Progress Reports – Trimester I

During the 2018-2019 school year, end of trimester report cards are communicated three times a year and progress reports are sent home at the midpoint of each reporting period. Report cards and progress reports will be posted to myMA, our online portal at www.moravianacademy.org. Parents and students will need to log in to see the progress made during each reporting period. 

Progress reports will contain a personalized message from each teacher along with a grade. Comments will focus on the growth and development each student has made through the first half of the reporting period. Report cards will provide a list of grades for each student at the culmination of the trimester. Not all courses are graded in the Middle School. 

Trimester I progress reports will go live to myMA on Monday, October 15. Directions will be sent to parents at this time.

Jordan Sonnenblick Visit on September 28

Last Friday, Jordan Sonnenblick, author of 11 young adult novels including Drums, Girls, & Dangerous PieNotes From A Midnight DriverZen and the Art of Faking It, and Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip, visited the Middle School. With both wit and wisdom, Mr. Sonnenblick shared stories about his life and his inspiration all of which touched upon our mission skills: creativity, curiosity, empathy, and perseverance. Beyond the underlying themes prevalent throughout his presentation, Mr. Sonnenblick specifically and intentionally encouraged all of us to “find something that you love to do; then, find a way to use it to help others.”

Following his presentation, Mr. Sonnenblick visited English classes to interact with students and teach about the writing process.

We’re grateful to Mr. Sonnenblick for sharing his knowledge and talents with us and we look forward to applying what we learned from him not only with regard to writing but also with regard to life and living.

Parent Conferences Are Filling Up Quickly

Book some time with your child’s teacher. This year, conferences will be held on Thursday, October 18 & Friday, October 19. Conference slots are filling up quickly.

Sign up information for parent conferences was sent via email on Thursday, September 27 to all middle school families. Please select an open time using the Sign Up Genius link included in the email. If you are unable to schedule a time on either day, please contact the teacher directly to set up a conference time on another day, to schedule a video call, or to schedule a phone call.

Students are welcome to attend conferences. 

Announcement Regarding Middle School Chapel

As we head into the month of October, an item to be aware of is that on S days we do not have Community Period. When an S day falls on a Wednesday, this means we will not have chapel. There are four instances where this will happen this school year. It just so happens, that two of these four will occur in October based on our rotation of COMENIUS letter days. Therefore, on Wednesday, October 3 and Wednesday, October 17, all middlers should wear their regular school uniform.

Middlers will be expected to wear their formal uniform for the two upcoming lovefeasts in October. Alumni lovefeast is scheduled for Friday, October 12 at 1:30 pm. Father’s Lovefeast is scheduled for Wednesday, October 24 at 9:30 am. Both lovefeasts will occur at Central Moravian Church.

Please contact the Middle School Main Office with any questions.

Guatemalan Exchange Student Arriving Soon

A warm BIENVENIDOS to Mathias from Guatemala who will be joining our Middle School community on October 16th. He will be hosted by an eighth-grader and his family. Mathias will be immersed in the life of a Moravian Academy student until December 9th.

The Middle School has been hosting students from Guatemala for the past five years through the Faces and Our Cultures program. This invaluable opportunity is available each year to families of our eighth-grade students. It is an enriching experience of cultural discovery and resulting friendships that broaden our view of the world.

UNICEF – Trick-Or-Treat

UNICEF is a fundraising organization that works towards protecting the rights of children around the world. For years, our Lower School has participated in the “Trick-Or-Treat For UNICEF” to raise money for children’s healthcare.

To spread more awareness this year, it will be an all-school event. Grades within each division – the Lower, Middle, and Upper School – can compete for a non-uniform day. There will be boxes designated for each grade in the Lower and Middle school lobbies and Upper School main office, where students can bring in what they collect. Individual boxes will also be given to each student in the Lower and Middle Schools.

All profits will go directly to UNICEF, and our goal is to raise $600. Boxes were delivered to each Middle School student during Wednesday, October 17th’s morning meeting. There will also be boxes around the Middle School.

Please join us in raising awareness and working towards protecting the rights of children by participating in Trick-Or-Treat for UNICEF!

Parent’s Night Follow Up

Last evening, the Middle School hosted our annual Parent Night, and it was great to welcome so many folks to campus. A hundred students were represented by a parent.

Thank you to those who made an evening of it, braving the stormy conditions around the Lehigh Valley! For those who were unable to attend, please contact your child’s teacher in order to learn more about the sessions that were hosted.

Here is the photo show from last evening of the first month of school:

Social Media and Middle Schoolers

Parents, I am asking for your partnership with an important item…cell phones and social media use. As you may have seen, there are a few Comenius Corner posts online sharing some information related to student cell phone use and social media. If you haven’t yet, I invite you to explore the blog.

I’d like to enlist your help by requesting that you check your child’s phones periodically and/or follow your son/daughter if you allow them to have a social media account. Please be involved in their digital lives and partner with your child(ren) as they learn about the power of these devices and how they can be helpful, but also harmful. Social media can be a very powerful and wonderful tool when used properly. 

This morning, Mrs. Riker, Dean of Students, shared with students that, “We all have a responsibility to continue to create a great Middle School community even when we’re not here at school. We all know that your social world in school continues to be active after school through your cell phones. Social media is a powerful tool, and when it isn’t used for good and instead is used to hurt and to cause conflict, although those actions take place outside of school they actually impact the real, daily lives of our students here at school.

We explore empathy and treating one another with kindness in our advisory programming, as well as in our Health and Wellness classes. Empathy is also a mission skill and is present in each academic class on our campus. You may recall the signs around the school during last evening’s Parent Night that ask you to think before you take action on social media. T-H-I-N-K: Is it True? Is it Helpful? Is it Inspiring? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind? The vast majority of our students are working every day to create a school where we can all feel safe, valued, and respected. 

The Middle School’s stance has been that when social media posts begin to impact the life of a student on campus that we will become involved. Both Mrs. Riker and I are eager to partner with you at any point as you navigate cell phones and student use. Safe practices on cell phones are important, and your partnership will be most helpful. 

Middle School Parent Conferences

Parent Conferences will be held at the Middle School on Thursday, October 18th (3:30-7:00 p.m.) and Friday, October 19th (8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 1:00- 3:00 p.m.). Families are welcome to bring their student(s) with them to each conference. 

We are using SignUp Genius to register families parent conferences. A communication will be sent Thursday next week to all families. There will be separate emails sent to each grade level. If you have students in multiple grades, please make sure to complete a sign up for each student. 

If you do not receive an email, please check your spam folder. If the email is not there, please contact the Middle School Main Office (610) 866-6677 or email Mrs. Morgan Wessel

Note:  You will be able to schedule and edit your conferences using SignUp Genius until Friday, October 12 though we recommend you choose your date and time well before the final deadline. The Thursday late afternoon/early evening slots fill up quickly. Conferences will be filled on a first come first served basis. 

Culture of Curiosity – An Alumni Perspective

This month, Head of School Zemsky and the Board of Trustees are rolling out the new Strategic Vision for the school. At the September Alumni Association Executive Board (AAEB), the other members and I had a chance to hear about the plan directly from the Head of School. On behalf of the AAEB, I’d like to share an alumni reaction and perspective to the newly unveiled strategic vision and creating a Culture of Curiosity.

When a new strategic plan is rolled out at your alma mater, the alumni want to know how the student experience will be affected: Will the things that made an impact on me and my journey still be there for future students? Will the principles of mind, body, and spirit still be held dear?

I was happy to hear that at the beginning of the process, the board and the school community affirmed their commitment to the mission. They also set a nice framework around the mission which identifies mission skills, set to be a focus of curriculum decisions and students’ personal learning commitments: curiosity, perseverance, empathy, and creativity.

They then looked at what would make future Moravian graduates “indispensable” in the uncertain and changing world we live in. In the research done on both education trends and the future of the job market, a few key things popped out: 85% of jobs needed in 2030 do not currently exist; 50% of occupations today will no longer exist in 2025; and the top ten skills according to employers has drastically shifted from hard skills 10 years ago, to more abstract skills, such as creativity, complex problem solving, and critical thinking. The school leadership wrestled with this: What implications should these findings have on how we look at educating the students of today?

Moravian’s answer is to create a culture of curiosity, where personal growth, discovery, and building habits for lifelong learning are emphasized. Mr. Zemsky said something that really caught my attention when we were discussing this point; “Learning shouldn’t be something that happens to them.” He introduced the “Journey of a Learner” framework  – generative learning that will help guide how students and teachers approach new concepts in the classroom, as well as how students will actively be involved in their own education, and develop the skills necessary to be indispensable once they graduate.  This framework encompasses not only the mission skill of curiosity but also perseverance and creativity.

The last mission skill that is emphasized in this plan is empathy, defined in this plan as the inclusion and exploration of different points of view that pushes our thinking to new depths of understanding. I truly think that this is one thing that sets the Moravian experience apart from other schools, and this has been true for as long as our school has existed. This skill has deep roots in the Moravian tradition when the Moravians realized they could really use the help of the Native Americans to make it through the tough winters in Pennsylvania with enough food.  Empathy is more than being kind; it is an appreciation of what you don’t know and recognition that everyone has something to teach you. The encouragement of learning from your peers, experiencing new things and new cultures, and expanding your circle sets Moravian graduates apart, and I’m glad to hear that this important pillar of the Moravian experience will not change.

In reflecting on this plan and how the student experience will be affected compared what I experienced, my main takeaway is that this: the school has taken what were some of the best and most impactful pieces of my educational journey and is bringing them to the forefront. Moravian is setting the stage to prepare students for the unknown. Through new initiatives, such as the FIRE (Freshmen Interdisciplinary Research Experience) program, students get a chance to develop the curiosity and the grit that will help them to move on to great things in our communities and the world.

The approach of mind, body and spirit is now more important than ever.

National Concussion Awareness Day: September 21st

Today, September 21st marks National Concussion Awareness Day. Recognized yearly on the third Friday in September, this day is intended to increase awareness and understanding of concussions and support those affected.

National Concussion Awareness Day was founded by New Hampshire student Brooke Mills, who suffered a concussion as a freshman in high school, in 2016.

Below please see an infographic, featuring facts and general information about concussions, provided by Upper School Nurse Mrs. Coleen Kenyon. To view the Moravian Academy Concussion Management Policy and Protocols, click here.

Holiday Hope Chests – Community Service Project

Holiday Hope Chests is a national project to help less fortunate children living in the Lehigh Valley. We will be distributing holiday hope chests during the holiday season. Last year, we donated 175 shoe boxes, and since 2000 the Middle School has donated 1,504!

At this time, we are asking for regular size shoe boxes to decorate and fill. Please note that shoe boxes with separate lids are the easiest to wrap.  Please do not send in boot boxes. Your middler can drop off shoe boxes to Mrs. Stoudt or Mrs. Long’s classroom. Thank you!

 

Fall Admissions Open Houses: Invite A Friend!

Our fall Admissions Open Houses are scheduled and we are busy preparing for many new faces on campus to learn more about our school and our culture of curiosity!

The dates are:

Upper School Open House
Saturday, October 20, 9 am – 12 pm
Moravian Academy Merle-Smith Campus
4313 Green Pond Road
Bethlehem, PA

Lower/Middle School Open House
Saturday, October 27,  9 am – 12 pm
Moravian Academy Church Street Campus
422 Heckewelder Place
Bethlehem, PA

We encourage you to invite a friend to these events. For personal invites or to get more information, please call 610-332-5200 or email admissions@mamail.net.

Dismissal and Parking Reminder

School begins every day at 8:10 am with a brief advisory period. Attendance and opening activities are completed during this time, allowing for students to get off to a positive start to their school day. Please do your best to have students arrive at school on time.

At the conclusion of school, students may not be picked up at the 7 East Building at the conclusion of school. Students may be picked up in car line, at the Devey Building or along the curbs along West Market Street. New Street should not be used for pick up at the conclusion of the day either.

Also, please do not park or use the admissions parking area next to the Devey Building. This area is reserved for our visitors to campus. We realize this is an adjustment and appreciate your ongoing cooperation and attention to the safety of all students and faculty members.

 

Health Records – Important Notice

Thank you to all of the families who have submitted their health records. Please note that all new families require a new dental and physical exam as well as their immunizations record from their previous school.

A physical exam is required for all sixth graders and a dental exam is required for all seventh graders.  Also, seventh graders also require 1 dose of tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis (Tdap) and 1 dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV).

Thank you for your attention and assistance in this matter.

Advisory Covenants and Flags

Each school year, all middlers are assigned to an advisory group. Morning advisory period is a very important time during the school day for both students and teachers. This time allows all of us to start our day in a positive manner. This advisory group is home base every morning for morning circles, discussion about a recent life event, and for students to build connections with a teacher. Advisory groups typically average between 9-12 students all of whom are in the same grade.

To build a stronger relationship with each group and between students, each advisory group designs their own flag and writes a group covenant (or group agreement) early in the school year. The advisory flag is then hung in the Cafetorium for the remainder of the school year while the group covenant is hung in the advisory homeroom location. A covenant is an agreed upon statement of expectations that all students in that group are expected to adhere to throughout the year.

Here are some examples of what the advisory groups have created this school year.

Further your Child’s Music Education through Private Study

Moravian Academy is fortunate to have two outstanding resources to further your child’s music education through private study.  The Community Music School offers after-school private lessons for many different instruments and voice and hosts these lessons in our own facilities on the Downtown Campus.  The Moravian College Music Institute also offers many different types of lessons including Suzuki instruction, and they are just a short walk away at the corner of Church and Main Streets.  Both the Lower and Middle Schools have Extended Session care in case there is a need before or after lessons.  Please see the attached informational brochures below.  We hope you’ll take advantage of these wonderful programs.

Community Music School

Moravian College Music Institute

Moravian Academy at Easton Farmers’ Market – September 22nd

Grab some fresh produce and stop by Moravian Academy’s Office of Admissions table at the Easton Farmers’ Market on Saturday, September 22nd. Spin our prize wheel to win free prizes! Invite your neighbors and friends.

The market runs – rain or shine – from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm in Easton’s Historic Centre Square. For more information, visit www.eastonfarmersmarket.com/.

Middle School Parents’ Night – September 26

Parents’ Night is an important night in the life of a school. It’s a chance to shine a light on programming, introduce new and returning faculty members, get to know what students will be exploring in their classes, and build relationships with everyone in our community.

We will officially begin at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, September 26 in the 7 East Cafetorium. For those able to attend, Mr. Zemsky will provide a presentation on the new strategic vision of Moravian Academy at 6:00 pm.

Registration:

Parents should pick up a name tag at the registration table located in the foyer of 7 East. Parents should enter the door closest to the corner and traffic light. 

Student’s schedules will be available for parents that will include an S day schedule. The schedule will include a key that will have the teacher’s name, the course name, and the building and classroom where the course is taught.

Families that have students in multiple middle school grades will need to divide or determine which items they will attend.

Schedule:

6:00 Head of School Jeff Zemsky will present on the strategic vision of Moravian Academy (Optional)

6:30 Parent Meet and Greet; Refreshments will be available

6:40 Opening Remarks 

7:00 Class Visitations Begin

8:30 Optional Presentations

  1. Grade Level Off-Campus Trips (Grade Deans) *Gymnasium 7 East
  2. Moodle: What is it and how does the MS use it? (Alison Overdorf)  *Cafetorium
  3. Student Life in the Middle School (Laura Riker) *Student Center Devey Building
  4. Music Programming (Nate Diehl, Chase Morrison, Rich Fanning)  *Music Room 7 East
  5. Student Support Services (Carissa Casey, Elizabeth Zhe) *Dining Room Devey Building

*The bells will be used throughout the night to announce when to move from one location to another. Five-minute passing time is built into the schedule.

Student Leaders:

There will be a handful of students on campus to assist parents throughout the evening. Students will be positioned in both the Devey and 7 East Building.

Class Visitations:

Parents will be able to visit all student classes that occur on an ‘S’ Day. Each classroom visit will be 10 minutes. Parents will move around the campus similar to a student’s day. Please wear comfortable shoes. During class visitations, a teacher will explain his/her curriculum, provide a syllabus/course overview,  and discuss any special projects or events in the course. Contact information will also be provided. 

Time Period
7:00 – 7:10 Red Block
7:15 – 7:25 Orange Block
7:30 – 7:40 Yellow Block
7:45 – 7:55 Green Block
8:00 – 8:10 Blue Block
8:15 – 8:25 White Block

 

Optional Presentations:

There will be optional presentations for parents to attend beginning at 8:30 pm at the conclusion of the classroom visits. Parents may choose from five different presentations hosted by a member(s) of the MS faculty. Presentations should be 10-15 minutes with a little time for Q&A following.

Red and Gold Games 2018

Moravian Academy school spirit and camaraderie shined across all three divisions during today’s Red and Gold Games 2018!

Congratulations to the Red team, who was named the 2018 Red and Gold Games Champion! Thank you to everyone who made this event a success!

SAMS Picnic – Friday, September 28

Our next SAMS event is the Back to School Picnic on Friday, September 28 at Hanover Township Community Park at 3660 Jacksonville Rd, Bethlehem, PA 18017. Students will have the opportunity to enjoy the basketball and tennis courts, surrounding fields, and friends while listening to music and enjoying pizza and snacks. Students will be bused to the park from school, and pick-up is at 5:30 PM at the park. Please park and report to a grade level faculty chaperone along the path to sign out your student.

We are in need of some parent volunteers who are able to assist teachers in chaperoning this event. If you are interested, please contact SAMS co-chair Patty Cunningham at 484-560-0874 or cunninghampa@gmail.com.

Join us October 13th: 5K Family Fun Run/Walk & Country Fair

On Saturday, October 13th, please join us for two favorite annual Moravian Academy events, the 5K Family Fun Run/Walk and Country Fair!

11th Annual 5K Family Fun Run/Walk

Athletic and Wellness Center, 9:00 AM

Adult Registration: $25/participant ($30 after September 25th)

Student Registration: FREE (T-shirt not included, but available for $15 if purchased by Sept. 25th. A limited number may be available for purchase on race day.)

First 100 runners will receive a t-shirt. (Late registrants may receive a t-shirt if shirts are still available.)

To register, click here.

50th Annual Moravian Academy Country Fair

Merle-Smith Campus, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

This fantastic community event features rides, games, crafts, food and retail vendors, a wide variety of performances on the Main Stage, and an antique car show. (Rain or shine!)

For more information and to purchase tickets or unlimited-rides wristbands, click here.

Common Sense Media – Social Media, Social Life: Teens Reveal Their Experiences

As you’ve seen with recent Comenius blog posts, social media dominates the lives of many teenagers. Common Sense Media recently released some updated findings on teens and social media use.

In the article, infographic, and video, teens reveal their experiences on social media.

September 11 Commemoration

The Middle School commemorated the men and women who lost their lives during the September 11, 2001 attacks on our country with a moment of silence following the Pledge of Allegiance today.

A handful of teachers embedded this historic day into their classroom lessons and invited conversation with students, including seventh grade American History, taught by Mr. Lucas, and seventh grade English, taught by Mr. Brennan. While in Washington DC in November, the eighth grade will also visit the Newseum and explore the 9/11 exhibit honoring the fallen, see artifacts from this fateful day, and explore this event and its impact on our country and the world.

 

Upcoming Concert Featuring Orchestra Director Chase Morrison

On Friday, September 14th at 7:30 pm, Moravian Academy Orchestra Director Ms. Chase Morrison will be playing her electric cello in Miller Symphony Hall’s performance of “Mike Krisukas & Friends: More Zen Music.” The performance is part of Miller Symphony Hall’s “Jazz Upstairs” series.

Ms. Morrison will be performing with:

This group of accomplished musicians brings an original music journey to the stage in every performance, challenging and invigorating audiences while leaving them thinking long after the show.

For more information and to buy tickets, visit here.

Red and Gold Games Day – Friday, September 14

The annual Red and Gold Games Day competition is right around the corner. This year, the games will occur on Friday, September 14. The Middle School will run a modified schedule on this day, including some additional time in advisory groups and grade level activities. All middlers will ride school buses to the Merle-Smith Campus and enjoy a morning of athletic games and lunch. Following the competition, all middlers will return downtown for a regular dismissal.

It is a non-uniform day, and students are encouraged to wear their team colors. Dress guidelines for the day are included here. We look forward to a great day of school pride!

Spring Break Trip to Canada – March 2019

We are very excited to announce a wonderful opportunity to travel to Canada during Spring Break 2019!

This trip is available for ALL seventh and eighth-grade students at Moravian Academy Middle School. The group will depart on Friday, March 8th and will return on Tuesday, March 12th. French and Non-French speaking students will use their language skills in real life situations and will have the opportunity to explore Canadian history and culture through a variety of activities. This trip will include visits to Old Montreal, Notre-Dame Basilica, Quebec City, the Plains of Abraham, Chateau Frontenac, Montmorency Falls, and attending a professional ice hockey match.

Here is a video from our trip last year:

International travel nurtures academic and personal growth. Being in a new place encourages students to explore their curiosities, to adapt to a culture different than their own, and to delve into other parts of the world outside the global language classroom. Cultural immersion tours are an excellent resource for learning.

Jumpstreet Tours is a reputable company, which we used two years ago on our first expedition to Canada. Below is some additional information from Jumpstreet Tours:

✔ Safely and securely traveled over 500,000 students
✔ Thrilling destinations and customizable student travel itineraries
✔ Elite Tour Leaders trained by us and available exclusively to you
✔ Online payment and registration services
✔ A dedicated healthy and safety team around the clock
✔ Trip-planning support that helps you boost enrollment
✔ $25 million in liability insurance
✔ Financially backed by Travelopia

Interested families, can begin the sign-up process by creating an account with Jumpstreet Tours, our tour company, at https://portal.jumpstreet.com

The tour code is TD6MAMC. The cost of the trip is approximately $1200 with 20 students participants, which includes motorcoach transportation, hotel stays, admission fees, and most meals. Additional information can be found here, including the sign-up deadline, information regarding a passport, and a timeline of events.

For additional information about the 2019 Spring Break trip to Canada, please contact Mrs. Emily Quinn at equinn@mamail.net.

Moravian Academy at Lehigh vs. Villanova Football Game

Come stop by Moravian Academy’s Office of Admissions table at the Lehigh University vs. Villanova University football game on Saturday, September 8th. Spin our prize wheel to win free prizes and take a picture with the Moravian lion! Invite your neighbors and friends.

Tickets to the game can be purchased here. Kick-off starts at 12:30 pm at Lehigh University’s Murray H. Goodman Stadium.

 

Middle School Back-to-School Dance

Our Middle School students celebrated the start of the new school year with a Back-to-School Dance on Thursday, August 30th.

(Photo Credit: Joanne Daniels)

Students danced the night away, took silly pictures in a photo booth, and enjoyed pizza and other snacks. A fun time was had by all!

Parents – Thank you for your patience as we implemented some new dismissal procedures for our evening dance events. We are working on our safety measures for dismissal at social events to ensure a safe pick up for all students and all families. Our goal is always to provide a safe environment for each student and family. We learned a few items and will have them corrected for our next school dance on Friday, November 1.

Middle School Recess

Last week, our Middle School students took full advantage of their new post-lunch access to the gym.

Attend A “Culture of CURIOSITY” Event

Pick Up and Dismissal (Middle School)

With our ongoing efforts to ensure the safety and security of our community, we are making an adjustment to our student pick up procedures to ensure that every child is being picked up by an adult or person who has been approved by the parents. All student pickups at the end of the school day by parents or another family member should occur at the Devey Building, along Market Street in front of the Devey Building, or in the Lower School carline. The only students who will be dismissed from the 7 East building will be those students who ride the athletic shuttle to Glasser Fields. Students with an advisory in the 7 East building who go back to their locker at the end of the school day will need to depart from the Devey Building or be picked up in carline.

For the safety of everyone involved, please do not double park along Market or New Streets and also, please use the crosswalks designated for pedestrians. A crossing guard will assist with crossing students and families.

Thank you for your understanding and helping us ensure a safe campus.

 

Extended Day

The Middle School offers extended care each day school is in session. Mr. Brennan coordinates the Extended Day program. Pre-registration is not required. Students report directly to the Student Center at 3:00 and are expected to check-in and check-out when departing. Extended Day is open until 6:00 and parents will be charged an additional $35 late fee if pick up occurs after 6:00.

When parents or a caretaker arrive at the Devey Building (11 West Market Street) to pick up, they must report to the front door and ring the call box or call the Main Office phone number (610-866-6677). Please do not call or text your student(s) to leave Extended Day on his/her own.

If a student leaves Extended Day for tutoring at the Lower School, he/she will need to check out, and the tutoring teacher will need to pick up the student in the Middle School.

Safety & Security Update

A new feature that will appear once a month in Comenius Corner is a safety and security update.

As Mr. Zemsky mentioned in his back-to-school letter, safety and security are a priority for all of us, and as we go through the year, we want you to know what we are doing. We will be holding an information session in the future, but we wanted to update you on actions that are in process now.

In June, Bo Mitchell, President of 911 Consulting, conducted an assessment of Moravian Academy’s facilities, protocols and policies.  Last week, he shared his assessment with members of the Academy’s leadership team and provided an overview for members of the Academy’s faculty and staff.  We are now processing those findings and will develop a plan and timeline for moving forward on his recommendations.

As we are doing this, we have also set a few new protocols for this year that include the following:

Identification Badges:

This year, all Moravian Academy employees have been issued Moravian Academy badges that will be accompanied by a photo ID after picture day.  In addition, contractors, visitors, volunteers and trustees will also be issued badges to wear when they are in the buildings. We want people to know that anyone wearing this badge may be in a Moravian Academy building, but we are not to open doors for others to enter the buildings unless they have identified themselves.

Door Answering Protocol:

Anyone arriving at our buildings will be asked to identify himself /herself on the call box and on entering must sign in and take a badge to wear during the visit.  On exiting the building, individuals must sign out and return the badge. Please know that this is important as we are responsible for all individuals in our buildings during the day.  Should there be a fire drill or a reason to leave the building, we need to know that we can account for all individuals. Also, if someone answering the door does not recognize you or know you, you will be asked to provide some method of identification.

Students Passing Between Classes:

At the Lower School, teachers are accompanying their classes to and from all special classes that require movement from one building to another.

Communication:

Two-way radios have been used at the Lower and Middle School since last spring and we will start to use them at the Upper School this fall so that office personnel can communicate with security personnel and for security personnel to communicate with one another.

Student Support Teams:

One of the strongest pieces of advice for safety and security is to know your students and know your staff.  While we do know our students well, the re-structure of the Student Support Team and the training our staff has had in Developmental Designs, should help to enhance our working relationship with students. The Lower and Middle Schools now have a Director of the Student Support Teams who is also a counselor for students in primer – grade 8.  Along with the School Psychologist and Division Directors as well as the Dean of Students and Academic Coordinator in the Middle School, the Student Support Teams will meet once in every eight-day cycle to review their work with teachers on learning strategies for students.

At the Upper School, the nurse, who is also a certified counselor, will bring additional expertise to the Student Support Team that includes the School Psychologist, Learning Specialist, Division Director, Dean of Students, and Academic Dean.

 

Middle School Picture Day: Wednesday, September 5

Christmas City Studios will be on campus on Wednesday, September 5th to take school pictures. An informational brochure was sent home earlier this week with your student(s). All orders are processed online.

Online ordering may be completed at https://orders.christmascitystudio.com/Login.aspx. The event school code is MORMS18. If you are unable to order online, you may call the Studio at 610-691-2109. Please print out your receipt and give it to your student(s) to bring with them to school.

Students should wear their formal uniform on this day. Pictures will be taken throughout the school day in the Student Center.

Moravian Connect

Moravian Connect is a great resource that gives Moravian Academy community members the opportunity to expand your professional network and share your expertise. With Moravian Connect, you can find alumni and parents in your profession or in your neighborhood, seek and offer career advice, become a mentor, post or view job opportunities, and much more!

Join today at www.moravianconnect.com!  Contact Tracy Bozik, Director of Alumni Relations, at tbozik@mamail.net with any questions you may have.

“Smartphones, Teens, and Unhappiness”

In March 2018, we shared a post featuring tips that parents should keep in mind regarding their student(s)’ social media use.

As a follow-up to this previous post, I wanted to share a recent article and associated podcast entitled “Smartphones, Teens, and Unhappiness,” published by Harvard EdCast, a weekly series produced by educational thought leaders.

In the article and podcast, psychologist Jean Twenge discusses the research she conducted, which examines how smartphones affect teens’ happiness. She also provides advice on how students and adults can use smartphones in the healthiest ways.

As families set up your new routines and expectations for the school year, consider what your cell phone or smartphone policies are at home. In addition to listening to the podcast, I encourage parents to review the infographic below entitled “10 Apps Teens Are Using That Parents Need to Know,” from classroom technology blogger Appsolutely April.

As Dr. Twenge says, “This is not about taking the phone away. They are wonderful devices, but it’s limited use…Make sure the phone doesn’t become an appendage.”

Moravian Academy Golf Outing – September 17, 2018

Join us for the Moravian Academy Golf Outing at Lehigh Country Club in Allentown, PA. Space is filling up!

To learn more about the outing and to reserve your place, please go to www.moravianacademy.org/golfouting.

For questions about the event or if you’d like to volunteer to help plan the outing, please email Jess McPherson in the Office of Institutional Advancement today.

 

 

Thank you for your support!

Opening Chapel

(Photo Credit: Tom Amico, Amey Owen & Stephanie Vasta)

At today’s All School Opening Chapel, Head of School Jeff Zemsky shared the following meditation on perseverance. At the conclusion of Chapel, all students and faculty gathered around the flagpole in front of the CE Building for our traditional flag-raising ceremony- led this year by senior Joe Z. ’19 and first-grader Mia S. ’30.

Let’s begin this year with some questions, shall we? And let’s step over the factual kind – the who, the what, the when – let’s start with the big, meaty questions that take up a lot of space – the why and the how? Here’s one: how do you prepare for the unknown? When you know that you don’t know what’s going to happen, how do get ready? Are you preparing to survive or are you preparing to thrive? Are you planning on “doing your best” or are you preparing to persevere and make your best even better?

Let’s think about a metaphor. When a gardener puts a seed in the ground, it does not look like much. The gardener may have researched this particular seed and the flowers and fruits it might produce, but the gardener does not know what will happen. All the gardener knows is what has worked in the past, and sometimes all the gardener knows is what did not work in the past. But still, the gardener selects some strategies: where to put the seed, when to plant, what to plant alongside it. The gardener studies what conditions a seed needs to grow into a successful, beautiful, and thriving plant.

Let’s think about you, when faced with the unknown, how do you prepare? Do you try to look ahead by asking an older brother or sister what 4th grade is like or asking a friend what the teacher is like? Do you look on the internet for information or secrets from others who have read this book or taken this course before? Or… or do you prepare by searching your past for similar experiences, by thinking about what worked for you last time? Do you seek to know yourself? In reality, we do both of these, but if you only had ten minutes: which is more important, knowing your future or understanding your past?

I read a book this summer that helped me find an answer to this question. Some of you know this book, too: Ghost, by Jason Reynolds. It’s about running. Who else chose this as a summer reading book? The story is about Castle Crenshaw, aka Ghost, a middle school student who experienced a very traumatic event as a young boy. This event shaped how Ghost lives his life; he’s become defensive and fearful of the world around him in his inner-city neighborhood, where he lives with his mother with barely enough money to make ends meet. Ghost is obsessed with eating sunflower seeds. He eats a pack every day, putting the whole shells in his mouth and separating them from the seeds inside with his teeth. Ghost makes one big mistake after another. It’s startling how many times Ghost, in big moments, make a wrong decision – he lies, he cuts school, he steals. When the track coach sees how fast Ghost is, the coach convinces him to try running on his elite track team. Ghost knows nothing about track but the coach sees something in him that Ghost does not quite see or does not understand in himself. The coach tells him he can be special if he starts making changes to his life.

As books do, this one made me think about my own past. For about 15 years of my life, I loved to run. I was not fast, but it made me feel great to go for a 3-5 mile run after school or when I needed a break, when I needed a quiet place. One day about five years ago I hurt my knee while I was running, it swelled up so much I could not walk. My injury was not traumatic, it was not a crisis, like Ghost’s, but it was definitely a setback. The doctor told me I would most likely need surgery as he drained the fluid from my knee with what he called two “Hollywood-sized needles.” I got over the frustration and I started exercising and healing and continuing. I was surviving.

But I was not thriving. After I stopped running, I started using a fitness machine that would put less stress on my knee. I stopped hiking big mountains in fear that I would be stuck hours away from help. I avoided activities, like soccer, that I knew might hurt. This summer I’ve stopped avoiding that risk, the unknown, and instead, I have been preparing myself for them. I have been running again, outside on trails. In July I set a personal goal and climbed the tallest mountain in New Mexico, which is a rocky, 5-hour hike to 13,000 feet and back, something I last did 18 years ago. Am I just being resilient and courageous in the face of my own fears? No, that’s not it. I’m doing things differently than I did before. I wear a compression sleeve on my knee. I go slower. I take smarter breaks: shorter, more frequent, and I keep moving. I stretch. I didn’t used to do that. If I had not experienced that setback I would not have learned these strategies. I’m really glad to be running again.

I think about Ghost, who had experienced a real crisis. When the book starts, he is surviving – it’s difficult and he faces a lot of challenges in life, but he is surviving. He knows how to go to school, to shield himself from things that hurt the most, to make a few friends, to trust his mother. He is not thriving, though. I won’t spoil the end in hopes that many more of you will read this wonderful book, but I will share with you what the author, Jason Reynolds, said when he was asked in an interview about why the crisis is important to the story. This is what the author said: “Trauma is real. And Ghost already knows how to run. He’s running from his past, his family, and trauma. Boys in the inner city already know how to play these sports, they know how to run. The trick is to learn the discipline of track, to learn how to breathe through the pain. My hope with Ghost is to figure out how to steer the narrative—of how to run from and run to the things in our lives.”

Then the journalist asked the author, “Ghost eats a lot of sunflower seeds. Like track and running, are the seeds and the art of eating them a metaphor for Ghost and his story?” Mr. Reynolds said this: “Of course! Everything is intentional. Ghosts says, ‘I’ve learned to crack a shell open.’ Ghost and his affinity for seeds represent the discipline and concentration needed to eat a sunflower seed. The reward is not in the actual eating, but in the process—the process of being able to do something right. It’s a feeling of completion and it’s all happening in his mouth. No one else sees this. He already possesses this skill set.”

What is this skill set? I think it’s the knowledge of how to turn a setback or a crisis into a revelation, a new power, a running strategy to use next time. This is the skill of perseverance. That is a word many people know but don’t think about too much. I invite you to consider it deeply. Perseverance is embracing the knowledge that overcoming setbacks, even failures, is the path to success. If you are not experiencing any failures, or if you are but are not learning new skills from your mistakes, you are probably surviving but not quite yet thriving.

And where do you find perseverance? It’s inside that sunflower shell, inside that seed, inside Ghost, inside you. It’s already in us. I want you to find it and then give it attention, bring it to the surface where you can use it to do new things. This takes time, perhaps years of experiences spread out over many years. This is why you are in school, though, and particularly why you are in this school: because we believe that it is our mission to grow your potential through a journey of mind, body, and spirit that lasts from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood

I see first graders and seniors and think about the journey between you. It’s not about any one book, one project, one exam, one course, one year. It is about the accumulation of experiences, and your ability to understand yourself as a learner. It is about having setbacks and learning from them, and ultimately it’s about your ability to show, not just talk about, but to show how you persevere, what you are curious about, why you use empathy, and what you create.

These are the mission skills of Moravian Academy: curiosity, creativity, empathy, and perseverance. The faculty and I, with the help of the Board of Trustees, have chosen to highlight these starting in 2018 because learning these skills brings our mission of mind, body, and spirit to the work you do every day. They make that mission real. And today you heard that these amazing skills are already inside you.

The mission skills are also an answer to the question we started with. How do you prepare for the unknown? If you seek to know your future, you may or may not be right, time will tell. If, however, you seek to understand your past, well, then you will find within yourself the seeds of your own strength: the perseverance and the Mission Skills you will use to overcome whatever you may face in your future, to help you thrive wherever God has planted you.

Launch Day 2018: Ready. Set. Go!

Welcome back to the 2018-2019 school year!

It was awesome having the students back in the buildings today! We opened our doors to 153 middlers many of them with smiles, eager to see their teachers and peers. It was great to hear their stories of summer vacations, learn about their new experiences over the past few months, and in general share in the fun and learning that was had this summer. The energy in our learning spaces today was terrific!

In our Middle School morning meeting, we explored perseverance, which was a theme of our summer readings and is a key Mission Skill for Moravian Academy. All students and faculty were in attendance and viewed a quick film about Kyle Maynard. Reading about perseverance and seeing what it looks like, will hopefully inspire our students to action and personal and academic sticktoitiveness throughout the school year. We also engaged in a turn and talk activity where we discussed a school goal with the person next to us, wrote them on an index card, and will soon post them to a wall in our Cafetorium. 

Following our opening meeting, students attended a few classes and then enjoyed a cookout for lunch in God’s Acre where students were able to reconnect with their peers and teachers, and also be introduced to some new friends. It was a beautiful day to eat outside and have a few extra minutes to play and enjoy our wonderful surroundings.

On Tuesday, all divisions will attend our annual opening school chapel in Central Moravian Church. This is a great way for our students to see teachers and students from all divisions and to celebrate the beginning of another school year, our 277th! Students should arrive at school in their formal uniforms though we are not requiring blazers be worn due to the high heat and humidity predicted. 

The opening day of school is a special time each year, and we are so thankful we get to enjoy it alongside the students. We look forward to a great school year.

Go Lions!

(Photo Credit: Michelle Leyesa, Amey Owen & Stephanie Vasta)

Moravian Academy Inspires Lehigh University Research Project

Julie Oltman, Ph.D., mother of Jackson Oltman ’22 and Joey Oltman ’24, was recently highlighted by Lehigh University for earning her Ph.D. in Teaching, Learning, & Technology. The story of her academic journey and her collaboration with Moravian Academy was shared in the following post on Lehigh’s website:

As director of technology at Lehigh University, Julie Oltman oversees everything from systems management and database architecture to choosing the best iPhone and video editing solutions for Lehigh’s football coaches. She and her student workers also troubleshoot technology problems within the stem.

When Julie became director, Lehigh University’s camp and clinic registration was all done on paper. “I had always been very technologically oriented, so I made it a priority to get the camps and clinics into the world of online registration,” she recalled. “That led to a recognition that my technology skills could be of service to the department. So then I held a hybrid position, still directing the camps and clinics and adding in the director of emerging technology piece. Eventually, technology overtook the whole job, which was great.”

It wasn’t long before Julie felt the itch for more formal education in her new field. But her journey had a surprising twist. “I went into it with the intention of getting a master’s degree in teaching, learning, and technology,” she explained. “But about three years into it, when I was two classes from finishing, my advisor took me out for coffee, and somehow I ended up in the Ph.D. program!”

Despite her concerns about research and writing at the Ph.D. level, Julie found a topic she was passionate about and took the leap.  “My youngest child had just finished second grade at Moravian Academy and so I saw the curriculum from a parents’ perspective. I knew that I wanted to study gaming as a teaching tool, and I knew that I wanted to work within social studies or history because that aligned well with my interests,” she said.

With the Moravian history of north Bethlehem all around them, Julie thought the school’s second grade unit on colonial history could be a great case study for game-based learning. She proposed embedding a game into the curriculum at Moravian Academy. The school’s administration and teachers agreed to allow her to pursue her research project in their classrooms. After considering multiple possibilities, Julie hit upon the idea of an augmented reality (AR) game that would overlay information and experiences onto the real world.

“Moravian Academy is literally in a historic district. Without even having to get on a bus or cross any major streets, through a game on their iPads, the students could visit 20 different historical sites and landmarks and talk to historical figures who lived 200 years ago,” she said. “The teachers have been my partners. They essentially became co-designers as we tweaked the game together.” Julie began testing the game with students four years ago. The data produced from the first two years of the project served as the basis of her dissertation.

Two years ago, Julie’s game became even more relevant to the students. “In the fall of 2016, the kids were really excited about the game. They all said, ‘This is just like Pokemon Go!’” In the end, her research found that students had deeper understanding and greater recall of the material from the curriculum that was integrated into the game compared to material that was only presented through traditional instruction.

Said Julie,”I can’t express how fantastic the Lower School faculty was in supporting my journey and teaching me so much about how children learn and how instruction really happens inside a classroom. I was so impressed with the culture of learning and innovation that is clearly embraced by everyone I worked with. It was also clear that the faculty felt they had ‘permission’ to be innovative and could use valuable classroom time to work towards a “better way” and try new ideas. I love that environment both as an educational researcher and a parent of students at the Academy.”

It took eight years, but Julie Oltman is now Julie Oltman, Ph.D. Using the Lehigh employee tuition benefit, she estimates that the cost of her degree was less than the cost of the cap and gown she rented for commencement.

“I’m better at what I do now because I’ve been able to advance my education by trying and learning new things,” she said. “Everyone should consider getting an advanced degree! Even if you don’t ‘need’ it for your current or future job, it makes you a better thinker and that will make you better at whatever you do.”

To read more about Julie’s story, visit here.

 

2018 Back-to-School Community Picnic

Thank you to all of our new and returning families who were able to join us at yesterday’s Back-to-School Community Picnic held at the Benigna House!


Attendees of all ages enjoyed delicious food, clowns, moon bounces, and other fun activities.

Welcome back! We hope everyone has a great first day back and a smooth back-to-school transition.