COURTESY OF LA PIETRA
La Pietra Middle School students and peer leaders take part in team-bonding activities at the Middle School Camp at Camp Timberline. Shown are Haley Abing, left, Amanda Waltz, Kara Yamada, Jena Eppolito Loa, Elizabeth Joslyn and Rachel Briggs.
Four students share what they have learned as peer leaders for Middle School Camp
On this team, every girl has a story
"We got our spirit, yes we do, we got spirit, how about you?" shouted the girls.
The middle-schoolers' enthusiastic, high-energy cheers were heard throughout Camp Timberline, from the wooden cabins named after Hawaiian islands to the luscious green forest in the mountains.
Over the two days and one night spent at the La Pietra Middle School Camp, held before the school year to help students transition to a new school, girls from sixth to eighth grade participated in team-building activities, cheered for the "spirit stick" and roasted marshmallows over the fire while singing songs.
Girls who did not know each other Thursday morning became close friends by Friday afternoon. Within 48 hours, close bonds were being formed.
Middle School Camp is a La Pietra tradition that helps new and returning students get to know each other. As a peer leader, it is my responsibility to be a role model and, more important, a friend. I believe that the main goal of being a peer leader is to get to know the middle-schoolers, for each girl has a story to tell.
As a peer leader for the past three years, I have gained experience from working with the girls and going through peer leadership training. More important, being a peer leader has taught me many skills that can be used throughout life, including teamwork, communications and the virtue of patience.
--Kara Yamada, La Pietra
Fun can accompany responsibility
As peer leaders, it is our job to keep up the energy of our huis during Middle School Camp, but also to comfort the younger girls if some are hurt or homesick. We have to make sure they go to sleep, that they have enough water and that that they are at breakfast on time. Over the course of the year, we do other activities as well, culminating in an all-day school activity day where we battle for the "spirit stick."
Being a peer leader is a huge responsibility, but it is also an enormous amount of fun. Once we start high school, it is so easy to lose touch with the middle-schoolers and all their careless joys. As a peer leader, I have the opportunity to reconnect not only with the middle-schoolers themselves, but with their lives. It has also helped me to grow as a leader and gain self-confidence.
Being able to help the girls, talk to them and hang out with them is such a fabulous experience for me and, I hope, equally wonderful for them.
--Rachel Briggs, La Pietra
Leadership means setting an example
This August, I entered my sixth year at La Pietra. Three of those years I spent as a middle-school student and beneficiary of the Peer Leadership program.
When my eighth-grade year ended, I knew that if I were to participate in any of La Pietra's traditions, it would, of course, be Peer Leadership, the unique program in which high school students mingle with underclasswomen on a regular basis and help them adjust to our school. We work with them on certain activities, such as Middle School Camp and Children's Fair.
Students who are chosen to be peer leaders are each assigned to a group, or "hui," of middle school students, whom they will stay with for the entire school year, participating in numerous activities which strengthen the mind, body and heart. We like to think of ourselves as a select group of students, chosen for our responsibility, communication skills, sense of fun and leadership quality.
We encourage the middle-school students to set goals for themselves, and we help them over the speed bumps. We teach them leadership skills of their own by setting examples, and we always maintain a positive attitude.
Yet, this program isn't beneficially one-sided; it is just as educational and enjoyable to us as it is to the middle-school students. We profit every time a hui member passes us in the hall and greets us with a friendly "hello" and an excited wave. And it's more than a pleasure for us to return the gesture with a "how ya doing" and a quick high five.
As peer leaders we are recognized in our school community for our commitment to our hui, our school and ourselves. We work to ensure the well-being of our fellow students; we work to enable students to feel special about themselves.
Peer leadership is not an obligation; it is an enriching learning experience and a place where grade barriers seem to temporarily cease and students gather as a community to exchange ideas, lunch and laughter. Above all, it is a forum of enjoyment.
--Melissa Kim, La Pietra
Paving the way helps those who follow
It is always fun to meet new people who are in the same position you were once in. I like being a peer leader because I remember my peer leaders in middle school and how nice they were to me and how much I looked up to them. I feel honored to be a peer leader now so I can help the girls the way I was helped.
--Kelsey Hughes, La Pietra
La Pietra-Hawaii School
Sandy Xu and Rachel Wagenman
2933 Poni Moi Road
Head of School
Mahina Eleneki Hugo
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Animation class helps students tell stories
La Pietra offers a six-week "Animation Fascination" program over the summer. As a student at the school, I have been a teacher's assistant for the past three summers.
Animation Fascination is "especially designed to teach students the art of computer animation while reinforcing some computer basics," according to the school's Web site.
The summer program starts off with a fun icebreaker activity to get the students acquainted with one another, the teacher's assistant and teacher Ashlee MacDuff.
Before the students think about doing their own animations, we brainstorm as a class to get the creative juices flowing. Animation begins with brainstorming, script writing and storyboarding. The student has the option to select her own story to animate.
As the teacher's assistant, I give the students ideas, help them select a topic, think of characters, read their scripts and put the final touches on them.
Students use the program Comic Life to show parts of their animation. They plan out their scene and sketch out their characters and background on paper before creating them in Macromedia Flash.
While monitoring the students, I have to make sure they save their work. Nothing is worse than working hard on an animation and then losing it in a matter of five seconds!
I also help students when the teacher is busy helping someone else. I make sure they are using the right tools and that they are working on the correct scene.
GarageBand is used to record, edit and enhance voice-overs and audio for the animations. I schedule recording times so everyone isn't recording at the same time. I also assist the students using the GarageBand tools. They then import the audio they create into Flash.
The last thing they do is export movies to iDVD so they can take it home to show their parents.
Throughout the six weeks, I monitor the students' progress and make sure they stay on task so they have something to show their parents.
I would recommend Animation Fascination to anyone who loves to draw and use computers to tell a story.
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"What did you read over the summer? What did you particularly like and why?"
"I read 'Dragonsong' and 'Dealing With Dragons.' My favorite part in the book is when Ciamoren, the main character, is cleaning up the dragon's place with her friend and they get to know each other and spend time with each other. I liked it because it showed that Ciamoren could be a down-and-dirty princess and how her friend showed her kindness (our school theme this year) ... always doing things for her."
"'Bluefingers: A Ninja's Tale.' I liked it because it had ninjas in it. I LOVE NINJAS!"
"I read 'All True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton' and 'Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.' These were all books to read for AP U.S. history. It was interesting to learn about slavery from the different perspectives of the protagonists. I also started to read Harry Potter."
"I read a really interesting book called 'The Red Scarf Girl.' It's about the Cultural Revolution in China. It's an autobiography about a little girl who wanted to be a part of the Red Guard until she found out what they were really about. I liked that it had a lot of detail of what went on in China. I didn't know a lot about the Cultural Revolution until I read this."