While walking down the Lower School hallway, sounds of singing and laughter travel through the door of the Beginner room. In observing the young students, it is pleasing to reflect on all of the progress the Beginners have made throughout the year. In just one year of attending Westwood, the students have learned how to do multiple different Montessori works, feed themselves, respect their classmates and teachers, prepare for nap time, along with many other wonderful things. We are proud to congratulate all of the accomplishments of our Beginners!
At the end of every school year, third grade students voluntarily participate in a Spelling Bee. All of the words used in the Spelling Bee come from their spelling books. At the end of the event, all participants receive a ribbon for participating as well as ribbons for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. The event gives each student the opportunity to study new words, some more challenging than others, and also gain experience performing in front of an audience. While some students were a bit anxious of participating for the event, others found the challenge exciting and rewarding. Shailesh Bolduc came in 1st place, followed by Mackenzie Muse in 2nd, and Corey Robinson and Ryan Shroeder tying for 3rd.
This week Upper Elementary’s forth grade students ventured off to LegoLand located in Grapevine Mills Mall. They had an exciting day full of discovery and adventure. The students enjoyed a Physics lesson on velocity after racing Lego cars that they had built together in teams. Students also took delight in riding Lego themed rides, playing in a fun house, and examining a Lego replicas of the City of Dallas, Fort Worth Stock Yards, and an animated Dallas Cowboys Stadium.
Earlier this month High School student Tommy raised money for Operation Kindness by hosting a cup cake sale at the Proton Campus. As part of the IB Diploma Programme’s Creativity, Action, and Service project Tommy raised a total of $137 for Operation Kindness to provide animals with food, medicine, medical operations, and spaying/neutering procedures. He also raised an additional $137 for the organization’s grooming fund to help make the dogs feel more comfortable and clean. Tommy and Kristy were proud to present a check to the Operation Kindness team, as pictured here with Peggy Marshall.
To wrap up Shakespeare, students spend the final week preparing for the show at the Plaza Theater in Garland. The directors found that the easiest way to transport all the children to the theater was to ask parents to drive the students about 10 minutes to the DART train station, load the students onto the DART and then walk a short distance to the theater.
Students are placed in “bubbles.” Each bubble has an adult and a Middle School student in charge of making sure that the group makes it on and off the train. Much discussion takes place about behavior and what to do in certain instances such as “What do you do if the doors close and you are not on the train?” This is a practical life lesson at it’s best!
We hope to see everyone at the play this weekend! Rock on!
In February, Westwood sent home a flyer explaining our Technology program from grades 1st and up. Upper Elementary and Middle School students get a fabulous experience working stage lighting and sound while directing a school play. We are very fortunate to work with the Plaza Theatre which allows our students full access to this equipment so they can gain first hand, the complete practical experience.
- Collect contracts
- Take and block notes
- Check all correspondence
- Manage spot light
- Manage microphone list
- Set up and take down mic. and sound system
- Keep music and iPod list
- Oversee sound and light board
- Keep scene change list
- Assist Mrs. McClellan
- Tape the gym stage
- Manage headphones on left stage side
Assistant Stage Manager
- Oversee third graders
- Maintain attendance record
Manage headphones on right stage side
Third grade students recently completed reading the book “Indian in the Cupboard.” As a concluding activity, they worked on projects that illustrated friendship, the prominent theme of the book. Some made puppet theaters and created scripts, some made collages, and others constructed book jackets or wrote poems.
The students set up their projects in the gym to be presented to the first and second graders. As 3rd grade shared the story in summary form they also explained what their project was depicting. Their audience enjoyed discussing each project in detail and is enthusiastic about having the opportunity to participate in a similar project when they get to 3rd grade!
The fourth and fifth grade students used cross curriculum activities from history and technology classes to create, design, and research information for brochure projects. Utilizing both classroom instructional time for a richer class experience and incorporating techniques from teacher training at Lausanne Institute, students were able to create Asian country and president brochures. Mrs. Franklin and Ms. Pfautsch were able to “team teach” during two of the class times, which allowed for opportunities to cover technology, grammar, writing, and history skills, all in one class! Students enjoyed developing research skills and mastering design techniques as well as refining their keyboarding skills.
The 9th and 10th graders have eagerly been helping Mrs. Lagow paint a mural to brighten the High School hallways. The work-in-progess is located between Ms. Cottle’s and Mr. Bain’s rooms. The mural will represent the international character our school. The abstract art piece incorporates ribbons and flags in bright colors, representing different countries. We can’t wait to share images upon its completion!
One of the privileges of growing older is that we earn the right to reminisce. In my first decade, England was a dreary place, slowly recovering from the privations of war and desperately trying to rebuild destroyed cities and a shattered economy. We had only two TV channels, played onto a small black and white set that was 12 inches square. Hanging over the front of the screen was a large magnifying glass to enable us to view the pictures from across the room. Sundays were spent going to church in the morning, enjoying the only family meal of the week at lunchtime, followed by a diet of Hollywood films during the afternoon. My favorites were the Judy Garland / Mickey Rooney musicals collectively known as “let’s put on a show”. No matter what the trials and tribulations they faced, these kids miraculously produced a show in a barn or in a dilapidated theater they saved from demolition with sets that would not disgrace a Broadway production. And these kids were stars! How I wished I could be such a star, but no matter how much I enjoyed these fantasies of the silver screen, I believed them to be ridiculous make-believe. Until, that is, I witnessed Upper Elementary and Middle School students rehearsing their latest Shakespeare production! Designing a set from bits of wood, choosing songs that fit the moment, organizing costumes and makeup, learning about the technical aspects of theater, producing programs and tickets, and a plethora of other activities necessary for the production of a show is a remarkable achievement even for seasoned professionals. But seeing this miracle unfold with students in 5th through 8th grade has made me realize that I was perhaps a little too cynical in my youth. In my defense, I didn’t have the benefit of the expert tutelage of Ms. Abene, Ms. Worthen, and all the other teachers and volunteer parents guiding our thespians. The skills they are learning (planning, building, acting, team work and many others) cannot be written into a syllabus or be reflected in SAT scores, but they are vital attributes in the “real world”. No commercial or charitable organization could succeed if its key players did not possess these qualities and, I would suggest, they are one of the intangible reasons why our graduates continue to be offered such large scholarships when they apply to colleges. Irrespective of the long term benefits, I would urge you to get your tickets early and enjoy Westwood’s production of Shakespeare Rocks. As the bard himself penned “if music be the food of love, play on”.
In the midst of the organized chaos that is a concomitant of a production, the High School is working frantically towards the end of year. Classes are preparing for their semester exams which will include work from both semester 1 and 2, elections are being held for student positions in various committees, plans are afoot for Prom and Graduation, and we are preparing for yet another year of growth in our High School population. With constantly improving facilities, an expanding curriculum, and an increasingly diverse extra-curricular program, we are not only welcoming the vast majority of our current grade 8 but we have a number of new students (local and international) who wish to join us and experience the wonder that is Westwood. This year has been incredibly successful and rewarding, but to steal a line from another old entertainer – “you ain’t seen nothing yet!”
Speaking of next year, we are preparing to say au revoir to our seniors. As one end of the building throbs to the beat of classic rock while 148 feet pound out newly learned dance routines, the other end has descended into a monasterial quiet as the Diploma Programme exams get underway. Two years in the planning, aided by a team of specialists to educate and guide our seniors, the exams are a culmination of their Westwood experience. Armed with knowledge, skills and fortitude that Westwood imbues into all its students, they will soon be leaving us to enjoy college life. If past graduates are a guide, they will not only be extremely successful, but they will also visit us often to pass on their experiences to the next class or to simply reminisce. Perhaps, after all, this is a privilege even the young can enjoy?