Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Science Expo

Last week our 5th through 8th grades hosted our first ever Science Expo.  A modified version of what we used to call a science fair, this year's event tied student projects much more closely to classroom work and did away with the competition aspect of the program.  Instead, the motivation for our students to do their best work was simply the fact that parents, teachers, and students would be asking them to explain their research and they'd have to be able to respond intelligently.

With the guidance of our dedicated science faculty, our students rose to the occasion and created and most impressive event.  Special thanks to Mr. Dave Lewellyn for overseeing the program and creating a fun, entertaining, yet educational evening for everyone to enjoy.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Skyping to the Top of the World

Thanks to the initiative of their teacher, Mrs. Cindy Massey, our 6th graders just finished Skyping with social entrepreneur, adventurer, and filmmaker Elia Saikaly who is half way up Mt. Everest.  The opportunity was brought about by ePals, an organization that uses technology to link students across the globe and one that our 6th graders know quite well.  Though they have spoken before with students on remote islands and in orphanages in Africa, this was the first time our students spoke to someone who was in negative 40 degree weather, half-way up the tallest mountain in the world.

Curious to know how Mr. Saikaly got internet access at Base Camp of Mt. Everest in the Himalayas? So were our students.  Watch the videos below and find out...

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Students Collect Environmental Data at Shelby Farms

Last week, Mr. Dave Lewellyn took his AP Environmental class to Shelby Farms to conduct a water quality testing lab.  He met with Mr. Larry Pickens, the Park Operations Manager, and arranged for the students' measurements to be sent to him as a means of supporting their ongoing water quality assessments.  Mr. Lewellyn approached Mr. Pickens thinking we would be one of dozens of schools in the area collecting data on the park but found out that, to the best of his knowledge, we are the only school besides the University of Memphis currently studying the park's rich and diverse environment.  

Additionally, Mr. Pickens informed Mr. Lewellyn that if we can provide data on a regular basis we have the opportunity to become a part of the park efforts to monitor all sorts of water  and soil related issues.  It goes without saying that such would provide an invaluable learning opportunity for our students and a wonderful way for our kids to use their learning to help improve the world around us.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Mothers and Daughters

The annual Girls High School Dinner took on a very special feel this year, as the student-driven fundraising event paid homage to women who attended the Goldie Margolin School for Girls and who now send their daughters here as well.  From tables that were beautifully set to food that tasted great, and from a most entertaining game of MHA trivia to a most inspiring student dvar Torah, the night as a whole, and the student-made video tribute in particular, was a fitting tribute to these impressive women.

Below you'll find images from the night, all of which can be accessed here.  I've also posted a clip from 11th grader Jamie Epstein's dvar Torah.  If you didn't hear it live it's worth listening to.  Even if you did, it's worth hearing again...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Yom Ha-Ha'atzmaut

This is my sixth Yom Ha-Atzma'ut here at the Academy and while they have always been high-spirited enjoyable days, we have never had anything quite like what we experienced this week. The Bat Ami and the Kollel, under the direction of Rabbi Maimon and Daphna, outdid themselves. From the exceptional, and highly educational, decorations all over the school to the sessions on Israeli history, culture, and industry which filled the elementary school classrooms, and from the Bedouin tent cooking fresh pita outside to the festive lunch inside, there was experiential education happening everywhere.

The Boys High School, under Rabbi Lubetski and Rabbi Gersten's direction, took their Yom Ha'atzmaut program to new heights this year as well by creating a color-war type day of competition that asked the boys to do everything from preparing Israeli cuisine to researching and formally debate big questions relating to American-Israeli relations like "Can one be a Zionist while living in America?" and "Do Jewish men and women in the Diaspora have an obligation to serve in the Israeli army?" The excitement, energy, and festivity was palpable throughout the school and it all culminated with our annual march from the school to Baron Hirsch.

Below you'll find a slideshow with some pictures from the day, all of which can accessed here.  I've also included some clips from our Boys High School debate.  Please keep in mind that the views expressed don't necessarily reflect the views of the school or of the debators.  The do, however, reflect our boys' ability to think critically and make persuasive arguments about important issues.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Yom HaZikaron

To commemorate Yom HaZikaron, our Torah MiTzion Kollel and Bnot Sherut transformed our computer lab into an exhibit hall replete with posters, pictures, and digital media conveying the loss and suffering which our brothers and sisters in Israel have endured since the establishment of the state.  For the older grades, the exhibit was complemented by a ceremony in the auditorium that helped make the names and numbers of fallen soldiers become real and relatable to our students.

Here are some pictures from both programs:

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Yom HaShoah

The 4th through 12th grades commemorated Yom HaShoah earlier this week with a somber, yet meaningful, program organized by the Torah MiTzion Kollel and our Bnot Sherut.  It began with the lighting of six candles, the recital of kel maleh and yizkor by boys in our high school, and then a multi-media presentation that involved both live-acting and video.  I closed the program with a few words about the intensifying need for our children to learn from those who were there so that even in a world without survivors we never forget.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Student Receives Prestigious Bronfman Fellowship

Rachel Tsuna was informed earlier this week that she is one of only twenty-six 11th graders from across North America who were selected to participate in this summer's Bronfman Youth Fellowship program.  The program features an all-expense paid five-week trip to Israel for these talented and diverse young men and women where they will explore their Jewish identity and strengthen their ties to the Jewish State.

In addition, each fellow in the program is charged with the responsibility of developing a Ma'aseh Project, a social-action endeavor which they must implement over the course of their senior year with guidance from mentors provided by the Bronfman program.   As a Bronfman Fellow, Racheli will also gain access to a network of highly successful and closely knit Bronfman alumni who have assumed leadership positions throughout the Jewish community.

We have no doubt that the experience will prove invaluable and we can't wait to hear about it in August when she returns!

Congressman Stephen Fincher Visits the MHA

Due to the impressive efforts of 11th grader Isaac Graber and the AIPAC Club which he leads, United States Congressman Stephen Fincher visited our school today and spoke with our high school students about his support for the State of Israel.  Rep. Fincher, whose 8th District was recently redrawn to include the Margolin Hebrew Academy and its immediate surroundings, answered a series of questions which the AIPAC Club had sent him ahead of time ranging from the role his Christian faith plays in his support for the Jewish State to his views on the threat posed by Iran and the degree to which the American government ought to support the plight of ordinary Palestinians.

The 2nd term Congressman, who was accompanied by his wife and several staffers, told our kids how eye-opening it was for "a guy from Frog Jump, TN" to visit Israel two years ago together with a congressional delegation and how it transformed his support for Israel from being primarily faith-based to now being driven by the "the love of freedom" which Israel and America share.  He talked about the time he spent with Prime Minister Netanyahu and how he believes that the American government must allow the Prime Minister the latitude he needs to make the decisions that are in the best interest of Israel and the Israeli people.

When he finished answering the pre-selected questions, Representative Fincher opened the floor to spontaneous questions from our kids who were genuinely taken by his affability and down-to-earth style.  After over an hour of conversation, Rabbi Uriel Lubetski, our Upper School Principal, offered closing remarks and thanked the Congressman both for giving his time to us today and for giving Israel his unwavering support each and every day that he represents the 8th District of Tennessee in the nation's capital.