Home of the Wildcats

Cultural Immersion

On April 17-21, Ms. Khasanova’s grade 8 French students (34) and parent chaperones (13), took an annual 4-day trip to Canada to cultivate their educational experience. This annual trip to Québec, the cradle of French civilization in North America, is a great destination for immersing oneself in French culture, learning the French language, and exploring over 400 years of unique history!

Upon arriving in Québec City, the travelers stretched their legs on an informational walking tour of Old Québec. Next, they watched a re-creation of a deploy of armies featuring an amazing historical sound and light show at the Musée du Fort. In the evening, students dined on excellent French cuisine at the D’Orsay Restaurant in the heart of Québec City and ended the day with some nighttime swimming on the rooftop of The Delta Québec Hotel.

Day two began with a very fancy and elegant breakfast at Le Parlementaire, the restaurant of l’Assemblee Nationale. On a tour of the Parliament of Québec, the students learned about the politics that govern the province. Cameras in hand, students engaged in an exciting Photos Rally Game competition. We also visited Parc de la Chute Montmorency, with its 487 steps to admire the beauty of the falls, which are higher than Niagara Falls! Also on the itinerary was a tour of the magnificent Basilique Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, with its numerous chapels, mosaics, stained glass windows, and sculptures; some singing and dancing at a Caban à Sucre; and a ferry boat ride on the mighty St. Lawrence River.

The final full day of the Canadian excursion began with some traditional French crêpes. Then students and chaperones boarded the busses for Montréal--with tours of the spectacular Notre-Dame Basilica and the Olympic Tower, the tallest inclined tower in the world! Prior to embarking on the trip back to the US on day four, final stops included the lookout on Mount Royal, a visit to Cafe Graffiti, and perusing Montreal’s HUGE underground mall!

Merci, Madame, pour cette incroyable expérience culturelle!

canada group pic in front of notre dame

Author Visits

The welcome signs, the book groups, ducks, goldfish, and loons graced bulletin boards. A black-out poet tree, a writing workshop, and thank you cards were all part of getting ready for two renowned visiting children’s book authors.

Cynthia Lord’s visit was special in many ways. As the Newbery Honor, Great Stone Face Award and Schneider Family Award winners for her debut book Rules, she connected with our fifth and sixth students. When she shared that the main character of Rules, who has autism, is based on her real life son, several students felt so comfortable with her that they shared some of their own personal stories.

students with author Cynthia Lord

When it comes to her writing, Cindy was quite honest about the difficulty of revising and how many times you may have to re-write your story before it becomes the finished product. She shared a page marked up by her editor, and told students that it is what makes her a better writer, and not to see edits as a failure. We all loved learning that the goldfish on the cover of the book was originally a pirate until the editor said a duck would sell more books! Lastly, she shared the cover of her new book. All we can say is we loved seeing all the pictures of her baby bunnies.

Our seventh and eighth graders created a collage of blackout poems in honor of Jordan Sonnenblick’s visit and National Poetry Month, based on pages from his books. Some of the words left on the blacked out pages were quite unique. The artwork was colorful and creative.

The inspiration students felt from Jordan’s story about how he came to write his debut title, Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie was silent enough to hear a pin drop. One of the messages Jordan left for us all is reflected in this quote from the book: “And if there was one thing I'd finally figured out, it was that your mind is something you always CAN change.” The true path to happiness is to find something you love and make it happen. Find your inspiration.

Both authors have much in common, including being friends with one another. Their first books were written about someone in particular, and to fill a void on a topic where there were no other books written for middle schoolers. Jordan’s book was written because one of his student’s in his eighth grade class (yes, he used to be a teacher), was struggling with the fact that her brother was diagnosed with a serious form of cancer--leukemia. She hid this struggle by having super friendship powers and made everyone in class laugh while she was crying inside. There were no books for her to relate her situation to, so Jordan wrote Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie in little over twelve weeks! Cindy’s book was the first in 2005 to address the autism experience from the eyes of a sibling. These authors' perseverance and inspiration are worth celebrating!