M-Term Memories and Musings from Students and Teachers

With the close of Midwinter Term, students and teachers have resumed their lives at Ross School with treasured memories and friendships as well as new skills, knowledge, and talents. Some classes have already shared their experiences with their classmates; others plan to discuss their adventures at M-Term sharing night on April 9.

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On March 14, the Exploring Long Island participants summarized their M-Term for an audience of Lower School students. Teachers Linda Hanrahan, Kim Borsack, and Kerrie Tinsley-Stribling agreed they all enjoyed sharing their stories of marine studies, coastal exploration, farming and conservation. The class made the stories colorful and interactive for the younger students using photos, hand-drawn pictures, and matching games. A highlight of the presentation was sophomore Katie Morgan’s underwater video of her descending into a shark tank.

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The Lower School students ultimately learned lessons about caring for our land and waters, such as never leaving a plastic bag behind for a sea turtle to mistake for a jellyfish, leading to a dangerous meal.

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In the Senior Building lecture hall on March 14, the Musical Theater class performed a musical revue for a packed house, with excerpts from Chess, Frozen, Grease, Pippin, and Tommy.

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As a final project in the Mangiamo class, each student created an original Italian dish. “Students cooked savory soups, delicious homemade pastas, and a wide variety of sumptuous desserts. All dishes would have impressed professional chefs,” said World Languages and Literature teacher Kyle Helke.

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In addition to achievements in the kitchen, students learned that original Italian cuisine is about using everything and leaving nothing remaining. They watched Taste the Waste, a documentary about the large amounts of food wasted in the Western world; sophomore Lenox Loo said it was “a life-changing” movie.

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In the J.R.R. Tolkien Middle-Earth class, students shared theatrical and oral interpretations of The Hobbit. World Languages and Literature teacher Ricky Rainville said there were many insightful moments throughout the term, but 11th grader Yeon Woo’s comment during his final project was priceless: “The only story with more detail than Tolkien’s story is the actual human history,” Yeon said.

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Visual Arts teacher Ned Smyth said the M-Term trip to Myanmar was an eye-opener. “We visited Myanmar at the moment it is changing from a sustainable culture, much of it the same for the last 800 years, to a global member whose sustainable life is being destroyed. The Burmese speak of their culture and way of life being utterly changed in another three years.”

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The M-Term students in St. John stayed at the Virgin Islands Eco-Resource Station, home of NASA’s Project Tektite in 1969 and now run by the University of the Virgin Islands. Heather D’Agostino, dean of Mathematics, said the focus of their trip was to learn about island ecologies and sustainability. Through snorkeling, hiking, kayaking, field studies, working in a marine biology wet lab, and classroom activities, students worked with field experts and learned about botany, marine ecologies, and issues facing fragile ecosystems.

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The Life Behind the Lyrics class spent the three weeks in immersive listening and viewing sessions focusing on the lyrics and works of popular artists from different genres, such as hip-hop, R&B, pop, rock, soul, and more. World Languages and Literature teacher Vinnie Barbato said the students are now looking at the artists presented from a new perspective: “The students became interested in the complexities surrounding the lives of these superstars who, on the surface, seemingly live ‘perfect’ lives.”

Marty Cooper, director of Student Support Services, spoke to the class about his days in the music industry. “The students were surprised by his experiences. It was a fun moment,” Vinny said.

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The Art and Community M-Term was designed to introduce students to contemporary art and various art practices through visits to museums, art centers, and artists’ studios. The class was also intended to foster a sense of community among the students through hands-on workshops and collaborations with visiting noted artists. Each week the class traveled to New York City, where they saw such exhibitions as William Kentridge at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Wangechi Mutu at the Brooklyn Museum, Paweł Althamer at the New Museum, Xu Bing at St. John the Divine Cathedral, Martin Wong’s collection of graffiti at the Museum of the City of New York, and the Alice Zimet photography collection.

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In the Ross art studio, students produced their own art, creating found object sculptures with artist David Slater, monotypes with printmaker and painter David Collins and a large-scale mural on human rights with artist Christina Schlesinger. They also created drawing animations with musical soundtracks, guided by filmmaker Micaela Durand and musician Carlos Lama. The students were pleased with the opportunities to visit famous art exhibitions and institutions as well as develop their own artwork. Ninth grader Yuchen He said, “This M-Term was perfect! I was so excited to see the Phoenix sculptures made by a Chinese artist in an American cathedral.” Creating the human rights mural was a moving experience for sophomore Nutsa Ugulava: “I Iiked how we all got together to be in charge of something big and meaningful.” An exhibition of the Art and Community M-Term artworks will open at the Ross School Gallery in April.

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Ross School Tennis Academy head coach Phillip Williamson said the M-Term in Greece was wonderful. “The weather wasn’t the best on some days, but it never dampened our spirits or excitement to explore the grounds of the first Olympic games in Olympia or the historic Acropolis.”

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At the Ace tennis facilities, the students played against seasoned pros, practiced on 23 different surfaces, and experienced the grass court bounce. “It was a step into old-school tennis,” Phillip said.

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The Ridgeway Trail challenged students both physically and mentally. The Hiking the Ridgeway class walked a total of 160 miles in 17 days, often through difficult conditions. The Trail spans 87 miles and follows a path used for more than 5,000 years over a chalk escarpment, through the North Wessex Downs, across the Thames River at the Goring Gap, and through the woodlands of the Chilterns—all designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. “We encountered so much mud that the students took to naming the different types, just as Eskimo name different types of snow,” said Matthew Aldredge, Cultural History teacher. “Each day the students met the challenge of aching feet and tired legs with laughter and great camaraderie.”

Please join our students and teachers for M-Term Sharing Night on April 9 at the Upper School. Photography and artwork will be on display in the Ross Gallery from 5:30 to 6:30pm, and presentations will begin in the Court Theater at 7:00pm.