Once again Millennium Charter Academy middle school students spent the first three days of the school year bonding with their advisory group and advisor.
These advisory groups divide the student body into groups of 12 to 15 students, all in the same grade level, and appoint a faculty advisor to serve as someone to go to at school and a contact person for parents.
“We wanted to make sure the students bonded with their advisor and bonded with each other. We wanted them to be a unit,” said Pam Braley, middle school dean of students and eighth grade teacher. “Our number one goal was we wanted them to spend time together.”
“We’re doing this to make sure all the students understand the procedures and build relationships with each other. This is also helping students in the context of what it means to be a constitutional citizen,” said Headmaster Kirby McCrary. “We want them to know our expectations not only in the sense of what they do but who they are.”
The advisory groups took that time to focus on what it means to be a good citizen and what the word “constitution” means, which is one of the main focus areas at the school this year. According to Braley, students discovered that constitution is not solely a piece of paper but can mean how a person, group or organization is made up. They took time to write down their big ideas, their beliefs, who they care about, how they can serve others and their goals in life on a large cut-out of a person. They also wrote a letter to themselves about how they can amend themselves just as Congress can amend the U.S. Constitution. Both of these were placed in envelopes to be opened at the end of the year.
As groups, the students talked about their own constitution and how to translate that into a coat of arms. Students divided into teams to come up with colors and symbols for the coats of arms that would be meaningful to their groups. They also had to create a Latin motto.
“They wanted things like people who are truthful, people who will strive for excellence, people who want to be courageous, people who want to be responsible and people who want to be kind,” said McCrary. “It was amazing to see how they realized who they were. They talked about diversity within their own group, how some of them are athletes, some are artists and some are scholars. Not only that, they discovered they all wanted to be a little bit of all of that. They admired and strove for what the others had.”
The Brownie Bunch, under the leadership of Director of Development LuAnn Browne, chose to include a song to the tune of “The Brady Bunch” theme song to go along with their coat of arms. They included chefs to represent being self-sufficiency and creativity, different colors to represent generosity, strength, peace and victory. The group also added a brownie at the top to symbolize sweetness and goodness, a soccer ball, basketball and volleyball to symbolize athletics and being well-rounded and a book to symbolize literacy.
“I thought it was a lot of fun,” said Gentry Williamson.
“I really liked it, especially the song,” said Alayna Speer. “It fits together with who we are and what we plan to do as far as our actions, expectations and habits.”
Christie Speer’s advisory group, Mama Speer’s Army, chose to include colors such as purple, maroon, blue, red and green.
“We used a bow and arrow to show you should strike your opponent with precision and accuracy,” said Wesley Frye. “We had a unicorn to show courage and always helping people.”
“We used a dragon so we would be brave and strong and not back out,” said Jonathan Lee. “We pitched in as a whole group. The whole project all together was pretty fun.”
This year’s sixth graders had their first experience with a first three days project. Julia Rose Southern and Sarah Shepherd enjoyed their experience in Mandy Dean’s advisory group. They included maroon, blue, purple, and “a lot of orange and gray” in their shield.
“We had a dragon for strength and fire for determination,” said Southern. “I was the leader of the presentation group and I enjoyed that because I got to speak in front of people.”
“I enjoyed it because I liked that it was hands-on and included art,” said Shepherd.
Alex Cochran and Kaitlin Stevens’ group chose to include a lion, fox, deer, a thumbs up, a heart and a triangle with three circles in their coat of arms.
“We put things to describe us up on the board and things to describe us as an advisory,” said Stevens.
“I thought it was neat,” said Cochran, who is new to the school and experienced his first such project.
All of the groups had to present their coats of arms to the entire middle school and explain why they chose the symbols, colors and motto they included.
“You could see them having a good time doing this but it was all very meaningful,” said McCrary.
This project was designed to help achieve the middle school’s goal of strengthening its advisory program this year. It also helped to acclimate the 20 students in the middle school who are new to MCA this year and help them feel included.
“This year we are trying to plan activities together within the grade levels. Sixth grade is focusing on responsibility and organization, seventh grade is doing team-building and conflict resolution and eighth grade is focusing on leadership skills in preparation for high school and college,” said Braley. “One of our goals is when the children start school for them to see school as a fun place to be. It helps the happiness factor to start with an activity.”
Contact Morgan Wall at email@example.com or 719-1929.