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First grade collaboration = the heart of Brookwood

As I downloaded memory cards full of photos from the last month, the word “collaboration” kept popping into my mind.  Flipping through images of first graders working with seventh grade Buddies, third graders, Ilut visitors, each other and adults from throughout the community was such a great testimony to how the children have grown in their ability to share materials, exchange ideas, respect others contributions, negotiate, compromise and politely disagree with each other.

Collaboration doesn’t happen right out of the gate but strengthens over time as children grow to trust their environment and the people in it.  Effective teamwork takes behind-the-scenes scaffolding that has been in place throughout the year.  We learn how to be active listeners and practice the art of asking good questions.  That doesn’t mean that we always exhibit these skills, but we continue to practice, model and reinforce them.

Collaboration is recognizing and respecting that each contributor has a different set of skills to bring to projects. It is understanding that some children may need a little extra time to formulate their ideas while others may need to monitor their airtime and allow other voices to enter the dialogue.  Through collaboration we discover children’s strengths (and weaknesses) in organization, fine motor skills, verbal abilities, literacy skills, problem solving, critical thinking, spatial sense and other areas.  The children are building a foundation of skills, both social and academic, that they will need in their tool boxes as they collaborate with each other for the next seven years at Brookwood and beyond. Here are a handful of ways that we have collaborated with others recently.

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With the rain Gods not on our side for Earth Day’s outdoor community clean up, we switched gears and created Earth Day posters with our seventh grade Buddies. Each team brainstormed slogans, images and messages encouraging members of the community to reduce their carbon footprints.

Afterwards, we accompanied our older friends to the eighth grade Science Fair where we watched interactive presentations and heard proposed ideas such as carpooling to school, moving to biodegradable notebooks instead of metal spiral bound ones and using iPads as a more sustainable forum for schoolwork.  Impressively, the first graders did not just listen to these ideas, but some were brave enough to speak up in a room full of older, unfamiliar students and ask questions such as, “Is your idea just for the Upper School or is it for the other grades, too?” and “Who do you need to talk to to make your idea happen?”

On Friday a group of third graders also stopped by to learn about the first graders “All About” Nonfiction book-making process.  The older students are in the midst of the genre themselves and wanted to see our books and get some advice from our young writers.  The pairs went off to read their pages, share their topics, field questions and talk about how the writing process is similar and different between grades.

Since Mr. Wilfahrt’s first grade class had already threaded their metal chess pieces, his students spent the morning guiding us through the process and instructed us how to properly sequence and screw the nuts and bolts together.  Our students were appreciative for the support they received and we heard exclamations, such as “Matthew, you’re a great teacher!”  Then the pairs went off to play some chess matches together. Competition was tabled as the focus was on teaching friends, pointing out opportunities and deepening their understanding of the complex, strategic game.  It was about having the resilience to lose, the modesty to win and the courage and sense of sportsmanship to try again.

Another morning, students visiting Brookwood (link here) from Ilut, Israel, stopped by to teach us some new games.  We discovered the patience and persistence that it takes to communicate with people whose primary language is not English.  However, through slower speech, visuals and pantomime we were able to exchange stories and answer questions about our different cultures.  The Ilut students shared new experiences from their visit, such as trying roller skating, going to a Broadway play and stepping on an airplane for the first time.  We then learned how to play two new games, one featuring numbers and the other colors.  We had to think on our feet during these fast paced games.

Collaboration is not only a fun process, but it is at the heart of Brookwood’s philosophy.  The New Face of Rigor explains, “We know also that it is not enough to learn to compete against peers in a host of challenges; instead, the student of today must learn to build and sustain the collaborative relationships demanded by the interconnectedness of our world….We know that our students will someday be required to solve problems of currently unimaginable complexity, and that their own safety and the survival of our world depend ultimately on their having not just the intellectual acuity to understand those problems, but also the skills to work with others of diverse backgrounds as they tackle them, and the ‘conscience, character, compassion and cultural competence’ required to persevere.”

We are on our way!

– Sarah Dawe,
Grade 1 Teacher

Mindfulness in the Middle School

HOW DO I LEARN?

This question is central as Middle Schoolers aim to further their understanding of themselves as learners. Throughout the school day students reflect on their work: what went well, what didn’t go as well as they had hoped, what strategies they used to help them, and how they might want to adjust their approach the next time. By understanding how they learn best, students learn to self-advocate for the tools they need and feel empowered by this understanding.

To guide students in this metacognitive exploration, Middle School faculty hold several workshops throughout the year, addressing topics such as brain research, multiple intelligences, and different learning styles. This year the students were introduced to mindfulness, the ability to be fully present in the moment, noticing where we are and what we are doing, without making any judgments about what we notice.

More and more research is showing the impact mindfulness can have on students’ physical and emotional health, social skills, and academic performance. Specifically, studies have linked mindfulness to improvements in self-awareness and self-regulation, boosts in working memory, focus, and cognitive flexibility, and reductions in stress. Mindfulness can also provide a platform on which students can build their metacognition. To be successful learners, students must be able to pause, truly see and hear what is in front of them, and self-reflect, so that they can determine the best way to move forward with their learning.

During a workshop on mindfulness this year, students explored several different models including Dr. Dan Siegel’s “handy” model of the brain. Watch this video to learn moreWhen the prefrontal cortex (the “upstairs” reasoning, planning part of the brain) goes offline, the subcortical structures (the “downstairs” emotional, instinctual parts of our brain) are allowed to take over. Instead of thinking before we act, we act before we think. Being mindful means bringing the prefrontal cortex back online, so that we can self-reflect, think flexibly, and react calmly in any given situation.

Students also explored what their minds felt like when they were being mindful and when their minds were just full. With this basic understanding of mindfulness in their toolbox, students have engaged in various activities throughout the year. Through breathing exercises, yoga poses, visualization techniques, and mindful moments, students have practiced pausing from their busy days in order to be fully aware of their surroundings. The more present students are in the moment, the better able they are to show what they know and understand, and the better able they are to keep themselves from being “stuck” in their learning. They become the architects for their own problem-solving.

For more information on mindfulness and research related to mindfulness:

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present in the moment, noticing  where we are and what we are doing, without judgment

Mindfulness Activities to Try at Home

Mountain Pose

Center. Anchor. Home base.

Stand tall and strong, arms at your sides and feet hip distance apart. Find a focal point and feel the weight go into your feet, anchoring you solidly to the ground.

Balloon Breath

Calm. Focus. Clarity.

Close your eyes and put your hands gently on your belly, imagining it is a balloon. Feel it inflate and deflate as you slowly breathe in and out.

Visualize

Relaxation. Imagination.

Close your eyes and imagine you are in your favorite place. Take time to relax and enjoy your special place, breathing in and out slowly.

– Mayumi Morash, Middle School Learning Skills Coordinator

Elizabeth Highgas, Grade 4 Teacher

Ilut Middle School students share their perspectives

What was surprising during your visit?

“Families wake up earlier here.”

“I was surprised by the creativity of the food. I saw fried pickles! I was confused at first!”

“American kids read and not just play sports.”

“I learned that American kids are sometimes serious.”

What was difficult during your visit?

“Speaking in English all the time makes me tired.”


The six Israeli Arab students who visited Brookwood from the Ilut Middle School were excited and full of energy when we sat down with them to talk about their experience during the two-week cultural exchange.

The three girls and three boys, who range in age from 12 to 15, and their teachers (Kefah Lahwani, Middle School English Teacher, and Nofuz Khateeb, Ilut Middle School History Teacher and Grade Seven Administrator), lived with Brookwood families during their stay, learning about life in American homes as well as sharing aspects of their culture. During the school day the students attended classes with their sixth and eighth grade Brookwood peers and visited classes in the Lower and Middle Schools.

In our interview, the overall message from the enthusiastic, engaging students was excitement – about Brookwood, making new friends, their host families, sharing their culture, and so much more.

Here are the six Ilut students and a few of their thoughts about America, Americans, and their adventure becoming a part of the Brookwood community.

Dana

“I was excited to see the school, meet new teachers, see a new life and make new friends.” Most surprising to Dana was, “People are so kind here. My host family is so kind!”

Adan

“I’m looking forward to meeting new friends, [and] learning in classes here. Brookwood has classes we don’t have like art and music …  I like it.” Adan added that she hoped to share “some traditions of our country. For example, extended family – aunts and uncles – live close together. Strong relationships.”

Lama

Before her arrival, Lama was looking forward to, “ Meeting my host family and eating American food.” To her, the biggest surprise was, “Brookwood School is so amazing.”

Hosam

Hosam was also excited that he was able to share parts of his culture. “I taught some Arabic and Hebrew, and about how we learn at our school.” Like all the students, he added that one of the biggest challenges during the two weeks was that, “I miss my family.”

Mohammed

Mohammed, a very thoughtful 15-year-old, said he was looking forward to “sharing who we really are,” and noted that he found that there were many similarities between Ilut Middle School and Brookwood: “Teachers are kind and are like family. Kindness and connection are very important to help students learn,” he said.

Ameen

Also 15, Ameen said he had been looking forward to, “seeing how other people live and how school is here.” He thought the after-school sports were tough until he switched to running, which he liked. “We have soccer and basketball all seasons,” at Ilut, he said.

// View the full photo gallery //

Reflections on hosting Arab Israeli visitors from Ilut Middle School

In early 2016, Brookwood sixth graders began sharing aspects of their lives and culture with a group of Israeli Arab eighth grade students from Ilut, a small village in northern Israel near Nazareth. Using an Israeli Ministry of Education website, food preferences, music, daily activities and school life were the staples commonly traded. The kids were excited to connect and learn from each other.

Then, during a trip to Israel in March 2016, I got into a car with my wife and 24-year-old son to drive two hours north from Tel Aviv to visit our new friends in person. Though I had lived in Israel decades earlier, I had never developed a relationship with any Israeli Arabs. I was very nervous, feeling like I was stepping into the unknown and taking a big leap of faith.

Any assurance I felt was due in great part to Kefah Lahwani, an English teacher at Ilut Middle School and Nofuz Khateeb, History Teacher and Grade Seven Team Leader. Kefah Lahwani and I met via iEarn.org after I sent a request for our sixth grade students to ask questions about the conflicts in Israel. Brookwood sixth graders study the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and we were hoping to gather perspectives from various students in that region. Kefah replied almost immediately and loved the idea! However, despite how sensitive Evan Diamond (Grade Six World Cultures Teacher and Upper School Division Head), Maile Black (Grade Six English and World Cultures Teacher) and I tried to be as we crafted the questions we wanted to ask her students, Kefah informed me that we had left out the most important question. I felt awful that we had missed something important but could not imagine what question we forgot. “Ask the students what it feels like to be an Arab citizen in Israel,” she told me via Skype. Her simple but important request reminded me that I still had so much to learn about the complicated layers that make up the history and people of Israel.

Kefah and Nofuz were gracious enough to invite my family to visit her school. As we approached the village of Ilut on a hillside, we were instructed to pull into the only gas station that served the town and text Kefah using WhatsApp. Kefah told me that Ilut had no street signs and it would be easier for me to follow her to school than try to locate it myself. As we pulled up to the parking area at the front of a large concrete building with a small asphalt playground, I felt that we could be in front of any typical urban, land-locked middle school with few resources and large class sizes. Students stopped and stared, filled windows and pointed at us as we walked from our cars into the courtyard and up the main flight of stairs. As I later learned, we were some of the first U.S. citizens ever to visit the school. Most importantly, I was the first person to come to their school because I valued their opinions, their voices about the Palestinian Conflict and what life was like for them as Arabs living in Israel.

Thinking I would simply be interviewing Kefah’s eighth grade class for 45 minutes, I was surprised at the ceremony and significance of our visit. We were officially greeted by the Principal and sat down for tea in his office, followed by a tour of the school with an entourage of teachers and several students. Finally, when I met with the eighth graders in a classroom, filled with many other teachers and the Principal, we were also greeted by the Mayor of Ilut. He had come to present me with a plaque for honoring his school and his students by our visit. It reads: “To our friend Doug… It was an honor to have you as our guest. We appreciate your efforts, partnership, and friendship.”

I was allowed to video groups of students as they addressed the questions we had prepared. The students were proud to share their opinions and I was honored to collect them. At one point during our interaction, one young man was encouraged by all to sing a song about the Palestinian conflict, which he did enthusiastically! After all students presented their views and I gave them gifts from Massachusetts (a picture book about New England and lots of salt water taffy), Kefah told us that the Principal had arranged a special luncheon at a nearby restaurant for my family, some teachers and about a dozen students. It was a generous and delicious multi-course meal of many traditional Arabic dishes. Most importantly though, it was a time that my colleague Kefah and I began to nurture the new found friendship between our schools and imagine where it might take us.

A few weeks later, back in the U.S., our students wrapped up their online project. Kefah then suggested that she bring a small group of students to Brookwood. I loved the idea! Very generously, Kefah informed me that her school and their parents would bear the cost of getting to Brookwood. As I have come to know Kefah Lahwani and Nofuz Khateeb, Ilut’s seventh grade Administrator and History teacher, I learned that they are two very dedicated teachers, generous with their love and time they devote to their students. As does Brookwood, they deeply believe in the education that comes from building bridges between people.

Fast forward to April 2017, and imagine a busy beehive of activity as Brookwood prepared itself to receive six Israeli Arab Muslim students (three boys and three girls) along with two teachers. Our host families spent time getting to know the children they would eventually welcome into their homes by using Skype and WhatsApp. In order to be gracious and respectful hosts, we learned about Muslim prayer practices, Halal dietary guidelines, and common Middle Eastern foods. Our students tried to put themselves in the shoes of our guests. What would make them anxious? How could we help our guests feel more comfortable here? How could we best make them feel welcome and part of our community? Everyone was excited and nervous. The preparation and planning would be nearly as rewarding as their visit.

When the time finally came for our eight guests to arrive at Boston Logan airport on the evening of April 3, Brookwood was excited and ready! At least 30 people were waiting at the customs arrival door with signs, flowers and even a ukulele to greet them. We exchanged texts every 10 minutes or so to gauge their progress through customs, until finally, they appeared through the glass doors and were greeted by cheers and hugs.

During their two-week visit, the students spent most of their time in classes with our sixth and eighth graders, and lived as new family members with their hosts. During the school day there were many opportunities to meet with different grade levels to exchange ideas, ranging from cooking to playing games. For example, our guests taught Pre-Kindergarten students how to bake bread with zaatar, a mix of middle-eastern spices. They also taught many of our students hand games and how to dance dapka.

And we all asked questions of each other. During one open question session between our seventh graders and our guests, a Brookwood student asked “did you have any stereotypes of Americans before you came here that you now think are wrong?” One of our guests, also a seventh grader, didn’t hesitate. “I didn’t think Americans were kind people. But it’s not true. You are all so very kind!”

Many gifts were exchanged, such as an official plaque for our school, delicious pastries homemade from their families or purchased from the Arab shuks, traditional Arabic clothing, and beautiful ceramic oil decanters.

Other gifts live in our hearts and memories as our friendships quickly grew over the course of two intensive weeks of activities and sharing. Kefah Lahwani, Nofuz Khateeb and Ilut Middle School sent us the very best global ambassadors we could ever have hoped to receive.

– Doug Fodeman,
Director of Technology

Should Brookwood offer straws in the dining room?

Jack ’21 and Addie ’23 W. saw a problem and started working to bring about change and make a difference.

Their efforts were initiated after seeing a photo of a sea turtle with a plastic straw lodged in its nose and doctors working to extract it.

“The straw was stuck,” says Addie, “and the turtle was bleeding.”

The children began thinking about the plastic straws used at lunch at Brookwood and decided that was something the community should stop and think about. They began to research plastic straws and learned that 90% of all trash in the ocean is plastic that never biodegrades, and that 44% of all seabirds and 22% of fish and other marine animals have eaten plastic. Straws are in the top 10 of all marine trash.

“Plastic straws never go away so they can go from one animal and then hurt another animal,” explains Addie.

“I’m a fisherman, and I don’t want plastic straws hurting the fish and wildlife,” adds Jack.

The pair decided to see if they could encourage change at Brookwood. They shared their research and proposal with Ms. Caron who suggested they gather community opinions and talk to Chef Chris. Jack and Addie went to work.

Jack surveyed his class, sharing the stories of animals hurt by plastic materials. Nearly all students surveyed chose to eliminate straws from lunch. He also talked to many adults in the community, from Mrs. Evans and Ms. Johnson to Nurse Paula and Ms. Drury. Most adults were also on board, choosing to eliminate straws or switch to a biodegradable option.

They observed straw use at lunch and saw unused ones thrown away and that, “some kids use two straws at a time just for fun.”

They also spoke with Chef Chris who looked into usage and found that the community uses about 250 straws a week. Most are used on “chocolate milk Wednesdays.” He also found some eco-friendly straw options, and suggested using a dispenser that allows people to take just one straw at a time.

The duo brought all the information back to Ms. Caron and is now working to finalize their efforts. They hope their work will ultimately foster change in the community.

Pictured: Addie W. and Jack W. with Chef Chris

 

 

First graders’ claymation brings “The Snowy Day” to life

In 1962, Ezra Jack Keats, a Jewish immigrant, published a simple story about a young boy going outside to play in the snow. The Snowy Day was one of the first children’s books featuring an African-American character that wasn’t about race, segregation, marginalization or inequality. His iconic, red-suited boy, Peter, represented universal winter experiences – smacking a snow-covered tree with a stick, dragging your feet slowly to make tracks and plopping down to make a snow angel. It is a book about childhood wonder, curiosity and innocence. Who hasn’t experienced that feeling of disappointment when you discover that you can’t preserve a snowball in your pocket?

From the collaged backdrops, plasticine figures, expressive narration and special features, such as floating bubbles and falling snow, my first grade students staged all of these scenes, moved the characters inch by inch and used the Koma Koma app to document it all, one photograph at a time. Pretty extraordinary! They widened their life lens as they built paper cityscapes of a New York neighborhood and molded characters with different skin tones from their own.

I am often asked what my “favorite” project to do each year is. Honestly, I don’t have a perennial favorite.  The Snowy Day ended up being an unexpected jackpot as it fused creativity, collaboration, diversity and literacy skills. We are so proud to share our efforts with you. Enjoy watching on this snowy day!

– Sarah Dawe
First Grade Teacher

Click to watch: A Snowy Day
Password: snowyday

The Creator and the Story Behind Fluffy the Three-Headed Dog

I first met with Debbie Gantt (Performing Arts Coordinator), Alex Edwards (Lower School Music Teacher) and Andrew Luman (Music Teacher) at the beginning of October, and it was there that Alex showed me her drawings for the set and asked if I would be interested in making Fluffy the Three-Headed dog. In her drawings she had three heads coming out of the wall as well as the front legs. I was intrigued by the idea but asked if perhaps it could be the entire dog. Andrew gave me the parameters, and I went away to stew on the idea. Exactly a month later I presented them a scale model of my proposal. The model, made of pink foam rigid insulation, was exactly to scale and showed a five foot girl walking under the legs. They were sold.

December 6, a month later, I sent them a picture of the first head with my daughter Bimba standing next to it to show them how big it was going to be. My hope was at that time they would call me in and say it was too big and we needed to reconsider the project. Instead all I received was their praises. For the next two months all I did was work on Fluffy.

I used almost 1000 sq. ft. of two-inch rigid foam insulation to create the entire dog. Each head takes about 135 sq. ft. Thirteen cans of spray adhesive, seven bottles of Gorilla Glue, and three gallons of paint were used. The body has a core made of two-by-fours and plywood. The front legs have a steel frame which was then covered with the foam. In my studio I built the top half, the heads and top of the body first. I then took them off raised the body to the ceiling of the studio and built the lower half. After spray painting it a golden yellow, I took it all apart and delivered it to Brookwood in three trailer loads. It was there that Alex brought Fluffy to life with her paints. It took all of Friday and part of Saturday to assemble it on the stage.

The most difficult aspect of building this was figuring out how it was going to stand up and be guaranteed that it would not fall down. The solution was the steel used in the front legs and the triangular support I built behind the wall to carry the hind end. I needed to be sure that the dog could not fall forward or push the wall over backward. The other aspect of the project that required the most thought was the tail and how to make it wag. Debbie was determined that the tail had to wag. It is very simple, but it took me a long time to get there.

The sheer size of this could make it very scary to young children, so to tone it down I made the heads to resemble Mr. Peabody’s and gave the body the playful pose of a puppy about to spring forward. Alex then added to that with soft expression around the mouth.

 – Sebastian Carpenter ’79
and Parent ’13, ’14, ’17

30 Drawings in 30 Days

February is of course the perfect month for fun activities like sledding, skiing, ice skating, and snowshoeing. At Brookwood it’s also the time for drawing.

This month, the entire school community – students of all ages, faculty, staff, and parents, and grandparents – is engaged in the 30 Drawings in 30 Days Art Challenge, which runs through March 4. All who are participating take a break from their routine, tap their creative energy, and draw daily in a sketchbook that the Art Department has supplied. It’s an entirely voluntary undertaking – sketching is not assigned.

According to Visual Arts Coordinator and Art Teacher Kathy Stewart, the reasons for the shared community undertaking are many: “It promotes great, creative habits of mind.  It’s good for the soul, helps to calm a chattering, busy mind, and honors the many artists in our community.  It helps us to build observation skills by slowing down and really noticing the world around us, and it’s fun to try something new.”

“The idea comes from a book that I’m reading, Art Before Breakfast by Danny Gregory,” explains Kathy. “As artists, drawing each day helps us to establish a positive creative habit – practice makes you a better artist.  It is taking time for yourself to do something that you enjoy.”

Need some inspiration? Look to This Week at Brookwood, where Kathy shares weekly thoughts, sketch ideas and prompts. Some of her ideas so far have included:

Do a sketch of the ultimate tree house;
Design a three-tiered birthday cake for your pet;
Create a stylish spacesuit for your first trip to Mars;
Show your little one how to draw something or have them show you how to draw something;
Do a drawing using one continuous line;
Draw with your other hand;
Draw to music with your eyes closed;
Illustrate a poem or book;
Sketch a loved one.

For more inspiration, Kathy suggests these websites and books:

dannygregorysblog.com
craftwhack.com/20-drawing-ideas-kids/
Tangle Art and Drawing Games for Kids, by Jeanette Nyberg
Art Before Breakfast, by Danny Gregory

Be sure to stop and enjoy some of the work that’s being created and displayed on the 30 Drawings bulletin board in the lobby across from the Faculty Room.

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Brookwood alumna and her Yale a cappella group perform at School Meeting

Brookwood School alumna Phoebe Gould ’11 returned to campus in mid-January with her Yale University a cappella group Something Extra to perform at School Meeting. The group wowed the audience with their talents and especially with one piece that was a medley of songs from long-time favorite Disney classics.

Thank you to Phoebe and Something Extra for treating us to a great performance!

Middle and Upper School ‘cubers’ compete in Rubik’s tourney

On Saturday, January 21, physical education teacher Bill Schneider and I took two teams to the New England/Concord Rubik’s Cube Challenge. This was the seventh year in a row Brookwood has participated in this competition, and we also hosted it for two years as well.

Beginning in fifth grade, as a part of the math curriculum, every student is schooled in the algorithms in order to solve this internationally acclaimed puzzle. Students who become the fastest at solving it try out for the teams.

There was a team for the Elementary Division made up of fifth graders, and there was a team for the Upper Level, made up of sixth, seventh and eighth graders, most of whom have competed in the past. All team members and alternates also compete in the “Solo Solve” competition. Our grade five solo solvers only had about 60 seconds between our slowest and fastest times … that’s a tight field! Rae H. and Cole P. as well as Jack D. and Lyla S. both had times only two tenths of a second apart. Wow, that’s close!

Al B. and Bobby M. were favored going into the tourney, and then our call-up/walk-on Lila D. stepped up and helped us sweep the Elementary podium, the three getting 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in the division respectively. When asked about his win, Al replied, “It was cool.” Second place finisher, Bobby M. added, “I had been looking forward to it for years, since third or fourth grade. It surprised me that I got a 2nd place! It was just such fun to spend Saturday with my friends doing something I like to do.” Our Grade 5 group was up against some stiff competition in the “Team Solve” and ultimately we did better than two other teams full of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders! The fifth graders reflected:

“In my solo solve, I was so close to beating Lila for third place. Even though I was desperate for that spot, I said, ‘Hey, it’s not the end of the world,’ and I moved on…. When I was asked to help the US team, I was excited for the opportunity to shine, but I knew I’d have to step up my game to help the team.”  Kevin M., Grade 5

“I had no idea what to do, but the video helped because it explained [things] well. The rest of the steps were hard to learn, but my friend and I promised each other we would learn the middle layer before breakfast one weekend.”  Helena C., Grade 5

“There is a lot of pressure when you don’t know what the state of the cube will be when you get it, and you have to be very focused on your own cube.”  Vance F., Grade 5

“Even though I was only watching the Team Solve competition, I felt so much anxiety for everyone on the team, and then when they finished, I was so happy for them!”  Ellie W., Grade 5

“On the Solo round, with all of the people watching and the timer, it was a lot of pressure, and I could’ve done better. I feel that I did better in the Team Solve because I had all of my friends around me.” Lyla S., Grade 5

“I thought it was impossible at the beginning, and then it got easier as I learned the algorithms and tricks. It’s satisfying to make it to the competition because you work really hard to get there.” Jack D., Grade 5

Our Upper School Team Solve competitors also persevered. We were only 18 seconds out of second place and our 6th place finish was separated from 5th place by only four seconds!

For the Solo Solve, 8th grader James M., was 7th out of a field of 49 … wow! He reported, “This is my fourth year, and I love the competitions, where everyone is really friendly and supportive.”

Evan B. and Spencer S. were separated by seven one thousandths of a second … that is also so close!  Thanks to Kevin M. for getting “called up” to help them out, it was so much fun to watch.

Seventh grader Remsen D.’s comment on it all, “It’s fun.” Past team member, seventh grader, Mallory R. remembers, “Seriously, I actually didn’t think I’d be able to solve it. I thought it was for people who are really smart, but eventually I read and used the solution guide, and there was some simple logic to it. The algorithms were really cool. I’m generally a nervous person but going to the competition last year really benefitted me. I met a new group of people and enjoyed the atmosphere!”

Other Upper School cubers reflect:

“When I heard my brother was doing it, I had to practice and see if I could make the team. When I made the team, I was surprised.”  Evan B., Grade 6

“Memorizing the steps was hard, because each step was different from the one before.” Maeve G., Grade 6

“It was frustrating when you mess up in the tournament, but it’s also fun.”  Jaden Z., Grade 6

“The Rubik’s Cube has made me look at any situation from lots of different sides and angles, because when you are solving the Rubik’s Cube, you aren’t just solving for one side, but the whole cube. I’m going to miss the competitions, but if my new [secondary] school doesn’t have a team, I might have to start one so we can still go to competitions.”  James M., Grade 8

– Sven Holch,
Grade 5 teacher

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