and shared reflection during our study of Light. We wanted to share four of these queries with you for reflection during our open worship today.

7th Grade Wolf Project, AwoooOOOO

By Maureen Nagle, seventh grade English

Seventh grade students have been immersed in studying wolves since early November as photo 1part of a cross-team, cross-curricular science/English unit. They read Never Cry Wolf in English class about a scientist who goes into the wild to study this top predator. They also took a field trip to the Marine Museum in Fall River to meet three wolves who were traveling the Northheast as part of the Mission Wolf project, Colorado organization that works to educate the public on all things wolf related. By December, students started working with a partner in science class to create an iMovie documentary about the photo 2necessity of wolves to the ecosystem of Yellowstone National Park. They also took on the role of stakeholder to research our driving question for our culminating class debate: How should the US government respond to the presence of wolves beyond government-managed lands? As students are tackling this issue, our own government is working to solve this very same wolf dilemma, whether to keep this essential predator on our endangered species list for further protection or to celebrate its regeneration and remove it.

These last days of school before winter vacation are indeed the most exciting weeks of the MarniZMBscreeningproject. In science, students are working with cross-team partners to finish and polish their iMovie documentaries about the essential presence of these top predators in Yellowstone Park, and in English students are collaborating with cross-team groups to build their arguments for a class debate. We also welcomed film director Marni Zelnick to campus to screen her internationally acclaimed film Druid Peak which won the Special Jury Award at our own Providence Film Festival last year. Her film tells the story of a teenager whose experience with the wolves in Yellowstone helps him overcome personal tragedy, and in doing so, discovers a new purpose in life.

But the best part of this entire experience has been witnessing all the different ways students are engaging in their learning. Students Kade, Eve, David and Lily share their reflections below.

Kade T.: The seventh grade class read Farley Mowat’s book Never Cry Wolf. This book is about a young biologist’s trip into the Keewatin Barren lands in Central Canada. I liked Farley’s dry humor which kept the book moving and in a flow. Through his scientific studies he was able to disprove much of the negative thoughts people had about wolves. I learned that Farley is crazy enough to eat a mouse whole to prove a scientific point. I learned that wolves aren’t as a bad as people portray them to be. Wolves live in a very social and active community. I’ve learned that wolves keep their ecosystem healthy. I would recommend this book because it describes the misinformation about wolves and a young biologist’s opportunity to scientifically show that wolves weren’t the killers that the media portrayed them to be.

Eve H.: The seventh grade English class is debating about whether the wolves of Yellowstone National Park should be “protected” or not. I’m on the con side, so I’m arguing that the wolves shouldn’t be protected. I am excited to enter this debate, full of information and ready to argue. It’s fun working in groups. For example, my group and I get along and work well together. It’s awesome working with team three kids because we don’t usually work together in academic classes, so it’s refreshing and we get the benefit of learning new things from each other.

David G.: Currently in science class, groups of pairs are working on a video that is going to persuade the viewer about which stakeholder is right in the wolf dilemma. My favorite part of the project is taking on the perspective of people who are actually involved in the cause and viewing the problem in their shoes. Working with a student from team 3 is really exciting because they’re not usually in our class and I get to have more interactions with other people. The part of this project I’m most excited about is seeing if my partner and I will actually be able persuade the viewer that my stakeholder is right.

Lillian H.: Mission Wolf is a organization that helps wolves by keeping a wolf “shelter” in Colorado. The wolf part is obvious, but the mission part declares what they do with the wolves – take them to places and hold events to introduce the wolves to people. My class – the MB class of 2020 – got to go to one of these events. At the Mission Wolf event at the marine museum, I am embarrassed to admit that the first sensation I felt was an adrenaline that coursed through my veins like a cold sweat – an adrenaline caused by fear. After the wolves were introduced to the people, the girl wolf with silver fur sat six inches away from my feet, making it abundantly clear she was not scared of me. I learned so much and even got to be next to a wolf – not many people can say that! The best part about the field trip was definitely going with my peers and friends from team 1 last year. After getting over my fear, I noticed that the entire seventh grade had been together, in one room, and that in itself was a blessing.

Parent forum: senior year survival strategies

Jessica Stewart, school psychologist

Jessica Stewart, school psychologist

Senior year brings heavy course loads, leadership roles in sports teams and activities, SATs, college applications, acceptances and rejections, exams, financial aid planning, college choices, AP exams and senior projects… then TLTI (“The Last Time I’ll…”) Syndrome, prom, baccalaureate and graduation. Seniors are shouldering so much responsibility while trying to savor this capstone year – it’s stressful for the whole family. The Parents’ Association devoted its December upper school meeting to “Senior year: plan for it, survive it, enjoy it.”  About 40 parents of current and future seniors gathered in Krause Gallery to hear from school psychologist Jessica Stewart, upper school head Debbie Phipps and dean of students Kevin Matson on what to expect and how to cope. “Survivor” parents with older kids shared ideas that worked for their families. 

Jess Stewart offered strategies to help parents build and nurture strong, open relationships with teens, anticipating stressors such as competition for college admissions; pressure and validation from inside and outside the family; recovering from rejection; age-appropriate separation and independence; and, with the end of high school, new beginnings. “The most important things are open communication and judgment-free support,” she said. “It’s critical for parents to begin to see their kids as independent young adults with their own goals and dreams—that may not be fully understood yet, and that’s okay! Engaging with our young adults in a way that values their right to define themselves and their dreams, and still be accepted and valued by the adults in their lives, gives them a platform from which to jump beyond themselves and return for grounding when they need it.”  

One of the parents attending offered these notes to summarize the highlights:

  • Choose a weekly time when you and your child can talk without distractions to establish or further develop a strong rapport. You want him to feel that you are the safe person he can come to when he feels stressed; show him he’s important enough to own this time on your schedule. Be his partner, advocate, or consultant, not his boss or interrogator. Try to communicate your observations without judgment.
  • Establish times when talking about college is off-limits.
  • Encourage your child to seek additional sounding boards: advisors, teachers, friends, friends’ parents.
  • Don’t be part of the problem – keep your own anxiety separate from your child’s, and find an outlet in your spouse, friends, exercise, etc.
  • Ask how you can help. Rather than a general “let me know if you want me to help you,” offer specific ways to support her process: being a sounding board, gathering materials, compiling deadlines, helping with travel plans. After a while, ask again. She may welcome your help with the unexpected.
  • Students face a relentless onslaught of questions and suggestions about college. Help yours have quick answers to neutralize that conversation. “I have a good plan.” Period. Or, “I’m casting a broad net so I’ll have a lot of choices.” Period.
  • Far ahead of colleges’ decision time, reinforce that denials are not a measure of worth. Let your language about “success” highlight that there are many roads to the life he wants.
  • Be flexible to allow your child to find her way and best timing. Not all people are ready for college at the same time. Working, developing a specific talent, or traveling first may be a better choice.
  • Freshman and sophomore families, start thinking and talking about colleges early – but not too early. Our freshmen cannot know who they’ll be and what they’ll want as seniors any more than they knew as fifth graders how they’d feel as freshmen. On the other hand, know your student: looking ahead may help her comfortably explore goals while the pressure is still low. College tours can be good conversation starters.
  • Finally, three parents recommended this article they read in November 29’s New York Times.

All About That MATH!

MB upper school calculus students taught by Jeff Cruzan were inspired by Meghan Trainor’s mega hit All About That Bass and created their own version with new lyrics. See below:

All About That Math

Because you know
I’m all about that math
‘Bout that math, no ENGLISH
I’m all about that math
‘Bout that math, no HISTREE
I’m all about that math
‘Bout that math, no LANGUAGE
I’m all about that math
‘Bout that math

Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no Shakespeare
But I can graph it, graph it
Like I’m supposed to do
‘Cause I got that square root that all the boys chase
And all the right angles in all the right places

I see the calculator workin’ that calculus
We know that “i” ain’t real
C’mon now, make it stop
If you got exponents, just raise ’em up
‘Cause every graph you make is perfect
From the x down to the y

Yeah, my teacher he told me don’t worry about your grade
He says, “Character matters more than your GPA”
You know I won’t be 4.0 silicone Barbie doll
So if fractions still scare you then go ahead and move along

Because you know
I’m all about that math
‘Bout that math, no ENGLISH
I’m all about that math
‘Bout that math, no HISTREE
I’m all about that math
‘Bout that math, no LANGUAGE
I’m all about that math
‘Bout that math
Hey!

I’m bringing functions back
Go ahead and tell them english majors that
No, I’m just playing. I know you think you’re smart
But I’m here to tell ya
Every inch of math is useful from the bottom to the top

Yeah my mama she told me don’t worry about your homework
She says, “You can live at my house for the rest of your life.”
You know I won’t be no math-fearing silicone Harvard doll
So if that’s where you’re going then go ahead and move along

Because you know
I’m all about that math
‘Bout that math, no ENGLISH
I’m all about that math
‘Bout that math, no HISTREE
I’m all about that math
‘Bout that math, no LANGUAGE
I’m all about that math
‘Bout that math

Because you know
I’m all about that math
‘Bout that math, no ENGLISH
I’m all about that math
‘Bout that math, no HISTREE
I’m all about that math
‘Bout that math, no LANGUAGE
I’m all about that math
‘Bout that math

Because you know
I’m all about that math
‘Bout that math, no ENGLISH
I’m all about that math
‘Bout that math, no HISTREE
I’m all about that math
‘Bout that math, no LANGUAGE
I’m all about that math
‘Bout that math
‘Bout that math, ’bout that math
Hey, hey, ooh
You know you like this math