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Junior High

Welcome to the 2019-2020 school year at the Children's House Jr. High. Over the course of the next 9-months, we will be exploring the history of our country, from the American Revolution through the Civil War. Our travels this year will take us south to north, from Montgomery, Alabama and Atlanta, Georgia, to Chicago, Illinois and Beaver Island, Michigan. We will travel by planes, trains, and automobiles- all the while learning from and collaborating with scientists, artists, historians, educators, and Jr. High students from Montessori Schools in Chicago and Atlanta. We will learn, laugh, explore, and no doubt stumble along the way, but in the end none of us will be the same people that entered into the classroom this fall. Here's to the amazing year ahead of us!

“Within the child, lies the fate of the future.”
- Maria Montessori

Kristina Weidenfeller Kristina Weidenfeller, Junior High Guide

Kristina@traversechildrenshouse.org
Tree Sturman Treenen Sturman, Junior High Guide

Treenen@traversechildrenshouse.org
Ryan Adams
Jr High Math
 
Room Parent
Nicole Klau
nmklau@gmail.com

September 25, 2019

“The teachers must have the greatest respect for the young personality, realizing that in the soul of the adolescent, great values are hidden, and that in the minds of these boys and girls there lies all our hope of future progress and the judgement of ourselves and our times.”
- Montessori, From Childhood to Adolescence

This, above all, is our vision for the Junior High community. We continually design, and redesign the prepared environment to provide structures, experiences, and opportunities to support the adolescent’s work of self-construction of identity, personality and ultimately, the realization of their role in the future of humanity.

The beginning of the year is always brimming with activity; there just isn’t enough time in the day. We’ve been busy setting expectations for our classroom community, developing personal goal, and learning our individual roles within the organization of the entire group. Our prepared environments have included our classroom, the Timbers, the greenhouse, the Boardman River, Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, and Beaver Island. At each location, we have learned about how humans do, have, and may interact with the environment; setting the stage for future studies as well as framing our place in time and the world.

The day to day operations range from designing a raised bed and choosing lettuce to building traps for macroinvertebrates and amphibians- and so much in between. Students are simultaneously working on setting up a business, and conducting stewardship projects with Grand Traverse Conservation District. Waders, tapemeasures, buckets, boots, seeds, lumber, and maybe someone soon in a lettuce suit sums up the beginning of the year in the Junior High.

June 6, 2019

Thank you for an amazing 2018-2019 school year! We paddled rivers, forded streams, built robots, and collected data from ecosystems far and wide. We travelled hundreds of miles from the Florida Keys to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan east to Washington D.C.. All the while, we learned about the people and places that have shaped and continue to shape the course of our lives. We found our voices and used them. We grew as students and as citizens. We learned what it means to be a true community. Congratulations to our 8th year graduates, who will be sorely missed. We look forward to seeing our rising 7th years this fall, and to watching our new 8th years take on their leadership roles in the new community they will create.
Have a wonderful summer!
-Tree and Kristina

May 22, 2019

Well, here we are- the last installment of highlights before the closing bell.  As promised, the past two weeks have kept us on or near the water.  We’ve learned about how wastewater is cleaned, how the bay water is purified for drinking, and how the city works to keep the bay clean.  We’ve gained perspective of our connection to water personally, and within the global community.  We’ve examined humans’ past and present relationship with water, and with that, imagined our own future relationships.  The story of water is the story of us all.  It has directed where civilizations were born, how humans migrated, and it will determine our future. 

Speaking of the future, time not spent on water has been spent preparing ourselves for the immediate future.  Student Showcase, Grandparent’s Day, backpacking, and 8th grade graduation are imminent. Students have been working diligently to translate their favorite “work” into a showcase worthy presentation. Can’t lie, getting 7th and 8th graders to edit, revise, and reimagine work while the sun shines in and summer whispers at the door is akin to attempting to stick uncooked spaghetti to the fridge.  Amongst water tests, reading the Living Great Lakes, and preparing Showcase pieces, the 8th graders are trying to finish up 8th year projects, begin speeches, plan the “handing over” of the “torch” to the 7th graders and ensure a yearbook all while the 7th  graders frantically work on slide shows, a graduation outing, and a business plan.  Peppered throughout, we join the larger community to clean up the campus, prepare for Grandparent’s Day, and give back to the greater community through stewardship activities like planting trees on the Boardman and cleaning out rain gardens in Sutton’s Bay.  Oh wait- almost forgot to mention backpacking preparations such as our practice hike, food shopping, dehydrating, and first aid overview.

May we all remember to stop along the way to enjoy these full, yet wonderful days ahead as we wrap up one more educational trip around the sun! 

May 9, 2019

Since our last installment, the Jr. High has taken our nation's capital by storm. We visited many destinations, all surrounding the individual research our students tackled leading up to our trip. Examples included:
*The Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument
*The Newseum
*The National Museum of African American History and Culture
*The Vietnam Memorial
*The Drug Enforcement Agency Museum
*The Headquarters of the Death Penalty Information Center
*The US Headquarters of the International Labor Organization
*Smithsonian National Museum of American History

At each location, students delivered presentations highlighting the key points of their research and explaining the significance and connection between their topic and their chosen location. And because this is the TCH Jr. High, our students were entirely responsible for navigating us through the DC Metro system, planning for, preparing, and cleaning up after each meal, and otherwise maintaining the peace during our six day, DC Adventure.

And of course, it's May, which means we are wrapping up the school year with umpteen field trips into and surrounding the waters of Northwest Michigan- the proverbial warp to the weft of our water-based curriculum. Guest speakers, readings, data gathering, reflection, and other cross-curricular activities ensure than any given day in May is chock filled with "ah ha" moments, and indelible memories.

Other highlights include:
- Completing our literature seminar on Revolution by Deborah Wiles
- Releasing "Superior" the Sturgeon into the Black River
- Participating in Meals on Wheels
- Trying on gear in preparation for our end of year backpacking trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

April 11, 2019

“...and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.”

During our first week and a half back, we have truly been experiencing what a wonderful world it is. We started off with reading “Revolution” by Deborah Wiles. With photos, lyrics, primary documents, quotes, and an engaging storyline, Revolution masterfully weaves together the diverse perspectives and events simultaneously occurring during the summer of 1964. That summer, troops patrolled Vietnam while young adults from the north rode buses to the south to register African American voters. Fans swooned over the Beatles and folks visited the World’s Fair in New York while Freedom Riders were arrested, or worse. LBJ was fighting a war on poverty while our nation worked to win the race to the moon.

Students have chosen their own “fights” to research: women’s suffrage, women in the workplace, child labor, veterans’s rights, rights to digital privacy, rights of the incarcerated, rights of those with disabilities or chronic diseases, civil rights, civil liberties, and Gay marriage. After visiting two different local libraries, students have gathered information on the leaders, events, and causes related to their own movements of interest. They have been scouring Washington D.C. for places to visit that match their topics. The itinerary is starting to come together, and just in time too!

To round out being “well rounded,” we were fortunate enough to attend a presentation given by three astronauts, one of which lived on the International Space Station for over five months. They shared their diverse paths to space, and also how so many different areas of study and so many individuals in space, and on earth contribute to the work on the International Space Station. Major General Charles Bolden, who flew combat missions during the Vietnam War, spoke about growing up in the segregated south and, at that time, not thinking space would have ever been an option for him. A boy not allowed to attend the same school as whites became the 12th Administrator of NASA.

On Friday of last week, we attended a concert by a Detroit based Latin Jazz group, Aguanko. The band leader, a Mexican immigrant, provided history on the origin of the music style, relating the combination of African music, native Cuban music, and European instruments. Jazz is a true American art form- it represents the beauty of the “melting pot” that is our country. After the concert, we browsed the “Entire Life in a Package” exhibit at the Dennos Museum. The exhibit highlighted the struggle of refugees; begging the question, “What do you choose to carry with you when you leave your home, fleeing a situation you feel helpless to change?”

So as I reflect on the past eight school days, I wonder, “How is it possible that all of these people, astronauts, artists, authors and musicians, could be connected to our study of this “Democratic Experiment” that we all live everyday?” Simply, it is the nature of our country, it is the nature of our world. Voices from the past, present and future- cultural fusion and collaboration across all walks of life - have created and continue to create the incredible, exciting, wonderful world we live in today. As students look at the battles fought and won in the short 243-ish years of our nation, what could possibly be impossible to accomplish? As Margaret Mead said, all it takes is, “ a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens” to “change the world.”

March 21, 2019

In the latest installment of "Life in the TCH Jr. High," we find our heros showcasing their final projects in Early Human Civilizations. Having researched the various aspects of what makes up a civilization, our students were challenged to create one, from scratch. No, this is not an exercise in human growth and development. Instead, a celebration of the creativity and ingenuity of Montessori educated minds. We had many an island with many a volcano. There were delivery storks and human sacrifices to appease the gods. We heard languages that could be spoken, and others that could only be yoddled. Food ranged from your standard vegetable fare, to hippopotamus and capybara. In a fine marriage of art and public speaking, each of our students welcomed countless Elementary kids to their culminating "open house." The combination was priceless.

Now, as we will fill our days with "Theatre Week," the Jr. High is dipping its toes into our next adventure- a study of the bill of rights, and the democratic movements thereby made possible. This will, of course, culminate in our student-planned trip to Washington D.C..

Recycled art, Pi Day, swordplay, Wings of Wonder, and a technology talk by Lisa Thauvette round our this edition of Classroom Highlights. Thanks for tuning in.

March 7, 2019

“Educate children for their future, not our past.”
Gene Carter

Students need to know where we’ve been in order to understand where we are, and plan for where they will take us in the future. In many respects, the Children's House is their "village," and in that capacity, it is essential that we share with them all we know, and give them the tools we have available for them to continue as lifelong learners and active citizens of their world. They will be the ones to carry the torch, and light the way forward.

During the past two weeks, students have been immersed in examining the evolution of civilization. They have been studying the history, and the present state of Native Americans, asking questions about what constitutes a civilization, and then, working to create their own. They have been examining time lines, watching what happened as many nations collided across the land we now call the United States of America. What was it like? What happen to change it? What is our country like now as a result?

In addition, we’ve also had Student-led conferences, Technology Health Education, Human Growth and Development, and script writing. Each part of the brain gets a turn! Students have taken the time to reflect on what they have learned and contributed so far this year, evaluate their own progress, and the share it with their parents. They have reviewed their ongoing goals, measured progress, and planned for the future. Most of us at some point have, or will have to show an employer, or an investor what qualifies us, what we have accomplished, what we plan to accomplish. How many of us have had to answer to our parents in that way in a professional format? It is truly impressive to watch the bravery and personal growth that takes place from the first seventh year conference to the last eighth year conference.

Wait there’s still more! Students have been learning about healthy bodies, minds, and relationships. Between Tech Health Education, and Human Growth and Development, students have been focusing on issues of mental, physical and emotional health. Care of self is an important skill to have now and in their futures.

Finally, creativity. The classroom has been alive with a range of emotions, all created for the glory of drama. Students have been imagining all kinds of stories and situations that can be turned into entertaining skits for all to see. Drama seems to come naturally to our demographic- they have a flare for it!

February 21, 2019

Fresh from our trip to the Florida Keys, the Jr. High finished preparations for their final ROV mission of the winter,  retrieving a series of pool rings from the bottom of the NMC ROV tank.  All the while, students were putting the finishing touches on their ROV/Florida Keys presentations, which, after two, snow-day related postponements, they finally were able to deliver to the Upper Elementary Classes.  Now, with ROVs in their rearview mirrors, our students have moved on to their winter Humanities Workshop on Native American studies.  After an introductory presentation on Pre-Columbian civilizations, including current theories of human migration to the Americas, our students embarked on two field trips to local Native American cultural centers: The Eyaawing Museum in Peshawbestown, and Ziibiwing Cultural Center and Museum in Mount Pleasant.  There, students learned about the Anishinaabeg culture, including their creation story, language/means of communication over time, methods of survival, spiritual practices, and life since the arrival of the Europeans. Our students have been challenged to use what they have learned these past two weeks in order to imagine and articulate their own, pre industrial civilization, complete with the essential elements of food, clothing, shelter, organizational structures, cross-cultural interactions, spiritual beliefs, and more.

February 7, 2019

Meanwhile back at the ranch…

While most of Michigan battled Old Man Winter, the Junior High was “off campus.”   We literally took our show on the road. The adventure began at zero dark thirty at Cherry Capital Airport just as the snow was beginning to fall.  Our flights were running and on time, so by 10:30 Monday morning the entire class was well on their way to South Florida and the Florida Keys.  

First stop, Pigeon Key Marine Science Center.  Well, maybe the first stops were the rest rooms and food, but, close enough.  To get to Pigeon Key it requires a short jaunt down from Fort Lauderdale Airport, through Homestead and several keys, and overwater on a ferry boat (not a large one) to the island, where you disembark onto a dock adorned with a Tiki hut.  From the dock you can see across the island.  Students dropped their bags in the dorms, changed into suits and then jumped in the water to complete their swim and snorkel tests.  After dinner, they attended a taxonomic fish identification class in preparation for their next day of snorkeling on Sombrero Reef.  Day 1, done.

On Tuesday, we were all up and at ‘em at 7:30, sharing breakfast under a tent near the shore (everywhere on the island is near the shore). We had safety and boat briefings and then headed out.  It was a beautiful and quiet day on the reef, with water temperature at a lovely 72 degrees.  Students floated and dove, seeing many different types of fish, sponges, corals, and even an octopus! Upon our return to the island, we had lunch and then went tide pooling, where they were able to collect a variety of organisms to hold and learn about in the wet lab.  Next, both ROV teams got a chance to see how their creations functioned in salt water.  This time is best described by the words “team work” and “problem solving.”  Free time, dinner, shark biology, and then night ROV flying followed.  We spent time on the dock watching the food chain in action.  The little fish get eaten by the bigger fish that get eaten by the Tarpon- a lot of last meals were witnessed...and we saw a shark.  Day 2 is through.

Wednesday brought lessons on Marine trash followed by a beach clean up, goodbyes and a trip back to Marathon, where we loaded the wagons and headed south, all the way south.  We drove through all the keys which is truly an amazing stretch of water and land.  We got to see the damage that still exists in the mangroves from Hurricane Irma. We drove slowly through the southernmost keys, watching for Key Deer  In Key West, we visited the home of Ernest Hemmingway, learned of his adventures and exploits and met many “kittens with mittens.”  We made it down to the southern most point in the continental U.S. and then headed back north to Homestead.  

Thursday seemed like the perfect day to search out some crocodiles (salt water) and manatees in the back country of the Everglades.  We found them, as well as a rare sperm whale that was found dead off the coast and brought into Flamingo Marina to be removed and examined.  The mosquitoes deterred any further trail exploration, so we headed back to the farm we were staying at for the remainder of the evening.  Rest was needed, and definitely earned.  

Friday we started home.  We said goodbye to the sun with a short stop at Miami Beach- and got on the plane.  

This week, students are busy putting the finishing touches on their presentations, adding pictures and knowledge gained. Another successful, memorable trip in the books.

January 17, 2019

Prior to departing for winter break, the Jr. High sat for our annual, Iowa Test.  This standardized test, administered by private schools around the country, provides our students with the opportunity to learn and practice test preparation and test taking skills, as well as to experience the test taking environment.

With the New Year upon on, visit the Jr. High on any Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday and you will find two teams of ROV engineers working feverishly, cutting, splicing, drilling, soldering, and otherwise assembling their respective remotely operated underwater vehicles. With our trip to Pigeon Key less than two weeks away, and our first trial run at the NMC ROV Tank scheduled for Thursday, it's not difficult to imagine the energy level in the Jr. High environment. 

The dawn of 2019 also saw the first ever, student-led, Jr. High Open House during which parents of fifth and sixth year students had the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of our ROV project, participate in a literature seminar, and ask questions of current parents and students.  The first week back from break also included a new installment of Read Across the County, with students from the Jr. High visiting Glen Lake Schools to participate in a Lord of the Flies book club discussion, including activities designed by students at the host school.

In other news, in early February the Jr. High will be rounding out our participation in The Stock Market Game, presented by the Stock Market Game Foundation,"an independent 501(c)3 educational organization dedicated to fostering knowledge of the financial markets, serving 17 million students since 1977." Since October, teams of TCH Jr. High students have been competing with 356 teams of Middle and High School students throughout the region to build a portfolio of investments with an initial cash balance of $100,000.  Our highest performing team currently is in 68th position. No small accomplishment given the volatility of the Stock Market since last October.

December 12, 2018

“Education should therefore include the two forms of work, manual and intellectual, for the same person, and thus make it understood by practical experience that these two kinds complete each other and are equally essential to a civilized existence."
-Dr. Montessori, From Childhood to Adolescence

It is ROV season in the Junior High!  The students have begun the process of designing, building, and operating Remotely Operated underwater Vehicles.  These vehicles need to be able to have a functioning camera, move up/down, side to side, forwards/backwards, and be able to collect a benthic sample.

Last week, students explored some of Newton’s laws, how electricity works, and boat and propulsion construction.  They also applied for positions on the ROV teams.  Each student applied for their two top choices, the options being Mission Commander, Chief Engineer, Electrical Engineer, Propulsion Specialist, Structural Engineer, and Optics Specialist/Team Manager. Interviews were held, positions were filled, and teams were created. 

Mission commanders and Chief Engineers set to work to create guidelines for teamwork and collaboration.  The remaining positions paired off to learn about the type of work they would be doing as a part of their job.  With goals, schedules, and project managers, the teams started the design process.  Going into the end of the week, both teams will have started constructing their ROVs. 

Why do we build ROVs?  Is it just for fun?  Well, it should at the very least, be fun.  But, of course, there are many more motives at play.  First, curriculum. The process of designing, building, and operating ROVs requires learning about laws of physics, the cycle of engineering, light, electricity, mass and matter, and movement in space.  Students must read and then apply this information so that the ROV can effectively accomplish required tasks.  Secondly,  students visit NMC’s Marine Technology Lab to see Work Class ROVs that are used for search and rescue missions, repair missions, and data collection.  They get to see where the science is used, why it is needed, and who gets to use it.  They learn that what they are doing in the classroom is what some people do as a career.  Lastly, students have different roles as part of a team.  They get to share their unique gifts, expertise, and talents in a way that contributes to a final product.  They are held responsible for certain aspects of the process and their “grade” comes in the form of whether or not the ROV accomplishes its mission.  Pass or fail- no extra credit can change the final grade.

Workshops in the Adolescent program are designed in this way so that students learn how to do both types of work, intellectual and manual, in order to understand how the two compliment each other and lead to the creation of the constantly evolving world around them.

November 22, 2018

Since we last spoke, the Jr. High has been gearing up for our annual trip to the Motor City, which took place this week. Our overnighttrips are annual favorites all around, and for a variety of reasons. Central to these is the opportunity for students to draw real world, cross curricular, real world, connections to the concepts and ideas they learn about in the indoor classroom. For example, while in Detroit we visited the Rouge Ford Plant (where they currently assemble the Ford F-150), the Detroit Institute of Art, the Henry Ford Museum and the Motown Museum.  In preparing for the trip, students broke up into teams and researched, and reported back to the group about "The Vagabonds"(a moniker given to Henry Ford's summer camping companions, which included Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone, and John Burroughs) The Rouge Plant (one of the first Vertically Integrated manufacturing facilities in the United States), Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and Berry Gordy (the founder of Motown).

While in Detroit, the students stood in the DIA and gazed up at Diego Rivera's most famous mural and learned about the connections between Henry Ford, his son Edsel (who commissioned the mural), and Diego Rivera, who, along with his wife and fellow artist Frida, joined a march protesting working conditions at the Rouge, Henry Ford's crowning achievement, and the very factory immortalized in his famous fresco. At the Motown Museum, we later learned how Berry Gordy, a former line worker, not only used the motions and sounds of the factory to inspire his early hit songs, but also how he adopted the efficiency of the factory line to build his musical empire. At the Henry Ford Museum, we learned not only about Thomas Edison and Henry Ford's ingenuity, but also visited exhibits on Rosa Parks, Woman's Rights, Abolition, the Great Depression, Roosevelt's "Four Freedom's" (brought to life by Normal Rockwell), and the myriad connections and cultural interrelationships between and among race, religion, industry, economics, and government. Among the students' highlights was an invitation by our mesmerizing Motown tour guide to sing and dance to "My Girl" while standing in the world famous Studio A in Hitsville USA!

We remember what we experience, what moves us to tears, what excites us so much that we have to tell our closest friends. We remember the "aha!" moments, the "that's so cool!" moments, the moments that we share with others. Reflecting back on our trip to Detroit, we, the teachers, are so grateful that we have the opportunity to bring these kinds of moments into the lives of our students. This, is the TCH Jr. High.

November 8, 2018

We have the absolute best parents! This is the conclusion we reached after watching student-led conferences. Students have been practicing the art of self reflection since the beginning of the school year; for experiences, presentations, and goal progress. They prepared a collection of documentation to support their perception of their progress and their challenges. How often do we as adults present our personal triumphs and tribulations our parents? It may be easier to tell a supervisor or even a peer than to have to tell our parents what we have or haven’t accomplished, than admit it to our parents. Each student was able to experience the challenge of telling their story as well as the experience of being in charge of reporting on their progress. Parents provided support, their own observations and possible solutions. Students’ overall feedback was that although they may have been nervous or uncomfortable, they were happy to be able to be the ones who shared what they did and how they were doing. We would like to thank both parents and students for the time, energy, and thoughtfulness you dedicated to this process.

Our study of elections reached a climax point with student presentations of proposals and candidates, followed by watching the returns together until late into the night. Students researched local, state, and national proposals and candidates. They presented information for all sides/candidates, decided which way they would vote if they could, and then created their own political advertising to either persuade or dissuade toward their desired direction. Through this process, they all ended up with a “horse in the race” going into election night. We gathered after 8 p.m., with snacks and sleepover supplies to watch the results unfold.
We watched a live stream broadcast, out of Detroit. The anchor mentioned that they had over 18,000 online viewers and asked for the audience to identify themselves (so we did). Suddenly, students realized he was talking to us. “Seventh and Eighth graders in Traverse City, watching this together? Are you really out there? Let us know if you are really still watching.” After we confirmed that yes, we really were at school watching returns together, the anchor sent the students a “shout out” and talked about how important their awareness of and involvement, government is. Now we are in the process of adding a visit to the studio to our Detroit trip…

Many races were still too close to call at midnight. We woke up this morning to a wonderful breakfast delivery from a TCH parent. After enjoying crepes and quiche, packing up bedding, and cleaning our environment, we gathered to witness the changes in leadership and governance that had occurred. How will the decisions made by the registered voters of our community, our state, and the nation affect these 13 young lives as they move into the future? They had learned about many of the candidates, they understood the proposals- they had committed to directions they wanted the elections to go. What happens when it doesn’t go the way you hoped? What happens if it does? Questions have more power than answers, they are a beginning, not an end. Questions have the ability to build understanding, not only of issues, but of each other. What more could we hope for these young citizens, and future voters?

October 25, 2018

It's been transition week at the Jr. High with one workshop ending and the other beginning. Last week ended our extensive exploration of Northern Michigan Natural Communities with each of our students presenting their research to audiences of Upper Elementary students. We witnessed everything from slide presentations to sand dunes made of fabric, cardboard, rice, beans, and cake (separately, not all together!). We then changed directions dramatically to a exploration of the US Government, with a focus on local, state, and national elections. We kicked things off with a deep dive into the swimming pool of checks and balances, and separation of powers. Then, on Wednesday we headed off to the Governmental Center to learn about Robert's Rules of Order, voting procedures, and the role of City and County Government. Our appreciation goes out to former Mayor Linda Smyka for setting up an unforgettable experience. So, if find yourself with nothing to do on the evening of Election Day, you are welcome to pop into the Jr. High wing (preferably with treats in hand) and say hello as we watch history unfold.

October 11, 2018

“Where wise actions are the fruit of life, wise discourse is the pollination.”
- Bryant H. McGill

Discourse, discussion, and debate help us express and understand more deeply our ideas, our truths, and our beliefs, as well as understand those of others. Through questioning, defining, and clarification we create a sense of who we are as individuals and who we are as a group. These past two weeks have brought a great deal of this “pollination” to our community. Both students and parents have had opportunities to explore and share their ideas, truths and beliefs.

For our parent education, parents used the school’s mission as a guide to determine which social skills, personal characteristics, and academic skills individuals require to become, “independent, curious, confident lifelong learners that contribute to their community and the greater world.” Parents brainstormed, defined, explored and debated until they identified their three most important outcomes in each area. In social skills they paired respect with empathy and patience with perseverance, while “sense of humor” earned its own place. Under the umbrella of academic skills, they identified “a desire to learn,” problem solving skills, and organizational skills as their top three outcomes. For personal characteristics, the group prioritized positivity, grit, and kindness. The discussion wrapped up with sharing what we do as adults in the lives of these adolescents to guide, encourage, and support their work toward these outcomes at school, and at home.

Today the students echoed with their own “wise discourse” as they prepared for Student Council elections. Before the three candidates delivered their speeches, the class discussed the role of a student representative to the greater community. What traits should this person have? What skills do they need? How do we want our representative to represent us? They defined a worthy representative as someone who demonstrates self control, has the ability to be impartial, has a positive attitude, has an open mind, can listen well, is hard working and organized, follows through on what they say they are going to do, supports what is best for the group, can make decisions, is honest, and, last but not least, is “nice.” The journey to this list provided the “whys” and the definitions of all of these traits. It was lovely to observe such thoughtfulness, respectful discussion, and maturity in a group of adolescents as they identified how they wanted to be represented in their local government. It was an amazing example of how people build community; community for all members. It seems quite timely, as we prepare to study elections in the classroom, and as we observe mid-term elections at all different levels of government in our country.

September 27, 2018

Early autumn in the Jr. High is all about the outdoors, and this year we have been making the most of the mostly cooperative September weather. It's Ecosystem time, so last week we took to Good Harbor Bay (Sleeping Bear Dunes) to study Dune-Swale Complexes, and Hartwick Pines to study one of the last remaining old growth White Pine forest in the lower peninsula. Our trips involve speaking with local experts, and laying down 100' transects to collect data on the plants, animals, and soils found at each location. This Tuesday, we visited Cranberry Lake in Kalkaska to study a rare bog ecosystem (and popped over to a Jack Pine Barrens along the way) and tomorrow we will head off to Brown Bridge Quiet area to survey the succession of the bottomlands following the removal of the Brown Bridge Dam several years ago. Data in hand, we have been learning how to use Google Sheets to create spreadsheets and present our findings using bar graphs.

In other news, thanks to former 8th year, Lauren Pauly, Jr. High "electives" have come into being with six currently running at the end of each day: Della Terra, Kitchen Classroom, Physical Education, Music, and Child Development (Infant and Primary). Electives provide an opportunity for students to not only learn about the subject matter, but also learn the different roles of adults in the community as well as contribute to these areas.

While we were at the Cranberry Bog, the TCH Sturgeon arrived. Sturgeon care requires much more finesse than the previous Salmon project, and we only get one! Our sturgeon needs to be fed and the tank needs to be cleaned twice a day. The Jr. High will be taking responsibility caring for the Sturgeon every morning during the school week and on Friday afternoons, while the Upper El will be present every afternoon. All Elementary and Junior High students are proposing names for our new little friend! If you get a chance, stop in and say “hi” (quietly, sturgeon are accustomed to the bottom of lakes and rivers) . The sturgeon can be found in a LARGE tank in the Great Hall.

September 13, 2018

Stay tuned for CH from JH next week when they will tell you about their Northern MI experience this week!