8th Grade Weekly Note

Dear Eighth Grade Parents, 

The School District will email families of public school applicants the news about acceptances today, according to their website. Please note that you must confirm the acceptance within five (5) days; please follow the instructions given carefully.

We are looking forward to the boys basketball tournament at the TPS gym on Saturday, as well as the MathCounts competition at Temple University! The Beat the Streets wrestling competition, featuring many of our students, will be in the Garage this coming Sunday. 

A reminder that we have a Sunday rehearsal for Shakespeare planned for February 12: Midsummer will rehearse from 9 to noon; Caesar will rehearse from noon to 3 in the Garage.

We had the opportunity to reconnect with family group members at Friday’s Family Circle meeting. We are in the process of planning a culminating project for the all-school theme, From Surviving to Thriving in the City, Country, and Classroom. Family Circles will partner up and provide some sort of sharing or activity that is inspired by the theme. Ask your child what some of the ideas are.

Tuesday’s Monthly Constitutional speaker will be Catherine Carr, former Executive Director of Community Legal Services and mother of our own Ethan Tannen. She will discuss the shortcomings of a justice system that provides lawyers in criminal cases but not in civil cases.

Rehearsals for the Shakespeare Festival continue to delight! We thank Brooke Behmke for his theatrical expertise in helping with movement and working with individual students. Alas, there are still some players who need more practice with lines. PLEASE run lines with your child this weekend; learning cues is an important part of the process!

The cultural studies research project has reached the first draft stage. Students will be working on drafts next week; two (2) copies of the draft, detailed outline, and bibliography are due on Friday, February 10. We will then take a break during the Shakespeare Festival and resume work on the research project February 27, moving the essay towards a final draft and working on the presentation to classmates. Students need an adult reader for the second draft the week of February 27. Please encourage your child to arrange for that reader soon.

A reminder that we are taking a field trip to New York on Tuesday, February 28 to see the Cuba exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. We will leave TPS at 7 am by charter bus and depart NYC at 2 pm in hopes of being back at TPS by 4:30. Please let us know if your child will be absent for any reason since the tickets for this event are pricey.

Please continue to let Ashley and Emily know about news from high schools and about any decisions you make. If you are certain about your choice, please let the other schools know of that decision as soon as possible so that they can release that space to another student.

It continues to be important that we be sensitive to those students who have not heard from schools. We have instructed students to refrain from asking individuals about school news and choices and that those who choose to share their news to do so in a low-key manner. We have also made it clear that no disparaging remarks be made about schools that students have turned down. We would hope you will join us in talking to your children about how emotional this time of year can be.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Emily, Ashley, Ethan, and Wendy

8th Grade Final Weekly Note

Dear Eighth Grade Parents,

This is our last Friday note of the year, and it is with mixed emotions that we write these final thoughts about the year and this terrific class.

This morning’s Family Circle meetings were certainly a highlight of the week. Each family group and circle honored eighth graders with a tribute that will be hung in Artists Alley until graduation. In turn the graduating class shared their legacy project with their family circles. Make sure to ask your child about that project.

We spent our last day in the out-of-doors at The Schuylkill Center on Tuesday. It was an opportunity for students to revisit favorite spots and relive escapades of questionable appropriateness! Those who needed time and materials to finish their native plant books had the opportunity to do so. The day ended with a campfire and the roasting of marshmallows.

Final activities this week included essay writing in language arts, a chemistry test, an algebra overview, and memorial project presentations in cultural studies. We were happy to receive final SSR journals, learning all about summer reading for rising ninth graders, and the last personal journals. Students will receive a final, an “ultimate” checklist to be completed during the final week of school, giving them an opportunity to touch base with all their teachers to help the final clean up and say goodbye.

We look forward to receiving and sharing the poetry anthologies on Monday!

Cleaning classrooms and rehearsals for graduation will continue apace. Bags to transport artwork, classwork, and belongings are needed next week. On Thursday, June 9, students will have breakfast together here at school to celebrate the handing out of writing folders in their advisories. These are folders kept from kindergarten onward, collecting writing and artwork from the beginning and end of each year. Be expecting them to come home with students on Thursday. Emily’s advisees are bringing in bagels and spreads; Ethan’s advisees are bringing in donuts and muffins; Wendy’s advisees are bringing in juices, paper products, and utensils; and Ashley’s advisees are bringing fruit. A reminder not to include pineapple or melon in a fruit mixture and that several gluten-free options would be welcome.

We hope to see everyone on Thursday evening at 6:30pm at Part I of graduation (the program begins at 6:45pm). For details, see “All Things Graduation 2016” regarding dress, times, and protocols. Friday’s Part 2 begins promptly at 9 am (students are to be here no later than 8:30am).

Thank you all for being such active, thoughtful, and supportive partners in this year’s journey. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Warmly,

Emily, Ashley, Ethan, and Wendy

8th Grade Weekly Note

Dear Eighth Grade Parents,

It was wonderful to see so many of you at Tuesday’s pancake breakfast! We hope you not only enjoyed Matt, Carlye, and Jeffrey’s culinary expertise but also the pictures of our graduates throughout their years at The Philadelphia School. A big thank you to Victoria Bastian, whose photographs and videos provided us with this journey through the TPS experience.

Our trip to The Schuylkill Center centered on excavating the middens we’d buried in the fall. The artifacts will be on display in the Middle School for all to see! The beautiful weather allowed for watercolor painting as well. Next Tuesday will be our final trip to The Schuylkill Center so come dressed for whatever the weather holds (it’s tick season so long pants and long sleeves are recommended).

Memorial projects occupied cultural studies time this week. There were several collaborative projects that reflected the students’ connection to the experience of the nine black students in Little Rock in 1957. Individuals are creating models, stories, and poetry that demonstrate effort and thought. Students will present their projects to classmates Thursday, June 2, and Friday, June 3.

In language arts students reviewed for Wednesday’s Latin final. From the looks on many faces, all went well! Next week, students will take their final chemistry test. In math class, students are analyzing graphs, exploring the ways that graphic representations of equations are translated and transformed. Students created their own graphic patterns using a computer program called Geogebra. Based on their adjustments, students wrote their own rules for systematically changing graphs.

On Thursday, June 9, students will have breakfast together here at school to celebrate the handing out of writing folders in their advisories. These are folders kept from kindergarten onward, collecting writing and artwork from the beginning and end of each year. Be expecting them to come home with students on that Thursday. Emily’s advisees are bringing in bagels and spreads; Ethan’s advisees are bringing in donuts and muffins; Wendy’s advisees are bringing in juices and paper products and utensils; and Ashley’s advisees are bringing in fruit. A reminder not to include nuts in any of the baked goods, nor pineapple or melon in a fruit mixture. Several gluten-free options would be welcome.

We hope to see everyone on Thursday evening, June 9, at 6:45 pm (students should be in their seats at 6:30pm) at Part I of graduation. Click here for details regarding dress, times, and protocols. Friday’s Part 2 begins promptly at 9 am (students are to be here no later than 8:30).

Eleanor Davis-Diver (6th grade) needs magnets for a science experiment that she is doing at home. Any kinds of magnet will do, from refrigerator magnets to neodymium. Please bring in any magnets that you're willing to contribute; donation boxes will be available in units next week.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

Emily, Ashley, Ethan, and Wendy

8th Grade Weekly Note

Dear Eighth Grade Parents,

This morning we enjoyed one of the last ensemble recitals of the year. Congratulations to Josh Zeelander, Ian Baime, Shaina Kotay, Sydney Bendesky, Arthur LaBan, and Immanuel Mykyta-Chomsky for presenting an incredible version of the Rolling Stones’ "Sympathy for the Devil." Shaina and Sydney also partnered on complex drum rhythms in a separate performance. We are so lucky to have such talent in our class, and we all look forward to the music at graduation.

Congratulations to all our students on coming in first place in the Philadelphia Zoo’s Unless project! The Red Panda work was remarkable in its scope and investment by the students. We will use the money given to us in work that will advance our plans to grow as a green school.

Our trip to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts was such a success on Tuesday. Our student docents (Stella Bennett, Sophie Borgenicht, Luna Hamrahi, Corinne Motl, Sanaa Scott, Simon Garner, and Immanuel Mykyta-Chomsky) led us in an examination and discussion of American art from a range of eras and styles. Our thanks to Elizabeth Hamilton at PAFA who led both the fall and spring training; we are happy to be asked back to do this program next year.

A reminder that we are looking forward to seeing you next Tuesday morning at the Eighth Grade Pancake breakfast from 8:20 am to 9:15 am in the Garage. This event kicks off graduation activities and gives you an opportunity to see teachers from all units who have worked with this class, as well as enjoying a slide show (put together by Victoria Bastian) of these students from the early years on through eighth grade. We hope you have rsvp'd to the email sent to you. The students will head out to the Schuylkill Center afterwards for one of the last visits.

Come join us at EATS tonight. This is such an important community event that raises significant funds for financial aid and professional development.

We hope you will be with us at the Annual un-Meeting(formerly known as the Annual Meeting) on Sunday, May 22, from 1:00 to 3:00 pm in the Garage. It is a wonderful opportunity to hear from all constituencies of the school community and all aspects of this final year for your children!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Emily, Ashley, Ethan, and Wendy

8th Grade Weekly Note

Dear Eighth Grade Parents,

This was one of our last full weeks of school, and an eventful one it proved to be. Graduation speech and performance rehearsals began in earnest; each student will have a speech or performance coach with whom he or she is working closely. Music has been selected; topics of speeches have been fleshed out. They are all off to a good start.

This morning we enjoyed hearing a recital of our various ensembles—voice, string, and percussion. It was another “last moment” as we congratulated our eighth grade musicians who, we hope, will continue to pursue their musical studies in high school.

On Monday we will spend the day at the Philadelphia Zoo. All the schools who worked on the Red Panda project will be assembled and winners announced.

Instead of heading to the Schuylkill Center on Tuesday, students will be going to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts for a program designed by our student docents, including Immanuel Mykyta-Chomsky, Sophie Borgenicht, Luna Hamrahi, Simon Garner, Corinne Motl, Sanaa Scott, and Stella Bennett. These students have completed eight weeks of training at the Academy and will lead discussions about selected works of American art.

We thank Deborah Gordan Klehr for coming as a guest speaker this week. Deborah Klehr, attorney and TPS parent, talked about challenges that minors face in the judicial system and the work her agency – the Education Law Center - does in Harrisburg and in Washington to further the quality of education.

A reminder that the Student Council sponsored Spring Fling takes place this evening. Please note that the menu consists of pizza from Gusto and water ice from John's. Please arrange for a prompt dismissal at 8:30 pm. (The event begins at 6:30pm in the Garage.) If your child has not handed in a permission slip for the Spring Fling, he/she will not be able to attend the event. Attendees should bring $1.00 to support Philabundance in lieu of an admission fee.

We look forward to seeing you at EATS next Friday!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Emily, Ashley, Ethan, and Wendy

8th Grade Weekly Note

Dear Eighth Grade Parents,

This morning we enjoyed meeting in our Family Circles. We will meet in this grouping once more on June 3. We look forward to this afternoon’s performance by Measure for Measure at the Fitler Square Fair and hope you can join us.

This week in cultural studies we have been looking at the role the leaders (President Eisenhower and Governor Faubus) played in influencing the events surrounding the integration of Central High in Little Rock. In addition to looking at documentary footage, we are examining telegrams, letters, and press releases that give us clues as to how the president and the governor interpreted the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v Board of Education. Next week we will focus on the role of the media, reading excerpts from The Race Beat: The Press, The Civil Rights Struggle, and The Awakening of a Nation by Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff.

First drafts of graduation speeches are due on Monday, May 9. Spring Fling forms are due Monday as well. This event takes place Friday, May 13, in the Garage at 6:30 pm and ends promptly at 8:30. Attendees should bring a dollar to support Philabundance in lieu of an admission fee.

On Tuesday we look forward to meeting Attorney Deborah Klehr in our Monthly Constitutional to talk about children’s rights. This will be one of our last Monthly Constitutionals, and we thank all participants for giving us such powerful insights into the workings of the Constitution in a variety of settings.

Please read the information below about our cell phone policy: We recognize the conveniences of communicating via cell phone. However, improper use of cell phones by Middle School students during and after the school day has been disruptive and disrespectful. Thank you in advance for supporting the school's work to make responsible use of technology part of our culture here.

~ During the School Day. Students may not use cell phones during the school day without both teacher permission and supervision. Phones must be turned off and kept in a backpack, preferably stowed away in a cubby. If a student uses a cell phone during the school day without permission and supervision, any staff person can and should confiscate the phone. The phone will be given to Matt Eskin or Justine Hoffman and will only be returned to a parent or guardian, who will have to come to school to pick it up. Should that student choose to continue to bring a cell phone to school, he/she will be required to leave it at the front desk each day until the end of the school year.

~ After School. Students may not use their phones in the building after school without both permission and supervision. We understand that some parents text their children regarding pick-up times and after school plans. If you plan to communicate with your child that way, please let your child's advisor and whoever supervises your child after school know this. If a student improperly uses a cell phone after school, the above consequences will hold.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Emily, Ashley, Ethan, and Wendy

8th Grade Weekly note

Dear Eighth Grade Parents,

Thank you for coming to conferences this week! It was inspiring to see our eighth graders lead these discussions with such honesty, humor, and thoughtfulness. It is difficult to realize that this is the last of many years of conferencing with you, and it is a pleasure to see how ready the students are for their high school adventures.

The Penn Relays were a big part of the day. Our girls team participated, cheered on by all our track and field athletes. Congratulations to all who participated in the trials, as well as the final race.

It is impossible to believe that next week we are in May! The students are counting the days (some the minutes) until graduation (conversations seem to center on what to wear and how high the heels can be). Lois West came this week to share the graduation rehearsal schedule; speech writing and performance work will begin in ernest next week. For Wednesday, May 4, each student needs to come up with three themes or topics that could work for a graduation speech. Students will work with Lois, Ashley, and Emily on speeches and performances. We want to make sure that students are in school all day after the Memorial Day break as these rehearsals depend on full attendance. With Shannon Coulter, the students are choosing the music for their anthem, processional, and recessional. Today a packet with invitations went home with each student; it includes invitations and a sheet with graduation-related information (here is a link to it).

In language arts, students are about a week into The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, writing nightly reflections and learning about Mark Twain, the time period, and the history of the book's critical reception. They are continuing to work on their poetry anthologies both at the Schuylkill Center and in class on Fridays. In Latin they were proud to realize that they have completed most of the book as we embark on the final few chapters. In cultural studies, students are reading Melba Pattillo Beal’s memoir Warriors Don’t Cry and relating her account to primary source documents that reveal the story behind the desegregation of Central High School in Arkansas in 1957. In math class, students explored some outside-of-the-box Math Olympiad problems to start the week before continuing their study of rational expressions and equations. Students were asked to create visual challenge problems based on what they saw in the Olympiad samples, challenging one another's problem-solving skills. They then created rational expressions of their own, which are to be compiled in a google form and used to assess one another's knowledge at the beginning of next week! In science work on the Native Plant book as well as the chemistry textbook continue to be the focus.

Spring Fling is fast approaching (Friday, May 13). Permission slips to attend this event are due no later than May 9 so final preparations can be made. This is a TPS-only student event and promises to be lots of fun.

This afternoon we hope to see many of you at our Earth Day celebration in the play yard. Student Council has been working hard to plan activities, displays, and craft sales.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Emily, Ashley, Ethan, and Wendy

8th grade Weekly Note

Thursday, April 21

Dear Eighth Grade Parents,

We had a terrific trip to Washington last Thursday and Friday! The weather was spectacular, and we were happy to have the opportunity to walk a good bit of the time. Because of traffic, we were not able to make our first appointment at the Library of Congress but were able to get through the Capitol security in good time to meet with Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in his conference room (vacated moments before by Speaker Paul Ryan; we saw the back of his head as he was spirited away by the Secret Service). After a quick visit to the House gallery and lunch in the members’ cafeteria, we met with Michael Block, TPS alumnus and former White House staffer, and Edward (Smitty) Smith, former deputy mayor of Washington and current attorney at the FCC. Students were able to share their research projects and ask questions about working at the federal level.

At the Newseum, students visited the Berlin Wall, Pulitzer Photographs, and 9/11 exhibits, as well as enjoyed a number of interactive displays and the 4-D movie on intrepid reporters. A tour of the Vietnam, Korean, and Lincoln memorials completed the evening before heading to the National 4-H Youth Convention Center for the night. Friday’s agenda included a workshop at the Folger Shakespeare Library; the docents were so impressed with our students’ ease with Shakespeare’s language and stagecraft. The afternoon included a self-guided tour of the International Spy Museum, a perfect end to our all-school theme of mysteries. Many thanks again to Lois West, Dan Lai, and Emily Silberstein for supporting this adventure.

A reminder that student-led conferences take place next week. Unless you’ve made other arrangements, Ashley’s advisees with hold their conferences on Monday, Wendy’s on Wednesday, Emily’s on Thursday, and Ethan’s on Friday. If there are questions, please contact the advisor directly.

Students have forms about the annual Student Council–sponsored Spring Fling that need to be filled out and returned no later than Monday, May 9. The Friday evening event, May 13 will involve students in grades 6-8 from 6:30-8:30 pm in the Garage. It’s an evening of song, dance, and games. Supper will be served; this is an event for TPS students only. Student Council ask all students to bring in $1.00 to support Philabundance in lieu of an admission fee.

Please join us next Friday, April 29, for our Earth Day celebration in the play yard from 3:00 to 4:30 pm. All sorts of activities, displays, and crafts will be available.

You will soon receive comprehensive information about Graduation. Diplomas and invitations are now being printed (thank you for sending along the preferred rendering of your child's name). 

Registration is now open for the summer Sustainability Institute program—two incredible weeks of travel, adventure, science, activism, and leadership training in the most pressing environmental issues of our time.

  • Week One (June 20-24th Day Camp) explores Philadelphia as you never have before. Be a kayaker, a scientist, an urban planner and more as we learn from marine biologists, hydrologists, and sustainability experts on how our green initiatives are transforming this city. Highlights include live animal encounters with marine biologists at the Camden Aquarium, a kayak trip down the Schuylkill River, and hands-on chemistry experiments with scientists from the Independence Seaport Museum.
  • In Week Two (June 26-July1st, Overnight Camp) we travel to San Francisco, California, a city taking the lead in sustainable water. Highlights include hikes through watersheds under towering redwood trees, waterfalls that cascade onto the beach, seeing a famous museum that wastes no energy or water, sustainable gardens and farming, and taking action to save crucial wetland species.
  • Camp is open to rising 7th-11th graders. Please visit http://www.tpschool.org/sustainability-institute for more information, and to sign up. Financial Aid is available. Join us for a coast to coast adventure you’ll never forget! Wendy Furry and David D’Altorio will lead this summer experience.

For those celebrating Passover this weekend, our good wishes. Hope everyone has a good weekend!

Emily, Ashley, Ethan, and Wendy

8th Grade Weekly Note

Dear Eighth Grade Parents,

We are happy to be back after the Puerto Rico trip and spring break adventures. In language arts students have begun to collect poems for their anthology project as well as launch a study of Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn after we return from Washington. In cultural studies we are digging into civil rights, beginning with a look at the effect of Brown v. Board of Education on schooling in the United States with particular focus on the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock in 1957. In science students are involved in a native plant project focused at the Schuylkill Center and environmental chemistry in the classroom. In mathematics students have reviewed key concepts in algebra in preparation for taking placement tests for high school mathematics courses.

We spent a fascinating morning in Family Circles at The Philadelphia Museum of Art; we enjoyed a specially designed mystery tour. Many thanks to Ah-Young Kim, Manager of School Visits at the PMA (and mother of Jillian Yum), who worked with us to plan this amazing event for grades one through eight. Each Family Circle, numbering 17 to 20 students with two teachers, had a special object to find during an individually tailored tour. This was a perfect culminating event for our all-school theme What is a Mystery?

We are all set for our trip to Washington on Thursday and Friday, April 14 and 15! We leave TPS promptly at 7:00 am (students must be here by 6:45 so we can depart on time). We will arrive Thursday morning at the Capitol; students will tour the Library of Congress. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to meet with House Leader Kevin McCarthy, followed by a visit to the House and Senate galleries. After lunch in the Capitol Visitors Center we will participate in a panel discussion with government interns, staffers, and special guests that focuses on insights about working in Washington. In the afternoon we will visit the Newseum, devoted to the celebration of the First Amendment, to explore a variety of exhibits that make clear the power of the media; after an early dinner, we will tour several monuments, including the Vietnam Memorial, in preparation for the final monument project in cultural studies. Overnight we will stay at the 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Friday will begin with a visit the Folger Shakespeare Library for a workshop focused on The Taming of the Shrew and Twelfth Night; after lunch we will tour the International Spy Museum as a celebration of the all-school theme of mysteries. Students have permission slips for you to sign this weekend due Monday, April 11, which includes an order form for supper Thursday night. We ask that students dress comfortably but professionally. No shorts, flip-flops, revealing tops, or clothing with holes. We will be meeting with people in business attire.

This spring promises to be busy with athletic events, final projects, and preparation for graduation. We teachers have noticed a dramatic slippage in the completion of homework lately. Please help us by ensuring that there is a two-hour block of time each night devoted to homework. Some students continue to need support getting their work into the backpacks to bring to school; others need our help making sure they have the materials needed to do that work. Please check assignment books to ensure that homework is being written down. Together we can work to keep this last two months positive and productive.

We are hopeful that all yearbook ads and artwork have been sent in. Let us know if there are any problems or delays.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Emily, Ashley, Ethan, and Wendy

8th Grade Weekly Note

Dear Eighth Grade Parents,

Our last day of mini-courses certainly made for an exciting last gasp before Puerto Rico. We enjoyed a variety of final presentations, from a Flash Mob dance performance at the park, a Broadway musicals concert in the Garage, conversations between "presidential candidates,"and a host of other creative projects. Congratulations to eighth graders who led successful mini-courses this week: Derek Jordan and Eric Blackwell (Cool Creatures), Simon Garner (Unconventional D+D), Spy Training (Arthur LaBan and Amory Park), Sanaa Scott (Whodunnit?), Ellie Lipson and Sophie Borgenicht (Broadway Musicals), Stella Bennett and Corinne Motl (Design), and Peter Rickels and Kane Ritchie (Breakfast Foods). A special thank you to the teachers who mentored these endeavors.

Outings this week included a workshop on diversity at the Haverford School attended by six Middle School students, including eighth graders Stella Bennett and Anna Mollen. We also returned to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts for an eight-week course on how to become a docent and lead discussions about their collection of American Art; this term Sanaa Scott, Simon Garner, Immanuel Mykyta-Chomsky, Stella Bennett, Luna Hamrahi, Corinne Motl, and Sophie Borgenicht are taking this course each Tuesday afternoon. They will host the eighth grade visit to PAFA on May 17.

We look forward to seeing you at conferences in April and planning together for a positive and fruitful ending to the year! Please let us know if there have been any changes in your schedule.

Please purchase a congratulatory ad in the 2015 Yearbook! Templates are available on the school blog to help make creating the ad easy. Reservations for ad space are due no later than March 21 but to date we have ads for less than half the class in hand! Click here for an order form.

A reminder that there is on-going work over the break, a task that several students have wisely used this week to address! Students’ Puerto Rico memoirs are due April 4. In math, Ethan has posted a sample placement test that all students should take and note what areas need review. In science, students are choosing to research one element on the periodic table and create a poster. In preparation for the poetry anthology project this spring, students should have a journal of at least thirty pages to collect favorite poems and poetry they will write themselves. If they have an anthology from previous years that they would like to continue to use, that would be fine. Students should come to language arts class on April 4 ready to read (or recite by heart) a favorite poem and to share why that poem is so appealing. If you would like to join us at a morning meeting in April to share a favorite poem, just let us know.

As final decisions are made about high schools, please let us know. And as placement tests are taken, we’d love to know about how they went.

Bus passes for April were distributed this afternoon, so ask your child to put them someplace safe!

We wish our student travelers a wonderfully warm week in Puerto Rico!

Emily, Ashley, Ethan, and Wendy

8th Grade Weekly Note

Dear Eighth Grade Parents,

Most students are breathing a sigh of relief now that they have handed in their cultural studies research projects, and all students are looking forward to a week of mini-courses! Schedules were handed out at our afternoon meeting; the focus during grade/decisions block will be preparations for the trip to Puerto Rico. Special thanks are due to Jess Ford who did yeoman’s service in slotting students into courses and producing individual schedules. If you have not had time to do so, make sure to look at the catalog of offerings next week! Please note that a few mini-courses have some homework this weekend; ask your child if this applies to him/her.

All Puerto Rico forms are due. If your child is not returning with the group from Puerto Rico PLEASE make sure to let Wendy know. Right now there are eight students who will be remaining on the island with parents.

On Tuesday morning we enjoyed a visit from Liza Rodriguez, TPS parent and member of Mayor Kenney’s administration. Liza came as our Monthly Constitutional speaker to engage our students in conversation about the constitutional history and political situation in Puerto Rico; we learned how fierce Puerto Ricans are about their politics as well as how the economic downturn has effected young people on the island!

We trust that everyone has now signed up for an April conference or has contacted the advisor about any issues with the assigned day. Please contact your child’s advisor should there be any changes in your schedule as this affects not only the teacher but the child who will be leading the conference.

Please purchase a congratulatory ad in the 2016 Yearbook! Templates are available on the school blog to help make creating the ad easy. Reservations for ad space are due no later than March 21—that is the deadline for purchasing and submitting an ad.

There is homework over spring break! Students’ Puerto Rico memoirs are due April 4. In preparation for the poetry anthology project this spring, students should have a journal of at least thirty pages to collect favorite poems and poetry they will write themselves. If they have an anthology from previous years that they would like to continue to use, that would be fine. Students should come to language arts class on April 4 ready to read (or recite by heart) a favorite poem and to share why that poem is so appealing. In science, students will create a poster and report on one element from the periodic table. For math, there is a sample math placement test posted. Students are to complete it and identify concepts they need to refresh for themselves before taking their respective high school placement tests.

Continue to let us know about high school news and decisions.

Emily, Ashley, Ethan, and Wendy

8th Grade Weekly Note

Dear Eighth Grade Parents,

Although many of us are still basking in the glow of the Shakespeare Festival, getting back to a more normal school routine has been both difficult and reassuring for our young scholars. Next week’s schedule includes a test in Latin, research report presentations in cultural studies, memoir reading and writing in language arts, and mini reports in science. The research paper and completed project binder are due Friday, March 11.

Thank you to all who took the time to respond to SSR journals during the month of February. It is wonderful to see the wide range of books that the adults in our community are enjoying; it makes a difference to students (whether they choose to acknowledge it or not) that reading for pleasure is an activity that transcends the walls of school.

As part of preparations for Puerto Rico, we look forward to a visit from Liza Rodriguez, Ph.D., TPS parent and founder of a firm focused on enabling organizations to become agents of social and economic innovation, as our Monthly Constitutional speaker Tuesday, March 8, to engage our students in conversation about the political situation in Puerto Rico.

For those of you who have not signed up for the April student-led conferences, here are the links that allow you to do so (please remember that you child must attend as well).

Students will receive their mini course schedules for the week of March 14 on Friday, March 11. Thank you for working with your child on making these difficult choices!

You should have received an email from the class with details about advertisements for the yearbook. These are messages from family and friends, congratulating the soon-to-be graduates. Please note that the deadline for these ads is March 15.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Emily, Ashley, Ethan, and Wendy

8th Grade Weekly Note

Dear Eighth Grade Parents,

What a spectacular Shakespeare Festival we have enjoyed! Congratulations to our two hard-working casts and their parents who have supported this project all along the way. Special thanks to TPS parent Brooke Behmke, who has been beyond helpful in working with small groups and individuals. It is truly impressive how our young actors now own Shakespeare and his language.

We look forward to our cast party celebration on Monday. Please remind your child to bring in the ice cream, topping, beverage, or paper product s/he agreed to provide.

Students are counting the days until the Puerto Rico trip! This week in science classes will continue to explore island ecology. In Spanish the focus has been preparing students for cultural differences inherent in visiting a Spanish-speaking island. In language arts students are reading Esmeralda Santiago’s When I Was Puerto Rican and studying memoir as a genre in preparation for writing their own memoir of their time in Puerto Rico. A Monthly Constitutional on Tuesday, March 8 with TPS parentLiza Rodriguez will focus on the controversy surrounding the statehood referendum: What are the advantages and disadvantages of Puerto Rico’s status as a territory/commonwealth? What would statehood mean to Puerto Ricans?

We wanted to let you know of a special event taking place at TPS nextThursday, March 3, 6-8 p.m., in the Garage. "Solving the Mysteries of Science: An Evening with Leading CHOP Researchers" will be a unique opportunity for families to learn more about advances in research at CHOP. Earlier in the year, CHOP approached us to see if we'd be interested in partnering in a community event about clinical research. It dovetailed well with our all-school theme of mysteries, as well as the 7th grade focus on disease in Seeds of Change. It's a good opportunity for 8th graders to build on their curiosity and experience with these topics. Virginia Friedman is looking for some student helpers to assist with refreshments, scavenger hunts, and other event details. If you're interested in attending, please RSVP through today's "Progressive EDge." If your child is able to help, please have him/her touch base with Virginia ASAP (email is great).

We are looking forward to mini-courses the week of March 14. Students will get their schedules on Friday, March 11. It promises to be a wonderful week of sharing classes with sixth and seventh graders!

Please remember to sign up for student-led conferences the week of April 25. The links to each advisor’s schedule is posted on the school website.

Please continue to let us know about high school decisions. We are eager to track data about acceptances, wait lists, and denials so we can better help others through this process.

Please note that below is a message from the Strategic Planning Steering Committee.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Emily, Ashley, Ethan, and Wendy

8th Grade Weekly Note

Dear Eighth Grade Parents,

We thank everyone who supported our Red Panda initiatives this last week. The skating party on Thursday, February 11 was most successful and raised expectations for the art show on Tuesday, February 16. Despite the rain and wind, the art show and attendant music were just terrific. The students have not only spread the news about ways to reduce junk mail, which will ultimately preserve more red panda habitat, but also raised an impressive amount of money as well.

Next week is our Shakespeare Festival. Monday and Tuesday we will be running tech rehearsals. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday performances will be for a range of audiences, from kindergarten through grandparents. We look forward to seeing alumni at Friday evening’s performance as well! It is most important that our actors are here all week as we do not have understudies. The performance schedule is as follows: Wednesday 9:15am Twelfth Night, 1:05pm Taming of the ShrewThursday 9:15am Taming, 1:05 Twelfth, 7:00 Twelfth; Friday 9:15am Twelfth, 1:05 Taming; 7:00 Taming. You are welcome at any of the performances, but the Friday performances are ones that we plan for adult audiences.

We will celebrate the end of our play and Shakespeare study with an ice cream sundae party on Monday, February 29 at 12:30. Ethan and Ashley’s advisees will bring in chocolate and vanilla ice cream and sorbet; Emily’s advisees will bring whipped cream and toppings; and Wendy’s advisees will bring beverages and bowls, spoons, and cups.

Work on the yearbook continues as students are designing their personal pages and drafting most-likely-to’s. High-resolution pictures are still needed for these personal pages. Check in with your child to see what is needed. Information about parent messages (we call them ads), which help fund the yearbook, will be sent soon.

Mini-courses will be held the week of March 15. We hope you enjoyed reviewing the catalog of offerings over the Presidents Weekend and signed off on your child’s choices.

Spring parent conference sign-up opportunities were emailed to families this morning. A reminder that 8th grade student-led conferences will happen in April since the 8th grade will be in Puerto Rico during the regular conference period in March. Ashley’s advisees will have their conferences on Monday, April 25; Wendy’s advisees on Wednesday, April 27; Emily’s on Thursday, April 28; and Ethan’s on Friday, April 29.

A reminder that our overnight trip to Washington, DC will be Thursday and Friday, April 14 and 15. This will be the culmination of our study of the Constitution and will include visits to the House and Senate, the Newseum, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Spy Museum, and meetings with government interns and staffers.

Puerto Rico forms are needed as soon as possible. The meal fee of $175 is also due. If there are questions, please contact Karen Moore (kmoore@tpschool.org).

Have a wonderful weekend!

Emily, Ethan, Ashley, and Wendy

8th Grade Weekly Notes

Dear Eighth Grade Families,

Valentine’s Day would not be complete without enjoying the TPS talent show, and this year’s production certainly did not disappoint us. Thanks to the hard work of Student Council, under the able direction of Virginia Friedman and Lois West, talent was revealed from kindergarten through middle school.

We hope that students will continue to polish their lines and learn their cues over the Presidents Weekend break and come back on Tuesday ready for final rehearsals. It is important that students be present every day after February 16 so that casts can run through the entire play each day.

A reminder that two copies of the first draft of the research project, complete with revised outline and bibliography, are due on Tuesday, February 16. Students have had extensive workshop time at school for the past three weeks, so there should not be a great deal of work left to do over the weekend.

We will celebrate the end of our plays and Shakespeare study with an ice cream sundae party on Monday, February 29 at 12:30. Ethan and Ashley’s advisees will bring in chocolate and vanilla ice cream (and sorbet); Emily’s advisees will bring in whipped cream and toppings; and Wendy’s advisees will bring in beverages and bowls, cups, and spoons. Please ask your child what he or she has agreed to bring. Please help students choose items that are tree nut and peanut free.

This weekend students will be filling out their mini-course choices for the week of March 15. Selections will be posted online this afternoon, and we appreciate your reading over the choices and helping students make informed decisions (there is a place on the ballot for you to add your name, indicating you have seen these choices). As we roster students, we are striving for a mix of grades in each activity, as well as honoring each student’s choices. We certainly hope that the four choices your child picks are indeed subjects of interest and that any one of them would be a fine choice. The completed ballot is due on Tuesday, February 16.

Spring parent conference sign-up will also be posted soon. Because we want to include students, these conferences will be held in April, the week of the 25th (students and both Ethan and Wendy will be in Puerto Rico during the regular conferences in March.) Times will be available before, during, and after school; the student will be present, leading the conference. Ashley’s advisees’ conferences will be Monday, April 25; Wendy’s Wednesday, April 27; Emily’s Thursday, April 28; and Ethan’s Friday, April 29. More about this after spring break.

Have a wonderful long weekend!

Emily, Wendy, Ashley, and Ethan

8th Grade Friday Note

Dear Eighth Grade Parents,

We were as surprised as you were by news from the Philadelphia School District on Friday! This is the earliest they have ever posted their acceptances, and we hope this is a trend for the future, coming at a time when we are hearing from private schools as well. We also hope that everyone noticed that a reply was required within five days to ensure a spot for next year.

We are looking forward to the boys basketball tournament at TPS on Saturday, as well as the MathCounts competition at Temple University! On Sunday, we want to begin our play rehearsals promptly; Shrew is scheduled at 9:00 am at the Garage (they will be done at noon) while Twelfth Night will gather at noon and finish at 3 pm. Please ask your child if he or she has promised to bring in a prop or costume item; we’d love to have everything in hand for Sunday’s rehearsal.

There are two Operation Red Panda events coming up this month. First, the Red Panda Ice Skating Party at Penn Rink,(brought to you by Ian, Lyla, Amory, Derek, and Cayden) will be on Thursday, February 11th from 3:30-5:00pm; admission with skates is $4 a person, and those who de-list should expect some VIP discounts. Then, the Red Panda Art Show (brought to you by Josh, Kane, Jillian, Dominique and Corrine, and dozens of generous local artists) will take place at the Garage on Tuesday, February 16th from 3:30-6:00pm. The whole project wraps up February 29th, and we hope to have made a real impact!

We had an opportunity to reconnect with family group members at Monday’s Family Circle lunch. It was wonderful to hear about what is going on in the various classrooms and how we all spent the long snowy weekend. The next meeting of Family Circles will be in the first week of March.

Tuesday’s Monthly Constitutional speaker was Paige Pratter, Assistant United States Attorney and TPS parent, who spoke to our students about the kinds of cases she sees at the federal level and answered questions relevant to a number of the research projects ongoing. We were also happy to have a visit from Superintendent William Hite, who stopped into our meeting and heard all about the Operation Red Panda project. We are hopeful that a public school partnership around civic engagement might be in our future.

Rehearsals for the Shakespeare Festival continue to delight! We thank Brooke Behmke for his theatrical expertise in helping with movement and working with individual students. Alas, there are still some players who need more practice with lines. PLEASE run lines with your child this weekend; learning cues is an important part of the process!

The cultural studies research project has reached the first draft stage. Students will be working on drafts next week; two (2) copies of the draft, detailed outline, and bibliography are due on Tuesday, February 16. We will then take a break during the Shakespeare Festival and resume work on the research project on February 29, moving the essay towards a final draft and working on the presentation to classmates. In math class, students collaborated in small groups to develop stories of which an aspect could be modeled with a quadratic equation. It was interesting to see students connect their math knowledge to a dramatic event of their own creation, demonstrating the connection between their stories and their algebraic calculations with illustrated graphs."

Please continue to let Ashley and Emily know about news from high schools and about any decisions you make. If you are certain about your choice, please let the other schools know of that decision as soon as possible so that they can release that space to another student. It continues to be important that we be sensitive to those students who have not heard from schools. We have instructed students to refrain from asking individuals about school news and choices and that those who choose to share their news to do so in a low-key manner. We have also made it clear that no disparaging remarks be made about schools that students have turned down. We would hope you will join us in talking to your children about how emotional this time of year can be.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Emily, Ashley, Ethan, and Wendy

8th Grade Weekly Note

Dear Eighth Grade Parents,

This has been quite a week with school closed on Monday and Tuesday. We were happy to hear that most of our scholars continued to work on their projects: research report note taking, Latin, journals, science, and math. We missed the Shakespeare rehearsal time, but we had planned for several interruptions when we drafted the original schedule.

February has snuck up on us once again! This is always an event-packed month, filled with high school announcements from private schools, sports and academic tournaments, play rehearsals, research presentations, and science projects! To help you sort through myriad details, we offer this overview of the month:

  • Saturday, January 30 Girls basketball tournament at TPS
  • Monday, Feb. 1 Work begins on the detailed outline for the research report.
  • Tuesday., Feb. 2 Puerto Rico Meeting for parents (7pm to 8pm); all forms due
  • Saturday, Feb. 6 Boys basketball tournament at TPS; MathCounts Competition (8am to 2pm at Temple University)
  • Sunday, Feb. 7 Shrew rehearsal in Garage from 9:00 to noon; Twelfth from noon to 3:00 pm Monday, Feb.8 Work begins on the first draft of the research report
  • Thursday, Feb. 11 Student Council sponsored Talent Show
  • Tuesday, Feb.16 First draft of research report due; Operation Red Panda Art Show from 3:30 to 6:00 pm
  • Friday, Feb. 19 Research presentation proposal due Mon. and Tues. Feb. 22 Shakespeare Festival Tech rehearsals; no absences, please.
  • Wed. though Fri. Feb. 24-25 Shakespeare Festival; no absences, please.
  • Tuesday, March 1 Second draft of research paper due; handed to an adult reviewer Friday, March 11 Final project due (binder, paper with cover, all notes) March 7 through 11 Research report presentations

Join us for the Operation Red Panda Art Show, an 8th grader-led event at the Schwartz Siegel Early Childhood Education Center February 16th, from 3:30-6:00pm, featuring local and student artists, live music, and great food.

A reminder that all students playing male roles in our plays need to have dark pants and a white dress shirt as the basis of the costume. Boots or dark shoes (not sneakers) are also needed. In a pinch, putting dark socks over shoes to give the look of a boot can also work.

Please let Ashley and Emily know about news from high schools and about any decisions you make. If you are certain about your choice, please let the other schools know of that decision as soon as possible so that they can release that space to another student. It is always a good idea for students to write a thank you letter to the schools they decline. It leaves such a positive impression and should you at a later date decide that you want to make a different choice for a sophomore, junior, or senior year, admission committees often review these earlier portfolios.

During the month of February students will be writing to parents in their SSR journals, so be expecting letters by Friday of each week in February and answers are due back at school on Monday mornings. Feel free to read previous letters to catch up on all the interesting reading projects undertaken since last you wrote to your child in October.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Emily, Ashley, Ethan, and Wendy

8th Grade Friday Note

Dear Eighth Grade Parents,

We’d like to thank those of you who participated in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service project, creating meals for the homeless. This event has been a yearly endeavor that has included more and more of our school community in this important work.

In cultural studies, students continued their research by taking notes and organizing their preliminary outlines. Our next deadline is Friday, January 29 when the bulk of their notes taken on at least five sources of information, two of which must be books, are due. Students have been reminded that library books are due on either January 28 or 29; they can be renewed on line if needed for another three weeks. Books can be returned to any branch of the Free Library.

The Shakespeare Festival is in full production mode! Beginning next week, students will be working twice a week in production groupings. We’re adding music to our plays. The scenery and prop group is hard at work creating our stage sets; costumers are looking for items of clothing. Programs featuring original art are also in the works. Parents are invited Friday, February 26 to these polished productions (Twelfth Night at 9:15; The Taming of the Shrew at 1:05). Dress rehearsals for Primary and Junior Units are scheduled on Wednesday, February 24 and Thursday, February 25 if Friday does not work with your schedule (Wednesday 9:15 Twelfth and Shrew at 1:05; Thursday 9:15 Shrew and Twelfth at 1:05). There are evening performances as well on Thursday, February 25 at 7:00 for Twelfth and Friday, February 26 at 7:00 for Shrew. Plays last about an hour and a half.

We have a few costume and prop requests. We need a wedding dress--maybe a size 6 or 8 or thereabouts? We’d also love two coconut shells to bang together should someone have them. A costume reminder— all people playing male roles should have a white dress shirt and black pants and shoes on hand because we'll be asking them to bring them in in the coming weeks.

Yearbook work continues as well under the direction of Lois West and Jeffrey Mordan. Students will be creating their personal pages soon, and we’d love to include photographs (perhaps two or three) of each student. Students have been asked to look for great shots (we’d appreciate digital copies but can work with high resolution prints). Families are also encouraged to use photographs in their congratulatory messages or ads, which help fund this enterprise. More details will be emailed soon.

Congratulations to all our students who continue to work actively on the Red Panda project. Having our message and website displayed on the PECO tower earlier this week was inspirational for us all.

On Tuesday morning attorney Catherine Carr, former director of Community Legal Services, met with students in our Monthly Constitutional series of discussions. Catherine spoke about the need for legal assistance in civil cases and helped us understand how such issues as medical bills, evictions, child custody, and tax delinquency problems are especially difficult for underserved populations in our city. We are so appreciative of the time and expertise all our speakers have shared with us!

As you begin to hear from high schools, please keep us informed. Should your child receive an acceptance from the school you all agree is the first choice, please let the other schools know of your decision. That way students who do want spots at those other schools can move out of the wait pools. Handwritten thank you notes from students to those other schools are always appreciated!

Students should have brought home research materials, play scripts, journals, and other assignments in case the predicted snow storm worsens this weekend.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Emily, Ethan, Ashley, and Wendy

8th Grade Weekly Note

Dear Eighth Grade Parents,

Short week and so a short note! It has been a busy week filled with Shakespeare rehearsals, cultural studies research work, and lots of Latin and math. We are so lucky once again this year to have Brooke Behmke join us for Shakespeare. Brooke is an actor and father of twin daughters, Beyan and Senait, in the Primary Unit. He has extensive Shakespeare experience, as well as training in stage combat and choreography. This is his fourth year with us, and we are so grateful.

On Tuesday we had the much-awaited trip to the Philadelphia Zoo in support of the Red Panda project. Students were able to see the red pandas at their most active; while other animals seemed to avoid being outside in the cold, the pandas were in their element. After a short overview by a zoo educator, students were able to visit several different zoo environments, as well as the panda exhibit.

Over the long weekend we hope students are taking this opportunity to memorize their lines for Shakespeare and do a lot of reading related to their research reports. The month of January goes quickly, and this is a great time to get ahead on project work.

We hope to see many of you on Monday at 9:30am in the Garage to help with sandwich making for area shelters!

Have a restful weekend.

Emily, Ethan, Wendy, and Ashley