MS LIFE

December 2016

From the Director's Chair

“If you are quiet, you can listen, and if you can listen, you can learn.”

A former colleague introduced me to this quote, and despite my best efforts I have not been able to find the author. To this day, I don’t think I’ve referred to a quote more often than this one. For me, it’s not about compliance or docility, because I believe good learning can occur in vivacious, talkative interactions where debate and disagreement enable the group to achieve even greater understanding. Rather, the quote seems more about the way one chooses to walk over the earth, a spiritual leading, a manner of being.

Last week, a parent new to our school this year shared his appreciation for Meeting for Worship and admired our commitment to having our students from pre-K through 12th grade center into silence once a week with their peers, teachers and, sometimes, parents. He added that now more than ever our students need time without distraction, noise, technology, news and stress. Of course, as a Quaker and a leader in a Quaker school, I found this to be music to my ears. We consider Meeting for Worship the spiritual core of our school and actively teach our students to center down and listen. Listen to the voice of their guides, listen to one another should they choose to rise and speak, and sometimes just listen to the silence.

Heading into the holiday season where the simple act of true listening can get lost among the noise, we hope you will embrace the quiet when it happens, listen, and learn.

From all of us in the Middle School, we hope you enjoy a happy and healthy holiday and find time to relax and rejuvenate over the winter break.

In peace,

Wilson Felter
Director of Middle School 


The learning in our Middle School continues to thrive. Please read on for some recent highlights.

Sixth Grade


Sixth graders continue to explore ancient civilizations through connections with the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. In the IdeaLab (above and below), students recently examined Mesopotamian artifacts, including a khafaje statue and a clay oil lamp, from the Museum’s Loan Box program. In a visit to our campus on Friday, Dec. 9, Steve Phillips gave a presentation on CSI: Egypt, explaining the cross-section between archaeology and forensics that contributes to our understanding of mummies along the Nile. We will follow this up with a visit to the Museum on Tuesday, Dec. 13, to view their artifacts, mummies and sphinx. These interactions have allowed students to hone their observation, questioning and critical-thinking skills through hands-on experiences with the ancient world. 

Seventh Grade

Students in Jim Fiorile’s advisory will travel on Dec. 13 to the Germantown Crisis Ministry and do service learning. Jim lives in Germantown and learned that volunteers were needed to set up the retail space for a winter coat sale that the Crisis Ministry offers to low-income residents of the neighborhood. This kind of work is ideal service for middle-school-age students: concrete, moderately physical and with an immediate positive impact. PC students will help our disadvantaged neighbors only a mile from our campus.

Shortly after winter break, seventh graders will do a co-curricular study of the different cultural and geographical regions of Africa. This lesson will work in conjunction with seventh grade English. In English class, students will read A Long Walk to Water, a book about the effects on children in the Sudanese Civil War and how post-colonialism has played out in Sub-Saharan and East Africa. After that, we start No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, a book talking about a female detective in Botswana, a southern African country, which has experienced a prosperous growth in culture and economy over the past 20 years. In geography, we will discuss the physical geography of Africa, and, more specifically, how that geography affects the cultural regions of the continent. We will look at great ancient African civilizations (aside from Egypt) to show the beginnings of culture, development and progress prior to European colonialism and the trans-Atlantic slave trade.  We will introduce concepts of colonialism, the Berlin Conference and post-colonialism, to better prepare the students to understand the novels in English.

Eighth Grade

Eighth grade students in the block 4 classes of Jim Fiorile and Antonio Calvo had the opportunity to meet with Argentinian exchange students (shown above) on Dec. 8. These visiting students are part of an exchange program that Penn Charter has organized with Martin Buber School in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for over a decade. High school students from Martin Buber come to PC in December during their winter holidays, and PC Upper School Spanish students go to Argentina after the close of school in June. Martin Buber is an independent school affiliated with the Jewish faith. The students had a lively and friendly discussion in Spanish, during which they compared schooldays, popular music and fashion. They learned that, though they are from different countries, they have a great deal in common with each other.

In eighth grade science, students having been engaging with ionic and covalent bond structures. Students learned that ionic crystals dissolve in water, allowing the ions to move more freely and enabling an electric current to flow. A glowing pickle demonstration (shown at right) was used to support their findings. Students then determined which ions were present in the pickle that would allow for electric conductivity. As a result, they surmised salt was present in the liquid solution, allowing for electric current to pass through it.


Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, marks the beginning of the year of service as millions of Americans honor the memory of Martin Luther King by contributing their time, talent, voice and donations to improve our community and support local organizations. 

This year we are working with a number of organizations and schools that support families, children and animals.  

We are asking for your support in donating the following items:

  • Gently used clothing, any and all sizes 
  • Gently used blankets, towels and linens
  • Gently loved stuffed animals 

All items should be washed and cleaned. These items will be donated to Narenj Tree Foundation, which provides emergency humanitarian assistance to displaced communities and people. 

In addition, we ask that you donate new:
  • crayons
  • markers
  • activity/coloring books
  • pens/pencils
These donated items will go to children entering the foster care system and receiving services and support from Turning Points for Children.

Lastly, start collecting your empty paper towel and toilet paper rolls. We will be making cat toys for our furry animal friends at PSPCA.

There will be bins and baskets in the lobbies of all three divisions of the school. You will be receiving more information about MLK Day after winter break. Please mark your calendar – we hope you'll join us on Jan. 16.

Sharon Ahram

PC Center for Public Purpose 

How to Raise Resilient Children and Teens

Please mark your calendars for this parenting opportunity. More details and book order form.

News

By the Light of Our Charter, How Far Can We See? – our new campaign unveiled!
Scores, MVPs, photos.
Friends and family honor five student-athletes.

Calendar Events

    • ThuNov23 School closed
    • ThuNov23 Thanksgiving Day
    • FriNov24 School closed
    • SunNov26 Yellow week
    • MonNov27 Middle School sports begin
    • WedNov29 Fall Sports Awards Presentation (KC) 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM
    • FriDec01 Lower School Breakfast with Your Child (DH) 7:30 AM to 8:00 AM
    • FriDec01 4th grade parent meeting (TH) 8:15 AM to 9:30 AM
    • SatDec02 SAT Reasoning Test & SAT Subject Tests
    • SunDec03 Blue week
    • MonDec04 Upper School Parent Forum (OR) 8:15 AM to 9:15 AM
    • TueDec05 11th grade parents College Kickoff Night (MR) 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM
    • ThuDec07 Parent Meeting for Worship (MR) 8:15 AM to 8:45 AM
    • FriDec08 Kindergarten parent meeting (TH) 8:15 AM to 9:30 AM
    • FriDec08 Parent Community Executive Committee meeting (TH) 8:15 AM to 9:15 AM
    • SatDec09 ACT Test
    • SunDec10 Yellow week
    • TueDec12 Hanukkah begins at sundown sundown
    • FriDec15 Winter break begins at close of school close of school
    • FriDec15 Lower School Winter Concert (KC) 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM
    • MonDec25 Christmas
    • TueDec26 Kwanzaa
    • MonJan01 New Year's Day
    • TueJan02 Blue week
    • TueJan02 Classes resume

Penn Charter

A Friends School for Girls and Boys, Pre-K to 12

3000 West School House Lane Philadelphia, PA 19144 215.844.3460
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