As we start 2014, I reflect
back to last August when the halls of South Hall opened to 210 Middle School students. Now, I experience similar feelings knowing
students will soon be dismissed for vacation break. I find myself eagerly awaiting their return
to campus to complete the many projects and exciting initiatives we have started.
An example of Middle School activities that took
place this trimester include:
grade visit to the United Nations (coordinated with the help of Sylvia Rolinski
and partially sponsored by the Parent Association).
grade visit to the Veterans Day Ceremony at Arlington Cemetery. Students interviewed veterans and listened to
President Obama deliver a moving proclamation.
Former Ambassador of Haiti’s visit to Middle School. The ambassador spoke to students about
deforestation and the importance of preserving the environment.
virtual visit via Skype with the author of Shooting Kabul, N.H. Senza. Students asked questions regarding an
author’s perspective of writing.
Charlotte Happle’s informative presentation during our Signature Speaker
Program on air traffic control.
Cyndi Senders’ insightful comments to 8th grade students on our zero
tolerance policy for drug and alcohol use.
sending holiday cards to the Red Cross for the “Holiday Mail for Heroes Program,”
brought to our attention by parent Debbie Friedlander
reading celebration afternoon, during which students read in a relaxed
environment while parents served hot chocolate.
implementation of 13 clubs expanding academic and social opportunities within our
instructional program. Highlights associated with a few of our clubs are:
Rocketry Club led by parent Kerry Wisnosky.
Each week the
students built and tested hand-on rocket projects that focused on fundamental
physics of rocketry: altitude, velocity and acceleration. Students built
rockets (paper, straw, balloon), stomp launchers, parachute recovery systems,
Pop Can HERO engines, rocket racer cars, and transportation systems. Students
also participated in launching a solid motor ESTES rocket on Bullis’ South
led by Bullis Alum Richard Hayman ’63.
explored technologies such as electricity, poser, clean water supplies, cell
phones and more. Officer Mike Prather from
the Montgomery County Police Department spoke to students about undercover
operations in the county. Alan Hayman taught students how mobile apps are
created by his company, XCO Software. Two engineers from CISCO covered the
internet and Wi-Fi, a Georgetown professor discussed science issues and Bullis’
video communications associate Mark Riffee explained the basics of digital
- Investing Club led by Bruce Kelly (MS
Students played The Wall Street Stock Market Game™. Students were
divided into teams to research the stock market and debate the merits of
purchasing a stock for their portfolio. The final decision to purchase or not
was made by the group leader. We had several guest speakers including Mr.
Marc Steren, Bullis Entrepreneurship Coordinator and Mr. Todd McCreight, Bullis
- Book Club led by Joy Foust-Colburn
Students read one of three
novels (QB1 by Mike Lupica, The Secret Language of Girls by Frances O’Roark Dowell or Delirium
by Lauren Oliver) and created book trailers for the novel they read. They read
picture books to 2nd graders and planned a bake sale to raise money for “Books for Africa,” a literacy charity.
- Diversity Club led by Kira Orr (Assistant
Principal) and Rachel Moore (Athletic Trainer). The group planned a diversity program
that will be shared during a Middle School assembly. Students will also attend the Middle School
Student Diversity Leadership Conference at Sandy Friends Independent School,
which has a theme of “Embracing Neurodiversity: Affirming All Learners by
- Math Club led by Jason Kezmarsky (MS
Eight 8th grade students
traveled to Sheridan School on Nov. 7 to participate in a math competition.
The competition consisted of several rounds of the game 24, Set, and one
round of math questions that required problem solving. At the end of the
competition, each school announced their highest scoring student. We were proud
to announce Jeremy Walsh as our top math student for Bullis.
- Bullis Green Club led by Rita Gerharz
Students are helping
Bullis become a greener school and lead Bullis in the Green Cup Recycling
Challenge, a national competition to increase environmental awareness.
- Ethos Club led by Kristin Kvasnyuk (MS Latin Teacher).
The Ethos club published
their first Middle School newsletter of the year. Student reporters visited MS
events and activities including clubs.They captured information, took pictures and wrote articles. They are also preparing information to include
in the Bullis Yearbook.
We are offering 15 clubs during the current winter trimester.
Here’s looking forward to a fantastic second half of the 2013-2014 school year!
As we enter mid-trimester at Bullis School, I am convinced our
Middle School students are being exposed to a multitude of new opportunities in
which they are gaining academic knowledge, social growth and emotional strength. Learning from these experiences is not always
easy, but our students are rising to the occasion. Students are exploring the unknown, taking
risk by sharing opinions/ideas and learning from mistakes. These elements are critical
to lifelong learning.
A new experience recently launched in the Middle School is our
Enrichment Activity/Club program. Students are enrolled in self-selected clubs
weekly. Club offerings include: Adventures in Rocket Science, Investment Club,
Film Appreciation, Jazz Band, Mask-Making Mania, Equinators, Everyday
Technology, Success with Study Skills, Book Club, Diversity Club, Ethos
Literary/Yearbook Club, Greener Bullis, and a Math Club. When observing a club one may find students
launching rockets, working in teams to invest in stock markets using a Wall
Street Journal on-line game, reading to second graders, preparing for upcoming
math competitions, or capturing Middle School Moments to author articles.
The Speaker Series also began in October. The Honorable
Ambassador Raymond Jones from Haiti presented a wonderful discussion on
deforestation and the need for reforestation. Frantz Kenol, a Haitian born representative joined him. We also had the
pleasure of learning about Air Traffic Control from Charlotte Happle. As a result of her informative presentation, students
will now travel with an understanding of the supports necessary to safely reach
locations by air.
As the year continues, we will find ways to help others
through community service projects, learn to celebrate differences by welcoming
diversity as value added and develop multi-disciplinary projects to showcase at
the end of the year. This combination of experiential education trips, Middle
School assemblies and creative academic lessons, topped with old fashion cookouts,
dances, and yes, even an 8th grade trip to Calleva’s Haunted Forest create
ingredients for a phenomenal school year!
School students are truly growing in all aspects of their lives at Bullis, and
some of our second trimester activities are great examples: Geography Bee (the
winner advanced to the state level), MS Activity night, a Diversity Conference for
independent schools at Sandy Spring Friends School, a basketball tournament (Bullis
MS won first place), a cross-divisional Festival of Gods Activity in 6th
grade Latin, the phenomenal MS musical “Honk”, Community Day and the District
Choir Festival for 8th grade (receiving a II excellent rating).
all these events, you may ask what Community Day is and how does it help adolescent
growth? Community Day is a day of learning beyond the four walls of the
classroom. It’s a day of surprise when regularly
scheduled classes are replaced with an inspirational speaker, team building
exercises, case study discussions and games. It’s a day devoted to student
reflection of self, community and total acceptance of every middle school
year, Community Day began with a surprise breakfast upon arrival to
school. The surprises continued as the
renowned speaker Mawi Asgedom, author of the award-winning book Of Beetles
and Angels joined us. He shared his life story from his birth in Ethiopia, his
life in a refugee camp in Sudan to avoid war to his new life in the United
States at the age of 7 when he had to leave his country behind. In the U.S., Mawi overcame language and
cultural barriers to eventually graduate with top honors and give the
commencement address at Harvard University. He was a guest on Oprah Winfrey’s show, and is considered one of the 100
most inspirational speakers for youth in the United States.
During Mawi’s presentation, three major points
Mawi were stressed:
differences as positives. We are all unique. It is our uniqueness that makes us special and adds to the communities
in which we live.
allow community members to feel invisible. Student leaders are encouraged to reach out to others so all feel welcomed
your power button. We all are in control of our actions and efforts.No one can push the power button for you but
you.Once pushed all buttons lead to
As we enter the last trimester of the school year,
the calendar is full of additional activities, academic challenges and
recognitions. Bullis is a great place to be!
As the first half of my year comes to an end, I
reflect back to August 1, when I walked onto Bullis’ gorgeous campus. I anxiously waited for students to fill the hallways
and watched as they entered South Hall to decorate lockers for the new school
year. Now, I experience similar feelings
knowing students will soon be dismissed for vacation break. I find myself anxiously awaiting their return
to campus to complete the many projects and exciting initiatives we have started.
The Middle School currently is involved in numerous
STEM-related activities. We began a STEM
/ Entrepreneurial speaker series, and we are looking forward to STEM-related field
trips to NASA in Huntsville, Alabama, and the Marine Ecology Lab in Key Largo,
The inquiry-based science program we are piloting
is proving to be a challenging and engaging curriculum we have decided to
continue and expand, and project-based learning is the instructional tool of
choice for Middle School staff as we develop culminating projects to be
showcased in May. The Middle School Virtual Author Series, on-line modular
units, the Geography Bee and Haiku and so much more add volumes to the educational
With these thoughts in mind, the holiday season is
the perfect time to share all we are grateful for. Please know:
I am grateful to be a part of an institution where
words are not just written on paper, they are witnessed in deliberate actions, positive
teacher modeling and displays of staff commitment.
I am grateful for student-centered instruction
that is informed by characteristics of adolescents.
grateful for pleasant faces that greet and interact with students and parents on
a daily basis through genuine exchanges.
I am grateful for teachers who promote student self-advocacy
and introduce strategies that promote 21st century leaders; and
I am grateful for a school that understands the
importance of a well- balanced curriculum mixed with good old fashioned fun.
During this joyous time of year, when gifts are given
as well as received, I extend wishes for peace and happiness to all. I encourage everyone to spend quality time
with family and friends during the next few weeks and look forward to all returning
from New Year celebrations refreshed, re-energized and renewed with hope and prosperity. Seasons Greetings!
As we enter our second trimester at Bullis School, I am
convinced our Middle School students are exposed to a multitude of opportunities
to gain knowledge regarding academics, themselves and the world.Learning from these opportunities is not
always an easy process. It involves
exploring the unknown, learning from mistakes and taking the risk of sharing
one’s ideas and opinions. It also
requires consistent effort that leads to success, courage and perseverance;
important elements in becoming lifelong learners.
Respect, caring and helping others can also be found within
the walls of South Hall.
We are finding ways to help others through community
services projects, we are learning to celebrate differences by welcoming
diversity as additional value added to our instructional program and we are
developing multi-disciplinary projects students will showcase at the end of the
The combination of experiential education trips, informative
and entertaining Middle School assemblies, creative academic lessons and well-attended parent meetings topped with grand
old fashioned cookouts, dances and haunted forests are making for a great year!
What a great start!
As many are enjoying their last weeks of summer vacation, I
spend countless hours thinking of the students that will soon fill the halls of
Bullis Middle School. I am also reminded of an email conversation I recently
had with one of my former middle school students. This student emailed to share her recent assignment
as a middle school teacher. We spoke of the joys of working with middle school
students, why teaching middle school is so rewarding and the social, emotional
as well as academic developmental stages of the middle school child.
As we spoke, I was inundated by a wave of emotions. I was
thrilled my former student was embarking on a new and wonderful adventure. I was equally moved and excited about the new
chapter of my life. My thoughts ended in
realization. I am anxious. I anxiously
await the day teachers return to prepare a balanced educational program for
students, I wait in anticipation for the Bullis doors to open to welcome 197 middle
school students and I look forward to the creativity, innovativeness and
uniqueness of each middle school student that will walk through the Bullis
Enjoy the remainder
of your summer. I’ll see you September