FI School Upper School Academic Update February 2020

February 2020

Wrapping up the first chapter with the English department and starting the second

By Jade R.

In the English department, Ms. Hall has wrapped up the first chapter of the year with her students and is looking forward to the next. “Now is when we bring everything the students have learned in the first semester and build on it,” she reflected, “It’s exciting because I see them lifting each other up as they grow, and that’s huge.”

The 7th graders have just finished the short novel, A Long Walk to Water and will soon be submitting their final essays about survival in challenging environments. They watched The Good Lie and discussed cinematic and thematic elements in connection to the book. Soon the class will start George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, which they will act out in class.

The 2010 American war book, Unbroken, is currently underway in the 8th grade. The main focus in this unit is tracking the evolution of the main character, Louie Zamperini, and his journey during his time in the Olympics, World War II, and beyond.

In the Intro to Literature and Composition class, the 9th graders are nearing the final act of Romeo and Juliet. “Oddly, we’ve shared a lot of laughs this time around. I’m so glad this class has found the humor in Shakespeare, even though we all know what’s about to happen to our star-crossed lovers,” she stated with a chuckle. Soon they will move into a memoir unit where her students will write personal essays about key moments in their lives.

As has been the case for several years now, the history and English departments will join forces with the sophomore class and begin a unit on truth and memory during the Holocaust. 10th graders will read Night, a true story about Elie Wiesel and his experience with his father in the Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald. Other texts and films will be included in this unit as they prepare for a formal Socratic Seminar.

“What will be wonderful this year” she explained, “is now that Mr. George and I are part of the Encountering Survivors program, two of our sophomores will be able to bring in their experience interviewing the child of a Holocaust survivor to enrich discussion during the seminar.”

The junior class is still working away on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and will start screening The Help as they consider the concept of the “white savior complex” as they explore Twain’s protagonist’s Hero’s Journey. Meanwhile, the senior class just submitted their personal profiles of some very interesting individuals, including Tim Patterson, Johnny Ski, and Jane Ahrens. Though the senior class was familiar with these island residents, they were really able to discover who these people are through this project. Seniors are also reading the epic poem, Paradise Lost, by John Milton. Ms. Hall is excited to see the seniors enjoy the literary challenges this poem will bring.

Starting the second semester strong in the history department

By Jade R.

Mr. George, the history teacher, is currently involved with Encountering Survivors. Encountering Survivors is a program where five of our high schoolers interview the child of a Holocaust survivor. The sophomores are learning about the Holocaust, which allows them to connect to the Encountering Survivors program.

He is excited to start the second semester strong with his students reading about the Civil War, Criminal Justice, WWII, and more. Most of his classes will become more engaged with some sort of literature, and Mr. George is excited to connect literature to the history curriculum.

Grades 9-12 will be starting their yearly research papers soon. Mr. George says, “how to find information on a topic is important,” and this research paper helps students improve their reading, writing, organizational, and research skills.

Overall, Mr. George is excited to continue working with the Encountering Survivors Program and the academics throughout the high school.

Post-midterms in the science department 

By Betsy C. 

This month, Mrs. Giles, the science teacher at Fishers Island School, is working with the seventh through twelfth graders to get them “back-on-track” as they start new science units following midterms.

The sophomores are in Oceanography. This class meets every day with an additional lab period every four days. The students are currently studying ocean basins. In their lab period, they are monitoring seals at Hungry Point, where they have seen over 125 of them. The students then compare their data to Project Oceanography’s data, which is a nonprofit that studies marine biology.

As well as providing high school credit, Oceanography is offered as a dual-enrollment college course through UConn. Students who opt to take Early College Experience Oceanography receive college credit and are held to higher standards in and out of the classroom.

The juniors and seniors are studying Chemistry, where they are learning about volume, gas, states of matter, solutions, and the periodic table. This class is a lab class and also a Regents class, meaning that the students will take a New York State Regents Examination in June.

Chemistry is also offered at the honors level, which includes a science fair project. This year, Ellanora L., Ashley B., Meg A., Lili K., and Arabella H. are participating in Honors Chemistry. Ellanora studied ticks and tick-borne diseases in New London County and Fishers Island. Ashley’s studies focused on oyster reproduction and the impact of climate conditions on their reproduction rate. Meg considered how different types of beaches retain trash with an environmental focus on reducing marine debris. Arabella’s research looked at the success rate of essential oils in combating bacteria and disease. Finally, Lili studied earthworms and their carbon dioxide emission and consumption. They now have the opportunity to submit their projects to the Connecticut State Science Fair in March.

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The Second Semester in the Math Department:

By David S.

Ms. Sue, the math teacher at Fishers Island School, started the new year with exciting topics. All the math classes will be a continuation of the first semester except for statistics, which is a new class instead of calculus.

In 7th grade, the class was introduced to solving equations before their midterm, and now they are focusing on learning about inequalities. The content learned this year will help prepare the students for Pre-Algebra.

8th graders focus on more complex equations for pre-algebra. At the beginning of the year, they reviewed what they learned in 7th grade, and now they are bringing in properties such as distributing and combining like terms.

In Algebra I, 9th graders finished up sequences before midterms, and now they are learning how to factor and about quadratics.

10th graders started the year with a lot of proof practice, and currently they are finishing up with special features of triangles before they move on to scale drawings. Proof practice is essential in geometry, as it is one of the hardest concepts to learn.

In Algebra II, 11th graders just started with imaginary numbers. This year, they will also have their Algebra II New York State’s Regents exam that they have been preparing for since the beginning of the class.

Currently, in statistics, the 12th graders are using their computers every day in class to complete daily assignments. The program being used is new for this year, and so far, the seniors enjoy the ability to do work on the go.

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