For Barrie’s Middle School students, Project Based Learning, thematic connections, and service learning have come together to find many active outlets, both on and off campus. The Grade 6 class, focusing on the theme of Respect for the Environment, created an interactive mural now on permanent display at the Rock Creek Park Nature Center’s Discovery Room. The Grade 8 students, exploring the theme of Respect for Others, participated in local Holocaust Remembrance Day events and interviewed Holocaust survivors. The Grade 7 class, dedicating their efforts to the theme of Respect for Self, endeavored throughout the school year to study and understand the particular health and wellness needs of their MUS peers. Their hard work came together on Friday, as they staged a Health Fair that included the entire Middle-Upper School.
Early in the year, in collaboration with Service Learning Coordinator Rachelle Adams, the class brainstormed together and developed six areas of health and wellness that would directly impact on adolescents’ respect for themselves: physical, intellectual, social, emotional, spiritual, and environmental. They then set to planning, developing activities, workshops, and presentations that would explore these areas and help their peers grow to develop a better sense of respect for themselves.
Looking ahead to the proposed Health Fair, the students decided to divide the day into two parts: morning sessions, which would include workshops on topics such as driver safety, peer pressure, body image and eating disorders, nutrition, and the mind-body connection, and afternoon activities, which would take advantage of the Barrie campus’ diverse resources, natural and man-made. The class researched and invited speakers for the morning sessions and also recruited MUS faculty and peers to bring their own passions and interests to bear.
The Facilities crew worked with the Grade 7 class in the days before the event to prep the campus, and on Friday, Rachelle managed to pull some strings and arrange for perfect weather. The entire MUS assembled on the quad at 9:30 for an overview of the day’s plans and then split into mixed grade-level groups for morning sessions. The activities were diverse: among others, Counselor Malikkah Rollins hosted a discussion about understanding and dealing with peer pressure; Teaching Fellow Patrick Bond gave a presentation on conventional vs. organic farming practices (including how to tell the difference between the two when shopping for food); an invited speaker, who had been involved in a drunk driving accident, spoke of his experiences (and displayed a wrecked car destroyed in such an accident); Barrie parent and Deputy Director of the National Museum of Health & Medicine brought in some preserved anatomical samples; and an acupuncturist/accupressurist hosted a workshop for students.
After a lunch that included vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, groups re-convened to stretch their muscles, both literally in various physical activities and metaphorically with arts projects. The gym hosted volleyball, basketball, and yoga; Tyrone Stanley led STEP dancing and Dance for Health sessions; Joanna, Patrick, and Paul Leistra gave a clinic on safe and challenging bicycling; the Art House hosted bookbinding and visual journaling classes; the playing field saw some intense Ultimate Frisbee competition; and Equestrian Director Sue Wentzel (and Barrie’s horses) offered horseback rides.
Many thanks to the Grade 7 class, the MUS faculty, and Rachelle for organizing this special day. We look forward to seeing this become an annual Middle-Upper School event.