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  • Life in the Building

    Margaret Paul
    Dear Families,
     
    In the hustle and bustle of this fall semester--of classes happening both in person and online--we have not shared nearly enough about all the incredible learning experiences that occur across our program everyday. Wow--there is so much to share! We’ll never capture it all in one short message, but here are some snapshots of the past few weeks. 
     
    Our student scientists have been exploring Coulomb’s Law in Electricity and Magnetism, pressure versus number of particles in 9th grade Chemistry, and constant acceleration particle modeling in 10th grade Physics. And today, student scientists in Optics and Acoustics dissected cow eyes.
     
    10th Grade Physics
     
     
    11th/12th Optics & Acoustics
     
     
    Our math classes have increased in energy and challenge as students debate and negotiate solutions from 9th through 12th grades, both on the Zoom screens and in our physical classrooms. It’s so hard to communicate through photos the level of mathematical discourse that transpires in these spaces! 
     
    Across the arts, students are imagining and making beautiful things--from films to ceramics to paintings, and photographs. And the music they are creating in the music room and courtyard has filled the school with sound and life.
     
    11th/12th Studio Art
     
     
    11th/12th Studio Art
     
     
     
    The vast array of electives across History and English astonish us every time we move through classes . . . do you know all of the humanities classes that are currently on offer?
     
     
     
     
     
    And our World Language classes have used music, film making, storytelling, and small group discussions to build fluency in Spanish, Mandarin, and French. Many groups have taken walking field trips to place orders for special treats in their language of study.
     
    Anytime we give highlights like this, we know we leave so much unsaid. 
    Your students continue to lead and participate in X-Blocks, work independently on Honors Projects, and volunteer for peer tutoring and other initiatives both at school and beyond. In the midst of this time, they are working so incredibly hard, and we are so proud of them! 
    We, the faculty, show up everyday because of their energy, curiosity, and enthusiasm. We are so thankful for our students!
  • Thanksgiving

    Ana

    Thanksgiving 

     
    We will have our first ever virtual Middle School Thanksgiving Assembly tomorrow. This is bittersweet, like so many things these days. On one hand, the connections that we can sustain despite quarantines, health restrictions, and losses are especially poignant.  And on the other, virtual gatherings and scaled-down celebrations remind us of what we’re missing. As one of our coverage helpers said to me this morning, this - of all years - is the one we need the comfort of company the most. And Thanksgiving is a complicated occasion even in typical times. It's a time for reflection and togetherness. It's also a national celebration of a history that was exceptionally violent and unjust. Our assembly - like our classrooms - will try to hold both of these truths. 
     
    We will share gratitudes. Middle schoolers' gratitudes have been compiled and will be read by eighth graders. A sampling is below: 

     
    I am grateful for my helpful, supportive and caring friends.

    I am grateful for the scientists that are working hard to make a vaccine of COVID-19. They have our backs.

    I am grateful for my pets -  my dog makes me so happy.

    I am grateful for essential workers. It makes me remember we are all in this together.

    I am grateful for my older sister. If I ever need someone to talk to, she is always there. 


    As I will soon say to your children, one of the most beloved parts of this holiday for me is the opportunity it affords to spend time with older members of our family circle and to hear their stories. Listening is a great gift. As the oral history organization StoryCorps’ founder Dave Isay says, “It tells people how much their lives matter… If you’re curious, treat people with respect and have a little bit of courage to ask the important questions, great things are going to happen.” Here are some prompts I will share with your children for initiating conversations (in person or online) with the adults in their life over the coming holidays. We will listen to a few stories including the ones below, which are a treat in and of themselves, and also provide a good inspiration for getting your own family talking.
     
     

    Finally, for the first time, I will open our assembly with a Land Acknowledgement. I’ve included it here so that you can read it. I have learned about Land Acknowledgements recently and find the practice to be powerful. While I am new to it, I didn’t want a lack of expertise to keep me from engaging in something meaningful. If you’re interested in learning more, here is a good starting place. 

    Every community owes its existence and vitality to generations from around the world who contributed to making the history that led to this moment. Some were brought here against their will, some were drawn here in hope of a better life, and some have lived on this land for more generations than can be counted. On behalf of all of us assembled here today, I now make an effort to acknowledge what has been buried by honoring this truth: We go to school and work here at LREI which is on Lenapehoking, the unceded traditional territory of the Lenni Lenape, Munsee Lenape and Carnarsie people, also known as the Delaware nation by the colonial settler government. I pay respect to the Lenape peoples, past, present and future, and to their continuing presence in the homeland and throughout the Lenape diaspora. I also pay respect to the enslaved and free Africans who lived, worked, and contributed on Lenapehoking. I would also like to acknowledge the indigenous people who continue to live, work, contribute and create in communities on Lenapehoking. This acknowledgment is the least I can do to honor the broken treaties of the colonial government and is one of the steps that I have taken toward correcting the stories and practices that erase indigenous peoples history and culture. This is a beginning and not an end. Please take a moment to consider the troubling legacies that bring us together here today. And please join me in a commitment to speak out against the myth of discovery. As Jefferson Keel (Chickasaw), 20th President of the National Congress of American Indians said, "We were a people before 'We the People'".


    In keeping with another positive Thanksgiving tradition, I am proud to report that in just two days the Middle School collected over 600 pounds of food for City Harvest in our "Flash Drive." The goods were  assembled and picked up with the help of our eighth grade student reps today. Well done, everyone!
     

    I hope you all enjoy your conferences over the next few days. Be on the lookout tomorrow for an email from me with the Fall Curriculum Updates - a statement about the curriculum in each of your child’s classes thus far that will help give context to the conference. 

    Have a safe and delicious holiday next week. Enjoy telling and listening to each others’ stories. 

    Warmest,
  • Meaningful Work

    Margaret Paul
    Dear High School Families,
     
     
    Meaningful work is at the core of progressive practice, recognizing that we learn best when we feel that the work we do in school matters . . . and will matter . . . in our lives beyond the classroom. Two significant pieces of the high school experience--the Junior Class Trip and Senior Project--help us accomplish this value, and we want to share updates on both of these today.

    Our Juniors have been working each Wednesday throughout the trimester to identify issues in the United States that are pressing, and that they want to collectively study as a class. Together they researched and discussed everything from policing to income inequality to political ideologies to homelessness (and so many more).
     

    Ultimately, Juniors were tasked with narrowing to 6 issues that they want to study across this year, and will examine deeply during a week in April. Typically, our Junior class travels to 6 locations across the U.S. to engage in the placed-based portion of their research projects. This year, though we do not yet know how this part of the study will occur--potentially as a virtual experience--our students have identified the 6 topics that they feel are critical to study this year.

    Criminal Justice: Mass Incarceration and Prison Systems
    Criminal Justice: Policing Reform
    Environmental Racism: Climate Change and who it Effects
    Native Communities and Justice Issues
    Voter Suppression
    Abortion and Reproductive Rights
     

    As you can see, our Junior class has taken up a slate of topics that reflect both issues they are passionate about and issues that are pressing in our country right now. We are proud of the way they have pursued this project--with the intelligence, enthusiasm, and tenacity that are hallmarks of this class. It is not surprising, but has been exciting to witness.

    And very soon, our Seniors will articulate their individual capstone experiences that will take place during trimester 3. Our Class of 2021 has faced adversity and challenge of many kinds over their four years, and move into their final projects with many unknowns. However, their creativity and personal interests are propelling them toward projects that reflect who they are as people, and the interests and passions that fuel them. We can’t wait to share their ideas and project articulations with you very soon.
     

    We offer both of these projects as exemplars for meaningful work--engaging students in projects and courses of study that matter--that leads them into other meaningful opportunities throughout their lives. This is the type of learning experience we strive to provide everyday for all of our students.
     
    Click the image below to browse through last year's Senior Projects.
     
     

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