All posts by Rhonda

retired lawyer and tech teacher, high school mock trial coach, sci-fi nerd, design lover, storyteller

Mr. Stripes: An Advice Column


Dear Mr. Stripes,
My parents are driving me crazy. They are always nagging me about homework and grades and every night they want me to spend like an hour talking to them about how my day was. I need them to understand that I need some space.

Dear Really Crowded,
I think you should try to understand that your parents are really very interested in your life, and being now a middle schooler, you might be unintentionally not giving them as much attention as they would like (which is probably wayyy too much attention). What ever the circumstance, I think you should try to explain to them that you are a teen/pre teen and you just need your space. Maybe you could agree on a time once a day or once a week or whatever you can agree on for time to just talk to them. Parents can be suffocating sometimes!

Good luck! -Mr. Stripes

Little Women Comes Alive in East Falls Production

by Sophy Jarka-Sellers

The play “Little Women” based on the book which Louisa May Alcott wrote (who lived right across from GFS), was recently put on at Tiny Theatre in East Falls. It featured a GFS middle schooler by the name of Jessica Hobbs-Pifer, in one of the starring roles, Amy Curtis March. The play was well acted, I thought. Most of the lines were taken straight out of the book. The play didn’t seem like an interpretation of the book. It more seemed like it was trying to be the book.  I thought the play was good and Jessica did  a phenomenal job acting.

In the book, my two favorite characters were Jo and Beth. In the play, the two who I thought did the best job acting were Meg and Amy. Beth and Jo did good job acting but I thought Meg and Amy did the best acting. All together I liked the show and certainly applauded Jessica’s acting, especially that role because it’s a hard part to play.

GFS: A New 8th Grader’s Experience

by Talia Cieslinsk

An Interview with Meredith Cooney, new 8th grader

1.  How do you like GFS so far?
It’s great, really excited

2.  Where did you go to school before GFS?
I went to Springside

3.  How does GFS compare to your old school? / What are some big changes at GFS?
GFS is far better for me; it fits my personality, which my other school didn’t. There were a lot of big changes; the biggest being that GFS is co-ed and there are no uniforms, which is a bonus.

4.  Was there a particular reason you switched schools?
The girls who attended Springside were becoming a different group of people from when I started.  I like school~ to the extent that school can be liked. GFS students show the same compassion for school as it do.

What is your favorite part of GFS so far?
The people, teachers and students together. Everyone is so nice and welcoming.

About how many people did you know coming into GFS? And how many people do you know now?
When I moved to GFS I didn’t know anybody; now it’s so different. At Springside ,I only had a few friends and here everyone introduces themselves and/or comes up and starts talking to me.

What activities/sports/hobbies/ and subjects are you interested in at GFS?
No one particularly, but the idea of having to move from building to building was particularly appealing.

If your last school had to be an animal what would it be? What animal would GFS be?
Springside would probably be a black cat and GFS would probably be a domestic, sweet cat because cats have 2 sides to them.

What are the differences of GFS’s campus and you old school’s
At GFS, the students move from building to building. At Springside you stay in the same building for the whole day. You don’t walk across campus.

Did your old school have a cafeteria? If it did what was your favorite food there and what is your favorite food at the GFS cafeteria?  
Yes, we had a cafeteria, my favorite food there was probably a sandwich from the deli. I really don’t have a favorite food at GFS yet.  I like to bring my lunch when possible.

What’s your favorite book?
My favorite book is probably “Maximum Ride:School’s Out Forever”

What’s you favorite movie?
I don’t have a favorite movie.

What’s your favorite food?
I don’t have a favorite food.

If you could be an animal what animal would you be?
A cat.

How are your expectations of GFS comparing to what it actually is?
My expectations for GFS were really high and GFS, for the most part “lived” up the to the expectations.

EAC 2011-2012

by Ishmael Bynum

The Upper School E.A.C (Environmental Action Club), lead by Ian Van Wert has already been hard at work. The E.A.C has continued the tradition of a Wissahickon woods clean up;  The E.A.C has also decided to sponsor a ‘’reduce your carbon footprint’’ week. They are promoting the dos and don’ts of composting and are also considering a battery-recycling program.

The Middle School E.A.C has a large agenda for the coming year as well. Tara Goss is leading the E.A.C and has come up with multiple projects. The E.A.C is planning to make videos and songs on how to compost. Also, they are trying to get funds for planting trees. Surveys are being passed on why or why don’t people compost. For the future, the E.A.C is going to tell us why birds and their habitat are so important.

A Love Story

A Love Story…

It is Wednesday, 12:47 PM, April 27th, 2011, activity period in the middle school. The 8th graders on the newspaper staff are in a total frenzy. Science night looms over their heads.  To say that they are struggling mightily to muster the necessary enthusiasm and focus required to turn out the last issue of the newspaper would be a grave understatement. Jesse, our editor in chief, is literally drawing squares in Photoshop in an attempt to finish an art project, Schuyler, our usually dependable managing editor, seems to have lost all sense of priorities abandoning her staff mates to make up a math test. Joanna and Jane, film critic and fashion editor respectively, have been caught up in an impenetrable torrent of giggles for at least 20 minutes, poor Joe, our tech guy, is trying in vane to keep things together while newbie reporter Hannah is still under the illusion that something will actually be accomplished in the next half an hour.  When I glance over and see Olenka lying on the floor and Magda upside down in her chair, whirling around face covered by her spinning hair, I’m certain that all hope is lost. In one final act of pure desperation, they ask me to write an article.

So, I stop my high-pitched vocalizations (otherwise referred to as screaming) and look at them.  Just for a moment, I  sit helplessly and just look.  Just five more weeks. In five short weeks, I will attend a Meeting and watch as they move on to their upper school selves. Then they will be gone.  Again.  Not just the newspaper staff.  They will all be gone: the ones I watched peck and claw their way out of their lower school shells, the ones I watched tentatively dip their big toes into the river of 7th grade before diving in head first, the ones I nagged relentlessly about late homework and poor focus, the ones who messed with the system settings on the lab computers and yes, even the ones whose sole criminal act was their very presence during one of my migraines.

Some will leave GFS, but even those who stay on will be gone. The most I can reasonably expect is a smile and brief exchange of greetings when we pass on campus or, perhaps, an unannounced return to the computer lab to use the color printer.

As a middle school teacher, I have often wondered if I have ever done anything that actually mattered in a student’s life or contributed to the person he or she will eventually become.  I’m not talking about making a huge impression on their life, just a tiny dent, a little educational fender bender, if you will, would be just fine with me.  I’m not proud to admit that I have often fantasized that while watching the Oscars, I would be amazed to watch a former student emerge from the crowd, clutch the podium and in a voice crackling with gratitude, thank me for changing the course of his or her life. Of course, I haven’t quite worked out the part about how such a well earned accolade relates back to my oft repeated instructions on how to save to the server with a greater than 50/50 chance of actually being able to retrieve a document sometime in the not so distant future.

More than occasionally, I’ve felt that teaching in the middle school is a lot like dating someone on the rebound, after you have been traumatically dumped by your first love and before you actually meet Mr. or Ms. Right. Somehow, for most, those interim memories of middle school life quickly fade away in a torrent of hormones and chaos forever wandering in the murkiness of lost adolescence.

It doesn’t really matter though.  Whether they remember me is not the point.  I am confident that on some future occasion, I will be lucky enough to catch a peripheral glimpse of their exact whereabouts on life’s path. Then I will remember. Again.

So go, why don’t you all!  Just hurry up and go and don’t look back kids.  You won’t get me again. I have absolutely no more room for memories. Wait just a minute. I forgot to mention something. I love you. Now get out of here!