EA Middle School Matters - December 11, 2013
Posted 12/11/2013 12:01PM


Having just wrapped up the first trimester of the year, our students have shared with you their academic successes as highlighted on their report cards. The faculty and I are very pleased with the high level of effort we see from so many of our middle school students. We continue to dedicate ourselves to help your child reach his/her academic and personal goals as we progress through the rest of this school year. If report cards brought about any questions or concerns, please call or email your child’s teacher or me for further discussion.

December is filled with activities and opportunities for our students.  Here are just a few of those events which are noteworthy and/or upcoming.


Band - On December 9, our band students performed their winter concert. They entertained the audience with an evening of grand music! The band will perform again for us during Candlelighting.

Choir - Our Middle School choir will give us many opportunities to enjoy the sounds of music. December 18 at 7:00pm the Middle School Chamber Choir and Upper School choir will perform a concert entitled “Long Live Academy”. Most recently both the Middle School Choir and the Middle School Chamber Choir performed for us at the Holiday Tea, and will sing for us again during Candlelighting.


Candlelighting - On December 20 at 2:00 pm, we join together with the Upper School and Lower School to celebrate as an EA community through our traditional Candlelighting Ceremony. At the completion of the ceremony (2:45 p.m.) students will be dismissed for winter break. There is no Extended Day available on this day.


Update and Renovate: Learning In Sears Hall - A few months ago, I sent you an email indicating that we would begin a special learning experience for our Middle School students. We presented the students with a “kick-off” event on Tuesday of this week. You may have heard of the term “problem based learning” which is used to describe this type of learning.   In brief, students are challenged with this question: How could we redesign the interior of Sears Hall to maximize learning?    They have been divided into teams of 5 or 6 students (5th and 6th graders are teamed together and 7th/8th graders are teamed together) in order to address this challenge. Ultimately they will create architectural models of their designs (as well as other essential products) which will be presented to adult experts in March. Team work, under the guidance of a teacher, will take place on Tuesdays. Through this process our students will acquire multiple learning objectives with “real life” applications. We, students/faculty, are all very eager to tackle the challenge! I’ll keep you updated as we move ahead.

Geography Bee – Having demonstrated their geographic knowledge in classroom contests, ten of our MS students will compete for the title of EA Master Geographer in the 2013-2014 National Geographic Bee Challenge. The challenge will take place on Monday, December 16 in the Rider Room of Sears Hall at 10:00am. The first place student will take a written test which will potentially qualify him/her for state competition.

VFW Patriot’s Pen Essay Contest - Every year, the VFW sponsors a youth essay competition which gives students an opportunity to write essays expressing their views on democracy.  This year we are proud of our eighth graders as they swept the awards for Elgin Academy.   First place winner, Sharene Gould-Dulabaum, second Place winner, Maggie Whitehurst, and third place winner, Chibuzor Onwochei, won with their thoughtful writing on the topic “What Patriotism Means to Me.” The students will be presented with a certificate and a monetary award at a special ceremony to be held by the VFW.


Parties - The week of December 16th all of our students will be participating in various class activities. Details for Secret Sender will be reviewed with the students this week and they will be posted on the Middle School website at the end of this week. Participation is optional. On Friday December 20th, students will have a holiday party in the afternoon as a culmination of the week’s activities.

Winter Break Begins - Students will be dismissed and must be picked up at 2:45pm on Friday, December 20. (No extended day is available.) Classes will resume on Monday, January 6, 2013.

Parent Notes

This brief article is written by Michelle Icard, author, educator, and social leadership strategist.

Middle School Rebellion Gets a Bad Rap

The stereotype exists for a reason; kids become increasingly defiant, attracted to risk, and hyper-emotional through the middle school years.  But there’s good reason for this behavior and if you can see past the rebellion to its source, you’ll be in awe of everything middle schoolers are doing to prepare for their future success.

Yes, your child will become more defiant and rebellious in middle school. That’s a good thing. 

Quick poll: How many of you would like your child to live in his or her own house someday? Everyone? Perfect.

That’s the idea, isn’t it?  The fact is that you have built a cozy beginning for your child, but you are not your child’s future. Their future rests on how successfully they can navigate a world run by their peers. Figuring out how that social world will work and where they will fit in it is the key to your child’s success.

Middle school is when and where your child forms their lasting sense of WHO THEY ARE in the world. If only your child could just go into an empty room, shut the door, and emerge three years later with a shiny new, terrific identity! Alas, figuring out who you are is an enormously large SOCIAL project. It involves moving from concrete to theoretical thinking – not an easy skill to master. Theoretical thinking is all about making assumptions to test theories. Your middle schooler’s brain is working overtime to make a million assumptions about how the social world works and then seeing how people react to each and every one. This means trying new fashion, hair styles, language, friends, bravado, and behavior on for size.

It is incredibly hard for kids learn who they are and where they fit outside of You and Your World. It will take some trial and error, many mistakes, and a dash of rebellion to leave your comfy nest and strike out on their own.

Rebellion is a critical step in finding individuality but I’m not suggesting you applaud when you catch your kid smoking behind the middle school. How you react to your child’s missteps will set them up for one of two things: more success or more failure.

OK, how should I respond?

Here are some things you can do to help your child make the most of their middle school years:

  1. When your child makes a mistake – whether a bold act of rebellion or an awkward stumble onto the wrong path – express empathy first. “That must have been hard or painful or embarrassing” always comes before “You screwed up, now how are you going to fix it?”
  2. Be unemotional in your discipline.  You may cry into your own pillow at night but if you cloud your discipline with tears, anger, or despair, your child will likely misinterpret you. Be firm, direct, and without emotion when talking about consequences. If you need to buy some time to achieve this say something like, “I need some time to figure out how to respond. I’ll talk to you about this tonight after dinner.”
  3. Help your child take risks. Create an atmosphere where your child is allowed to do things that feel thrilling, daring, scary, and unknown. Take them to an audition, help them start a business, go bungee jumping.  When you fill that need for risk with a positive source there is less chance your child will try to fill it through unhealthy activities.

The next time you feel frustrated or betrayed by your middle schooler’s attitude, imagine the alternative. They could not rebel, not stretch to figure out their new identity within their peer world, and remain perfectly comfortable staying under your roof…for the next forty years or so.


The Middle School faculty, staff and I wish you a joyous holiday season. Have a safe and fun-filled break and we’ll be ready for classes to resume for the New Year on January 6.

Sandy Revak

Middle School Director