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."
The rain held off for our annual Elementary•Middle School Annual Family Barbeque on Tuesday, September 11. Students and their parents and guardians joined by faculty members and friends, gathered in the courtyard and throughout the buildings and campus to welcome in the 2018-2019 school year. Classrooms were open, families and teachers had a chance to get to know one another, shoppers enjoyed a Landmark pop up store well-stocked with school swag, and everyone enjoyed a delicious BBQ meal thanks to SAGE Dining Services.
The annual event is a great way to kick off the year and share our campus with the broader Landmark community. Thanks to everyone who attended—we're looking forward to another great year.
A rainy start to the annual EMS Day didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of students as they participated in a series of community-building, workshops, and service activities.
Students learned about the homeless population in Beverly's Ellis Square area and prepared bagged lunches for them, which included a home-made sandwich, fresh fruit, bottled water, chips, and a granola bar. Other students braved the elements to lay the groundwork for a pollinator wild flower garden to encourage and protect local bee populations, while others spread mulch along the pathway to our high and low ropes courses.
Talent on Display
The fun-filled day culminated with the much-anticipated Variety Show that featured a broad spectrum of talent by students, faculty, and staff. The entertainment included soloists, poetry, cheering, stand-up comedy, karate, the musical talent of Jack Bram and his EMS band, gymnastics, and number from faculty that offered a hint of what they may do in retirement. Note to Kirk Swanson, though fleet on foot, you may want to keep your day job!
It Takes a Village
Head of School Rob Kahn praised the masses at EMS for the meticulous planning and organizing, which resulted in a spectacular day.
"Huge thanks to the multitudes who made this EMS day so magnificent!," he said. "I would certainly leave names out if I tried to cite every individual who contributed. At every turn I saw countless faculty managing the day's events, from the morning meeting through Community Service, Faculty Family Feud, Workshops, Lunches, Trivia, and the Variety Show. The joy and positivity was evident on every student face I saw, and that didn't happen without tremendous planning, energy, and willingness on so many parts."
On Friday, April 13, just before the EMS students departed for their April break, they hosted a very special guest. Julissa visited from Guatemala, where she is currently the Volunteer Coordinator at Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH), which means "Our little brothers and sisters." She does her job with pleasure and the expertise that comes from knowing the ins and outs of the organization. This is because Julissa arrived at the home that NPH runs in Guatemala when she was just 9 years old.
As the fifth in a family of 12 children, Julissa is adept at figuring things out quickly and working hard. Her single mother tried for many years to support her children, but was unable to earn enough money to provide for them.
NPH, with more than 3,200 children in nine locations in Central and South America, offers children living in poverty a loving and safe family environment, including education, nutritious food, and health care. At times, NPH is able to provide support for a struggling family. At other times, for a variety of reasons, the children come to live at an NPH home.
NPH supports young people throughout their educational career, including college and graduate school. Julissa pursued this opportunity and graduated from college with a degree in communications. Post graduation she worked in communications, and also spent time in Seattle, WA as part of a 10-month NPH leadership program. Now, at age 30 she is back at NPH Guatemala, where she serves as the International Volunteer Coordinator, guiding people who want to volunteer for one or two years with job descriptions, training, and support.
Since 2013, the Landmark EMS community has provided financial support for 14-year-old Carlos, who is a resident in NPH Honduras. In addition to raising funds for Carlos's care, students write notes, send Landmark swag, and ship gifts and cards for his birthday and Christmas.
Having Julissa on campus brought the NPH story full circle. Maybe some day the NPH visitor will be Carlos.
Patrons of the Social Stars Restaurant lined up at the door on Thursday, March 29, patiently waiting to be seated at the fourth annual Social Stars Luncheon. Hosts Ms. Joly-Lowdermilk and Mrs. Polvinen greeted the students and Landmark High School volunteers guided Elementary School students to their tables, where they engaged in conversation with members of the Landmark faculty and administration—many of whom were new faces.
Eating and talking with strangers can be intimidating for students, so conversation cards and word games were available to spark discussion, but the props weren't always necessary! The students eagerly discussed plans for the upcoming April break, whether or not ketchup is required for French fries, and their favorite hobbies. Prior to the luncheon, students called the "restaurant" to make a reservation. For many students, this was their first such experience. Reservations were required for this packed event.
Applying Skills to Real-Life Situation
Landmark Elementary School students were applying their Social Thinking skills, which they have been practicing all year. Mrs. Ellis, Landmark speech/language pathologist, explained. "Social thinking is about knowing what to say or do when we are interacting or sharing a space with another person. It is important to think about who you are with, where you are and what is happening in the situation."
"Students are sitting with people they don't know, so social thinking is learning how to start a conversation and interact with them and how to make them feel comfortable in a restaurant-like setting" said Mrs. Ellis.
Mr. Kahn, Mrs. Blanchard, Mr. Swanson, and Ms. Babcock served lunch, which included chicken tenders, cheese quesadillas, carrot and celery sticks, and French fries (ketchup was optional).
In honor of Black History Month, Landmark School 6th grade Oral Expression students memorized and presented part of the Martin Luther King Jr, "I have a Dream" speech. They were joined by students from last year's class in a show of solidarity. Their message is strong and the students were proud of their work. Watch the video.
Last month Meghan Sebens 7th grade Language Arts class looked inward through a new initiative asking the students to explore their learning differences. The students were asked to study the science of dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities, write an essay about related experiences, and produce a project illustrating something concrete or abstract about the disability.
Ms. Sebens says, "I was impressed by how invested the students were with this unit. They were particularly interested in learning about the neurobiology of dyslexia." A common school of thought is that people with dyslexia are left brained meaning that they are imaginative, creative, and intuitive. Right sided people tend to be logical and stronger with reading and writing. These two hemispheres are connected by the corpus collosum, often called the brain's superhighway. People with dyslexia transfer information from the right to the left side of the brain by way of the corpus collosum explaining why people with dyslexia often process more slowly and with more effort.
Students also met with Landmark High School's Student Advocates, a group of seniors who present at local schools and colleges and share first-hand stories about having a learning disability. A common refrain among all of the students was how frustrating and belittling their prior school experiences were and how coming to Landmark made them realize their full potential and boost their confidence.
The unit culminated in an oral presentation of their essay and sharing their project with fellow classmates and invited guests. Rob Kahn, Head of the Elementary•Middle School said, "these were some of the best presentations I have ever heard delivered on our campus. I feel like I could sit here all day and listen to more of what you learned." Projects included three-dimensional models of the brain, videos, illustrations, and even a poem.
By Lilly Coble '23
There is nothing worse than sitting in the back of a crowded classroom
Not knowing what is going on
Made to feel like I was in last place of some imaginary race
Like those cartoon characters trying to run and catch up but my feet weren’t moving
The 60 seconds that they allow in a minute were moving too fast for me
Everyone else around me was learning
While I was playing catch up on the stopwatch
There was always a challenge I had to face
My brain felt fuzzy with bees in my ears
Not knowing how to count in order
Not able to do math in my head
Trying so hard to understand the words on the page
Reading out loud feels like a broken white noise machine is playing all of its sounds that it has at once and I can’t focus
As I gnaw on my cheeks as if the words on the page are buried beneath my gums
Scared to say something wrong so the only thing behind my words is insecurity
I smile, grin away the pain, I live with it
I learn how to work with it