National Geographic Geography Bee Assembly

On Tuesday, January 23, the Middle School was pleased to host its annual National Geographic Geography Bee Assembly!

Prior to the assembly, over three dozen students took a preliminary quiz with questions testing knowledge of U.S. and world geography, natural phenomena, cultural facts and map skills. Based on their performance that quiz, thirteen students from grades six through eight qualified to be contestants in our Middle School Geography Bee.

After seven rounds of questions ranging from world history, geography and natural forces to U.S. state birds, two students tied to lead the competition, requiring a tie-breaker round. After two more questions, eighth grader Max Heubusch was declared the victor, earning the privilege of representing Viewpoint in the next step of the national competition: taking an online test to qualify for a spot in the state bee.

Congratulations to all of our students who participated in yesterday’s competition, impressing us all with their poise and geography smarts!

Romeo and Juliet and the Adolescent Brain: A Cross-Disciplinary Analysis

On Friday, January 5, students in Jill Dash’s 8th grade English classes, guided by guest lecturer Kris Dworkoski, considered how the plot of Romeo and Juliet was informed by Shakespeare’s understanding of the adolescent brain.

Students were introduced to Freudian concepts such as the idego and superego and how each of these is believed to influence individuals’ decisions, as well as to more contemporary neuroscientific research on the brain, including the brain stem (or “reptilian brain”), limbic system and prefrontal cortex, and the degree of development of each of these in adolescents in comparison with adults. After an overview of these psychological and biological concepts, students were invited to analyze the decisions of characters in Lord of the Flies and Romeo and Juliet, considering to what degree the characters’ behavior could be explained by their immature egos and superegos, in addition to the adolescent need for thrill-seeking in order to satisfy their still-developing neurological reward pathways.

Ms. Dash’s students concluded that, in creating this literary masterpiece, Shakespeare showed insightful understanding of adolescent decision-making and behavior in the impulsive choices Romeo, Juliet and other teens and young adults make in the play. Not only did Ms. Dash’s students engage in a thought-provoking literary discussion, but they also enjoyed a marvelous introduction to psychology thanks to Mrs. Dworkoski’s visit!