Seventh and eighth grade students opened the school year with a whitewater rafting trip down Deerfield River in Massachusetts. Learning to work together to steer a raft through class II and III rapids requires serious teamwork – students have to count on each other to row at the right time to keep the raft on course. Led by guides, the students had the opportunity to really learn what it meant to work as a team. This was a terrific trip that helped us open the school year on a high note! We look forward to building on the trip’s success in the coming weeks and months!
Sixth through eighth grade Performing Arts classes met this week with great enthusiasm and excitement. Students were grouped into each of their “focus” areas based on interest and past experience (some students will be doing more than one focus!), with the understanding that the three disciplines offered in Upper School Performing Arts at Unquowa – Instrumental Music, Vocal Music, and Drama – will crossover with one another quite a bit over the course of the school year.
Each student also created a specific Performing Arts “goal” for the year. They wrote down their individual goal on an index card, folded and sealed it, and will have a chance to revisit it halfway through the school year and again at the very end of the year. This goal won’t be shared with any other students or teachers until the last day of Performing Arts class in May. Our hope is that everyone will have ended the 2018-2019 school year feeling empowered by their experiences in Performing Arts!
Euclid’s Elements and Platonic Solids were the focus of the first two days of my 8th grade math class. After learning about the contributions of these two legendary mathematicians and philosophers, students were tasked with discovering the total number of Platonic Solids that could exist in 3D space through physical construction. They were gifted the cube as one of the five. They discovered the tetrahedron, the octahedron, the dodecahedron and the icosahedron completely on their own, and along the way learned how to prove which 2D shapes tessellate around a vertex in 3 dimensions (and which don’t). If you see one of these students, be sure to ask them how many regular polytopes could exist in 4-, 5-, 6-, 7-, 8-, or 9-dimensional space!
What better way to start the year off in visual arts than with a little creativity? Students chose a random square from a basket that had printed markings on it (cut and copied from an abstract art coloring book) and then glued it to a piece of paper. Their task: to make a “creature” from the image, either realistic, fantastical, robotic, or alien. It’s no surprise the top word these students used to describe themselves was “creative!”
On June 7th, the Unquowa School showcased a conceptual art show, Voices of Change, at Robert Valle Designs in Bridgeport’s Arcade Mall featuring exemplary works from 18 seventh and eighth-grade students. As a final collaborative humanities and art project, students were challenged with the opportunity to connect art and a personally relevant social issue. The powerful student work was the result of a trimester long interdisciplinary project. Additionally, it was the culmination of historical, analytical, and creative thinking skills cultivated by our two departments throughout the year, as our students have been analyzing conceptual art in the field starting last fall in New York City and in the spring at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum.
Unquowa’s humanities program is founded on the premise that middle school students can think critically and creatively about the world around them, and that they can meaningfully participate in the global dialogue. Students make meaning by studying global culture and participating in it. In visual arts, students are tasked with using artistic principles and media to elicit a truth about themselves or their world. This collaboration between the arts and humanities is a natural vehicle for students to pursue these rich tasks and contribute to the larger conversation in an authentic way.
Voices of Change featured works that discussed issues such as school gun violence, income inequality, ecological issues, teen suicide, and racial bias. With over 90 guests in attendance, students and faculty engaged in meaningful conversations about the art and the topics they presented. Art is a powerful and empowering conduit of empathy, and we, the upper school art and humanities faculty, are so proud of the hard work and thought that students put into this project.
The year is flying by! To help mark this milestone, the parents of the Class of 2018 gathered to celebrate their children’s upcoming graduation. And the stories flowed!
Sharon Lauer and the faculty spoke about the extraordinary close bonds in this class. A closeness on full display during their tear-filled four hour bus ride home from their recent 8th Grade trip! They are prepared and eager for high school, but this is clearly a bittersweet time for them. We will miss them, but we send them off with confidence and pride…here’s to the Class of 2018!