From August to February, the #ASHexperience on campus was one of familiarity, traditions and anticipated events. In March, life for most of the world (although for some countries this happened earlier) was turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic - one that we are all very much still living through. Our ASH community is enjoying a well-deserved summer break, after a rollercoaster year but it is a year that the spirit and integrity of ASH shone through. Over the summer break weeks, we are going to be highlighting “the year that was…” in our different school divisions and areas of activity, from beginning the year on campus, to our swift transition to the virtual learning environment, to then being able to finish the school year with a blended learning model.
Today we are looking back on and celebrating the year that was in the… middle school! These learners are at such an important phase of their education journey, we love hearing what they and their teachers are up to in their #ASHexperience.
The school year began for our middle schoolers with one of the hallmark programs of the #ASHexperience - Project Week. Each grade travels to a different part of the Netherlands; Apeldoorn, Oldebroek, Ameland, and Soest, engaging in experiences designed to facilitate personal and interpersonal development. A range of community building and adventure-style activities creates opportunities for students to overcome personal and physical challenges, develop independence and resilience while strengthening established relationships and developing new ones. To read all about each grade’s experiences click here.
Another important tradition our middle schoolers look forward to each year is being part of Color House and the assemblies held throughout the course of the year. This program is designed to help build our community and give students a sense of belonging and ownership in their #ASHexperience. Check out some of the observations from the first assembly of the year here.
Service learning forms an integral part of our entire program here at ASH no matter your age or grade level. This year our seventh graders in middle school had the opportunity to volunteer at the Food Bank of The Hague, putting in action the lessons they have been learning in their advisory classes on food, nutrition and poverty in the world. To learn more about their experiences and hear from some of the students about the impact this had on their own understanding of the world around them and the benefits of service learning, please click here.
Our grade six students also had the chance to apply lessons learned in class to a “real life scenario”. In their social studies classes, they investigated putting together museum exhibitions and how a museum is operated, ultimately leading to the creation of their own museum on campus (unfortunately this was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic). In December, they were lucky to be visited by Menno Meijerink from the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (the National Museum of Antiquities), who gave them all kinds of tips and insider knowledge. Read all about these here.
In March, ASH transitioned to the virtual learning environment and our middle schoolers met this challenge head on. We have so many amazing examples of the learning and experiences from this time of VLE. They demonstrate how our middle schoolers embraced the change in learning environment and were not deterred by these uncertain times. One such example involves our mathletes and their success in the Noetic Learning Math Contest, with 119 students competing and enjoying amazing results.
The school year finished with a combination of VLE and on-campus learning, as government guidelines enabled us to provide this blended learning experience for the last week and a half for our middle schoolers. Even though it wasn’t for very long, it was amazing to see our students in person once again. We did have to pivot and alter our end of year traditions such as the final Color House of the year and the grade 8 promotion ceremony, but it was still incredible to all harness our new virtual skills and be able to celebrate our students!