Capstone Projects Capture Hearts and Imagination

As a nod to their hard work, creativity and dedication, students in grades 5 to 7 wrapped up the academic year with inspiring year-end visual displays, presentations and performances.
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Billed as a celebration of journeys through seventh grade, families, classmates and faculty were invited to celebrate Journey Night on May 23. Humanities teachers Mary Chappell and Paul Friedman had given their seventh grade students this question to ponder: What events or new journeys changed me in a positive way? As evidenced by the array of projects, students expressed their self-discovery in a variety of clever and artistic ways.

“They had to reach back and think about what had an effect on them over the past year,” Chappell said. “It might have been something new that they learned that shocked them, it might have been something in history that they see repeating itself. They came up with five things that had an effect on them and designed a metaphorical object, place and exhibit that reflected that journey.”

The sixth grade students marked their yearlong study of the Hudson River with an entertaining morning presentation on May 25. Middle school music teacher and sixth grade dean Katie Meadows, English teacher Jennifer Rathkopf and art teacher Bruce Robbins directed the presentation. Students displayed landscape paintings and sculptures and performed poetry readings and folk songs. 

“The students create a song cycle that revolves around the life of an imagined resident of the Hudson Valley region,” Meadows explained. “They tell their story through song: ballads, lullabies, and game and working songs.”

Sixth graders have been learning about life on, in and around the Hudson River throughout the year: from their seining trip in the fall and a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art this winter to a recent visit to West Point for a Revolutionary War tour. 

Meadows said the students are ready for what lies ahead. “There was a big emphasis on collaboration this year, which will prepare them well for future collaborative endeavors in the seventh grade and beyond.”

Meanwhile, the School’s youngest students are also ready — to premiere the fifth grade puppet opera, “The Battle for the Golden Ankh,” on June 1. 

The puppet opera performance is a culmination of the fifth grade’s study of ancient Egypt and opera. Students write and perform an original opera about the lives of Egyptian gods and goddesses using handmade puppets of the deities they studied. Guiding them throughout the process are Middle School Performing Arts Coordinator Katie Meadows, humanities teacher Michaela Boller and art teacher Bruce Robbins.

“I am overjoyed with the creativity and imagination that has gone into this year’s fifth grade puppet opera production,” Robbins said. “Their original and funny story will surely bring smiles to families and friends. The students have learned so much and have come so far in this adventure of teamwork. This yearlong project involved much collaborative work in their English, history, science, music, and visual arts classes. I am very proud of each student’s effort and focus that made this interdisciplinary project successful.”