Mountain Workshop “Field Trip”
On October 13, seventh grade students participated in an at home "field trip" with Mountain Workshop, an organization that provides outdoor educational programs that engage students in group challenges and teambuilding activities that promote collaboration, problem solving, communication, fun and excitement. Mountain Workshop was founded in 1979 to develop and facilitate experiential learning and outdoor education programs that act as catalysts for personal growth and increased resilience, to help students manage change, to illuminate the value of diversity, and increase student engagement and establish a framework for developing and maintaining a positive school climate throughout the academic year. Under the guidance of Mountain Workshop’s dedicated facilitators, our students had a fantastic time working with their peers to apply their critical thinking, leadership, and communication skills to the unique challenges. The event was such a success that we will be bringing Mountain Workshop back to Pelham Middle School in June to work with our eighth graders. While we were unable to schedule some of our off-site field trips this fall due to COVID restrictions, we still found great opportunities, like this one, to engage students in fun and meaningful activities outside the classroom.
Rosalind Wiseman Visits PMS!
On November 3rd and 4th, Rosalind Wiseman visited Pelham Middle School for a series of workshops with students and staff. Ms. Wiseman is an educator and author of numerous books about teen culture, including the New York Times best sellers Queen Bees and Wannabes and Masterminds and Wingmen and is the founder of Cultures of Dignity. Along with her colleague Dystaine Douglas-Burger, Ms. Wiseman conducted workshops on identifying the emotional and social needs of our students, strengthening existing programs to increase students’ social and emotional skills, helping students know when and how to talk to trusted adults, and increasing our faculty’s understanding of students’ needs and communication strategies to better reach students. Ms. Wiseman's visit was planned in coordination with Pelham Together and was thanks to a generous grant from the Pelham Education Foundation. Our work with Ms. Wiseman and her organization is a continuation of our focus on Character Education which, last year, led to our designation as a National School of Character, an honor we hold for the next five years.
Studio in Art News
While Ms. Schwarz and Ms. Levi’s eighth grade Studio in Art students were unable to take their annual field trip to the Frick Museum this fall, they were still able to participate in a “virtual field trip” on November 18 to view the collection. Focusing on Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer, students learned that a work of art can tell a story. In addition, Ms. Schwarz and Ms. Levi have continued their “Careers in Art” series, through which noted artists from the community visit students to discuss their work. On November 4, Mr. Thomas Vitale, filmmaker and Pelham resident, shared his journey in the film industry and taught students about the many creative jobs available within the field. Students enjoyed watching clips and seeing pictures of his various projects for the Syfy and Chiller networks. On December 15, Mr. Kyle Snarr, Studio in Art parent and content marketer/creative consultant for brands such as Pepsico, Adidas, Porsche and BMW, shared the story of his creative journey and offered students inspiring advice for the future. Students enjoyed watching video clips of his work. Throughout the school year, we will bring in more guest speakers who will introduce the students to various art careers. Our goal is to educate them about the many opportunities that exist for artists and inspire them to think about their future.
Eighth Grade Activity Day
On Friday, October 22, eighth graders enjoyed a day of special events designed not only to connect with their academic learning, but to inspire fun and engagement at school. The entire eighth grade participated in an outdoor team-building challenge which required them to creatively problem-solve, work cooperatively, and participate in some friendly team competition. All eighth graders then participated in a virtual field trip to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. This followed units on immigration and urbanization in Social Studies, and their reading of Ashes of Roses in English class, during which students built an understanding of the varied immigrant experiences, the growth of cities, and the challenges that faced urban populations at the time. The field trip allowed them to virtually step inside a restored tenement apartment, comprehend the research that took place to reconstruct the lives of the residents, and make useful interdisciplinary connections. An eighth grade class photo was taken for the yearbook on Franklin Field before the students walked to The Picture House to view An American Tail, providing an additional perspective on the immigrant experience.
Monthly Library Resources
Each month, Ms. Rosenberg, our Library Media Specialist, creates a newsletter presenting resources relating to the current month, including heritage celebrations and other issues of interest. Recent newsletters have included Hispanic Heritage Month, LGBT History Month, Italian-American Culture and Heritage Month, Filipino-American History Month, National Bullying Prevention Month, Native American Heritage Month, Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and Irish-American Heritage Month. Each newsletter includes lists of books, audiobooks, e-books, websites, databases, and suggested readings. In this way, students can continue to expand their horizons as they learn about their own and other cultures and important figures.
Halloween Fun at PMS!
This October, students and staff commemorated the coming of Halloween with a student costume contest and teacher dress up (their theme was fairy tales). In addition, our Spanish students studied Día de los Muertos, created their own ofrendas commemorating deceased family members, and decorated “sugar skulls.”
PMS is “No Place for Hate”!
This school year, Pelham Middle School is once again pursuing recognition as a “No Place for Hate” school by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). To achieve this honor, our teachers and students are required to sign a pledge and design and implement schoolwide activities aimed at preventing bullying and bias here at school. In addition to our work with Cultures of Dignity this fall, in December, our Student Ambassadors implemented a schoolwide campaign entitled "I Will Not Spread Hate” that focused on avoiding gossiping, judging others, stereotyping, excluding, putting others down and calling people hurtful names. Students signed the No Place for Hate pledge, distributed Hershey kisses with the slogan “Kiss, Don’t Diss,” wore yellow and gold ribbons, and shared from a ”Jar of Good Deeds.” In January, we held a “No Name Calling Week,” inspired by GLSEN’s annual initiative and organized by students in our GSA (Gender and Sexuality Alliance) including an awareness campaign based on the slogan “Words can build up, or words can destroy.” We look forward to implementing two additional activities this spring.
One of the biggest challenges under COVID has been making sure that our student musicians and singers have opportunities to play together and perform safely, and we were thrilled to be able to hold in-person winter concerts for the first time since 2020! In December, we held band and chorus concerts in front of live audiences and via livestream, as well as a livestreamed concert for students right before the break. Throughout the fall, Mr. Van Bochove used the outdoor space in front of the school for his band sectionals, allowing students a break from masks and entertaining the pedestrians. We are looking forward to taking advantage of the warmer weather for outdoor concerts for band, chorus, and orchestra this spring, so stay tuned!
Ugly Sweaters and Spirit Abounds!
As has been our tradition the past four years, we ended our Holiday Spirit Week with our annual “Ugly Sweater Contest” with students and staff members sporting their most festive holiday-themed gear. The preceding days included a “Hat Day,” “Holiday Sock Day,” and “Pajama Day.” Our office staff voted on the best student outfits and our students voted for their teachers. This was the second spirit week of the year. In October, students dressed up for “Crazy Hat/ Hair Day,” “Pelican Pride Day,” “Pink Day” (for Breast Cancer Awareness Month), “Flannel Day,” and the aforementioned “Halloween Day” and contest.
Seventh Graders Meet a “Lost Boy of Sudan”
Mathiang Deng, a Lost Boy of Sudan, met virtually with our 7th-grade students on Friday, February 11th via Google Meet. This visit was planned in connection with our English 7 unit on Linda Sue Park’s novel A Long Walk to Water. Mr. Deng was born in Bor, South Sudan. Both of his parents were farmers. Mr. Deng’s father fought in the Second Sudanese Civil War from 1985 until his death in 2004. Mr. Deng’s mother is still in Bor, South Sudan with his 3 siblings. In November 1987, after 3 years of civil war, Mr. Deng’s village came under attack from the Arab-led government. He left his country and began his long journey to Ethiopia. Four years later, Ethiopia had its own war in which the government was overthrown by rebels. The Sudanese refugees were not welcome by the rebels, and they had to leave Ethiopia for Kenya. In total, Mr. Deng and the other Sudanese boys, referred to as the “Lost Boys of Sudan,” walked over 1000 miles. In the refugee camps in both Ethiopia and Kenya, Mr. Deng’s life was very difficult. For example, he remembers eating only one meal a day, usually at 9 p.m. Eventually, Mr. Deng became one of approximately 3,600 Lost Boys who were resettled in the United States. Today, Mr. Deng lives with his wife and five children in Liverpool, NY. He is a radiology technologist. We were very excited to offer this opportunity to enhance students’ learning.
On March 3rd and 4th, our eighth grade students had the opportunity to hear the stories of two Holocaust survivors. Cantor Judith Steel was born in Berlin at the beginning of WWII. Her family was Jewish and escaped aboard the ship St Louis in 1939 when she was an infant, only to be turned away by both Cuba and the US. The ship was then returned to Europe. Her family disembarked in Belgium only to be interred in Camp Gurs. Her father was able to sneak her out to a French Catholic family, who hid her during the war. She came to live in the US in 1946, sponsored by her Aunt and Uncle. She is now the Cantor at the New Synagogue in New York City and a Jewish Interfaith Wedding Officiant. Sami Steigmann was born on December 21, 1939 in Czernovitz, Bukovina, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire belonging to Romania. From 1941 through 1944, he was with his parents in the Ukraine at Mogilev Podolsky, a labor camp in an area called Transnistria. Being too young to work, Sami was subjected to Nazi medical experimentation. The camp was liberated by the Red Army and his family was deported by the Romanians. He grew up in Transylvania, in a small town called Reghin. In 1961, his whole family emigrated to Israel where he served in the Israeli Air Force. In 1968, without knowing the language and with no money, Sami came to the United States. He now lives in New York City and is a motivational speaker. Our students asked many thoughtful questions and learned a great deal about the Holocaust from these firsthand accounts.
Our eighth grade Earth Science students were given a nearly “imPASTAble” challenge. After completing their unit of study of plate tectonics and earthquakes, students were divided into teams. Each team then designed, built, and tested a model tower made from uncooked spaghetti sticks and mini marshmallows. The models were tested on a specially built earthquake shake table that simulates the stresses that buildings experience during earthquakes. It’s these types of inquiry-based experiences that make learning science at Pelham Middle School fun!
This February, as part of a Pelham Education Foundation grant on “The Evolution Towards Diversity in the Art World,” our eighth grade students had the opportunity to experience a Google Meet session with Joyce J. Scott, an African-American artist, sculptor, quilter, performance artist, installation artist, print-maker, lecturer and educator. Named a MacArthur Fellow in 2016, and a Smithsonian Visionary Artist in 2019, Scott is best known for her figurative sculptures and jewelry using free form, off-loom bead weaving techniques. Scott is renowned for her social commentary on issues such as racism, classism, sexism, violence, and cultural stereotypes, as well as themes of spiritual healing. Scott’s presentation covered her family background, inspirations, technique, and experiences, and students had the opportunity to ask questions. Thanks to Ms. Rebecca Schwarz and the PEF for making this event possible!
|March 11 – Interim grades available at 3:30 p.m.|
|March 18 – Spring Parent-Teacher Conferences|
|March 21 – Modified Spring Sports Begin|
|March 29-30 – NYS ELA Exams|
|April 8 – Third Marking Period Ends|
|April 11-15 – Spring Break|
|April 26-27 – NYS Math Exams|