For the past several years, Tenacre has participated in Wellesley’s Food Waste Challenge, a project of the Wellesley Department of Public Works. This composting program engages sixth graders in a daily project that results in putting any food waste from Tenacre’s lunchroom to good use. After every lunch, fifth and sixth graders are responsible for clearing the tables and scraping any plates with leftover food into designated buckets in the lunchroom. Once everyone has been dismissed to lunch recess, sixth graders work in teams of two to tie up the bags of food scraps and put them in green bins located outside the lunchroom. Once a week, the Town of Wellesley picks up the bins and delivers them to a farm in western Massachusetts, where the food waste is put into an anaerobic digester. This machine breaks down the food into three components: gas, which is used to produce electricity; liquid, which is made into a “compost tea” to use as fertilizer; and a dry component, which is used as bedding for animals.
Food waste makes up about 40% of our landfills, emitting high levels of greenhouse gases and creating toxic leachates that end up in our waterways. Food waste is energy. Wasted food is wasted energy. One ton of food waste can power up to 10 homes with electricity.
In addition to gathering lunchroom waste, sixth graders are also responsible for gathering, on a daily basis, used coffee grounds and food scraps from the staff lounge and putting them in the green bins.
Science teacher Leah Staffier, who runs Tenacre’s composting project, believes that Tenacre’s participation in the Food Waste Challenge is important for the school and the students. “Our food waste isn't actually waste anymore with what we're doing. It’s getting converted into electricity, fertilizer, and bedding for animals,” Staffier said.
“The composting project also teaches sixth graders responsibility and that they can do more,” Staffier added. “They are leaders and role models, so it’s important for the younger students to see sixth graders taking this responsibility. This one little act at lunchtime makes a big difference, and they're doing it.”
In Spanish class, fourth graders have been learning animal vocabulary and the difference between Spanish’s two versions of the verb “to be,” ser and estar. To help them learn when to use each verb and practice new vocabulary, students created their own version of the beloved children’s book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You see? Fourth graders chose a habitat and an animal that would live in that habitat before creating their book, incorporating what they have been learning in class. In the meantime, pre-kindergarteners have been learning the basic animals as part of their Spanish classes. For the final step of this project, fourth graders read their books to their Little Friends in pre-kindergarten before giving them the books as a gift.
First graders performed their class play this morning in Wells Playhouse. “The Principal and the Pea” is a musical that tells the story of a school searching for the perfect principal. Taking its inspiration from the classic Hans Christian Anderson tale, The Princess and The Pea, the kids in this musical, wondering why they're never asked what they think or what they want, devise the perfect plan when the teachers cannot choose. Of course, the students find the perfect fit, "A grown-up who could not stand peas," only to find out that their new principal is a fan of... Brussels sprouts!
Yesterday, Tenacre’s third and fourth graders hosted third and fourth graders from The Chestnut Hill School to build community between the two schools. As schools of similar size and structure, Tenacre and CHS have a lot in common. Our fifth and sixth grade students compete against each other regularly in athletics, and many of our graduates become classmates at secondary schools. Tenacre was thrilled to create this partnership to help further develop relationships between the two schools. Students gathered at Tenacre and participated in a series of art, Spanish, dance, and science activities. Teancre Spanish teacher Mercé Garcia led students through a host of Spanish challenges related to Spanish language and culture. Science teacher Frantz Vilmenay coached students through a design challenge where they saw the process of change over time by changing one variable at a time. It was a particular treat for Tenacre third graders, who had done part of the activity previously, to “teach” the activity to their new friends from CHS. Assistant to the Head of School Robin Thompson choreographed and taught a traditional Nigerian Bata dance and really got the students moving! And finally, Chestnut Hill School art teacher Justine Curran engaged students in a Harlem Renaissance weaving and collage project that celebrated the friendship of two renaissance musicians. Several other Tenacre faculty and staff members supported the event, ensuring a fun and exciting experience for students. Students from both schools highlighted the new friendships made as their highlight of the day.
This week a group of fourth, fifth, and sixth graders hosted a "STEM News" assembly that showcased the STEM projects they are working on in science class. Fourth graders explained two of their STEM projects: the balloon-powered vehicle project, which focuses on Newton’s Third Law of Motion, and the marble maze project, which studies Newton’s First Law of Motion. Fifth graders discussed their wind turbine project, in which they engineer their own wind turbine working within a series of design constraints. Sixth graders described their Big Bridge Fail project and how they design popsicle stick bridges to withstand a minimum weight of 10,000 grams. Students are graded on the cost efficiency of the bridge, the load capacity, aesthetics, and the collaborative effort of each two-person team. The bridges are tested in science class for how much weight they can hold before breaking.
Tenacre hosted an inspiring youth sports panel last night, featuring four former Olympic and professional athletes: soccer player Kristine Lilly (5 World Cups, Olympic gold medalist), ice hockey players Dominic Moore (Harvard and 14 seasons in the NHL) and Tara Mounsey (Olympic gold and silver medalist), and tennis player Eric Butora (NCAA singles and doubles champion, played the professional circuit and reached the finals of the Australian Open). Each athlete shared stories about their own experiences in youth sports—the common theme being that none of them ever specialized in one sport; they all played different sports throughout the year. They also spoke about their own experiences as parents of children playing youth sports and the challenges downside associated with today’s ultra-competitive environment and the focus on specialization in one sport at a very young age. The event ended with questions from the audience.
Pre-kindergartners and kindergartners went ice skating this morning at the Babson rink. Every student took a 30-minute lesson, followed by 30 minutes of free skating. This is part of Tenacre’s Physical Education curriculum, in which every grade learns a recreational sports skill during P.E. The PK/K group will skate three times.
In music class, fifth graders learned first-hand about the art of Foley, the reproduction of everyday sound effects that are added to films, videos, and other media during post-production to enhance audio quality. These reproduced sounds, named after sound-effects artist Jack Foley can be anything from the swishing of clothing and footsteps to squeaky doors and breaking glass. Foley sounds are used to enhance the auditory experience of the movie and are an integral part of the movie-going experience. Fifth graders learned about this skill and worked in small groups to recreate sound effects for the movie of their choice. At assembly this morning, several groups showcased their Foley work for the student community, eliciting oohs, ahhs, and many giggles.
Tenacre’s Term 3 Student Council invited students and staff to bring their favorite stuffed animal to school today and dress in their comfiest clothes for the “Bring Your Stuffy Grub Day.” In exchange for participating, students and staff were asked to contribute $1 to support Save a Child’s Heart, a global organization that has conducted 30 surgical and catheterization missions and more than 70 cardiology clinics around the world, examining over 9,500 children. Term 3 Student Council collaborated with Community service to host this Grub Day.
Third graders learned about Fauvism in art class, the style created in the early 1900s by les Fauves, a group of early 20th-century modern artists whose works emphasized strong color. Inspired by what they learned, students created brightly colored abstract designs.
Second graders performed the musical “A Little Bit of Showbiz” this morning, bringing some engaging songs and dance to the start the day. Congratulations to the second-grade class for a great performance!
Fifth graders have been working on a yarn-based project in art class, learning to create yarn paintings based on a Mexican tradition. Until very recently, the Huichol (pronounced Wettchol) people of Mexico did not have a written language. Instead, they communicated their history through stories and symbols. This tradition is still strong for the Huichol and we can learn a lot about their beliefs by looking at their artwork. Nierikas (pronounced Near-eeka) are traditional yarn paintings made by the Huichol people. Natural glue, made from tree resin and beeswax, is applied to a board, and yarn is pressed into it and left to harden. The designs and symbols on the Nierikas are based on their myths, stories and personal daily activities. The yarn paintings portray the Huichol belief that people are connected to nature and all living things. The Huichols believe it is their duty to take care of the earth because they depend on it for survival.
Kindergarteners completed a unit in Reading Workshop about “Reading Super Powers.” To celebrate, the kindergarten class held a Superhero Day today, in which students were invited to wear a superhero costume of their choice to school. The costume could be an existing superhero or a made-up superhero! The class then held a “superhero parade” through the school to celebrate.
Through the African Savannah.” Through song and dialogue, third graders shared knowledge about the exciting African Savannah wildlife of lions, giraffes, geckos, bushbabies, servals, weaverbirds, crocodiles and elephants! Bravo to third graders!
This morning first graders led an assembly that explained the importance of good citizenship. After a short story about citizenship read by first grade teacher Megan Delaney (a Tenacre Class of 2003 graduate), each student shared why they are a good citizen.
In social studies, sixth graders recently participated in a Tenacre tradition in which they recited either Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” or Frederick Douglass’s “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” speech as part of their social studies unit. Students wore clothing of that time period—black top hat, beard, and long black coat—for the performance. Bravo sixth graders!
Every other week, first graders participate in a project called Thoughtful Thursdays. When first graders are full of ideas from what they have learned during the week, Thoughtful Thursdays provide a chance to put those ideas into action by participating in hands-on activities related to the week's curriculum. Last Thursday, first graders participated in a project connected to their Civics Unit, which taught students about important American symbols and their significance. Students made some of those symbols using model magic and colored them, using their fine motor skills, creativity, and knowledge of U.S. symbols to make the project a success.
A group of Tenacre students recently led an assembly about Black History Month. Celebrated during the month of February, Black History Month honors the achievements and accomplishments of Black and African American people throughout history. Each of the 14 student volunteers, all from fifth and sixth grade, researched and spoke about individuals who contributed to history, including inventors, children’s authors, athletes, and STEM leaders, to name a few.
In Math Club fourth, fifth, and sixth graders created and played their own board games to practice various math concepts, including multiplying and dividing decimals, adding and subtracting fractions, and algebra.
The Tenacre TPA hosted its annual Pizza Bingo night last Friday, a popular family event that always draws a crowd. The volunteer parent MCs provided an entertaining night, along with great music played by a Tenacre past parent who is kind enough to return year after year for the event! Thank you to all of the volunteers who made the night a great success for the kids.
Sixth graders attended an automata workshop today at MIT, where they made kinetic sculptures by combining engineering and art. They had the opportunity to explore the new museum and walk through the campus and observe some of MIT’s unique architecture.
Tenacre hosted an alumni cocktail party in New York City last night, welcoming a crew of young alums from the Classes of 2010, 2011, and 2012. The group gathered at a bar in Midtown to reconnect. Sam Greenfield, Tenacre’s development director, and Sarah Noone, Tenacre’s communications director, were in NYC for a conference and hosted the gathering.
Sixth graders are engaged in a year-long multi-disciplinary capstone research project that will be shared at a spring symposium. Working in science, Spanish, library, and art, students are exploring environmental issues in Spanish-speaking countries and how they relate to issues in our country. Throughout the year, sixth graders will develop an engineering project to access water (science), research the three main environmental issues faced by Spanish-speaking countries (library), use recycled materials to show how people can be change makers (art), create infographics in Spanish (math, science); produce public service announcement videos (tech).
In January, in an effort to expose students to a real audience for their target language study, sixth graders wrote letters in Spanish to the embassies or consulates of all Spanish-speaking countries to ask for information on how environmental issues affect that country and to ask for contacts of organizations in those countries they can further explore those topics with. Sixth graders communicated in Spanish, asking key questions they had discussed in library and science, using their Spanish skills to manage three different verb tenses and new vocabulary in those letters.
The boys’ and girls’ fifth grade basketball teams are both off to strong seasons, with everyone playing and having fun. The interscholastic athletic program is something that younger students look forward to—they eagerly await their chance to play and wear the Tenacre “green.”
Tenacre students presented an assembly this morning about the Lunar New Year, explaining the holiday, speaking about their own family traditions, and answering questions from the audience. Thank you to our student volunteers!
In honor of MLK Day, a group of Tenacre students hosted an assembly this morning to recognize Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and other changemakers who have made a difference in our world. The assembly ended with P.E. teacher DaJaun Owens leading the school community in singing “We Shall Overcome,” a gospel song that was a key anthem of the American civil rights movement
This morning, fourth graders showcased their obstacle course tech projects in Wells Playhouse. Students followed each step of the design thinking process and included at least one obstacle they felt could be replicated in P.E. class with the materials available. The Obstacle Course Experts (P.E. teachers DaJaun Owens and Stephen Jette) were at the showcase to examine the projects and source ideas for their spring obstacle course unit with the fourth grade.
Second graders are engaging in a new addition to their social-emotional curriculum by using a daily gratitude journal. Grade 2 teachers Kate O’Toole and Sue Doering are partnering with local author Katie Wood, who wrote A Simple Seed: Of Growth, Gratitude & Giggles, a daily journal to help students focus on mindset, interpersonal connections, and social-emotional well-being. This gratitude journal complements and enhances Tenacre’s second-grade curriculum.
The idea is that students will spend about five minutes every day at school writing in their Simple Seed journal. Each page in the journal contains a daily challenge (i.e. do something kind); a gratitude section to write about something you are grateful for; a morning giggle in the form of a silly joke; a “who can I make smile today” section; and an “I am” statement for students to write something positive about themselves. The goal is to teach gratitude and help students start the day on a positive note.
Katie Wood joined Tenacre second graders via Zoom today to launch the project and helped students complete their first page in the journal. They had the opportunity to meet Katie virtually and ask questions.
The Tigers had their opening basketball games this week in Tenacre’s Dareshori Gymnasium—the sixth-grade girls played Chestnut Hill on Monday and the sixth-grade boys played Fay yesterday. Two great afternoons of basketball for all the fans!
The Tenacre TPA hosted its annual family skating party at the Babson College rink last Saturday, when nearly 50 Tenacre families gathered for a wonderful evening on the ice. Families enjoyed pizza and great camaraderie—a perfect way to kick off the second half of the year!
Maggie McCarthy, a senior captain of the Harvard women’s basketball team and an alumna from Tenacre’s Class of 2012, led a basketball clinic this afternoon for Tenacre fifth and sixth graders with members of the Harvard women’s and men’s basketball teams, as well as Harvard women’s coach Carrie Moore. The Tenacre students loved the opportunity to work with college players.
Four sixth graders reprised a dance performance this morning at assembly for their fellow students. The dance, choreographed by Assistant to the Head of School Robin Offley-Thompson, was originally performed at Tenacre's December Celebration on December 15, 2022. They are dancing to "Why We Sing" by Greg Gilpin.