News about Burgundy's 6th, 7th, and 8th grade classes.
Burgundy is featured in a recent story from MindShift, an educational reporting project from public radio station KQED. The story highlights the shift toward dog-friendly school campuses and employing both official and unofficial “comfort dogs.” For the story, a reporter spoke with Head of School Jeff Sindler, 8th grader Max S., and 1st grade Goats student Maggie H. about Jeff’s dog Cameron and their experience with dogs on campus.
This year’s Arts Festival will be in a new home—the Logan Arts & Community Center! The event was originally scheduled for March 13, but we are rescheduling it for Tuesday, April 10. The date change will allow for the installation of a layer of paneling on the walls of the gallery—necessary before we can display art there. Delivery of the panels has been delayed. With this change, the Arts Festival coincides with the celebration and dedication of the building and Campus Commons on the following morning of Wednesday, April 11.
In late January, a group of Middle School families and members of Burgundy’s Parents of African American Students group (PAAS) worked at Hip Hop for Heart—an annual dance party for children in Alexandria’s foster care system, organized by alumni parent Catherine Joyce and the Fund for Alexandria’s Child.
Our volunteers helped transform the Durant Center on Cameron Street in Alexandria into a beautiful dance venue, complete with a DJ, a "photo booth" with artistic backgrounds, games and crafts for younger children, a book share, and loads of food. In addition to helping set up the event, Burgundy students helped run the games, were face painters, and helped children find books to take home. This was the first time PAAS families joined other volunteers, and with a positive experience the group is hoping to help out again in future!
On Saturday, February 17, a group of Middle School families braved the cold and snow to help Koinonia “Stuff the Bus” (literally!) at the Giant at Kingstowne. We gave out flyers to shoppers, asked for donations of food, collected the food they brought out—and learned how to accept "No," or "I can't today" with a smile and a "Thank you." The food filled the waiting bus, and at the end of the afternoon, the bus headed back to Koinonia where our volunteers helped unload it in a short but intense snow storm. Volunteers at Koinonia will distribute the food to clients in the Franconia area near Burgundy.
Next Thursday and Friday, February 15 and 16, Burgundy’s 7th grade class takes the stage for their original play, Through the Eyes of Us! Shows begin at 7 p.m. at Aldersgate Community Church. Tickets are now available!
Check out a video commercial for the show, prepared by Cole M. and Maddie P.
Please note: This production is recommended for students in 4th grade and older. The student-generated content covers topics relevant in young adults' lives today, so may not be appropriate for younger audience members. Some of the issues that arise include body image, social media, and bullying, communicated through dance pieces. While there is not any language unfit for the younger members of our community, please be aware that the 7th grade has written a play geared towards their own lives and the performance may elicit questions about challenging topics from younger children.
Mark your calendars for Thursday and Friday, February 15 and 16, when Burgundy’s 7th grade class takes the stage for their original play, Through the Eyes of Us! Shows begin at 7 p.m. at Aldersgate Community Church in the Fort Hunt area of Alexandria. Please note: this is a location change from earlier plans. Tickets will be available via a link in next week’s Constant Comment.
Social media, constant questions, ever-changing friendships… the life of a middle schooler! This year’s 7th grade class is presenting an original piece they’ve written about the life of a pre-teen in today’s America. This play will not be performed in the “traditional” structure of many plays, but in a devising structure called “Playmaking.” Playmaking allows actors as well as audiences to process difficult topics such as pre-teen life, gender, current events, bullying, body image, and our culture, as well as childhood stories, friendship, and favorite places from growing up. Through The Eyes of Us is the story of how one social media post changes friendships forever. The audience will meet characters and will see how they process their issues through movement, scene work, monologues, and in fun comedic ways!
Please note: This production is recommended for 4th grade and up. The student-generated content covers topics relevant in young adults' lives today, so may not be appropriate for younger audience members. Some of the issues that arise include body image, social media, and bullying, communicated through dance pieces. While there is not any language unfit for the younger members of our community, please be aware that the 7th grade has written a play geared towards their own lives.
Several Burgundy Middle School musicians recently auditioned for Fairfax County’s All District Bands. Ruby Ahdoot and Nathan Carpenter-Holmes, both 8th grade, and Ben Abbruzzese, 6th grade, have all achieved spots. Congratulations!
Nathan, a guitarist, will be playing with the All District Jazz Band’s Middle School Jazz Ensemble. The concert is this weekend, Saturday, January 27, at 5 p.m. at St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes Upper School.
Ruby and Ben are playing with the countywide All District Middle School Concert Band; their concert is Saturday, February 3, 2 p.m. at Hayfield Secondary School. Ruby will be playing in the first chair position among flutists; Ben is playing alto saxophone.
On Wednesday, a group of Burgundy students from 4th through 8th grades participated in the schoolwide round of the National Geography Bee.
Questions came from U.S. and world geography, and included a section on identifying relevant data on a map. After an extended finalist round, James Perriam, a 4th grade Cooper, was named the Burgundy Geography Bee champion for 2018! He will move on to the next step, which is a test to determine statewide bee competitors. Congratulations to James and all participants!
I hear two comments from parents about Burgundy on a regular basis. The first is “I wish I could have gone to Burgundy!” or, my favorite iteration, “I wish I could go to Burgundy!”
The second comment I receive pretty often is, “I wish Burgundy had a high school!” This one is offered with equal conviction (and not only from 8th grade parents who may be agonizing through the high school application process). And it is, honestly, equally flattering. But I am not as enthusiastic, and here’s why…
Reason #1: the minute you have a high school the focus is on college acceptances. Reason #2: See #1. Burgundy preserves a bonafide childhood better than a larger, K-12 type school. Competition does not prematurely become the end-all, and there do not have to be winners and losers in everything; the focus, even in middle school, can be more on the personal journey than comparing. In middle school this matters a lot, where the self-image can be fragile. The social stuff typically remains innocent here compared with other middle schools and schools with high schools. Maintaining intrinsic motivation with that positive self-image also is a huge advantage going into high school, when Mom and Dad become more resources than daily keepers. Reason #3: our kids, with years of experience at Burgundy in thinking for themselves, have an uncanny sense of where they will thrive in high school, and they (with their parents’ blessings) make excellent choices, attending a remarkable array of the region’s and indeed the nation’s best high schools (and later best colleges). Check out the lists.
So, thank you, but we won’t be building a high school anytime soon, if I have a say in the matter! (Enough construction for now, and we have enough new spaces to enjoy for a while!)
Finally, on a more serious note, and still speaking of transitions: 5th grade parents, please don’t forget that the orientation evening for rising middle school parents is this coming Tuesday. It’s a very helpful program. Others, if you’d like to discuss the high school question, or talk about where our kids go to high school (or yes, even college), I am available for lunch! Cheers.
On Monday, January 15, 2018, the Middle School celebrated "A Day On, Not a Day Off" to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy and call for service by completing six service projects, five of them with off-campus components. We have been doing this for nearly a decade.
Middle School students and parents met in the gym for a communal take-and-go breakfast and very short introductory program, before dispersing to a selection of projects in the Alexandria community and a bit beyond. Check out more photos from all these projects.
Many thanks to Arlene Guevara and the members of Parents of African American Students (PAAS), who headed up the Meade Memorial Lunch; to our teachers, home-grown professional chef, humanities teacher Levita Mondie, who led the meal preparation at Ronald McDonald House; to math and science teacher and Sustainability Coordinator Doug Fishman, who led the work at Bikes for the World; to parent Nadia Grenier, who helped us create a scrumptious, nutritious soup for Meade; and to science teacher and Sustainability Co-Coordinator Renee Miller for setting up and Elizabeth Lener for leading the detergent project. Thanks also go to De Shan Lett, my shopping partner, and to parents Ann Blakey, Arlene Guevara, and Amy Heist for helping with organization and purchasing, to alumni Margaret Evans Brown '02 and and Kevin Brown '01 of Groundworks Farm, who donated veggies for the soup, and of course to all the other parent and teacher drivers and participants.
Lower School students will complete a number of projects in honor of MLK Day during this week.
Projects completed Monday were:
- Members of PAAS led students in making bag lunches at Burgundy to go with the soup prepared at Norton House over the weekend. They then went to Meade Memorial Episcopal Church in Old Town, Alexandria to serve the soup and distribute and serve lunches to clients served by the Meade Lunch Program, which serves lunch to homeless and at-risk people 365 days a year.
- Students dismantled more than 70 bikes and loaded them in containers for transport to other countries at the Bikes for the World warehouse in Bethesda, Maryland. This shipment of bikes is going to the Philippines, where they will be distributed to students who live far from their schools and are at greater risk of dropping out without bikes.
- Burgundy collected 1548 pounds of food for ALIVE through our campus-wide food drive. Burgundy students sorted the food into boxes, and loaded them into the ALIVE truck. They then went to the ALIVE warehouse on Payne Street in Old Town Alexandria to further sort and store the food and see the food distribution operation. ALIVE was grateful and complimentary about our students and families!
- Under the able direction of Levita Mondie, Middle School teacher and chef, Burgundy students prepared a full meal for the parents staying at Ronald McDonald House while their children are in the hospital. Our students had a wonderful cooking lesson, and received a booklet of recipes for the chili, cornbread, guacamole and lemonade that they made.
- The Fund for Alexandria’s Child serves foster children in the City of Alexandria. Our students organized the emergency clothing closet at Alexandria's Human Services Department on Mount Vernon Avenue that contains clothing, diapers, toiletries, etc. for children in need when they enter foster care. They also assembled snack bags for social workers to share with children.
- Under Elizabeth Lener's direction, students made homemade detergent for Carpenter's Shelter, the largest homeless shelter in Alexandria. Carpenter's Shelter gives detergent to their clients and lets them use washing machines for their clothes and bedding.
It’s been good to have a couple of ‘normal’ days after our various weather days! Overall, the students (and teachers — and admin and staff, too) have returned from the two-week break in good spirits, and Wednesday morning at All School Meeting, led by our 8th grade hosts (this week, Eleanor and Juliette), we reflected on the concept of New Year’s Resolutions: what they are, where they reportedly originated, why they continue to be relevant….
Although many adults are ambivalent about New Year’s resolutions (don’t tell, but for several years at one point in my life, I just kept crossing out and updating the years on the same set of apparently unattainable resolutions), resolutions can be part of a healthy practice of reflection and even renewal. At our All School Meeting, students described their resolutions, including: trying to be nice to siblings, or working to master a new gymnastics or ice-skating move. One teacher mentioned she was challenging herself to say thank you to someone each day.
When it was my time to speak, I offered that it’s great to have resolutions focused on how we treat others (or ourselves), as well as for specific goals we wish to achieve. One wellness goal I have set quietly for myself is to be less “addicted” to my computer and phone. As I am sure is true for many of us, email alone often seems insurmountable; there are always more messages to answer, and more potentially wisdom-filled electronic professional newsletters (sigh) to read! But I am going to be present for my family and my other interests (remember reading printed magazines and books?!), and make substantial screen-free time… Just as soon as I finish typing this article!
I hope I am not alone in this resolution. I don’t think I am. Last year, several dozen parents, students, and faculty-staff watched and talked about the poignant recent documentary Screenagers. The film made clear we need to make proactive choices about ours and our children’s relationships with technology. (We really cannot separate the two, IMO.) Our discussions reminded us that parents setting shared limits or establishing developmentally friendly community norms and values around things like technology can make parenting (and being a kid) easier!
To encourage parents to engage on these tough but important issues, we’re happy to share these resources:
- Burgundy’s Cyber Resources for Families
- Cell Phone Parenting Resources published by Common Sense Media
- A roundup of recent research on children and screen time from NPR
We hope they are useful!