Thursday, March 31, 2011

Diversity on Campus!

Here at Garrison Forest School there is not only a large amount of diversity, but also a great feeling about it – there are different cultures, races, religions and nationalities. If I were to walk through the lunch room on a busy lunch day where there are Upper School students, you would see so many different cultures that you’d have to blink twice. Even at breakfast I hear different languages being spoken: Spanish, English, Korean, and Chinese. We even have events that support diversity such as Community Connections Day.
We celebrate all cultures that attend Garrison (or even that don’t.) At Community Connections Day, for example, we have the Lower School singing in Chinese, the Middle School chorus singing a song in Korean, and Moncrieff students singing in Spanish. At the Chinese Moon Festival, all the students who take Chinese had the opportunity to engage in a celebration in the Confucius classroom with Dou Xiaoshu (the previous Chinese teacher). Lastly the Martin Luther King dinner celebrated cultures around the world, with African dancing, and flags of many countries hung up in the dining hall.  They are still there to this day.
As you probably have already assumed, we have many international boarders here at Garrison. Ten students from Mexico, Sixteen students from China, and fourteen students from Korea.  All of these students bring a cultural uniqueness to the school. Even in the dorms, they try their best to mix up cultures by pairing roommates with different nationalities.   
Personally I enjoy having many different cultures here on campus. Not only does it broaden my knowledge about different cultures, but it prepares me for my future because the world will be much more diverse in a short amount of time. Not only that, but having these diverse students around me has inspired me to learn more languages on my own, including Korean: 안녕히 계세요 (Goodbye!)
-- Text and Photos by Sidney B. (Class of 2016)

Can you D.I.G. It?

Building with Magnets
Thanks to Mrs. Chrobocinski and Mrs. Oleiski, we have an extracurricular class called DIG, which involves science and math.  Students from Sixth and Seventh grade were able to have the opportunity to participate in this fun club.  Every Thursday the participants meet at the Upper School where we complete the warm-up and move on to the fun activities the teachers had planned for us.  Although math and science are not all of the students’ favorite subjects, we do many exciting activities, such as mixing colors, making goo, and causing explosions!
On March 24th we were challenged to make a structure that would stand with powerful magnetic sticks and balls.  We were split into two groups.  Group 1 decided to use triangles, since that is the strongest structure, and build up, while Group 2 also decided to use triangles but build out.  Do you know which group won?  Group 2 won the challenge!  It stood for more than 30 seconds, while Group 1’s building fell immediately.  After the challenge we all went to the lab for an exciting and a mind blowing experiment.  We put milk in an aluminum pan and we added four drops of colored dye (blue, red, green, and yellow).  Then we put a cotton swab with dish soap in the pan.  Suddenly, the colors came into the center and started to combine.
As you can see we do many interesting experiments and challenges in this club!
-- Text and Photos by Zena S. (Class of 2016)

SCIENCE LAB - This isn't Dinner at Phillip's Seafood Restaurant!

Alex T. and Gabby C. dissecting a squid.
Seventh-grade Science has been full of fascinating topics, all relating to the diversity of life.  Right now we are studying Invertebrates, animals without backbones.  One of the most interesting facts we have learned about Invertebrates is that only 2% of all animals in the Animal Kingdom have a backbone, where 98% do not.  There are so many invertebrates to study, but due to our limited amount time, we have focused on four major groups.  These groups include Cnidarians (ni - dare’- ee - uns), Mollusks, Worms, and Arthropods.  These four groups show a wide range of body forms and lifestyles that we can explore in our labs.
Brianna T. dissecting a clam.
Cnidarians are invertebrates that have two body forms.  They can be a polyp or a medusa.  Both forms have a sac-like body with one opening surrounded by tentacles.  The most common Cnidarians are jellyfish and coral.  In our lab, we observed a type of Cnidarian called Hydra.  It has a polyp body form.  We looked at it under a microscope and watched its movement.  At the end of this lab, we were able to feed the Hydra a shrimp and watch it digest the food.  This part of the lab was the most fascinating, because we were able to watch how the Hydra detected the food with its tentacles and forced it into its food grove.  Once the food got into the Hydra’s body, its longitudinal muscles contracted and helped digest the shrimp.  Once we completed all the lab activities, we recorded our observations in our lab manual.

This is the squid we dissected.
Another type of invertebrate that we studied was mollusks. There are about 50,000 different species of mollusks.  The most familiar mollusks include snails, clams, slugs, oysters, squid, and octopuses.  We studied two species in this group, the clam and the squid.  Both are very different in their body and design.  We first had a discussion on how the animals’ structural features help them survive.  Then we completed labs, where we dissected a clam and a squid to see their features.  To dissect the clam, the first thing we did was open the shell.  We looked at the clam’s body and labeled its various parts in our lab manual.  When we were done, we put the clam away and got a squid.  For the squid, we also dissected it.  We had taken out the mantle, eyeball, beak, and ink sack.  We sketched the squid in our lab manual and labeled its parts.  One of the most fun things for the students to do was write with the squid’s ink.
 Here are some students’ comments:
I loved doing it.  I thought it was really interesting.  I especially liked writing with squid ink.  The squid also had lots of cool parts like the tentacles and mouth.” –Emma B.
“It was really gross but also interesting to see the parts of the squid.” –Hallie A. 

-- Text and Photos by Jackie M. (Class of 2016)
Publish Post

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

March Madness - Student vs. Faculty Basketball Game

On Friday March 11, at 2:15 in the Gym, the Faculty took on the Students in the Annual March Madness Basketball Game. If the Middle School Students won, they would get an Out of Uniform Day. The Students were all pumped up, even for their warm ups. The Faculty was warming up, getting ready to defeat the students and earn their own Out of Uniform Day.

The Faculty took on the Eighth Grade students first. The Faculty went up by a few points, with the students tagging behind. The Eighth Graders tried their best to keep an even game.  When it was time for us, the Seventh Graders, to sub in for the Eighth Graders, the students were not too far behind. Representing the Seventh Grader, we did our best, trying to give the students some more points, but sadly did not. The Faculty went up by a lot more by the time the Sixth graders came in to relieve us. They tried and tried to bring us back, but the Faculty just went up more. The Eighth graders went back in for one last chance to win the game. They tried to bring us back a little bit, but did not bring us very far, not enough, anyway, to win the game.  The Faculty had a victory, and the students did not win their Out of Uniform Day.   
-- Text by Hailey M. ; Photos by Julianna M.

Money, Money, MOH-NAY!

Nylah A., Mimi N. and Emily O at JA Finance Park
It was such a fun learning experience to be able to go to JA Finance Park on Thursday, March 10, 2011. Throughout the last month in History class we learned about finance in the real world, such as credit and debit cards, stocks, and budgets. This program is not well known, in fact the GFS Middle School was the first class to participate in the pilot of the program. Everyone in the Seventh Grade was looking forward to this day and I know we all had a great time.

Biztown Center
The Day started off at 9:30 AM when we first entered Finance Park. It looked like a mini town, with streets, trees, and shops; for those of you have been there is was just like Biztown! We were all called to the center of the town where we were told about what we were going to do that day. First, we were assigned a home base, a place where you could organize your files and complete your expenses worksheets.
GFS Girls Balancing Their Budgets
Once we were there we were assigned a life card, this included your job, number of kids, marital status and income. I was very fortunate to get a good job. I was an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) Compliance Officer and had a Gross Annual Income of $53,758. I had two kids (6 years and 9 years) and was single. I was lucky to get such a good job that paid well. Some people got Jobs like a Pet Caretaker and were paid as little of a Gross Annual Income of $20,000 a year. After we got our life scenarios, we began to budget the amount of money we could spend a month in categories like Housing, Transportation, Dinning Out and Electrical.
After we budgeted our money, we went around to all of the business to collect sheets explaining about what you could buy from this business. Next, with the sheets that we had collected, we decided the amounts we wanted to spend in each category. For Example, the worksheet for housing showed you six housing options within your price range that you could purchase. Lastly, we went back to all the businesses to make our final payments.

Overall, Finance Park was a fun and educational learning experience.
As Julianna M. said, “It was a great experience and an important life lesson.”
Also Jackie M. commented, "I thought it was really cool the way it was set up. It taught what I need to know to do when I am older and gave me an important life lesson. I think it is a topic that everyone should know, because after college you will have to use it.”
I’m sure we will be able to put this knowledge to good use in the future!
-- Text and Photos by Emily O. (Class of 2016)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

So You Think You Can Lead?

Joining Forum or having a role in leadership can help you throughout your educational career and even afterwards. There are multiple leadership roles such as Class President and Vice President, Honor Board, President and Vice President of the Middle School, Forum Reps, Light/Dark Spirit or Cheerleaders and Communications Director. Depending on what grade you are in determines what leadership roles you can hold.

In 6th grade you can run for everything listed except for President or Vice President of the Middle School and Communications Director of the Middle School. Similar to 6th grade, in 7th grade you can run for all of the roles except for President or Vice President of the Middle School again but this year Communications Director of the Middle School is open to only 7th graders. In 8th grade you can run for anything except for Communications Director of the Middle School but don’t worry! There are Communications Directors for the individual grades also. There are many roles to run for depending on how you want to lead your class or the Middle School.

This year the current Middle School President, Vice President, Honor Board Rep, and Communications Director are (in that order) Isabelle T., Allie D. , Kiki D. and Brooke F. I currently hold the Vice President of the 7th grade class with the 7th grade class President, Julianna M. When you are in Forum a basic routine is going to Forum once every two weeks for a brief meeting on new ideas and ways to improve our school. The weeks we don’t have Forum, we have class meetings to explain to the class about what is happening that week. It is similar to Morning Meeting, but the class is asked questions and sometimes we vote on how we should do certain things. One of the most favorable things about being in a leadership role is that you have a bigger say in what happens in the Middle School. 
Depending on what role you want to pursue, you can help the middle change in so many ways! You can help the environment, animals, shelters, and even the Middle School itself! I hope you are inspired to fill a leadership role next year. It is always a new and fun experience!
 -- Text and Photos by Sarah R. (Class of 2016)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Becoming Leaders -- The Middle Grades Diversity Conference in D.C.

The opening of the 2011 MGP Diversity Conference.

At 7:00 AM on March 1st Ayanna D., Jessie B., Victoria B., Amina N., Brooke F., Miana M., Allie D., Virgina L., and Julianna M. left the Garrison Forest School campus and traveled to the Middle Grades Partnership Diversity Conference held at the All Souls Church in DC. We were chaperoned by Mrs. Rao, Mrs. Chavez and Mrs. Cowling. We arrived and began mingling with over 400 other middle schoolers from Baltimore, DC, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and even North Carolina.
 We were split into small groups and listened and talked about what it means to be inclusive and exclusive and why people are included and excluded. Some reasons that people are included could be their age, gender, race or ethnicity, and many more. The same applies to being excluded. Next, we went into another room and saw a play of improvisation based on stories from people in the crowd. Basically someone told their story and then it would be represented through improvisation.
Meeting new friends!
We went on to different locations such as the library and the cafeteria to talk with groups of boys and girls of different schools. We talked about what diversity really means. Inclusion and exclusion, problems and solutions are school has with diversity and more.  Lunch was after that and then we met back with everyone from your school and GFS talked about the “ins and outs” at Garrison. What is “popular” and “unpopular”? We ended with an open mic session during which kids talked about some of the most important topics that came up through the day. Someone at the open mic said “Being excluded is being included”,  meaning that when you or your group is excluding someone else, you might feel more included into the group because you are agreeing with everyone.
What has the Garrison Forest Diversity Leaders Team take back to school? We now know how to interrupt when we see exclusion. Exclusion means the excluding of one, or a group of people from friendship or just being friendly. In the conference we learned there are many differences and similarities in everyone’s perspective. We talked about money, gender, age, sports, clothing, physical aspects, language, and extracurricular activities. Being leaders at Garrison Forest School we want to break the ice; breaking the tension between fellow peers and faculty. Stereotyping others is what hurts the most in today’s society. This means that even before you greet one another, you look at their appearance and think that’s all you need to decipher a code when there really is no code to decipher in the first place. The code of what that person wears and even the language they speak. The Garrison Forest Team wants to bring back all of the knowledge we have learned at the conference. Being a leader isn’t about bossing everyone around, but it’s about thinking ahead, showing your school that you want school life to be fun yet a learning experience.   
Being at the conference has shown our team that we all believe in equality and inclusion. Everyone has either been included and has excluded others at some time in their life, but that has to change.  It must change for the better, not for the worse.  Life with be a lot easier without exclusion because when there is less exclusion and more inclusion, friendships can and will be made. All of the barriers will be destroyed and everyone can be proud of how they look, laugh, and even the clothes they wear because it won’t make a difference!  The Garrison Forest Team will make Garrison Forest School more open to diversity with help of our fellow students and teachers.
“We're all the same color......just different shades." -Miana M. (8th Grade)
"Today I learned that even though we have I diversity group that doesn't mean that everyone knows what that means and I will try to make a difference." -Virginia L. (7th Grade)
 -- Text by Virgina L. and Julianna M. / Photos by Julianna M. and Brooke F. (Class of 2016)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Holocaust Survivor Shares Her Story with Us

Holocaust survivor Rachel Bodner speaking to the Seventh Grade.
We have been reading The Diary of Anne Frank in English, so our teacher Ms. Kinnear arranged to have a Holocaust survivor come to speak to us. Our Holocaust speaker's name was Rachel Bodner. She grew up in Belgium. She went in hiding in a nunnery, where the nuns kept care of her, knowing that she was Jewish. She was in a train going to Paris to see her family, when the train was bombed. For a few days after that her and her sisters were separated from her mother. A few days after that, a notice in the mail told her that her sister was supposed to go to a transit camp, but they tricked her family, and took her straight to Auschwitz, where she was killed.  Ms. Bodner was scared for her life, living in the ghetto.  
While speaking to us, she didn’t mention life in the ghetto, or much about what her life was like in the Holocaust, because she didn’t like the flashbacks. Ms. Bodner talked more about life morals, such as treating everyone with respect, understanding, and accepting all religions. She also advised us not to be lazy and to pick up after ourselves!  
We thought our visitor yesterday was a great speaker.  We personally thought it would be very frightening to have been in a ghetto like our visitor.  We think we would probably go crazy always having to be quiet and not be able to have my parents with me.  We are so sorry that any human being would have to go through that.  The time period that the Holocaust was in was a very crazy, scary time.  The lessons that the visitor was telling us were very beneficial and we will try our best to live that way.  The part about understanding and respecting all religions is the major part that stuck with us.  We think respecting all religions is a good thing because if you do respect all religions, then you can meet new people and explore the world.  We like the part when she said that having manners is beneficial and your moms will be proud of you.  We think she was a very good person to come in and talk to the class. 
We have much respect for Ms. Bodner, knowing what she has gone through and how she is still leading a normal life.  We hope she can come back to Garrison and speak to other grades, and maybe come talk to us again, because she was an amazing speaker.  
-- Text and Photos by Jessie B. and Sarah S. (Class of 2016) 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

JEL Championships

On Sunday February 27th, 2011 our school held the Junior Equestrian League (JEL) Finale.  All of the teams from the league competed, including Full Moon Farm, Hunting Ground Farm, Talbot Run, Camp Olympia, and Reddemeade. There was a lot of tough competition. At a usual JEL show, you would be assigned a horse that you might not have ridden before, but at this show you were allowed to pick your "mount" because it was the finale. We all woke up early and made sure everything was ready for the show to start. The horses were schooled and cleaned. Schooled means they are ridden to warm them up and make sure they are sound. Everything was set up and ready to go!

The show started at 9:30 a.m. with Division 5 up first. Since there were so many teams competing, the divisions were split up into group A and group B. There was typically one other person from your team and around five to eight riders. After Division 5 was finished, Div. 4, then Div. 3, then Div 2, then finally Div 1 followed. The show took most of the day ending around 4:45p.m. Everyone rode great and we are all eager to find out who will receive first place for Class Wins, Overall Point Winner, and Team Winner. In the Class Wins, the rider with the most points in the Division will be champion and the rider with the second most points will be reserved champion. It is the same idea with the Overall Point Winner, but it is out of all of the Divisions. The Team Winners are the teams who won the most meet/shows in the season. The ribbons will be given out at the banquet on Saturday March 5th. It was a great season and everyone did a fantastic job!

-- Text and photos by Sadie G.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Murder in Manor House!

  Last Friday, we had our yearly Mystery Night!  Mystery Night is a night when the whole grade joins together to have the night of their lives. The activities are kept a secret until the special day. It is planned by the hard working class parents and teachers.
After eagerly waiting for the day to end, we were finally told what we were going to do for the night. This year, we solved a tricky murder mystery at Manor House. Each of us had to dress up as the character that was assigned to us, such as Betty Jean Honeysuckle, Fannie Flamingo, or Claire Voyant. We had each been given personal information about our character and had to incorporate it into our costume.
After getting to know each others characters, we gathered around and Mrs. Wendy (the head of the night) began talking to us about what else was going to happen that night. Then, all of a sudden “Joseph Boddy” came out into the crowd and slowly died. Mrs. Wendy asked some girls to trace his outline. We all then went to dinner of sandwiches and salads and looked over our character information. After dinner, we asked one another questions such as “Do you have a gun?” or “Did you know Joseph Boddy?”
Near the end of the night, we had dessert and Mrs. Wendy gave out awards such as “Best Actor” and “Best Costume”. Some of the winners were:
Sophie P. --  “Best Costume” for the costume design of her character Ms. Awesomeness, a super hero.
Mina N. -- “Best Actor” for her role as Lulu D’loca, an escaped mental patient.
Finally, after dinner and the awards, the murderer was announced. We all waited impatiently as Mrs. Wendy told us that Sadie G. and Jackie M. were the murderers!! Wow! What a night!

-- Text and Photos by Ayanna D. and Brianna T.

The Twisted Twizzlers Go to the State Championships!

We, The GFS Twisted Twizzlers Robotics Team, had the amazing experience of going to the State Championship on Saturday, February 26, 2011. On Saturday, we proved our hard work to many people at the UMBC campus. As you may have read in our previous post, our team won the Robot Design award at the FLL Qualifier, and were able to move on to the State Championships.  

Every year, the challenges and themes are different. Last year was called Smart Move, which was based on transportation. Body Forward, the theme this year, focused on medicine and biomedical engineering. 
To read about the 2011 Body Forward Challenge, click here: First Lego League
We arrived at the UMBC Retriever Athletic Center at 9:00 a.m. and prepared for our morning presentations. At 10:00 a.m., we went into a classroom and in front of five judges, we gave a research presentation. Our presentation was on the sense of pressure in a prosthetic hand. We created an innovative solution for prosthetics to feel pressure, and created a wooden model hand with a variable resistor. The judges loved our idea and asked us many questions about our idea.
After the presentation, we moved on to the Technical Judging. This was where we explained our robot design and our programming. After showing some key attachments on our robot, we were able to show some of our programs to the judges. It was really nerve wracking because the programs usually are not consistent, and when we showed the judges some of the runs, the robot did not function properly. Luckily, we looked at these mistakes as a way to learn and fix our programs for next time.
In the afternoon, we did the challenges. All of the challenges are on a board, and we program the robot to accomplish certain tasks. The programming is what takes up most of our club time on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  For programming, we use the Lego NXT Software, which can be as easy as going forward or as hard as converting letters to numbers. We scored a total of 425 points in the three rounds combined, but we only got the highest score, which was 175. After the rounds were over, they took the top four teams into a sudden death round. We weren’t part of this round, but we enjoyed watching the strategies used by others!
After a long day of competition, the awards ceremony started.  There were many awards given to many teams who showed outstanding effort.  Sadly, we didn’t come home with a trophy, but we did leave with high hopes for next year!  Congratulations to the teams who participated in First Lego League, and good luck to those who are going to the World Festival!
-- Text and photos by Alex T. (GFS Twisted Twizzlers Team Member)

Spring is Coming!

Snow melting, birds chirping, sun shining can only mean one thing: Spring is Here! 

7th Graders enjoying lunch on the Dining Hall porch.
At Garrison Forest School spring weather means putting away GFS sweatpants, sitting outside during lunch, and spring sports. Although we will miss wearing boots to school, and having snowball fights outside, spring is the season we all look forward to. I asked several 7th graders what they look forward to about spring.
“The thing I love about spring is when I ride outside at the barn.”-Kara F.
 “I like how the campus is so beautiful and really shows what GFS is all about.” –Ayanna D.
“Lax season!”-Cammie G. 

 As you can see, spring is awaited by everyone  for all these different reasons! 
-- text and photos by Hallie A. (Special thanks to Ayanna, Cammie, and Kara)