Sunday, April 17, 2011

High School Debate

Tuesday of this week featured our second annual FYOS debate tournament pitting the boys debate team from the CYHSB against the the girls debate team from the GMSG.  Both teams have been preparing all year for this tournament through extensive research, planning, and practice debates amongst themselves.

The debate format we use is known as Policy Debate or Cross-Examination debate.  What separates CX Debate from the other popular form of high school debate known as Lincoln-Douglas Debate, is that in LD Debate, the debaters recieve a new topic every month whereas in CX debate there is one topic for the year debated by all CX high school debaters throughout the country.  This year's topic, or resolved as it is known, was "That the United States Federal Government should substantially reduce its miliatry and / or police presence in one or more of the following countries:  Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Turkey, South Korea, or Japan."  As you can imagine, recent events in both Japan and the Middle East made the topic incredibly relevant and required that our debaters stay on top of the news at all times.

Tuesday's tournament featured three rounds of three debates each, followed by a final round in which the highest scoring boys team faced off against the highest scoring girls team in front of both schools as well as parents who wanted to attend.  All of the debates were judged by adults with knowledge of the field, including several who are active or retired US millitary.

As any of the judges will attest, our kids - both boys and girls - were phenomenal.  They demonstrated deep knowledge of the subject area, strong rhetorical skills, and the ability to think critically on their feet.  At the end of the day, though, this year's bragging rights belong to the GMSG.  With a record of 8-2, they captured all three of the top team awards and two of the three speaker awards. 

The boys, though, are hungry to get even. And, with all eight members of their team poised to return again next year, they are sure to give the girls a run for their money.

Click here for all of the pictures and video clips from the event. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

GMSG Dinner

This past Sunday the Girls High School held their annual tribute dinner honoring Rabbi Yonason and Mrs. Sandy Gersten for their 25 years of service and dedication to our school.  The high school girls, who plan, promote, and execute the lavish affair in its entirety, brought in a record-breaking crowd from across the community all of whom were treated to a delectable meal and a moving tribute to two very special educators.

See below for a slideshow from the event.  For individual pictures, click here

Video of Governor's Visit

Here is the full length video of Governor Bill Haslam's dedication of our Max Cooper Business and Technology program last week at our school.  The speakers, in order of appearance, are Dr. Larry Wruble, myself, Mr. Ron Belz, Governor Haslam, and Dr. Brad Somer.

Many thanks to 12th grader Yosef Gersten for acting as our videographer for the day.


Governor Haslam's visit to the MHA/FYOS from MHA/FYOS on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Shrine School

Thanks to the help of Mrs. Teri Graber, over the past two years we have forged a very special relationship between our Middle School and the Shrine School, a local public school which serves the physically and mentally handicapped population. Several times a year our students visit them, or they come to visit us, for a "fierce" game of basketball. The first half of the game features the wheelchair bound Shrine students playing against our students - who also take to wheelchairs for the event. In the second half, the ambulatory Shrine students, with the help of an aide or two and with exceptions made for them to the rules of dribbling, take on another set of Academy students, this time with everyone walking and running. Many of our younger grades come to the gym to watch, as one of their staff members works the microphone as the play by play announcer and inevitably gives the Shrine students an overwhelming home court advantage. With the scoreboard lit up, both teams in uniform, and a professional ref in place, it has the look and feel of any other inter-school basketball game.

But the event, of course, has very little to do with basketball. For our students it gives them an invaluable opportunity to interact in a meaningful way with the disabled population and to learn that as different as they may be with regard to race, religion, socio-economic status, physical capability, and academic ability, there are still so many areas - like a love of basketball and the thrill of performing in front of a crowd - where we are all really the same. And for their students playing against our kids is a chance to feel like a million bucks and a rare opportunity to get attention for what they can do, rather than what they can't.

For pictures and videos of the latest game, click here.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Governor Visits MHA

In what was a landmark event for our school this morning, Governor Bill Haslam and recently installed State Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman, along with some 75 Memphis business leaders,  visited our school to dedicate our new Max Cooper Business and Technology Program.  The Max Cooper program, which has allowed us to install new technology in all of our classrooms and to offer a plethora of Business and Technology related electives for our high school students, marks our school's first step toward meaningful integration of 21st century learning.

After an introduction by Dr. Larry Wruble, a business associate of Mr. Cooper's, I spoke to the crowd for a few minutes on where I think education is going and what we need to do to get our kids there.  I then handed the program over to Mr. Ron Belz, one of the city's leading businesspeople, who introduced the Governor.   Governor Haslam then spoke about the serious challenges facing education in our state and how he believes even faith-based private schools like ours can be part of the solution. He also encouraged our high school students not to be afraid of high expectations and rigorous demands, and not to be afraid to bring the "treasures" of our religion with us into the public square.  Dr. Brad Somer closed the program and then we accompanied the Governor out to the front of our building where our Early Childhood and Elementary students were eagerly waiting for him.  He charmed them, much as he had charmed the adults, and after a few pictures with the kids he was off to his next destination.

For pictures from the event click here.  Below is Fox Memphis's news coverage.  Needless to say, it was a special day that won't soon be forgotten in our school community.