The middle school years are marked by tremendous physical, emotional, and cognitive change as children learn to navigate their increasingly complex world. To help them build critical social and emotional skills, Friends School of Baltimore sets aside special days for students at these grade levels to explore personal and cultural values, health and wellness, and topical issues of concern to adolescents. Often these themed days are organized by grade, such as this year’s Seventh Grade Wellness Day.
Boys’ activities and discussions focused on violence in our culture, with discussions related to how and why media (particularly video games) and our cultural norms portray and impact boys differently from girls, and what boys, parents, and teachers can do to support a different kind of nonviolent culture. They also participated in a tai chi lesson.
The girls’ sessions offered opportunities to meet and talk with Upper School female peer educators, hear from a Johns Hopkins nutritionist about healthy eating, and experience a yoga and meditation session. Each girl came away with a “wellness box” to decorate and fill with items to examine when she’s having a rough or bad day.
On other occasions, such as the Quaker Community Day, activities are organized by homeroom, with middle schoolers engaged in service projects that enhance the community, build relationships on a grander scale, and teach students the importance of seeing the world from different perspectives. “It’s a day of giving,” says Middle School Principal Scott Harrington, “that helps our students see the need for kindness and greater awareness in our community.”