The Field School

SELF-DISCOVERYSKILLS OF MINDGENEROSITY OF HEART

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HISTORY WEEK GETS STUDENTS VOTING

"Politics," says History Chair Georgia Warner, "is about civil rights; about real issues that affect real people." This sentiment was the inspiration behind Field's History Week, which allowed every history class in the school to take on the same lesson plans throughout the week last week. A primary focus (no pun intended) was digging into how elections work. Students learned about primaries, caucuses, superdelegates, and delved deep into the confusing world of U.S. election season.
 
Students also had a chance to exercise their own vote, with discussions that culminated in votes on three topics: government surveillance, education reform, and criminal justice reform. The results of these votes—often closer than you might expect!—were
unveiled in a mock telecast skit at an assembly (pictured)on Friday. "I was expecting that students might all agree on the issues," said Felicia Aikens, History 9 and 10 teacher, "and they didn't—which I loved!" These differences of opinion led to interesting and fruitful conversations that continued throughout the week both in and out of class.
 
"The conversation on government surveillance was really thoughtful," Felicia said. Her classes discussed the general issue of creating a balance between privacy and national security, but also took it one level further by applying these questions to their own lives. They thought about whether doing a Google search on ISIS for school research would put them on the government's radar, for example, and whether that might change their opinion on the topic.
 
Felicia said, "I thought the students did a really great job of coming at these issues from an honest and thoughtful point of view. I was really impressed with the level of conversations that they had. I also thought their ability to embrace the opposite argument and to understand why certain people may think certain ways on an issue was really impressive." 
 
If you need to understand what superdelegates are about or want to hear an interesting take on "ban the box" legislation—ask a Field student!
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GSA SUMMIT UNITES SCHOOLS ACROSS AREA

Last Friday (remember, the day we didn't have school?), Field welcomed students and staff from independent schools around the region for the Annual Metro GSA Summit—a day of discussions and workshops around gender and sexuality. Students and staff from Field, Georgetown Day, Maret, St. Albans, Burke, Sidwell Friends, & Potomac came together to hear an inspiring keynote speech, participate in workshops LGBT issues, and meet new friends.
 
Field's entire faculty joined in to hear the keynote speaker and noted DC transgender advocate Ruby Corado, founder of Casa Ruby LGBT Community Center and several shelters for homeless LGBT residents, share a powerful and moving message of self-acceptance and empowerment. "If you've ever been told you're not beautiful," Ruby said, "you were lied to." Ruby recounted the discrimination she has experienced as a transgender woman, the judgment she has felt, and her journey towards proudly celebrating who she is. She also shared the story of one of her close friends, Tyra Hunter, who was injured in a car accident. Emergency medical workers refused to continue treating her once they discovered she was transgender and as a result, Tyra died. 
 
Losses and discrimination like this inspired Ruby to stand up for herself and others in her community, and over time she has built a strong chosen family for herself and other transgender residents of the District. Field faculty and staff discussed Ruby's message of self-acceptance and kindness in small groups afterwards, asking what Field is doing well in terms of addressing issues of gender and sexuality, and challenging each other to think of what Field could do better.
  
The GSA Summit was deemed an overwhelming success. "It's nice to have conversations with people who understand [LGBT issues]," said one participant, newly inspired to bring the sense of community and the knowledge gathered that day back to their own school. Lily Cantor '16, one of the GSA Summit's student organizers, added, "I'm really excited that we made connections with other schools, and we're already talking about how we can do this again soon." She concluded, "I'm proud that we pulled this off at Field." Bravo!
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LANGUAGE WEEK FOCUSES ON SYRIAN CONFLICT

Interactive lesson planning was at its best as the language teachers joined forces last week. Classes joined up for the week across languages (yes, French and Spanish and Latin alike!) for a Language Week focused this year on how the media see and treat refugees. Each joint class had a different agenda for the week, from watching documentaries about rebels in Homs, Syria to hearing from a speaker who had worked with Syrian refugees, from hearing the stories of Field staff who immigrated to the United States to participating in a U.N.-designed exercise meant to simulate parts of the refugee experience. 
 
As part of the simulation, students were made to wait outside, blindfolded, in last week's drizzling weather and had to try to figure out how to fill out an immigration form written in gibberish. Reflecting on the frustration they felt during the simulation and the magnitude of the Syrian conflict, one student said of standing out in the rain, "It just puts it in perspective."
 
French student and junior Daniela Bernstein joined up with a Spanish class to learn about the Syrian conflict. "I think we were all kind of shocked," she said of learning about the hardships Syrian refugees face. "There's still no end in sight. It impacted us. We took it really seriously." By the end of the week, her joint Spanish-French class held debates, with students representing different countries, to decide whether to let refugees in. Debating the balance between humanitarian desires and economic practicalities, country by country, helped students see the progress they'd made throughout the week. "We went from zero knowledge to feeling very invested."
 
The activities and lessons of Language Week "really opened my eyes," Daniela says. The biggest lesson she took away from Language Week? To not be afraid to find out more about an issue. "To ask more questions," she says, "and really start to understand. To let yourself puzzle over things." And if that's not a Field lesson, we don't know what is!
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(Legally) Blondes have more fun

How did The Field School's Musical Theater studio class end up doing "Legally Blonde" as their show this year? "We just kinda ambushed [theater teacher] Allie," senior Mariana Silva says. It doesn't seem like they had to twist her arm, though. "This show is really fun," Allie says. "It's happy, it's silly, it's fun."
 
The show is based on the Reese Witherspoon film of the same name, but adds in some catchy songs and lots of tongue-in-cheek jokes. The self-aware musical even has a Greek chorus of sorority sisters. "It's satire," Mariana says, explaining that taking the show at face value makes it seem like it's portraying women as dumb. "But it's hilarious, if you come and take it as the joke it's meant to be."

The students have been rehearsing for this weekend's big performances since November, and they're having fun with the process. One of the best parts, Mariana says, is watching the cast discover their characters. "At first everyone's awkward and no one knows what to do, but then as time goes by each person puts a bit of their own personalities into the character and start to see what each line means to their character."
 
Maya Waehrer '17 had her work cut out for her to discover her character, the aggressive law professor Callahan. "He's the opposite of who I am," she says, telling how she had to work into the character by having yelling matches with the show's music director. She also followed science teacher Fenton Blake around to study the way he walks, so she could more convincingly get into character.
 
The best part, Abby Sodie '18 says, is seeing the final product come together at last and having a great time doing it. "When I went to see this show," she says, "it just looked like a lot of fun." And now that she's in it, she says it's been exactly that.
 
To see Field's talented triple threats act, sing, and dance their way through law school, don't miss "Legally Blonde" on Friday and Saturday at 7:00PM!
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SPARK INITIATIVE SPARKS STUDENT INITIATIVE

What's your favorite TED talk? Is it the one about power poses or how to spot a liar?
 
Now, Field students will have the opportunity to listen to and present their own TED talks. Yesterday, the inaugural SPARK Initiative took place in the Living Room, with two students sharing about their passions. SPARK stands for "spontaneous acts of random knowledge" and, in short, is Field's very own student-produced version of the popular TED talks. Each week for the rest of the year, students will join together on Wednesdays in the Living Room to hear and share informal presentations about their interests. The first SPARK presentations were from Will Lynch '17, who spoke about the importance of archaeology today, and Thea Hurwitz '18, who presented on an Iranian graffiti artist, but topics will be as diverse as the students who present on them.
 
Ryan Reese concocted the idea of having a series of presentations that was "student-driven and focused on sharing knowledge because it's fun." The presentations are informal, short, and low-pressure. Students can do them just for fun or even use the space as a sounding board for a potential project topic.
 
"SPARK is about talking about your passions," Will says. He's been interested in archaeology as a way to explore the world while still being involved in history, a longtime interest. His preparation for the 3-4 minute presentation he gave included thinking about how to make his topic interesting. "Archaeology is important even in modern-day urban planning," he says, describing how archaeologists are called in to excavate and analyze new building sites to determine the true value of artifacts found there. Sounds like a cool topic, no?
 
"There's so much joy in sharing what excites you," says Ryan. "We grow together as a community when we share knowledge." Come be part of the fun—and learn or teach something awesome—each Wednesday during lunch in the Living Room!
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What's the scoop on Bowls for Soup?

Natalia Kormeluk's students often speak of how life-changing her ceramics courses have been for them, so it's no surprise that two of them chose to spend their Friday SHAMs working with clay for a cause. Bowls for Soup was started last school year by Jared Green '17 and Blaine Berquist '15, who wanted to have a clay-related SHAM and join what has become a tradition among potters: donating bowls to raise money for a cause.

Jared said his passion for clay was born nearly five years ago when he was at camp. "We barely touched clay," he says, "but I fell in love with it anyway." He's since devoted countless hours to honing his skill, and now he's able to coach other students during Bowls for Soup on centering their clay on the wheel, working with the clay, and other tricky aspects of creating a functional vessel. 
 
Other students joined in the action that year and continued the tradition this year. "It was fun and we made a lot of bowls," Jared says. Last month, those Bowls for Soup bowls found their way to the 22nd Annual SOUPerSaturday event at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, VA, with some help from Field alum parent and ceramics artist Susan Greenleaf. The bowl-throwing do-gooders received a heartfelt thank-you letter from United Community Ministries, the event's beneficiary. The event had raised over $3,600 for the organization, and the Field Bowls for Soup team was part of that accomplishment. That's the power of the Field community working together!
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FIELD SPEAKERS BRING LIFE INTO THE CLASSROOM

Whether it's a Speaker Series event or a day in class, the Field community is lucky to frequently have visits from some truly incredible guest speakers. This gives our community the opportunity to learn from experts and hear new perspectives on varied topics. Whether it's a statistics expert or the author of a bestselling thriller (yes, Matthew FitzSimmons gave some pointers to our Advanced Writing class when he was here!), Field students listen with interest and ask insightful questions.


Julia Cohen's Friday Honors class, officially entitled "Clash: The Military and Cultural History of the Soldier," but more informally called Soldier Honors, recently had the great thrill of a visit from Vice Admiral Frank Pandolfe, Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Vice Admiral Pandolfe came to Soldier Honors to speak about his experience in the Navy. After earning several awards for excellence while commanding the USS Mitscher, he commanded a flotilla of vessels (Destroyer Squadron 18) and led strike groups in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. He's also served as military aide and advisor to the vice president of the United States. He is currently assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the principal military advisor to the Secretary of State.
 
Vice Admiral Pandolfe introduced students to the complex concept of how to assess whether an intervention (military, economic, diplomatic, or otherwise) achieves success. The class spoke about conflicts they had studied in the fall semester and whether they could argue that military intervention led to lasting and satisfactory resolution. Students asked questions about the role of the Navy in recent conflicts and international trade as well as how to apply lessons from military history to contemporary diplomacy and political action. A few students even followed the vice admiral outside after class to sneak in a few extra questions. It was clear from the looks on their faces that their guest had made an impact that day! 
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How cool are these internships?

During Winter Internship, students did everything from working on the Hill to working at Hill's Kitchen. They worked with horses, dogs, turtles, small mammals, owls and elk, worked with students at schools across the country, learned the ins and outs of retail environments, learned to sew and cook, and got a taste of the music industry at recording studios. Given the chance to explore their interests, Field students stretched out across the world and across a broad spectrum of fascinating opportunities.
 
Winter Internship is a great opportunity for our whole community to take a step outside of the routine, reassess our priorities, and come back to school with a fresh perspective and new energy towards the rest of the school year. It's going to be a great one!
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FIELD BUDDY PROGRAM DEBUTS TALK-BACK WALL

One of the elements that makes Field special is the sense of community it fosters between students, not just within each class year, but across all grades. Field has seen middle schoolers start SHAMs and freshmen pioneer radio programs—made possible in part by students working with and befriending each other across grade levels. The Talk-Back Wall is one example of a tool built by students and teachers to bring the school together and get a bigger conversation going in a way that might not be possible elsewhere. 
 
The Field Buddy Program pairs each middle schooler (92 this year!) with a high school mentor to help create a supportive social fabric across the school. The Talk-Back Wall is a new initiative started by the Buddy Program to foster conversation and engagement across grade levels. Currently in its pilot stage, the Talk-Back Wall is a giant installation of paper with a question posed above it. Students, teachers, staff, and others are invited to post responses and thoughts on the wall. Initially, the Buddy SHAM that started the wall project had planned to pose a new question each month. However, the first question posed, "What stresses you out, and how do you handle it?" garnered so many responses that the Buddy Program curators had to switch the paper out with a new question within a week!
 
The Talk-Back Wall posted its second question ("What's your favorite sports team?") around the time of the Super Bowl buzz, and the paper's been filling up quickly with teams from all different sports. The wall itself echoes much of Field's ethos, allowing all participants to have a voice and to express themselves as they engage in an honest but respectful dialogue. 
 
Keep an eye out for new questions after Internship. Parents, when you come in for conferences, stop on by the top floor of the Cafritz building to see what the community responded about stress—and feel free to add your own response!
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Student-run sports journalism thrives at Field

Field students are known for their daring, talent, and courage to stretch themselves in new ways. The birth of Field News Radio is one example of students with a big idea who made it into reality and didn't stop there. If you haven't tuned into the broadcast yet for a live sports commentary, today is the day—and you are in for a treat!
 
Field News Radio was established this year when freshman Adam Bressler mapped out a plan to bring his journalism class's work to the airwaves. He was drawn to the medium for its immediacy and soon presented a proposal to create a live sports radio broadcast to journalism teachers Eva and Kent, who said he "thought through every detail of the whole program." They let him run with the idea, and students freshman Sawyer Steinmiller, sophomore James Barringer, and junior Lila Bromberg (who also produces the shows) soon jumped on board and got to work.
  
Extensive research and preparation go into each episode: the 
students plan which games to cover, work with athletic directors, coaches, and players to arrange interviews, they write scripts for pre- and post-game shows, review statistics, and do their own marketing. They're a well-researched bunch who've honed their craft expertly. Just to keep himself on his toes, Adam will mute a game on TV and record himself commenting on it, then listen back to make improvements or note where he could be clearer about the action. "Anything that we leave out," he says, "[fans] don't know it happened." James has a similar strategy, saying, "I've always thought, if I close my eyes and I was listening to the feed, what would I be seeing? What am I imagining going on?"
 

During the show, the Field News Radio journalists comment on the games as they happen, provide color commentary, and answer comments and questions from listeners via Twitter (@FieldNews, use hashtag #FalconRadio). They even throw in some music clips from the Field community. The end goal, says Lila, is to "generate excitement." And it seems they have done just that. Their pilot episode got 15 listeners with no promotion, and they've grown rapidly from there, with nearly 100 listeners in recent broadcasts. 
  
You can join the excitement by tuning in at www.Mixlr.com/Field-News-Radio/—and be sure to tweet at Field's anchormen and anchorwomen @FieldNews with comments, questions, your vote for MVP, and, of course, use the hashtag #FalconRadio. 

Special thanks to Lila Bromberg for the great photo!
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Hands-On Science, In and Out of the Classroom

One of Field's greatest strengths is our teachers' creativity and dedication to keeping their classes active and experiential, often in unexpected ways in traditionally theoretical subjects. Students design their own cities to learn about angles in geometry and make recipes together to practice the imperative in Spanish. Applied learning is a benchmark of the Field education, not an exception to the rule. This week, science classes featured all kinds of hands-on excitement!
 
On Monday, 6th graders were treated to an in-school science field trip with special guest Dr. Strouse, who guided them through dissections of pig hearts ("You can put your finger through the ventricle!," demonstrated one student) and had them put electrodes on to have an EKG taken. They got to keep a printout of their own heartbeat!
 
Meanwhile, at the Natural History Museum, Advanced Biology students went looking for skeletons as part of their exam on natural selection and genetics. Among other finds, each was tasked with identifying which vertebrate skeleton at the museum most resembled Tiktaalik, the "fishapod" who left the ocean to climb on land—and likely the ancestor of all modern land-dwelling vertebrates.  
 
Physics 1 students are embarking on an engineering unit. They're taking the lessons they learned from making catapults last week to build bridges out of popsicle sticks and put them to the test! Using a bridge measuring tool, they found out how strong their bridges were by applying—and increasing—pressure on the middle of the bridge. After they evaluate their bridges, they'll work to figure out how to make them even stronger!
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Innovation and Involvement in Field Classrooms

Guided by department chairs and administration and with an eye to our mission, Field’s classroom experience is dynamic and involving. Here are three examples from three different departments that show how our academic experience prepares students to think deeply.

History: The Senior Elective in “Global Narratives”
“Global Narratives is a senior elective in its second year as an offering from the history department. It embodies Field’s belief that student benefit from immersing themselves in advanced skill-building, specifically analytic thinking, writing, and discussion. History chair Georgia Warner, who developed the class, explains: “Global Narrative students pursue topics of their own choosing from the siege of Moscow in World War II to the currently jailed journalist in Egypt. The purpose is to hone their research and writing skills. The first assignment of the year, Project Deep Dive, requires them to investigate the depth of information a single primary source can often provide a researcher. The project will focus on strengthening students' abilities to develop compelling and dynamic research questions as well as to answer that question with clear data points and evidence. A mostly independent-study style course, classes begin with brief skill lessons before students turn to their own work to practice their skills and methodologies.”

Languages: Using Middlebury Interactive Languages Online
This year, the Language Department is deepening its use of the interactive language instruction offered online by Middlebury College. This supplement to instruction by teachers is in its third year in French classes and its first year in Spanish classes. Language Chair Ermira Elmazaj explains that “Middlebury Interactive immerses students in language and culture. It offers our kids exposure to authentic materials and videos that provide real-world reading, writing, listening, and speaking activities. It is very good at helping teachers to provide differentiated learning for different types of learners who can work at their own pace.” At all levels, this program replaces textbooks and provides an array of interactive conversations and writing prompts. “It’s wonderful that the program provides speakers in the target language who are from all over the world,” Ermira adds.

Science: Dedicated as Ever to Hands-on Learning and Observation
Visitors to The Elizabeth Meeting House this week were witness to science in action. Students in the Physics 1 class were learning about air resistance by designing parachutes from plastic trash bags, string, masking tape, and paper cups. Trial after trial measured the speed of the cargo’s descent from the railing of the Meeting House, and prototype designs were continuously modified. In the middle school, students were walking around the campus interviewing teachers to test a set of hypotheses that had been developed but not yet tested and learning the concept of velocity by measuring distances around campus and timing themselves ran, walked, and cartwheeled those distances, followed by graphing their data. And in ninth grade biology, a study of the brain and different capacities of the left side and right side was being illustrated in colorful diagrams created on posters that would soon surround the lab. Science chair Kate Samuel can tell you that this approach to learning has long been purposeful in our science classes. “Hands-on learning gets our students hooked, builds curiosity, and puts the ownership to understand how and why on them. It's not about memorizing, it's about doing. Students, seamlessly, learn more than mere facts.”
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Field's Hands-on Learning

One of the greatest hallmarks of a Field education is our teachers' commitment to creating a hands-on learning environment both inside the classroom and out. This means that our students' daily lives are full of projects that allow them to get their hands dirty, simulations that encourage a different way of thinking, and trips that open their eyes to various worlds.
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Be Yourself at The Field School

Self-Discovery.  It's the first word in our mission statement, and its pursuit is innate to everyday life at Field.  Students are encouraged to think and learn about themselves, and to grow as individuals over the course of their time here.  They can be studious, athletic, shy, boisterous, latino, focused, whimsical, black, white or anytihng else they want—so long as they are who they truly are.

Field is a place where you can be yourself.
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