It’s Game On in the Middle School

Every Tuesday after the last bell rings, the focus and concentration on display in Room 208 at the Middle School has nothing to do with homework.

The students are participating in Masters of Strategy, a popular winter MASC (Masters After-School Classroom) program offering.

The class is a board gamer’s dream come true, with students playing rounds of chess, Sorry, Jenga, Forbidden Island and Scrabble. As Rory Greenfield ’27 tells it: “Think of a board game, it’s probably there.” 

Paul Friedman, middle school humanities teacher, is the advisor and more importantly, an aficionado. “I have fond memories of being able to play board games at break and lunch in middle school due to the kindness of a former teacher,” he explained.

The group is made up of about a dozen students in grades 5 through 8. Depending on the game, they break up into smaller groups. “I enjoy providing students an opportunity to play and learn about different kinds of games,” Friedman said.

“I like that you have a lot of freedom,” Greenfield said. “It's a lot of fun because you get to hang out with your friends and play games.”

One of the recent main draws has been Dungeon & Dragons, the well-known tabletop role-playing game. “It allows the students to have a way to express themselves and create a narrative,” Friedman said. At the same time, it teaches students to “follow rules, take turns, not talk over each other, and not sabotage the narrative for others.”

While Mia Wang ’28 dabbles in other games, she mostly sticks to D&D. “You get to live in a fantasy world,” she said. “You’re allowing your imagination to do things, which is one of the best parts. You can be a wizard who casts spells, or you can be a cleric who can heal people. You can be a lot of things.”

Logan Dundas ’26 is also a big D&D fan. He enjoys the collaborative storytelling in the game and points to its other benefits. “It has proven it can really help you — it boosts grades and exercises your creativity,” he explained. “And this is a really great time in my week to have some free time after school with my friends.”

Head of Middle School Tasha Elsbach couldn’t agree more. “It’s an awesome space,” she said. “Wonderful camaraderie!”