Fifth graders hosted their annual fine arts assembly, in which members of the class perform for the school community. Students performed a variety of acts—acting, dancing, karate, piano, violin, and cello!
Pre-kindergarteners and kindergarteners held baby chicks in science class this morning as part of their farm animals unit. The unit started with eggs, which hatched recently. Students are raising the chicks for the next two weeks—feeding them, monitoring their habitat, and studying them—before returning them to the farm. Both pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classes have science class twice a week.
Close to 25 students signed up for the spring edition of 456 Book Club, which was held during lunch today. Students read the award-winning “Wolf Hollow,” inspired by author Lauren Wolk’s visit to Tenacre in April. Students discussed different aspects of the book and finished the session with chocolate chip cookies—a sweet way to end the dialogue!
Pre-kindergartners presented their class play this morning. “Too Much Noise!” is a musical based on a traditional eastern folktale that teaches the age-old lesson that things are not always as bad as they seem. Jacob and his family feel their house is too noisy so they seek out the advice of the wisest people in the village to try to solve the problem. As instructed, the family members purchase a dog, a hen and a horse only to find that their house is now noisier than ever! Eventually they find new home for their animals (at Tenacre!) and learn that the noises that once bothered them are now a welcome relief.
Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes spoke to Tenacre students in grades 3-6 this morning as part of Tenacre’s Visiting Authors program. They are co-authors of the recently published book, “Rescuing Jessica,” which details how Jessica’s life changed after losing both of her legs from the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. Patrick, who lost one of his legs in the bombing, read the story to the students. They brought Jessica’s service dog, named Rescue, and showed how he helps Jessica with everyday tasks. Patrick and Jessica both answered questions from the Tenacre students, who were thoroughly engaged during the presentation.
This morning Tenacre honored retiring head of school Chris Elliot by dedicating a newly created and installed outdoor sculpture in his honor. The idea for the sculpture, which is located next to Tenacre’s science building, was conceived by a small group of past Tenacre parents on behalf of all parents of alumni. They commissioned the artists and raised funds for this project.
The mother-daughter artist team of Linda Hoffman and Ariel Matisse (great-granddaughter of Henri Matisse) collaborated to create the sculpture – a cast of bronzed wood of the large ash tree that graced the front lawn of the head of school’s home on Benvenue Street for years. The artists’ vision was to create a sculpture that expresses how new growth originates from old wood.
Fifth graders spent three days last week at Farm School, taking on the duties of a working farm for two nights and three days. They fed the animals, mucked out stalls, cooked meals, and assisted with gardening. They also had free time to roam the farm and relax with classmates. Fifth grade teachers Jess Kato and Maggie Scannell say that students come together as a class at Farm School and gain a new appreciation for their fellow students. The experience broadens their worldview, and class members often end up seeing each other in a new light.
Tenacre sixth graders welcomed Tom Schaus, M.D., Ph.D, of Harvard’s Wyss Institute to their classroom this morning a guest speaker. Dr. Schaus, a scientist who studies synthetic DNA systems that interface with biology, spoke to students about molecules, DNA structure, medicine delivery via DNA, DNA origami, Nanotechnology and potential careers in science and engineering.
Sixth graders have been enmeshed in their Genetics unit, learning about molecules and DNA. Science teacher Leah Staffier saw the high level of enthusiasm after students extracted DNA from strawberries and bananas and researched ways to augment the unit with an engineering component. She adapted a DNA origami lesson in which students engineered their own 3-dimensional DNA origami inspired drug delivery structures. Students used string, straws, and pasta to create their structures.
Because of their enthusiasm, Ms. Staffier contacted the Wyss Institute to see if Tenacre could visit and tour the lab. Instead, the Institute offered to send one of its scientists to Tenacre. Dr. Schaus gave an engaging presentation and took questions from the sixth graders.
Pre-kindergarten students learned about honeybees this morning from Birgit de Weerd, also known as the “Bee Lady.” Mrs. de Weerd brought her hat and veil, smoker, colony hive box, and a tray filled with beeswax honeycomb with her. The children learned fascinating facts and information about honeybees. The presentation was part of the Gwyn Loud Science and Enrichment program.
The three Tenacre Girl Scout troops will be running a collection drive for UnderCare from April 30 to May 4. UnderCare collects new underwear and socks for children in need. A group of first, third and fourth graders who are members of Daisy Scouts, Brownies and Junior Girls Scouts came to the Schoolhouse meeting this morning and described the community service initiative Undergarments must be new and can be dropped off in the Schoolhouse or by the third and fourth grade classrooms. Donations will be taken to Cradles to Crayons, which partners with UnderCare.
Yesterday was Plant a Seed Day at Tenacre – part of the Earth Week celebration. Students from every grade planted seeds in the Tenacre garden – carrots, marigolds, tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, snap peas, and zucchini!
First graders built spaghetti towers in science class this afternoon as part of their structures unit. They were given a small set of materials (including spaghetti noodles, of course) and asked to build a structure that could bear the most weight possible without falling down.
Author and Illustrator Lauren Castillo gave two presentations this morning to Tenacre students. After speaking with students from PK through Grade 1, she worked with second and third graders. The 2015 Caldecott Award-winner for Nana in the City, Castillo spoke about her journey as an artist and how she creates a book. She ended the younger presentation by reading Nana in the City.
In addition to writing and illustrating Nana in the City, Castillo wrote and illustrated The Troublemaker and Melvin and the Boy. She has also illustrated several critically acclaimed picture books, including Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley, Yard Sale by Eve Bunting, and City Cat by Kate Banks.
Tenacre alumnus Henry Price ’15 visited fifth grade science yesterday and presented a lesson on “The Moon and Getting There.” He used his time to talk about the specifics of how rockets get to the moon, and how they return and land on earth. The students paid close attention and asked numerous questions.
In honor of National Poetry Month, Tenacre is holding several “open mic” assemblies throughout April, in which students and staff were invited to read a poem of their choosing on stage. This morning, a group of 11 second and third graders read both original poems and poems written by others. It takes courage to read one’s own work on stage, and we commend our students who stepped forward!
First graders performed their class play this morning, “The Cuckoo,” a story based on the Mexican folktale. In this story, Cuckoo is beautiful and lazy. She sings compulsively, irritating the other birds who want to sleep before beginning the arduous task of gathering seeds. They are so exhausted from the continual singing, in fact, that when a fire threatens the seed crop, they all sleep on. The only one awake is Cuckoo, who flies back and forth until all the seeds are safe. In the process, her rainbow plumage is scorched and her beautiful voice turns hoarse--but she earns the undying gratitude of the other birds. Bravo first graders!
Tenacre students learned about New England birds of prey this afternoon from Wingmasters, an organization that rescues and rehabilitates these types of birds. Jim Parks from Wingmasters spellbound students for an hour using both live birds and factual information to teach students. Students saw an American kestrel falcon, a red-tailed hawk, and screech and barn owls. This presentation was part of the annual Gwyn Loud Science Porgram.
Cathy Gruetzke-Blais worked with Tenacre sixth graders in art class this morning as the Tenacre Art Gallery (TAG) visiting artist. Ms. Gruetzke-Blais, an art teacher at the Fay School who taught at Tenacre for six years, worked with students on painting with water colors. Her work is currently displayed in TAG and will be there until May.
Sixth graders presented the new Tenacre Buddy Bench this morning at assembly. Starting today, the Buddy Bench is a new addition to the playground. The idea is to foster friendship, joy, kindness, and inclusivity on the Tenacre playground by providing a place where students can sit at recess to make new friends. Simply put, the Buddy Bench is a place to go when a student needs help switching up friend groups or being redirected to another recess activity.
Its purpose is to promote a socially friendly school community. The bench helps kids help one another to have fun. It is a child-centered idea, which, as much as possible, allows students to include one another with minimal adult involvement. Sixth graders worked with Tenacre art teacher Bree Ouellette to transform the bench from a plain, sanded bench to a colorful one that now decorates the playground.
Each class came up with a word that represents recess at Tenacre: PK: Laughter Kindergarten: Happiness 1st: Friendship 2nd: Joy 3rd: Kindness 4th: Inclusivity 5th: Togetherness 6th: Respect
Sixth graders hosted their annual immigrant panel discussion this morning, concluding a social studies unit on immigration. Students invited members of their families who have immigrated to the United States to join the panel discussion. Ten relatives of sixth graders volunteered, enough to hold two sessions of five panelists. Students each came up with a series of questions to ask the panelists, who represented Austria, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, Norway, and South Korea.
Welcome back to school! Mr. Elliot started the morning with his traditional back-from-spring-break speech at assembly. Using baseball as a metaphor for school, Mr. Elliot explained that students are now rounding third base and can’t slow down! With 53 days of school left, he urged Tenacre students to finish strong and sprint to home plate and the end of the school year, ending on a positive note.
Tenacre third graders have been learning about the physical properties of light and the physiology and anatomy of the human eye. They dissected a cow eye specimen, which has a similar construction to the human eye. They saw first-hand the anatomical parts that they have been studying. The dissection exercise provided students with a relevant comparison to explain some of the various diseases and problems that arise with the eyes of any typical mammalian organism.
A group of fifth graders hosted this morning’s assembly, demonstrating their stop-animation videos created in technology class. For this project, most students worked in small groups, collaborating respectfully with each other. To create the projects, they filmed footage and worked in iMovie, Garageband, and a stop-motion app.
Illstyle & Peace performed for Tenacre students this morning. Using hip hop dance styles from the late 70’s through today, this acclaimed ensemble taught the message of “positivity.” The ensemble used skits to focus on bullying. Students loved the performance and understood the importance of the message.
Fifth graders spent part of the day cross country skiing today at the Weston Ski Track, an annual part of the P.E. program’s life skills unit. Every grade learns a life skill during P.E. For pre-kindergartners through grade 2, ice skating is the special event of the year. All four classes traveled one mile to the Babson College rink multiple times in February and March to skate. For every hour of ice time, Pre-Kers and Kindergarteners took a 30-minute lesson, followed by 30 minutes of free skating. First and second graders had one hour of free skating. Other grades participate in hiking (3rd/4th grade) and cross country skiing (5th/6th grade).
Third graders performed their class play this morning, “We Haz Jazz,” a swingin' 30-minute musical that traces the history of America's own music, from the cotton fields to the Cotton Club. the music of America! The audience learned about such jazz greats as Fats Waller, Cab Calloway, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, and more.
Tenacre sixth graders recently completed a social studies unit on inventors. This interactive unit was loosely based on ABC’s hit program, “Shark Tank.” Students worked in pairs to come up with an invention they could pitch to a group of “mentors” (aka fellow students). The mentors provided constructive feedback on everything from the invention itself to presentation skills and props. It was a great lesson in collaboration, public speaking skills, and creativity.
Tenacre’s P.E. program completed its annual Jump for Heart unit today. During the month of February, students from Pre-K through Grade 6 learn about heart health in P.E. They also learn new jump rope skills and review the importance of cardiovascular fitness. Grades Pre-K - 1 have specific lessons on how the heart works, have the opportunity to listen to their hearts with a stethoscope, and learn how blood flows through their circulatory system. Students play many games that reinforce the importance of healthy eating and exercising to keep our hearts healthy.
This morning, Tenacre kindergartners performed their class play, “The Little Red Hen,” the classic story of the hen who asks for help from other animals on the farm. Did the animals help her? Did she share her bread? Kindergartners did a great job telling the story!
On Feb 1, fourth graders visited the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston. After touring the facility, they examined a wall inscribed with the name of every person who either built the courthouse or was employed within its walls when it opened. They were listed with no regard as to whether they worked as a bricklayer or a judge, to show that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law. The Tenacre group also participated in a mock trial, based on the book Jessie Came Across the Sea, and centered around an immigration hearing on whether or not Jessie’s grandmother would be allowed to become a citizen. Students were given roles of judge, clerk, witness, juror, or attorney and were coached by members of the courthouse’s Education Department. It was a dynamic and hand-on learning experience for all.
First and second graders had a blast when they went ice skating this afternoon as part of P.E. class. They spent an hour on the ice at Babson College, where plenty of teachers and parents were available on the ice to help as needed.
Students from every grade attended Tenacre’s annual used book fair today. Families donated gently used books, puzzles, and books on CD, all of which were sold for 25 cents. The younger students in particular love the used book fair, since they are empowered to choose and buy books “on their own.” Teachers and parents are always available to help, of course! First graders attended the fair with the sixth grade “Big Friends,” who helped guide their choices.
Sixth graders learned how to barter this morning as part of their social studies and history unit. Each student was given an item to barter—a tool, a farming animal, a food-producing animal, etc—so he or she could obtain an item needed for the household. What followed was a lively exchange among the participants and an appreciation for strong bartering skills!
There were lots of options for indoor recess this afternoon—basketball, chess, quiet reading, and even a community service blanket making project. First and sixth graders gathered to tie together fleece blankets for an organization that is still to be determined.
Sixth graders were at Tenacre’s front door this morning greeting students and shaking their hands as they arrived at school. Head of School Chris Elliot carries out these duties throughout the year, but sixth graders take over Wednesdays, starting in January. This responsibility is part of the sixth grade Tenacre leadership program.
Fourth graders strapped on their snowshoes and took to Centennial Field yesterday during P.E. for a romp in the snow. Snowshoeing is part of a P.E. program in which every class learns a life skill. Every student in PK through grade 2 learns to ice skate; third and fourth graders experience hiking trips; fifth and sixth graders learn to cross country ski; and sixth graders have the added bonus of learning to canoe and kayak.
Current parent Zhongling Li, a professional violinist and former Northeastern University music professor, gave a beautiful performance this morning at assembly with her daughter Leah, a Tenacre fifth grader. The duo played Wieniawski’s Etudes-Caprices and Pachelbel’s Canon.