2022.4.1 – Saxe Weekly

April 1, 2022

Dear Saxe Family, 

Happy April! It appears that Mother Nature played a little April Fools’ joke on us today as we saw rain, wind, sun, and there was even a report of a nice rainbow this morning. But, there’s no foolin’ that it was another exciting week around Saxe!

This week in the Saxe Weekly, we take a look at Math, Geography Bee, ancient civilizations, ELA, Science, STEM, Fund for Teachers grant, Autism Awareness, The Color Drop, a visit by some Saxe alum, April Fools’ Day, Dogs of Saxe, and much more. Also, “break a leg” to the cast and crew of Matilda, which opens this evening!

Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend! 

Be Well, 

Dave Gusitsch

Principal, Saxe Middle School

Upcoming Noteworthy Dates:

4/7 – Portal Open for Grade 6 – 8 Report Cards

4/8-4/17 – Have a great April Break!

4/18 – Welcome back!

*Quotes that resonated with us this week:

“It’s not the absence of fear, it’s overcoming it. Sometimes you’ve got to blast through and have faith.” 

– Emma Watson

“Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.”

 – Golda Meir

“I do know one thing about me: I don’t measure myself by others’ expectations or let others define my worth.” – Sonia Sotomayor

“Fearlessness is like a muscle. I know from my own life that the more I exercise it the more natural it becomes to not let my fears run me.”– Arianna Huffington

“Even if you’re little, you can do a lot! You mustn’t let a little thing, like little, stop you!”

– Matilda Wormwood


In Ms. Campbell’s Grade 5 math class, students found the areas of rectangles with fractional side lengths by manipulating transparent square units. This tool helped students visualize the different components of fraction multiplication with area models. Some groups wanted an exact area and got very precise with their folding! Students extended their thinking as they found alternative strategies with equivalent fractions and predicted the area for rectangles that were folded in half. In subsequent lessons, students practiced their area model work using rulers to measure dimensions. They then worked to find areas of rectangles with missing dimensions and compound shapes. 

In Ms. Hafkemeyer’s Math 6 classes, students made their own problems for their classmates and discussed problems they made for their parents to solve at last week’s Meet & Greet. Here are a few questions they came up with. See if you can figure them out! 

In Ms Hafkemeyer’s Math 7 classes, students used their understanding of percent error and percent of change to calculate how accurate they are at shooting paper balls into a bucket. Check out their skills! 

Students in 7th and 8th-grade Algebra used Algebra tiles this week to discover patterns in polynomials. They then used these patterns to form conclusions and learn new strategies for factoring polynomial expressions. Pictures below are from Ms. Kiley’s 7th Grade Class and Ms. Martin’s 8th Grade Class. 

Five Themes of Geography

Mr. Cox’s 7th grade students produced posters as an introduction to a unit that employs a thematic approach to geography. The five themes examined are Location (absolute and relative), Region, Place, Movement (e.g. trade, migration), and Human-Environmental Interaction (adaptation, impact). The unit asks students to examine themes of geography as critical to the establishment and development of ancient civilizations, as well as how geography impacted civilizations’ economic/political systems and culture.

Vertical Timelines: Pre- and Post Neolithic Revolution

In teams, Mr. Cox’s 7th grade students produced vertical timelines in three sections, illustrating the shift from ancient man as predominantly hunter-gatherers; to the Neolithic Revolution and the development of farming techniques and the domestication of animals (leading to the development of early civilizations); to the “modern” discoveries of ancient artifacts (cave paintings, the Rosetta Stone, Hammurabi’s Code) that provided archaeological clues and evidence of ancient man and ancient civilizations.

8th Grade LA

Over the past several weeks, 8th grade ELA students have been working on composing argument essays.  In Mrs. Mangino’s LA class, students have been practicing using sketchnotes to show their thinking. After taking notes from various articles on both sides, the students created Synthesis Pages where they organized their notes in a one page visual. Sketchnoting makes our thinking visible and helps to strengthen memory. It helps students to determine importance, make inferences and build connections between ideas, which are all deep comprehension strategies that lead to a synthesis of ideas. Students reported that these synthesis pages were very helpful as they wrote their final argument essays. Students will continue to use sketchnoting as they move into the next unit.  


The grade 6 Red & Blue teams were collecting data with scientific probes and chemical kits to see how the aquariums are changing over time. Last week, they learned about the visible & invisible factors that affect the aquatic ecosystems that they constructed and will continue to study in class for the rest of the year. Learning in action!

Congratulations to Grant Winner Ms. Duncan!

Congrats to Saxe Art teacher, Ms. Abigail Duncan, for being named a 2022 Fellow through the prestigious Fund for Teachers grant! Thank you for pursuing this amazing opportunity which will ultimately benefit our students. Ms. Ducan  received the grant to study urban sketching in Prague with artist Ian Fennelly. Her goal is to brush up on her drawing and painting to strengthen her skill sets. Her experience is that students are inspired when an instructor demonstrates techniques. She wants her students to leave class feeling fantastic about their own work and inspired by not just a teacher, but by an artist. Focusing on her skills will provide her with renewed energy to create! This energy will be felt by her students and excite them about Art.

And, thanks to Dr. Luizzi for making the announcement special!

Fund for Teachers strengthens instruction by investing in outstanding teachers’ self-determined professional growth and development in order to support student success, enrich their own practice, and strengthen their schools and communities. If you would like to find out more about them, or see any of the other grant winners, please visit their website at https://www.fundforteachers.org/.

Geography Bee Winners

Last weekend, Rowan Richey Elliot and Niyathi Iyengar both participated in the International Geography Competition in West Hartford after taking the preliminary test (Rowan scored a 100 and Niyathi a 98). Both did incredibly well Saturday and both qualified for Nationals in Orlando. We are proud of their hard work and determination!!

Right At School

If you are interested in more information about before school programs from Right At School for the 2022-23 school year, use the link below to access the Parent Information Session.

Right At School Information

Odyssey of the Mind 

(Update: one of our sixth grade Odyssey team members, Sachi Malhotra, was not acknowledged with her teammates last week! Please see the correction below.) 

Congratulations to the 5 SAXE teams that participated in the CT Odyssey of the Mind Competition on Saturday, March 19. Each team spent months preparing and planning for the competition, using creativity and innovation to solve a complicated problem. All their hard work paid off! Four of our SAXE teams won 1st or 2nd place, and have been extended an invitation to compete in World Competitions in Iowa this May.  Great teamwork!

SAXE team (6th graders) Devin Boulanger, Tatum Colthup, Bracelen Flood, Sachi Malhotra, Arihanth Pharshy, Luca Pisant, Kaleb Tan (2nd place)

We are looking forward to seeing what our amazing teams can do in the Worlds in May!

Saxe Extracurricular

STEM and Minecraft clubs have been very well attended! STEM students are creating paper houses that light up and Minecraft students continuing to create their own worlds and experiences with their peers!

Saxe Celebrates Autism Awareness Month

4.2.22 is World Autism Awareness Day and the Saxe community celebrated Friday, 4.1, by wearing blue or Autism Awareness shirts.

Our hope is that our Autism Awareness campaign might prompt conversation around autism and neurodiversity. If you are looking for a developmentally appropriate way to explain Autism at home, this video may be a helpful resource. It’s important to remember that if you’ve met one person on the Autism Spectrum, you’ve met ONE person on the Autism Spectrum. It is described as a spectrum because autism can present differently in individuals from not being able to speak typically to being both gifted and have difficulty processing sounds and/or understanding social cues. Throughout the month of April, we will share more information regarding the Autism Spectrum in alignment with the United Nations theme for “Inclusive Education”. 


Ms. Colllin’s 6th-grade students got to experience Sphero’s this week!

Saxe in the News

Congratulations to current, and former, Saxe students for their recent rowing successes as they won two 1st place finishes this past weekend in San Diego. It was a great weekend of racing for NC kids! 

(Regan Thom, Jacqueline Mulle, Logan Thom, & Fredrick Asker)

Tweet Street

Below are photos and phrases that were included on our Saxe middle school Twitter page (@SaxeMS) this week. Enjoy!

NCHS/NCSFColor Drop 

Great crowd for the Color Drop! Awesome seeing the mascots from each NCPS building having fun & firing up the crowd! Everyone in attendance got an amazing show – up close and personal with a low flying helicopter. Click on the links to check out videos of the action!

The mascots were a hit! Congrats to all involved for this great cause!  The “great uniting” of mascots at the Color Drop! So fun to see…

That’s a fine looking mascot! Go Saxe Hawks!

Thank you to John Howe and the Town of New Canaan for helping us execute this amazing event! That’s a fine looking target!

Highlight of my week was seeing our former students! Thanks for visiting!! Their former classmates were so excited to see them today!

Saxe Theatre – Matilda

Break Legs to the cast, crew, and orchestra of the 7th/8th grade production of Matilda as they prepare for their dress rehearsal this evening! Opening night is Friday evening, be sure to check it out!

This was a wonderful way to begin one of our team meetings this morning! Teachers starting with positive share-outs on students from this week (&, there were many!). #SeeTheGood #SpreadPositivity

Best t-shirt around Saxe today!

Here are a few of our students who were loving April Fool’s day! (hint: there was no injured foot and the green bags had nothing to do with dogs…).. Very creative and all in good fun!

No foolin’ around here, as we heard his Dad yelling, “it’s his birthday!” at drop off this morning. Hope it was a great day, Luke – Happy Birthday! 🎂

Dogs of Saxe

A few of our favorite pets dropping off their humans at Saxe this week! Have a great week, see you next Friday!

Thank you to all of our Saxe Weekly contributors! Each weekly edition is an example of collaboration in action. A special thanks to Lauren Sherwood for the continuous stream of positive, optimistic quotes!

Saxe Resources (live links)

Website: https://www.ncps-k12.org/saxe 

PTC: http://www.saxeptc.org/


Twitter: @SaxeMS


The Saxe Weekly: SaxeMS.com

Saxe Middle School

Celebrating Our Learning Community Through Caring, Communication, & Commitment

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