Thursday, April 23, 2015

Earth Day

Surely there can be no better way to commemorate Earth Day than to plant a tree.
SK's own Team Spencer created a ritual wherein all students and staff were invited to write wishes for this lovely red maple on scraps of fibrous, highly biodegradable paper,
and plant them alongside the tree on our playground.
From our class, Lee, Kaeli and Karenna spent an hour digging the hole
and preparing the site with soil and compost.
Nico, Jianmarco and Mike (in the hole) went out for awhile to help them out.
Mary Keaton, who is working with us on Eudaimonia, noticed the kids out her window,
 and went outside in the cold to take this photo.

Transformation and Legacy Exhibitions

Exhibitions are on the agenda for next week. It's the third round of the year. This round, the kids are collaborating on their lessons, so there will be seven instead of fourteen. 

Here is the schedule, including topics. The kids designed projects around the theme of Transformation.

Monday, April 27, 9:00-9:30
Elizabeth & Lee are teaching mealworm & beetle lessons to Susan's 1-2 class.

Monday, April 27, 10:30-11:00
Trent & Isobel are designing, planting, and stocking an SK butterfly garden.

Tuesday, April 28, 8:00-8:30
Matthew & Mike wrote a paper on Ovid's Metamorphoses and are teaching a lesson on creation myths.

Wednesday, April 29, 10:30-11:00
Jianmarco is building a tree made of cardboard & candy bars (the transformation of a tree into consumables and back again); Kaeli is building a GSR sensor to measure mood changes as a response to music.

Thursday, April 30, 8:00-8:30
Nico & Margaret are preparing a slideshow on the formation of planets and teaching a lesson on gravity.

Thursday, April 30, 9:30-10:00
Maya & Nik are doing a comparative study of the recent transformations of Dubai (expansion) and Detroit (regression).

Thursday, April 30, 3:45-4:15
Aristea & Karenna are making eight pots in the style of four different cultures.

Come if you can. Ask any questions you'd like.

Our final round of Exhibitions will engage the theme of Legacy. The eighth graders will be showing off the Legacy Projects they designed and carried out on behalf of the Summers-Knoll community. The seventh graders will be creating individual projects that delve more deeply into any subject that spurred their interest over the previous year or two.

Saturday, April 4, 2015


The course of true love never did run smooth.

One of the most memorable adventures of the year was the first-ever 7-8 Spring Production. Joanna kicked it off this year with a return to Shakespeare: his most popular play, A Midsummer Night's Dream. The kids handled everything, as usual--props, costumes, publicity, etc--and Chris Barbeau donated the space and equipment at his studio, Ringstar, ten minutes' bus ride from SK.

Here are a few of Joanna's notes on the production, sent to the cast just after.

To my Romp of Thespians,

Well done. You made magic these past few days. All your work, effort, frustration, play, experimentation, irritation, fun, and determination paid off as you took your audience along on a storyline that made them laugh uproariously and--whether you noticed or not--cry with pride and pleasure at the spell you cast. Congratulations!

And thank you. There's not much I love more than working on Shakespeare with talented actors, and watching a script grow in people's hearts and minds from a jumble of words on a page to a living story. You did that, beautifully. 

I'll treasure the memories of Mike dying, Nik pulling roses out of his dress, Kaeli savaging a feather boa, Aristea chasing Trent around the stage, Trent dodging, Maya falling in love with a donkey, Margaret boasting about hunting with Hercules, Nico losing his way in the forest, Jianmarco being the most obnoxious husband ever, Elizabeth being the most obnoxious mother ever, Matthew chasing a laser pointer like a kitten, Lee making sure that Pyramus could not get past the wall, Isobel trying to fight her way through Trent and Niko to get to Aristea, and Karenna giving me goosebumps in the final speech even more. 

Transformation Projects and Exhibitions

The next round of Projects and Exhibitions each engage the theme of Transformation. The students first brainstormed about seventy project ideas, then gradually worked them down to this amazing list:

  • explaining the unexplainable in Ovid's Metamorphosis
  • the effects of music upon mood, measured by physical responses
  • a tree made of paper, with chocolate bars hanging from it (materials converted from nature to product and back again)
  • an exhibit of original ceramics modelled after styles from early civilizations
  • a brand-new Summers-Knoll butterfly garden
  • lessons taught and learned with the first & second grade class' study of mealworms
  • a comparative study of the recent histories of Detroit and Dubai
  • gravity and the possibility of life on different planets of our solar system
These Exhibitions will take place in the final week of April.

Happy Happy Fun Number One Super Happy Fun Fun Week

SK's Student Government, two representatives apiece from fifth through eighth grade, polled students in the fall and returned with forty ideas for activity days. these were narrowed to nine in student government sessions, then voted down to four by the faculty. The result: Happy Happy Fun Number One Super Happy Fun Fun Week, held for the first time this year during the last week before spring break.

We opened the week with Pajama Day, which was as adorable as you'd expect. Many of the 7-8s were exhausted from the exertions of Midsummer week, so I'm not convinced any of them ever got out of their PJs after Saturday night.

Tuesday was Character Day. This is Summers-Knoll! What a list!
  • Ally of Every Soul a Star
  • Arwin of Lord of the Rings
  • Bellatrix LeStrange
  • Belle
  • Cat in the Hat
  • Charlie Brown
  • Charlie Bucket
  • Cleopatra
  • CS Lewis
  • Diana of Bizenghast
  • Dorothy and Toto
  • Dragon
  • Easter fairy
  • Elsa
  • Eric of Divergent
  • Fern Arable of Charlotte's Web
  • Fili from the Hobbit
  • Gimley the Dwarf
  • Golden Ninja
  • Hannah Montana
  • Harry Potter
  • Hello Kitty
  • Hermione Granger
  • Hippie Man
  • Iron Man
  • Jaden from Power Rangers
  • Jasmine
  • Jawa from Star Wars
  • Jealousy
  • Kate Wetherall
  • Khufu of the Great Pyramids
  • Klaus from A Series of Unfortunate Events
  • Little Pink Riding Hood
  • Luna Lovegood
  • Maena
  • Mystical Camo Guy
  • Nymphadora Tonks
  • Piper McLean
  • Pirate
  • Pokemon trainer
  • Road Runner
  • Ron Weasley
  • Scream
  • Shawn Spencer
  • Shigeru Miyamoto
  • Space Shuttle
  • Spy
  • Terraria Person
  • Tintin
  • Tom Joad
  • Wayne Rooney
  • White Warg
  • Witch
Wednesday was the Fun Run, a lap around the school at 3:00 sharp for absolutely everybody, followed by popsicles and recess at the end of the day. The 7-8s ran at the back of the pack with kindergarten buddies. When one of the first graders tripped and fell, Trent stopped immediately and nimbly stepped behind her. While Imogen and Maya tended to her, he made sure none of the runners behind bumped into her. 

Thursday was Culture Day. Students were invited to dress in national or cultural costume--I counted four boys in kilts, hurrah!--and we served up international cuisine at lunch. I noted most the drums and starches. Josh facilitated a drum circle amongst the 7-8s, a suitable choice because all cultures have music of some kind, and many anthropologists theorize that the earliest music was percussive in nature: perhaps an organic emergence from the clack-clack-clack of tool-making. 

We ate sukuma wiki and ugali from Kenya; onigiri and nobu from Japan (both built from starches--another commonality amongst nearly every culture, and an especially useful food because it serves as an eating utensil); kottbullar from Sweden; and dulce de leche from Argentina. All of these dishes were prepared and served by the 7-8s. Families also contributed shortbread from Scotland, biscuits from Italy, crackers from China, and halva from Turkey.

Culture Day was first cooked up by Jonathan Flynn (SK '14) and was planned and administered in part this year by Jianmarco Barbeau (SK '15).