SSL Certificate

Welcome Back 2019!

Dear Middle School Families,

Welcome to the 2019-2020 school year! I am very excited for the new school year—though I did enjoy summer travels. Highlights of my July included attending a wedding in Squaw Valley, California at High Camp; going to Beaver Island in Lake Michigan; and glamping just outside of Washington DC. I love travel because, like middle school, there is a significant dose of experiential learning—whether taking on a beautiful, but challenging bike ride from Olympic Village to Lake Tahoe and then back again; learning the history of “King” John Strang, the self-appointed ruler of Beaver Island; or watching in awe as a mother orangutan and her “baby” at the National Zoo traversed high wires as they traveled between enclosures.

The mother orangutan, named Batang, showed remarkable reserve as she and her “son” Redd climbed high above spectators on the O-Line, a 50 feet sky road of sorts. As long as Redd had two points of contact on the wire—two hands, or a foot and a hand, or two feet—Batang allowed Redd unaided independence. Batang reached out once to place a steady hand under Redd as he dangled by just one long arm. He had clearly violated the tacit two points of contact rule. Batang stayed remarkably composed as Redd energetically ambled and dangled across the O-Line.

In contrast, the human onlookers were a mess of emotion—myself included. The joint sound of the orangutan-watching crowd was a continuous series of loud, anxious gasps every time Redd gamboled forward. His play felt like peril. We wanted to smile without worry, but, quite frankly, we did not completely trust Redd’s confidence and ability. The crowd let out a notable and collective sigh of relief when Redd finally made it across the O-Line. Then, the crowd burst into applause. Was the clapping for Redd’s successful navigation of the wire or for his subsequent safety? Most likely both.

It occurred to me that the Batang-Redd O-Line drama mirrors the parent-student experience of middle school: parents travel the high wire of the  6th, 7th, and 8th grade years with students—but not exactly together. A parallel journey of sorts, as students gain confidence, competencies, and independence through their respective middle school experiences. There is no actual high wire on the middle school campus; however, equally thrilling, CSN middle school is in its second-year of the quarter-based elective schedule. The diverse combination of academic, music, art, and athletic opportunities available to each CSN middle school student is necessary to maximize development, exploration, and learning.  

The abbreviated list of middle school elective offerings below demonstrates the programmatic diversity and individualtion that complements the core classes of English, history, science, social studies, and world languages (Chinese, French, and Spanish) at CSN. Orchestra and concert band are treated as core classes—meeting every day. New 2019-2020 additions are bolded. 

Excel and Databases MS Musical (5/08/20) Gym, Hockey, Handball
Introduction to 3-D Printing Orchestra Op-Ed
Drone Racing Concert Band Creative Writing
Mathletics Chess Yearbook
Studio Art E2 Entrepreneur Experience
(2020 Naples Childrens’ Business Fair, 1/11/20)
Genius Hour
Calligraphy Public Speaking Piano
Cartooning Introduction to Robotics Exploring Python with Raspberry Pi 
Inventor’s Workshop Competitive Robotics Introduction to Photography
Moviemaking Build It, Destroy It (Engineering) MS Ted-Ed
App Inventor World Peace Game Mystery Theatre
Model United Nations Zumba Science Fair (12/06/19)
Introduction to Latin Swim Games Forensics— Seahawk Speech Activities Tournament (12/14/19)
Showtime Theatre CSN-X Fitness General Music
Vocal Workshop Rock Climbing  
Augmented Reality Basketball  

The Middle School team approaches excellence in Aristotelian terms, as a habit not an end. Habit-building—in approach and in attitude—is a key part of the CSN middle school experience each school year. Teachers and students are dedicated to adopting and exercising habits of academic excellence as the optimal path to learning and to preparing for Upper School. The middle school team focuses on nurturing five habits of excellence:

  1. Leaning into Rigor and Routine
  2. Building Relationships
  3. Practicing Reflection
  4. Growing Resiliency
  5. Respecting Rest and Recreation

My son Teddy is in his 8th grade year at CSN for the 2019-2020 school year. As a parent, I will try to respect his need to navigate middle school on his own, doing my best to let him amble and even dangle, while, at once, knowing that my support is needed as he concludes the balancing act of middle school. I will do my best to suppress my anxious gasps when he takes risks or missteps and to quiet my too-loud applause when he succeeds—but no promises.

Please feel welcome to come in if you wish to talk about middle school program or to let me know about your summer. I look forward to spending the school year with you!


Colleen O. Potocki

Mrs. Colleen Potocki
Head of Middle School

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