What a glorious day for a parade—a Vocabulary Parade! On Friday, June 7, Landmark Elementary School students dressed up as a word from a book they recently read and paraded around the Main Building and into the Meeting Room, where they presented their words. Parents and EMS faculty and staff lined the sun-lit parade route and cheered as the students, dressed in creative, intricate costumes, passed by. The Vocabulary Parade is one of the most anticipated year-end traditions at EMS.
Each student took to the stage and stated their word's definition, synonym, antonym, and an original sentence using the word. The challenging words included crepuscular, succulent, durable, and perfidy.
The Milkbreak Drama Club performed a series of improvisations on June 5 in front of a crowded and engaged house. The impressively acted skits included a sticky situation that occurred when a girl ignores the parental supervision warning on a jar of glue, how an episode of The Bachelorette helped to quell a fear of being alone, an encounter with a hypocritical police officer, and many more!
After the performance, the actors took questions from the audience. Mr. Kahn, head of the Elementary•Middle School, asked how much of the skits were scripted. We learned that about half of the material is delivered on the fly. The group was also asked how they develop their skits. They write the beginning, middle, and end of a skit on a board, and then erase it before they perform it so they act and not read.
Each skit was performed with minimal props but ample enthusiasm. Carolyn Aliskevicz, who majored in theater and acts in area productions, started the Milkbreak Drama Club in January. This was the group's second improvisational performance. She plans to expand the format of the club to include scripts, monologues, and acts. She said she hopes the club helps to foster an appreciation for the theater arts.
"They are learning that it takes hard work and discipline but is also incredibly fun," Aliskevicz said. "They are all quite talented and my hope is that they realize this and carry themselves with a little more confidence."
The budding auteurs are: Maggie F., Catherine F., Alexa M., Solenn M., Taylor N., Linnea N., and Elaina V.
After weeks of cold, rainy weather, the sun shone brightly on Friday, May 24, EMS Day. Students were energized by the engaging activities and the spring-like weather. Dozens of workshops kept the students busy throughout the fun-filled day. Activities included caramel making, car building, boxing, board breaking, fairy houses, and many more!
"EMS Day is a celebration to recognize all the hard work students have done this year," said Tara Joly-Lowdermilk, the assistant dean of students. "Students come together as community in workshops led by faculty and staff they don't normally work with."
Leo Redford '23 led a workshop on boxing. He explained the rules and history of boxing, and demonstrated a move or two. Louis Farrah '26 proudly displayed the car he built. "I'm going to modify it so I can race it," he said.
Spirit Week at the Elementary•Middle School was capped off by the always lively Slam Jam, a 3-on-3 single elimination basketball tournament for middle-school students and a knockout basketball tournament for elementary students and faculty.
The entire EMS campus comes alive during Spirit Week, with cheering squads, homemade team t-shirts, blaring inspirational music, and heaps of school spirit. Funds raised during Spirit Week support EMS’s sponsored orphan, Carlos, and Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (NPH), a non-profit organization that operates nine orphanages throughout South and Central America
An Idea Takes Hold
Slam Jam began in 2011 at EMS to raise funds for the survivors of the Japanese tsunami. Its momentum has grown dramatically since its inception, and it is a favorite annual event and a source of excitement amid the March doldrums.
Nearly 30 students in the Elementary•Middle School’s Kids Around the Globe and World Geography classes are corresponding with kids from Belarus, Japan, and Canada. EMS teacher Freddi Triback found the pen pals from Belarus and Canada on the website Postcrossing, and the Japanese program grew out of a relationship between Landmark and a group of Japanese educators who regularly visit our campuses.
Students in Belarus and Japan learn English as a second language, so all correspondence is in English. Ms. Triback had students fill out a form with their age, hobbies, pets, siblings, and favorite foods, and the other teachers matched their students with Landmark’s. Students were given a template for their letters.
Landmark students learned that the school day in Belarus is similar to schools in the U.S. However, schools in Belarus don’t have names. Instead, they are identified by a number.
"I’m so excited about this project. It is something that I've wanted to do for a long time, and I hope the students will continue their correspondences after our school year ends," said Ms. Triback. "Taking the time to write a letter makes what we read and write even more special. Writing letters also helps bridge distances and gives us a quick geography lesson."
Putting your napkin on your lap, eating politely, making conversation, not speaking out of turn... these are just a few of the rules that our elementary students learn through our Social Awareness program, part of a social pragmatics curriculum initiated by Speech-Language Pathologist Wendy Ellis and Academic Advisor Beth Mahoney and supported by the entire community.
One of the central events of this program is the annual Social Stars Luncheon where groups of students dine alongside EMS teachers and other school administrators. Students plan for the event by calling an on-campus phone line and making reservations as well as selecting the menu. The meal, served by Rob Kahn, head of EMS; Kirk Swanson, dean of students; Kathie Babcock, elementary coordinator; and Debby Blanchard, academic dean; among others, included French toast sticks, bacon, chicken nuggets, and French fries, capped off with ice cream treats.
Mrs. Ellis described the goal of the luncheon as having fun and practicing expected behavior designed to make our friends and dining partners comfortable. The event was a huge success, a nice break from the routine, and an ideal opportunity to exercise what students have been working on throughout the year.
Following the luncheon each class, as well as Mr. Kahn and Mr Swanson, put on amusing skits to further illustrate their skills as social stars. As always, there was plenty of frivolity and laughs to go around.
Photography club, the newest club at Landmark Elementary•Middle School, is the product of a casual conversation between two teachers—and photo enthusiasts. Lauri Johnson and Erin Herzeelle share a love for photography and discussed how they could cultivate a similar passion in their students.
Ms. Herzeelle studied photography and print-making at Wellesley College, and for the past two years, Ms. Johnson has strolled campus with students during milkbreaks and lunches, seeking out evocative scenes for the Landmark photo contest. Ms. Johnson noted the enthusiasm of the students, and wanted to offer them an opportunity to expand their knowledge and foster their creativity.
"Additional creative outlets are so helpful for our students and enrich our learning and lives," said Ms. Johnson.
Students are learning the basics of photography, including ratios, aspect, focus, perspectives, and editing. "With these skills, they will be able to take better photos with anything—even a phone!," Ms. Johnson added. The club is open to students in grades 5–8 grade and will culminate with a digital portfolio and exhibit for each student.
"The students are really loving the club and come eager each week to learn a new skill, go out and take pictures, then share and discuss their photos with one another," Ms. Herzeelle said. "Today one of the students commented as time ended, 'that was way too short!'"
Rocco, an eighth grader at Landmark Elementary•Middle School, was selected as Artsonia's Artist of the Week for grades 7 through 9. Rocco earned a $50 gift certificate and Landmark's digital arts classroom will receive a $100 gift certificate to Dick Blick Art Supplies. Rocco's digital mandala received a total of 800 votes!
The Artist of the Week program, sponsored by Blick Art Materials, is a weekly contest that showcases art from students in four grade categories: PreK–3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12. Family, friends, and other art appreciators are encouraged to vote for their favorite piece.
In late September at the Elementary•Middle School 25 students ran for positions as school leaders through the Student Council. Students prepared and delivered speeches to their schoolmates and were rewarded with thunderous applause and an overwhelming response. Spirits were high and the mood friendly and collegial. The decision was unanimous—ALL students running deserved the right to sit on this year's slate of officers. The largest group ever!
Students swayed the audience with offers to host more pizza and movie nights, plan more field trips, have a snowman making contest and a field day, organize community service initiatives, and many more suggestions to enhance student life at the Elementary•Middle School.
Solenn M. invited voters to give her a shot so she could give them a bullseye, Harrison H. said he would try to get Mr. Swanson to dye his mustache pink, and Dylan T. promised not to feed anyone bologna.
Thank you to Mr. Harris and Ms. Turnbull for helping prepare students for their speeches and for supporting the Student Council campaign, and to Ms. Maddox for the photos.
During the week of September 24–28, Landmark Elementary•Middle School students and faculty are participating in Start With Hello Week, part of the Sandy Hook Promise organization’s initiative to decrease social isolation and promote inclusion. It’s an event-packed week, with students engaging in a variety of activities that foster a sense of connectedness and display kindness and empathy.
At EMS, Start With Hello week focuses on building an inclusive community that decreases social isolation by "saying hello," making friends, and reaching out to support each other with kindness in actions and words.
EMS students are making bookmarks, listening to our student milkbreak band, giving and receiving compliments, saying hello to students and teachers they may not know, wearing Landmark colors and gear, taking part in “Mix it Up” lunches, and enjoying various dining hall treats.
Gun violence, school shootings, and self-harm will not be part of the conversation.
"Start with Hello week is an outgrowth of the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation and ties in with our emphasis on community and culture." said Rob Kahn, EMS head of school. "With students ages 7 to 15 and as a school with a specific mission for a specific population, Landmark EMS benefits in so many ways from a culture that emphasizes inclusion, kindness, and responsibility for everyone's positive experience. We want all our students to feel EMS is a place they have an ongoing responsibility for maintaining.”
Sarah Turnbull, administrative assistant at EMS, organized Start With Hello Week three years ago.
An Opportunity to Learn from Tragedy
"A few other teachers and I were inspired to bring Start with Hello to Landmark because we think it's incredibly important to learn from a tragedy and create something positive from it," Turnbull said. "We hope that taking part in Start with Hello year after year we can not only continuously improve our Landmark community, but also give our students the tools to help build strong, supportive communities in other schools or environments where they may go after leaving Landmark or during the summertime."