Letter from the MC Principal
Hello MC families,
On Monday we began the week with a celebration of Lunar New Year during Morning Meeting. Before getting into our learning we began with a moment of silence for the victims and families of the mass shooting that occurred in Monterey Park, CA on Sunday. Sadly, eleven people lost their lives on Sunday in a majority Asian community amidst the backdrop of Lunar New Year. Unfortunately, the topic of gun violence keeps coming up, but because our kids are aware of these issues and are concerned about these issues we want to address them. As part of our mission to “Challenge each student to take an active role as an informed citizen in a global society,” it is important for us to acknowledge current events.
Mr. Feng (7th and 8th grade Individuals and Societies teacher) put together some slides to lead our learning about Lunar New Year and he led the rest of the meeting. We learned about the year of the rabbit and the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac, as well as some of the cultural traditions associated with Lunar New Year. We learned that referring to this time as Lunar New Year as opposed to Chinese New Year is more inclusive, because many Asian countries celebrate the Lunar New Year. Some of those traditions include getting a haircut and new clothes signifying a fresh start to the year, family feasts that include duck (symbolizing happiness), lettuce (wealth), oranges (good luck), and long noodles for a long life. We finished our learning by eating “White Rabbit” candies which are well known in China and in Chinese American communities. Special shout out to Mr. Feng for leading this cultural celebration. Celebrating cultures beyond our own also helps our students to “take an active role as an informed citizen in a global society.”
In my last Courier letter I wrote about our upcoming Service Learning day for 6th and 7th grade on Friday, January 27th. This work is the beginning of a process that students are going through to build up towards completing their Community Project in 8th grade.
Many times students confuse the concept of volunteering with the concept of service learning. Volunteering is donating one’s assistance to accomplish a goal for the greater good, or to further the mission of an organization. With respect to service learning, “learning occurs through a cycle of action and reflection as students seek to achieve real objectives for the community and deeper understanding and skills for themselves.” Service learning goes beyond just volunteering or picking up trash in your neighborhood, it involves truly understanding the issues at play when it comes to serving a community.
6th and 7th grade students are developing various skills in Advisory (research skills, planning, and communication skills), and have put those skills into action to plan this Friday’s volunteer work. Students researched various groups and on Friday they will be working with organizations like Zoo Atlanta, Trees Atlanta, Moving in the Spirit, Oakland Cemetery, ArtsXchange, and Constitution Lake. They communicated via telephone and email with the adults that work at these organizations and they worked with their Advisors to plan Friday’s work.
On Friday, students will have shortened classes at the beginning of the day and then they will embark on their service activities at 11:00 am. Students are encouraged to pack lunches from home or to get a sack lunch from school on Friday so that we can facilitate an easy transition into their volunteering activities. We don’t want students to spend most of their service time going out to pick up lunch, we want Friday’s focus to be on service.
The research, planning, and communication skills that I mentioned before are all skills that the students will need in preparation for Community Project. Community Project is an 8th grade service learning opportunity in which students find a community that they want to work in, research the needs of that community related to a topic of the student’s interest, and then work towards performing a service action in that community. Many students come into their 8th grade year wanting to make sandwiches for the unhoused or clean up trash in Grant Park for their Community Project; and while those are positive activities, part of the intent of Community Project is for students to learn how to research the needs of a community and go beyond their assumptions or anecdotal evidence regarding what they think a community needs.
On Friday, the 8th graders will be staying in the building since they are working on their own individual Community Projects. They will have shortened classes just like the 6th and 7th graders on Friday. However, after the 6th and 7th graders leave, they will have lunch and recess, an 8th grade town hall meeting (We have town hall meetings once every 1-2 months with each grade level to check in on how they are doing as a grade level.), and they will meet with their Community Project supervisors.
As always if you have any questions please feel free to reach out. If your student is in 6th or 7th grade and you have questions about your student’s service activities on Friday please reach out to their Advisor. Enjoy the rest of your week!