Middle School news, week beginning 2/22

by Jacob Gooding Magnolia students practice writing Arabic.

This past 2 weeks, the Middle School has been very active. We have worked on the new theme, Wagons Ho! This theme is about the Westward Expansion. We learned about the Battle of the Alamo, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the California Gold Rush, how to pack a wagon, and agriculture. We are continuing Arabic, and learned about numbers.

Middle School News, Week of 2/8

by Casey Gooding

The last two weeks have been extremely busy for the Middle School. We have begun our new theme "Wagons, Ho!" during which we will be learning about the westward expansion of America. Our timeline covers most of the 19th century and focuses on emigration to the west.

This past weekend the Middle School students attended the Florida State Junior Thespians Festival in Longwood. We were able to see some outstanding performances from Middle School Thespians throughout the state and to perform many of our pieces from District Thespians. Several performances, including Emma Stanton's monologue, Trevor Lee's solo musical and "Super Squad" (Grayson Pittman, Riley Branham, Jacob Gooding, Aidan McConnell, Grant Munson and Nicholas Homann) earned "Excellent" ratings. That was no small feat for this State Festival. The students had a fantastic time and learned a tremendous amount about acting and working as a team.

Arabic Instruction starting at the Middle School

We are very excited to announce that middle school students are receiving Arabic instruction courtesy of the FSU Arabic Department outreach program. The six-week program will be provided by FSU students under the supervision of  faculty member Dr. Defne Bilir. Topics include names (written in Modern Standard Arabic), numbers, greetings, colors and flags, some vocabulary, and celebrations. Activities include calligraphy practice, number games, role‐play, matching activities, and dance.

Energy theme explores electromagnetism, renewable energy

Our current theme, Endlessly Changing Energy, is entering its seventh and final week. During Theme Circle in the elementary school, the focus will be on noted African American mechanical engineer and inventor Elijah McCoy, and on renewable energies. Front room students will busy themselves dropping eggs (sic!) and making simple machines. During the last two weeks, they explored inertia by driving dolls, balls or each other around in the wheelbarrow. As the wheelbarrow was pushed in a straight line then turned to the right, they saw the objects or felt their body roll/lean to the left, thus experiencing first hand the tendency of bodies to continue straight while the wheelbarrow turns “under them.” They also experimented with marbles, magnets and electrical circuits.

Back room and middle school students will be exploring electromagnetism and renewable energies. Over the past two weeks, backroom students saw how chemical energy can be turned into light by experimenting with glow sticks. They saw how potential energy can be turned into kinetic energy by dropping objects and comparing rates of fall (which should be the same for all objects save the effect of air friction, remember the feather and hammer drop on the moon demonstration?

They also experimented with inertia using the wheelbarrow. They saw how chemical energy can be turned into electrical energy by building potato and orange juice batteries, and they played energy bingo, a game that allows them to review energy forms. Middle school students also experimented with chemical energy, using glow sticks and building apple batteries, and they continued their practice of making hypothese, taking notes, drawing diagrams and discussing conclusions.

Guest presenters include:

  • Dr. Ed Fenimore, an astrophysicist and high energy expert at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Dr. Fenimore (aka Oliver’s grandfather)  gave presentations to both the elementary and the middle school last week. These were met with such enthusiasm that students are asking for a second visit if possible. Thank you, Dr. Fenimore!
  • Sarah Ward, a.k.a. Sean and Maddie May’s mom, came to the elementary school on Thursday to show how a speaker strategically placed in a room can help people hear even if they plug their ears with cotton balls.
  • ReThink Energy Florida has kindly agreed to send its outreach team to our school on Friday, Nov. 20 at 11:00 a.m. One presenter will address grades K-4 and the other grades 5-8. The emphasis of the presentations will be on renewable energies.

Finally, remember that our end-of-theme home project is to be presented/displayed on Monday, November 23rd, the day of our Thanksgiving Feast.

After Thanksgiving, we will start a new theme, “Viva Mexico!,” that will focus on the geography and culture of Mexico, with some historical strands as well.

Jr. Thespians participate in district Festival

Thank you to all the parents, grandparents, and friends who turned out at Godby High School on November 6th and 7th to support our Thespians! It was great to have so many well-wishers in attendance. The play 4 a.m. received high marks for acting and an Excellent rating over all. Emily received a Superior rating on her Solo Musical piece, and Excellent ratings were earned by the pantomime Supersquad, the small group musical Officer Krupke, Emma's monologue, Trevor's musical theater solo, Riley and Grayson's duet acting scene, and the ensemble acting scene of Trevor, Robert, and Kevin. The kids enjoyed their ribbons but most importantly learned how to work hard together, analyze text, challenge themselves, and function as a team.

We appreciate all the support from family and friends to make this possible. Special thanks are due to Art McConnell and Casey Gooding, who provided expert coaching; to Ursel Homann, for making sure our Keystone Cops looked spiffy and bringing snacks to rehearsal; to Jodi Wilcof and Lerena Fleck, who created custom t-shirts so that we could enter the festival in style, sewed costumes, and helped at rehearsals; to Sue Ray, our most experienced chaperone; and to Sarah Wilson and Jenn Branham, who made sure no one went hungry.


Middle School News, Week of 10/19

By Paige Brey

  • Our FSU Italian students will be back this Friday to continue our Italian lessons. They were impeccably prepared and did a great job the first time they visited. The class will be first thing Friday morning, so please arrive on time. If possible, they would like our students to watch the video "Buon Viaggio" on YouTube again before our next lesson.
  • We will be leaving campus around 11:30 on Friday for P.E., returning around 1:30. Please pack a lunch that does not require the microwave.
  • On Tuesday, October 27, the students would like to perform a showcase of their individual scenes and monologues and preview our one-act play, 4 A.M. by Jonathan Dorf. Please check your calendar and let me as soon as possible if your child has a schedule conflict and cannot attend. The showcase will be at Unity of Tallahassee, off Crowder Rd. at 2850 Unity Lane at 7:00 p.m. Many thanks to Pam for securing the location for us, and to Rev. Bill Williams for allowing us to use the church.
  • The District 10 Jr. Thespian Festival will be held at Godby High School on November 6 and 7. Again, let me know if your child has a schedule conflict on any of these dates so that we can make any necessary adjustments. The festival organizers are willing to accommodate specific scheduling requests, but only if they know about them well in advance.
  • Thespian practice will continue each Thursday afternoon from 3:30 to 5 through November 4th. Individual scenes and monologues can also rehearse on Wednesday and Friday afternoons. Students should consult with their group members and sign up for a mutually convenient time.
  • All lines for 4 a.m. should be memorized by tomorrow (Tuesday, October 20) and lines for individual scenes and monologues are due on Thursday, October 22. Students may substitute memorizing lines for their regular 30 minutes of reading each night.
  • Current Events returns this week as usual.
  • Many thanks to Jodi and Lerena for making sure we have awesome attire at festival again this year.
  • They have helped the students choose a t-shirt design and will be coming to school at guild time to facilitate the printing.
  • We're also grateful to Jodi and Lerena for organizing and implementing Parent's Night Out and the Star Wars winter break camp to raise funds for middle school activities. Please take time to read their e-mails and let them know how you can help.
  • Amid all this excitement, our Energy Theme continues apace. Students have conducted experiments exploring potential and kinetic energy and played "Energy Bingo" to learn about different types of energy and the Law of Conservation of Energy.

Middle School news, week of 9/21

Walkabout Proposals are due tomorrow! If you have any questions about your child's project, please contact Paige. Please help your child find time in his or her schedule for our standing homework assignment: read for 30 minutes each night. We got off to a great start, but we have lost momentum in the last two weeks. Independent reading is a one of the most powerful learning activities that we can provide for our children.

We have a great group of singers and have begun work on two small group musical numbers and a short play to be performed during the school music program October 2. Students should be practicing their lines and music at home so that everyone is confident in their roles by September 28 (next Monday).

Many thanks to Ben Jacobs for visiting last week to give us an introduction to Italian (and share his very beautiful copy of Dante’s Divine Comedies), to Lori Gooding for teaching us how to protect our hearing, and to Casey for demonstrating all his brass instruments. We are very fortunate to have such an accomplished and generous parent community to enrich our curriculum.

Middle school news

So far, the middle school students have been doing an exceptional job of completing written assignments on time; our new students, in particular, have made an impressive commitment to stepping up to the demands of middle school—so keep up the good work, everyone! We're grateful to guest speakers Sue Ray and Adam Berkowitz, who visited during Language Arts last week. Adam not only demonstrated the rudiments of drumming, but also gave the middle school class a crash course in drumming history, while Sue presented a great introduction to journalism to kick off our new writing project, a short history of The Magnolia School (timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary party).

During Explorations, students are learning to read musical notation and practicing their skills on the boom-whackers and recorders. We are also learning about major composers and instrument families from Casey and appreciate his first-hand knowledge about playing music and performing professionally.

Last Friday, students took home Walkabout planning sheets to help them prepare their first Walkabout proposals of the year. Please support your child in brainstorming and identifying projects that are of interest to him/her. The proposal is due September 22 and requires a parent signature. Students should also continue reading at least 30 minutes each night at home for an average of 125 pages per week.

Middle schoolers learn and teach in first week

The middle school has had a very busy but great first week of school! A chore chart and classroom jobs have already been established, and students spent four fun-filled days with the elementary school in the afternoon, both learning and teaching. We learned things about the ear and sound waves, and even made homemade musical instruments. Based on what we learned, we conducted simple experiments for the elementary school students. Math groups are hard at work, Friends and Family pages are finished, and the new lockers are almost done being painted! And we are very happy to welcome our new teacher, Casey Gooding.

Last week we spent extra time in the elementary school in order to get to know all the students and teachers on our campus. This week we begin our regular schedule of Explorations in the morning and Language Arts in the afternoon. For homework, students are to read for 30 minutes every night for the entire school year.

Our first current event report is due this Friday, August 28.

The middle school needs some guitars for the music theme, so any extra unused guitars would be much appreciated as well.

Magnolia student earns top honors in sonnet competition

Magnolia School eighth grader Genevieve Jacobs is the winner of the Southern Shakespeare Festival’s Sonnet Competition, middle school division. This is only the most recent honor for Genevieve, who already is an accomplished poet. Genevieve’s poem, “Cat and Laser,” is published in today’s Tallahassee Democrat, and will be read as part of three-day festival's activities. She also receives a $50 gift certificate to Carrabba's Italian Grill and a 6-month, 7-day subscription to the Tallahassee Democrat, which sponsored the competition. Genevieve and the other winners will be recognized during the Saturday performance.

“Cat and Laser” by Genevieve Jacobs

There it is! that quick, evasive dot, a soundless, odorless, matter less, seizing glow a hypnotizing incarnadine little spot impossibly fast, shimmering, formidable foe. All of me vibrating with tension now I crouch. Back! Forth! Back! Forth! Back! I strike! I pounce! I chase it under the couch. It remains at large, despite my hunter’s knack, speedily darting and dashing everywhere. It always dodges with escapist skill, shivering, streaking, circling near my lair. I have it not and yet I see it still. I’ll always hunt this so elusive prey. I will catch it. I will! Just not today.