Today in 8th Grade Advisory, students constructed a pie chart illustrating how they spend their time each day. With homework, sports, chores, after-school clubs, and spending time with friends, there is little free time leftover. As our eighth graders prepare for the workload of high school, it is helpful to analyze how efficiently time is spent doing the things we need to do (and the things we want to do for fun). How much of the evening is spent watching TV or looking at the phone? Are we getting as much sleep as we need to be rested and ready for the day? Activities like “pie of life” charting helps students work on time management and better organize their daily schedules. Advisory time allows students to study their calendars, write down assignments and meetings, and prepare for the coming week.
We are only 10 days away from the start of the 2019-2020 school year. Our maintenance staff has been hard at work preparing campus for the first day of school. All summer, we’ve been painting, waxing floors, making repairs, cleaning carpets, and replacing lightbulbs so our buildings will be in tip top shape.
Of course, we can’t wait for the big reveal of the STJ Commons, our new dining facility. The crew is finishing the last-minute details this week. It’s a great day at STJ!
Happy National School Counseling Week! Saint James School is privileged to have an incredible counseling staff across all levels, Pre-K3 through 12th grade. Our fantastic counselors are an integral part of our school culture and community.
Ms. Clare Simon has been a counselor for 35 years and at Saint James School for 25. She has a masters in counseling and is a certified LPC, Licensed Professional Counselor.
Ms. Cherie Meadows, middle school counselor, is current serving in her fourth year. She became a school counselor through training as a clergy person. Ms. Meadows holds a masters degree is in Religious Education and is ordained minister.
Ms. June Garzon and Mrs. Jamie Payne make up our high school counseling team. Students have the privilege of getting to know his or her counselor all four years of high school. Ms. Garzon and Mrs. Payne learn the talents and individual strengths of their students and assist them with everything from building class schedules, coordinating college tours, and scholarship applications. Ms. Garzon has been high school counselor for four years and hold a masters in Educational Administration with a focus on Private School Education from Teachers College of Columbia University, New York, NY. Ms. Payne is in her second year as high school counselor at STJ and holds both MBA and M.Ed in School Counseling. She is also a Nationally Certified Counselor.
Many of our administrators have also served in counseling roles at Saint James. Our current middle school principal, Ms. Laura Spivey, served as a counselor for fourteen years (eight in middle school and four in high school). She brings her years as counselor into her everyday role as principal. The unique experiences in the counseling office translate in many ways and provide Ms. Spivey with a special perspective as she serves the middle school. Mrs. Susan Atkins, Academic Dean, also served as counselor for the high school for many years. Likewise, our own Ms. Cathy Pearson, Dean of Admission, served as middle school counselor for 20 years and has a masters degree in counseling and human development.
Each of our counselors is dedicated to student success; strengthening our students’ physical, emotional, and mental health is paramount to Saint James School’s mission.
Last week, Mrs. Whigham’s Advanced 8th grade physical science class learned all about acids, bases, and pH levels. Students made hypotheses about what household items would be the most acidic and basic. Items like lemon juice, vinegar, hand sanitizer, bottled water, baking soda, and milk were tested and recorded in lab journals.
At STJ, it is important that students make connections between their lessons and labs in the classroom with real-world applications. The very same concepts that they used in lab today are being used world-wide to save lives and the planet. Currently, environmental engineers are researching water remediation or water treatment projects; understanding the chemical properties (including pH) of contaminants is important for safeguarding the health of environmental water sources and systems.
Students also studied the environmental correlation with pH levels. “The pH of different liquids and solutions, particularly the pH of bodies of water, are important in describing the behavior of different minerals and chemicals. For example, with increasing acidic pH values, water begins to cause harm and destruction of ecosystems and minerals, such as dissolving the calcium carbonate shells of mollusks, or making ecosystems unlivable for plants and animals,” said Mrs. Whigham. Relating lab experiments to everyday life and the world around us makes the classes more fun. The tools and equipment are especially fun.
Every year, STJ sixth graders celebrate the culmination of their Ancient Egypt unit by dressing up and participating in projects and activities. The students created a "Book of the Dead," sarcophagus, cartouche, and wrote their own Egyptian inspired poetry.
Each subject area studied various aspects of Egyptian culture and history. This multidisciplinary approach allowed each subject area teacher to focus on a specific theme and assign projects and classwork related to each subject.
Art, music, technology, and the four core subjects all worked together to provide a broader scope of learning for the students.
Each student created his or her own Egyptian ornamental collar, inspired by the ancient pharaohs and priests of the time. Students chose symbols, called hieroglyphics, to represent different objects, actions, sounds and ideas.
The STJ 8th Grade Science and Invention Convention is constantly doing fun and educational activities and labs.
Last week, students in Ms. Whigham’s Invention Convention exploratory class participated in an Excited Elements lab. Students viewed "bright line spectrums" produced by various elements to identify an unknown element. This uses the science branch of spectroscopy! Spectroscopy is the study of the interaction between matter and electromagnetic radiation.
Students were able to make a real-world connection, discussing how NASA uses this same concept to identify the elemental composition of planets and stars. Hands-on application of science outside of the classroom helps students grasp concepts, all while having fun!
What do you want to be when you grow up? For over twenty-five years, our 8th graders have been exploring a variety of occupations by shadowing professionals during our uniquely designed 8th Grade Career Week. The support from our parents and the community has been a huge factor in the success of this program. In fact, Saint James Middle School was recognized by the National Middle School Association for implementing effective middle level concepts such as our 8th Grade Career Week!
Saint James School continues to lead the way for quality middle level education today. On Friday, August 24th, our 8th graders kicked off the year with the first of many Career Week assemblies. During this first assembly, 8th graders discussed the shadowing requirements for our 2018-2019 Career Week. During this week, our 8th graders will shadow FIVE Professionals while receiving three days away from school to complete this task—Oh, the places they will go!
Our middle school counselor, Mrs. Cherie Meadows, said “Our students are encouraged to consider a wide range of careers in order to expose them to multiple options for their future. I can't wait to see what all they've been able to find for their shadowing experiences this year!”
As Atticus Finch once said, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb in his skin and walk around in it.” With our Career Week program and the support of many, our 8th grade students will be doing just that—walking around in the shoes of various professionals while considering their future!
Have you ever dreamed of flying? On Friday, September 7th, our eighth graders attended Dannelly Field’s STEM Day where they learned all about the 187th Fighter Wing and the Red Tails. STJ’s eighth grade math teacher, Sarah Moncrief, said “the event featured an air show with the 187th Fighter Wing, a demonstration on weapon loading, opportunities to view and walk through different aircrafts, a military working dog demonstration, a fighter pilot meet and greet, and other exciting stem opportunities. It was a fun filled day full of experiential learning!”
Several military officials also remarked on the excitement of the day. Maj. Shawn Daley, STEM Day Director, said “I would hope that every Airman’s passion and every person’s passion that is wearing the uniform would be passionate to extend the opportunities that we have here at the Alabama Air National Guard. I think making a difference today with these kids is the reason why we’re out here.” Colonel Ed Casey, the 187th Fighter Wing Vice Commander, said “We have a fifth generation airplane and we need fifth generation airmen. So we need those folks that are going to have that STEM background and are going to be able to work with the technology.”
Not only do our middle school students have the very best teachers, they also are provided with the very best learning experiences—both inside and outside the classroom. Jake Streeton, one of our eighth graders, said that "My favorite part was learning about the missiles and bombs. It was a really fun day!" Parker Gallion, another eighth grader, really enjoyed this field trip and commented, "I enjoyed watching the K-9 demonstration. It was neat to see how they trained the dogs and how well they reacted to their trainers."
Through all of their experiences, both inside and outside the classroom, we are confident that our students will soar into the future!