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."
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.