Division 2 Students Respond to Meridian's New Cell Phone Policy

By 8th grader Luca

This year, for the first time since Meridian was founded, cell phones and music are no longer permitted within school hours on school property. When the new rule was announced, there were many different responses from the Meridian student body. Many students felt that the teachers were doing this as punishment for past actions, but the faculty stated otherwise. The students had respected previous policies well, they said, but over the summer, teachers did research on how cell phones change the environment of schools and how listening to music while doing work decreases productivity. In order to explain this research to the school community, Science teacher Stephanie Kinkel and Humanities teacher Catherine Epstein created this animated video. We’re now about a month into the school year, and I checked in with my fellow Division 2 – or 8th grade – students to see how folks have been feeling about the policy.

The first person I talked to was Merrick, a new 8th grader at Meridian. She believes that this rule is actually helpful. “Not having your phone in front of you all the time really is less distracting. At my old school, everyone had their phones out and that made it a lot harder to not procrastinate.” Merrick also brought up that when it's enforced for everyone, it is much easier to follow. Some other students agreed with this point, saying that they don’t feel the pressure to always check their phone when they’re just not allowed to.

Although some students agree with the rule, many do not, including 8th graders Elliot and Noah. “It’s terrible! When I want to check the homework portal or use a calculator because I forgot my computer, I can’t!” Elliot said. “Plus, music helps me focus and get motivated to do my work! The rule is totally unfair.” Noah agreed that yes, music helps him drown out the people around him, and that it's a helpful tool. Merrick, along with 8th grader Lila, also mentioned that the banning of music during work time was the one part of the rule that really irritated them.

At this point, it seems that the controversy is less around whether or not students should be able to use their phones, but more if they can listen to music while they work. Many students say they just want to listen to music, citing that it is creative expression and it it helps them focus, relax, and feel motivated to work. The students and faculty will continue discussing the current policy, and students will have an opportunity to air their feedback at an all-school assembly in January.

Division Three Takes a Trip: An Adventure on Boston’s Freedom Trail

By 9th grader Maya

On a warm Wednesday a few weeks ago, the entire Division 3 class went to Boston’s famous Freedom Trail. Although many students had been there before, I had never had the chance to go. As a part of exploring how history is told, each of us was given a single site on the trail to study. This trip was a bit of a fact-finding mission where we had to pay attention to our specific site in preparation for exploring what stories were told and what stories were not. Because of this focus, I like to think I got a special tour because of all the weird and obscure questions we were asking.

We started off at the Boston Common, which happens to be my site for the project. From there, we continued to the State House, learning about the massive amount of gold it took to cover the dome. Our tour guide played the character of Thomas Hutchinson the Third, a loyalist during the revolution – as it turns out, Copley and Ruggles were also named after loyalists – and a descendant of Puritan spiritual advisor Anne Hutchinson. The tour guide was very interactive and funny, but rarely stayed in character. He would often use students to demonstrate events, like the Boston Massacre.

Because of the character our guide played, and maybe just how curious our class is, we got to see a really different side of Boston history. Was the Boston Massacre really just someone yelling “Fire!” a little too loudly? Is history absolute? Our guide really drove home the fact that every person whom he works with would tell a different story, which was a fitting lesson for our Humanities course this year: American Historiography.

Building Community: My First Trip to Camp Becket

By Division 1 student Sky

Recently, Meridian took its annual overnight trip to Camp Becket. Our journey began at 5:30am with a three-hour bus ride. Arriving to a misty and chilly morning, we got started by playing games as an entire school and then broke off into small groups to do collaborative activities.  Two activities that I really enjoyed were Camouflage and the high ropes course, but it was the high ropes course that proved to be the biggest challenge for me.  

To get to the ropes course, we had to hike for quite a long time, and when we finally got there, I thought I was too tired to do it. But our group leader, Ola, convinced me to try. There were two different courses, and I did the second one with my partner Yasein. The course looked like a huge ladder, with rungs made out of planks of wood and each one about three feet apart in height. They were connected with a long loose rope on each side, and if you pushed two planks out in opposite directions until the ropes were tight, they were about three feet apart in width. You and your partner had to climb to the top. Of course we had harnesses with rope which the people working there held onto, so that there was no chance of falling, but I was still terrified.

Eventually, Yasein and I worked out a system: I would hold the next plank out so that it was about three feet away. Then Yasein would hold onto the plank above his head and swing onto the plank I was holding and hoist himself up. He would then do the same thing I had done so I could (clumsily, it felt like) pull myself onto the plank. We soon made our way up the course, going at a steady pace. We had to stop before we got to the top because we ran out of time, but we made it far enough to touch the final plank.

The view from up there was fantastic, but looking down was very scary. I very proud of myself because at the beginning I was so scared I thought I might not do it. I didn’t want to come back down because it was so nice up there, and I was scared of letting go so they could lower me down. But I finally did, and it was a very pleasant descent.

That evening the whole school gathered around a campfire and made s’mores. We sang songs, like “Believer” by Imagine Dragons, with students on the ukulele and Jon, my MST teacher, on the fiddle. As a new student, singing “Believer” made me feel connected to the community and I’m excited to go back to Becket next year!

Spirit Week: A Fun, Competitive, and Entertaining Time for All!

By Division I Media & Journalism reporter Zayna

For five days each year, Meridian celebrates what we call “Spirit Week.” For the first four days of the week, everyone dresses up in a different theme each day. This year, the themes were  Evil Doppelgänger, Monochromatic, Dress Like a Meridianite, and Twins and Triplets. On Evil Doppelgänger day, students and teachers dressed like nefarious version of themselves. They wore black, chokers, make-up, wigs, fishnet tights, and more! On Monochromatic Day, we each wear only one color, and get bonus points for socks and shoes. On Dress Like a Meridianite Day, each person dresses like another person in the Meridian community. On Twins and Triplets Day, people work in pairs or trios to dress identically.

Following these costumed days, the competition gets serious at Field Day, which includes games like soccer, tug-of-war, and obstacle courses. That takes up about half the day, and then we eat foods like watermelon, crackers, Goldfish, pretzels, cookies, and juice. Finally, Josh buys everyone ice cream from an ice cream truck.

Teams are split up by Community Groups, multi-age groups that students stay in for their whole time at Meridian. Community Groups get points for dressing up and then for every game they win on Field Day. The team who wins gets a trophy, a 3-D printed Cuttlefish, which is the Meridian mascot.  

This year, the all-school winners were The Rangos, and their victory gave the group much to reflect upon. “Over the centuries-long history of Spirit Week, the Rangos have seen many triumphs and challenges,” said Nathan, The Rangos leader. “From our early days of group formation through our steady First Friday Food showing, the Rangos have proven time and time again that we are a powerful force at Meridian. Although winning the Cuttlefish Cup on Field Day was quite an achievement, we refuse to be defined by this moment and will continue to raise the bar for what it means to be a Community Group at Meridian.”

Challenge accepted, Rangos!

 

Sea Perch: A Real-World Experience of the Scientific Process

By Division I Media & Journalism reporter Elliot

Many classes at Meridian change year to year, but Sea Perch is an annual project for Division II MST students. For this endeavor, groups of 8th graders engineer and create a remotely operated submarine.

First, student pairs come up with a question that they strive to answer through submarine experiments at the Charles River. Some students collect water samples and test it for nitrates and phosphates, while others study the current differences. With this data, they write a lab report about how they got the water samples and the results. As MST student Emi said, “Sea Perch is a unique and an interesting learning tool that helps us as students really learn more about the scientific process.”

 

With a "Front Pages Project," Division I Analyzes Contemporary News

By Division I Media & Journalism reporter Lila

In the final trimester of Media & Journalism, Division I's Humanities class, students analyzed how contemporary news is reported. First, each student was assigned a different news outlet -- like The New York Times, The BBC, or The National Review -- and took screenshots of its front page every day for one week. They also recorded the top four headlines and bylines from that front page. Then, students split into three groups that focused on examining issues of race, gender or topics reported.

The race group focused on questions like: "How many front page stories are by reporters of color?" and "How many people of color are featured in photographs?" The gender group concentrated on questions like "How many media outlets are owned by women?" and "How many front page headlines mention women's names?" The topics group explored questions like: "How many times does the word 'Trump' come up in headlines?" and "How many front page headlines reference violence?" After all of this data collecting, each group created an infographic -- some on the computer, and some by hand -- to share their findings with the community at Exhibitions. Click on the images below to see larger images of their completed work!

Zoos, Farms, and Writing Centers: Seniors Gain Experience at Internships

By Division I Media & Journalism reporter Jesse

For the last few weeks of the year, the school building has almost seemed empty. This is because most of the seniors are off doing internships for credit, rather than taking classes, for the last month of school. The internships range in location and focus, and are geared toward the individual interests of each student.

Max interns at 826 Boston, where he tutors kids in reading. Tara is at a farm in Maine. Twyla is working at the Franklin Park Zoo. Madi helps with research, teaching, and organization at the United Nations Association of Greater Boston. As Max said, the experience of interning outside school is extremely valuable: “It does a good job of contextualizing the work you do at Meridian.” He mentioned only a few downsides, particularly that there is still an interesting curriculum for his classmates, which he doesn’t get to experience, and that it feels a little strange returning to Meridian while he’s working elsewhere.

Finally, Max described how, because it is so different from school, and it’s very challenging, interning helps them feel like there is something new and exciting to do all the way up until they graduate.

A Worthwhile Challenge: Division III Produces "Twelfth Night"

By Division I Media & Journalism reporter Luca

Throughout the school year, Division III Humanities students explored the art of storytelling. Because Shakespeare is one of the greats, students spent the final trimester memorizing, rehearsing, and designing one of his greatest and most famous plays, Twelfth Night. Emmanuel, a senior who co-directed the production with Humanities teacher Kevin, said of the production, “It’s been a wonderful experience. Everyone's pretty good at staying on-top of things, even when there is a little bit of stress.”

Nadia, a 9th grader who’s playing Viola, speaks fondly of Emmanuel’s support: “Without the spicy comments from Emmanuel and all of their help, I don’t know if the show would even be running.” While Twelfth Night is a beautiful show and fun to perform, the performers acknowledged that memorizing the older style of English can be very challenging. As 9th grader Tempest, who plays Olivia, explained, “It’s really cool to perform, but the language is a lot harder than [the modern plays we often do].” Following months of preparation, the performance was held June 9th in the Parish Hall. Click through the pictures avicw to see the fruits of the students’ labor!

Printmaking: Not Just for Paper!

By Division I Media & Journalism reporter Esmé

For the third and final trimester of the school year, some Division I students have the opportunity to take printmaking. One of the projects they did was creating clay stamps. First, they generated designs to put on the stamps, and then they carved them onto clay blocks. Following this, they used these stamps to create custom-stamped cookies and pasta.

Next, they worked to create designs carved on soft cut linoleum, which is a rubbery surface that is soft and easy to manipulate. The designs are interlocking patterns, which means they can be continued because the edges are the same on both sides. They are using these to print rectangles consisting of the designs they created repeated six times.

Art teacher Emily, who led the class, explained, “I enjoy teaching this class because students are so enthusiastic at each step of the process and it makes me just want to keep going.” When I asked 6th grader Zayna about her experience, her comments reflected this enthusiasm: “Printmaking is interesting, fun, and relaxing. At the same time, the finished product is beautiful.” 

 

Skulls, Whales, and Darwin: Division II Explores Harvard's Natural History Museum

By Division I Media & Journalism reporter Phoebe

As part of their learning about evolution and biology this trimester, Division II took a field trip to The Harvard Natural History Museum in Cambridge. As science teacher Stephanie explained, the trip enriched the students’ learning throughout the year, which is focused on marine science. This covers both algebra and a variety of scientific subjects, ranging from ecology to conservation biology. They read Sean B. Carroll’s Into The Jungle: Great Adventures in the Search for Evolution and learned about how other scientists contributed to Darwin’s famous theory, as well as many examples of adaptations in different environments.  

During their field trip, students were granted special access to an area not open to the public, called the stacks. There, they looked at examples of evolution and how species and animals adapted to survive.

Students were also invited to see the collection held by the Museum of Comparative Zoology’s Mammalogy department. They were greeted by curatorial assistant Mark Omura, who walked them through how scientists utilize the specimens for their research.  

They went to other exhibits also, including one on skulls. As students Emi and Juanzi described, “When you looked up, there was a giant whale skeleton above your head.” They said the trip was “exhilarating” and “fascinating.” By the end of the trip, students’ minds were expanded with all that learning -- you could even say they evolved!