Posted on October 6, 2013
The elementary/preschool students' interactions with middle school and high school students are always great experiences! This past Wednesday, senior Tommy Lam and his friends in the Chess Club came equipped with game boards and chess pieces, ready to teach the game to after-school program students interested in learning. About a dozen high school students and another dozen first through fifth graders converged in a classroom to begin the first of many after-school games. After introductions, elementary students paired up with their new high school friends. Observing the interactions among the students, I was impressed that our children picked up easily on the different moves of each chess piece and managed to play almost two games. Even more intriguing was the level of concentration and focus of each child. Their high school partners were patient in explaining, sometimes several times, a particular strategy and spoke respectfully to the younger students. Unless the Chess Club members were giving away the game, it seemed to me that some were seriously pondering their next move on the chess board! We plan to continue these informal sessions next month, date to be announced.
There are other occasions throughout the year when our preschoolers and elementary students interact. In an effort to help fifth graders transition to middle school, four events are usually planned to bring fifth and sixth graders together in the classroom, at lunch in Scudder Hall, on the playing field, and in a community-service project.
In the past, our children have collaborated with a few high school classrooms on inquiry projects. We go to the high school students for their expertise, such as demonstrating a dance, animating an illustration, playing instruments, or attending a theater production. High school students have presented on shared community projects such as Amnesty International or the Red Cross. Each year students enrolled in Spanish language classes have shared children's books they have written and illustrated with our kindergartners and first and second graders. During the holidays, the jazz band or orchestra entertain us during lunch in the dining room. One of the best interactions are when the varsity basketball or volleyball teams and cheerleaders visit and play with the children on the playcourt.
(These photos are courtesy of Scot Allen)
Even within the elementary, kindergartners and fifth graders are learning buddies. Preschoolers and kindergartners share play spaces. Fifth graders work in the preschool and kindergarten as Peace Team members. Older students in multiage classes serve as mentors for younger students.
All of these interactions, sprinkled throughout the year, really contribute to the feeling of one school. Although MPI is a student body of over 1500, it still feels like a small school because there are touchpoints -- person to person -- in these student interactions and relationship-building from the time a student enters Mid-Pacific at any grade level. Definitely one school strengthened by diversity.
For our children,
Edna L. Hussey