Every middle school student and faculty was part of a supersized book club this summer when the entire group read Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson. This fictional story explores what happens when young people share their personal stories and struggles in a safe space.
On the first day of school, before discussing the book, advisory groups had a mixer between grade levels. Advisories in Grade 5 co-mingled with Grade 6, and Grades 7 and 8 were matched to enjoy an empathy activity. Students paired up with someone they don’t know and took turns asking a set of questions designed to help them connect. Then, they designed small pieces of art to reflect what they learned about the other person.
The goal, says lead librarian and advisor, Ashleigh Finn, was to build connections and convey empathy: “We talk a lot about empathy and this is a way to really understand how to put it into practice.”
English teacher, Katy Cooper, observed her group intently engaged in the activity and said they seemed to enjoy the “soft start” to the new year. “It’s a fun activity, and they really like the drawing part,” she says.
In the next issue of Graland Today, Head of School Marti Champion will share more about Harbor Me and how the book influenced themes and goals in the middle school this year. Watch for it in early October!
Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.