Celebrating Transitions

The end of the school year is a celebratory time of both endings and beginnings. As we transition into summer, our 8th graders, shown here on their annual trip to Colorado earlier this month, will all head to high school. They are moving on to a variety of public and private schools throughout the metro Atlanta area, including theatre arts and science magnet programs.  

We know they will enjoy great success. Our alums routinely tell us that they are well-prepared for the rigors of high school, having had an extraordinary intellectual experience as well as learning valuable study skills. And, of course, they are confident and unafraid to advocate for themselves.

Their High Meadows experience propels them to success throughout high school and into the next steps of their journey. Saya Abney '14 was named this year's valedictorian at Riverwood High School and was a National Merit Scholar semifinalist who will be attending UC Berkeley in the fall. This year's graduating alums are attending colleges across the nation (and the world), including Georgia Tech, Berklee College of Music, Cambridge University, and Washington University in St. Louis.

Our elementary years students are always excited to transition to our middle years program. Fourth and fifth grade students are well prepared by participating in rich academic experiences such as Exhibition, t he capstone of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program. Students use all the research, writing, and problem-solving skills they have learned as they explore a real-world problem and identify a possible solution.

Transitions are both exciting and challenging. But High Meadows students are especially ready and eager for what comes next in their lives. We celebrate with them as they move onward and upward! 

Have a great summer, 

Jay Underwood
Head of School

Underground Fires, Wheelchair Access, Food Waste, Saving Bees, and Distracted Driving - All Part of Exhibition Studies
Writing to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, spending a day in a wheelchair, teaching about saving bees, creating emergency kits for humans and pets, highlighting the dangers of distracted driving, giving tips to reduce food waste, explaining dyslexia, and asking why girls aren't allowed to play flag football are all actions 4th and 5th graders took in their recent Exhibition unit. Exhibition is an in-depth, collaborative, culminating unit of study that all International Baccalaureate World School students participate in throughout the world.
Students in the Needs of Learners group work on their Exhibition research.
"Exhibition is an exciting time of learning and taking action that comes as older elementary students begin to move from a self-centered view to a world view," said Kate McElvaney, Director of Educational Advancement. "Students design their own unit of inquiry as they examine a real-world problem, work with other students and teachers to explore solutions and ways to take action, and show what they have learned."

Exhibition at HM Began in 2007
High Meadows bega n participating in Exhibition in 2007. The unit provides students the opportunity to:
  • learn about a real-world problem and work with others toward solutions
  • exhibit themselves as learners, embodying all the attributes of the Learner Profile
  • demonstrate their ability to create their own learning experiences
  • apply the transdisciplinary skills they have acquired to a new collaborative learning experience
This year, Exhibition was part of the Who We Are unit which looks at beliefs and values, rights and responsibilities, and human relationships, among other concepts. Using those concepts as guide rails, the students and teachers spent several months exploring the world to identify possible ideas. After collecting evidence and discussing connections, they  developed a Central Idea which was  "Individuals and communities can create, identify, and solve problems." They then identified six areas of interest related to that idea:
Students researched their topic and developed the problem they wanted to address.
  • Natural Disasters
  • Food Waste and Hunger
  • Technology Use
  • Rights of People with Disabilities
  • Rights of Women
  • Needs of Learners
Learning From Others
The students determined which idea they wanted to explore and why and moved into groups. Each member l ooked at what they wanted to learn, how they best learn, and how to show what they learned. They researched the topic and de veloped the problem they wanted to address. Finally, they considered who they knew, where they could visit, and who they could talk with about what they were studying.
"I picked something I didn't know much about so I could go deeper and learn about it," said Jack S. (4th). "You  have to work hard and research. It makes a bigger impact that way."
McElvaney emphasized that Exhibition gives families the chance to talk about real-world problems and enhances children's understanding.
Students studying the Rights of People with Disabilities met a High Meadows parent to learn from her experiences.
"This gives parents a chance to share with their children what matters to them, what problems they see, and how they feel about them," she said. "Several students learned what their  parents do or discovered experiences they have had. Those learnings led to classes taking field trips or as well interviewing High Meadows community members to learn more about a particular topic."
These new experiences fueled student s' desire to learn even more about their topic.
"I learned what my mom does at work," said Harris S. (5th). "She works at a school for kids with special needs. The biggest influence this group has had on me is seeing the person before the disability."
A Mentor's Role in Learning
To help guide students on this learning journey, each inquiry group had a lead teacher and a me ntor. Counselor Sue Amacker mentored students studying Food Waste and Hunger. She met with them weekly, helping them learn how to research, find experts, interpret data, and work as a team.
A sampling of materials students developed to detail their solutions to real-world problems.
"I was impressed with their resp ectful attitudes and engagement in the process," she said. "Initially, my job was to guide them to understand the purpose and requirements of Exhibition. Working with their teacher leader, I helped them develop questions to guide their research and plan for their presentations. They learned about academic honesty and how to cite sources of information, something that will serve them well as they move to higher grades." 
Throughout Exhibition, students kept track of their learning, reflecting on the past week, and planning for th e next. Ultimately, they prepare to exhibit their research and learning to the school community. On Exhibition Night, students confidently shared their work and guided their visitors to see others' work.
A student presents her work to Ms. Jones, Associate Head of School and Lower Years Principal.
"Many of the four th graders were just as engaged as the fif th graders even though it wasn't a requirement for them to present what they learned," Amacker said. "That's an exam ple of how intrinsic motivation inspires children to learn what interests them instead of what they are told to learn. It was a joy for me to see them on Exhibition nig ht  all dressed up to celebrate as they proudly presented what they had learned to the school community."

Students Reflect on Their Learnings and Actions
For the final part of Exhibition, students reflected on what and how they learned as well as how they might continue to take action toward solutions to the problem they identified.
"I learned to connect one thing to another and write what I know from experience," said Gianna V. (5th). "I have learned to put myself in other people's shoes to help me learn."
Some students spent a day in a wheelchair to better understand challeges others face.
Davis S. (5th)  considered how he grew with his communication skills, specifically his non-verbal communication.   

Sage G. (4th)  said Exhibition made him think more about other peo ple.
Jack S. (4th) thinks he may continue his action over the summer by reaching out to children's book publishers to ask them to begin to publish books in the dyslexic font so that they will be easier for everyone to read.

A student discusses what she learned about landfill waste and the risks of underground fires. 
Lily M. (5th) studied landfill waste  and related submerged smoldering eve nts. On Exhibition Night, she  collected signatures for a petition she's sending to the director of the Environmental Protection Agency to encourage the department's continued focus on an underground fire in a West Lake, Missouri landfill. 

Bennett S. (5th) said, " I think that when I was in the wheelchair, I
influenced some students to realize how hard it w as. I am going to continue to tell people to recognize the person before the disability." 

Each student in the Rights of Women group created a magazine to showcase their problem and solutions.
Piper S. (4t h)  said, "We  took actio n and made  sure most of the campus is going to be accessible to people with physical disabilities. I learned everyone has something that you can't see from the surface."

Fran k E. (4t h) shared, "My biggest takeaway was that some people have to live through problems. When I was young I went to a fair and saw someone with a prosthetic  leg, and I was scared. But now I realize they are just like everyone else."

Ella M. (4th) said, "I wanted to help my sister be able to play flag football because it is important to her. I talked with the sports leader to ask why she couldn't, and he is goin g to consider it for next year."

4/5 Class Visits Roswell Mayor and City Councilmen
As part of their studies about government, the Irwin/Ivey 4th/5th grade class visited Roswell City Hall in late April. They met with Mayor Lori Henry and City Councilmen Sean Groer and Matt Judy to learn about their roles and visited City Hall Chambers, exploring the work that takes place there. They also participated in a mock vote, with some students serving as council members, one as mayor, and others as concerned citizens. Students looked into a courtroom and learned about the court system in Roswell and Atlanta.

A Student Art Gallery at Your Fingertips on Artsonia.com

More than 3,400 HM student art projects are showcased in an online gallery.
At High Meadows, Kindergarten - 5th grade students explore the Visual Arts, a powerful component in the development of the whole child and an important means for interpreting and understanding the world. Our art curriculum supports and enhances each grade level's Programme of Inquiry, whether through the lines of inquiry being explored or the learner attributes being used. Students' work develops naturally from a mixture of imagination, observations, experiences, feelings, value, and beliefs. Mediums include ceramics, sculpture, drawing, painting, printmaking, glass, and fiber arts.
Art teachers Brenda Major and Lynn Williams showcase each student's work on Artsonia.com, an online art gallery that grows year-to-year with the children. With each completed piece of art, students have explored powerful ideas embedded in artistic expression and experienced the world through the perspective of a different culture or place in time. They have practiced communicating thoughts, ideas, and feelings and inspiring action. They have experienced the role of creativity and imagination in understanding the world, whether they bio-engineered a new plant through the Design Thinking cycle or explored bio-luminescence and art materials to represent the phenomenon.
Check out the more than 3,400 High Meadows student art projects on Artsonia.com to see the range of artistic learning and expression.


What's exciting about wool? Everything! This year, Animal Care teacher Nanci Levine and Art teachers Brenda Major and Lynn Williams worked to connect students with High Meadows' farm roots and sustainability through a greater inclusion of our wooly animals in school curricula.

The planning and professional development needed to pull the program together has been happening for a few years. Ms. Levine and Ms. Williams attended lessons in spinning (using a spinning wheel, not a bike!). They then demonstrated spinning to interested teachers at all grade levels. 

Campus sheep Willow and Lulu play an important part in school curricula.
Also last year,  2nd/3rd grade students used some washed wool from campus sheep Lulu to
create felted ropes, which were incorporated into their Native American weavings. The Fiber Arts mini course in Middle Years, a staple in the curriculum for the last several years, incorporates wool from our sheep in felting and weaving projects.
Students helped wash the wool fleece and learned how to card it into roving that can be used for natural dying, weaving, felting, and spinning.

This year, other students had the opportunity to get involved in more of the process of taking wool from shearing to final use. Students helped clean and wash the wool fleece from Willow and learned how to card it into roving that can be used to do natural dying, weaving, felting, and spinning. In step with High Meadows' commitment to the environment, working with wool at every stage of processing meets the education for sustainability standard of teaching the life cycle of a product. Many students observed the wool drying on the rack that Ms. Levine made and enjoyed hearing what other students did with the wool. As this long-held dream unfolds, we look forward to using our new barn and facilities to continue these traditions.

The High Meadows community celebrates and perpetuates each individual's quest for knowledge and skill, sense of wonder, and connection to the natural environment. We empower each to be a compassionate, responsible, and active global citizen.

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