While each day in the Middle School is unique, there is a certain rhythm and energy I can always count on. Join me in taking a look down the Middle School hallway, with its ebbs and flows of the school day.
7:00 a.m. As I enter Bernon Hall, the hallway is dark. The carpet is clean, thanks to our hardworking cleaning crew. There are no sounds. Cubbies show the remnants of the past: some gym clothes, scattered books, a quiz from last week. I pause, taking in the stillness, the space, the order. I flip on the lights.
7:30 a.m. A few boys are sitting in the hallway, Chromebooks on their laps. Another boys enters, and he heads down to the Pallotta Athletic Center to put his sports equipment away in his locker. The hallway is still spacious, calm. An early morning sense of possibility prevails.
7:45 a.m. The hallway has become a busy, bustling place. Many boys have arrived, and they are joking with each other, playing games on their Chromebooks, and laughing together. Amid the activity, one boy works on his math homework. “I forgot to do it last night,” he says to me apologetically. Another boy reads, riveted by the latest in his Rick Riordan novel.
These are the only minutes of the day when gaming is permitted. Soon we will officially begin our academic day. I watch the boys around me. The way they game on their Chromebooks is very collaborative. They sit close together, and they talk and laugh as they play. They share snippets of their evenings and upcoming weekends. I wonder if some boys like to come a bit early so they can be here for this time. There is a buzz of chatter all through the hallway as teachers navigate the sea of boys and backpacks on the floor.
7:50 a.m. Homeroom has officially begun and, with it, the academic day. No more gaming! Chromebooks are closed, and boys go into their homerooms for morning announcements: What’s happening today? Which homeroom has snack and ball cart duty? What’s happening at X-Block this week? The hallway is quiet again, except for some latecomers.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays we walk through the hallway to gather in the Kelley Room for Morning Meeting, led by two sixth graders who alternate throughout the year. Today is a Thursday, and we listen to a presentation about wrestling by two Upper School teachers. A ninth grader models the new, “way cooler” wrestling uniforms, wearing the head of the Fessy Bear costume. Great marketing for this winter sport!
8:05 a.m. Morning Meeting has ended, and the hallway is abuzz with activity. Boys are getting their backpacks and books, looking at their schedules, and heading to their first classes. I help a fifth grader whose cubby is overflowing. Lots of clothes from other days stashed there! We sort and organize, and then he’s quickly off to class, albeit a few minutes late. His cubby looks great...for now.
8:20 a.m. The hallway is very quiet. In one classroom, boys are writing a fictional story. In another, they are reviewing what the subject of a sentence is. Both fifth and sixth grade math classes are busy solving bar modeling problems.
8:50 a.m. Classes change, and I watch the usual whirlwind of activity. One boy can’t figure out where his Latin class went. When he checks with me, it turns out he has science. He hurries off. When second period begins, the hall is completely empty. I sit on the Middle School bench and hear the sounds of learning blurring together into a gentle hum.
9:40 a.m. ...And it is recess! This is a favorite part of the day for some boys. Off they go to the outside field. The homeroom on duty brings out snack and our ball cart. The hallway becomes quiet again, as boys play tetherball, ga-ga, soccer, and football. Some boys choose to fly a kite, and four square games are everywhere. It is obvious that the boys rushed to get outside. Inside, backpacks are literally everywhere, and blazers are askew. We are looking messy indeed.
10:00 a.m. Time to come inside. Middle School boys seem incapable of waiting their turn to go through doorways. Unsupervised, they would wedge, push, and cram their way through. Supervised, they reluctantly wait their turn to go back inside. The hallway is cleaner now, as boys head to their next two academic classes and take their materials with them.
11:40 a.m. ...And it is lunchtime! (Are you sensing a certain rhythm here?) Boys come into the hallway, leave their materials in their cubbies, and head off to the dining hall. There, sixth grade table monitors serve family-style lunch to the boys assigned to their tables. There is a teacher at every table as well. Throughout lunch, boys flock to the salad bar and the fruit baskets. We eat fast, but we eat well.
12:10 p.m. We end lunch with the “Thought for the Day,” given by a student, and back we head to the Middle School hallway. Fifth graders walk the route near the Lower School playground, and sixth graders walk along the Athletic Center. They meet at the Middle School doorway (How many Middle Schoolers can pass through that doorway at once?), and down the hall they go to collect what they need for the last two academic classes. After a flurry of activity, silence reigns.
2:00 p.m. Guided Study is up and running, while some boys are at early sports. Students read for 20 minutes in their assigned classroom, and then they may do homework. The hallway is quiet, but the flotsam and jetsam of the day is apparent: a few flashcards on the ground, some pencils, two backpacks, and a lone blazer dot the carpet.
3:00 p.m. The hallway is brimming—it looks like the airport at Thanksgiving break! Some boys are heading off to late sports, others are gathering their materials for dismissal, and still others are getting settled for their Guided Study. I lift some of the backpacks—far too heavy. I tell a few boys, “Leave your world geography book in your cubby!” They reluctantly repack and head off.
4:00 p.m. Guided Study rooms have had quiet reading and homework time, and many eyes are watching the clock. Teachers begin to have boys pack up their materials for our final dismissal. The hallway becomes a busy place again as boys return from sports, leave Guided Study, and head out to dismissal. Brrr—today is cold! Undaunted, boys stay in their gym shorts and wait with Mr. Cadman at the Bernon Hall benches. Bus riders travel up to the bus area. One by one, off they go.
4:45 p.m. Boys have left or settled into After Sports Study Hall in Mr. Welty’s room. The hallway is eerily still. Remnants of the day are scattered around the hallway. I pick up lost pencils, old math papers, another backpack, a lone sock, and four blazers. Another day of Middle School draws to a close. Soon the cleaner will be vacuuming and polishing. I take a long look, breathing a deep breath. I am already missing the happy chatter of the boys, and I look forward to the morning.