It has been a year unlike any other: navigating a global health crisis with a student body that attended from both near and far, and remaining healthy and joyful while planning for an even more uncertain future. It was a lot. Perhaps this is why seeing the Class of 2021 cross the threshold from adolescent student to Hershey alumni felt that much richer.
Paula Leigh-Doyle, Head of School; Wesley Wilson, Upper School Director; Judy Kline Venaleck, Associate Head of School and Adolescent Campus Director
“What we are seeing from our graduates is a readiness, a firm but fluid preparedness for anything life may bring to their door,” said Wesley Wilson, Hershey Upper School Director.
“Dr. Maria Montessori had a vision for the adolescent, and we have realized that vision here at Hershey Montessori School,” added Paula Leigh-Doyle, Head of School. “An integrated, project-based curriculum that combines with community and practical work is proving an effective approach to education as we see more and more students come up through the planes of development and complete their Montessori education with us.”
Judy Kline Venaleck, Associate Head of School and the Adolescent Campus Director, said, “I have experienced the benefits of a full continuum of a Montessori education as a parent as well as a staff member. The reward is great from both perspectives. A Montessori education is very special and extremely effective in helping children grow and develop into happy, fulfilled, and emotionally intelligent adults.” explained Kline Venaleck. “They come away with a confidence and know-how that continues to give me great hope for this world’s future. If there was anything we could do differently, it would be to increase the amount of students we have by a hundred fold each year.”
On behalf of the entire Hershey community, we wish our newly graduated Class of 2021 much happiness and joyful adventures as they embark on their journey to impact the world in whatever manner they choose.
Tenth and eleventh year Hershey Montessori School students are nearing the end of their Food Systems Project, a project that combines content and skills from the student’s Humanities, Integrated Science, and Business courses.
Hershey 10th and 11th year students each chose a food item to produce and sell at local markets. In support of quality production, students learned foundational food chemistry concepts and used scientific methods in order to improve their product. They also investigated historical, cultural, or social justice aspects of their product to strengthen their branding and story-telling. Students then calculated the price of production and break-event points in order to take a loan from Hershey’s Microeconomy – a hallmark component of Hershey’s Adolescent Community modeled after Dr. Montessori’s vision for adolescents to participate in, and manage, small business endeavors in order to experience economic activity as an introduction to real economic life.
Students also presented their products at a “Shark Tank” event with guest expert judges. Each student’s project survived, allowing them to move on and finish readying their product for market.
The Food Systems Project students are now nearing the final stage of their endeavor as they complete the final tasks of website creation, food production, and packaging. They will take their finished products to local markets, making them available for sale to the public.
A list of student products is as follows:
Hot Chocolate Mix
Easy Aussie Damper Mix
Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls
Homemade White Bread (great for those picky eaters!)
Maple Cotton Candy
Fresh-made Shade-grown Coffee Beverages
Homemade Fresh Soda-Pop
Smokin’ Mitch’s BBQ Sauce and Meal Plates
Conscious Chocolate Bars
Each off-campus market will have two to four students present, representing their items and Hershey Montessori School. However, all local, participating students will be present for Hershey’s larger Huntsburg Campus market.
Currently scheduled markets and dates are listed below.
Hershey Montessori School would like to recognize Hershey alumna Melissa Kwitowski. Melissa began her first full-fledged position as a PhD clinical psychologist at the University of Colorado Department of Psychiatry in December 2020.
Melissa has expertise in women’s mental health and the management of chronic medical conditions. She provides outpatient psychotherapy services within the Department of Psychiatry with an emphasis on treating perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Melissa also serves as the psychologist on the Perinatal Behavioral Health Pathways program which provides mental health services for patients hospitalized on the labor and delivery and mother/baby unit at UC Health. Another of her roles in the Department of Psychiatry is conducting psychosocial candidacy evaluations for patients seeking auto-transplantation procedures for conditions such as Nutcracker Syndrome and Loin Pain Hematuria Syndrome. In this position, she assists in connecting medically complex individuals with appropriate care and coping resources before, during, and after surgical intervention.
Melissa says she is very proud of, and thankful for, her time at Hershey and how well it prepared her not only for higher education, but for working collaboratively and thinking critically.
Congratulations, Dr. Melissa Kwitowski, on all your hard-earned success. Your life-changing work gives us more hope for humanity, knowing young people like you are in leadership roles like this. We are all inspired by your achievements!
Hershey Upper School staff and students recently held a Senior Signing Ceremony as a formal declaration and celebration of each senior’s post-graduation plans.
This year, one hundred percent of Hershey graduates are enrolling at colleges and universities. Seniors were invited to wear apparel representing their chosen college or university. They were given a sign with the name and logo of the institution where they have enrolled.
Two seniors were also recognized for their athletic commitments; Lucy McNees for tennis and Michael Swank for lacrosse.
We wish our soon-to-be graduates much happiness as they begin to transition into the next chapter of their lives. We are proud of who they are, what they have accomplished, and we are certain they will make an impact wherever they go.
“The crises we are witnessing is not one of those that make the passage from one era to another, it can only be compared with the opening of a new Biological or Geological period, when new beings come upon the scene, more evolved and more perfect, while upon the earth are realized conditions of life, which had never existed before.” Dr. Maria Montessori, Peace and Education (1932)
The events that unfolded over the last year brought a heightened awareness of the social injustice and inequity that has plagued our nation’s history and profoundly affected fellow citizens.
Dr. Montessori, and many other scientists, demonstrated that an education that removes the obstacles for healthy development, and that allows the student’s innate energies for good to develop in accordance with their natural capacity, will reveal a “new child” who is intellectually independent and emotionally drawn to contribute to moral and social conditions of their environments.
That is why this year’s whole school professional development day centered on social-emotional development that included emotional intelligence and communication skills, as well as social leadership capacities and abilities. We learned about Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) from specialists with Cleveland consulting firm Sage and Maven.
A number of staff as well as some Upper School students also took the opportunity to dive deeper into learning about Restorative Justice with specialist Tarek Maassarani. Maassarani’s work on the science of peace, on both the national and international level, includes organizations such as Restorative DC and Communities in Transition.
Several topics were covered in the two half-day sessions, including Privilege, LGBTQ language, how we create our identity, the difference between explicit and implicit bias, the difference between “not racist” versus “anti-racist,” the different types of racism, and restorative practices.
Hershey staff deepened their understanding of how to create practices and environments that strengthen community inclusion and connection so that our students will learn even more about community responsibility and leadership.
“It is this conviction that imbues us with hope that education may be the most effective instrument to attain the union of all humanity. To this end, education must channel the powerful creative energies of the child toward an ultimate spiritual independence, utilizing to its utmost (their) miraculous capacity for adaptation, according to an ideal of altruism and love.” – Dr. Maria Montessori, Citizen of the Word, San Remo Lectures, Montessori-Pierson Publishing Co. (1949)
A DEIB circle (a.k.a. “committee”) has also been formed to help further progress in this area. The circle is made up of staff and Upper school students who select consultants and trainers, meet and attend workshops, webinars, and trainings for the purpose of sharing and advancing DEIB work and initiatives at Hershey Montessori School.
“There was a group of seven students who participated in the 3-hour workshop, which focused on being actively affirming and inclusive of all identities,” said Lucy McNees, a senior at Hershey.
She and two other Upper School students, sophomore Kylie Golden-Appleton and senior Cecilia Carney, lead an antiracism initiative and meet with the DEIB circle biweekly to discuss the school’s efforts and goals.
“In this way, we can move forward with the whole community on the same page,” says McNees.
As a staff and whole school, Hershey will continue to ensure it has healthy, prepared environments that allow for personal reflection and deep dialogue about our personal contribution to growth in DEIB.
Self-awareness and growing in social emotional intelligence as a community can be wonderfully restorative and inclusive. It is important that Hershey maintains an environment where all feel safe, represented, heard and valued.
Watch for a Hershey DEIB resource webpage to come in the near future.
Imagine a beautiful place filled with activities that are designed around your needs, calling to your curiosity and imagination. Picture a community where children are surrounded by people who understand, encourage and challenge their strengths. Envision a child learning each day, immersed in a culture of respect and a course of study based upon personal interest and engagement.
Serving children from birth through age 18, Hershey offers challenging, highly individualized programs that focus on the uniqueness of each child.
Hershey offers an exceptional experience on two campuses, including the truly unique, world class farm school.