Academic Engagement – Grades 9 and 10 Spanish
One of the main objectives for students in the process of learning Spanish is to create a confident environment where they can learn and practice listening and speaking Spanish as a second language through writing and reading. Students in 9/10 Spanish classes have been learning to hone these skills this year! Students have come far in their abilities to ask and answer questions as well as converse in Spanish. Most recently, they have started to learn how to create more complex statements that use direct and indirect object pronouns and phrasing that allow them to speak in multiple time frames.
Students have been challenged to apply knowledge through conversations, reading comprehension and listening comprehension activities. There have also been, of course, writing activities that have included both dictations and working to apply new material in both sentences and paragraphs. Finally, students have worked on verbally describing pictures, another essential skill for success in IB Spanish. The lessons are taken from a Spanish manual (Método Cuauhnahuac – a natural language acquisition program) and web sites. The social-cultural aspect has been relevant in this process, as the teaching of Mexican traditions, historical events and American celebrations have had students investigate, in Spanish, information so they can speak about them.
Upcoming project work will include describing Spring traditions in Mexico and in the US, to include looking at the importance of pyramids to Mexican culture and Easter celebrations. Students will need to apply pronunciation work, grammatical structures, and learned vocabulary to successfully tackle this task.
Each class, our students have 65 minutes of learning completely in the target language. While this can be exhausting, it is the best way to refine skills and build confidence! It is important that students and parents work together to create the habit of reading texts in Spanish to support continued progress.
Character Development – Integrity!
As a senior and lifelong student at the Teton Science Schools, if there is one thing I can tell you about my experience moving into my years in the International Baccalaureate Program, it’s that it’s not easy. It never is. I’ve talked to a number of students in the grades before me about their experiences as well as my own classmates’ experiences, and there is one thing you will always hear… It’s a LOT OF WORK! It takes a lot of getting used to. It’s not just another two years of high school until you graduate. You have to be willing to put in the work, and a lot of it. Grit and perseverance may be the two most important attributes to have when it comes to starting and eventually finishing your time in IB. Without this I would have been lost. All you have to remember at the end of the day is, that’s all it takes to get through your work, and feel a sense of accomplishment and pride after the fact. I wouldn’t feel right telling anyone that IB is an easily manageable thing to do, because it’s not. But I feel confident telling someone that if you are willing to drive yourself to do better, and truly care about your work, it’s more than achievable. The most important thing that I could tell someone about IB is that it’s up to you. Of course, your teachers will always be there to help you succeed because they want to see you succeed just as much as you do, but it’s also not possible without putting in the work yourself. If you can truly dedicate yourself and sometimes a little extra time out of your day to doing good work, the International Baccalaureate Program will always be to your advantage. It’s there to make you smarter, and truly prepare you for the next steps in your life, but it can only do that if you’re willing to dedicate yourself too.
Community Focus – Our Upper School Community
In mid February the entire Upper School spent the week at Kelly Campus in Grand Teton National Park for the annual winter journey. This was the first time students and faculty have been able to return to this tradition at Kelly since before the Covid-19 pandemic and it was a joy to bring it back! Students spent time in 9/10 and 11/12 cohorts and both employed the scientific method in their experiences at Kelly. Freshmen and sophomores engaged in programming with TSS Field Educators who led students through explorations of plant and animal adaptations in different habitat types as well as snow science. Most of these days were spent primarily outdoors and despite the cold temperatures, morale and engagement remained high among all students! Juniors and seniors completed the International Baccalaureate Group 4 Project, an interdisciplinary science project where biology, physics, and Environmental Systems and Societies students collaborated on an investigation of their design. Seniors designed scientific experiments around the theme “Human Anatomy & Physiology” while juniors’ experiments inquired about “Aspects of Snow.” In each of their small groups, students employed effective teamwork, consistent focus and hard work, and particularly strong science in their investigations. Their final products – presentations – were quite impressive! During free time students organized and played games – “Ninja” was an especially big hit! In the evenings, students and faculty engaged in conversations about the 3Ts – Try Hard, Take Responsibility, and Treat with Respect – as well as community building activities. Seeing the buy-in from every individual on this journey was incredible and inspiring. The Upper school Community is certainly stronger for it.
“Welcome to Mountain Academy, Raleigh,” said one of my teachers as I entered the Upper School building. I was handed my name tag and chose a cubby. I walked around the school and saw Chloe, whom I had shadowed when I visited the school. She welcomed me and introduced me to her friends.
Coming from a small school in Pittsburgh, with 45 students in my 8th grade class, to Mountain Academy, with less than 45 students in the high school, I was excited for the challenge of making new friends in a new place. The school I left was a second home of sorts, and I had concerns about starting over in Wyoming. My second week at Mountain Academy changed my perspective on what place-based education means. Before my second week, I had heard the expression and in my second week I learned what it meant. What happened in my second week? The journey. The journeys are the core of Teton Science Schools. On the first day of the journey, I had my doubts about sleeping in the woods with people I had just met, but don’t we all? I came into the journey with the intention of making it to the campus and creating new friendships. One of the most memorable and most funny experiences on the journey was cooking my last meal. I didn’t have high expectations; I knew I wasn’t a professional chef. The meal was supposed to be a lentil and rice stew. We ended up adding way too many lentils, not enough rice, and way too much salt. Seeing the look on everyone’s faces as they tried this was priceless. It was a real low point in my cooking career. The only obstacle that stopped us from not finishing this pot of stew was the fact that not finishing this pot meant we had to create what is known as a yum-yum bag. A yum-yum bag is a bear safe bag filled with all the uneaten food. You may be thinking “Why on earth is she talking about a disgusting pot of stew and a yum-yum bag?” Well, by the time we finished eating this stew, I’d bonded with these people. After that moment, I knew this place was going to become like home to me.