8th Grade Weekly note

Dear Eighth Grade Parents,

Happy New Year from all of us! We’ve had opportunities this week to hear about all sorts of holiday adventures. For the most part, students have dug into their studies with a new energy which is wonderful to see. We enjoyed hearing about their vacation reading and look forward to lively SSR journals about new authors and genres chosen for the new year.

Rehearsals have begun in earnest for the Shakespeare Festival’s presentation of The Taming of the Shrew and Twelfth Night. We will be using language arts class time for rehearsals; students will continue to have weekly Latin homework, as well as personal journals and SSR reading and letter writing. In addition, we will have a weekend run-through on Sunday, February 7 (Shrew from 9 am to noon and Twelfth from noon to 3 pm). The performances for parents will be on Friday, February 26 at 9:15 for Twelfth Night and 1:05 for The Taming of the Shrew. We will also have two evening performances: Twelfth Night on Thursday, February 25 at 7 pm and Shrew on Friday, February 26. We are expecting students to be busy learning lines; we’ll send a sheet home soon, asking you to sign off that you have heard your child reciting his or her lines by heart!

In cultural studies we have begun research reports rooted in our study of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Tuesday’s field trip to the National Constitution Center launched our research project and allowed us to participate in a quiz game on the Bill of Rights and a workshop on First Amendment issues. We were able to see a copy of the Bill of Rights, one of the original handwritten fourteen, signed by George Washington. We had productive trips to the Central Library on Thursday and Friday and gathered texts appropriate to our topics. Having valid library cards gives students access to myriad databases from home and school as well as the ability to check out important books. Ask your child about our first of two January Monthly Constitutional guests, Professor Dorothy Roberts from the University of Pennsylvania.

In math class, students explored ways to factor quadratic polynomials, including a lab working with algebra tiles to pair a visual representation with their developing algebraic skills. The class was excited to have a special visitor to our class on Thursday, Ms. Donka, a teacher in India who is studying the American education system!

Science class will be meeting less frequently during Shakespeare rehearsals, but the work on Operation Red Panda continues. This week we were delighted to learn our website will appear in lights on the PECO building January 18, 19, and 20! We also introduced our classroom contests for reducing classroom paper use and enlisting people to stop receiving junk mail. Next week the eighth graders will begin preparations for our class trip to Puerto Rico and the science we will get to explore there!

Ashley and Emily would like to know what you hear from high schools. Schools will be rolling out their acceptances over the next two months, and this makes it hard for all our students as they wait to hear any news. We’ve asked everyone to be mindful of others’ feelings and to take care of each other. If your family has a clear first choice at this time, please let us know so we can advocate on your child’s behalf.

Ross James, a graduate student in education at The University of Pennsylvania, is joining us for the semester to work in both Cultural Studies and in science. Originally from Georgia, Ross did his undergraduate work at Dartmouth College in government studies and has worked in Washington, D.C. in charter schools. We are delighted to have his help with Shakespeare rehearsals as well.

As we look forward to the spring, a note for your April calendar. We will be heading to Washington on Thursday and Friday, April 14 and 15 for a visit to the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Newseum, Congress, and a meeting with young staffers and interns who work for both federal and District of Columbia agencies.

Have a restful weekend!

Emily, Wendy, Ethan, and Ashley