Life at Miss Hall’sFeb 7, 2023

updated Nov 20, 2023

Between the Semesters

2 days of experiential workshops build deeper connections between students

Taking a break between semesters, students jumped into two special program days jam-packed with engaging, informative — and fun! — workshops and activities

Designed for grade-level work and group exploration, the program days came after students returned from Long Weekend and before they started second semester classes. The idea was to offer a transition into academic activities, as well as time and space for grade-level work and group exploration.

On January 26, 9th and 10th graders who recently read Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew closed out their study with workshops led by actors from our nationally known neighbor, Shakespeare & Co. The workshops served as a culminating event for a pilot project in which all 9th and 10th graders read the same play to end the semester, explained Department Chair Julie Schutzman, Ph.D. As part of the project, teachers focused on actively engaging students with the play and with its language.

“We thought it would be great to have Shakespeare & Co. come in to work with the students for some hands-on, experiential engagement,” Dr. Schutzman noted. “It seemed like a natural extension of our classroom work, and our approach in the classroom informed by experiences we’ve had with Shakespeare & Co. in the past.”

While “playing with the play,” as the actors put it, students discussed their takeaways from reading the text and explored different ways to engage with Shakespeare, including “reading in” lines while learning a part and re-enacting scenes from the comedy. Students worked in small groups that were a mix of 9th and 10th graders.

“It was a good way to get to know each other and to collaborate and work on a scene together, and there was good energy around the students using their bodies and experiencing the language physically,” added Dr. Schutzman. “Shakespeare & Co. is just one of the incredible resources we have here in the Berkshires, and I would love to see more connections between our institutions.”

Shakespeare & Co. is just one of the incredible resources we have here in the Berkshires, and I would love to see more connections between our institutions.

Phoebe Goodhue Milliken ’37 English Department Chair

While one group worked with the thespians, another practiced overcoming obstacles and operating outside of comfort zones. In a two-hour workshop titled, “Teamwork and Connection,” Director of Theater and Dance Jennifer Jordan and Director of Athletics Telia Marks-McCall led students through exercises that stretched them and connected them more deeply to each other, ending with visualization and reflection.

On Friday, 10th and 11th graders participated in financial literacy workshops we call Money Matters. MHS Trustee Becca Hajjar ’89, Senior Vice President at Commonwealth Financial Network, discussed concepts such as budgeting, saving, investing, and avoiding debt, and she fielded students’ insightful questions. Becca explained the importance of having financial goals, plans, and priorities, and the long-term benefits of taking control of one’s finances.

Later that afternoon, Shirley Dong ’23, founder of the Girl Up Club at MHS, hosted a panel discussion with five young alums on “Gender Justice Beyond High School.” Emily Hunter ’18, Jayme McGuigan ’18, Olivia Kick-Nalepa ’22, Keely O’Gorman ’22, and Cailyn Tetteh ’22 shared insights into their experiences navigating college and beyond.

Shirley noted that she initiated the panel to “create a multi-generational network that allows the MHS community to examine gender justice through a real-world lens, understand challenges that individuals face, and learn from panelists about ways to navigate through challenges.” Among the questions posed to the panelists:

  • What are gender stereotypes that you face in your current major or occupation? How have those stereotypes affected your experience in college/career?
  • What do students need to know about gender as we move beyond MHS?
  • What is one thing you wish you could know when you move on from MHS?

After questions from students, Shirley closed by thanking the panelists and asking students to note their takeaways. “People often say a girls’ school is a bubble,” she added. “Stepping out of this bubble, it is inevitable that we will face challenges and biases as we venture forward. However, as long as we keep our resilience and keep our advocacy for gender justice, we can work towards a better future together.”

Thank you, Shirley, for a great conversation about how MHS prepared these young alums to confront bias and overcome stereotypes.

Other Program Day activities included:

  • A college preparedness workshop for seniors with Sam Elliott ’19, a Health Science major at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences;
  • A College Counseling workshop for juniors with Director of College Counseling Courtney Hatch Blauvelt
  • A meditation workshop for juniors with Director of Health & Wellness Kristen Milano;
  • A communication workshop with Horizons Associate Kasey Leslie;
  • A 9th grade conversation with the Deans;
  • A communication workshop for 9th graders with Courtney, Kristen, and Director of Horizons Emerald Power; and
  • Seniors enjoy a special Friday morning trip for some games and fun at Dave & Buster’s in Albany.