The Middle School Excursion is the first big event of the year for Middle School students–and a fun day! Students get to know their advisors, meet new students, and rekindle old friendships. In addition to team-building activities and games, students create the Middle School jigsaw puzzle and enjoy a picnic lunch.
Organized by the Pioneer Valley Classical Association, Classics Day is a celebration of all things Greek and Roman. More than 300 students from area public and private schools attend workshops about topics such as the various kinds of gladiators and reasons for their popularity in Rome, making clothes in antiquity, English derivatives from Latin words, and theatrical masks and costumes.
One of the highlights of Classics Day is the certamen, a quiz bowl-type competition. Our 6th grade students have been the youngest to compete in the mythology contest and truly hold their own. In addition to the certamen competition, there are also art contests, costume contests, and competitions in Greek and Latin oral recitation. Each year at least one MacDuffie student comes home with a prize.
As Mr. Taravella says…LINGUA LATINA VIVIT!
The annual fall Orienteering Trip for 7th grade students has become a rite of passage. The term “orienteered,” coined at Military Academy Karlberg in Sweden, means “the crossing of unknown land with the aid of a map and compass.”
MacDuffie students do exactly that as they trek Northfield Mountain, navigating from post to post until they return back to the lodge. While traveling between posts, the students look for an intriguing object in nature, which they will later use as inspiration for an open-ended writing assignment.
Each April, the MacDuffie Science Department hosts a schoolwide Science Fair. Through the use of the scientific method and research practices, students experience “aha” moments and learn how scientific principles are an integral part of the world around them. Faculty, staff, and local science and engineering professionals attend the fair, giving students an opportunity to answer questions and discuss their project.
At the annual Town Hall meeting, 7th graders present their research and insight on various issues. Audience members (MacDuffie students, faculty, and staff) then have a chance to ask questions and engage with speakers to deepen the discussion.
This year’s topics included gender, gun violence, solutions to terrorism, education, and leadership. Many of the presentations referenced a work they read in class, “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban” by Christina Lamb and Malala Yousafzai.
Two popular (and often memorable) activities for 8th graders are the Egg Drop and Rocket Launch. Students put the scientific principles into practice for both events. They brainstorm ways to approach the task, design a structure, create it, test it, and evaluate the success (they hope!) of their design.
Seventh graders go on a Courthouse Trip each year in conjunction with their civics course. Students visit several areas of the courthouse, including the arraignment, conference, and trial courtrooms. Last year, students viewed part of an actual trial and spoke to several people who explained their roles in the court process, including a judge, bailiff (who was a MacDuffie alum), a district attorney, and a defense attorney.
Exam Time Enrichment gives 6th and 7th grade students a chance to engage in active on-and off-campus learning while Upper School and 8th grade students take exams.
Some the weeks are themed, like “Detectives and Mystery”, and others are filled with activities that support the curriculum. Recent events include a discussion with a wildlife rehabilitator, a trip to the Worcester Art Museum, and hands-on educational experience at Heifer Farm in Rutland.