8th Grade Project Night


If you’ve never been to 8th grade project night, try to make it next year—even if your child is still in kindergarten. It’s a special night, not only because it’s exciting to see how hard the 8th graders work on subjects they’re passionate about. Project night also gives parents of younger students the chance to see the transformation their child will go through during their years at Synergy.

As someone who has been around the school for a while (my oldest son started kindergarten in 2000). I’ve known some of today’s 8th graders since they were in Snugglis and strollers, dragged along to school events and to fetch older siblings at pick up time. When they started at Synergy, they still seemed tiny and impossibly cute: downstairs when my kids moved upstairs, the little kids my older kids watched out for at buddy time.

On project night, these same kids were suddenly grown-up. Poised and articulate, they explained topics they chose themselves and worked on for months—conducting research, writing papers, creating 3-D projects and display boards. They discussed their theses, defended their conclusions, and answered countless questions about their work. It was obvious that they’d all worked hard and they spoke with excitement and authority.

“It’s great to see how their projects worked out,” said middle school humanities teacher Nisrene Kazimi. “We start talking about 8th grade projects in the fall and they start thinking about ideas. I can’t believe how much time they spend researching and how hard they work. And then it all comes together on project night, and they’re so confident and focused as they describe what they’ve learned.”

It was intriguing to see the variety of subjects the students chose to explore. One focused on modern slavery, another looked at the portrayal of teens on television, a third explored dissociative identity disorder. Other subjects included women’s soccer, Japanese animator Hayao Miyasaki, the explosion of the Hindenburg, designer Jean Paul Gaultier, the Cuban Missile Crisis,  the music of Jimi Hendrix,  In-N-Out Burger, and the Korean War.

“I like that we get to pick the topics for our projects,” said Malkia, who researched the origins and development of Doc Marten shoes. “You get to find out more about something you really care about.”

Aubin, who gave an unequivocal no when asked if he enjoyed working on his 8th grade project, conceded that he finds the subject he chose—graffiti—fascinating. “I’ve been interested in it ever since my father first showed it to me,” he said.

Eighth graders go through many rites of passage as their last year at Synergy draws to a close: there is the Costa Trip, Midnight Madness, the 8th grade play, and graduation itself. 8th grade project night is one of the most illuminating as it demonstrates how much students have learned and how far they’ve come. Not only that but you’ll learn a lot of fascinating information. Be sure to catch it next year, if you can!

— by Connie Matthiessen, photos by Nisrene Kazimi

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