As our school comes together as a community each year, activities are planned to help students get to know each other socially and as learners. All levels participate in field trips, are assigned their Reading Buddy for the year, and learn about opportunities to participate in all school and large group activities.
Our youngest learners are focused on getting to know each other and becoming members of the school community. Reading buddies, all school assemblies and large group activities help with this process. Treasured Level 1 fall field trips include apple picking and choosing a class tree at the Arnold Arboretum.
Level 2 learners are well established members of the NS community. Each fall, they come together to learn about each other and about the themes that they will study for the year. Level 2 students are assigned regular homework for the first time, and enjoy a variety of field trips that either reinforce the themes they are studying for the year, or reflect unique opportunities for exploring the resources available in Greater Boston.
By Level 3, students are becoming leaders and helpers. For the first time, they are the older “Reading Buddies,” providing a mentoring relationship to their new Level 1 friends. Social studies themes (click to thematic and project-based learning) focus on a biennial rotation of World Tour and the Americas. Science themes (thematic and project-based learning) range from Sound to the Solar System.
Our Level 4 students have the opportunity to come together as a strong and more independent team of learners. The highlight of each fall in Level 4 is the trip to The Farm School in Athol, MA. Social studies themes (thematic and project-based learning) focus on a biennial rotation of 20th Century and Ancient Civilizations. Science themes (thematic and project-based learning) include investigations with motion and experiments with Wisconsin Fast Plants.
As the excitement of the beginning of the school year winds down, all levels settle in to the bulk of their thematic and project-based learning for the year. Recess and a variety of after school activities, including chess club and rock band are in full swing, and help further the community building process.
Individual classrooms and the entire NS community continue to come together for a variety of treasured Neighborhood School traditions, including the annual Halloween Party, Pajama Day, the Winter Concert, the annual Variety Show, and Gifts from the Heart.
The school year blossoms as students and teachers prepare and present the fruit of the year’s work via two biennial events, an original Musical Play and a Learning Fair. The play provides an opportunity for our oldest students to take a lead while supporting adults make sure that every student participates and shines. Our Learning Fair puts all students in a teaching role with the public.
Parent participation in learning and organizing outside activities is evident throughout the year but it is in full bloom by spring. Parents accompany field trips, lend their labor to our garden, library and more, and fill needed committee roles with our play and annual fundraiser.
June brings us to a time of celebration and send-offs. Our oldest students (grads) exhibit their independent learning (grad) projects, speak at graduation, and then celebrate their accomplishments and friendships with a grad trip. After their return, the whole NS community gathers for a last day of school carnival-like party called Boolie Day, when non-conformity reigns and dunk tank inductees are initiated. At the final assembly, the rock band plays, memory books are given, and souvenir wood chips are signed from the play yard where friends met and will be remembered.