A Message from Stephanie Bloom, Head of Middle School: May 26
Stephanie Bloom, Head of Middle School
Dear Middle School Families,
Each year during the weeks leading up to Shavuot, I watch our students as they dance between the excitement of stepping up to the next grade, while holding onto the comfort that sits within their current grade. This natural waltz often mirrors the ever changing tempo of adolescence: looking for more independence, but wanting assurance, trying new things, but needing routine, and shifting friendships with a desire for predictable responses.
The end of each middle school year is packed full with learning until the last moment, unique culminating journeys, and much needed celebration. Ironically, our student’s countdown of days to Summer, mirrors our counting of the Omer! Each year after the second Seder, we begin counting the days to the start of Shavuot when we received the gift of the Torah on Mount Sinai.  
This year, as we thoughtfully navigated the pandemic, our careful planning and endless team discussions resulted in a magnificent Tiyul to Israel with our eighth graders, and a culmination of American History study in Washington D.C. for our seventh graders. If you were to peek into the hallways the day that students returned from each trip you’d see our eighth graders striding with a greater understanding and a readiness for high school. Similarly, our seventh graders are rising to their start of their final year at Bernard Zell.
This week Bernard Zell held their first ever student golf outing! Our athletic program continues to grow under the leadership of Coach Sheahan. Within the same week, our track and field athletes will participate in our fifth annual Bernard Zell Track invitational. We’ll gather after school at the Lincoln-Wilson running track near the lakefront to see our fifth through eighth graders compete against athletes from independent schools across the city. Less than two weeks later, all of our athletes will gather with families for the return of the time honored classic of an in-person athletic banquet.  
In the humanities, for the first time since the start of the pandemic, we will welcome families as guests to our locker museum!  Similarly, our seventh grade students are working on a new interdisciplinary project stemming off of our trip to Washington D.C. where we consider how and why we create memorials. In Eighth grade on Wednesday night, we’ll welcome families to our first Cli-Fi Family book club experience. Students will lead families in discussion about various climate fiction books that they have read. Soon after we’ll come together for the premier of their documentary, weaving live footage from more than ten Eastern European countries about the Holocaust.
In addition to the culmination of units of study across content areas, this year we prepare for the return of some timeless traditions and welcome new moments to celebrate learning. For the first time in two years, we’ll return to a middle school wide BZ games! Eighth graders will take on team captain roles of mixed grade level teams named after Israeli cities: Haifa, Tel Aviv, Ber Sheva, and the list goes on. Teams will compete in unique challenges weaving Israeli spirit, sports, arts and even some Shavuot joy!
In the final days, in addition to our eighth grade Siyum Tefillah, our fourth through seventh graders will participate in move-up day and visit with teachers from the grade level they are rising too. And, on our last day of school we’ll come together to celebrate their accomplishments at our Close of School Ceremony. This year, I will join the students in their last waltz of the 2022 school year as I bid farewell to not just a grade level, but a chapter of leadership I truly cherish. There simply is nothing like middle school at Bernard Zell.
Savoring each day with you,
Stephanie Bloom,
Head of Middle School