Category Archives: Middle School

A Healthy Harvest Yields Surprises

Middle School Students Grow Over 50 Pounds of Veggies for Local Food Bank

2014 Jane Lucia MS Garden 1The eighth graders had trowels; the seventh graders were armed with clipboards. It was early on a Friday morning and the middle schoolers were on a mission to harvest the garden.

Last spring, the now-eighth grade had chosen seeds and starter plants—squash, watermelon, onions, potatoes, sunflowers, and Brussels sprouts—and then mapped out their plantings.

They decided questions such as: What needed sunlight? What needed shade? How big would the plants be as they grew? How did the plant beds needed to be spaced and oriented?

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Translating Roman Slavery: A Visit to the Middle School

2014 Teresa Ramsby 1When it came to Roman slaves, Emily Vezina’s Middle School class wanted to know all the details: Did a freed slave have a better life? Were slaves ever paid? What was the reason why a master might free a slave, anyway?

“Boy, you guys have good questions,” said Teresa Ramsby, who was visiting from the University of Massachusetts Amherst last week. “These are tougher than my college students.”

Ms. Ramsby, an associate professor in University’s Classics Department, spent a period with Latin I class, talking about manumission in the Roman world.

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Afghan Activist Shabana Basij-Rasikh to Keynote MLK Day Assembly

Blog Shabana Basij-Rasikh, an Afghan female education activist, believes the best future for Afghans lies with educating the younger generations, both boys and girls.

Ms. Basij-Rasikh will be the keynote speaker at the Williston Northampton School’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day assembly on Monday, January 20.

In a 2012 TED talk Ms. Basij-Rasikh recalled the morning she was told she could openly attend school as a girl. Under Taliban rule she was forced to attend school in secret, putting her family in great danger. For five years she would dress in boy’s clothes and escort her older sister to a secret school where more than 100 students were packed into a living room.

“I was very lucky to grow up in a family where education was prized and daughters were treasured,” she said. “To [my father] there was a greater risk in not educating his children.”

Ms. Basij-Rasikh graduated magna cum laude from Middlebury College and was the first woman to attend college in her family. When she returned to Afghanistan she co-founded the School of Leadership Afghanistan, SOLA, a boarding school for girls in Afghanistan.

“To me, Afghanistan is a country of hope and boundless possibilities,” said Ms. Basij- Rasikh, “and every single day the girls of SOLA remind me of that. Like me, they are dreaming big.”

A Boy, a Textbook, and his Drought-Stricken Country

Photo by Paul Schnaittacher
Photo by Paul Schnaittacher
Photo by Paul Schnaittacher

Currently a senior at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, William Kamkwamba, the co-author of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope, took time between his final exams to speak at Williston Northampton as the fourth annual speaker in the Sara Wattles Perry ’77 lecture series.

Mr. Kamkwamba is a native of Malawi, a small African country bordered by Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, where electricity and running water are a luxury enjoyed by only two percent of the population. Mr. Kamkwamba’s family members make their living as farmers in a rural part of the country. As chronicled in The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, in 2001, a record drought led Mr. Kamkwamba to drop out of school and, using textbooks as his guide, build an electricity-generating windmill out of scrap metal.

Watch Mr. Kamkwamba’s TEDTalk about building the windmill.

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“Mountains Beyond Mountains” and a Meaningful Identity

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“No union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half slave, and half free.  We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together,” said President Obama in his second inaugural address on Monday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

On the same day, Smith College Professor of Afro-American studies, Daphne Lamothe P’15, ’16 spoke to the Williston community about a lesson she has learned over time, “a fundamental challenge in life is the construction of a meaningful identity.”

Lamothe introduced her talk entitled, “There are Mountains Beyond Mountains So Put on Your Travelling Shoes,” as a journey through identities she has studied, personal memories of her family’s immigration experience, her academic research on the Harlem Renaissance, and the lyrics of a Montreal-based indie rock band.

Rosedale, Queens, New York
The daughter of Haitian immigrants, Lamothe grew up surrounded by Haitian food, culture, and religion.  When family members and friends from her parent’s village immigrated they all bought houses in such proximity they recreated the community they had left.

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