A Message from Stephanie Bloom, Head of Middle School: May 12
  • Academics
Stephanie Bloom, Head of Middle School
Dear Middle School Families,
Less than a week ago, weaving new traditions in with old, our fifth graders experienced rich customs and joy as they prepared for Shabbat on their grade level Shabbaton. For the first time since the pandemic, the entire grade came together and celebrated with meaningful activities: reflections outside by the lake, reading Torah for the first time on Zoom with grandparents, braiding challah, making challah covers, circling up to receive a new sidur and sharing dinner outside as a class. Led by our fifth-grade teaching team and ShinShinim, all of these activities helped to create an island in time—an opportunity to prepare and welcome Shabbat among friends at Bernard Zell.
In Middle School, the end of the year is full of symbolic events intertwined with continued learning, assessment and reflection. Experiential learning opportunities tend to be our connecting thread. Next week our seventh-grade students will spend Wednesday through Friday on a series of thoughtful field trips. By cohort, they will travel to River Park to participate in a program led by Friends of the Chicago River in which they will learn about water testing as well as park clean-up. They’ll continue Thursday with a visit to the Illinois Holocaust Museum followed by a lunch reflection at Harms Woods. This visit to the museum will begin to prepare students for their eighth-grade Holocaust study. Finally, on Friday, students will wrap up their week with a visit to the Morton Arboretum and Cranberry Slough Nature Preserve to learn about woodlands and their ecosystems.
Our sixth and eighth grades are deep in their final preparations for two integrated study exhibits. Our sixth graders will install a locker museum entitled “I Dream a World” with projects connecting to their work across the year around civilizations, social issues, identity, race and segregation. Students have composed music, poetry, built models and stretched their learning across the humanities. And in eighth grade, our students will launch a year-long project on the Holocaust entitled “Image, Memory, Yesterday, Today.” Windows along our Field of Dreams will be covered with artistic photographs of Holocaust Survivors and artifacts along with student self-portraits to share the stories of Survivors and family members. Embedded in the window panels, students have placed QR codes linked to videos they have created, produced and edited to tell their Survivor’s story. The class of 2021 brings light and life to testimony that we must share and forever carry.
Operetta is one event that is sure to be special for families, and for the first time can be experienced at home! Under the direction of Mr. Becker, our eighth grade will have virtual premieres of their film version of High School Musical Jr. The first will take place on Tuesday, June 1, featuring Cast A, followed the next day by Cast B on Wednesday, June 2. Grab your popcorn, candy and find the perfect spot at home to watch, sing and dance along as our eighth graders take the screen!
With these rich learning experiences, our fifth through seventh-grade students will participate in the Spring MAP assessments in math and reading on the mornings of Tuesday, May 25 and Wednesday, May 26. We will be sure to send a reminder to you closer to the date. Results from the MAP will be posted with report cards.
You’ll notice below a listing of events to take us through the close of the school year. While this year some of these events will take place virtually, the same creativity, meaning and work will be embedded throughout! In an unprecedented year, this time to acknowledge growth and celebrate each other is especially important. Please save the date and join us as we culminate the 2020-21 school year.





5, 6, 7

Tuesday, May 25

Wednesday, May 26

MAP Testing

Start of School Day


May 26th

Virtual Music Awards

6:30 - 7:30 p.m.


Tuesday, June 1 & 

Wednesday, June 2

Virtual Premiere of our 8th Grade Operetta:

High School Musical Jr.

7 p.m. Both Evenings

Cast A Tuesday

Cast B Wednesday

8th Grade

Thursday, June 3

Special Guests for Student Holocaust Exhibit

11:15 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.

5th-8th Grade

Thursday, June 3

Virtual Athletics Banquet

6 p.m.

8th Grade

Friday, June 4

Student / Parent Culminating 8th Grade Holocaust Survivor Project

8:30 - 10:20 a.m.

8th Grade

Tuesday, June 8

Graduation In Person

5:30 p.m.


Wednesday, June 9

Virtual Close of School 

8th Grade Parents to attend

10:45 - 11:30 a.m.


Wednesday, June 9th

Student Dismissal

11:45 AM

Utilizing experiential learning helps to enrich and expand the curriculum we’ve explored in the classroom and reinforces concepts when students are able to fully immerse themselves in a lesson. Whether it’s our Tiyul to Georgia, a trip to the Holocaust Museum, Shabbatons or student-created exhibits, all of these moments are crucial elements of the Middle School experience and we’re thrilled that we’ve been able to safely deliver them, despite challenging circumstances.
I look forward to these final weeks of the school year and all of the culminating moments of learning and gratitude that they will bring.
Stephanie Bloom

Ma Nishma: Issue 19

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

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Upcoming Community Events at Bernard Zell

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