A natural question this week would be ‘how is the transition back from spring break?’ As far as I’m concerned, the answer is found in the positive energy of students, the deep blue sky, the look and sound of initial progress toward our new building. It’s a great day to be back on campus, and now we begin looking forward to the familiar--and unfamiliar--routines of the end of the school year.
Don’t tell the 8th graders, but we’re scarcely a month away from them making their culminating presentations! And in truth, we are discovering what we annually observe in our 8th graders: their trepidation about being able to hold forth for 20 minutes has given way to an imperative to keep them under 20 minutes! As a consultant for a group of four 8th graders, I had the opportunity before break to hear mid-point presentations about Classical and Operant Conditioning, the search for extraterrestrial life, the various languages of computer coding and their uses, and the quest for perpetual motion machines. Students were composed, knowledgeable, and critical listeners. They have clearly internalized the strong research skills and yoked it productively to the considerable autonomy that the capstone project affords. It is no wonder that high school teachers routinely can spot a Duke School student in their class! Equipped with feedback from peers and teachers, students will now dive further into their fieldwork and interaction with experts and solidify their plans to make an impact with their new knowledge and skill.
While Capstone Projects took no hiatus during the pandemic, Explorations at the middle school did. And now we relish their return. It’s honestly pretty exciting that not a single middle schooler has experience with them--it’ll be so new and fun for them! Here’s the skinny: over May 2-5, the afternoon schedule will feature two class blocks, and in each, there’s a raft of choices of classes students can choose from. Options include stilt-making, card-playing, decorating your room on a budget, putting together a Zine, hiking in the Eno, and more. One cool feature of Explorations is that some 8th graders will lead one based on their Capstone Project topic (see the impact, above). So far, we have circus activities, the art of humor, and baking skills on the menu.
Grandparents and Special Friends Day & the Arts
We always enjoy this day and are so glad to have it back in full force this year. Arts are always highlighted on this day, and this year we have some special treats in store. First, the middle school theater group will present a medley of songs from our upcoming performance of Shrek. Also, the revived band will play some tunes outside as grandparents and special friends are going to the gym. Important change #1 to note: the Arts Expo has long been a feature of Grandparents and Special Friends day, and this year is no different--except in the following way. Instead of showcasing student art from pre-K to 8th grade in the middle school gym, each Duke School artist’s work will be displayed near or in their classroom spaces. This way, our visitors will be able to see the works of art when they visit children’s spaces. Important change #2: the Arts Expo reception scheduled for Thursday evening, April 27th, will not occur. Instead, the band and orchestra will perform their first concert in several years that evening at 7 pm, following Lisa Nagel’s State of the School address.
The Dog Days of Summer certainly are not the reason most of us live here. The verdant springtime, with its lengthening days and blue skies provides a fitting backdrop to the joyful learning sense of community that is cultivated here at school. Before we know it, we’ll be sending the 8th graders off with a meaningful graduation ceremony and welcoming a new crew of 5th graders, ready to begin their middle school journey.