Strong Minds. Kind Hearts.

Click above to watch "DIY Thinking" about Maker Space in the Middle School. You can also read the related article from the January edition of our monthly E-Letter, Among Friends.


Don't Miss

* All textbooks and Chromebooks must be returned before summer.

* Lost and Found items will be on tables in the collaborative space until June 21.

* Final grades for the year will be released on MyBackPack mid-June.

* Check the parent portal for summer reading and math review.

* Wed. June 6: Car dismissal begins at 12:15pm and bus dismissal is at 1pm.

* Thurs. June 7: 10:30am, 8th grade Moving Up in the Meeting House and celebration party

Middle School Calendar

Spotlight on The Middle School

Computer teacher and Makerspace Coordinator Clare Nesfield tasked her 7th grade students to use the design thinking process to create an original object that would be helpful to others. Define the problem, ideate, create, test, and present to a panel of judges (“Shark Tank” style!). Mistakes, attempts, failures needed to be recorded and discussed to allow students to continually improve upon their prototype. What did they come up with?

Here are just a few examples: A butter knife with heating coils; a multi-use pen that included a “white out” option; the “Cinema Saver,” a reusable carrier for snacks and beverages that fits the chair armrest; and an adhesive micro tracker with a GPS component to track misplaced objects.

On Saturday May 19, four Friends Academy Middle School students traveled to the Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn, NY to participate in the Packer Model Congress. This annual event brings together middle schoolers from around the metropolitan area and as far as New Haven and New Jersey.

Middle School World Cultures teacher Dave Frazer is the adviser for the FA delegation, coaching the students to prepare for the event. Each student or pair of students wrote a bill, practiced debating it, and prepared an amendment if need be. John Livanos, David Cooper-Boyce, Ethan Labelson had their bills passed in committee, earning honorable mention recognition. John and David wrote similar bills that argued money should be appropriated from US military spending to NASA for deep space exploration. Ethan's legislation aimed to help bring arts education to every school nationwide and Pierce's bill helped to promote wind farms while protecting residents' rights.

The student musicians wowed the audience at the spring concert with their amazing talents! The bands, orchestras and choral groups performed a range of musical selections: John Phillip Sousa, John Lennon, Irving Berlin and a terrific arrangement and rousing performance of “Lean on Me” sung by the 7th/8th grade Boys Chorus! The 8th grade girls serenaded Martha Regelmann with a selection from Wicked's “For Good.” 

Thank you Martha for your 26 years of dedication to vocal instruction! The evening finale was “Extraordinary” composed by Penelope Constantino '20 and former Middle School student.

Last summer, four upper school girls Brianna Taylor, Bailey Hughes, Uma Alagappan, and Gail Saez-Hall  completed a program called “GLW” which stands for “Girls’ Leadership Worldwide.” The focus of this program is to empower females through developing their leadership skills, all while learning about Eleanor Roosevelt and her many positive attributes.

They felt that the program helped them to master certain leadership and life skills and they were inspired to develop and offer a mini-GLW at FA for 8th grade girls ! The FA program included  various activities; a workshop on public speaking, a high school Q & A, and an accomplished women’s dinner which allowed the girls to network with FA female alums. Their hope is that this program will become an annual tradition that will bridge a connection between upper school and eighth grade girls, along with shaping them into future high school (and world) leaders!


Registration open! Summer Literacy Program for Rising 6th-8th grades – More details

The 8th graders applied their understanding of the Laws of Motion to produce a balloon-powered vehicle. In designing their vehicle, partners had to first develop an initial concept and then, using found objects, build the vehicle.  Over the course of one week, partners had to evaluate, change, test, and re-evaluate their vehicle multiple times so that ultimately the vehicle would travel as far as possible in a straight line. Students documented their progress in writing and with photographs.

Last week, while students in the MS play rehearsed “Starry Messenger,” the other students were involved in three days of hands-on workshops offered by artists in the field. Students actively “leaned in,”  learned, created and presented their chosen art in a culminating assembly. Please see the quotes about their experiences from several students.

“I learned about different ways to use clay, how to take a professional looking picture, and how to go with the flow. It has been really exciting to learn new things like using a pottery wheel for the first time!”

“I learned that stepping out of my comfort zone, or trying something new for the first time isn’t a bad thing. It’s a great thing because others can feed off of your confidence and step out of their comfort zone. This makes the world a better place!”

“I am learned how to edit and film and how to play percussion instruments. I am very excited about playing percussion because it is upbeat, exhilarating, and really fun.”

“I have never really been a good dancer (or dancer at all) but my instructors were very motivated and brought great energy to the class every day. They motivated me to try hard even though I couldn’t do some of the moves. This made me very excited because I found something that I never thought I would like and we got to perform it on the stage.”

Last week 50 Middle School students performed on stage in Starry Messenger. Working with these students were eight Upper School students mentoring the cast and crew throughout the process. Stage Manager Drew Donner said, "For me, mentoring is a special opportunity to see the middle school students who are the future of the theater department, and I can't wait to come back over my next four years of college to see how far they go."

Student Quotes:

“This trip was been the greatest (by far) I have gone on. Playing soccer at the Monteverde Friends School  with the Costa Rican students was one of my favorite moments. They were all very good and sooo funny!! The kindness and warmth exuding from the Ticos really surprised me—it is very different from here. The nature and laws of government also surprised me very much—it is so cool to me how there is no army, the gov’t pays for your education even if it is abroad, and the effort the gov’t puts in to preserve nature is admirable! There were endless memories from this trip and new, long lasting friendships that came out of it, and I am really really happy now because of that. I am even considering studying abroad for a semester or two there! “

“My favorite thing about the trip was the zip lining!”

“I really enjoyed my time in Costa Rica. It was a humbling experience and I learned many new things! I also made many new friendships. Costa Rica was an awesome trip!”

“What I really loved about the trip was I became friend with people I would have never thought I would become close with.”

"I like eating and reading."

"I like that we can relate to the books."

"It gives us an opportunity to read books we might not have read."

"We're bonding over books and food."

"It gives a chance to read books for fun."

– Book Club student members

Book clubs provide students with many skills which will last years beyond middle school.  Students are encouraged to use language, analyze information, make predictions, and solve problems.  Providing literacy models for children supports the development of important language skills, while offering the opportunity to use new vocabulary words. Setting aside time during the week to read together improves relationships with peers while offering a non-competitive, common goal in an educational setting. The students pictured have Book Club meetings weekly with librarian Laurie Fleming and learning specialist Alexia Walka.

Students who are interested in starting a new group, or joining an existing one should speak with Alexia Walka in the Middle School learning center.

There is much learning that happens in advance of the student presentations at History Night. Students are given the opportunity to engage in and research a topic of interest related to their class work.

Introduced initially in 6th and reintroduced in 7th and 8th grades, the students are presented with a scaffolded approach to the research process – they learn to read and synthesize historic text, develop a thesis statement and support their thesis with evidence... all are important foundational skills.  

History Night offers students an opportunity to truly engage in a topic that is connected to broader historical and humanities concepts. Students work collaboratively and learn to depend on each other for the development and delivery of a well-prepared presentation. Beginning in the 6th grade, students learn and practice the basic skills needed to present to an audience; eye contact, voice projection, pacing, and posture.  Over time the students develop the confidence to present what they have learned as a small group (in 6th) to standing alone in front of an audience (in 8th) presenting a well-researched, logically organized, interesting original work.  

The History Night project challenges the students to push themselves beyond their comfort zone, develop self-confidence, and self-reliance knowing they have a truly supportive audience!