On Wednesday, September 5th, Explore Middle School welcomed the newest members of the wolfpack. 6th-grade students were greeted with breakfast and were introduced to their homeroom teachers. They made their way to their homeroom advisories where they participated in various icebreakers and were acquainted with their classmates. 6th-graders were later given a tour of the building and attended an orientation where they learned the ins and outs of Explore Middle School.
“My first day was good but also a little scary. I met a lot of kind people and teachers. I really like all my classes, especially music class. I hope to get good grades and do well this year!”
shared 6th grader, Noah Reyes.
In addition to the 6th-grade class, Explore has welcomed Language Arts teacher, Mr. Alex Kraft, and World Language teacher, Ms. Diana Fiore. Mr. Kraft began teaching in 2018 after a brief career as a digital content writer with MLB.com. Mr. Kraft previously worked as a fourth-grade classroom aide at Roosevelt Elementary in Hawthorne, New Jersey, and later taught Language Arts for grades 6-8 at St. Anthony's School in Hawthorne, New Jersey.
Mr. Kraft shared his thoughts on his experience so far at Explore.
“My biggest takeaway with Explore so far has been the passion and vibrancy of both the staff and students. Everyone seems to genuinely love being here, and it makes it a joy to come to work every day!”
Ms. Fiore has taught Spanish K-12 for the past 22 years in the public school system as well as the private. She has most recently taught Spanish at High Tech High School. Ms. Fiore has also worked in the past as a World Languages Department Chair, Diversity Coordinator, and Experiential Learning Coordinator. Mrs. Fiore attributes her decision to become a teacher to the excellent educators she had, who instilled in her a love of learning.
Echoing Mr. Kraft’s sentiments, Ms. Fiore stated,
“I love the school’s vibrancy, the intellectual and academic curiosity among our students, and the supportive community. I love coming to work every day to engage with everyone here.”
The newest staff members are not the only exciting change at Explore. This school year Explore has revamped the student schedules. Instead of attending classes with the same core group of students throughout the day, the class populations are mixed and vary throughout the subject areas. Also, 8th-grade students will participate in a CTE course of their choosing throughout the year. Students can select from Vocal Arts, DFab, PLTW Medical Detectives, Computer Science/Internet of Things, and Journalism/Yearbook.
Madeline Santiago, 8th grade, shared her feelings on the updated schedules.
“I think the new schedules are good because it gets us accustomed to high school, and we can transition easier for high school.”
Explore closed out the month of September and kicked off the Week of Respect with Team Wilderness Day, a team-building day held at Hamilton Park in Jersey City. The field trip was led by instructors from Team Wilderness, a nonprofit organization that uses an experiential educational model to teach Jersey City teenagers teamwork, leadership, and character. In small groups, students participated in a variety of challenges and activities that focused on positive communication and teamwork throughout the day. After each activity, students regrouped to discuss the challenges they faced and how they worked together to overcome them. The field experience taught students the strengths of positive communication while promoting consideration for their peers.
7th grader Samantha Mursuli commented on the experience.
“It was really fun because we got to see where our strengths and weaknesses were when we were doing these types of activities.”
Following Team Wilderness Day, Explore celebrated the Week of Respect. To commence the week, students wore different clothes that showed their unity to stand up against bullying. For example, on Wednesday, students wore pajamas to “put bullying to bed.” In school orientation with school counselor Ms. Mary Norcia, students learned about bullying, the different types of bullying, what conflict is, and the difference between the two. They also learned what a bystander is versus what an upstander is. They then analyzed various scenarios and created skits that showed what an upstander and bystander are. Other students created a presentation about what respect means to them and how they show it to their school, community, family/friends, and themselves. In Character Development with Ms. Rand, students discussed the Pillars of Character. Students then completed a survey where they identified what they believed to be the most important pillar and why.
8th grader, Rubin Seniuk shared how the Week of Respect taught her the importance of teamwork.
“I learned from others that you’ve got to be able to work together.”
Principal Krone shared,
“The students and staff came back this September excited, engaged and eager to learn. We look forward to a wonderful 2022-2023 school year!