Thursday, March 29, 2012

Planting Seeds, Worm Composts, and Welcoming Ms. Kate!

Although the old saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers,” Thurgood Marshall Academy’s Green Club has already been hard at work during DC’s unexpectedly warm March weather. 

We’ve planted beets, chard, cabbage, lettuce, fennel (a new student favorite since we cooked with it in the fall), cilantro, spinach, radishes, and arugula (over the protests of Ms. Fried), and have moved some of our seedlings outside, where they have bravely faced dropping temperatures and thunderstorms. 

Green Club also celebrated the arrival of new friends—worms! We have started up our worm compost again, and our 2,000 plus red wrigglers have been working to break down our garden and food waste for the past couple of weeks. 

Many thanks to Big Chair, a local coffee shop and grill, for their donations of used coffee grounds to help our compost thrive! 

Thurgood Marshall Academy has also welcomed a new staff member: Kate Lee, our new Garden Specialist. Ms. Lee will bring her extensive knowledge of gardening, organic farming, crop rotations, and other green things to the TMA Garden and Green Club activities. We’re very excited to have her on board! 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Law Day Tests Trial Skills

Mamie Mayo delivers her opening statement.
Last Friday ninth graders put their negotiation and advocacy abilities to the test in the March Law Day’s Criminal Mock Trial lesson.  Students first viewed scenes from the well-known law comedy My Cousin Vinny and were then given a chance to learn about parts of a criminal trial.  After hearing advice from the volunteer lawyers about how to deliver strong opening statements, witness examinations, and closing statements, students put their legal skills to the test in the case of The People of the District of Marshall vs. Zora Peters.   Armed with the facts of the case in hand, students split into prosecution and defense sides and were challenged to form their own opening statements and questions for the witnesses.  After a mere 20 minutes to prepare, the mock trial was underway.  Some students also acted as judges and with the help of volunteer lawyers called each side to the stand.  Upon completion of the proceedings, a panel of student judges deliberated the outcome.  The criminal mock trial served as practice for next month’s lesson.   On the agenda for April Law Day is the Civil Mock Trial.  A special thank you to all the TMA chaperones, law day coordinators, and volunteer lawyers for making March’s Law Day a success!
Delonte Williams questions witness DaMar Woodruff
Olivia Wilson (left) and Cierra Bailey prepare their testimonies. 

Kesha Payton, Aubrey Goode, and Cer'cia Wallace confer with a lawyer at Hogan Lovells law firm. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mentor Day Goes to College

Moo Bae, Thurgood Marshall Academy '11, George Washington University '15 leads a tour for mentors and students.

Ever wished you could have a preview into college life? Last Saturday, TMA students got a glimpse into George Washington University during Mentor Day. The weather was perfect on Saturday as students and mentors from TMA exited large yellow school buses and arrived at the Marvin Center, the hub of GW’s campus. TMA alum and current GW freshman Moo Johnson led mentors and mentees on a tour through the Foggy Bottom campus highlighting study spaces, dormitories, and dining options.

Pairs also joined Amada Caliz, TMA alum and GW senior or set off on their own using self-guided tours to lead them around the beautiful GW campus. Following the tours, the group gathered together for a panel on college that focused on HBCUs and public universities. Mentors who attended Howard, Hampton. UNC-Chapel Hill, and University of Illinois-Champagne, joined Moo to offer advice and answered questions from students about their experiences in college. After the panel everyone spread out and enjoyed lunch at different establishments in Foggy Bottom including Baja Fresh, Johnny Rocket’s and Whole Foods.

It was a great way to spend a beautiful spring day and start thinking about next steps in the college process!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Students Challenge Discrimination through ADL

Twelve Thurgood Marshall Academy students spent last Thursday in a day-long training session put on by the Anti-Defamation League. Students learned skills that would help them become Peer Trainers and combat discrimination and bullying at school and beyond. 

The training was put on by facilitators from ADL’s A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute. The Institute is a leading provider of anti-bias education and diversity training programs and resources. The Institute seeks to help participants: recognize bias and the harm it inflicts on individuals and society; explore the value of diversity; improve intergroup relations; and combat racism, anti-Semitism and all forms of prejudice and bigotry.

Students began the day by introducing themselves and agreeing on ground rules for their discussions throughout the training. The activities ranged from brief discussions on issues that face high school youth, to games that encouraged students to recognize similarities between them and the other participants. 

Sophomore Joey Adams noted: "I learned about discrimination from bias to individual stereotypes, and I was surprised to learn that just one stereotype can escalate into genocide."

Joey also had advice for other TMA students and hopes for applying what she learned today to TMA: “Be careful about what you say because even little things you say can affect another person and hit the core.”

 Interested in joining ADL? 

We meet every Monday at 3:30pm in Room 108, and have many projects lined up for this semester, including another training day in May!

Friday, March 16, 2012

TMA on Two Wheels

Members of TMA Unplugged: The Wilderness Club are putting their off-roading skills to the test on two wheels. Thanks to a partnership with Trails for Youth and the National Park Service, students are learning to mountain bike this spring on Tuesday afternoons.  After an introductory skills session in TMA’s courtyard, students traveled to Fort Dupont Park this past Tuesday to ride the trails.  The mountain bikers meet every other Tuesday and will also work with the National Park Service on trail work and will continue to develop their biking skills in preparation for a nature-based adventure competition at the end of the spring. 

Sophomore Joey Adams gets ready to ride.
Volunteer Pat Childers helps Sophmore Jessie Watkins onto her bike. 
Jessie Watkins sets out  to practice her skills!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

¿Cómo se dice New Best Friends?

A group of Thurgood Marshall Academy’s Spanish 3 students had a great extracurricular experience last Wednesday, when they traveled to the National Portrait Gallery to meet their pen pals. For the last year they’ve been writing letters to students in Mr. Joe Addison’s English class in Pachuca, Mexico. 

Although some students were nervous about meeting their pen pals, once the students from Pachuca arrived, they had a great time getting to know one another face to face. Some students ate lunch together, while others perused the Gallery’s various exhibits. TMA 11th grader Chris Ridout used the hour to help his pen pal, Marco, find an American girlfriend: 

All too soon, it was time to say goodbye. After one giant group photo opportunity, students hugged and promised to keep in touch. As the TMA group returned to campus, some students talked with Ms. Garcia about what they'd learned about Mexico from their pen pals, while others pondered this life-changing experience silently.

Pen Pals at the National Portrait Gallery
“I didn’t expect to make a new friend today,” Sophomore Darnell Hudson said, “but now I feel like the time we spent together was too short. I’ll have to study abroad in Mexico soon!” 

TMA Students Jada Blackwell and Moli Dobbins talk with their pen pals