Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The eighth year students have begun our weekly visits to the South Bend Center for the Homeless. It is truly an eye opening experience. At the Center, some students help in the Center’s Montessori classroom, which, for those of you that don’t know, is as much a part of our school as the classrooms in the EC building. Although this classroom is set up just like the others, it is very unique. It's the only Montessori classroom that’s part of a center for the homeless in the country, possibly the world.

Another group of us help in the kitchen. We prepare food for the many hungry residents at the center. We also help the kitchen staff haul water and food in and out of storage. I think it’s safe to say we have never opened so many sugar packets in our lives. In the span of two visits to the center we opened about 1000 sugar packets.

At the Center we learned about the harsh reality for those who live there. While at the Center, we get to meet the guests who are kind loving people. We tend to see ourselves differently than those living on the streets but, in reality, we are quite similar. They are normal people like you and me, they have just fallen on hard times. And the majority of homeless people in our country are children. That fact was a real eye-opener. Especially after seeing the rooms that families at the Center have to share. The center helps us to become far more appreciative than we ever would be without this incredible experience. We have many trips to the Center on the way and many Montessori graduates continue to go after eighth grade. Now on to what the seventh year have to say about their service at school.

While the eighth years are at the Center for the Homeless, the seventh years are working around the school. Work consists of helping in Early Childhood, Lower El, at the Front Desk, in the Library, and for Ms. Lauren. It really teaches us about the different people at school, that we usually will not be able to spend time with. It has been an interesting experience and all of us have really enjoyed it.

In Early Childhood we help the teachers with their problems, as well as the children. When the kids need help they ask the Junior High to assist them with their work. The kids really enjoy when we come because they really feel the support we give to help them, to be a more successful learner. The Early Childhood students request the Junior High students because they really enjoy our help and care.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pizza Friday

For those who don’t know, Pizza Friday is a micro-business operated by the Junior High students. Every Friday we order pizza from Papa Johns and add salad, carrots, fresh fruit, and a choice of milk. One third of the money earned goes to a nonprofit of our choice, another third goes to the school, and the last third goes to the Junior High classroom for a school trip later in the year. We are involved in marketing, taking orders from our customers, creating spreadsheets to track orders and finances and ordering and preparing the food. Then, each Friday, four JH students set up and distribute the pizza to the rest of the school.

Last school year, Audrey DeLano created a Pizza Friday website template for her capstone project. With the help of Thomas Bland who is adding functionality, we’re hoping to begin using the website this year. It will be used for ordering, taking payments and tracking orders.

Pizza Friday has been very successful for a long time and it is still running well. Business is booming and we hope to continue it for many years to come.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


As most people know, the Junior High classroom ventured on a treacherous, ten hour journey to the beautiful Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. We were to stay for a week at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont. There we would brave the wilderness from our air-conditioned dorm. We would climb the mountains on our 8 mile hike, and trek through thorny bushes at Cade’s Cove. We would fall into icy streams while doing physics, and run from the merciless yellow jackets. We would gain knowledge of science, nature, and history. But most of all, we would bond. Bond with nature, bond with our classmates, and bond with the people and wildlife that we encountered.

We participated in many fun but informative classes in which we learned many things. We went salamandering and caught many salamanders. We also embarked on a living history hike in which we went back in time and talked to the old residents of Tremont. We talked to loggers, teachers, and farmers. We splashed around in streams and found interesting organisms that you can’t find in Indiana.

At the dining hall, we would listen to corny jokes, and tried to have no food waste. The table captains, which switched every meal, had the responsibility of serving everyone else at the table. If there was no more of a food that someone wanted at that table, they would ask the table captain to go get more of that food, otherwise known as scavenging. The table captains would do this by going to other tables and seeing if they had any of that food left, and if they did, they might give to the table captain who was trying to obtain food. If no one else wanted anymore, then the table captain would take the food back to his table, and share it with everyone at that table.

It was definitely a peaceful experience. It was a change of pace from our fast paced life and taught us to embrace the nature around us. Sure, we may not have mountains to painfully hike eight, thirsty miles through but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a solo walk in our neighborhood. We learned to connect ourselves to the environment around us. Whether it was during our solo hike, or screaming songs around a campfire, or while we were star gazing, we bonded and had an amazing time.

We wish we were still there.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Exchange Student from Chile

 Valeria Mery
Valeria arrived here on September 15, 2014. Her father is a visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame and Valeria came to spend this time with him during her break from school in Chile. So what would any adolescent want to do during their vacation from school? Well, find a new school in a foreign country to attend with a group of strangers, of course! But Valeria and the students in the Junior High weren't strangers for long. In fact, after her first day in school, she was invited to join the volleyball team, was given gear to wear and could be found in the gym at her first practice. She says she is very happy and has lots of friends. At school, her classmates are always kind and try to help her. Sometimes it is a little difficult for her because English is her second language, but that hasn't been a big problem because she feels she can understand more every day. And on the day of our first snowfall, she repeatedly got up to ask Mr. Kelly if she could go outside. You see, she hadn't seen snow since she was four years old. And her new friends in the Junior High were more than happy to accompany her. She has quickly become one of the Junior High family. The students and teachers are so happy to have her and we’ll really miss her when she has to leave us this week! 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Three, Two, One, Launch into Science

The Junior High students, under the direction of Mrs. Hill, launched rockets made in our own science lab. We used materials from kits provided to us, followed step-by-step instructions, and in groups, we decorated our rockets with our own artistic finesse. Some of us flew our rockets high into the sky while others caused the audience to gasp due to malfunctions and wayward trajectories.

Both the lower and upper elementary classes came to enthusiastically support the event. The kids enjoyed counting down before each launch. Some parents of the Junior High students came and watched as well. One of the last rockets to take off flew a wee bit off course and landed in one of Montessori’s neighboring yards. We thought it might have been headed down a Montessori parent’s chimney. The creators of this malfunctioning rocket ran after it as the crowd of children watched in awe. Overall it was a very enjoyable and educational experience.

-Thanks For Reading,

-The Junior High :)

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Supreme Court of the Junior High

This week, in the Junior High classroom, there were two Supreme Court cases presented. Luckily, it was just a mock trial and nobody got arrested. The two cases that were re-enacted were TLO v. New Jersey and Yoder v. Wisconsin. The first case was about a teenage girl in a high school who was smoking in the girls’ restroom. A teacher caught TLO and her friend and took them to the principal’s office. Her purse was searched at which time marijuana was found. The Supreme Court sided with TLO on this one, because the evidence found was inadmissible due to the Fourth Amendment and the exclusionary rule.                             

The Yoder v. Wisconsin case was about an Amish man named Jonas Yoder and the Old Order Amish Religion. The Old Order Amish Religion wished to remove their children from school after the eighth grade. The state of Wisconsin, however, had a compulsory school attendance law requiring students under the age of 16 to attend school. The Yoders won because the state of Wisconsin would be violating the First Amendment which allows free exercise of religion if they forced these children to go to high school.
We had Mr. Stephen Drendall, a local attorney who knows the law very well, acting as the Chief Justice and Ethan Lindley acted as an associate justice. The rest of the class was separated into four groups. There were four people to a group and we presented our cases. Thanks to the parents who came to watch our presentations and to Mr. Drendall for taking the time to help us learn about the law, our constitution and the Bill of Rights.

This concludes the Supreme Court edition of the Junior High blog.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Five Foundations for Success

When the Junior High class visited Camp Tecumseh, we learned about the Five Foundations for Success. These foundations are trust, communication, self-confidence, leadership, and problem solving. The Camp Tecumseh staff taught us these foundations through a series of fun and exciting activities. Through the trip we were encouraged to utilize these foundations in a productive way. Below, some Junior High students shared their reflections on how they learned to use these foundations.

            “Trust is the chief component in teams, marriage, and most friendships. Gaining the respect of others by treating them in a responsible way is the true meaning of trust. I learned that I could trust people to a certain extent and some more than others. This foundation was used at Mt. Wood, the climbing wall. We had to trust our belayer and the crowd below for foot and hand holds. We also had to trust our partners in the optimist’s challenge. The optimist challenge was an obstacle course that one blindfolded person had to maneuver by following their partner’s instructions. I improved my level of trust between my classmates and myself.”
-Joseph Kawauchi

            “As far as my leadership skills go, the field trip to Camp Tecumseh really put them to the test. It was pretty hard for me to maintain a decent manner when trying to instruct other people in what to do, especially when my entire group of 8 people tried to stand and balance for two whole choruses of Row, Row, Row Your Boat standing on a very little box. It was hard because you can’t just shriek at them if they don’t do what you want them to. They aren’t your brother. You see, I have a bad habit of not thinking before I speak,, so whenever I feel like I have a great idea, I just say it out loud, not bothering to listen nor are for anyone else’s. When my idea turns out to be wrong or dumb, I just sit there like an idiot saying something like “oops”. But overall, I enjoyed working alongside my peers and listening to their ideas. I’ve learned that not everything has to be the Sydney way.”
-Sydney Anzelc

Problem Solving
The rock wall was also a time when I needed problem-solving. Whenever I was stuck I had to find the best place to put my foot or hand so that I could get to the top. Not only did I have to help myself, I had to help the other people climbing so that they could get to the top. We had to help them and encourage them. This really helped improve my problem-solving skills and will help me later in life.”
-Ammaar Basher

“Communication is very important when working with a team. The sharing of ideas from one to another in an understandable way is always key. I learned that I could share my idea for a situation that might help make progress. Communication of our ideas was very important in the team building course, the optimist challenge, Mt. Wood, and obviously in the communication station. I need to improve on this tremendously because I am very outspoken and when I do talk, I talk with a flare to it.”
-Joseph Kawauchi

“Self Confidence is a huge issue for a lot of teenagers. They often they don’t look right, or wear the right things, or listen to the right stuff. When I got to Camp Tecumseh, I wasn’t expecting to develop a new found self-confidence. A time at Camp that I really felt self-confident was when my group was doing the Survival Simulation. I was in charge of the making of the fire, I failed, but people were encouraging me, and believing in me, so I felt confident in my ability to light a fire. It felt good to know that people believed in me, even though I failed, they still gave me things like, ‘Good effort’ or ‘I wouldn’t have gotten near what you did’.  That boosts your confidence levels a lot.”

-Cameron Pierce