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Camp Kanuga: Mountain Trail Outdoor School

What’s the fastest way to bond with dozens of Fifth Graders? Spend three days with them in the rainy wilderness of Hendersonville, NC! From Monday morning through Wednesday afternoon, the Fifth Grade students, teachers, and a few additional faculty members slept, ate, canoed, hiked, played, learned, and laughed at Camp Kanuga’s Mountain Trail Outdoor School. The constant drizzle didn’t dampen the kids’ spirits, and the adults were proud of the positive attitudes displayed even when shoes (and all other clothing items) were soaked. The MTOS staff members were incredibly kind and patient 100% of the time, mealtimes were enjoyable, facilities were great, and the kids seemed to truly enjoy the company of their classmates. Below are a few images from our wet and wild adventure!


Changes: Moving into the Teen Years

Update: Due to an unforeseen conflict, the “Changes: Growing into the Teen Years” presentation about adolescent development has been postponed to Thursday, May 7 from 2:00-3:00

This Thursday, April 30, all Fifth Grade students will participate in the “Changes: Moving into the Teen Years” program. Nurse Keri Caldwell and I will speak to the girls; a physician who is a Westminster parent will speak to the boys. Information shared with both classrooms will come largely from the Procter & Gamble “Always Changing” program. We will answer questions related to topics covered in the Fifth Grade curriculum. If students have questions beyond the scope of the program, they will be encouraged to talk to parents and other trusted adults at another time. Although seeking information from friends is encouraged when the topic is homework or Field Day, that is not the practice we encourage when it comes to the topic of puberty. Well-intentioned friends providing misinformation leads to confusion…. and being a preteen is confusing enough!

Also, students will be instructed not to discuss the information they receive in the vicinity of younger siblings. It is a privilege to reach the milestone of the “puberty talk,” and it’s not the task of the Fifth Graders to educate younger children.

Thank you to parents who attended last night’s preview session. If anyone has questions before or after Thursday’s presentation, I am available by phone or email. Also, parents interested in checking out books on puberty in our professional library should contact Mr. Martin or Mrs. Cushing or stop by GWL.

Top 5 Friday: India, smoothies, and a 5K

What a great week in Love Hall! Here are four things that made your children and their teachers smile and one that we’re looking forward to!

5. India Day: Second Graders celebrated the culmination of their studies on India today with food, music, dance, trivia questions, and crafts. Students rotated through the four classrooms, learning non-stop from parents and grandparents who volunteered to share about their culture. Teachers and some students dressed in traditional Indian attire. It was such a fun morning!

India Day!

India Day!

India Day April 2015

celebrating India Day with a candle craft


4. Fun with Food and FLIK: During Tuesday morning’s Town Hall meeting for parents, Westminster’s Director of Dining Services, Terrence Dromm, and Executive Chef Eric Centeno shared with attendees a wealth of information about the lunches they create for the school. The chicken parmesan on Monday’s menu? Hormone-free, hand-breaded chicken. The tomato sauce? Made from scratch. The brussels sprouts your child hopefully tried recently? A request from a student. FLIK does a ton of programming with the students; if your child tried the black beans available during the celebration of the black bean, he or she received a sticker and a recipe card. Also, FLIK’s wonderful intern, Ms. Busby, worked with Student Council members to educate students about food waste and how to reduce it in our Hamilton Room.

An added bonus at the Town Hall meeting — attendees were treated to a tasty and healthy smoothie made right before our eyes! Thank you, Chef Eric. Also, don’t forget to check out upcoming menus online!

Chef Eric and Mr. McKnight

Chef Eric and Mr. McKnight delight attendees with smoothies all around!


3. Be Responsible: On Thursday morning, Mrs. Plunkett and Ms. Jagger’s Fifth Grade classes taught the rest of the school all about responsibility. The audience enjoyed the older students’ take on well-known fables such as “The Ant and the Grasshopper” and “The Little Red Hen.” Mr. Chalmers and Mrs. Doster lent their expertise to the classes throughout rehearsals and during the assembly. Great job, everyone!

Be Responsible!

Be Responsible!


2. A Sublime way to start the day: He’s so humble that he won’t want recognition for his contributions to the happiness of the Love Hall faculty & staff, so I won’t reveal the name of the male Science teacher who brought Sublime Donuts to school this morning. He also wouldn’t want to receive any thanks for the bagels he provides on some Fridays. And he definitely wouldn’t want praise for the pancakes he’s cooked on a griddle in the faculty lounge. So, let’s leave it as a simple thank you to one of the teachers who cares for not only your children but also his co-workers.

Sublime Donuts? Yes please!

Sublime Donuts? Yes please!


1. Girls rule! Tomorrow morning at Georgia Tech, approximately 20 female Wildcats will run their hearts out in the Girls on the Run 5K. If you’re not familiar with GOTR, take a few minutes and check out their website. Parent coaches, Becky McKnight, and other adult leaders have been teaching a wonderful curriculum and running with the girls for the past few months. Rain or shine, they’ll be running tomorrow! Best of luck, girls!

Have a wonderful, safe weekend!

Executive Functioning GOAL group in Fifth Grade

All Lower School Wildcats are taking part in GOAL (Growth Opportunities for All Learners) groups this year. Yesterday was the final group meeting for the First Grade group that Nancy Lamb and I were privileged to facilitate, and we were very proud of our group members for their listening skills and improvement in following directions the first time a teacher gives them. Throughout our time with the students, we used games and activities to help them practice, practice, practice their listening skills. The next round of GOAL groups will begin in the coming weeks.

GOAL group, listening, UNO

UNO isn’t just a game — it’s listening to rules, planning, strategizing, reacting, and following directions!


Fifth Graders have begun their second round of GOAL, and I am again privileged to facilitate a group. I have eight eager Fifth Graders ready to work on their executive functioning skills. We’ll gather in my room for approximately 12 meetings before spring break. Tuesday’s initial meeting was honest, fun, and eye-opening. The students filled out a self-assessment in their workbooks, and they discussed their strengths and weaknesses related to writing in their agendas/planning books. One student reported, “I don’t have to write anything down because my mom remembers everything for me.” Although students agreed that it’s nice for parents to help children remember which days are soccer practices and when big projects are due, they admitted that it’s time for them to be responsible and take ownership of their schedule. They need to plan out their long-term projects. They need to keep track of extracurricular commitments. They need to keep their classroom cubbies organized. They need to quickly prioritize assignments. Sixth grade teachers — and future employers — will not accept the “my mom forgot to tell me to do it” excuse.

Executive Functioning is a GOAL group that teaches specific organization and management skills for success at school. Throughout the sessions, students will learn about effective materials management, time management and planning, study strategies, goal setting, decision making and problem solving, and how to use their own learning strengths as an advantage in school. Our objective for this group is to build a firm foundation of the particular systems and behaviors that are the building blocks for success in school and in life.

GOAL, 5th gr, 1-13-15

How well do you manage your time? Let’s self-assess!

Behind the scenes at the pageant

This morning’s Christmas pageant was magical. How do almost 500 young children arrive in their correct places, on their correct risers, in their correct costumes? The planning and preparation by music teachers Maxine Smith and Becky Doster, a team of parents, and faculty and staff leading up to such a precisely timed event is unbelievable. The students diligently rehearse, memorizing their songs and spoken lines and how to walk very slowly. 🙂 Below are two behind-the-scenes moments before the beautiful pageant began. Great job, Wildcats!

a parent reading to First Graders on the steps to Malone Dining Hall before the pageant

a cute Pre-First pairing ready to process to McCain

The Christmas season begins!


In all of the excitement surrounding the bold fashion statements by faculty and staff members yesterday, I forgot to write about my favorite holiday craft from all of the classroom holiday parties. Mrs. Jackson and Mr. Alberty’s Fifth Grade students used felt and soft stuffing material to make pillows. One of the students and his family plan to donate the pillows to a good cause.

pillow 1

Merry Christmas, Happy holidays, and Happy New Year to all!

See you in 2015!

Art and Science Collaboration

Have you seen the beautiful display surrounding the doors to the front office? Read this blog post from Fifth Grade Science teacher Ms. Linkon for more information about this beautiful artwork!

Fifth Grade Science at Westminster

During our first unit on Ecosystems, students built and maintained living ecosystems in the classroom in addition to researching and learning about common pollutants found in the Atlanta area. Using their research, students designed and carried out pollution experiments to assess how these pollutants might affect an ecosystem.

This year students have also had the opportunity to become working scientists by testing water here on campus (in addition to testing samples from their own neighborhoods) to assess the health of local water sources. We are sharing the data with Lucy Mejia, a graduate student at Georgia State. She will guide them throughout the year in analyzing their data. However, I wanted to find a culminating activity to formally end our unit as we begin to move on to other areas of study.

As a culminating project, students have created an art installation which you will see outside the front office…

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Fifth Grade infantry museum field trip

Last Thursday, the Fifth Grade students visited the National Infantry Museum in Columbus. From our 7:30am departure from the summer camp to our return at 4:00pm, it was a spectacular day. The students’ behavior was excellent as our docents toured us through the museum. The gentleman leading our group enhanced our day by recalling stories of his time in Vietnam as the students listened respectfully. The museum itself is absolutely incredible; its multiple galleries are beautiful, organized, thorough, interactive, and thought-provoking. I highly recommend taking the time to drive two hours and spend the day there.









Out of the office 9/15-9/17

I am thankful to be part of the group chaperoning the Fifth Grade overnight trip to Camp McDowell in Nauvoo, Alabama next Monday 9/15 through Wednesday 9/17. My classes will be covered by Julie Boggs and Jill Allen.

It is likely that I’ll check my school email at night. So that I have time to thoughtfully respond to emails on a laptop, though, I will wait until Thursday 9/18 to respond. Thank you for understanding!

Fifth Grade Civil Rights museum

Since the end of January, Fifth Grade students have been engaged in a Project Based Learning (PBL) unit focused on the Civil Rights Movement. Teachers created an interdisciplinary curriculum that guided students towards designing an exhibit about key events, important places, and major figures of the Civil Rights Movement. Today their studies culminated in exhibits on display in the Hamilton Room.

Topics for their individual or group displays included economic rights, ordinary people changing the world (Brown vs. Board, Little Rock Nine, Rosa Parks), Freedom Songs and the role music played during the Civil Rights Movement, voter registration and the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments, civil disobedience, Freedom Riders, Jim Crow, and the passage of Civil Rights Act of 1964.

See some of the students’ work below. Well done, Fifth Graders!

The Little Rock Nine approaching Central High School

The Little Rock Nine approaching Central High School


March on Washington

The March on Washington


A tribute to Rosa Parks

A tribute to Rosa Parks (notice the “before” bus and the “after” bus and where the riders are sitting)


March on Washington

The March on Washington


Here We Are All Together

Here We Are All Together