Every election year provides unique teaching opportunities, as the students gain an intimate look into the democractic process and the workings of the electoral college. Our current election cycle feels a little different from previous years, though, with rhetoric that is too often divisive and demeaning.
We know many of our students are aware of these tensions, and we wanted to provide a framework to help them process their thoughts and feelings and also remind them of our community values. Our Middle School students have had conversations with their advisors and teachers. In the Elementary School, Counselor Allison Klothe, Chaplain Kristen Pitts, and I have been facilitating these discussions. Helping our students become kind, confident, and prepared means equipping them to engage in civil discourse around difficult topics.
WES has established some parameters to enable us to have healthy dialogue about these topics. These may also be useful for you as you discuss these issues at home with your children.
- Focus on the issues, not the people. When we do this, it helps our students understand that elections are about what matters most to us, and not just who is featured in the media. As we help our children develop critical-thinking skills, this also provides an opportunity for them to form their own opinions and reflect on what they think is good and true. This can be done in an age-appropriate way, from conversations around sharing and fairness for younger children and more sophisticated policy discussions with Middle School students.
- Listen actively. One of the ways we can show our respect for others is by listening to those who offer opinions that differ from our own. In conversations between people with divergent views, there is often a tendency to listen impatiently as we wait for our own turn to speak. However, we should all strive to listen with empathy and to understand other people’s perspectives and motivations.
- Be kind. Our school motto has never been more important. It’s normal to have different opinions and it’s appropriate to talk about them. But it’s never acceptable to talk about our beliefs in an unkind way; we should always show respect for others. As one Grade 5 student reminded us, “We may hear other people talking about the candidates rudely but that doesn’t mean that we have to do it, too.”
As we reflect on our value of kindness, it’s important to remember that kindness does not mean that we have to tolerate ideas that demean others. At WES, we celebrate inclusivity. We have been reminding our Dragons that we stand for everyone, and especially people whose identities sometimes leave them marginalized in our society. And we will continue to do so, no matter what the outcome of the election may be.
Head of School
Boo! Get into the Halloween spirit with special performances and stories for the whole family.
Zombelina, read by Mrs. Rothwell
The Perfect Pumpkin Pie, read by Mr. Pane
SPOOKY PERFORMANCES FROM THE MIDDLE SCHOOL
The Haunted Mansion, performed by Grade 7S
The Canterville Ghost, performed by Grade 7E
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, performed by Grade 7W
Chaplain Kristen Pitts, Elementary/Middle School Counselor Allison Klothe, and Early Childhood Counselor Debbie Weinberger will be lead a virtual parent workshop titled Resilience: Supporting Our Children When They Experience Uncomfortable Feelings on Tuesday, November 10. In this hour-long workshop, participants will have the opportunity to meet in division-specific breakout groups to discuss challenges and identify strategies for supporting our children.
To help guide our dialogue, parents should read one (or both) of these two articles from The Washington Post and come prepared to learn together:
Strategies for Sharing Disappointing News with our children.
Ideas for Coaching Our Children Through Disappointment.
My sons Jace and Trey and I all received a bright yellow envelope in the mail a few weeks ago. In it, one of our third grade students invited us to join her in spreading acts of kindness.
Every year, Grade 3 studies the exchange of goods, transportation, and communication in their STEM Applied Concepts in Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ACIE) class. As part of the curriculum, they also develop a group entrepreneurial project designed to inspire social change. This year, our Grade 3 students were inspired by the WES “be kind” motto to build a strategy to encourage our community to spread acts of kindness.
They formed the “Kindness Core” to challenge each of our Dragons to do at least 10 acts of kindness by November 2. They wanted to prove that 2020 could still be associated with good things, so they set a cumulative goal of 2020 good deeds completed by our community.
And our Dragons have been busy! They have been helping parents with chores, calling lonely relatives, making treat bags for those at shelters, and so much more! Our on-campus Kindergarten students thought about how nice it feels when somebody they don’t know very well greets them by name. So, during recess one day each member of the Kindergarten class made a point of greeting at least one student in the other section. At-home learners were encouraged to think of who they might greet by name, such as somebody they met at the park or during a walk through the neighborhood. Our Kindergarten students also made thank you cards for our outstanding facilities team and their art teachers.
While many members of our community have been busy spreading good cheer, there is still plenty of time left to get involved. This is not just a challenge for students – it’s a challenge for parents and grandparents, too! It has been a difficult year, but we each have the power to bring a smile to someone else’s face. You can learn more about the Kindness Core at www.w-e-s.org/kindnesscore and you can record your acts of kindness at www.w-e-s.org/kindnessacts.
As the days are growing colder, we’re excited to announce that WES’s November First Friday project will be a Warmth Drive for our unhoused neighbors at Church of the Epiphany! During the week of November 2-6, our community will come together to donate the following items:
Coats: New or gently used coats for men, women, and children–in all sizes–are welcome. Men’s sizes large and extra large are the most needed.
Hats, Gloves, and Scarves: New or gently used items are welcome.
Blessing Bags: A gallon size Ziploc bag with a face mask, small hand sanitizer, snack or treat, and a short note wishing the recipient well will help meet our neighbors’ needs this season. This is a great opportunity for families to coordinate! Blessing bags can be tucked into pockets of donated coats or dropped off separately. Need ideas for your blessing bags? Click HERE for more items that would be useful.
We will be accepting donations the week of November 2-6 during arrival and dismissal in all divisions. Families can also drop off donations in the designated areas on the colonnade that week.
WES participates in Middle School Math Meets sponsored by the Independent School Math Association of Washington (ISMAW). There are 3 meets per year, and the first one for 2020-21 is scheduled for Wednesday, October 21! The purpose of these meets is to foster interest in math and problem solving; they are structured to be enjoyable and non-threatening.
The Math Meet is open to Grade 5 – 8 students. This year the math meet will be held virtually using a zoom session.
We encourage you to participate in this fun event by signing up by Monday, October 19. You can sign up here or send an email to Ms. Girgis to let her know you will be participating and to receive further information about the meet.