Middle School’s first trimester closes with “Screenagers,” class trips


Joe Lister

The Middle School ended its first ever trimester with its first Bridge Week.

A few weeks before the first Middle School Bridge Week and the end of the first trimester, Head of the Middle School, Mr. Patrick Sillup said he felt that the first trimester had gone well up to that point.

“It gives us a chance to tell a student’s story over a longer amount of time,” he said.

After the fact, Sillup still said that he liked the idea of trimesters, and stressed the importance of being able to tell the student’s full story, or his capabilities.

“Over Christmas break, instead of rushing to get done quarter two grades, we can really just enjoy the break,” he said.

Bridge Week is a week between each trimester. During the first Bridge Week, middle school students watched movies, did activities, and took field trips. The concept of Bridge Week, Sillup said, came with the concept of trimesters.

“When we had quarters, without any bridge between them, the quarter might end on a Friday, the following Monday you’d be in the next academic quarter, but your grades were still being finalized,” he said.

Now, Sillup said, “We’re not looking back, we’re looking ahead.”

[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] Now, Sillup said, “We’re not looking back, we’re looking ahead.”   [/perfectpullquote]

During Bridge Week, there was no formal schedule, the Middle School still had classes during the day. “We wanted to ensure that there was some structure to the day, and [it was] not completely free form,” Sillup said.

In addition to attending classes, each Middle School grade went on its own field trip.

The Sixth Grade went to Haverford High to watch a flamenco dance, and later took dance lessons, in connection with their Spanish unit. The Seventh Grade went on a trip to New York to connect with Malvern Alumni as a prelude to a 2nd trimester unit. The Eighth Grade went to the United Sports Training Center to make connections with one another.

The Eighth Grade also had an Upper School preview morning, where separate groups followed Freshmen around campus.

Middle school students started their last day of Bridge Week off with the film “Screenagers”, which had been shown to Middle School parents a couple weeks before. The movie talked about how people use their devices and how they’re hurting our community.

“It’s had a direct impact on me,” Sillup said. “In terms of the school, it’s been great in getting the conversation going.”

Sillup also added that the students understood the film well and were able to add their voices to the discussion.

“I think we recognize collectively that putting structures in place would be beneficial,” he said.

Sixth Grade Dean Jamie Wasson said he enjoyed watching the movie so much that he brought it home to watch with his two daughters.

Wasson said that the whole idea of Bridge Week came after the first “Academy Class” finished their Sixth Grade year in 2015. But it would take a full year for the idea to be put into action, he said.

“It was probably early October [2016] when we started talking about it in our team meetings.”

It was the last three weeks before Bridge Week when the Sixth Grade team started planning for the week, Wasson said. “I thought it was an amazing week,” he said.

Wasson added that the Sixth Grade did a Walk for Joy Pancoast, who passed away over the summer.

Wasson said that he felt that the first Trimester had gone well, saying that there was less stress involved with a trimester than a quarter. “In terms of trying to get things in and get things accomplished, I think it was really good,” he said.

Wasson says that there isn’t much that he would change going into next trimester and Bridge Week. “I would try to keep it similar to what we did,” he said.

Mr. Robert Buscaglia, the Eighth Grade Dean, says that trimesters and bridge weeks came along because Sillup had reimagined the schedule and format.

“Our schedule never seemed to accommodate all the goals that we had. “So I think Bridge Week was a really smart thing to implement,” Buscaglia said.

Buscaglia added that the Middle School wasn’t able to accomplish all it wanted to do because they were trying to see how it would work.

The reason for the name Bridge Week is simple, says Buscaglia. “It bridges one trimester to the other.”

Buscaglia said that the Eighth Grade team asked themselves what they had to “bridge” to the second Trimester, and they came up with multiple ideas.

“The capstone project was a big one for us,” he said. “The STEM project was a big one for us.”

“It’s times and places for us to say, let’s prepare [the] guys, while [they’re] all together.”

Buscaglia said that he wouldn’t change much to Bridge Week or the Trimesters either. “I like the way it was structured.”

“It was hard, but it was rewarding,” he said. “Trimester one I really liked how we had more time to measure what a students been doing.”

“I think the most important part of starting something new is you try it, and you say ‘how can we make it better’ … I’m looking forward to that part of the process,” Buscaglia said.