The Baker News is a peek inside our classrooms. Each edition of the Baker News features articles about our Early Childhood, Primary, Intermediate and Middle School divisions, as well as news from the Baker community. We hope you enjoy our stories!
Early Childhood News
Kindergarteners Celebrate 100 Days of School!
Did you know we celebrated the 100th day of school on Friday, Feb. 11? Our kindergarteners certainly did, marking the milestone with a variety of activities about the number 100.
“We celebrated in many ways with so many great activities!” said kindergarten teacher Jennifer Cvetas. “We incorporated so many parts of our day to the 100th day celebration. We spent the whole week before doing all sorts of fun activities in math, reading, writing, morning meeting and choice time.”
Some examples include students sharing collections of 100 items with their classmates; counting by 10s; working in groups to build with 100 Solo cups; counting out 100 manipulatives; making a paper chain with 100 links; and more!
Cvetas said kindergarteners enjoyed all the activities, especially building with cups and the collections.
“I think students liked seeing the collections that each student brought in,” Cvetas said. “One-hundred can look very different depending on how big or small the item is. One-hundred blocks is much bigger than 100 beads!”
Kindergarteners have been counting the school days since the first day of school and it is incorporated into the classroom jobs. Cvetas said while counting the days, students learn how numbers are represented through ones, 10s and 100s.
“A popsicle stick is added to the ones’ bucket each day. Once there are 10 in the bucket, then we bundle them up with a rubber band and move it to the 10s bucket,” Cvetas said. “As the days went on, this helped students learn to count by 10s. On the 100th day, we had 10 bundles of 10! We bundled them in one large bundle and moved it to the 100s bucket.”
Primary School News
First-, Second- and Third-graders Stage Original Plays
Lights, camera, action!
During their first semester of drama, Andrew Marikis’ first-, second- and third-graders workshopped and performed original plays for their peers. The plays came together after a semester of hard work and team building.
Students in all three grades began drama class by building trust and a sense of community through acting exercises and games, laying the foundation for the semester.
“We worked toward everyone getting a strong sense of ensemble,” Mr. Andrew said.
Second- and third-graders learned about personal storytelling and explored the idea of story. This served as a springboard for the question, “What do we want to make a play about?”
Students storyboarded their ideas and acted them out through improv games. Mr. Andrew constructed a script based on their performances. Students then began the rehearsal process, including blocking scenes and memorizing lines.
“This year, I really wanted to dig into doing drama in the traditional sense,” Mr. Andrew said.
First-graders, who are in their first year of drama, started with the basics. Mr. Andrew taught them about the theater spaces, such as backstage, how to be a good audience member and how to be on a stage. Students also completed storytelling exercises.
For the first grade, Mr. Andrew wrote a narration and students acted it out. “It was very driven by the students and their delightfully whacky sensibilities,” he said.
All three plays were original creations with themes chosen by students. Students were interested in myriad topics, including pollution, animal adoption, family, and being responsible with power. In second and third grade, students researched their themes and incorporated their research into their plays.
Mr. Andrew said students developed their storytelling and plot development skills, collaborative and listening skills, all while developing a sense of voice.
“The thing I’m most excited by is the sense of independence students had about developing their shows,” Mr. Andrew said. “Their words are important.”
Intermediate School News
Students Study Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Principles of Nonviolence, Beloved Community in Library
Throughout the school year, librarian Charles Jones shares books with his preschool through grade 5 classes that focus on diversity, equity, inclusion and justice.
Jones recently read books centered on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Six Principles of Nonviolence and the Beloved Community. The Beloved Community is a vision for a community where all members are cared for and there is no poverty, hunger or hate.
The Six Principles of Nonviolence include:
- Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people. It is active nonviolent resistance to evil.
- Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding. The end result of nonviolence is redemption and reconciliation.
- Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice, not people. Nonviolence recognizes that evildoers are also victims.
- Nonviolence holds that suffering can educate and transform. Nonviolence willingly accepts the consequences to its acts.
- Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate. Nonviolence resists violence to the spirit as well as the body. Nonviolence love is active, not passive. Nonviolence love does not sink to the level of the hater. Love restores community and resists injustice. Nonviolence recognizes the fact that all life is interrelated.
- Nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice. The nonviolent resister has deep faith that justice will eventually win.
(From The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change)
In fourth and fifth grade, students read books about children making a change and the actions they take to do so. The books incorporate the Principles of Nonviolence in myriad ways. Students read Monica Clark-Robinson’s “Let the Children March,” Cynthia Faye Levinson’s “The Youngest Marcher: the Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks” and Duncan Tonatiuh’s “Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation.”
Jones asked students, “Who can create change? At what age can you create change?” Students had various answers, but Jones said change can be made at any age. Even the birth of a baby can create change.
Jones said King’s principles and the Beloved Community “affects all of us in a positive light,” and he’s sharing that with his students. He also notes, “We’re learning these things, but what’s the next step?”
“If everyone has the same mindset, it perpetuates the love,” Jones said. “We all have to work together.”
Middle School News
Students Present Arts Core Share
At the end of every trimester, Middle Schoolers share the culmination of the work they’ve been doing in their Arts Core classes, including art, band, choir, theater, songwriting, dance and the makerspace, with their teachers and peers. The Arts Core share was held over two days, with families invited the second day to enjoy performances in the gym. Enjoy a slideshow featuring photos from the February Arts Core Share!
Eighth-graders Create Experiments for Kindergarteners, Primary Students
Eighth-graders in Sarah Mohr’s science class shared their knowledge of laboratory skills with Baker’s kindergarten and primary school students in a late February lesson.
Eighth-graders designed and taught the younger students hands-on science lessons.
“As a way for students to showcase their understanding of lab work, eighth-graders brainstormed experiment ideas that using snow would help younger students begin exploring basic chemistry concepts,” Mohr said. “Eighth-graders first tested their experiments and wrote full teacher version lab reports for them, which included age appropriate procedures and discussion questions, as well as introductory information to share with students.”
In the weeks leading up to the activity, eighth-graders ran experiments with large data sets because they required multiple trials, use multiple methods, or test several independent variables.
For example, students separated carbon from more complex molecules by dehydrating sugar using an acid and by catalyzing a reaction between sugar and baking soda.
“Both these reactions produce carbon ‘columns,’ which helped students to visually think through the similarities and differences in the products resulting from the two reactions,” Mohr said. “The paper chromatography lab that students did required careful attention to changes in two variables over several tests.”
The labs enabled students to hone their analysis skills and consider their data from two perspectives when thinking about the implications of their results.
All School News
Baker loves our alumni! We are connecting with alumni and sharing their stories. Enjoy the first installment of our Alumni Profiles.
Baker Alumni Profile: Tara Walsh ’17
High School: Latin School of Chicago
University: Currently a Freshman at Trinity College of Dublin, Ireland
What activities/clubs/organization/work have you been involved in?
After Baker, I got involved in a lot of activities! I was one of the heads of Latin’s Initiative for Ethics, which effectively brings in speakers from across the world to discuss specific ethical topics.
I was also the head of the Student Academic Board, which was essentially a body of 50 students nominated to discuss topics regarding the school. As head, I would bring that feedback to the administration. I was also the head of Model UN — which is funny because I actually heard about MUN from Mrs. Beaudoin — so we would organize conferences and travel around the country to compete.
I continued saxophone, playing in both concert band and jazz band, becoming the head of my sections. I played basketball, soccer, a little bit of volleyball, but then I quit volleyball for boxing, and of course, still riding horses.
I ended up getting involved in two exchange programs — Spain and Germany. I actually am still friends with my exchange students today. A few months ago I was visiting one of my Spanish exchange students, who has also become one of my best friends. Because of being a huge part of these exchanges, I was also on the global exchanges committee, where I helped to organize events.
What have you been up to since graduating from Baker?
After I graduated high school, I ended up in quite the unexpected place — Dublin, Ireland. During my college search, I basically applied to Trinity College Dublin on a whim and didn’t really think I would end up actually going but, here I am! As someone who is interested in international relations and has a deep love for travel and exploring new cultures I wanted to apply to universities outside of the U.S. (although I didn’t think I would be brave enough to actually go).
What drew me into Trinity was the fact that it was in a place I had never been to and just the excitement and the adventure of it all. I’m not going to lie, the cheap RyanAir tickets were also a massive selling point — I went to visit my friend in Scotland for 10 euro and a 45 minute flight! Definitely perks to living in Europe!
I was always planning to live abroad. It was just a matter of time, so I decided there was no time like the present! I have to say, for me, and anyone who knows me, this decision, while at first a little shocking, actually made so much sense. It definitely is not easy and there are certainly days that are harder than others, especially during the first term just because there was so much to adjust to: COVID, new education systems, grocery shopping.
Now that I’ve been here for a while I’m feeling much more secure in my “adulting” skills and I’m beginning to get more involved on campus. Currently, I am a head of Model UN here at Trinity, as well as being involved with language programs, the equestrian team (hopefully!), the International Relations Society, and hopefully next year I can continue with jazz.
I would say the one difference from going to school here and my previous schools is that nothing is handed to you. If you want something you have to go get it.
How did Baker prepare you for your next steps? What do you appreciate most about your time at Baker?
It’s hard to put into words exactly what kind of impact Baker had on me as a person and as a learner. I would say, though, that the girl I was in Baker is perhaps one of my favorite iterations of myself!
Baker instilled in me motivation and a genuine love of learning. I know that sounds really cheesy but it’s true. After going to a school where the education style is pretty much the complete opposite of what I am used to, I know that compared to my peers, I have a certain capacity for making any topic interesting. I also built the ability to participate fearlessly and seek out my teachers without worrying about making mistakes. Now, in college, whether I’m in a lecture of 300 people or 12, you better believe I will be there with my hand up ready to talk!
While Baker taught me how to speak fearlessly, it also taught me to share the stage with others and not dominate a conversation, which is a crucial skill. I think kids who attend Baker not only have strong academic skills, they also have incredibly strong social skills, with a high capacity for compassion, empathy, and curiosity.
While I obviously had challenging classes, Baker truly prepared me for many things for which my peers were simply not ready. I think a huge part of this is that Baker also taught me that it’s perfectly ok to ask for help, in fact you should seek it out, and that is a skill that has not only served me well in the classroom but also in life in general. I think if you take away anything from your time at Baker, there’s no shame in asking for help when you need it.
One of the things I will always appreciate about Baker, especially now that I’m at a very different school, is the connection you form with your teachers. I think that is something that really cannot be underestimated. Knowing the people who are teaching you, and then knowing what kind of learner you are and what your name is and what you like to do is an unparalleled experience. In fact, it’s something I truly miss about Baker.
What is a memorable school project/field trip/lesson you participated in at Baker?
In terms of my favorite lessons, I have a few. But my top two would definitely be having a dead octopus in third grade to examine, and the boat races.
My favorite field trip was definitely going to Lorado Taft in fourth grade. That entire trip was just perfect. I also really loved the sixth grade camping trip, because we got to explore the woods and it felt like I was kind of like a cool teenager for the first time. It was also my first time camping trip, so I was really excited.
Actually, that reminds me, on those trips I would always over pack — like, really, really over pack — and I remember Mrs. Itkin saying, “Tara, you really don’t need all of that.” So now whenever I’m packing for one of my various trips I pack quite light!
What advice do you have for current Baker students?
My advice for current Baker students is to be present. I’m sure everyone says that and maybe you are sick of hearing it, but really and truly, it is one of the most valuable skills you can build. You only get to be at Baker once, and instead of focusing on the next adventure to come, enjoy the one happening right before your eyes. I know that sometimes Baker can feel a bit small or you want to move on to different things, but you have a really special opportunity to be at this school, so don’t waste it. I promise you will miss it!
Baker Holding Open Gyms for Families
Students and families are welcome to join us on Saturday, March 5 and Saturday, March 12 for Open Gym! Please see the schedules below for your child’s timeslot.
Saturday, March 5
11 a.m. – First-Third Grade Families
11:45 a.m. – Middle School Students
11 a.m. – First-Third Grade Families
11:45 a.m. – Middle School Students