Over the holidays, I received a fun book from my in-laws that was all about unique words in the dictionary-their origins, their stories, and the context behind them. It was actually a rather enjoyable read, just like the list of new words added to the dictionary in 2018. Those words reflect societal trends and changing behaviors observed in the world. No doubt, English language purists may cringe when they discover that pop culture produced adorbs, hangry, rando or perhaps even bingeable have cracked our lexicon. However, we certainly can’t ignore, and should certainly take notice, the significance of words like self-care and self-harm making their way into Merriam-Webster.
As we put a bow on our first month of 2019, I thought I’d try to capture this busy time with an assortment of unique words and the events, experiences, and learning outcomes of January at St. Anne’s associated with them.
1)Archipelago - A chain or group of islands. Did you know this? If so, perhaps you’d hold your own against our middle schoolers who competed in the National Geography bee in front of a packed audience. It was humbling and impressive to see some of their geographic acumen on display!
2)Aioli- Mayonnaise that usually has garlic but also any of a number of other ingredients added to it. Regardless of your feelings towards this elevated condiment or the millenials behind it, you would have been impressed at the way our St. Anne’s Top Chef student competitors incorporated the secret ingredient mayo into a dish at our third ever Top Chef assembly. In 20 minutes, the competitors had to cook, plate, and serve a discerning panel of judges, all while being interviewed by announcers and being filmed and projected on the big screen in the dining hall. Some delicious grilled paninis took home the award for Top Dish.
3) Elocution: The way a person speaks or reads aloud in public. This past week, we had the first two rounds of our 8th grade students’ Project 8 Essay readings. While Project 8 does foster public speaking skills that we feel are important to practice, more importantly, it provides opportunities for our 8th graders to share windows into values, beliefs and stories that are important to them. From sharing about how they have learned about grief from the loss of loved ones, to learning about how to manage their anxiety or work through obstacles, students have shared some powerful stories that help deepen connections and respect for one another.
4)Self-Care: Taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health. Wellness enters our program in a variety of subjects and classrooms, including our RE Focus program with our counselor, Craig Knippenberg. In mid-January, our 8th graders also participated in a suicide prevention workshop run by the University of Colorado Depression Center. Fostering young people who understand the importance of taking care of themselves, and who have the toolbox and compassion to look out for the welfare of others, is at the core of our school.
5) Marade: For the last 34 years, Denver has had a parade to honor Martin Luther King Jr. While I was unable to attend this year’s event on January 21, we had a large group of students, parents and teachers march the route to the Civic Center to celebrate the life and civil rights’ efforts of Martin Luther King Jr.
6) Schussing- Going straight down a hill on skis without turning. This past week, we had both beginners and experts “schussing” out in Winter Park as part of our annual 8th grade Winter Trip to Winter Park. It’s a fun tradition of tubing and skiing, and for several students it is an opportunity to learn a new sport. Mostly, it is a time for all to be outside and bask in the company of one another.
Though I do not believe there is a word for connecting your inner tube with the inner tubes of 44 friends, resulting in an all-class tubing extravaganza, our 8th graders certainly made a case to Merriam-Webster in their merriment last week.
All of that was topped off with a spirit day to close both our winter seasons and the busy month of January. Here’s to a great February!
Head of Middle School