Middle School

Middle School Closing Ceremony

The Middle School bade farewell to its eighth-graders during a wonderful ceremony on the last day of June. The Middle School Closing Ceremony opened with Mozart’s A Little Night Music played by the eighth-grade instrumental ensemble. Head of Middle School Bill Waskowitz opened by thanking the students, faculty, and parents for their hard work throughout the year. During his remarks, Head of School Chris Garten noted the impact the outgoing eighth-graders had on the Middle School community. “You’ve really raised the bar,” he said. “We have great expectations of you.” Eighth-graders Sydney Chun, Kurt Drath, Sahil Singh Ghatora, Audrey Howard, Time Kalin, Savoy Lackey, and Christina Torlone shared the lessons they’ve learned in Middle in their Eighth-Grade Reflections, citing four lessons:

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  2. Don’t worry. Relax. Be positive and appreciate the experience.
  3. Be yourself and try new things.
  4. Seven Hills is a family and a community that welcomes all and supports each other.

Waskowitz and Head of Upper School Matt Bolton made additional remarks to the class of 2021. Waskowitz recalled when he was a kid he watched the Superman series on television. He compared the eighth-graders to Superman’s mild-mannered alias Clark Kent. Like Kent, Waskowitz said, the students work hard day in and day out, showing up to their “job.” Even with their amazing artistic, athletic, and academic abilities, students are present and do what needs to be done, not just for themselves but for others too. He said that was the “true superpower.” Bolton congratulated the students, and invited them to make the Upper School their home. In addition to the opening ensemble performance, the ceremony included a number of musical selections. Eighth-grader Aaron Ziegler played Fantasy Bossa and the eighth-grade chorus gave a moving performance of Home by Phillip Phillips. Eighth-grader Maddie Davis closed the program with Better Together by Jack Johnson as eighth-graders made the traditional recessional. Before a reception for family and guests, faculty lined the hallway to Hillsdale Commons to cheer on the rising ninth-graders. Click here to see photos of the Middle School Closing Ceremony.


Caroline Routh
Griffin Callow
Meg Yuan

Awards of Distinction

During the Middle School Closing Ceremony, Middle School Athletic Director and Physical Education Department Chair Roger Schnirring announced the Archie Griffin Sportsmanship Award to eighth-graders Caroline Rauth and Griffin Callow. Middle School Dean Andy McGarvey announced the Patricia Howard Award of Distinction, given to eighth-grader Meg Yuan.


Sixth-graders Learn About Different Cultures on Asia Day

Sixth-graders wrapped up an intensive study of Asia in early June with Asia Day, which celebrates countries such as India, China, and Korea. Middle School geography teacher and dean of students Andy McGarvey spearheaded the event, which serves as a hands-on lesson about cultures of Asian countries. Students learned about henna, yoga, and Indian dance. They also learned about the game of cricket from director of experiential learning Nick Francis, as well as enjoyed watching a kung fu demo from the Blue Ash Shaolin Dojo. Upper and Middle Chinese teacher Mia Wu shared a lesson about China and taught students calligraphy. The day finished with a celebration of Holi, an Indian Festival of Colors that welcomes the arrival of spring. Sixth graders gathered on the basketball court to throw handfuls of colored powder in the air for one final cultural lesson.


Innovation on Display

Seventh-graders in Karen Glum’s design thinking class culminated their Innovation Lab projects in late May with a presentation of prototypes designed to solve problems. As part of a yearlong partnership with the Cincinnati Zoo, students used design thinking to create devices that engage zoo animals and incorporate enhance their habitats. Students Jenny Hu and Tessa Belluso created a device designed to stimulate fisher cats and encourage them to engage with their environment. During their interviews with zoo representatives, Hu and Belluso learned that the fisher cats often became bored and paced in their living spaces. The young design team said they will try to pitch their idea for practical use at the zoo. The students and dozens of their classmates designed a number of viable prototypes for a variety of zoo animals, including more engaging space for capybara, a play area for wild dog pups, and more dynamic feeders for giraffes and red pandas, to name a few. Other students designed a pillow for people who sleep face down, pain-free athletic turf, a personalized pencil that fits behind your ear when you wear glasses, and many, many more. Click here to view more photos from the presentation.


Oreos Used to Review Phases of the Moon

Learning the phases of the moon was a delicious activity in science teacher Jocelyn Welch’s class. Using Oreo cookies, students created the different phases of the moon. “The cookie alone represented the part of the moon that was not illuminated by the sun, and the cream represented the illuminated portion,” Welch said. “Using the position of the moon, in relationship to the earth and sun, students imagined what they would see in the sky from their earthbound perspective.” The cookies also served as a little bit of motivation. “Students had a little extra drive to have their moon phase diagram complete and accurate, or else they would delay consumption of their cookies!” Welch said.


Bowl-A-Thon Raises Money for the Caring Place

Eighth-grade representative Eli Perlin and Olivia Quinn recently presented a $3,500 check to Sharifah Tafari, executive director of the Caring Place. The money was raised by the eighth-grade’s Bowl-A-Thon event through donations made by the Middle School community.


From The Buzz, May 26, 2017

Science Club Collaborates on Project for Lotspeich

Lotspeich first-graders really enjoyed the new plant grow lab installed by eighth-grade science teacher Ken Revell, but there was a small problem—they couldn’t reach it. Revell, along with Upper School science teacher Brian Berning, collaborated with the Middle School science club to build a special stool, called a learning stool, that students could stand on. The stool has an additional step, and railing structure that prevents students from falling. The science club assembled the stools using furniture from Ikea. They used a cop saw and drill press to build the stool. They also laser engraved the school logos and applied stain and polyurethane. Students who worked on the project include eighth-grader Will Hawgood, Wes Gardner, Christopher Maring, Tim Kalin, Luke Malloy, and Aaron Ziegler, and seventh-grader Aditi Sinha.


Author Doreen Cronin Speaks at Middle School

Nationally renowned author Doreen Cronin visited the Middle School on May 10, speaking to students about her new book Cyclone. Cronin, who wrote children’s books Click Clack Moo Cows that Type and Duck for President, published Cyclone this year. The book is Cronin’s first novel for middle readers, and is based on her ride on Coney Island’s wooden roller coaster. “Her lesson to the Middle School was very pertinent,” said Middle and Upper head librarian Suzanne Dix. “The internet is an easy place to be cruel so think before you speak. There is a significant difference from offering criticism (hurtful and negative) vs. feedback (encouraging and positive).” Dix said Cronin’s stop at Seven Hills was part of her national book tour. After her time at Seven Hills, she spoke to a crowd at Blue Manatee bookstore in Oakley.


Locks for Leonard

Students gathered in the Middle School to have their hair cut for a cause. The annual Locks for Leonard, a Middle School-sponsored charitable hair donation event named for late Beth Leonard, was held in mid-May. Leonard was a Middle School physical education teacher who passed away in 2014. Students and teachers alike each had eight or more inches of hair cut, which was donated to help children and young adults who have lost their hair due to medical reasons. The hair was given to Pantene Beautiful Lengths and Locks of Love, and cut by stylists from Identity Salon. Thank you to students and teachers who donated, and math teacher Theresa Keller, who organized the event. Click here for photos from the event.


Seventh-graders Spearhead Sustainability Initiatives

Seventh-graders are driving sustainability on the Hillsdale Campus. Recently, students held a bake sale to raise funds for sustainability projects on Campus. According to seventh-grade science teacher Jocelyn Welch, students have been working in groups since January on the project. They have done everything from write sustainability proposals, to sow flower seeds for pollinators. They have also shared their ideas with their peers in Middle and younger children in Lotspeich. “While not all of the ideas and projects require a budget, some of them would just remain ideas without a little spending power, like purchasing a tumbling compost bin for Upper and Middle to be able to easily compost food scraps from fruit break and lunches eaten outdoors,” Welch said. Students have also used their funds to buy prizes for advisories that participate in sustainability challenges. The remaining money will be carried over to the next school year, when new seventh-graders will take on their own sustainability challenges.



Middle School Students Preview Theater Program for Fifth-graders

The Middle School theater program has had an exciting year. In early 2017, students traveled to a theater festival in Sacramento, California, and to a thespian conference in Akron, claiming top prizes at each. Middle School students shared their talents with Lotspeich and Doherty fourth- and fifth-graders at a special theater preview on May 4. The young thespians gave performances of monologues, songs, and more. Highlights included songs from a recent production of The Lion King and the spring play 13. Middle School theater teacher Jacob Hauser said he wanted to give the younger students a sampling of opportunities available in Middle School theater, and illustrate how sixth- through eighth-graders can develop as actors, singers, and performers.


From The Buzz, May 11, 2017

Seventh-graders Place First in Ohio in Stock Market Game

After 10 weeks of playing the (fictional) Stock Market, a team of four seventh-graders was invited to compete in a Portfolio Challenge at the University of Cincinnati. Starting in February and lasting 10 weeks, all Seven Hills seventh-graders participated in the intensive Stock Market Game, combining history and math to invest virtual money in stocks and compete against students across the country. The lesson was co-taught by math teacher Carri Haskins and history teacher Doug Huff. Four Seven Hills students, Thomas Murphy, Paris Weems, Sarah Croog, and Jake Messer, came in first place in the state of Ohio, which allowed them to advance to the Portfolio Challenge. “The stock market group had a very good time at the Portfolio Challenge presentation at the University of Cincinnati,” said Huff. “We had to beat out over 140 middle school teams to even get to UC.” The team prepared a 10-minute PowerPoint presentation about what they learned over the course of the project, and presented their findings to a panel of judges. “The panel of judges was very impressed with the group’s focus on diversifying their money in their stock selections and their overall knowledge of the stock market,” Huff said.


Eighth-graders Prepare Scenes from Romeo and Juliet

Eighth-grade English teacher Laura Clemens is making her students’ seven-week study of Shakespeare an interactive experience. After spending roughly four weeks on introductory material and working through the play, fine-tuning students’ understanding of plot and language, students worked with Darnell Benjamin from the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. Benjamin teaches eighth-graders how to approach Shakespeare as an actor, something Clemens believes is important. “From my perspective, Shakespeare wrote his plays to be performed so that we can best understand his masterpieces by taking on the roles of actor and audience member,” Clemens said. “This project gives students the opportunity to serve in both capacities.” She said as students work collaboratively with their scene partners and create a linear narrative, they have several ideas to keep in mind. “They must not only understand the plot events that occur in the scene and memorize lines, but also delve deeply into the character relationships and find ways, through blocking and delivery, to convey the meaning of their lines to the audience,” Clemens said. She noted that as students view the scenes during rehearsals and performances, they learn how audiences who viewed Shakespeare in the Globe Theater hundreds of years ago experienced the scenes. “Both of these aspects of the experience allow students to make personal connections with the characters, language, and play so that in the future, Shakespeare doesn’t seem scary, unfamiliar, or intimidating,” Clemens said. 


Sixth Grade is for the Birds Day

Throughout the school year, sixth-graders delve into ornithology, or the study of birds, participating in different lessons related to the animals. The study culminates in early May with the annual Sixth Grade is for the Birds Day. Students and their guests participated in several activities. Dr. Dave Russell, who runs the nonprofit bird rescue program AREI, held a lesson on bird banding. Russell caught, banded, and released birds behind the Middle School, and shared facts about each bird he caught. Students also participated in a math activity that asked them to use measurements and conversions to track the life of a Carolina Chickadee. The tiny bird spends much of its day gathering food. In the Hillsdale Commons, sixth-graders presented their bird-related experiments to their guests. Head of School Bill Waskowitz told the gathered crowd that students designed their own experiments. He encouraged them to visit exhibits, ask questions, and get a sense of the experiments. Waskowitz encouraged them to keep one question in mind—“What did you find out about birds that you did not know before this morning began?” Click here to see more photos from Sixth Grade is for the Birds Day.


Make It Shake It Challenge

In early May, Jocelyn Welch’s seventh-grade science classroom was filled with towers constructed from pasta, cardboard, and hot glue. The towers were put to the test as part of the Make It Shake It Challenge, a project focused on design thinking and problem-solving. Students first studied the earth’s interior, with a focus on plate tectonics and related natural disasters, Welch said. Because the plates move, some places in the U.S. experience earthquakes. “Students researched building design principals to learn more about how places like San Francisco work to keep people safe by designing and building earthquake-resistant buildings. This challenge lets students put their knowledge and designing skills to the test by building a small tower, using specific parameters.” Students tested their designs on a shake table, which simulated an earthquake. Welch said the tower-building experience was collaborative, and students applied their knowledge in a team setting. She wants students to take away another lesson. “My hope is that my students gain a memorable experience where they were in control of the outcome. And while they may not remember the difference between a ‘dead load’ and a ‘live load,’ they will have made the connection between what is going on under Earth’s crust, to what happens on the surface and how many people working together can play very important roles that may save the lives of other people living far away,” Welch said.


Sixth-graders Visit Indianapolis

In late April, sixth-graders took an overnight trip to Indianapolis, Indiana. Students saw a variety of sites around the city. They visited the Indianapolis Zoo, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association Hall of Champions. According to trip organizer and science teacher Jennifer Licata, this is the 20th annual sixth-grade trip to Indianapolis. Click here to view more photos from the trip.


From The Buzz, April 28, 2017

Seventh-graders Explore Cincinnati on Exciting Field Trips

One field trip is exciting, but two is even better! Seventh-graders learned this the fun way when they recently took two field trips to locations around Cincinnati. Students’ first very busy day started with a presentation from Steve Leeper, 3CDC president and CEO, and parent of seventh-grader Charlie Leeper. Leeper’s company 3CDC, which stands for Cincinnati Center City Development Corp, is a non-profit company that creates civic spaces and development, while preserving historic structures and improving streetscapes. Following the presentation, students attended Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s performance of A Raisin in the Sun, which tied into their recent reading of the play in English teacher Mandy Hayes’ class. “We also enjoyed lunch in the newly renovated Memorial Hall building, and finished the day with the Queen City Underground Tour to learn about the history of the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood,” Hayes said. The excitement didn’t end in OTR. Later in the week, seventh-graders traveled to iSpace to participate in an iMission simulation. Students were immersed in the various roles of living and working on a lunar research base. “Students were challenged to apply STEM skills in a very fun and unique experience,” said science teacher Jocelyn Welch. “In each role, from life support and the medical team to engineers and geologists, students worked together to solve problems with the ultimate goal of having a successful mission.” Welch said they learned that teamwork is required for a successful mission and completion of the simulation, as well as solving any surprise problems along the way!


Eighth Graders Prepare for Salad Day

The eighth-grade advisories are growing their own vegetables in preparation for a special salad day, a project spearheaded by eighth grade science teacher Ken Revell. Students will grow their own vegetables, and each eighth grade advisory will make a recipe from the vegetables grown in gardens on Campus. The project serves an important purpose. Not only do students grow their own vegetables, they also learn about the importance of food. “This project is intended to introduce them to healthy fresh foods, culture, and the link between food and community,” Revell said. Lotspeich first graders in Natalie Wildfong’s science class even got in on the fun. “The first graders helped Mr. Revell plant different types of plants,” she said. “I saw him working and asked if we could help! He taught us how to break the plants apart and how to place and plant each one in the ground.”


Books for Summer

It’s not unusual for the Young Family Library to be filled with books, but during the Books for Summer event, there were even more books than usual. The three-day, second-annual book fair drew in sixth- through eighth-graders to explore a variety of fiction and nonfiction available for sale. The event was spearheaded by parent committee member Judy Finn, as well as Suzanne Dix, Middle and Upper head librarian, and Gail Bloom, Middle and Upper associate librarian. Betsy Schram at The Bookshelf in Madeira provided books. “Students loved seeing new books that the library didn’t own and planning ahead for summer vacation reading,” Dix said. The event culminated with an evening for parents, allowing them to enjoy light refreshments and shop for books.


Middle School Students Excel on National Latin Exam

Middle School students across America and the world took the National Latin Exam, which tests knowledge of Latin reading comprehension, grammar, derivatives, and Roman culture and history. The overwhelming majority of Middle School Latin students placed above the national average on every level of the exam. Fifty-eight Seven Hills Latin students took the exam, 50 scored above the national average. Listed below are the individual results, in order of distinction and score.


Seventh-graders – Introduction to Latin Exam

Ribbon and Certificate for Outstanding Performance — Jenny Hu, Ellie Haas, Jack Fechter, and Naina Purushothaman

Certificate for Merit — Robby Ligeralde, Grayson Halonen, Ananya Munjal, Kamaia Hall-Edwards, Aditi Purushothaman, Sarah Croog, Suhani Gupta, Jonny Vanover, and Anand Patil

 Eighth-graders – Level I Exam

Gold Medal, Summa Cum Laude Distinction — Daniel Goldfeder, Aidan Finn, Luke Malloy, Kurt Drath, and Eli Perlin

 Silver Medal, Maxima Cum Laude Distinction — Laxmi Namboodiri, Reva Namboodiri, and Tim Kalin

 Cum Laude Distinction — Elyse Stieby, Kavin Loganathan, and Nate Patchan


Problem Solving Through Design Thinking

According to science teacher Karen Glum, “design thinking is all about problem solving based on empathy meaning, addressing the problem from the perspective of the stakeholders.” Seventh graders in Glum’s design thinking class are putting empathy into practice as they solve a problems this semester, creating prototypes as a solution in the Middle School’s Innovation Lab. “Every group picks their own problem to solve,” Glum said. “Some students are solving problems for teachers, others for their parents, and some are working in collaboration with the Cincinnati Zoo, designing enrichment activities or new exhibits for animals.” Throughout the course of the project, students must create and get feedback on at least four versions of their ideas. Students’ work will be on display on June 2, when they present their process and prototypes to evaluators from around the community.


From The Buzz, April 13, 2017

Seventh-graders Begin Soil Study

Seventh-graders in Jocelyn Welch’s science class kicked off their new soil study in a hands-on way—by studying the nutrients of the soil in the new, seventh-grade garden beds. Students first collected soil samples and determined the texture type. Welch, with the help of two students, made a liquid solution to extract the nutrients from soil samples A and B. Students then identified the samples’ pH, nitrogen, and phosphorus levels. Seventh graders will further test the soil by planting four varieties of plants in their beds. Welch said the class predicted one variety will increase the nitrogen in the soil, another the nutrients, and the final two are a mystery, for now. “Throughout the remainder of the year students will test the soil two additional times to monitor for changes in nutrient levels,” Welch said.


Students Show Off their Skills at Talent Show

Seven Hills Middle School is full of talented artists, musicians, dancers, and more. These skills were on full display during the March 17 talent show, hosted by Student Council. Working with a St. Patrick’s Day theme, eighth-graders Sydney Chun and Eli Dauer emceed the event, introducing each act. Music teacher John Rising and eighth-grader Wes Gardner were on hand to infuse humor throughout the show. Gym teacher Sue Bone, who helped organize the show, said the evening opened with a musical performance from the quartet of seventh-graders Ali Nathan, Miranda Kerr, Anand Patel, and Robby Ligeralde.

Other acts included:

-Musicians: Eighth-grader Maddie Davis and sixth-grader Nora Meisch played ukulele. Sixth-grader Mark DeBlasio played violin. Seventh-grader Jenny Hu and eighth-grader Caroline Chalmers played piano.

– Dancers: Eighth-grader Laxmi Namboodiri performed a beautiful Indian dance and sixth-grader Ashley McLennan performed a Scottish dance.

– Singers included Kerr, sixth-grader Izzy Beaver, seventh-grader Corinne Kieser, and eighth-graders Lara Geiger and Olivia Quinn.

– Actors: Performers included eighth-graders Caroline Routh and Grace Arya, sixth-grader Josh Berning, and DeBlasio to entertain.

“We really appreciate our talented folks in Middle,” Bone said. Click here to view more photos from the talent show.


Human Body Study in Sixth Grade

Sixth-graders in Jennifer Licata’s science class recently completed an extensive study of the human body, reinforcing their science lessons with hands-on activities that illustrated how bodies work. “Students studied the human body for about six weeks, focusing on the systems that help the body meet its basic needs—getting nutrients and oxygen to cells and getting rid of wastes,” Licata said. Students learned the parts and functions of the organs of the digestive system, respiratory system, and cardiovascular system. They participated in a variety of interesting and interactive activities to further show the importance of each system, including a heart and breathing rate experiment, heart relay races, and a torso triathlon. To view a gallery of some of the activities, click here.


Latin Test Review is Fun and Games

Eighth-graders in Marcie Handler’s Latin class prepared for an upcoming test with an educational game. Students broke into teams to play Circus Maximus, which required them to compose sentences in Latin, then move a chariot around a racetrack, one stop at a time, for correct sentences, in a way similar to a board game. “Circus Maximus gave students an opportunity to practice using Latin relative pronouns in their sentences,” Handler said. “Aside from trying to compose their Latin sentences as quickly as possible, they also had the ability to give another team a ‘broken wheel card,’ which forced the other team to complete an extra sentence before they could continue competing.” She noted that the game was quite a race with a very close finish. “The winning team beat the second place team by seconds, and by using the correct relative pronoun in a tricky sentence,” Handler said.



Seventh-graders Give Chinese Characters a Story

When students are younger, they master how to tell time and use the vocabulary associated with it. Seventh-graders in Mia Wu’s Chinese class are mastering that lexicon in a creative way. Students were assigned a time-related character, either hour, minute, half, or quarter, and were asked to create an interesting story that could help their peers remember what the character means. Wu said Chinese characters have a storied, 4,000-year history. The characters are based on pictographs, and they often look like the word they represent, a mountain for example. “Those characters are very foreign and sometimes intimidating to English speakers,” Wu said. “In order to make it fun and easier to the middle school students, I often ask them to create their own pictures based on the shape or story of the characters. It is fun and also they will put their understanding into those characters, which helps them grasp the concept better.”


Eighth-grader Participates in Spelling Bee

Congratulations to eighth-grader Meg Yuan for a fantastic performance in the WCPO Region II Spelling Bee! Yuan placed 15th out of a total of 61 participants. She made it through five rounds of the bee, spelling words like “isinglass” and “narcissistic.” Yuan represented the Seven Hills Middle School in a strong showing.


From The Buzz, March 17, 2017


Global Education Day

Sixth- through eighth-graders participated in the ninth year of Global Education Day in March 10. The day is filled with speakers, learning sessions, and a competition styled off the television show The Amazing Race, that takes students around the world without leaving the Middle School. The day opened with a guest speaker, primatologist Corrin LaCombe. Students then broke out into sessions, hosted by speakers from around Cincinnati and the Seven Hills community. Students attended a variety of sessions, ranging from 3-D printing aircraft engine parts, to learning proper tea etiquette, and to yoga. Science teacher and event organizer Jennifer Licata said hosting a wide variety of activities is important. “We want the kids to see connections between what is discussed during these sessions and we want it to be fun,” Licata said. “The more range in session offerings, the more opportunities for all the kids to find something they’re interested in.” The day ended with The Amazing Race, an interactive experience based on the television show of the same name. Students broke into MSGs, or mixed student groups made up of sixth- through eighth-graders, and worked through a variety of challenges, earning points along the way. Students completed 12 stations with different themes based on a global world. Students ran with the bulls (AKA math teacher Carri Haskins and geography teacher Andy McGarvey), built pyramids, and danced an Irish jig. “I think days like this are what makes Seven Hills’ Middle School special,” Licata said. “It’s an exhausting day for the faculty, but it’s worth it.” Click here to see photos from the Global Education Day sessions, and click here to see photos from the Amazing Race. 


Eighth grade Summit

Eighth-graders Attend Leadership Summit

Eighth-graders selected by their team recently attended the fifth annual Bystander to Upstander: Youth Leadership Summit. The summit is hosted by the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education. Eighth-graders Meg Yuan, Abbie Palmer, Savoy Lackey, Caroline Routh, Tim Kalin, and Daniel Goldfeder attended the event. Bystander to Upstander is an all-day program that encourages students to stand up to anti-Semitism, bigotry, racism, and bullying. The eighth-graders participated in interactive session that helped them identify their strengths as individuals, and taught them how to work in a team. Greg Forbes Siegman, co-author of The Silhouette Man and founder of the Brunch Bunch Mentoring Program, was the keynote speaker, discussing how small acts of kindness and good are important to the larger success of a movement.


Volunteering 2

Middle School Students Volunteer in OTR

Sixteen Middle School students and their teachers recently spent their morning volunteering at the Over-The-Rhine Rec Center during Saturday Hoops, a program that offers different activities for children living in Over-the-Rhine. “They spent time playing with children playing basketball, and doing puzzles and art,” said English teacher Mandy Hayes. “The art project was a metal embossing activity designed by Middle School art teacher Elissa Donovan.” This is the second year students have volunteered at the rec center. The Middle School teachers and the Community Change Club organized this community service field trip.


Math Counts 1

Students Compete at MATHCOUNTS

On Feb. 25, five Middle School students competed at the Cincinnati MATHCOUNTS competition, which is part of a nationwide math enrichment program for students in grades six through eight. Students compete at the school, city, state, and national levels. “Historically, Seven Hills has done very well, often qualifying for the state competition,” said seventh- and eighth-grade math teacher Tom Betts. “One year we had two individuals who finished first and fourth in the state, advancing to the national competition in Washington, D.C.” This year, eighth-grader Meg Yuan was the Middle School’s top scorer at the city competition. Seven Hills Middle School was also represented by eighth-graders Laxmi Namboodiri and Charlie Ringel, and seventh-graders Manan Vij and Robby Ligeralde.

Math Counts 2


Gold Rush

Seventh-graders Go for the Gold

Seventh-graders in Doug Huff’s history class learned about the California Gold Rush in a tangible way in early March. From 1848-1855, many Americans headed west to try and strike it rich by prospecting for gold. Students got a hands-on lesson in the challenges of finding gold when there is a lot of competition. Huff filled a trashcan with pieces of crumpled paper. On only a few pieces, he wrote “gold” in yellow marker. The students who found the gold pieces would receive a 100 percent on a quiz of their choosing during the remainder of the year. Of the group gathered around the trashcan, only one student found the golden paper. The activity was an interesting way for students to experience history in a way that’s relevant to them.


From The Buzz, March 3, 2017

Courage Retreat

Seventh Grade Courage Retreat

On Feb. 22, seventh graders gathered in the Hillsdale Commons to participate in the intensive, daylong Courage Retreat, which is hosted by Youth Frontiers. The students and a group of Upper School student facilitators, along with two leaders from Youth Frontiers, which organizes school retreats, participated in games, group discussions, and story sharing to foster courage and other values. Middle School counselor Samantha Laffoon explained the benefits of the retreat. “Besides providing a high energy, fun day of group activities and camaraderie, the Courage Retreat challenges students to step outside their comfort zone and explore the barriers that hold them back from being and doing their best,” Laffoon said. “The self-reflection and insight they are able to achieve in just one day is truly remarkable.” Upper School student retreat facilitators included juniors Alexis Tucker, Jessica Nordlund, Kate Stein, Maggie Kersting, Nina Dizenhuz, Ricardo Godoy, Tommy Robinson, and Cece Rauh; and seniors Andres Antonsson, Devin Williams, Emily Rauh, Grace McVey, Jeremiah Weaver, and Harper Duncan.

Courage 2



Students Visit Newfound Harbor Marine Institute in Florida

The long Presidents Day weekend provided Middle School students with an opportunity to learn in a sunny, warm locale. In a trip open to students in grades six through eight, 46 middle school students and five chaperones went to Florida to learn more about sea life. “We traveled to the Newfound Harbor Marine Institute on Big Pine Key to explore various topics related to marine biology,” said science teacher Jen Licata, who helped organize the trip. While in Florida, students participated in a variety of fun, scientific activities. They snorkeled, ran experiments, and dissected marine organisms while learning about the diversity of sea life in the Keys. They also visited a Turtle Hospital and Dolphin Research Center. Click here to see more photos.


Stock Market

Students Participate the Stock Market Game

Seventh graders at The Seven Hills School are learning the ups and downs of the stock market, along with students across the country. Starting Feb. 6, students began participating in a 10-week, intensive activity called the Stock Market Game. Students are combining history and math, using virtual money to invest in stocks. Math teacher Carri Haskins and social studies teacher Doug Huff are putting their heads together to lead the game as co-teachers. “We are embarking on something we’ve never done before,” Huff said. Seven Hills has a total of 22 teams participating in the nationwide project. “I believe that the Stock Market Game is an engaging, interdisciplinary, hands-on activity that employs many of the content skills taught in the classroom,” Huff said. “The students learn to work cooperatively with each other and practice decision-making skills.” Haskins notes that students will expand their financial knowledge beyond the stock market, including Dow Jones and Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, and how to invest wisely. They will also have a better grasp when learning about financial history, such as the Panic of 1837, the Roaring 20s, and the Great Depression. “Seventh graders will make connections between what they learn in class to the real world,” Haskins said. “More importantly, they’ll work together with their teammates to be successful!” Seventh graders prepped for the game by writing questions about the stock market. Haskins and Huff also discussed terms like profit, loss, and stocks, and used real-world examples to further illustrate the point. Ultimately, the game isn’t just a learning experience, it’s also a lot of fun. “The seventh graders are really excited to compete against other middle and high schoolers across the country,” Huff said.



Eighth Graders Create Postcards from Paris

Eighth graders in Jacky Kalubi’s French class combined language with culture while working on a recent project. Students are studying the past tense of French verbs and completing a writing assignment that further honed their skills. Kalubi asked her eighth graders to write a culturally relevant postcard about a fictional visit to Paris. Students wrote about what they saw, ate, how they traveled around the city, and more. They incorporated the past tense and a list of vocabulary words into their work, as well as information about a Parisian monument they researched, and presented to their classmates, prior to writing the postcards. Kalubi reviewed their first drafts, noting grammar and vocabulary, as well as cultural content, before students moved onto the final product. In addition to the writing, eighth graders had to find a French stamp with their researched monument, and created a collage of photos for the front of their postcards.



Stereoscopes Become Windows to the Past

Seventh graders have been taking a closer look at the earth in Jocelyn Welch’s science class. They recently culminated their study on part of the earth’s fossil record by putting it under the stereoscope, a tool similar to a microscope. Seventh graders took shaley limestone from Iowa to search for microfossils. “Some of the types of fossils found included brachiopods, crinoids, bryozoan, gastropods, tentaculites, and miscellaneous pieces of spines,” Welch said. The microfossils are from the Devonian period, which occurred 250 million years ago. Welch told students the fossils would not be obvious right away. Seventh graders had to answer questions about their finds, and sketch them as well. “This lab required some meticulous work to carefully sift through fine sediment,” Welch said. “It was a challenge of patience as much as it was a scavenger hunt!”


From The Buzz, Feb. 16, 2017

Hauck Winners

Students Honored with Hauck Scholarships

Congratulations to our Middle School Hauck Scholarship winners! Sixth grader Savi Thompson and seventh graders Jenny Hu, Aditi Sinha, and Tessa Belluso were recognized at a Middle School assembly held earlier this week. The award is named after Dr. Frederick A. Hauck, a world-renowned nuclear scientist and philanthropist. He served on the Atomic Energy Commission and worked closely with Albert Einstein. In addition, he was a businessman, explorer, historian, industrialist, metallurgist, nature lover, and humanitarian. Seven Hills established the Hauck Scholarships to recognize students who demonstrate achievement in mathematics or science. Scholars are currently in grades six or seven and receive a $250 grant to be applied toward tuition in an approved summer enrichment program. Selected students were reviewed by a Middle and Upper School faculty committee that looked at students’ interest in science, math, and their related activities outside the classroom.    


Geo timeline

Tracking the Earth’s Geologic Timeline

Students in Jocelyn Welch’s seventh grade science class moved beyond their desks for an interactive activity about the earth’s history. Students placed a long piece of blue tape on the floor, with each meter representing 1 billion years and each millimeter a million years. They then identified different events from the earth’s history, the formation of the earth, the first mammals, etc., and placed them along the tape. “Learning about earth’s history can be tricky because the time that has past since its formation is so vast,” Welch said. “This activity helped students to not only see the ebb and flow of the earth’s periods, but it also helped them to realize that the events that we think of as happening long, long, ago were actually relatively recent in the grand scheme of things!”

Geo timeline 2


Stage Combat 2

Seventh Grade Pairs Stage Combat with Of Mice and Men

John Steinbeck’s classic Of Mice and Men is packed with emotion and action, making it highly adaptable for the stage. English teacher Mandy Hayes found a way for seventh graders to do just that, with some help from Cincinnati Shakespeare Company (CSC) actors Brandon Burton and Cary Davenport. Burton and Davenport spoke with students about the novel, delving into how casting is impacted by the text and how actors make their decisions. “They read a scene aloud from the play that was adapted from the novel and invited the students to become directors by suggesting different tones of voice for the characters in the scene,” Hayes said. “The actors instructed students in stage combat as each worked with a partner to recreate the climactic fight between protagonists Lennie and Curley.” Hayes explained the novel unit in detail, and how the lesson focused on elements of characterization. They started with a simple question—“How do authors create good characters?’” She added, “During the course of the unit, students have focused on how a character’s appearance, words, actions, interactions, and even thoughts help to create his or her personality.” The visiting actors are part of the Classics in the Classroom program being piloted by CSC. Hayes said Seven Hills was invited to participate thanks to Seven Hills parent and CSC Executive Director Jay Woffington.

Stage Combat


Books 2

Speed Dating…with Books

On Feb. 8 and 9, love was in the air at the Young Family Library. The tables were set with red cloths, candles, even a bouquet of flowers, and covered with books. Emily Stettlers sixth graders were excited to meet their perfect match in the pages of a nonfiction book during the fourth annual Speed Dating with Books, organized by Middle and Upper School librarian Suzanne Dix and associate librarian Gail Bloom. “Nonfiction takes many students out of their comfort zone of reading about characters and a plot,” Dix said. “The speed dating approach is simply to help the students open and skim as many books as possible in a small amount of time—15 minutes total to peruse 80-100 books. By keeping an open mind and giving each book a try, they just might find ‘the one!’” Students have the opportunity to find their true love, and eventually “check out” their dates. After choosing a book, sixth graders will craft a creative presentation based on their nonfiction choice. Students have stretched their imaginations in the past to present cake decorating demos, origami lessons, and more. Overall, the event is a fun way to meet new books. “Laughing and joking keeps the tone completely light-hearted and the kids end up giving books a try that they ordinarily would never have considered,” Dix said. “The kids’ energy and enthusiasm when they find their perfect date is always priceless.”




Eighth Grade Celebrates the End of Chinese New Year

Eighth graders in Mia Wu’s Chinese class celebrated the end of Chinese New Year with a cultural tradition. Students crafted paper lanterns and wrote a riddle related to Chinese culture or language to attach to their lanterns. Classmates guessed each other’s riddles and received a special treat for correct answers. Wu emphasizes the importance of culture in her classroom, and gives students an opportunity to not only learn the language, but immerse themselves in it. The real world lessons highlight important aspects of Chinese culture. In this case, lanterns are significant to the Chinese New Year and signal the end of festivities. The Lantern Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the holiday.


From The Buzz, Feb. 2, 2017


Design Thinking on Display

In early January, seventh graders presented the culmination of a semester-long project in their Design Thinking class—a prototype that solves a problem. At the beginning of the semester, students worked in groups to identify a problem, ranging from glue gun storage to how to water plants, and worked to solve it by creating the prototype. Teacher Karen Glum said some of the problems came from the organization Crayons to Computers, which partnered with the Design Thinking program. “We had four groups last semester that chose to do a project for them,” Glum said. She said there is a benefit to students working in groups. Last year, they worked on their prototypes individually. “The kids can maintain focus,” she said. “There’s continuity.” Another change was a lesson in graphic design, taught by Middle School art teacher Elissa Donovan. On the day of the presentation, evaluators came from companies around Cincinnati, including Tech Solve and University of Cincinnati. “I thought the students did a really great job,” Glum said. Click here for more photos of Design Thinking presentations. 


Spelling Bee 2

Students Participate in Spelling Bee

The Middle School gathered for the exciting Spelling Bee finals, held Jan. 13 in the school’s commons areas. Students spelled their best, and eventually two students were left standing. Eighth grader Meg Yuan and seventh grader Aahana Katneni spelled against each other, with Yuan being named the winner. Yuan recently took a 50-word, multiple choice spelling test. If her score is high enough, Yuan will advance to the regional bee.

Spelling Bee 1


Power 1

Power of the Pen

The Seven Hills School had a strong showing at a local academic competition. On Jan. 21, Seven Hills Middle School students claimed top spots at Power of the Pen, a creative writing competition for middle schoolers. The first round of the competition took place at Summit Country Day School, with a total of 22 schools and about 240 seventh and eighth graders competing. Seven Hills’ Jenny Hu placed second among all seventh grade writers, and Alex Frohn placed first among all eighth graders. English teacher Chris Caldemeyer coaches Seven Hills’ Power of the Pen team. In addition to Hu and Frohn, team members include eighth graders Aidan Finn, Faith Hagerty, Elsa Lick, Abbie Palmer, and Savoy Lackey, and seventh graders Aditi Sinha and Gabrielle DeLyons. “It was remarkable! I’m proud of all my writers,” Caldemeyer said. The Power of the Pen regional competition will be held in March at Wyoming Middle School.



Students Complete Historical Research

Sometimes before you read a book, you need to do a little bit of research to understand its context. Emily Stettler’s sixth graders did just that in preparation for their class novel Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. The Newbery-winning novel tells the story of the Logans, an African-American family living through the Great Depression in southern Mississippi. The novel deals with several historic themes, including the Civil War, southern Reconstruction, and slavery. Students were assigned a topic and researched it in pairs, searching for eight important facts about their topic. The groups then gave a slideshow presentation about their findings. “We covered everything from slavery up to the Civil Rights movement,” Stettler said of the presentations.


XU Certamen

Middle School Team Places in Certamen Competition

A Seven Hills Middle School team competed at a Cincinnati-area Certamen event at Xavier University on Saturday, Jan. 7. The eighth grade team, consisting of Alex Frohn, Laxmi Namboodiri, and Reva Namboodiri took third place overall in Level 1 Certamen. Also competing was the ninth grade team, consisting of Kyle Plush, Matt Wabler, Alex Grass, and Kevin Wang. The team placed second overall in Level 2 Certamen. Certamen hosts five local Cincinnati competitions throughout the 2016-17 school year. The State Championship will be held Feb. 25 in Columbus.


From The Buzz, Jan. 17, 2017


Helping Others on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Around the country, Martin Luther King Jr. Day marks a holiday of community service, encouraging people to volunteer to honor the memory of the late Civil Rights leader. Some Seven Hills’ Middle School students, their families, and faculty devoted their time to community service at Matthew 25: Ministries in Blue Ash. The day of volunteering is part of the Middle School’s “Day On, Not Off,” an effort to help the community and to further instill the values of kindness and empathy in Seven Hills’ Middle School students. The annual tradition, now in its sixth year, had over 90 participants. Parents, siblings, and friends are invited to volunteer. “It’s a really nice way to celebrate Dr. King,” said Head of Middle School Bill Waskowitz. “It’s about doing something as a group.” Waskowitz and Jacky Kalubi, Middle French and Upper School Spanish teacher and diversity coordinator, organize the event every year. The educators’ goal is to bring the message of Martin Luther King Jr. Day front and center, and focus on serving the community. Students do not receive school credit for participating. “They get the satisfaction they have helped someone,” Kalubi said. The event was covered by local news station WCPO. Watch the broadcast hereDSC_0294


7th grade rocks

Seventh Grade Takes a Closer Look at Rocks

Rocks were at the center of a recent lesson in Jocelyn Welch’s seventh grade earth science class. Using hand lenses, students examined different rocks and took observations. Welch said the unit also explores the rock cycle. “Their discoveries will help them to understand the stories that rocks tell of their past, which ultimately help us to know more about the earth’s environmental conditions that existed long ago,” Welch said.


MS Geo Bee 2

Eighth Grader Wins Middle School Geography Bee

Middle School faculty and students attended the Geography Bee, held in mid-December. All Middle School students participated in the preliminary round of the bee. The top five scores from each grade then moved onto the school finals, with a total of 15 students participating. The bee’s champion was eighth grader Will Hawgood, with sixth grader Saahil Chunduri coming in second place. Hawgood, who received a Certificate of Achievement from the National Geographic Society for his win, will take a written test to see if he qualifies for the state finals, which are held in the spring.

MS Geo Bee



Breaking Down the Differences Between Chemical Bonds

Salt and sugar couldn’t be more different, right down to their chemical bonds. In Ken Revell’s eighth grade introduction to physics and chemistry class, students tested those distinctions with two experiments, tying into a larger lesson. “Students are learning about the difference between types of chemical bonds,” Revell said. For their first experiment, students dissolved sugar and water in separate containers. They then crafted a conductivity tester to see which substance conducted electricity. Students found that while salt conducts electricity, sugar does not. In their second experiment, students put sugar and salt on a hotplate to see which one would melt. Revell said later in the year, when students move into physics, they will revisit the concept of chemical bonds from a different standpoint. “A lot of themes are constant throughout the year,” Revell said.



Sixth Graders Have Room for Improv’ment

A couple is fighting in front of a marriage counselor, having a rather silly argument that ends in the husband marrying a fork. The twist generates surprised looks from the wife and therapist, but uproarious laughter from the crowd that gathered to watch the couple and their bemused specialist. Jacob Hauser’s sixth graders set this absurd scene during a recent lesson on improvisational acting, AKA improv. Hauser provided students with valuable feedback as they moved through the scenes. “Make it bigger and bigger and bigger,” he told his young actors. He also asked the class why the scene worked, noting the full immersion into the skit. “They were fully committed to what they were doing,” Hauser said.


From The Buzz, Dec. 16, 2016

dsc_0196Middle School Closing Assembly

The Middle School sent students to their break following an assembly in the Commons. During the assembly, Head of Middle School Bill Waskowitz announced the results of a drive students held. Throughout the end of November and beginning of December, students have been collecting personal need items for the Caring Place. Waskowitz said two full vanloads of toys, personal need, and food items were donated to the organization. “They were overwhelmed with the response,” Waskowitz said. Student council also announced the advisories that gathered the most items. In sixth grade, it was Andy McGarvey’s, in seventh, Carri Haskins, and in eighth, the Jacky Kalubi/Hannah Hanley advisory. Earlier in the day, eighth graders spent the morning baking bread to present to Tender Mercies, a local organization that helps homeless adults with mental illnesses. In total, students baked 170 loaves, and each was wrapped with a special message. “This is a wonderful gesture,” Waskowitz told the gathered students. The assembly closed with a rousing round of “Jingle Bells,” with all students joining in.



_dsc2957Building a Dollhouse for a Local Family 

Lots of children have dollhouses on their wish lists this holiday season. Thanks to Middle School students, for one family, this wish will become a reality. Using tools and materials found in the Innovation Lab, students recently decorated a dollhouse, complete with furniture and a functioning light, for two young girls who emigrated with their family from Mexico. The project was open to anybody who wanted to spend his or her lunch period working on the dollhouse. “I like to combine service with what we’re doing in the Innovation Lab,” said Karen Glum, Innovation Lab director. Although Glum and her son built the dollhouse itself, students filled it with handmade furniture, flooring, and decorations. She hopes to continue the project next year, and allow students to build the dollhouse. “It was a fun first try,” Glum said. The dollhouse was presented to the family on Dec. 14.




Students and Faculty Participate in Read-a-thon

Reading became a spectator sport during the Middle School’s read-a-thon, held Dec. 1. Students gathered in the Middle School Commons to hear their peers and faculty read, in 10-minute shifts, passages from Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover and Booked. The read-a-thon was organized by Middle and Upper head librarian Suzanne Dix and Middle and Upper associate librarian Gail Bloom to celebrate Alexander’s visit to the Middle School on Dec. 6.




Bird Banding

Sixth graders in science teachers Jennifer Licata and Karen Glum’s classes got a firsthand look at local wildlife in late November. Dr. Dave Russell, an ornithologist and professor at Miami University, along with his wife Dr. Jill Russell, a biology professor at Mount St. Joseph, visited the classes and shared their birding expertise. The Russells also founded the Avian Research and Education Institute (AREI). Dave set up special nets in the garden just behind the building, and caught a few birds, including a tufted titmouse and downy woodpecker, for students to identify and band. Sixth graders also collected data related to the birds’ health. Licata said the lesson, which will continue into the spring, shows students the diversity of birds just outside their door. It’s also a very hands-on lesson. “It shows that real science can happen anywhere,” Licata said.



8th grade Certamen team

Certamen Teams Place at Miami University

Congratulations to our eighth grade Certamen team! The team, which includes students Aidan Finn, Daniel Goldfeder, Luke Malloy, and Kavin Loganathan, placed second overall in the Latin competition, held mid-November at Miami University.



Seventh Graders Build Garden Boxes

The Donovan Arts Center is no stranger to the sounds of power tools. But, instead of building elaborate theatrical sets, seventh graders in Jocelyn Welch’s science class recently used the DAC to construct garden boxes, with assistance from Upper engineering teacher Doug Ford. The boxes will be installed at both the Hillsdale and Doherty campuses. Upper science teacher Linda Ford is spearheading the project. Ford’s goal is to rebuild and enlarge the gardening area near the Lotspeich science building so Middle and Upper school students can use the space for classroom projects. She said she hopes the boxes and garden area are completed in time for spring planting.




Sixth Graders Take Urban Adventure

Sixth graders recently enjoyed a day exploring Cincinnati. During their Urban Adventure outing, students visited Playhouse in the Park to participate in workshop classes and learn more about Charles Dickens, author of the holiday classic A Christmas Carol. The day didn’t end there. Students also went ice skating on Fountain Square. Students had a fun day out in Cincinnati and supported the local arts!


From The Buzz, Nov. 22, 2016

dsc_0703 Middle School Celebrates Thanksgiving

Middle School students left for Thanksgiving break with a powerful message from Head of Middle School Bill Waskowitz — do something kind for someone. The message was delivered during the Middle School’s annual Thanksgiving Closing Assembly. During the assembly, Waskowitz and teachers made announcements, and student council announced its annual collection for the Caring Place. The collection begins Nov. 28 and ends Dec. 13. Students can donate everything from coats and toys, to personal care items. The advisory that collects the most items wins a special prize. Waskowitz also shared funny food and Thanksgiving-related clips, causing the Middle School Commons to fill with laughter. He closed the assembly with a reminder to students that although Thanksgiving is a fun time, “it’s cool to do things that are nice for people.” He also shared video clips illustrating this point. dsc_0704



Students Prepped for Author Visit

The Middle School continues to prepare for a visit from best-selling young adult author Kwame Alexander. Students in sixth through eighth grade made “poet-tees” to wear during Alexander’s Dec. 6 visit to the Middle and Upper schools. “We purchased a white tee for each student and they are finding either a poem that they have written, are inspired by, or that was written by Kwame Alexander, to print on their shirt,” said Middle and Upper School librarian Suzanne Dix. “The rest of the shirt will be filled in with other poems throughout April, which is National Poetry Month.” Seventh and eighth graders also gathered in the Commons to learn more about Alexander and his books. Students watched a book trailer and ate pizza. Eighth graders Sydney Chun and Aaron Zeigler also presented thorough reviews of Alexander’s latest books, The Crossover and Booked, for their peers.




Algebra is Right on Track

Matchbox cars and two plastic tracks aren’t often used in math classrooms. Seventh grade students in Tom Betts’ algebra class, however, found them to be useful tools to kick off their unit on uniform-motion problems. Uniform-motion problems use the formula Distance=Rate x Time. Betts asked two students to each hold a length of track, then send a matchbox car down the track. “The use of cars and tracks was meant to get the students thinking about possible scenarios, the kinds of information involved, and what kinds of questions might be asked, in this category of word problem, before tackling solving of a variety of problems in this category,” Betts said. He asked students to adjust the tracks and cars in various ways, while asking them to examine different scenarios. Betts said the presentation was inspired by Dan Meyer, a teacher who delivered a TED Talk about math in the classroom.




Studying World War I Through Poetry

The far-reaching impact of World War I inspired all sorts of artists to muse on the effects of war, including poets. Eighth graders in Laura Clemens’ English class are taking a closer look at the poetry of WWI, ranging from the trenches to propaganda. Recently, they examined poems about women and their connections to WWI, i.e. their roles and how they were impacted by war. Students read a poem in groups, then presented it to their classmates, paraphrasing and finding poetic tools in the works. Clemens said history teacher Judith Neidlein-Dial is bringing poetry into her classroom, as well. While Clemens’ assignments focus on the day-to-day life during wartime, Neidlein-Dial’s take a look at the bigger picture. The teachers used a summer grant to develop this unit.



Carbon Cycle Comes to Life

Who knew that science could also be great theater? Science teacher Jocelyn Welch’s seventh graders took center stage, participating in a quick skit about the carbon cycle. Dressed as the sun, grass, and a cow, students acted out the process in which plants take carbon dioxide from the air and use it to make food. Animals eat the plants, storing carbon in their bodies. The carbon is then released as CO2 by respiration. Bravo seventh graders!



From The Buzz, Nov. 11, 2016


Pumpkin Day

The Middle School participated in an afternoon of fun fall activities. Students worked collaboratively during Pumpkin Day, a fun team-building event designed to encourage students to interact productively with their peers and teachers. Students first worked in teams to decorate pumpkins following a Cincinnati theme. They displayed their work outside behind the Middle School. The tables were dotted with unique Cincinnati staples, like Skyline Chili and the Flying Pig Marathon. The day was also full of athletic contests around campus. They had interesting names, like the Pulled Porkopolis (tug ‘o war) and Capture the Flying Pig (capture the flag). Click here to view a photo gallery of Pumpkin Day.




Cross-curricular Lesson Focuses on Ancient Civilizations

This year, sixth graders will study the Mayans, Incans, and Aztecs, ancient civilizations that lived in Mexico and Central America, in Andy McGarvey’s geography class. The lesson is extending to the Innovation Lab, where students prepared for their studies by using TinkerCad, a 3-D design software, to create an artifact or temple from one of the three civilizations. Students could create their own designs, or copy something they found. “This project gets them to stretch their skills because the artifacts they are modeling have some complexity to them,” said Karen Glum, science teacher and Innovation Lab director. “They haven’t started studying these civilizations yet so when they do they will already have some thoughts about them.” Glum said this is the second cross-curricular project of the year. The first lesson involved art, circuitry, and creating a stuffed insect that lit up. The third project will incorporate the study of cells.



Eighth Graders Decorate Fountains in Honor of Roman God

Ancient Romans were so thankful for their flowing springs that every year on Oct. 13 they would celebrate Fontinalia. Romans would decorate fountains and ponds to honor the god of springs. Eighth graders in Marcie Handler’s Latin class recreated the ceremony and experienced it in a unique way, celebrating a fountain in the halls of the Middle School. Eighth graders shook tambourines and carried garland from Handler’s Upper classroom to the Middle School water fountain. The garland was placed on the fountain while students recited the phrase, “O fonte, hodie te honoramus. Accipe hos flores et semper da nobis aquam puram et frigidam.”



Seventh Graders Place Solar Stills

Seventh graders in Jocelyn Welch’s science class continued their study of the water cycle with a hands-on lesson—creating a solar still. “A solar still is a method for capturing water that has been evaporated,” Welch said. “The water cycle is happening inside these structures.” Students built their own solar still, then left them out for one day. To construct a solar still, students filled a box with dirty water then put an empty container in the middle of the box. They then had to seal the entire box, and place a rock over the empty container. Welch said the rock weighs down a space so the condensation collects there, then precipitates. “It’s the water cycle in action,” Welch said.



Theater Group Performs Environmental Skits

Seventh graders recently learned about the environment in a unique manner. The National Theater for Children presented The Energy Agents in the Black Box Theater, a series of improvisational skits on natural resources and making a difference. Students gave suggestions and even participated in the skits. This event kicked off the seventh grade science class’ sustainability initiative.


From The Buzz, Oct. 31, 2016


Middle, Upper Latin Students Participate in OJCL Fall Forum

Nine Latin students from Seven Hills attended the Ohio Junior Classical League Fall Forum at Columbus Academy on Oct. 1. Students participated in a day of Latin Club bonding and friendly competition with Latin students from around Ohio. During the course of the day, Middle and Upper School students won ribbons in the Academic Pentathlon, Latin Recitation, Impromptu Art, and Certamen tournament.

Students receiving awards were:

Latin Recitation: Second place freshman Kevin Wang and fifth place freshman Matt Wabler

Impromptu Art, Special Award for Best Myth: Seventh grader Ryan Homer and and eighth grader Aidan Finn

Academic Pentathlon Test Level I: First place eighth grader Aidan Finn and fifth place eighth grader Eli Perlin

Academic Pentathlon Test Level II: Third place freshman Kevin Wang

Academic Pentathlon Test Level IV: Third place junior Charlie Dwight

Several students also competed on Certamen teams. The tournament was an open, which means the students were randomly placed in teams made up of students from other schools at their level.

Novice Certamen: First place eighth grader Laxmi Namboodiri and team, eighth grader Aidan Finn and team, second place eighth grader Reva Namboodiri and team, and third place eighth grader Eli Perlin and team

Intermediate Certamen: First place freshman Kevin Wang and team, and third place freshman Matt Wabler and team

Upper Certamen: First place junior Charlie Dwight and team

 Click here to view more photos from the forum.



Pizza Party Prepares Students for Author Visit

Author Kwame Alexander won’t visit Seven Hills until December, but Middle and Upper head librarian Suzanne Dix and Middle and Upper associate librarian Gail Bloom are already prepping sixth graders for the excitement of his arrival. In October, Dix and Bloom hosted a pizza party in the Middle School Commons. Alexander won a Newbery Medal for his novel The Crossover, which tells the story of basketball-loving twin brothers navigating junior high. Students watched a video about Alexander and his work. Sixth graders Langston McGhee and Mia Mason reviewed The Crossover and Alexander’s latest novel Booked, respectively, for their classmates. They then enjoyed pizza and dessert. Alexander will speak to Middle and Upper School students on Tuesday, Dec. 6.




Insect Day

The annual Insect Day was a learning experience for parents and students alike! On Oct. 28, sixth graders enjoyed a day of experiments and creative writing. During the experiment, students used real termites to determine what types of blue ink were similar to the insect’s pheromones. “They’re learning about how to run a controlled experiment,” said Jen Licata, organizer and middle science teacher. The groups drew a line on the middle of a piece of paper, and then determine if the termite followed the line. All the groups recorded the data, analyzed, and graphed it. For the creative writing project, students wrote a poem about an insect. They had to incorporate a variety of writing tools they learned in English class, including simile, metaphor, personification, and alliteration. Click here to view more photos from Insect Day.



Reviewing Pre-Algebra with a Game

Sixth graders in Theresa Kellers’ pre-algebra class reviewed for their recent math test in a fun way—with a game. Students have been learning about positive and negative integer computation. To review for their test, sixth graders worked in groups and used multiple dice to build their own math problems. “Students were creating problems that contained multiple operations, negative vales, positive values, and exponents,” Keller said. “This allowed them to practice both their integer ‘rules’ and order of operations.” Keller said playing games is beneficial because students can have some ownership of the problems. They also work together and share their solutions. “They take more chances when they are not completely confident in their answers because they have a team to support them,” Keller said.



Middle School Play Featured a Princess, Zombies

This year’s Middle School fall play truly had something for everyone. With the help of drama teacher Jacob Hauser and Upper and Middle Technical Theater Teacher Trey Tatum, middle schoolers staged two, one-act plays, A Little Princess and 10 Ways to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse. A Little Princess is the classic riches to rags (and back to riches) tale of a little girl in early 20th century England. Zombie Apocalypse was a much more contemporary play, which doled out advice on surviving the end of the world. Students performed for Doherty and Lotspeich fourth and fifth graders during a school day before staging the play for the public in late October. View more photos from A Little Princess here, and 10 Ways to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse here.



From The Buzz, Oct. 13, 2016


Upper Student Inspires Middle School French Class

When senior Annie Jonas was in Middle School, learning French was a challenge. Now, in her French V class, she speaks fluently. Middle School French teacher Jacky Kalubi wanted to demonstrate to her eighth graders how far Jonas has come, and how they can one day become fluent if they really want to achieve this level of success with the language. Kalubi asked Jonas to present parts of her personal challenge project to the class. Jonas is writing and illustrating an original children’s book in French titled Le Petit Parapluie Rouge (The Little Red Umbrella). Jonas also spoke briefly about her travels to Marseille and students were encouraged to ask questions in French. With Jonas’ presentation, Kalubi had a simple message for her students—“I can give you everything, but you have to do the work.”



Sixth Graders Learn the Basics of Power Tools

Walking by the Middle School in late September, one could hear the whirring of power tools through the open window in the Innovation Lab. Those sounds were coming from sixth graders, who, under the guidance of science teacher Karen Glum, learned how to use scroll saws, sanders, chop saws, and a nail gun to create their own jigsaw puzzles and iPad stands. Glum’s students are eager to work with the equipment and want to begin immediately. “When we work with tools in class, kids rush to the room and ask if they can please start right away, before the bell rings,” Glum said. “Do we need a better reason than that to teach them to use tools?” Glum said there are several benefits to students learning how to use tools, including lessons in self-reliance, trust, and responsibility. Academically, they learn how to think in three dimensions, and learn some math principles in an active way. “Tools give kids some hands-on experiences to help anchor basic physics and math principles, such as forces, friction, angles, and more,” Glum said.




Latitude and Longitude

Sixth graders in Andy McGarvey’s geography class recently learned the ins and outs of latitude and longitude. McGarvey said at the beginning of studying latitude and longitude, students learned how the lines on a globe look different than what is on a map. Using blue tape and stability balls, which double as the student’s chairs, sixth graders could easily visualize the “imaginary lines.” “I would give them a direction and, with their partner, they were to tape the ball with that line,” McGarvey said. “If they made a mistake it was easy to take the tape off and make the correction.” He noted by doing a more physical activity, it could benefit some students who learn by doing. “This was hands-on, giving those who might learn better by physically doing something in order to help them in the learning process,” McGarvey said.



Middle Students Cut Glass, Make Insects

Sixth graders are capturing the likeness of insects using glass. In Elissa Donovan’s art class, students recently practiced cutting glass. Students will use their skills to cut glass pieces in geometric shapes and arrange them into the shapes of bugs in honor of Insect Day, which will be held Oct. 28. Donovan will then meld the insects onto a glass tile using a kiln. Donovan said the late Charley Harper, a Cincinnati-based artist, inspired the insects. “We’re using his style to inspire our designs,” she said. Donovan noted students are also learning about the composition of glass and how it’s made, as well as understanding a fusing technique.




Creating Pandora’s Box

The myth of Pandora’s Box tells the tale of a curious young woman who opens a box and releases the evils of the world. In Marcie Handler’s sixth grade Latin class, students made their own boxes to once again capture some of those evils. Sixth graders colored images inspired by Roman art then folded them into the shape of a box. Handler said students then chose four evils to put back in their Pandora’s Boxes. Students read the myth as a class and looked at ancient art. According to Handler, the class combines language and a lot of ancient Roman culture. “It’s an exploratory class,” she explained.



From The Buzz, Sept. 22, 2016


Park Becomes Outdoor Classroom

The great outdoors was a great classroom for seventh graders in Jocelyn Welch’s (formerly Coulter) science class. On Sept. 14, the students visited Nisbet Park in Loveland, where they explored rivers and creeks. They completed a variety of scientific tasks, including conducting water quality tests, learning how to assess the health of a habitat, catching and identifying fish and invertebrates, and just having a good time. “This field trip brings the science classroom outdoors and gives students a way to connect with the natural world around them while collecting real data from a location not too far from home,” Welch said. The lesson doesn’t end at the field trip. Seventh graders will continue to learn about water and nitrogen cycles, watersheds, natural resources, and conservation. To view more photos of the field trip, click here.



Acting Workshop Pulls Summer Reading off the Page

Picturing the characters and plot of a novel on a theatrical stage can be a challenge, but it helps to know the fundamentals. English teacher Mandy Hayes recently invited Lormarev Jones, education associate with Playhouse in the Park, to host an experiential workshop on seventh graders’ summer reading, S.E. Hinton’s 1967 novel, The Outsiders. “This active workshop provided a great opportunity for students to make the novel come to life,” Hayes said. During their lessons, students worked in groups to create tableaus of various scenes in the classic coming-of-age novel and crafted monologues. Later in the week, they learned about set design, as well as the moves to some classic 60s dances.



Chinese Students Rap, Learn Calligraphy

The foundation for fluency is being laid in Mia Wu’s seventh grade Chinese class. In mid-September, students learned how to pronounce Chinese phonetically using pinyin. Students crafted a “pinyin rap” to present to the class. “We have been learning pinyin in the past week, so the rap is a summative assessment which checks students’ understanding of pinyin pronunciation in a fun way,” Wu said. Wu then gave a presentation on hanzi, or Chinese characters. She compared characters to Legos because they need to be assembled. “You really need to be creative when thinking about the characters,” she said. “We put different parts together to have characters.” Students learned eight basic hanzi strokes, which, when combined, form radicals. Radicals are the small parts of the characters. Students put their new knowledge to the test. Wu wrote a sentence on the board for students to copy, using calligraphy brushes and special practice paper. They then used ink to write on rice paper. Wu said calligraphy serves as a cultural lesson. As students practice the ancient art, they are also immersing themselves in Chinese.




Rock Finding Challenge Encourages Readership

Budding journalists are trying to boost readership in a creative way. Started by eighth graders in Chris Caldemyer’s journalism class, the Stinger Stone, a rock with a picture of a beehive, will be hidden around campus each week for middle schoolers to find. Articles in the student publication The Seven Hills Hive will contain clues to the stone’s location. The student who finds the stone wins doughnuts for his or her advisory. The eighth graders came up with the ideas themselves, according to Caldemyer. “The purpose is to get more students reading the articles we post weekly about things going on in Cincinnati and around the world,” he said.



Adventure Trek

Eighth graders enjoyed several days of outdoor activities during their trip with Adventure Treks in North Carolina in mid-September. Students spent four days and three nights camping and backpacking through the Blue Ridge Mountains with their teachers and the Adventure Trek guides. Students embarked on day hikes, carried packs up the mountains on one of the nights, rock climbed, creek stomped, swam under waterfalls, and whitewater rafted down the Nantahala River. Click here to view more photos from the field trip.



Making Tablets in Latin Class

When learning about ancient Rome, write like the Romans. Marcie Handler brought this lesson to her sixth grade Latin students in September. Students made replicas of Vindolanda tablets, wooden tablets with Latin words. Vindolanda tablets were discovered in Britain and provide a snapshot of life of an area previously under Roman rule. The students learned how to write in Roman cursive for the project. Handler said students used a mix of Latin and English when they wrote on the tablets. The project combines both culture and writing, and is specifically tied to the students’ textbook, which is set on the frontiers of the Roman Empire.



From The Buzz, Sept. 8, 2016

dsc_0307New Families Welcomed to Middle, Upper Schools

Before school even started, new Middle and Upper School students and their families gathered at the Hillsdale Campus on Aug. 22. Families attended orientations and enjoyed lunch with their buddy families outside Hillsdale Commons. Head of Middle School Bill Waskowitz said this is the first year for a lunch like this, which had a relaxed and fun atmosphere. “The new families got to connect with their host families and new middle schoolers connected with returning students,” he said. “There was a nice amount of time for parents to socialize with one another, as well as with faculty.” Click here to view a gallery of the lunch.


dsc_0176-1 Seventh Graders Search for Problems to Solve

“What is something that bugs you?” “What problem do you need to have solved?” Those are questions seventh graders in the Innovation Lab are hoping to answer. In late August, students traveled around Hillsdale Campus surveying people and searching for real life problems to solve. The survey is part of Design Thinking, formerly the Seven Hills Innovative Entrepreneurship Program (SHIEP), a one-semester class required for all seventh graders. According to Innovation Lab Director Karen Glum, seventh graders will share and discuss the issues they discover, then complete an exercise to generate more ideas. They will then figure out which problems they can address based on their skillsets and begin prototyping a solution. Glum said although surveying is the first phase of the process, students are already learning how to interact with others and practicing their interview skills.



dsc_0455-2Middle Parents Attend Social Media Meeting

Head of Middle School Bill Waskowitz wants parents to be aware of the impact social media has on their students’ lives. Along with counselor Samantha Laffoon, Waskowitz held four parent meetings on the topic at the beginning of the school year. He emphasized the fact that social media is a different frontier, but the school and parents can help each other figure it out. “We’re all in this together,” Waskowitz told the audience at the start of the session. The meetings were extremely interactive and well-attended. Presenters asked questions throughout, and the session ended with a Q&A for parents.


Seventh RetreatSixth and Seventh Graders Bond During Retreats

Sixth and seventh graders ended the second week of school with fun retreats designed to bring students together. Sixth graders spent the morning completing community service at Matthew 25 Ministries, including sorting donated clothes, before heading over to Main Event, a family friendly venue in West Chester. At Main Event, students gathered with their advisory groups and discussed velocity and gravity. Their summer reading, Simon Bloom, The Gravity Keeper, inspired the topics. Seventh graders stayed on campus for their day of fun. In the morning, they practiced and performed in a song and dance show. The show featured original choreography from each advisory group. They danced to a slate of unique singles, like Let it Go and the theme song to the children’s show, Little Einsteins. Later in the day, seventh graders played a variety of games and activities on the Upper turf field. To view more photos, click here for the sixth grade retreat and here for the seventh grade retreat.

Sixth Retreats


Splot HouseSplot House Inspires Creativity

English teacher Emily Stettler is using a children’s book to help sixth graders learn more about themselves. Recently, Stettler read the picture book, The Big Orange Splot, by Daniel Manus Pinkwater, which tells the story of a man who customizes his house in an unconventional way. She asked students to find the bigger messages behind the book meant for young children. “Splot House” focuses on being yourself, and not conforming to peer pressure, lessons that apply to middle schoolers. “It takes a lot of courage to be different,” Stettler said. After discussing the book, Stettler asked students to create their own “Splot” houses with rooms that reflected their interests. She shared her own design as an example. Students will present their work to their peers, and the houses will be on display the rest of the year.


From The Buzz, June 6, 2016

Middle ClosingMiddle School Closing Ceremony

The Middle School Closing Ceremony honored outgoing eighth graders for completing what Head of Middle School Bill Waskowitz called a nearly impossible mission—successfully navigating their sixth through eighth grade years. Waskowitz spoke at length about the TV series and movie adaptions of Mission Impossible during his remarks to the class of 2020, comparing time in Middle School to the missions accepted by secret agents. The well-known theme song was even incorporated into the ceremony. During his remarks, Head of School Chris Garten thanked the staff for meeting the academic needs of students in the middle years of their education. He singled out Waskowitz for his easy and affirming manner, and the fact that students know he cares about them. He also addressed the eighth graders, citing the changes they experienced in Middle School. “We’re so proud of all the ways that you’ve grown,” he said. Eighth graders Bryan Fisher, Courtney Hammonds, Hannah Levin, Nina Martinez-Diers, Suraj Parikh and Stephen Walsh expounded on this growth in their Eighth Grade Reflections, discussing everything from class trips, to extracurricular activities. Head of Upper School Matt Bolton officially welcomed the eighth graders to ninth grade, comparing the journey ahead of them to board games like Battleship, Monopoly, and Connect Four. The ceremony was marked by several musical performances. The eighth grade instrumental ensemble played “Brandon Bay” before the ceremony. The eighth grade chorus sang “Lean on Me,” and eighth grader Kevin Wang performed “Impromptu No. 2” on piano as well. Sixth grader Emma Firestein ended the ceremony with a poem during the sixth grade closing comments. Before a reception for family and guests, faculty lined the hallway to the Hillsdale Commons to cheer on the graduating eighth graders. Click here to see photos of the Middle School Closing Ceremony.


Awards of Distinction


Alex Grass
Alex Grass
Linley Dawson
Linley Dawson
Rosalind Roland
Rosalind Roland

During the Middle School Closing Ceremony, Middle School Athletic Director and Physical Education Department Chair Roger Schnirring announced the Archie Griffin Sportsmanship Award to eighth graders Alex Grass and Linley Dawson. Middle School Dean Andy McGarvey announced the Patricia Howard Award of Distinction, given to eighth grader Rosalind Roland.



Seven Hills Network of African-American Parents Honors Students

Students and families who are members and supporters of The Seven Hills Network of African American Parents (SNAAP) honored Seven Hills students of African-American descent during an annual end-of-year SNAAP banquet on the afternoon of June 5. The Rev. Jerome Weaver, a Seven Hills parent, gave the invocation. Head of School Chris Garten and Head of Upper School Matt Bolton applauded the students and their families for a year of dedication, persistence, and purpose. Retired Procter & Gamble engineer and CEO of the Bearden Group, LLC, Pervis Bearden, Sr., delivered an inspiring address, congratulating the students for their achievements and asking them to reflect upon the hard work of their families who have supported them along the way. “Your families have allowed you to bend but not break, to stumble but not fall,” said Bearden. “Your families have empowered you with a great source of inspiration and instilled in you that not having is no excuse for not getting.” The banquet also included a libation memorial ceremony, an African tradition, which was officiated by the Rev. Weaver. The ceremony concluded with remarks from Seven Hills 2016 graduates Nia Page and Brandi Bryson, as well as Seven Hills alumni Lauren Weems ’15 and Joshua Weaver ’15. Many thanks to parents Chantal Weaver, Leslie Bryson, and Erica Vaughn, and several other parents on the SNAAP committee for organizing the event. We also thank community members Felicia Maupin, of Felicia’s Events and Designs, and Monique Colbert, of Pounds of Faith, who provided decorations and desserts, respectively, as well as Millie’s Place Restaurant, and Muzic Company. Click here to view a photo gallery of the event.

The SNAAP honorees for 2015-16 school year are as follows:

Rising ninth graders

Spencer Boyd

Malika Dinan

Courtney Hammonds

Curtis Harrison

Skye McKenzie

Christian Mueller

Aliyah Murph

Joshua Nelson

Rosalind Roland


Hair Fair 1

Locks for Leonard

Several Seven Hills students and teachers said goodbye to their long hair for a good cause. The Middle School sponsored its annual charitable hair donation event, Locks for Leonard, formerly the Hair Fair, in mid-May. The fair was renamed in honor of Beth Leonard, the Middle School physical education teacher who passed away in 2014. Students and teachers gathered in the Middle School Commons to get a fresh cut. Middle School math teacher Theresa Keller told an excited group of students that more than 30 people participated in the event, generating enough hair to make 10 wigs. “I’m so impressed with the turnout that we had,” Keller said. Each participant donated a minimum of eight inches of hair to help children and young adults suffering from medical-related hair loss. Stylists from Identity Salon were on hand to cut. The hair was given to Pantene Beautiful Lengths and Locks of Love. Locks of Love is a public, non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis.


Butterfly Garden

Club Breaks Ground on Butterfly Garden

The Middle School Community Change Club has found a way to bring more butterflies to Seven Hills. On May 19, the club broke ground on the SHS Butterfly Garden. The garden is located at the bottom of the exterior stairs leading to the Middle School. According to Middle School science teacher Jocelyn Coulter, the idea for the garden began in the spring of 2015, when environmental organizations encouraged people to support butterfly life cycles by planting the types of plants to which they are attracted. Community Change Club students began their efforts to draw butterflies to Campus by sowing milkweed seeds near the Middle School where wild plants already grow. “This year, we were given the opportunity to expand our efforts through the Civic Garden Center, which hosted a garden adoption program for school,” Coulter said. “We wrote a proposal and our plans were accepted.” The Anning family, of Seven Hills, adopted the garden through the Civic Garden Center. Throughout the spring, club members researched native plants and pollinators, as well as designed the garden’s layout. Students worked hard to prepare the garden, which features native pollinator plants like milkweed, flat top asters and two different types of grass. “The Community Change Club, in conjunction with the help of the seventh grade class, dug up the sod, laid mulch, arranged to have a rain barrel relocated, and planted more than 20 young plants in the space,” Coulter said. The students will meet over the summer with Coulter and her fellow club facilitator, Middle School English teacher Amanda Hayes.


Romeo 1

Eighth Graders Tackle Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare recently came alive in Laura Clemens’ eighth grade classroom. As part of their final project in a six-week unit on Romeo and Juliet, students completed scene performances from portions of William Shakespeare’s play. Groups performed the scenes in the order they were staged. The eighth graders delivered lines with aplomb, reciting their parts with enthusiasm. Clemens graded students on their preparedness, delivery, blocking, and how they embodied characters. She wanted scenes to flow smoothly and have “a clear interpretation of the character dynamics while saying the lines with meaning. Acting wasn’t important, but saying the lines in a way that made them meaningful was.” Earlier in the semester, students read the play in its entirety. They sometimes read aloud to better comprehend the action and Elizabethan language. To take it one step further, they paraphrased important lines from the play into modern English. Students also experienced a hands-on lesson in the Bard from the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. “Darnell Benjamin worked with them on understanding what it means to be an actor of Shakespeare,” Clemens said. Clemens explained the eighth grade English curriculum examines the exploration of power and group dynamics. Romeo and Juliet highlights the influence parents, authority figures, friends, mentors, and romantic love have on decision making. It also prepares them for future classes. “It challenges students to read a text outside their familiar 20th and 21st century context and to learn to make sense of its language,” she said. “This sets up study of other Shakespearean plays in the Upper School.”


Innovation Lab

Seventh Graders Present Innovation Lab Prototypes

A better toothpaste dispenser. A bracelet that alerts elderly people when they should take a drink. A device to help a man who contracted polio as a child button his shirt. All these items have one thing in common. They are the culmination of work done by seventh graders in the yearlong Innovation Lab. On May 26, these prototypes and more were on display for faculty and parents during Innovation Lab presentations. Projects created in the lab are part of the Seven Hills Innovative Entrepreneurship Program (SHIEP), in which all seventh graders are required to participate. Almost 30 evaluators, from the Cincinnati area, who work in STEM fields, were on hand to provide feedback. The evaluators heard a presentation from students, then asked questions and examined their projects. Lab Director Karen Glum, Middle School science teacher and chair of the science department, said there is a lot of empathy involved in creating the prototypes. Students first identified a problem that needed to be solved by interviewing actual people who may need one of their devices. Glum said the presentations focus on Design Thinking, a unique concept developed at Stanford University and not often seen in grade schools. “I don’t know of any other school doing anything like this,” she said. An assembly was held later in the day to discuss the presentations in depth. To see more Innovation Lap prototypes, click here.


Asia Day 1

Students Explore Cultures on Asia Day

Middle School sixth graders traveled across the world on their last day of school, and they didn’t have to leave Campus. Spearheaded by Middle School geography teacher and dean Andy McGarvey, the school hosted Asia Day to celebrate countries like China, India, and the Philippines. McGarvey said Asia Day is a tradition at the Middle School and serves as the culminating event for the students’ lesson on Asia. Students learn and participate in “various aspects of Asia we can’t do in the classroom,” McGarvey said. The sixth graders saw a kung fu demonstration, learned about Bollywood and Hinduism, heard from speakers about Israel, created henna art, and sampled foods from Asia. Some students shared their knowledge with classmates. Sixth grader Jenny Hu gave a lesson in Chinese music while students Ananya Munjal, Aahana Katneni, and Suhani Gupta performed an Indian dance called bhangra. After the girls demonstrated the dance, they taught students and faculty the moves. The lesson finished with a celebration of Holi, an Indian Festival of Colors that welcomes the arrival of spring. Sixth graders gathered on the basketball court to throw handfuls of colored powder in the air, and at each other, for one final cultural lesson.

Asia Day 2


From The Buzz, May 13, 2016

DSC_0028 (1)Students Deliver Modified Car to Toddler Patient

After several weeks of collaborative work in the Middle School Innovation Lab, Seven Hills Middle School students recently delivered a modified automated toy Ferrari to Brysen Williams, a 2-year-old with cerebral palsy and a patient at Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center. The project began in January with a baked goods sale, which funded the purchase of the toy car and materials for its modification. The students then used their lunchtime at least once a week to work in the Innovation Lab, guided by the expertise of Innovation Lab director and science department chair Karen Glum, computer science teacher Brian Arnold, and retired engineer Terry Fox, who is the husband of Head of Lotspeich Carolyn Fox. On May 10, Middle School representatives Caitlin Drew, Corinne Kieser, Noah Kocher, and Anand Patil delivered the car to Brysen at the Aaron W. Perlman Center at Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center. Click here to view a local news report that captured the exhilarating moment when the Middle School students met Brysen for the first time. 

DSC_0031 (2)_______________________________________________________________________

DSC_1114Sixth Grade Spanish Students Study Gaudí

While Spanish students in Philip Thornberry’s class are learning the Spanish words used to describe homes and the names of structures within a house, they also are gaining insight into one of the world’s most famous, eclectic architects. The sixth graders are studying the many facets of the work of Antoni Gaudí, a Spanish 19th and 20th century modernist whose unprecedented work of more than a century ago still stands in a class of its own. With the Spanish region Catalonia and the city of Barcelona as their geographic references, the students discussed Gaudí’s early life, modernistic style, and gruff, reclusive personality. The students took virtual tours of a few of Gaudí’s structures, which are now museums, including La Pedrera and Casa Batlló. The students also discussed the characteristics of Gaudí’s work—no right angles, nature as a motif, intricate lines, many tiles and mosaics—and concluded a part of their unit by sketching out interpretations of Gaudí’s work.

DSC_1108 _________________________________________________________________

DSC_1243Expanding Bird Studies into Math Curriculum

The sixth grade celebrated its annual Sixth Grade is for the Birds Day in early May. Parents and guests were invited to spend the morning with the sixth grade and participate in the culminating event of the year-long work exploring the field of ornithology. “For the third time this year, we had the opportunity to work with Drs. Dave and Jill Russell as they banded birds in the classroom,” said science teacher Jennifer Licata. The Russells run the AREI, a non-profit bird rescue program. Licata and math teacher Theresa Keller said the students also used measurements and conversions in a math activity to find out what life would be like if they were a Carolina Chickadee, spending much of their day flying to and from bird feeders to cache food. During the bird-banding seminars, sixth graders also shared their independent bird inquiry projects with classmates and parents in the Hillsdale Commons.


IMG_0853Learning Cincinnati History in OTR

Seventh graders walked, talked, and sometimes wended their way through Cincinnati history during a mid-April field trip that offered much more than a textbook ever could. Led by history teacher Doug Huff, the students learned about the history of Cincinnati by taking a stroll through Over-the-Rhine, home to America’s largest set of historical landmarks. The students visited the Gateway District, an area once known for 130 saloons, gardens, and theaters that hosted iconic entertainers like Buffalo Bill Cody. The students also descended below the city streets to a hidden crypt where some of Cincinnati’s first residents were buried and explored newly discovered tunnels vital to Cincinnati’s brewery heritage. After their morning tour, the students had lunch at The Eagle in OTR, where they devoured fried chicken, mac and cheese, and spoonbread! During the afternoon, the students also took a bus to Neusole Glassworks to learn about the art of glass blowing.



DSC_0860Locks for Leonard

In preparation for the Middle School’s annual charitable hair donation event on May 19, the school community came together in April to hear from Seven Hills parent Margot Good, who shared reflections from her journey as a cancer survivor. On the 10th anniversary of the Hair Fair, Head of Middle Bill Waskowitz and math teacher Theresa Keller named the initiative “Locks for Leonard,” in honor of Beth Leonard, the Middle School physical education teacher who passed away in 2014. On May 19, several students and teachers will donate their hair by having it cut by stylists from Identity Salon. Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis.


S00495Eighth Grader and Regional Team Place First in STEM Competition

Seven Hills eighth grader Nick Norton was among a group of Middle School students throughout the Cincinnati area, who recently earned top rankings in a number of regional and state competitions. In March, Norton’s team placed first in its division and second overall, at the North Super Regional competition in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In late April, his team—named the 7 Sigma Robotics, FTC Team 10030—completed its first season of competition, placing in the top 1 percent of teams worldwide at the FIRST World Championship Robotics Competition held in St. Louis, Missouri. Team 7 Sigma coach Martin Motz said Norton’s team placed in the top third of the field in the Super Regional, which distinguishes Norton’s team as among the top 3 percent of all FIRST FTC teams. “These students have logged hundreds of hours outside of the classroom building and programming a robot to meet a specific challenge,” said Motz. “In addition, they have participated in outreach to promote STEM and visited local companies to learn more about careers in engineering.”


From The Buzz, April 14, 2016

DSC_0674Design Thinking and Problem-solving

While seventh graders are studying the Earth’s interior, plate tectonics, and related natural disasters, they are putting their knowledge, along with design thinking, to the test in the form of a problem-solving project. Working in small groups, the students determined whether to use dowel rods, spaghetti, or toothpicks to build a structure that would withstand various forces, such as torsion, tension, and compression. The collaborative learning experience allowed students to apply learned knowledge, express ideas, negotiate outcomes, work as a team, and realize their ideas. The students designed small towers using specific parameters that were put to the test of a Shake Table. “As a product of the Earth’s moving plates there are many places in the United States that experience earthquakes and some places that may experience them more in the future,” said science teacher Jocelyn Coulter. “The students researched building design principles to learn more about how building planners in places like San Francisco work to keep people safe by designing and building more earthquake resistant structures. Our students are gaining a memorable experience by making a connection between what is going on under the Earth’s crust, to what happens on the surface, to how collaborative efforts can help save the lives of other people living far away.”


IMG_0018Middle and Upper Librarian Featured On-air, in National Magazine

The work and initiatives of Seven Hills’ Middle and Upper School librarian Suzanne Dix have recently received a flurry of national and regional attention. Dix was featured in late March, in the America Library Association’s (ALA) online magazine, ilovelibraries.org. In addition, Dix, chair of the national school library month committee, was interviewed on internet radio station, Education Talk Radio: Pre-K 20, about activities planned throughout the month of April. Dix was also recently appointed to sit on the board of directors for Southwest Ohio and Neighboring (SWON) libraries, a leading professional consortium, which serves and promotes programs for libraries on the grade school and collegiate levels. “There has been a bit of a metamorphosis from the idea that a library should be quiet to that a library should be collaborative,” Dix told ALA in the recent article. “I’m most proud that we are learning how to balance that and accepting that the kids really want that type of an environment … I’m proud that we are evolving.” To read the ALA article that features Dix, please click here.


DSC_0705A Dynamic Dose of Ancient Rome

As part of a series of visits from graduate students in the University of Cincinnati’s classics department, students in Seven Hills Middle School Latin Club learned about the different types of gladiators, the quirky culture surrounding the gory sport, and the sad facts about gladiators’ station in society. With the use of a witty visual presentation, University of Cincinnati students Alice Crowe and Sarah Beal blurred the historical barrier between Ancient Rome and life today. Students raised their hands repeatedly to answer a number of questions posed by Crowe and Beal—How does the Coliseum compare to Paul Brown Stadium? Do you see the similarities between the gear of a gladiator and a Reds player? Why did some gladiators carry nets and others, shields? Latin Club advisor and Latin and history teacher Katie Swinford said the gladiator talk was one of three presentations she and her students specifically chose from the available UC Classics outreach presentations. “We chose gladiators, Olympics, and Roman coins presentations and I organized the UC students to come to campus every other week during 4th quarter,” said Swinford, adding that the club will participate in an activity that corresponds to each presentation. To compliment the gladiator presentation, students followed up with a gladiator-style combat game. Swinford said the students would also participate in a mini-Olympic contest and craft their own “Roman coins” out of foil after the Roman coins presentation.



IMG_6120Learning From the Source

After discussing the differences between primary and secondary sources, students in Andy McGarvey’s geography class applied their knowledge as they read a Junior Scholastic article about a young Syrian refugee. During a group discussion, students shared that they would always give more credibility to a primary source in a journalistic piece and defined a secondary source as someone who recounts a story about the primary source. McGarvey said his assignment was two-pronged: While students weighed the veracity of current events using a number of sources, they were also learning about the Syrian refugee crisis. “Our students have read articles with primary sources but they may not always know the difference between what has happened and what someone says has happened,” said McGarvey. “I chose an age-appropriate article about Syria because this story is in the news all of the time. The students are hearing it and it’s relevant.” McGarvey’s lesson is part of an extensive unit on the continent of Asia.



DSC_0803Pumped about Heart Relay Races

Rather than simply memorize the ins and outs of the cardiovascular system, sixth graders in Jennifer Licata and Karen Glum’s science classes embodied the blood cells they were studying. As students participated in the academic exercise, they crawled through a “blood vessel” tunnel carrying a blue card representing deoxygenated blood, and ran to areas in the Middle School commons following the flow of blood through the heart and lungs. While in the lungs students dropped their blue cards and picked up a red card, which represented oxygenated blood, then continued in the pathway, delivering oxygenated blood to the body.  The heart relay race is part of the sixth grade science unit of study on body systems.


From The Buzz, March 17, 2016

DSC_0544Middle School Students Finish Modified Car for Toddler Patient

Middle School students and teachers who have worked on modifying a motorized toy car for a 2-year-old with cerebral palsy celebrated the finished product during an assembly on March 16. A special video presentation, produced by computer engineering teacher Brian Arnold, told the story of how the entire Middle School came together to raise funds to purchase the toy car and all other supports and how a group of students devoted their lunch time to work on the project. During the assembly, Head of Middle School Bill Waskowitz congratulated Middle School students for their dedication and commitment to addressing the special needs of the toddler. Using the GoBabyGo design model created at University of Delaware, Arnold, Innovation Lab director and science teacher Karen Glum, along with retired engineer Terry Fox, husband of Head of Lotspeich Carolyn Fox, managed the project, while Middle School students eagerly worked for several weeks to help. A few students, Glum, Arnold, and Terry Fox plant to deliver the car to a very happy Brysen at the Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center Perlman Center sometime this spring.


IMG_1284Aquaponics Study

After researching goldfish habitats and behaviors, a group of seventh graders in Jocelyn Coulter’s science class researched ways to improve the health of fish in the classroom aquaponics tank. Coulter said the students’ addition of rocks, a shelter, and additional plant-like fixtures for hiding have proven helpful. “By placing different colored rocks on different sides of the tank, students hoped to observe whether the fish appeared to prefer one habitat feature more than another,” said Coulter. “Some students even created a stop motion video during one class and noted that our fish appear to prefer the blue side of the tank verses the tan side.” Coulter said students also have observed that the new fixtures have disrupted the flow of the water in certain areas of the tank, which is creating more pockets of still water in which the fish like to rest. Coulter’s class will continue to observe what makes the fish flourish and add more creatures this spring.


IMG_0684Speed Dating with a Book

Students fell in love with nonfiction during the Middle School’s annual Speed Dating with Books event in mid-February. The curriculum-based event is part of Middle’s independent reading level assessment focus on nonfiction. Students were encouraged to find their favorite among stacks of books about cooking, the Civil War, pets, ancient civilization, and many more. “Once they found their book ‘date’, they left the event with a Hershey’s chocolate kiss,” said Middle and Upper School librarian Suzanne Dix. Dix, associate librarian Gail Bloom, and sixth grade English Teacher Emily Stettler continue to fine-tune this popular program every year. Using their books as references, sixth graders will present their projects in Stettler’s classes before Spring Break. “The Independent Reading program has been a staple of the Middle School for many years,” said Dix. “Each quarter students read several books from a particular genre, but this event gives students a chance to step outside their comfort zone of fantasy or science fiction, and try something new.”


Seven Hills_01Students Excel at MATHCOUNTS

The Middle School MATHCOUNTS team placed eighth out of 42 teams in the Cincinnati Chapter MATHCOUNTS competition at the University of Cincinnati in late February. The students traveled with math teacher and coach Tom Betts. Top finisher was Suraj Parikh, finishing in 30th place out of about 350 students. In addition, Krish Gupta was the Seven Hills Middle School top scorer in the mini-MATHCOUNTS event at St. Margaret of York in mid-February. Congratulations to all participants: Yash Gaitonde, Alex Grass, Krish Gupta, William Hawgood, Suraj Parikh, Rohan Patil, Kyle Plush, Ben Skibo, Andrea Stancescu, and Kevin Wang.


DSC_0306Global Education Day

Middle School students had an opportunity to explore the world through a number of lenses during the school’s annual Global Ed Day in early March. Middle School students watched muddy water be converted into drinkable water, had an up-close look at tortoises and toads, and learned how the FBI collects and preserves forensic evidence, to name a few. Through dozens of enlightening academic, artistic, and athletic programs and lessons, students received a glimpse of the world with indepth presentations in the morning and fun, engaging activities in the afternoon. Thank you to the many presenters for sharing their expertise. Click here to view a photo gallery of the day’s events.


From The Buzz, Feb. 25, 2016

CZ0kuqIWwAAS4V9Lessons from an Auschwitz Survivor

Eighth graders in Judith Neidlein-Dial’s history class gained a more in-depth understanding of systematic oppression during a recent visit with Auschwitz survivor Dr. Henry Fenichel, a retired physics professor at University of Cincinnati. Born in the Netherlands, Fenichel was about 5 years old when he and his mother were sent to a transfer camp. His father had already been picked up at that point and was sent to Auschwitz where his father died, shared Neidlein-Dial. Later the boy and his mom were sent to Bergen-Belsen. “They were saved through an obscure exchange program where a group of German women and children living in British-controlled Palestine were exchanged for people who could show a connection to Palestine,” said Neidlein-Dial. Fenichel’s father was originally from Berlin. His family left there when the Nazis came to power—all of them went to Palestine—except for his dad who went to the Netherlands. Because they could show a connection to Palestine, Fenichel and his mother survived. Neidlein-Dial, who often helps her students make connections between history and the current events, pointed out to her students that Fenichel’s journey to freedom and safety followed the same route as many of the Syrian refugees—only in opposite directions!



Studying Marine Biology

The Florida Keys became a Middle School science lab for 46 students and 5 faculty members who visited the Newfound Harbor Marine Institute, over Presidents’ Day weekend led by Middle School teachers and Dan Dinger. During their trip, students were able to study mangrove and near shore ecology, dissect squid, snorkel among the coral heads, test stressors on Cassiopeia (upside down jellyfish), participate in various training sessions with dolphins at a research center, and visit a marine wildlife hospital and its many patients. Click here to view more photos from the trip.


IMG_0326Hauck Award Winners

Congratulations to the Middle School student winners of the 2016 Frederick Hauck Scholarship for Commitment and Achievement in the Fields of Mathematics and Science ­–sixth graders Robby Ligeralde, Naina Purushothaman, and Cristina Stancescu; and seventh grader Christopher Maring. The Frederick Hauck Scholarships are made possible through the generosity of the Frederick A. Hauck Foundation. Dr. Hauck was a world-renowned nuclear scientist and philanthropist who established the scholarships at Seven Hills to recognize students who demonstrate outstanding achievement and commitment in math and/or science. Each winning student entering grades seven and eight will receive a grant of $250 to be applied to tuition in an approved summer enrichment program.


Excellent Performance at Certamen

Seven Hills recently hosted its fifth annual Certamen in February. Thirteen schools participated, including McAuley, Mariemont, Walnut Hills, Ursuline, Summit, Indian Hill, Turpin, Sycamore, Royalmont, St. Xavier, Covington Latin, Moeller, and Seven Hills. Seven Hills’ Level 1 eighth grade team, including Kevin Wang, Alex Grass, and Krish Gupta,  placed second out of 15 teams. Said Upper School Latin teacher Brian Sebastian and Certamen advisor, “It was a great success in terms of the performance of our own teams and the number of schools and students in attendance.”


Nick Norton
Nick Norton

Seventh Grader and Team Place First at State Level Tech Competition

Congratulations to seventh grader Nick Norton, who, along with his team, FTC Team 10030 – 7 Sigma Robotics, placed first in the Ohio State FTC Robotics Championship, held in Cincinnati in mid-February. “This is quite an accomplishment for any team, but especially for a team in their first year of competition,” said the team’s coach Martin Motz. “These students have put in more than 100 hours each in the past six months outside their school studies to achieve this accomplishment.” Motz said Norton and his team have served in community outreach capacities to promote STEM, held classes to teach other students how to program and design robots, and visited local companies to learn more about engineering jobs, as well as apply their math and science skills to design and build a robot to compete in the Tech Challenge.


From The Buzz, Feb. 4, 2016

DSC_0326Sixth Graders Conjugate Spanish Verbs

Determined to help his sixth graders grasp a solid understanding of common Spanish verbs, Philip Thornberry designed a board game. Thornberry wrote the rules for the hand-drawn board game, which resembles Chutes and Ladders. Using plastic animal figures as their game pieces, the students rolled dice to move through the game board and, in doing so, conjugated -ar, -er, and -ir verbs according to the numbers that they rolled, thus giving them ample practice to see the various present tense verb forms in Spanish. Thornberry said the activity allows the students to familiarize themselves with a significant chunk of useful, common verbs in Spanish, isolate them, and conjugate them in a manageable, age-appropriate way. “While the students are playing the board game, they must listen to what their group mates are saying and play the role of judge, in order to verify that the correct response is provided by each person,” said Thornberry. “They end up teaching and editing each other in small groups, which fortifies the verb conjugation learning process. It’s very much learner-centered in this way.”



Middle School Launches Project to Modify Toy Car for Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center Patient

Middle School students, science department chair and Innovation Lab director Karen Glum, and computer science teacher Brian Arnold unveiled a unique initiative on Jan. 28—to modify an automated toy car for Brysen, a toddler patient at Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center—who has cerebral palsy. Using the GoBabyGo design model created at University of Delaware, Glum and Arnold are leading the cause and overseeing the project, and Middle School students are eager to help. Glum said Middle School students are welcome to help her and Arnold refit the car in the Innovation Lab during lunchtime on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Work on the red toy Ferrari should be complete in about a month. “Brysen may have trouble using the foot operated switch to make the car move, so we will be replacing that switch with a big pushbutton switch on the center of the steering wheel,” said Arnold. “We’ll also be making other wiring changes and designing a seating support structure to help him stay centered in the seat.” Glum and Arnold were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support at a two-day baked goods sale, in which students raised more than double the $300 funding goal to purchase the car for Brysen. All proceeds will go toward efforts to ensure Brysen has a great time being a two-year-old! Glum said the efforts to help Brysen illustrate one key mission of the Innovation Lab. We want our students to embrace someone else’s need and engineer a product as a solution,” said Glum. “It’s all about developing empathy for others.”


DSC_0316Tackling the Concept of Math Inequalities

A local chili restaurant offers meals free to children of a certain age. Thrill seekers must be at least 48 inches tall to ride The Beast at Kings Island. Speed limit signs are posted throughout cities, and on highways and country roads. The messages are all called math inequalities, and they are part of everyone’s lives. Sixth grade math teacher Theresa Keller recently introduced the concept to her students, who worked in pairs to apply their knowledge by researching examples and used the iPad application PicCollage to combine the visual representations with the math concept. “I want the students to understand where the math is in the real world,” said Keller. “The reality is that math inequalities are everywhere.” Keller said her students are also discussing the business reasons behind why companies offer discounts or “freebies,” all things that translate into math inequalities—and big business.


IMG_0746Unpacking Atoms and Molecules

Having recently finished a study of cells—the smallest living structures—sixth graders in Karen Glum and Jennifer Licata’s science classes are exploring the building blocks that make up both the living and nonliving world: atoms and molecules. As part of their study of atomic structure, students spent time learning about charge and experimenting with static electricity. This study then led to the study of DNA, focusing on the replication and distribution of chromosomes during mitosis and meiosis.


Alex Frohn

Power of the Pen

Two Middle School students placed first and second in the Power of The Pen district competition in late January. With more than 200 students participating in the creative writing competition, Alex Frohn finished first among all seventh graders and Maddy Kennebeck finished second among all eighth graders. Writing teacher Chris Caldemeyer said the next competition will take place on March 19. “The two students that did so well, earned their spots from the overall score they received, not just from one piece of writing, which makes their feat all the more impressive,” said Caldemeyer. Head of Middle School Bill Waskowitz noted that the school is awaiting final results for the rest of the students who participated in this even and will share this information once it has been released. Many thanks to the 12 student participants and to Caldemeyer, for their work with Power of the Pen Club. Power of the Pen is a statewide organization that conducts competitions in creative writing for seventh and eighth graders.

Maddy Kennebeck


From The Buzz, Jan. 14, 2016

DSC_0021Students Build Budget Spreadsheets

Eighth graders recently learned how to work with Microsoft Excel for a “Shopping Spree” in Kristina O’Connor’s Algebra IA class. The students had an unlimited budget and identified eight people for which they wanted to buy a gift. They organized their data in an Excel spreadsheet, and input formulas to calculate discounts and tax to each price. “To find each of these data points, students used their previous knowledge of calculating percentages to then input formulas into Excel. They did not calculate this information by hand,” said O’Connor. Students used the charting application to then illustrate discount prices and percentages using a pie chart. The information was then interpreted and presented by each student.


DSC_0043Ethical Debates

Sixth graders deftly navigated the ever-changing currents of formal debate over the plot and subplots of young adult novel Blackwater by Eve Bunting in Emily Stettler’s class. The late December event showcased the knowledge of the students who practiced the art of persuasion and effectively incorporated evidence to back their stance, which was presented in individual statements to support their respective groups. At different times, the students sounded off on whether or not the protagonist was a killer, and if he should come forward to tell the truth in a particular situation. Employing point, counterpoint, argument, and rebuttal, and using a grading structure that involved a rubric for peer evaluation, the students met in teams to work through the debate.


IMG_1273Geography Bee

Congratulations to the participants of the National Geographic Geography Bee, held in the Middle School in late December. Eighth grader Michael Stein is the school winner! Eighth grader Alex Grass was runner-up. Michael will take a written test that will be sent in to see if he qualifies for the state competition. Dean of Middle School and geography teacher Andy McGarvey said results of the test would be available in February or March. Some of the questions that Michael answered correctly were,
“The Azuero Peninsula is on the western shore of a gulf that shares its name with which Central American country?” (Panama), and “The city of Massawa, Eritrea’s main port, is located on what body of water?” (Red Sea).



Middle School mathletes geared up for the MATHCOUNTS competition by participating in the December mini-MATHCOUNTS event at Cincinnati Country Day School. Students were given half the number of math problems given in an official MATHCOUNTS competition. The highest scoring student from each participating school earned the opportunity to participate in the on-stage, one-on-one Countdown Round. Eighth grader Kevin Wang represented Seven Hills well by finishing third in the Countdown Round. Teacher Tom Betts said another mini-MATHCOUNTS event will be held at St. Margaret of York on February 11 and the official Chapter MATHCOUNTS competition will be held on Saturday, February 27 at the University of Cincinnati. Students who participated in the CCD mini-MATHCOUNTS, include sixth graders Sarah Croog, Sonya Macavei, and Cristina Stancescu; seventh grader Meg Yuan; and eighth graders Yash Gaitonde Alex Grass, Krish Gupta, Suraj Parikh, Rohan Patil, Ben Skibo, Andrea Stancescu, and Kevin Wang.


IMG_2754Spelling Bee

Fifteen Middle School students who scored in the top six percent of their grade spelling competition, participated in a schoolwide spelling bee on Friday, Jan. 8, 2016. During this Spelling Bee, the students competed in several rounds in an exciting competition. Sixth grader Jenny Hu, who spelled words such as “irrational” and “accompany” correctly, was declared the champion and eighth grader Kevin Wang was runner-up!


From The Buzz, Dec. 18, 2015

DSC_0995Cross-Curricular Study of Human Rights

Middle School history teacher Judith Neidlein-Dial and English teacher Laura Clemens are blending their lessons in a powerful unit around human rights and responsible authority. The in-depth study incorporates a number of activities and discussions that challenge students to find their personal positions by exploring the concepts of human rights in a variety of socio-cultures. Clemens’ students recently completed reading Lord of the Flies. They are also studying the Jewish Holocaust and engaging in a number of activities. In mid-December, students watched the groundbreaking 1968 “Blue Eyes-Brown Eyes” experiment conducted by third grade teacher Jane Elliott shortly after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Neidlein-Dial said students would further explore the history of systematic oppression during a visit to the Center for Holocaust and Humanities Education in January.


IMG_4614Exploring Cell Structure

As an extension to our unit on cell structure, sixth graders in science teacher Jennifer Licata’s class have been challenged to use the information they have learned about cell parts and their functions to imagine, design, and create an artificial cell that is better suited to do its job than real cells. “Students are working in groups and were assigned a particular type of human cell,” said Licata. “After some discussion and planning, the students began work on a model of their design in the Innovation Lab.”



Members of the Middle School community collectively read the book, The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, during a read-a-thon that took place on Dec. 15, in the Middle School Commons. The group of 41 students, teachers, and administrators signed up to read the book in 10-minute increments. Middle and Upper School librarian Suzanne Dix said the team of readers reached page 275 out of 377 pages. “This story is one known to Middle Schoolers due to its bestseller status and recent movie version,” said Dix. “Often as students passed by the Commons they would say ‘Oh, this is the part when …!’ The read-a-thon was the third annual event, which promotes the joy of reading for pleasure.”


Move Up Day

Fifth graders from Doherty and Lotspeich enjoyed being special guests in the Middle School for annual Move Up Day in early December. “The students were paired up with sixth grade hosts who were then accompanied to a variety of classes and events to experience ‘life in the Middle,’ said Head of Middle School Bill Waskowitz. “Our fifth graders had a chance to meet our teachers, hear a special instrumental and choral concert, and go on a scavenger hunt to learn about our campus. As stated on the special T-shirts that each fifth grader received, ‘When You’re In The Middle, You’re At The Top!’”



Middle School Latin students placed in a Certamen meet at Summit Country Day in December.

Novice Level (grade 8): Alex Grass, Krish Gupta, and Kevin Wang—finished in third place.

Novice Level (grade 8): Rohan Patil, Kyle Plush, and Matt Wabler—finished fourth place.


8th grader Stephen Walsh Progressing to the next levelMiddle School Hour of Code

Students in all three grades of Middle School participated in Hour of Code, a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries, throughout the week of Dec. 7. Middle School science teacher Jocelyn Coulter, who organized the event, said, “We had six volunteers from the field come and help out during the event. Members of The Middle School Programming Club and computer science teacher Brian Arnold also helped keep the event running smoothly,” said Coulter. The students used their time to create art, design video games, and develop animated characters. “It was a very exciting time,” said Coulter. “We encourage our students to continue coding outside of school.”


From The Buzz, Dec. 3, 2015

DSC_0814Making Travel Brochures

Nothing illustrates the character and little-known facts about a country like travel brochures. The information in these pocket-size manuals often requires its author to delve into the history and culture of the area, to become well-versed in the background of a country, and to tell poignant stories. Middle School dean and social studies teacher Andy McGarvey is asking his students to do just that, as part of their study of Latin America. “The students have chosen a country in the region that interests them,” said McGarvey. “They are now to find out what makes it special by creating a travel brochure.” McGarvey is asking his students to design information-rich tri-fold brochures that will highlight their country and give solid information, along with what makes it an exciting place to visit.



Therapy Pets Make Great Middle School Reading Buddies

A group of sixth graders recently had a unique opportunity to read to their furry friends, as part of an initiative coordinated by associate librarian Gail Bloom and learning lab teacher Brooke Richart. Bloom and Richart invited Therapy Pets of Greater Cincinnati to the library in late November. The program encourages pairing up students with therapy dogs in order to boost confidence in reading aloud. “Reading aloud can be daunting and nerve-wracking for many students,” said Bloom. “The idea behind this program is that reading to a dog provides a no-stress and nonjudgmental space to improve fluency skills.” Richart brought 13 sixth graders to the library so they could read challenging chapter books to the dogs. The library was closed for this program so students could focus on their books and the dogs and enjoy the couches and fireplace. The dogs lent an ear to the reading of several books, such as The Trumpet of the Swan, Maximum Ride, Bone, and On My Honor.


Fifth Grade Move Up Day

Fifth graders on the Lotspeich and Doherty campuses will soon find out what it feels like to be part of the Middle School community when they participate in Fifth Grade Move Up Day on Dec. 4. With the assistance of a sixth grade buddy, the students will have the opportunity to visit sixth grade classes such as science, geography, English, Spanish, and drama. Fifth graders will also experience an instrumental and choral presentation, have lunch in Founders Hall, and take part in a scavenger hunt in order to become familiar with the Middle School Campus. Welcome to Middle School, fifth graders!


IMG_0755Middle School Math Circle

Middle School students have a unique opportunity to learn advanced math principles from an Upper School student. Junior Matisse Peppet has started a Middle School Math Circle, which meets each Monday at lunchtime. “Matisse introduces Middle School students to interesting math topics that go beyond the standard Middle School math curriculum,” said math department chair Anne Ramsay, adding that a group of sixth graders recently participated in the circle to learn about applications of Fibonnaci numbers.


From The Buzz, Nov. 19, 2015

IMG_4627Researching Political Parties

In a very interactive lesson, students in Doug Huff’s social studies class studied the history, ideologies, and interesting facts of both the major and lesser-known political parties. After zooming in on their political beliefs by taking a survey at isidewith.com, the students then researched the history of republicans and democrats. The students were also asked to research an existing third party, watch a presidential campaign as part of their homework, and write a mock presidential campaign promoting themselves as president. Huff also asked the students to answer 10 questions about the history of parties, and 10 questions about the differences. “They really liked the political ideology survey,” said Huff. “The purpose was to give them information on each topic but it also gave them a glimpse of their identity.”



Understanding “Point of View”

Sixth graders recently completed a literary project with a twist.

“The focus of this assignment was to reinforce the concept of point of view, which sixth graders focus on in their English class,” said Head of Middle School and sixth grade writing workshop teacher Bill Waskowitz. “In preparation for this project, we read Jon Scieszka’s The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs, which is told from the Wolf’s point of view. Waskowitz then asked the students to re-tell a favorite fairy tale from their childhood from another character’s point of view. As students weaved their newly-conceived tale, they were asked to be mindful of their character’s reason or motivation for his or her story. Once the students finished their projects, they performed them for Danielle Necessary’s second grade class, who also had been studying fairy tales.




Learning About Aquaponics

Students in Jocelyn Coulter’s science class are learning about symbiosis, aquaculture, and agri-management as they launch a project to maintain an aquaponics tank in their classroom throughout the school year. “We have begun building it already, and will continue to work on it through the year,” said Coulter. “The students helped build the tank, researched the most sustainable flora and fauna for the tank, and set up the apparatus, which will remain at the far wall of the classroom.” An acquaponics tank is a blended construction of fish tank and indoor garden. The structure supports a symbiotic relationship between fish and plant life. The roots of the plants receive nitrogen from the waste products released into the tank from the fish, and the fish benefit from the nutrients provided by the plants’ roots. Coulter said she plans to incorporate the system into her environmental science lessons, especially throughout the winter months, as well as encourage her students to further understand the benefits and uses of aquaponics.


DSC_0651 (3)Skype Visit with Author

Thanks to the efforts of two seventh graders, the Middle School book club was treated to a SKYPE call by first-time author Dan Gemeinhart. “Seventh grader Eli Perlin read Gemeinhart’s book, The Honest Truth, over the summer and recommended it for the first book discussion of the school year,” said Middle and Upper School Librarian Suzanne Dix. “Classmate Jack Homer noticed the title and realized he had a connection to the author. Through Jack’s perseverance, the Seven Hills book club enjoyed a great chat with Dan on November 16.” Gemeinhart lives with his wife and children in the state of Washington, where he works part-time as a school librarian. The Honest Truth is a story about a young teenage boy who takes off on a quest to climb Mt. Rainer. Leaving home without a word to anyone but his best friend, he is trying to escape his terminal battle with cancer. Gemeinhart told the students that the book is about survival and friendship.



Learning about Schools in Spanish-Speaking Countries

In order to gain a broader understanding of the Spanish language, students in Maggie Walker’s Spanish class are researching the culture and routines of schools in other countries, such as Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, and Chile. “We are learning about school life in these Spanish-speaking countries and talking about how they compare with and differ from our school systems here,” said Walker. In early December the students will focus on a specific school in one of these countries, and possibly make contact with some of the students there as part of a pen pal program. Walker said the students are especially interested in schools south of the Equator, that break for the summer from December until the end of January. “At this age, they are kind of in their own worlds right now,” said Walker. “I think this exploration and research will open students’ eyes to the lives and customs of other people their age.”


From The Buzz, Oct. 30, 2015


Middle School Students Conduct Waste Audit

How much trash do you make every day?

Middle School students are asking this question of themselves, their peers, and school faculty, as they conduct a waste audit of all the classroom material that is disposed of in our Middle School building. The Waste Audit, which began Monday (Oct. 19), continued throughout the week. At the end of each day, students collected all trash and recycling from waste/recycling bins in the building, excluding the bathrooms. Students then sorted and weighed the items, which led to informed discussion, said seventh grade science teacher Jocelyn Coulter. “The students gained a bigger picture of what we use and how we choose to dispose of it,” said Coulter. “They created tables and graphs for recording their data and communicating their findings. Ultimately, what is done with this information will be up to the students to decide.” Coulter said her students are learning to take action, rather than react to the “doom and gloom” perspectives that are often pervasive when educating about the state of our world and the future to come. The Middle School waste audit is part of a larger initiative, including a survey launched by Seven Hills’ Upper School Sustainability Team, led by Seven Hills senior Matthew Marquardt. The survey asks students and faculty a number of questions about their perception, knowledge, and habits regarding disposing of waste products.



Learning the Art of Argument

In preparation for their very first essay test, students in Judith Neidlein-Dial’s history class are learning how to construct a solid argument using the ARE formula – assertion, reasoning, and evidence. “In an attempt to give them some structure to hold on to, I gave them this formula,” said Neidlein-Dial. The students were given a number of small cards bearing the parts of the ARE. “They were then tasked with making at least five solid arguments by piecing together the information on the cards,” said Neidlein-Dial. “We then read them aloud and critiqued each other.”


Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 2.15.44 PM

Middle School’s Online Newspaper’s Winning Joke

Of the 100 jokes submitted, said Middle School journalism and writing teacher Chris Caldemeyer, The Hive’s best joke award went to Ahmed Abass:

Q: What do you call a parade of rabbits hopping backwards?

A: A receding hare-line!

Ahmed received a $15 iTunes gift card for his knee-slapping submission. Read more of The Hive’s blog to find out what they’re writing about! www.beefeed.blogspot.com


DSC_0063 (1)Students (and parents) Cook Delicious Roman Treats

Steamed lamb. Stuffed dates fried in honey. Roasted peaches. Soft-boiled eggs in pine nut sauce. Columella salad with fresh mint leaves. Seared Ahi tuna. The feast, prepared and shared by sixth graders and their parents in Katie Swinford’s Latin class, was part of the class’ Roman cena, or meal, designed to solidify students’ understanding of Roman culture. “This is the culmination of our Roman food research project,” said Swinford. “The students researched Roman food and recipes, selected an ancient recipe to prepare, and brought in the delicious dishes to share with their Latin 6 classmates.” Swinford’s students weren’t the only ones enjoying tasty treats with ancient flair. Students received a visit from Middle and Upper School Latin teacher Brian Sebastian, as well as a few other hungry Upper School teachers.


Erosion in Real Life

Students in Andy McGarvey’s class are studying the cause of erosion and climate differences by looking at real-life examples of erosion in their neighborhood and globally. Working with a partner, and focusing on specific cities throughout the world, students are figuring out what causes erosion, why it is a problem, and then brainstorming ways to help solve the problem. “They are presenting in a variety of methods,” said McGarvey. “What they are working on now deals with climate around the world and the factors that determine the climate. Each pair of students is finding information about the city, such as monthly high and low temperatures, and monthly precipitation.” McGarvey said the students are using this information, along with various maps, to help them determine the factors that make the climate for that city, as well as better understand why climates vary so much around the world.


From The Buzz, Oct. 15, 2015


Understanding the Carbon Cycle

So just how does the carbon cycle work? Our seventh grade science students can not only tell you, they can act it out. In an energetic skit introduced to the science department by science department chair Karen Glum, the students in Jocelyn Coulter’s science class recently performed a number of roles, which explained precisely how carbon is released into the air. The students used colored balloons to represent “light energy” and “carbon dioxide.” They demonstrated the cycle as the sun passed the “light energy” to the grass, which took “carbon dioxide” from the atmosphere and created sugar/glucose. The student dressed up as “grass” placed the light and carbon dioxide balloons into a box labeled sugar. Then, along came “cow.” Cow ate the grass (consuming the carbon dioxide that had become a part of the glucose), and through cellular respiration, the cow exhaled carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. Coulter said the skit was used as an introduction to the study of the carbon cycle.


Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 4.38.56 PM

Club Brings Students Together Through Multicultural Learning

They share challah bread, celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrate Congo week, learn dances and music, and much more. The Middle School Culture Club, advised by French teacher Jacky Kalubi, offers students a comfortable space to share their heritage, language, and interests. Throughout the year, Culture Club also hosts guest speakers and participates in fund raising activities that serve local and global communities in need. “The purpose of the club is to promote an environment of multicultural understanding,” said Kalubi. “We focus on developing a sense of global awareness and interest in social action.”



New Latin Club in Middle School

The Middle School Latin Club recently held its inaugural meeting in mid October. The new club is open to any Middle School student, regardless of their language of study. During the first meeting, each student crafted their own bulla. A bulla was a kind of necklace or amulet worn by Roman children that would protect them from evil spirits and bring them good luck. Club members inscribed their individual bulla with Latin phrases that are meaningful to them and many drew small images in the center to bring them good luck during Latin quizzes! Latin teacher Mrs. Swinford shared that upcoming events include a lessons on making togas for Halloween, presentations on Roman gladiators, ancient Roman board games, and opportunities to taste food made by University of Cincinnati Classics graduate students.


From The Buzz, Sept. 24, 2015


Studying the Constitution

Using the game of Jeopardy! format as a launch pad for review, Doug Huff’s history class solidified their knowledge of U.S. government and the Constitution. Huff divided his class into thirds and hooked up a buzzer system for each group. The students worked through several categories, providing the correct answers to most of them, such as, “The number of U.S. senators,” “Total number of Congressmen and women not counting the nonvoting delegates,” and “The written plan for the U.S. Federal government.”


IMG_3743Innovation Lab

Seven Hills Middle School has a new mission called SHIEP (pronounced like “sheep”) or Seven Hills Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program. “Students are tasked with solving problems to help others,” said Innovation Lab director and science department chair Karen Glum. “The solutions have to involve the invention of a physical product.” In order to jumpstart the program, Glum created a bulletin board outside the Innovation Lab called the “bug board.” The board is a place for posting problems – things that “bug” us, from nuisances to real problems. Since the start of the school year, Glum and her students asked the entire school community to share things that bug them. Having received a number of responses, students are now beginning to process feedback and build prototypes.


DSC_0918Algebraic Expressions

Students in Theresa Keller’s class are honing their math skills by writing and evaluating algebraic and numeric expressions. They are also working on multi-step expressions using Order of Operation rules to simplify. Keller said she has found that her students enjoy interacting and moving through the classroom during her math classes, so she often asks her students to write their work on the board at the front of the room. “The students love displaying their work, as well as getting feedback from their peers,” said Keller. “Allowing them the opportunity to explain why they agree or disagree with each other offers the opportunity to truly understand the material.”


Roman Cena

Sixth graders in Katie Swinford’s Latin class are preparing for a Roman Cena, or meal, which they will celebrate on Sept. 29. “This is the culmination of our Roman food research project,” said Swinford. “The students have researched Roman food and recipes, decided on an ancient recipe to prepare, and will bring their dishes to share with their Latin 6 classmates.” Swinford said the meal is very timely. It coincides with the Roman feast day in honor of Venus Genetrix, said to be the mother of the Roman people.


The Best Medicine

They are serious journalists, always digging for the latest Middle School news. But the reporters, editors, and producers of The Hive, Seven Hills’ Middle School e-newsletter, also understand the importance of a good joke. Chris Caldemeyer, advisor for The Hive and Middle School writing teacher, said the students are holding a joke contest in which they are asking the school community to submit anything from bad pick-up lines and picture captions, to funny stories and satire. “We are just looking for the funniest out there. Do some research and find something hilarious,” Caldemeyer said, on behalf of the The Hive. Caldemeyer’s class will judge submissions every two weeks and, based on how much they laugh, will offer a prize to the winner.


From The Buzz, Sept. 11, 2015

IMG_3619“Splot” House

Sixth graders learned more about themselves and each other through an introductory English assignment called “The Splot House,” based on the book The Big Orange Splot House by Daniel Pinkwater. Middle School English teacher Emily Stettler asked each student to draw a “house,” in the fashion of the book, with many rooms that tells a story about his or her interests. Stettler shared the picture of her house with the students, adding that her house is in the shape of the block “O” because she loves her alma mater, The Ohio State University. The students’ Splot House projects will be posted in their classroom all school year.



Developing Scientific Minds

The ability to think scientifically is a skill that must be encouraged, honed, and maintained. Seventh grade science teacher Jocelyn Coulter demonstrated that point as she started off the year with “What’s in my cup?” an activity that awakened the curiosities of her students. During the exercise, Coulter handed each student a small cup filled with various unknown items. One by one, the students took their mystery cups back to their seats to record detailed descriptions of their objects. “This assignment helps students develop their scientific minds,” said Coulter. “We will be doing this throughout the year. I’m also asking them to include the date and setting of their findings in their science journals.”



Bringing Latitude and Longitude to Life

The study of latitude and longitude isn’t static in Andy McGarvey’s geography class. When McGarvey gave the students coordinates – such as 30º N by 60º W – the students drew a global map on the floor and used the tiles as the lines of latitude and longitude. “While introducing geography we were in the beginning stages of understanding the theme of location and absolute location,” said McGarvey. “Geographers use latitude and longitude to pinpoint a physical feature on the Earth. I gave them coordinates and they figured out where it is on their floor map. It made the lesson more physical by having the larger space and moving around to find locations rather than on a piece of paper.”


DSC_0640Sixth Grade Spanish

In its first year with an online textbook, the sixth grade Spanish program is coming to life in Philip Thornberry’s classroom. Introduced during the 2014-15 school year for the first time, the sixth grade Spanish curriculum offers a bridge to the Lower School Spanish program and Middle School program, which originally began in seventh grade. Thornberry said the students are enjoying carrying over the knowledge gleaned from their fifth grade Spanish class to sixth grade. The students recently acted out skits in Spanish and reviewed the geography of Spanish-speaking countries throughout the world.


Kate Dunham at DAAP Architecture

Eighth Grader Participates in UC/DAAP Program

Eighth grader Kate Dunham attended the Cincinnati Architecture Mentoring Program (C.A.M.P.) at the University of Cincinnati/DAAP this past summer. Kate’s work, along with other students in the program, is currently on display at Macy’s department store on Race Street. The work was the culmination of a week of conceptual architecture design for a retail environment, which included feedback from Macy’s corporate real estate team. The C.A.M.P. program encourages gender and racial diversity in the field of professional architecture and was led by DAAP professors and directors.


[collapse id=”collapse_41″]

[citem title=”Click here to read stories from the 2014-15 school year” id=”citem_29″ parent=”collapse_41″]

From The Buzz, June 11, 2015

DSC_0865Middle School Closing Ceremony

Congratulations to our 84 rising ninth graders! The Middle School closing ceremony on June 3 was filled with humor, cherished memories, and, of course, happy tears, as students, families, and faculty celebrated an exceptional Middle School year and the wonderful things to come for our current eighth graders! The ceremony started off with a jazzy selection by the eighth grade instrumental ensemble led by instrumental music teacher John Rising, followed by student-written reflections and selections by the eighth grade chorus, led by fine arts department chair Tina Kuhlman. The ceremony also included remarks by Head of Middle School Bill Waskowitz, who encouraged eighth graders to “slow down” and cherish the small moments of their lives. As part of the closing ceremony tradition, representatives from each grade shared words with their classmates. Sixth grader Molly Francis delivered closing comments, seventh graders Anika Parameswaran and Ajay Gupta presented the seventh grade response, and eighth graders Rachel Michelman and Christopher Nathan delivered a farewell message. Eighth graders Emaan Asghar, Greg Kalin, Hope Neyer, and Michael Nordlund also presented eighth grade reflections. Students also heard from Head of School Chris Garten and Head of Upper School Matt Bolton. Click here for a gallery of photos from the ceremony.


Brice Hill
Brice Hill

Awards of Distinction

During the Middle School Closing Ceremony, Middle School Athletic Director and Physical Education Department Chair Roger Schnirring announced the Archie Griffin Sportsmanship Award to rising ninth graders Brice Hill and Lizie Morriss. Middle School dean Andy McGarvey announced the Patricia Howard Award of Distinction, given to rising ninth grader Christopher Nathan.

Lizie Morriss
Lizie Morriss
Christopher Nathan
Christopher Nathan


headerFrench National Contest 2015

Middle School students brought home stunning results in the French National Contest, with 65-percent of Seven Hills seventh graders who took the test scoring above the national level, which included 5,549 participants. In addition, 90-percent of Seven Hills eighth grade test takers scored above the national level, which included 23,863 participants. Click here to view a breakdown of the results, including national comparisons.


IMG_2629Asia Day

Sixth graders participated in a year-end comprehensive activity day focusing on Asia in late May. Geography teacher and Middle School Dean Andy McGarvey brought global learning to life for the students as they engaged in a number of activities that spanned the world, including a henna art classes, hearing from Friends of Israel, a Holi celebration of the colors of the season, yoga, and even a Kung Fu demonstration! Click here to view photos from the event.


DSC_0446Roman Games

To celebrate their study of the Roman military, sixth-grade Latin language students competed in Olympic-style athletic events. They threw the discus, a javelin for distance, and raced their way to victory in hula-hoop chariots. Besides learning the basics of the Latin language, students learned about Roman food, Greek and Roman mythology, the Roman army, and gladiators. Sixth grade language instruction comprises Latin, Spanish, and French. Middle School Latin teacher Katie Swinford said the students also study the three languages during the year to help them determine what language they would like to study throughout their Middle and Upper school careers.


DSC_0536Eighth Grade English Partners with Arts Organizations

Eighth grade English students and English teacher Linda Maupin hosted representatives from two prestigious arts institutions to review their work in two separate events in late May. The first visit included student performances of original ekphrastic poetry inspired by art at the Taft Museum of Art. Present at the poetry recitation event was Lisa Morrisette, manager of school and docent programs at Taft. Morrisette applauded the students’ efforts and said many of the students’ poems will be on display at the Taft Museum throughout the summer because their poetry will help museumgoers see the art in a different light. Students also performed scenes from Romeo and Juliet, the culmination of work throughout the year with the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. Maupin said the students worked extraordinarily hard in her classes and took ownership of their poetry and performances. Said Maupin, “These are the glistenings of academic life truly lived in 3D in the Middle School.”


DSC_0156Seven Hills Network of African-American Parents Honor Students

Students and families who are members and supporters of Seven Hills Network of African American Parents (SNAAP) honored Seven Hills students of African-American descent during an annual end-of-year SNAAP banquet on the afternoon of June 7. Seven Hills parent Theo Nelson gave an invocation. Head of School Chris Garten applauded the students and their families for a year of dedication and purpose. Global Research & Development Director at Procter & Gamble Illya Thomas delivered a poignant keynote message entitled, “Success is a journey, not a destination.” The banquet also included a signature libation memorial ceremony, officiated by Seven Hills parent and Board of Trustee member Jan-Michele Kearney. Many thanks to parents Erica Vaughn, Leslie Bryson, and several other parents in the SNAAP committee for organizing the event. Click here to view a photo gallery of the event.

The SNAAP honorees for 2014-2015 school year are as follows:

Rising sixth graders

Gabrielle Christmon

Ric DeLyons

Jack Fechter

Kamaia Hall-Edwards

Asher Kearney

Rising eighth graders

Khepri Campbell

Jarin Davis

Brandon Dinan

Brice Hill

Ty’Asia Hudlin


Class of 2015

Adam Buford

Isaiah Daniels

Bryden Goings

Sydney Jones

Jared Nelson

Joshua Weaver


From The Buzz, May 28, 2015

IMG_2137Studying Biodiversity in the Little Miami River

Seventh graders got their feet wet while learning about streams and rivers in late May. The students participated in the daylong River Explorer field trip at Nisbet Park in Loveland, Ohio, hosted by the Ohio River Foundation. Students gained hands-on knowledge of stream health by assessing the biodiversity of fish and macro invertebrates. They also assessed the surrounding landscape, where they looked for signs of erosion, healthy riparian zones, and visually assessed the quality of the water. After assessing water conditions by observing a number of water samples from different areas, the students came to the conclusion that where the Urbana Stream and Little Miami River meet is in moderate condition, which means work can be done to help improve the water quality and habitat of water in that area. Click here to view photos from the river trip.


IMG_2026100-Mile Journey

Seven Hills Middle School dean, geography teacher, and marathon runner Andy McGarvey often can be found running on the track with students after school. The effort is called “100 Mile Club,” a yearlong voluntary physical fitness program McGarvey introduced. As part of the program, McGarvey runs with students who take on the challenge, even stepping out in moderately inclement weather to encourage his students. The goal is for students to run a collective 100 miles with McGarvey in one year. The journey, however, is much more important, said McGarvey. McGarvey said since he started the program four years ago, two students – seventh graders Megan McLennan and Alex Grass – have succeeded in running the 100 miles in one year.


DSC_0082Wind Turbines

Students in Ken Revell’s eighth grade science class explored alternate energy sources during a lab on wind turbines. The students experimented with different blades and gears to generate different levels of electricity. The students were then able to harness that electricity to light up LED lights and water pumps. “Using the skeleton of a generator to create wind turbines the overall focus is energy transformations,” said Revell. “The general goal for our class was to gain an understanding of converting one form of energy to another.”


DSC_0368Hair Fair

More than 27 students and teachers donated their hair during the Hair Fair in the Middle School Commons on May 20, for cancer patients who have lost hair as part of their medical treatment. Many thanks to our students and teachers who donated, to math teacher Theresa Keller who organized the event, and to the stylists at Identity Hair Salon and Medical Spas, for all of their efforts. Click here to view a gallery of photos from the Hair Fair.


Understanding Watersheds and Pollutants

Seventh graders in Jocelyn Coulter’s science class learned about the variety of materials that simulate different run-off pollutants, such as fertilizers, pesticides, oil and gasoline, factory byproducts, and soil. Students simulated distribution of the materials in places they thought they might be present in a community shown in their model, including roads, homes, a factory, a farm, and a couple streams. Students then simulated “rain” with a spray bottle. The demonstration allowed the students to see the movement and outcome of the materials, which resulted from rain runoff. “The lesson stresses the importance of being aware of your watersheds and making sure that we are more mindful of preventing excess runoff of pollutants in our communities,” said Coulter.


From The Buzz, May 14, 2015

DSC_0871Sixth Grade is for the Birds!

For their bird banding unit, the sixth grade students of Jennifer Licata and Karen Glum went on a field trip to Hueston Woods State Park where they observed the field work of Dr. Dave Russell, an ornithologist and professor at Miami University. Educational partners Drs. Dave and Jill Russell run the AREI, a non-profit bird rescue program. The conclusion of the unit also incorporated an all-day study with Drs. Dave and Jill Russell, and a display of students’ findings about birds’ behaviors based on the scientific method.


DSC_0689Skyping the Author of Brown Girl Dreaming

Middle School students enjoyed a Skype visit with the author of Brown Girl Dreaming Jacqueline Woodson, in mid-April. The Skype session was presented by associate librarian Gail Bloom and head librarian Sue Dix. Many of the students who attended read Woodson’s latest novel about an African-American girl growing up in the south. Students asked Woodson a number of questions about her writing process and how she felt when she won the National Book Award. In addition to the National Book Award, Woodson has recently won the Coretta Scott King Award, Newbery Honor, and Sibert Honor.


DSC_0078“Make It Shake It”

Seventh graders in Jocelyn Coulter’s science class are learning that whether the outcome of an earthquake is catastrophic or just problematic often has to do with the design and materials used to construct the buildings. In mid-May, students began building towers that would hopefully withstand and resist earthquake destruction while supporting a load. Coulter asked students to research design principals, draw their towers on paper, design them in 3D using the Google Sketchup application, build it, and test it on a shake table. Coulter said the students incorporated a number of emerging skills, such as design thinking, working within strict perimeters to come up with a solution, and working within a group to develop ideas and plans.


IMG_0742Students Excel in Latin Exam and Ohio Junior Classical League

Middle and Upper School Latin students in grades 7-12 took the National Latin Exam and 20 in grades 8-11 competed at the 65th annual Ohio Junior Classical League convention in Columbus. Here is a summary of Middle School students’ results:

National Latin Exam

Seventh grade (Introduction to Latin exam)

Certificate of Achievement: Stephen Walsh, Shiv Malhotra, Matthew Wabler, Kevin Wang, Caroline Corbett, Rohan Patal, Alex Grass, Krish Gupta, Hannah Levin

Eighth grade (Latin I exam)

Gold Medal – Summa Cum Laude: Gregory Kalin (perfect score), Max Lane (perfect score), Antoine Langrée, Susanna Spooner, Renee Stieby

Silver Medal – Maxima Cum Laude: Claire Harrison, Patrick Kilcoyne, Drew Vecellio, Polyxeni Drath, Emaan Asghar, Maya Patel

Magna Cum Laude: Annabel Stanley

Eighth grader Max Lane placed in the top 10 in a number of categories in the Ohio Junior Classical League convention. The Ohio Junior Classical League (OJCL) is the state organization that promotes the study of the Latin language and classical civilization.


From The Buzz, April 16, 2015

DSC_0364Interpreting French Poetry

Students in Middle School Language teacher Jacky Kalubi’s class recently studied a famous poem Déjeuner du matin, by French poet and screenwriter Jacques Prévert. As part of a lesson to better understand irregular past verbs, Kalubi asked students to work in groups to portray the lines of the poignant, short poem. While students read the poem aloud in French, their classmates acted out each action in a staged setting. Kalubi also shared history on Prévert’s work, explaining that his poetry became and remains popular in the French-speaking world, particularly in schools.


FullSizeRenderLord of the Flies and Shakespeare

In two very unique lessons, teacher Linda Maupin took her eighth grade English class out of the classroom and into the Middle School Commons. While they studied the group dynamic and social justice issues infused in Lord of the Flies, Maupin asked students to work through the scenarios as a way to encourage a connection with the William Golding’s World War II era writing. Students were asked to build forts with wooden logs, open kiwi fruit with no utensils, and craft tools with little resources, to name a few. In a separate lesson on Shakespeare, Maupin asked students to walk to the rhythm of their own voices as they recited verse from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The latter exercise was used to help students prepare for a workshop they attended with a local Shakespearean actor Darnell Benjamin from Cincinnati Shakespeare Company.



DSC_0322Middle School Talent Show a Big Hit!

Students enjoyed a musical array of songs, acting, and instrumental and dance performances during the annual Middle School Talent Show. Organizer and physical education teacher Sue Bone said the show “It is so wonderful for these students to share their talents with the Middle school,” said Bone. “There were a variety of acts from dancing to Ukelele playing – It is not easy to perform but our students did so with aplomb.” The show concluded with a competition, in which students recited memorized numbers of Pi. The student who recited the most numbers of Pi – seventh grader Rohan Patil – received a sweet reward: An opportunity to “pie” Head of Middle School Bill Waskowitz in the face. Click here to view more photos from the show.


University of Cincinnati Math Bowl

Congratulations to the Middle School UC Math Bowl teams, which brought home Superior ratings in late March. “We had a very productive morning at the UC Math Bowl,” said Middle School math teacher Theresa Keller. “We had a total of 19 students participate in this event and our kids had a great time.” Students who participated in the bowl are: Emma Dorsch, Yash Gaitonde, Wes Gardner, Sahil Ghatora, Ari Gleich, Krish Gupta, Siddhant Gupta, John Humprey, Aryan Katneni, Amisha Mittal, Chris Nathan, Suraj Parikh, Rohan Patil, Rohan Sachdeva Rhea Srivastava, Andrea Stancescu, Ben Wang, Kevin Wang, Max Yuan.


Middle School Student Accolades

shupperNational Swim Recognition


Eighth grader Emma Shuppert recently competed in the YMCA Nationals in Greensboro. NC. Emma received a national time in 100 back. Her time was 59.20. In a team and league record-breaking relay, Emma also received a national time of 150.29.

VarmaStudent Violinist Performed in National Competition

Eighth grader Aishwarya Varma was part of a string instrument ensemble that won first prize during Spring Break. Aishwarya plays violin for the Peraza Music Workshop ensemble. She also recently competed at the Wordstrides Heritage National music competition in Chicago and scored the highest score of all 22 teams across all categories. Aishwarya was also selected to play at the Honors Orchestra for the event.

RingsPower of the Pen

Eighth grader Madeline RingswaldEgan recently made it to the state tournament of Power of the Pen (P.O.P.). Congratulations to Madeline and writing teacher and P.O.P. coach Chris Caldemeyer. The Seven Hills Middle School recently joined P.O.P., a statewide organization that conducts competition in creative writing for seventh and eighth graders.

IMG_4330Chess Award

Seventh grader Suraj Parikh recently won the seventh to ninth grade category of the Queen City Classic Chess Tournament held at Paul Brown Stadium in late March. The tournament is the second largest chess event held in the Midwest.


From The Buzz, March 12, 2015

DSC_0900Global Education Day

Middle School students truly received a glimpse of education around the world as they engaged in dozens of lively, enlightening academic, artistic, and athletic activities. Global Ed Day on March 6 was filled with engaging, fun activities in the afternoon and presentations in the morning. A special thanks to our presenters for sharing their expertise. Click here to view a list of the presenters and their presentations. Click here to view a photo gallery of the event.


IMG_1616Seventh Grade Courage Retreat

Seventh graders participated in the Youth Frontiers Courage Retreat in the Hillsdale Commons, which took place in late February. The students and small group student facilitators from the Upper School worked with retreat leaders to identify and discuss ways to encourage taking positive risks and shift behaviors in order to build and maintain a positive school community. “The Youth Frontier program helps foster the students’ ability to have the ‘courage’ to make good choices and help to develop positive leadership skills,” said Vicky Hausberger, Middle and Upper School guidance counselor. “The philosophy of the program supports our Seven Hills values and mission.” The retreat is sponsored by the Guidance Department. Upper School students who served as retreat facilitators were Jules Baretta, Margaret Cox, Arjun Dheenan, Lindsay Finn, Leo Fried, Kenyon Moriarty, Liza Randman, Mollie Rouan, Matthew Saporito, James Scheurer, Claire Stewart, Matt Williams, and Carolina Visoso.



Seventh graders in Jocelyn Coulter’s science class studied the work of renowned blind paleontologist and University of California, Davis professor Geerat Vermeij by putting themselves in his place. The students were required to describe a number of fossils without the use of sight by examining them in socks. The students filled out a number of fossil categories, using descriptors to deduce the name of each fossil. Once they completed their observations, students then looked at the fossils and determined the accuracy of their original sightless observations.



ski kid

Middle School Student Named to Junior Olympics Ski Team

Congratulations to eighth grader Andrew Santamarina, who recently was named to the Junior Olympic alpine team, a highly competitive team of the country’s strongest skiers. Andrew competed in the alpine Junior Olympics qualifier in late February. He will race in Colorado in mid-March.



Seven Hills 15

Two Students to Compete in State MATHCOUNTS

The Middle School MATHCOUNTS team placed sixth out of 46 teams in the Cincinnati Chapter MATHCOUNTS competition at the University of Cincinnati in late February. The students traveled with math teacher and coach Tom Betts. Top finisher Max Yuan and Aryan Katneni both qualified for the State competition, which will take place in Columbus on March 14. Congratulations to the math teams, which included: Yash Gaitonde, Ari Gleich, Siddhant Gupta, Felix Karthik, Aryan Katneni, Amisha Mittal, Christopher Nathan, Suraj Parikh, Andrea Stancescu, and Max Yuan.


summitYouth Leadership Summit

Teacher Judith Neidlein-Dial took six eighth graders to the Center for Holocaust and Humanities Education for the third annual Bystander to Upstander: Youth Leadership Summit in late February. During the event, students were paired with participants from other schools for the majority of the day. The students attended three separate sessions that focused on discovering their personal strengths. They also learned that leadership can take many forms. At the end of the day, students reconvened with their school group to develop an action plan for their communities. The students heard from dynamic speaker Mark Hanis, a grandson of Holocaust survivors, former White House fellow, and cofounder of United to End Genocide. Hanis shared his experiences as a student activist and offered students suggestions for ways to become positive and effective agents of change. “It really is a great program, not only because it is run like a professional conference, but also because it encourages them to find a way they can make the world a better place based on their personal talents and in a way they feel comfortable,” said Neidlein-Dial. “The speaker was phenomenal. He was very personable and really carried the message that trial and error, luck, and just doing something are way more important than having all the right answers or waiting for the right moment.” Students who participated in the summit were Elin Antonsson, Brice Hill, Greg Kalin, Lizie Morriss, Michael Nordlund, and Annabel Stanley.


From The Buzz, Feb. 26, 2015

10855081_10152510391001841_7519807728993976305_oMarine Biology Camp

The Florida Everglades became a Middle School classroom for 36 students in the marine biology camp over Presidents’ Day weekend led by science teacher Jennifer Licata, Middle School Head Bill Waskowitz, and Middle School teachers. During their trip, students were able to observe alligators and other wildlife during an airboat ride, visit the Dolphin Research Center in Marathon, FL, study nurse sharks with biologists in Big Pine Key, FL, snorkel off the coast, and study the flora and fauna of the ocean, to name a few! Click here to view more photos from the trip. Click here to view a gallery of photos from the trip.



IMG_1962Mice and Men

Seventh graders wrapped up a unit on the classic novel Of Mice and Men with a focus on characterization in English teacher Mandy Hayes’ class. We began by asking the question, “How do authors create good characters?” said Hayes. “We examined excerpts to ascertain the elements of characterization and then worked in groups to incorporate these elements, such as appearance, words, actions, and reactions, into a creative presentation of an original character.” Students also reviewed the text to find quotations that illustrated their character’s traits. The students later presented the information to their class, as well as completed a number of projects, including posters, skits, and movies. Hayes said the wide range of projects made for a lively and engaging learning experience. “They practice weaving quotations into their text and used them as evidence to support their statements,” said Hayes. “The whole project is a great way for the students to engage in collaborative discussions that support their analysis of the characters in the novel.”



Hauck Award Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 2015 Frederick Hauck Scholarship for Commitment and Achievement in the Fields of Mathematics and Science ­– sixth graders Caroline Chalmers and Faith Hagerty, seventh graders Ethan Rising and Stephen Walsh, and eighth grader Max Yuan. The Frederick Hauck Scholarships are made possible through the generosity of the Frederick A. Hauck Foundation. Dr. Hauck was a world-renowned nuclear scientist and philanthropist who established the scholarships at Seven Hills to recognize students who demonstrate outstanding achievement and commitment in math and/or science. Each winning student entering grades seven and eight will receive a grant of $250 to be applied to tuition in an approved summer enrichment program.


Betts Math CountsMini-Mathcounts

Middle School mathematicians geared up for the MATHCOUNTS competition by participating in the mid-February mini-MATHCOUNTS at St. Margaret of York with teacher Tom Betts. Students worked through a number of math problems in the Sprint and Countdown Round, the latter of which was won by eighth grader Max Yuan. Congratulations to participants, including seventh graders Yash Gaitonde, Ajay Gupta, Krish Gupta, Suraj Parikh, Rohan Patil, and Kevin Wang; and eighth graders Ari Gleich, Felix Karthik , Aryan Katneni, Amisha Mittal, and Max Yuan. The Chapter MATHCOUNTS competition will be held on Feb. 28 at the University of Cincinnati.


DSC_0038Speed Dating with Books

Sixth graders got up close and personal on Feb. 10 and 11 with some of their favorite books during the library’s annual “Speed Dating with Books” – an event in which students were given limited time to browse several books and select one. “The idea was to give kids a relaxed and fun environment to explore nonfiction books,” said Middle and Upper School librarian Suzanne Dix. “After four rounds of examining dozens of titles, the students hopefully left with a great book date!” Dix said students will use their chosen books later for a project in English teacher Emily Stettler’s class.


From The Buzz, Jan. 29, 2015


Cross-Curricular Study of Human Rights

Middle School history teacher Judith Neidlein-Dial and English teacher Linda Maupin are blending their lessons in a powerful unit around human rights and responsible authority. The in-depth study incorporates a number of activities and discussions that challenge students to find their personal positions by exploring the concepts of human rights in a variety of socio-cultures. While students in Maupin’s class are reading Lord of the Flies, they are also studying the Jewish Holocaust and engaging in a number of activities. In late January, students participated in a role-play in which certain students were “superior” and others were “inferior.” The teachers followed the activity with a poignant discussion and watched the groundbreaking 1968 “Blue Eyes-Brown Eyes” experiment conducted by third grade teacher Jane Elliott shortly after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Neidlein-Dial said students will further explore the history of systematic oppression during a visit to the Auschwitz exhibit at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in February.


photoMatthew 25 Ministries

A record number of students and their families joined in to volunteer at Matthew 25 Ministries on Martin Luther King, Jr. day, also known as “MLK National Day of Service.” “Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a day on, not a day off,” said world languages teacher Jacky Kalubi. “Matthew 25 is a great venue where people of all ages come to pitch in and serve. It is a good opportunity to remind our students about service projects, and about serving others and performing good deeds.” “We had 70 people volunteer this yearour largest group yet,” said Head of Middle School Bill Waskowitz. “Many thanks to Jacky Kalubi for coordinating this important annual event.” Matthew 25 is a non-profit charitable organization based in Blue Ash. The Seven Hills School has participated in the National Day of Service at Matthew 25 for four years.


IMG_0074Book Tasters

Sixth graders recently collaborated with Middle and Upper School librarian Suzanne Dix to establish a book review program entitled “Book Tasters.” The innovative, interactive program requires students to read books and review or “taste” them. Dix “pays” the students for their work by providing lunch. Once the students complete their reviews, they sent them to Dix, who then inserts the review in the books and places white stickers on the covers. The next students to check out the books will then have a student-penned review to read while they make their selection. The “tasted” books are currently on display in the middle school section of the library.


IMG_3085Geography Bee

Congratulations to the participants of the National Geographic Geography Bee, held in the Middle School in early January. Eighth grader Max Lane is the school winner. Sixth grader Luke Malloy was runner-up. Max will take a written test that will be sent in to see if he qualifies for the state competition. Dean of Middle School and geography teacher Andy McGarvey said results of the test will be available in February or March.



DSC_0295 Math in Motion

In Algebra IA, the students are currently working on weighted average problems. To review the many different types they have been working on, math teacher Kristina O’Connor assigned students to play a large-scale game of Hungry, Hungry Hippos. Working in pairs, the students were required to run to the middle to grab a “marble” – a crumpled paper containing the math problem – then the pair had to solve the problem and check their answer with O’Connor. Once O’Connor initialed the students’ correct answers, the other partner ran to the middle to grab a different colored “marble” to solve, in a continuing rotation. O’Connor said her students enjoyed the blended physical/mental exercise.


From The Buzz, Jan. 15, 2015


Spelling Bee

Congratulations to participants of the Middle School spelling bee. Seventeen finalists competed for the opportunity to try to advance to the regional bee in February. Eighth grader Madeline Ringswald-Egan won the bee, spelling the word “osculate” correctly for the win. Runners-up were eighth grader Jesse Sprigg and seventh grader Ajay Gupta. Madeline will now participate in an online test to try to qualify for the regional bee being held downtown on Feb. 21.



DSC_0251Stranded on a Desert Island

Andy McGarvey’s sixth grade geography students continued their unit on Latin America by building a map of a fictional island in South America, where they are stranded. The students, who worked in groups, were required to include the climate, landforms, vegetation, and wildlife of their island. The students also kept journals on their adventures, addressing a number of points, including where they would sleep, where they would take shelter in the event of a storm, what they would eat, how tasks would be accomplished, how long they stayed on the island, and how they were rescued. McGarvey said the project allowed students to apply their studies of the geography, history, and culture of South America in a creative manner.



DSC_0262Acting out History

Students in Doug Huff’s history class didn’t have to open a book or tap a link to learn about the Burr-Hamilton duel on July 11, 1804, in Weehawken, NJ. Through the lens of the infamous challenge between former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and sitting Vice President Aaron Burr, Huff acted out the duel with his students and gave them an indepth look at the culture, language, and expectations of that era. Students learned that duels were all about honor, that some men won duels without even showing up, and that duels were quite fashionable at the time. After acting out the Burr-Hamilton duel, Huff asked students to discuss the outcome. His lively lesson ended with a mock “EPSN” sportscast of a professional reenactment of the duel, which takes place annually in front of thousands of audience onlookers near the historic site.


DSC_0260Lesson on DNA

Middle School science teachers Karen Glum and Jennifer Licata recently taught sixth graders a vivid, tactile lesson on DNA and cell division in the Commons. Using different colors of socks to represent DNA, Glum and Licata explained that socks with sticker labels represented chromosomes. The teachers introduced students to concepts such as homologous pairs and the need for DNA replication. Later in the unit the students will model the cell division process with a claymation project.



Defining Friendship to Understand Civil Rights

Sixth-graders worked collaboratively in early January in English teacher Emily Stettler’s class, to discuss definitions of friendship, kindness, and peace. “First students journaled about their ideas of what it means to be a true friend,” said Stettler. “They then read another student’s writing and picked a line from the journal that was poignant to them.” The class then organized the lines to make collective class poems on true friendship. The poems were then read for the entire Middle School at an assembly. Stettler’s students also read Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco, the actual story of two Civil War soldiers – one African-American and one Caucasian – who became friends. “Throughout it all, they are true to each other and demonstrate what it means to be a true friend, even after the ultimate sacrifice,” said Stettler. “We also talked about the historical references and relevance involving slavery and the Civil War.” Stettler said the discussion gave students background knowledge to support their upcoming reading assignment, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor.


From The Buzz, Dec. 19, 2014

DSC_0005Hunger Banquet

More than 100 Middle School students and their family members immersed themselves in a simulated reality of the hunger crisis in developing countries during the school’s Hunger Banquet, a traditional event designed to raise awareness of global issues. The event, directed by Middle School world languages teacher Jacky Kalubi and Head of Middle School Bill Waskowitz, required participants to be randomly separated into categories: wealthy nations, poor countries, and the poorest countries. Each group of participants received meals commensurate with their country’s economic status. “We want to bring awareness of issues of food in security both locally and nationally,” said Head of Middle School Bill Waskowitz. ” We simulated what the needs are in terms of what the world looks like on a micro scale, to see the disproportions between those who have and those who don’t.” Participants from the wealthy nations received Dewey’s Pizza and salad from Fresh Market. Those who represented the poor countries ate rice and beans with water that was provided in Hillsdale Commons, where the event took place. The poorest group received only rice. They were required to walk to Kalnow Gym to fill up their cups of water. The participants watched presentations on the water crisis in the poorest countries and engaged in discussion around how hunger affects the mobility and health of families, especially children. Thank you to our Middle School parent volunteers, to event facilitator and Seven Hills alumna Isabelle Kalubi `00, to Chef Jimmy Gherardi, and to Fresh Market and Dewey’s Pizza for co-sponsoring the event. All canned food items brought by participants benefited The Caring Place, which serves the communities of Kennedy Heights, Golf Manor, Pleasant Ridge, and Silverton. Click here to view pictures from the event.


DSC_0879Solar System Tour

Using an app called Thinglink, seventh graders designed and implemented a cross-divisional, interactive tour of the solar system. The project – launched in Jocelyn Coulter’s science class in October – will be used by fourth graders this spring. Coulter said students conducted research and complex math problems throughout November to put together a dynamic virtual tour of the solar system on the Hillsdale campus. They also made videos for the virtual tour and designed a “passport page” that will make navigating the solar system user friendly for fourth graders when they take the tour in the spring.


DSC_0883Writing for TV

As part of a lesson in TV news writing, Seven Hills parent Vicky Carroll, mother of Emma Carroll, took Chris Caldemayer’s journalism students through a number of newsgathering scenarios. Carroll introduced the students to a number of solid journalism do’s and don’ts and stressed the importance of accuracy, fairness, balance, and attribution. Students appreciated the lesson and found it very helpful for their production of The Hive, the online newsletter produced by and for Seven Hills Middle School students.


DSC_0862Understanding Dickens and Kindness

Sixth graders in Suzanne Dix’ writing workshop class are using Dickens’ play A Christmas Carol to explore the messages of kindness and charity in a unique December lesson. Students acted out scenes from the play and videotaped some of their skits. The lesson culminated with a trip to see A Christmas Carol at Playhouse in the Park on December 10, followed by ice-skating at Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati.


photo 2-4Innovation Lab

Sixth grade science students delved into experiential learning by creating a fictitious company called Human Body 2.0. Their task was to design and produce artificial cells that are better suited to their jobs than natural human cells. Each group of students was given a cell with a particular set of tasks. Using the materials and tools in the innovation lab they designed super cells that contained the typical cell parts but accomplished the given task. Some students found that the project even gave their grades a jolt – a few earned extra credit by incorporating electric circuits into their cell projects.


From The Buzz, Nov. 25, 2014

DSC_0593Pre-Algebra with a Twist

While pre-algebra students in Carri Haskins’ class solved algebra problems, they were also gradually completing a unique art project involving silly faces. The silly face activity required students to work in pairs, solving two sheets of math problems. Each math problem corresponded to two versions of a facial feature students selected to draw, such as an army hat, rectangular eyes, or a crooked nose. Haskins’ grading system for the project was unique as well: depending on the way the face looked in the finished product, she could discern very quickly, the correct and incorrect answers, based on the features chosen by the students. “After we learn a new concept I like to do different activities that get my students to apply the newly acquired concepts,” said Haskins. “The silly face activity allows students to get up, move, and work with each other while doing math. The students are able to ask for individual help from me, while at the same time doing 15 to 20 practice problems to reinforce the concepts they’ve just learned.”




Middle School Read-a-Thon

The Seven Hills Middle School set out to collectively read the entire Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone during a read-a-thon that took place on Nov. 19 in the Middle School commons. Students, teachers, and administrators signed up to read the book in 10-minute increments. Middle and Upper School librarian Suzanne Dix said the team of 35 readers almost made it to the end, reaching 301 of the 309-page book.




DSC_0583Bird banding

Jennifer Licata and Karen Glum’s sixth grade students learned all about bird banding on Nov. 13. Many thanks to Dr. Dave Russell, an ornithologist and professor at Miami University, Dr. Jill Russell, a biology professor at Mount St. Joseph, and bird bander in training Michael Hall. In keeping with the school’s theme on bird studies the students participated in a seminar about catching, identifying, weighing, and banding birds. They also enjoyed learning more about the netting that banders set up to catch birds. Students watched as Dave Russell and Hall caught birds in the garden just behind the building. The netting material, which is as fine as a hair net, is thin enough that most birds do not notice it. Once the birds fly into the net, they are trapped into a hammock-like pocket, which allows banders to gently handle the birds and place them temporarily into a pouch for further inspection. Students recorded a number of birds, including the Carolina Chickadee, House Finch, and Tufted Titmouse, and American Goldfinch. Licata said the visitors would return to work with the sixth graders in the spring. Educational partners Drs. Dave and Jill Russell run the AREI, a non-profit bird rescue program.



Eighth graders enjoyed a strong showing in the second Certamen meet of the local season, which took place on Nov. 15, at the University of Cincinnati. “The teams of energetic Latin students faired very well against the largest number of area teams we have seen in some time,” said Middle and Upper School Latin teacher Brian Sebastian. “We made the finals in all three levels again at UC, just as we did a month ago at the Summit Certamen.” Students Max Lane, Greg Kalin, Renee Stieby, and Antoine Langrée placed third out of 15 in the Level I competition.




Inspiring Innovation

As part of the Middle School Innovation Lab run by Science Department Chair Karen Glum, local retired engineers, founders of May We Help, presented their mission and work to the Middle School on Friday, Nov. 25. Bill Deimling and Bill Sand visited the Middle School as guests of the Innovation Lab, to show students how innovation can be used in ways that can change peoples’ lives. May We Help invents adaptive devices that help people accomplish things they want to do but have never had the opportunity to achieve, due to their disabilities. The non-profit organization was founded by Deimling, Sand, and Bill Wood, who passed away in 2010.


From The Buzz, Nov. 13, 2014


Unique Study of the Second Amendment


As part of their extensive study of the Bill of Rights, seventh graders in Doug Huff’s social studies class completed a bumper sticker-sized political cartoon project to solidify their understanding of the Second Amendment. “The students created a political cartoon based on their viewpoint on the amendment – the right to bear arms,” said Huff. Students crafted their bumper stickers, using original turns of phrase to drive their stance on the amendment, and later presented their political artwork and platform to the class.


DSC_0352Insect Day

In one of Middle School’s many unique demonstrations of academic excellence, students, teachers, and administrators produced a day of innovation and inquiry, starting out the first half of Oct. 31 with Insect Day and ending with Pumpkin Day. Students and their parents participated in a number of inquiry-based activities, including projects involving building insects using circuitry, experiments with termites, and creative writing with insects as a focus.



DSC_0361Pumpkin Day

Middle School students worked collaboratively during Pumpkin Day, a fun team-building event designed to encourage students to interact productively with their peers and teachers. After working against the clock to decorate pumpkins in teams, the students proudly lined up their pumpkins in the Middle School Commons and surveyed the finished products. The day was also full of athletic contests and overall fun! Click here to view a photo gallery of Pumpkin Day.


sitHunger Banquet Set for Dec. 10.

Middle School students will have a glimpse of the gaps between the living conditions of people who live in developing countries during a Hunger Banquet, a traditional event designed to raise awareness of global issues. Representing 20 percent of the world’s population that are considered wealthy countries such as the U.S., some students will sit at tables and dine on lavish meals and treats. Another 30 percent of the world’s population – poorer countries – receive a small meal such as pretzels and water. The 50 percent of people who represent the poorest nations will be placed in a situation where they will have to scramble for a few packages of crackers and may not have water. Head of Middle School Bill Waskowitz said the Hunger Banquet, which will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. on Dec. 10, happens every three or four years in the Middle School. Waskowitz said the event would be sponsored in part by Kroger and Dewey’s Pizza. Based on the Oxfam America Hunger Banquet event, the Middle School banquet is part of the school’s focus on fairness, justice, and global awareness. All Middle School students, their families, friends and relatives are invited to participate in the banquet. Students also are encouraged to bring canned food items to donate to the Middle School Food Drive. All proceeds from the Food Drive will benefit The Caring Place, which serves the communities of Kennedy Heights, Golf Manor, Pleasant Ridge, and Silverton.


DSC_0574Upper School Preview Day

On Nov. 13 and 14, eighth graders spent the day in the Upper School, where they met with students and faculty and learned more about the Upper School environment. Students also enjoyed a field trip downtown, during which they toured the General Collection of the Taft Museum as the first step in a yearlong connection that culminates in an original poem inspired by a work of art. Students concluded their trip with a visit to Washington Park where they explored the features of the ongoing urban renewal there, including a presentation by the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless.


From The Buzz, Oct. 31, 2014

DSC_0125Carrots to Clarinets

Middle School general music students are collaborating with the school’s new Innovation Lab to build clarinets out of carrots and parsnips. Students are learning that 12 mm drill bits and root vegetables don’t always get along, but after a few tries, it actually works! Instrumental music teacher John Rising introduced the idea to his students after viewing @Linsey Pollak’s TEDxSydney talk on carrot clarinets. “Fine arts department chair Tina Kuhlman sent me a video of this musician/artist/inventor who did a TEDx talk about how to make a carrot clarinet in five minutes, so I thought it would be fun and valuable to make carrot clarinets in seventh grade general music, and, ultimately, play them,” said Rising. “We are learning the basics of playing a single-reed woodwind instrument, some about the physics of sound, the kids are exposed to a number of tools/skills and will eventually learn to play some simple melodies using the instruments they designed and crafted.” Rising said students may have an opportunity to play the veggie-based instruments soon.



DSC_0263Alliance Game

In order to understand how the complicated alliance system in Europe contributed to the massive scale of World War I, eighth graders in history teacher Judith Neidlein-Dial’s class practiced their diplomatic skills in a simulation activity. Students assumed the roles of government leaders in a fictitious country. The goal was to make alliances that would prevent a war from developing and/or protect the country in case of war. When all negotiations were finished, the various governments announced their public and secret alliances and tested what happened in case of an act of aggression. Neidlein-Dial said only once in her teaching career has she seen a group not recreate a version of World War I.



Middle School students participated at the first Certamen event of the season in early October, at Summit Country Day. Middle and Upper Latin teacher Brian Sebastian said all teams competed very well in a number of levels. The Level 1 team of eighth graders Antoine Langrée, Max Lane, Greg Kalin, and Renee Stieby made the finals and finished third.



Graphing Arthropods

In a collaborative lesson with Upper School science students in Linda Ford’s class, Middle School math students in Theresa Keller’s class graphed statistics on arthropods. Ford’s students compiled data on spreadsheets, detailing the numbers and types of arthropods – invertebrate animals with exoskeletons and jointed appendages – they found during an environmental observation. Keller’s students used the older students’ data to create a pie graph. The scientific information was displayed during Insect Day, on Oct. 31.



Seventh Grade Field Trip

Seventh graders participated in a two-day field trip on Oct. 29 and 30, in which they visited Neusole Glassworks and the Cincinnati Art Museum, as well as iSpace. The interdisciplinary excursion offered students an opportunity to have a close-up understanding of the dynamic relationship between art and science.


From The Buzz, Oct. 16, 2014DSC_0061

Banned Books Project

Eighth graders in Mrs. Maupin’s English 8 Honors class are investigating the contents, authors, and history of a number of banned books. As part of the project, students are working in small groups and have presented their findings visually in a poster as well as verbally to the class. “The posters are on display in the Young Family Library in the ongoing celebration of the freedom to read here at Seven Hills,” said Mrs. Maupin. Sept. 21 marked the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week. Click here to view a list of banned book titles.


Annika Alper
Annika Alper

Student wins writing award

Congratulations to seventh grader Annika Alper, who was named September’s winner of the Flash Fiction contest produced by Fiction Locker, an online literary magazine for tweens and teens. Click here to read Annika’s winning work, Flying with Knowledge.



Student Presents Birding Expertise to School Community

Seventh grader Ethan Rising has been on a mission to share his birding expertise with his school community. Ethan, who is in the process of finishing the requirements for the national American Birding Association’s Young Birder of the year contest, has presented to various classes at Lotspeich, the Middle and Upper schools, as well as at Miami Valley Christian Academy, St. Mark’s Lutheran School, and patrons of the Cincinnati Nature Center. He also recently presented to Dr. Ford’s Upper School environmental science classes, as well as to more than 1,200 visitors of the Cincinnati Nature Center during Great Outdoor Weekend. In addition to sharing his knowledge of birding, Ethan explained how he removed honeysuckle from his backyard, researched native plants that would support beneficial insects, and planted them in his backyard. He shared that by adding these native plants he has improved habitat for songbirds that travel through Cincinnati each spring and fall, as well as adding nest sites, berries and beneficial insects for resident birds and wildlife. Contest winners will be announced at a later date.


insect11Insect Day – Oct. 31

The sixth grade will soon begin its traditional unit on insects. Special interactive activities are planned for the morning of Friday, Oct. 31. Parents are invited to attend and participate in a variety of insect themed activities with their child. The special events for parents will take place from 10-11:45 a.m. The Middle School has coordinated the time with both Lower Schools in order to avoid interfering with the Halloween Parades at Doherty and Lotspeich. Parents are welcome – and encouraged ­– to attend.


DSC_0064Innovation Lab Looking for Parent Volunteers

As the new Innovation Lab takes shape in the Middle School, there are several opportunities for parents to get involved. “The Innovation Lab has been abuzz with activity every day at lunch,” said Innovation Lab director Mrs. Glum. Opportunities for parent volunteers include drop-in session lunchtime volunteers, guest teachers, project assistants, and scrap materials donors. “Parents are invited to share their passions for tools, sewing, woodworking, tinkering, engineering, programming, innovation, and entrepreneurship,” said Mrs. Glum. “This could take the form of a talk or a mini workshop offered during lunch.” For more information, email Mrs. Glum at Karen.glum@7hills.org.


From The Buzz Sept. 25, 2014

adventure trek

Adventure Trek

Eighth graders enjoyed their trip with Adventure Treks in North Carolina this September. Students spent four days camping out and backpacking through the Pisgah National Forest with their teachers and the Adventure Trek guides. Activities included rock climbing, hiking, creek stomping, sliding down natural water slides, campfires, and white water rafting. Click here to view photos from Adventure Trek.


2014-08-29 13.09.57

Middle School Retreat

Sixth and seventh graders enjoyed fun and lively retreats at Sports Plus in Evendale in late August. The students engaged in team-building games and inquiry-based activities, all designed to better acquaint themselves and assist them in adjusting to the new demands and expectations of the school year. In addition to using many of the activities to explore their summer reading, students also had an opportunity to explore the ice rink, the rock-climbing wall, and the inflatables during their retreat. Click here to view photos from the retreat.



Stability Balls for Chairs

Middle School dean of students and geography teacher Mr. McGarvey replaced his classroom chairs with stability balls this year. After learning more about the benefits of stability balls in classroom settings, Mr. McGarvey put it on his wish list. I read an article a few years ago in an educational magazine that talked about the advantages of the stability balls as seats for the students,” said Mr. McGarvey. “The Parent Association provided funds to purchase the balls. It is good for the posture and sixth graders naturally do not sit still even when they are learning. They are always moving, even in a normal seat or stool. These balls allow them to move around and not be distracting.”


Header_BluePower of the Pen

The Seven Hills Middle School has recently joined Power of the Pen (P.O.P.). The statewide organization conducts competition in creative writing for seventh and eighth graders. Middle School writing teacher Mr. Caldemeyer, who will coach the writing team, said he is very excited to gather a group of talented and hungry young writers, ready to pit their wits and imagination against other schools across the state! We look forward to following the progress of the Seven Hills P.O.P. team this year.


MV5BMTI4MzMyNjEyNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjM1NjA0MQ@@._V1_SY317_CR6,0,214,317_AL_Reading with Israel

As part of the International Shared Reading Project, participating eighth graders will engage in a collaborative learning enterprise with a middle school class in Netanya, Israel, as part of their study of World War II and the Holocaust. Students who chose to participate signed contracts on Sept. 23, said Middle School social studies teacher Mrs. Neidlein-Dial. Participants will be matched with an Israeli partner to discuss pre-determined questions related to the book The Island on Bird Street by Uri Orlov via a secure website that is solely dedicated to the reading project. Mrs. Neidlein-Dial said students are looking forward to the international literature project. “We are starting this project with a partner group of 29 students and have space for about the same number of Seven Hills students to participate,” she said. Mrs. Neidlein-Dial is planning on creating an “ambassador” model in which student volunteers, who elect to actively participate in this project, will communicate with the Israeli partners and then report back to their respective classmates.


From The Buzz Sept. 11, 2014


Scavenging the Boneyard

In an event so full that science department chair Mrs. Glum had to create a second opportunity after the first filled to capacity, 20 Middle School students participated in a brown bag lunch workshop led by Seven Hills parent and Procter & Gamble engineer Brad Walsh. Mr. Walsh took students into the inner workings of a hand mixer by dismantling the mixer and explaining its parts. Students enjoyed the opportunity to ask questions throughout the lab. Mrs. Glum, also the director of the new program, The Innovation Lab, said the “boneyard” is a shelf overflowing with broken and old appliances and other mechanisms. The Innovation Lab is designed to offer Middle School students the opportunity to incorporate design and conceptualization into their work.


DSC_0655Scientific Inquiry with Candles


Students in Miss Coulter’s seventh grade science class designed their own scientific experiments using candles. Using the scientific inquiry model, students observed the candles, developed testable questions, and designed experiments around the questions. Once they conducted the experiments – some held plastic bags over the candles, others doused the wicks with hand sanitizer before lighting them – they took detailed notes on the outcome. The seventh-graders will later conduct an informal presentation of their discoveries and revisit their experiments as a class to see if the questions were feasible and unbiased, said Miss Coulter. Students will then have an opportunity to examine dependent variables and independent variables, and rewrite the procedures, accordingly.


New – The Innovation Lab

Under the direction of Mrs. Glum (science teacher and science department chair), The Innovation Lab has been created to assist students in developing the mind-set and skills of creativity, design thinking, exploration, collaboration, and problem-solving as they create actual products to solve real-world problems. Using tools that range from wood and nails to 3-D printers and circuit boards, Mrs. Glum will be developing this program in the hopes of it becoming a capstone experience during a student’s Middle School years. During this pilot-year, students in all three grades will have a variety of opportunities to experience, explore, and create in The Innovation Lab, Middle School room 216. More information about this exciting initiative will be shared with the Middle School community throughout the year.



Students watch documentary on Peter Frates during Middle School advisory
Students watch documentary on Peter Frates during Middle School advisory

Who Started the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?

When Middle School advisory teachers asked students how many had participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to raise funds and awareness for this debilitating disease, almost everyone in the class raised their hands. But very few students – and very few people in general – know how, why, and when the Ice Bucket Challenge got started. In an effort to focus on the importance of positive change and how one person can make a difference, the Middle School advisory team decided to redraw plans for the first advisory of the school year. They had planned to discuss other topics, but instead, asked all advisors to show a documentary on former Boston College baseball star Peter Frates. “It started with one person,” said Middle and Upper School Librarian and Massachusetts native Mrs. Dix, who led an advisory. “This story feels so close to me because people from the Boston area think of Peter as a hometown boy.” Students spent the rest of their advisories discussing uses for the more than $100 million raised by the viral phenomenon.


abbAfter the Bell Mini Sessions

After the Bell will soon offer registration for activities for students, Mini Session I, which will take place from Nov. 4 – 14, 2014, and the Winter Session, which will take place from Nov. 17, 2014 – Jan. 30, 2015. The sessions for Middle School students will include but not be limited to photography, sewing, and homework club. Program descriptions will be available online on Oct. 6 via the parent login at 7hills.org. For more information, call Linda Clark at 513-728-2442.


[collapse id=”collapse_41″]

[citem title=”Click here to read stories from the 2013-14 school year” id=”citem_29″ parent=”collapse_41″]

DSC_0426Middle School Closing Ceremonies

Middle School students enjoyed witty remarks, memories, and words of wisdom during their closing ceremony in early June. As part of the moving up ceremony, rising ninth graders looked on with smiles as their student council took them on a humorous trip down memory lane, recounting tales from their 2013-14 school year. Head of School Bill Waskowitz gave a poignant address to Middle School students about finding blue skies in the inevitable storms now and in the future. The rising ninth grade class also was credited with an extraordinary athletic showing this year, as well as having a strong sense of kindness, collaboration, and appreciation for each other. A number of departmental awards also were given to students during the ceremony.


pat howard awardPatricia Howard Award of Distinction

For her outstanding “academic achievement, breadth and scope of interests beyond the classroom, leadership, citizenship, and character,” rising ninth grader Mary Grace Ramsey was awarded the Patricia Howard Award of Distinction.


DSC_0261Middle School Sports Awards

This year’s Archie Griffin Sportsmanship Award winners are rising ninth graders Matthew Maring and Lucy Callard.


MS Baseball Wins MVC Tournament

The Middle School baseball team took on CHCA in the MVC Championship Game in mid-May, coming away with a 16-4 victory for the second Middle School conference title in program history. The victory was highlighted by Ricardo Godoy stealing home in the second inning to help Seven Hills rally from an early deficit. Nick Bean picked up the victory as the starting pitcher, with Neil Keyser coming in to close out the game. The team finished the year with an 11-3 record, including at 10-0 victory in the semifinals.


Middle School Boys Tennis Wins Invitational Tournament

The Middle School boys tennis team took first place in the Seven Hills Middle School Invitational tournament in mid-May. The championship was highlighted by Neil Badlani and Charlie Dwight taking first place in the Flight 2 doubles championship and Robby Shaffer winning the Flight 3 singles championship. Vito Zenezini and Gaurav Kilaru also finished as Flight 1 doubles runner-up.


Middle School Lacrosse Finishes Successful Season

The 2014 Seven Hills Middle School Lacrosse team finished its most successful season ever. The small in number but mighty in heart team finished with a season record of 16-2 and also won the Division V Ohio State Championship. In the State Championship, the “Dirty Dozen” (12 total players/two subs) won three straight games against Lakewood Catholic (Cleveland), Walnut Springs (Columbus) and South Dayton Catholic en route to a thrilling 7-6 final win against local rival Wyoming. The team earned the respect of fans, opposing teams, and officials alike for the heart and stamina they showed in playing 4 tough games in less than 48 hours. While the team performed as the Dirty Dozen in the State Final, they performed as the “Tremendous 13” during much of the season. Team members included Welby “the Breeze” Anning; Matthew “Lefty” Cook; Sam “the Flame” Francis; Smith “Cobra” Hickenlooper; Charlie “the Bull” Karamanoukian; Alex “Iron Man” Kreines; Matt “Crusher” Kreines; Henry “Byng” Pardo; Tommy “the Lip” Robinson; Max “Badger” Routh; Andrew “Thor” Santamarina; and team MVP and goaltender Jack “Nails” Schiff. Congratulations to the Coaching Staff including Head Coach Mike Collette, Assistant Coaches Mike Fink and Luke Lewis, and Defensive Assistant Justin Croop.


Miami Whitewater Forest

The sixth grade spent the day on June 2, at Miami Whitewater Forest. Students wrapped up the school year in the outdoors as they participated in a number of challenging, fun activities.


Camp Kern

The seventh grade enjoyed a trip to Camp Kern on June 2. Students participated in a number of outdoor activities, capping a wonderful school year with their peers.


From The Buzz May 30, 2014

Hair AffairStudents and Teachers Donate Hair to Charity

The Middle School hosted the annual charitable hair donation event in late May. During the “Hair Fair,” stylists from Identity Salon clipped and styled the locks of the participants, who donated the hair to charity. Middle School math teacher Theresa Keller said 20 students and faculty members from Lower, Middle, and Upper School donated their hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths and Locks of Love. Seven stylists busily cut and styled hair in the Middle School commons. Those who participated were Mary Grace Ramsay, Natalie Choo, Rachel Michelman, Poppi Baylor, Grace Copfer, Ella Samaha, Briana Tonich, Caroline Corbett, Allison DeWitt, Avani Seshiah, Megan McLennan, Alison Speicher, Molly Francis, and Libby Schaefer, Julie Guminey, Judith Neidlein-Dial, Rachel Damon, Julianne Bain, Madeleine Gold, and Maddie Samson. Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. Click here to view a photo gallery of the event.

Hair Fair 2014


booktastersmayBook Tastings

Book Tasters is a new program launched this year in the Young Family Library for Middle and Upper School students. During its pilot year, sixth graders and Book Club members were invited to join. Middle and Upper School librarian Suzanne Dix said the purpose of the program is to expose students to “A-list” books that have not yet caught the attention of the students. Those who took part in the program would choose one book to read and then write a review for it. Once the review was submitted, students were invited to a special lunch in the library. Mrs. Dix ran the program for three months this year. She said students reviewed more than 70 book titles! “We are looking forward to running the program again next year, inviting students in grades six through eight to participate,” said Mrs. Dix.



Students Present Yearlong Poetry Project Inspired by Taft Museum

Middle School students in English teacher Linda Maupin’s eighth grade English class presented the culmination of their extensive poetry research projects on May 29 in the Hillsdale Commons. The student work was extraordinary and varied, with some students focusing their poetry on an ancient Chinese wedding headdress, pieces from the Impressionistic era, still life paintings, and elaborate imperial coverings, to name a few. The style of poetry was thoughtful and varied as well. The eighth graders’ presentations were part of an original, yearlong poetry project designed by Mrs. Maupin. Inspired by a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Mrs. Maupin developed a unit that requires students to select a work of art and write poetry inspired by it. Mrs. Maupin, a former docent at the Taft Museum, took her students on a field trip to The Taft, and asked students to return to the Taft to select the artwork that will be the subject of their poems. Mrs. Maupin’s students also have been working with Writer-in-Residence and poet Dana Crum. “Before resuming my teaching career, I was a docent at the Taft, a place that I continue to treasure, and I thought this idea might be a perfect fit,” said Mrs. Maupin. “So, last spring, I began meeting with the then Manager of School and Docent Programs to discuss the idea.” Congratulations are in order for Mrs. Maupin and her students, who spent the entire school year honing these artistic presentations. A special thank you to Mr. Crum as well for his dedication and guidance throughout the school year.


sbb17Summer Reading Lineup

Summer Book Bags is in its second year and more than 30 students and teachers took part this week in visiting the Young Family Library to fill a bag with great reads for the summer. Middle and Upper School Librarian Suzanne Dix said students were allowed to check out up to 12 books and they have the entire summer to enjoy their books without worry of overdue fines or needing to renew. “We look forward to hearing about the students’ favorite titles when they return them at the start of next school year!” said Mrs. Dix.


From The Buzz May 16, 2014

DSC_0354Sixth Grade is for the Birds!


For their bird banding unit, the sixth grade students of Jennifer Licata and Bridget Ancalmo went on a field trip to Hueston Woods State Park where they observed the field work of Dr. Dave Russell, an ornithologist and professor at Miami University. Educational partners Drs. Dave and Jill Russell run the AREI, a non-profit bird rescue program. The conclusion of the unit also incorporated an all-day study with Drs. Dave and Jill Russell, a display of students’ findings about birds’ behaviors based on the scientific method, and reading bird-related stories to pre-kindergarten students. To view a photo gallery of the celebration of birds in April and early May, click here.


hinduHindu Temple Visit

As part of the sixth grade geography studies of Asia, Middle School Dean and geography teacher Andy McGarvey took his students on May 7 to the Hindu Temple of Greater Cincinnati and the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati. “As our world continues to shrink and our studies are focused on different cultures, a trip to these institutions continues to emphasize one of our Seven Hills Values: Respect for Others and Appreciation of Diversity,” said Mr. McGarvey.


Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 12.44.56 PMTeacher Featured on Fox 19 News

American History teacher Doug Huff clocked at the top eight percent of runners at the April 21 Boston Marathon. But what captured the interest of local news reporters was how Mr. Huff incorporated his historic experience into his passion as a Seven Hills Middle School teacher. Minutes after running a 3:03:48 race, Mr. Huff headed to his hotel room to Facetime his students with help from colleague, Middle School Dean Andy McGarvey. Since his exhilarating run, Mr. Huff has been interviewed by Fox 19 News and Hyde Park Living, who will run a feature on him in July or August. Stay Tuned! Click here to view Fox 19 News coverage on Mr. Huff.


Bead for Life

The Middle School hosted another Bead for Life Mother’s Day Jewelry sale. According to the Bead for Life mission statement, the organization helps “eradicate poverty in the lives of Ugandan women.” Bead for Life creates sustainable opportunities for women to lift their families out of extreme poverty by connecting people worldwide in a circle of exchange that enriches everyone. The initiative is led at Seven Hills by physical education teacher Sue Bone and science teacher Karen Glum. The Roots and Shoots Club hosted a jewelry sale for a week in early May during students’ lunch hour. All proceeds went to Beads for Life.


Ethan Rising with Ohio Sen. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green)
Ethan Rising with Ohio Sen. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green)

Sixth Grader Accepts Resolution with Ohio Senator

Avid birder Ethan Rising experienced a unique lesson in science and civic responsibility when he traveled on April 22 to Columbus with two other students and members of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) to accept a resolution designating May 10 as the official first annual Ohio Bird Day. The resolution was initiated and drafted by BSBO and sponsored by Ohio Senator Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green), who was present to accept the resolution with Ethan and the traveling group. The resolution encourages teachers to incorporate birds into their lesson plans, encourages Ohio citizens to spend time observing bird migration, calls attention to the economic impact of bird tourism in Ohio, and urges citizens to be good stewards of the habitats upon which migratory birds rely for survival. During the event, Ethan received a tour of the Statehouse, visited the floor of the Senate, and posed for photos with Sen. Gardner.


From The Buzz April 24, 2014

Doug Huff at the finish line after the Boston Marathon
Doug Huff at the finish line after the Boston Marathon

Connecting with Boston


Middle School students could have watched CNN or Googled the happenings of the Boston Marathon a year after the tragic bombing, but they had a more personal connection – their social studies teacher Doug Huff, who ran in the marathon. With seven marathons under his belt, Mr. Huff had a stellar run, clocking in at 3:01:46. After his great finish, Mr. Huff used Facetime to video chat with his students and showed them scenes from his hotel room. Students and teachers also followed Mr. Huff’s progress via an electronic athlete tracker. Mr. Huff said the past six months have been grueling, as he has juggled a full teaching load, and coaching with meticulous marathon training. He thanked his colleagues and friends for their support and said it was all very worth it. “I have never seen so many people support a single event,” said Mr. Huff. “The outpouring of fans along the course from the ‘Wellesley Scream Tunnel’ to the Boston College students at Heartbreak Hill was surreal!”


Natl Latin Exam MSNational Latin Exam

Middle and Upper School students claimed high scores in the National Latin Exam. “Of the 64 students who took the exam, three had perfect scores (the 16th-18th perfect scores earned at Seven Hills since 2003), 30 earned a gold/silver medal or ribbon, and 49 earned recognition,” said Latin teacher Brian Sebastian.

Intro to Latin (7th grade) – 15 tests taken, 4 ribbons, 7 recognized:

Ribbon and Certificate of Outstanding Achievement:

Gregory Kalin, Maxwell Lane, Polyxeni Drath, and Susanna Spooner

Certificate of Achievement:

Kara Benedict, Maya Patel, and Annabel Stanley

Latin 1 (8th grade) – 20 tests taken, 8 medals, 15 recognized:

Summa Cum Laude (Gold Medal):

Nate Rising (perfect score), Charlie Dwight (perfect score), Michael Barresi, Nicholas Williams, and Lucy Callard

Maxima Cum Laude (Silver Medal):

Alex Smith, Tindar Cyr, and Carly Jones

Magna Cum Laude:

Matthew Maring, Neil Keyser, and Zoe Parlier

Cum Laude:

Lena Bauer, Maggie Kersting, Ben Agin, and Jonathan Harsh


Shakespeare Company_1Cincinnati Shakespeare Company

Seventh and eighth graders listened intently to the wit and humor of Shakespeare presented by the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company in the Hillsdale Commons in early April. The presentation is part of the students’ study of Shakespearean literature.


Day in the life - KellerReal-life Math

Theresa Keller kept her students jumping during a simulated math project she calls, “A Day in the Life.” The math project required students to buy the latest Justin Bieber CD for a friend, which required the students to incorporate a number of math principles into their group work. The $18.50 CDs were 10 percent off but with a tax rate of 6.5 percent. Once students figured that out they had to deduct the amount from their “checking accounts” and balance their books. Mrs. Keller said she incorporates day-to-day principles in her math lessons because students benefit from the relevance of solving real-life math problems.

day in the life - Keller2


Author Margaret Stohl speaks with Middle School students.
Author Margaret Stohl speaks with Middle School students.

Author Margaret Stohl Visits Seven Hills

The author of the popular Icons book series Margaret Stohl visited with Middle and Upper School students in the Young Family Library during a special author visit. Mrs. Stohl, also a videogame designer and scriptwriter, also authored Beautiful Creatures (2009), Beautiful Darkness (2010), Beautiful Chaos (2011), and Beautiful Redemption (2012).


From The Buzz April 10, 2014

DSC_0403Global Education Day

Global Ed Day on Mar. 7 was filled with engaging, fun Amazing Race activities in the afternoon and the following presentations in the morning. Middle School students truly received a glimpse of education around the world as they engaged in dozens of lively, eye-opening academic, artistic, and athletic activities. Special thanks to all of our presenters for sharing their expertise! Please click here to view a photo gallery of Global Education Day.

Global Education Day Sessions:

Yoga! Danielle Cox Renee Groenemann

Challenges of a Global Workforce and International Relocation (Wendy Leppert)

Understanding Your Carbon Footprint (Jenna Hudson, Keep Cincinnati Beautiful)

FBI: Keeping Us Safe (Todd Lindgren)

Changing the Outcome for Children Around the World (PJ Lonneman, CCHMC Global Health)

Where in the World Will Life Take You? (Krysia Rodak)

Exploring Wildlife & Their Adaptations (Naturalist from Hamilton County Parks)

Experience Bhutan (Sheryl Rajbhandari and Bhutanese Refugees)

Who are the Irish? (Maureen Kennedy and J. Kent Covey, Irish Center of Cincinnati)

Global Market (Gwen Roth, Hamilton County Soil and Water)

Games from Around the World (Sue Bone and Ryan McCrystal)

Flat Parker’s 2014 World Tour (Tracey Outlaw)

Madagascar Exploration: From the Tops of the Rainforest Canopy to Vanilla Orchids (Jeff Peppet)

Cool Critters Outreach (Brian Gill)

Collaboration with Nature: Working with Soil and Microbes to Create Unique Art (Ken Revell)

Introduction to Fiddle Playing (Justin Bridges)

Get A Taste of Israel (Chaverim M’Israel/Friends From Israel)

Journey to Japan (Japanese American Society of Greater Cincinnati)

Acupuncture: East Meets West (Dotty Shaffer, M.D.)

Introduction to Irish Traditional Music (Justin Bridges and Cindy Matyi)


DSC_0061Latin Convention


Seven Hills sent a delegation of 24 eighth through 10th grade students to the 64th annual Ohio Junior Classical League state convention in Columbus. The participants were among 624 students from 29 schools across the state who participated in a variety of Classics-themed contests. The contests ranged from academic tests to graphic arts projects to creative arts such as dramatic recitations (English and Latin). “This year, our students performed at a very high level, individually and collectively, perhaps better than any delegation we have ever sent,” said Latin teacher Brian Sebastian. “For the third time in the past five years, Seven Hills finished second in Academic Per Capita (number of academic points earned divided by our 24 students), earning the highest average (20.96 points/student) in school history, which breaks the record we set just last year (17.42).” (Points are earned by placing in the top ten in any given contest and level; one point for 10th, two points for 9th, up to ten points for 1st.) Dr. Sebastian said Seven Hills finished fifth in total points earned, adding that each of the 24 Seven Hills students who participated earned at least one top-ten finish.

The Level 1 Certamen team of Michael Barresi, Nate Rising, Charlie Dwight, and Nicholas Williams beat perennial powers Summit and Shaker Heights in the final to win Seven Hills’ second consecutive state championship, our third in school history. Each Middle School participant earned at least 14 points, a school record. Charlie set a school record for most points by a Middle School Latin student; his 68 points are eighth in school history among all Latin students, Middle and Upper.


pi day1Pi Day

Students and teachers drove home the concept of Pi on the perfect day – March 14 – as they enjoyed a number of math activities that required the use of pi. Students in Theresa Keller’s math class worked in groups against the clock to find circumference, diameter, and radius of several sports balls, including tennis balls, lacrosse balls, baseballs, and softballs. Once the teams reported their correct answers to their peers, they received pi-shaped cookies! Click here to view a gallery of pi day events across campus.


DSC_0363 2Holi!

Sixth graders began their unit on Asia with brilliance! The students joined geography teacher Andy McGarvey in a celebration of Holi, the Hindu festival of colors signifying the renewal of life and springtime. The festival began with an informative presentation by Dr. Nilesh Patil and Mrs. Jyoti Patil, parents of sixth grader Rohan Patil, and concluded with traditional Indian sweets and the color festival, in which students and teachers tossed handfuls of powder into the air and on each other in celebration. Mr. McGarvey said this year marks the first time his students have celebrated Holi. As part of their unit on Asia, students also will visit a Hindu temple and a Muslim mosque this spring. This year, Holi was formally observed on March 17. Click here to view a gallery of the event.



From The Buzz March 13, 2014

Middle School students give each other high fives during the Courage Retreat.
Middle School students give each other high fives during the Courage Retreat.


Courage Retreat

Middle School students started off their morning with animated high fives, random compliments, thumb wrestling, and much more before settling into in-depth discussions about courage. The students were participating in the Youth Frontiers Courage Retreat in the Hillsdale Commons, which took place in late February. The Middle School students and small group student facilitators from the Upper School worked with retreat leaders Jorge Figueroa and Maddie Lenarz-Hooyman to identify and discuss ways to encourage taking positive risks and shift behaviors in order to build and maintain a positive school community. “The Youth Frontier program helps foster the students’ ability to have the ‘courage’ to make good choices and helps to develop positive leadership skills,” said Vicky Hausberger, Middle and Upper School guidance counselor. “The philosophy of the program supports our Seven Hills values and mission.” The retreat is sponsored by the Guidance Department. Upper School students who served as retreat facilitators were juniors Stefan Antonsson, Zoe Barnhart, Leo Fried, Maggie Gosiger, Andrew Head, Liza Randman, Tucker Robinson, Mollie Rouan, and Bailey Wharton, and seniors Kate Hickenlooper and Conner Rouan.



WCPO spellingRegional Spelling Bee

Congratulations to Doherty fifth grader Emma Cohen and seventh grader Felix Karthik, who represented Seven Hills very well at the Regional Spelling Bee at the SCPA in downtown Cincinnati. Sixty-seven students from the area qualified for the Bee. Emma spelled “diatribe” correctly but was eliminated in round two when she misspelled “plausible.” She tied for 49th place in the region. Felix advanced to round six after spelling “filament,” “androcentric,” “halal,” “durwan,” and “corrode” correctly before missing “rescindable.” He tied for 10th in the region. Both students handled themselves with grace and aplomb onstage in front of a large audience both in the theater and online. This year, a one-hour special about the Regional Spelling Bee was broadcast on WCPO on March 7.


MS HauckHauck Award Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 2014 Frederick Hauck Scholarship for Commitment and Achievement in the Fields of Mathematics and Science ­– sixth graders Rohan Patil and Andrea Stancescu, and seventh graders Greg Kalin and Felix Karthik. The Frederick Hauck Scholarships are made possible through the generosity of the Frederick A. Hauck Foundation. Dr. Hauck was a world-renowned nuclear scientist and philanthropist who established the scholarships at Seven Hills to recognize students who demonstrate outstanding achievement and commitment in math and/or science. Each winning student entering grades 7-8 will receive a grant of $250 to be applied to tuition in an approved summer enrichment program.


Nutrition teacher Sam Patty speaks to Middle School students.
Nutrition teacher Sam Patty speaks to Middle School students.

Nutritious Lessons

As part of the Middle School’s unit on nutrition, Seven Hills’ Physical Education Department invited Sam Patty, who assists the sports dietician at the University of Cincinnati, to share an overview of nutritious choices with students in Beth Leonard’s, Ryan McCrystal’s, and Roger Schnirring’s physical education classes. Ms. Patty engaged in candid discussions with students about the best sources of proteins and carbohydrates. As a former NCAA Division I athlete, she also shared firsthand knowledge about maintaining energy during strenuous exercise. The Middle School nutrition unit included different activities for each grade: sixth graders developed a two-day healthy meal plan while using the app “Fooducate,” seventh graders learned how food is grown and how it gets to local groceries or markets for consumption. They also used a calorie counter app to devise healthy restaurant meal options. Students in the eighth grade watched the movie Supersize Me, a documentary about McDonalds and the fast food industry.


From The Buzz Feb. 20, 2014


Students Serve on “Day On”

Middle School students joined French and Spanish teacher Jacky Kalubi to help volunteer at Matthew 25 Ministries on Martin Luther King, Jr. day, also known as “MLK National Day of Service.” “Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a day on, not a day off,” said Mrs. Kalubi. “Matthew 25 is great venue where people of all ages come to pitch in and serve. It is a good opportunity to remind our students about service projects, and about serving others and performing good deeds.” Mrs. Kalubi said more than 50 students and their family members helped out at the event. Matthew 25 is a non-profit charitable organization based in Blue Ash. The Seven Hills School has participated in the National Day of Service at Matthew 25 for four years.


speedate2Speed-dating for the Perfect Book

Sixth graders experienced speed dating with books shortly before Valentine’s Day as part of their unit on nonfiction. In Emily Stettler’s English class, students traveled to the Young Family Library for a speed dating round and the chance to be set up with their nonfiction book of choice. The idea, adapted by Middle and Upper School librarian Suzanne Dix, was to engage Middle School students in nonfiction reading. The students were given four minutes to choose a nonfiction book from each table. They used a chart to rate the “look” and “personality” of their books, with the option to take them to the next round. On Feb. 13, students heard from Sam Bloom, the Children’s Librarian at Blue Ash Public Library, who taught students about the Sibert Awards. The national Sibert Award recognizes distinguished nonfiction books every year.



Student Artwork on Exhibit at Children’s Hospital

The artwork of 20 Middle School students in Elissa Donovan’s class will be on display at Children’s Hospital until the end of February. The students used a number of media in their art, which was showcased in a special private exhibit at Children’s in February. The art will be used to benefit ArtsWave, a non-profit organization that supports more than 100 small and large arts organizations within the Cincinnati region. Students whose art will be on display are:


Sixth Grade

Andrew Dewitt

Emma Dorsch

Hugh Jacks

Skye McKenzie

Brighid McLaughlin

Aliyah Murph

Peter Stein

Mary Shaffer


Seventh Grade

Andrew Brown

Dottie Callard

Brandon Dinan

Jake Groom

Michael Karamanoukian

Gaurav Kilaru

Ava Romerill

Emma Schneider


Eighth Grade

Leah Blatt

Louann Kovach

Zoe Parlier



Seven Hills recently hosted its fourth annual Certamen in early February. Twelve schools participated, including McAuley, Mariemont, Wyoming, Walnut Hills, Ursuline, Summit, Indian Hill, Turpin, Sycamore, Lakota West, St Xavier, and Seven Hills. Seven Hills’ novice team of eighth graders Charlie Dwight, Lena Bauer, Nate Rising, and Michael Barresi won their division, and the intermediate team of ninth graders Matisse Peppet, Devi Namboodiri, Shane DiGiovanna, and Jacob Weinstein also made the finals and finished third.


From The Buzz Feb. 5, 2014

spell1Spelling Bee

Middle School students recently participated in a Spelling Bee that took place in the Middle School Commons. The 17 spellers worked through 11 rounds before the bee narrowed to a duel between seventh grader Felix Karthik and eighth grader Charlie Dwight. Felix won the Bee in the 12th round on the word “affectionate,” after spelling words like wherewithal, perpetuity, catalogic, and isochronous. He took an online test on Jan. 31 to determine his eligibility for participation in the regional bee in downtown Cincinnati. Kudos to the five sixth graders, five seventh graders, and seven eighth graders who participated in the Bee!



book club

Interest grows in Middle School book club

Every Thursday, a group of young bibliophiles gathers during lunchtime in the corner classroom in the Young Family Library with Middle and Upper School Librarian Suzanne Dix and Library Assistant Gail Bloom. The students come ready with a thumbs-up, thumbs-down critique, questions for Mrs. Dix and Mrs. Bloom, and keen discoveries as they discuss their monthly read with their peers. The opportunity to have this kind of conversation during the school day is helpful to Middle School students especially, because they rarely have time to analyze literature outside of written, more structured assignments, said Mrs. Dix. “Most students are acccustomed to analyzing a book and writing about it from an academic standpoint,” she said. “Being able to talk about books in a more social setting, where they are sitting around a table, gives them more perspective.” Mrs. Dix started the book club two years ago with about five participants. Now, about 15 students attend on a weekly basis. They currently are reading Game Changer by Margaret Peterson Haddix, and recently finished Powerless by Matthew Cody and Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen.



Certamen – Xavier University

Several Latin students in grades eight through 10 participated in the Xavier University Certamen on Jan. 11, the third such event this school year. Two Seven Hills teams made the finals. The eighth grade level one team of Charlie Dwight, Nate Rising, and Jonathan Harsh finished first, their second top finish this season. The ninth grade level two team of Shane DiGiovanna, Piper Spooner, and Matisse Peppet finished third. Seven Hills hosted the fourth and final Certamen event of the local season on Feb. 1. More results on that in the next issue of The Buzz.



From The Buzz Jan. 17, 2013

geog bee2Geography Bee

Congratulations to the National Geographic Geography Bee winner, runner-up, and 15 school finalists. All Middle School students participated and answered a total of 40 questions in seven different categories. The top five students from each grade moved on to the school finals to compete for the first place and runner-up categories, which took place in late December. Eighth grader Nate Rising is the school champion and eighth-grader Eloise McNair is the runner-up. Nate will take a written test on Jan. 20. Students who score high enough on this test will be invited to compete at the state level.

geog bee1


Caring1The Caring Place

Middle School students donated a $500 check to the The Caring Place in Kennedy Heights in December. The generous gift is the product of an ongoing partnership the Middle School has with the neighboring non-profit organization. In addition to the funds, students also collected a van full of canned goods and other food items shortly before the winter break. Middle School advisory groups volunteer regularly at The Caring Place throughout the year, including a Spring Food Drive, which benefits The Caring Place over the summer months.



Middle School students audition for the musical "42nd Street"
Middle School students audition for the musical “42nd Street”

Tapping into Their Talents

Middle School students recently have found a new way to wrap up their days. As Middle School drama teacher Rachel Damon gears up for the spring musical, 42nd Street, students have been auditioning for tap dancing parts in the Broadway favorite. Ms. Damon said she chose 42nd Street because she is confident her students will work smartly and collaboratively to bring the complex production to life.


From The Buzz, Dec. 20, 2013

Writer-in-residence Dana Crum shares poetry development ideas with Linda Maupin's eighth grade English class.
Writer-in-residence Dana Crum shares poetry development ideas with Linda Maupin’s eighth grade English class.

Eighth Graders use Museum as their Muse

Eighth graders have been participating in an original, year-long poetry project designed by English teacher Linda Maupin. Inspired by a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Mrs. Maupin developed a unit that requires students to select a work of art and write poetry inspired by it. Mrs. Maupin, a former docent at the Taft Museum, took her students on a field trip to Taft, and has asked students to return to the Taft to select the artwork that will be the subject of their poems. Mrs. Maupin’s students also have been working with Writer-in-Residence and poet Dana Crum. “Before resuming my teaching career, I was a docent at the Taft, a place that I continue to treasure, and I thought this idea might be a perfect fit,” said Mrs. Maupin. “So, last spring, I began meeting with the then Manager of School and Docent Programs to discuss the idea.” Mrs. Maupin added that she has asked Mr. Crum to help her with a possible poetry slam/reading, in which Mr. Crum will offer critical responses to the students’ works. Students’ final projects will be due in May and forwarded to the Taft Museum, said Mrs. Maupin, who is hoping the poems will be displayed publicly, whether it be via social media or on display at the museum.



DSC_0246Penny Wars

Middle school students are well on their way to giving the gift of potable water to a Congolese village. Through the efforts of a recent penny war spearheaded by French teacher Jacky Kalubi, the funds raised will go toward establishing a water filtration system in the village of Tshibombo, an area that Mrs. Kalubi and her son, Daniel Kalubi ’02, have supported since 2002. Penny Wars are popular among students who want to raise funds and awareness for a cause. They work like this – each Middle School grade is given a water jug to hold pennies. The pennies carry the highest point value while larger increments of money are worth fewer points. Competitors will throw larger sums of money in each other’s containers, which increases fund-raising efforts. The Middle School raised $700 this fall. The cost of a water filtration project for a village can range from $5,000 to $15,000.


Moving Up!

Middle School students welcomed Doherty and Lotspeich fifth graders during a special “Moving Up” day designed to aid in the transition of fifth graders to Middle School next fall. Fifth graders visited classrooms, participated in activities, attended Middle School choral and symphonic ensemble performances, and went on a scavenger hunt that helped them become more acclimated to the Middle School halls and classrooms.


From The Buzz, Nov. 26, 2013


Lessons in Bird Banding

In keeping with the School’s theme on bird studies, Mrs. Licata’s sixth graders learned the secrets to bird banding in early November. The students participated in a seminar led by David Russell, Ph.D., a lecturer in zoology at Miami University. Mr. Russell is only one of five bird banders certified by the North American Banding Council. He and his wife Jill Russell, Ph.D., walked students through the step of catching, identifying, weighing, and banding the birds. Students enjoyed learning more about the netting that banders set up to catch birds. The netting material, which is as fine as a hair net, is thin enough that most birds do not notice it. Once the birds fly into the net, they are trapped into a hammock-like pocket, which allows banders to gently handle the birds and place them temporarily into a pouch for further inspection. The visitors, who represent the Avian Research and Education Institute (AREI), will return to work with the sixth graders in the spring.





Read-a-Thon a Huge Success!

Not too many people can read three full-length books in seven hours but the collective Middle School can. As part of a collaborative project to promote literary awareness and public speaking, students, teachers, and administrators, including Head of School Chris Garten, each pitched in, 10 minutes at a time, to read aloud from the first three books of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. The Read-a-Thon took place from 8 a.m. to about 3:10 p.m. with continuous audible reading in the Middle School Commons. The idea was brought to fruition by Mr. Caldemeyer, and carried out by Mrs. Dix and Mrs. Bloom.



Gratulatio! Students Claim Outstanding Showing at Certamen

Students in Mr. Sebastian’s Middle and Upper School Latin classes placed in the first local Certamen meet of the season at Summit Country Day School. Certamen is similar to a quiz bowl for Latin students. A team from each of the three levels made the finals. Mr. Sebastian called Seven Hills’ participation in Certamen “Outstanding.” After the Certamen event, several of Seven Hills’ Latin students joined other students from peer schools to participate in the Make A Difference Day service activity, at which they helped clear brush and did other trail maintenance work at the California Woods Nature Preserve.

Certamen results:

Level 1 (grade 8): Charlie Dwight, Lena Bauer, Jonathan Harsh, Nate Rising–finished in second place.

Level 2 (grade 9): Noelle O’Neal, Piper Spooner, Matisse Peppet–finished in 3rd place.

Level 2 (grade 9): Jack Lane, Calvin Arbenz, Jacob Weinstein, Daniel Grass–finished in 5th place.

Upper Level (grade 10): Bennett Smith, Tigar Cyr, Clay Hausberger–finished in 2nd place.



Remember the small satellites students in Mrs. Glum’s science class made a few weeks ago? The voyage has now concluded, and students have had the opportunity to watch the small devices soar into space! On Sept. 22, Seven Hills students joined hundreds of other grade school students, college students, and university professors across the country to cut ping pong balls in half and insert a number of experiments. The PongSat team of adult scientists launched the balls from the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. The vehicles that carry them are called High Racks. Four High Racks were used to carry the 1,000 ping pong balls. Click here to see the high racks launch into space. Head of Middle School Mr. Waskowitz said he especially enjoyed predicting when the satellite balloon would pop under the change in air pressure. Click here to watch some of the ping pong satellites travel into space and return to earth.


From The Buzz, Nov. 7, 2013

DSC_0219Lessons from the Heart

It isn’t often that grade school students have an opportunity to learn about the function and form of the heart–from a cardiologist!

Middle School students listened intently in the Middle School Commons as Ohio Heart and Vascular Center Cardiologist Dr. Gene Chung, wearing his white coat, showed a number of eye-catching video diagrams of the valves of the heart, including a digital graphic that showed the path of the blood as it is pumped through the four chambers of the heart.


Dr. Chung, who also is a parent of two Seven Hills students, shared a line graph that explained the importance of ongoing moderate exercise, as opposed to sporadic, high-cardio exercise. He also shared a statistic that less than 50 percent of boys and girls get enough exercise in the United States. In addition, Dr. Chung reminded students to eat fruits and vegetables, which help prevent plaque build-up in arteries. The presentation was part of a Physical Education unit on exercise and how the heart affects the ability of people to be active.


Bhutanese Visit

Seventh Graders who compiled hundreds of U.S. government flashcards to be used by Bhutanese refugees in Cincinnati had an opportunity to meet some of the refugees in late October. The presentation, led by Cincinnati activist and author Sheryl Rajbhandari, offered students a closer look at how and why groups of people are exiled from their countries, who can help, and how these people assimilate into unfamiliar societies. Mrs. Haskins said students put forth extensive effort to complete the flashcards–40 sets of 100 in all. The students, who also are learning the same information as part of their seventh grade unit in U.S. government, presented the box of collated flashcards to Durga Khatiwada and his mother Bhima Khatiwada, both of Cincinnati, following the presentation. Durga said his mother is one of the refugees who will use the cards to study for her citizenship test.

“Most people do not know that there are a large number of Bhutanese refugees in Cincinnati,” said Rajbhandari, who wrote the book The Journey Home, a book about Bhutanese refugees’ travels to the United States. “Right now many of these refugees are preparing to take their citizenship tests because this time of year marks the five years they have been in the states, a requirement for U.S. citizenship.”


Pumpkins …

Middle School students worked collaboratively during Pumpkin Day, a fun team-building event designed to encourage students to interact productively with their peers and teachers. After working against the clock to decorate pumpkins in teams, the students proudly lined up their pumpkins in the Middle School Commons and surveyed the finished products. The day was also full of athletic contests and overall fun! Click here to view a photo gallery of Pumpkin Day.


… and Insects

In an annual academic celebration, Sixth-Graders presented their research as part of an interdisciplinary unit on six-legged creatures. Insect Day is also special because parents are invited to watch the presentations, which range from creative writing about insects, learning about cultural connections involving insects, and experiments with termites. Insects have also inspired the décor in the Middle School lobby. Be sure to stop by to see the art exhibit.


From The Buzz Oct. 10, 2013

1271852_10151635745200785_2046179654_oDJ McHale

The Middle School recently welcomed a visit from DJ McHale, author of the famed Pendragon science fiction book series. McHale’s dynamic 30-minute presentation included a slideshow, a short Q & A, and chat about his beginnings as a writer. McHale, author of a bevy of blockbuster novels, shared his sense of humor and his love for writing about and for young teens. Middle and Upper School Librarian Suzanne Dix said students were delighted to meet the author of some of their favorite books. Students also learned about McHale’s new SYLO series.

“I think the students are captivated by this new series because the main characters, all tweens and teens, star in the role of saving the world,” said Mrs. Dix. “It also is a thrill ride of a story with each chapter ending with a cliffhanger. Students are finishing the 400-page book in a couple of days because they can’t put it down.”

Mrs. Dix said the visit from McHale was quite a treat. McHale’s visit was part of a collaborative effort by Mrs. Dix, Library Assistant Gail Bloom, and Kelli Gleiner, of Blue Manatee Children’s Bookstore and Decafe.



IMG_0178Adventure Trek

Eighth Graders enjoyed their trip with Adventure Treks in North Carolina this September. Students spent four days camping out and backpacking through the Pisgah National Forest with their teachers and the Adventure Trek guides. Activities included rock climbing, hiking, creek stomping, sliding down natural water slides, campfires and white water rafting.



Helping Bhutanese Refugees

Can you name one right or freedom from the First Amendment? Where is the Statue of Liberty? Can you name one U.S. Territory? These queries may appear to come from a social studies lesson. In fact, they are questions Mrs. Karen Glum’s Seventh Grade Science class will craft into flashcards for use by Bhutanese refugees who are preparing to take citizenship tests. Students will even have an opportunity to hand the flashcards directly to those who need them. When they have an opportunity to meet some of the representatives of the Bhutanese refugee resettlement program on Oct. 23 during a visit to the Seventh Grade class.

Said Mrs. Glum, “This is a meaningful and pertinent community service project for our students. Our Seventh Graders are studying the same information this year.”


DSC_0154Fishing on the Fly

Middle School students tried their hand at casting while learning the physics of handling a 25-foot line during a special class led by Jerry Benson and Mike Arnold, president of the Northern Kentucky Fly Fishing Club. Students asked questions while fly fishing experts explained the basics of the sport and later gave lessons on the soccer field. Students were surprised at how light the poles are, and gained an appreciation for the agility and calculating skill needed to be a successful fly fisher.

“Fly fishing is a sport that some students would not otherwise be exposed to,” said Physical Education teacher Beth Leonard. “This is a great learning experience for the students.”



From The Buzz Sept. 25, 2013


Mr. Caldemeyer works with The Hive staff.

Students Produce Online Newspaper

The Hive is the Middle School’s new media outlet. Writing Workshop teacher and newspaper adviser Chris Caldemeyer said the young journalists are immersing themselves in the world of news as they work together to fine-tune and report on Middle School happenings.

“We’ve gone digital and we’re not looking back. Tackling issues that are relevant to the whole student body, our investigative team leaves no rock unturned!” said Mr. Caldemeyer. “We also know how to have fun. We will offer a bi-monthly meme contest that rewards the winner with a gift card and a weekly advice column from our in-house life coach, Dr. Dory. Mr. Caldemeyer encouraged readers to “keep your eyes and ears open and expect great things from the The Hive!”




Photo courtesy of PongSat KickStarter site

To the Moon!

Middle School science students recently sent special ping pong balls into space with a satellite in a collaborative project called PongSat, an initiative funded through KickStarter, a community-based online funding site. On Sept. 22, some of the ping pong balls sent in by Seven Hills Middle School students were part of the launch, which included 1,000 ping pong balls, which contained various experimentation. Some of the balls contained marshmallows. Others contained electronic devices.

Seven Hills students joined hundreds of other grade-school students, college students, and university professors across the country to cut the ping pong balls in half and insert The PongSat team launched the balls from the Black Rock desert in Nevada, according to the KickStarter site. The vehicles that carry them are called High Racks. Four High Racks were used to carry the 1,000 ping pong balls.





From The Buzz Sept. 12, 2013


Finding Common Bonds During Sixth and Seventh Grade Retreat

Sixth and seventh graders worked collaboratively during the Middle School’s animated school opening orientation, designed to encourage students to interact productively with their peers and teachers. The sixth grade event included service projects on both campuses, advisory T-shirt design, a fashion show of clothing crafted from newspaper, relays, dancing, and other field games.


Thank you to our sixth and seventh grade teams, and our parent volunteers who worked so hard to make the day a rousing success!



Star Light, Star Bright …

Dean Regas from the Cincinnati Observatory visited seventh grade science classes to show them the sun like they’ve never seen it before. Using a telescope with a special filter, students were able to observe the full disk of the sun and a few prominences which, though they appeared tiny, were actually larger than Earth!





Middle School Student Council Officers

Congratulations to Middle School Student Council Officers, who will represent their class during the 2013-14 school year.

Bottom l to r – Annabel Stanley, Louann Kovach, Mary Grace Ramsay,

row 2 Michael Glum, Luke Keller, Nate Rising,

Top – Matthew Maring, Brett Miller, Matthew Kreines.



King of Middle School Art

Teacher Elissa Donovan and her students are partnering with the Cincinnati Zoo to create a breathtaking 12-foot-tall lion head. The brilliant sculpture, made from a meticulously crafted armature, will be showcased and auctioned off this month at the Zoo’s largest annual fundraiser, Zoofari. Donovan said dozens of seventh and eighth graders contributed to the collaborative community art project. The King of the art room won’t be around for long. Donovan plans to transport the lion head to the Zoo this weekend, where she will attach a magnificent golden mane.


Reading Program Develops Students’ Critical Thinking, Speaking Skills

Independent reading develops not only students’ reading skills but their writing, speaking, critical thinking, and planning skills as well. It is an essential component of the Middle School English curriculum at Seven Hills because educators are aware of the powerful impact consistent reading has on teens and pre-teens.

DSC_0067All three grade levels in the Middle School have an independent reading program as part of their English class. Students are asked to read a specific amount per quarter and to record their reading in a log. Sometimes certain genres are required and other times students are given the freedom to select books on their own.

This quarter the seventh grade is required to read at least two books, including one memoir or historical nonfiction book. Students are reading The Diary of Anne Frank, Seabiscuit, Night, Soul Surfer, A Long Way Gone, I Am a Seal Team Six Soldier, and I Have Lived A Thousand Years, among others.

Three times per quarter we visit the library so that students can select books. English Teacher Mandy Hayes said during this time students also read and have reading conferences with her so that she can ascertain their progress and provide support.

At the end of each quarter, students design a report on one of the books they have read. Students can choose from a variety of report types or develop one of their own. Many students make use of their iPads to create Keynote presentations and iMovies, while others design brochures or posters, write scripts, summaries, or create works of art. Students are eager to present their work to their classmates.



Pendragon Series Author coming to Seven Hills

Author DJ MacHale will be speaking to Middle School students from 2:45 – 3:15 p.m. on September 25 in the Middle School Commons. MacHale will talk about his new science fiction book for tweens called SYLO and answer questions.

Also in Library news, Middle and Upper School Librarian Suzanne Dix and Library Assistant Gail Bloom are running a contest for all Middle School students from September 9 to 24. Students need to answer five trivia questions correctly about DJ MacHale. Students can drop off their questionnaires in the Library, where winners will be drawn on Sept. 25. Five Middle School students will win $5 to use in the Spirit Shop.