This year, some of our sixth graders were challenged through our Passion Project program to create art installation projects that show how Middle Schoolers LEAD every day. What is LEAD? It’s a component of our social emotional learning program for grades five through eight that stands for:
L – Learn with curiosity and joy
E – Embrace challenge
A – Advocate for self and community
D – Demonstrate collaboration and teamwork
The art installation project was set up to be a client/agency framework, and the clients were Head of School Mr. Jay Rainey, Head of the Middle School Mrs. Jen Schuckman and the MICDS Marketing and Communications Department. The clients gave the sixth graders objectives.
Mr. Rainey said he wanted to have a visual representation of life in the MS that captures what MS life and culture are all about, portrays the inclusivity of our community and tells the story of “a day in the life” of a middle schooler–for example: friendships, learning, creativity, determination, etc. Mrs. Schuckman’s requested a visual representation of LEAD that draws people in to want to know more about it, explains to visitors what LEAD stands for and conveys the importance of LEAD in our Middle School culture. The Marketing and Communication Department asked for a banner for the 6th grade hallway that visually identifies the space as being for 6th graders, make the hallway visually stand out by being warm, inviting and representative of the great people at MICDS, and creates a more pleasant pedestrian and visitor experience. The hope is that this project could be modeled for other grades and scaled to include the entire Middle School.
The students, after learning about their challenge, spent time looking around the Middle School and brainstorming ideas. They created a list, then worked together to narrow each category to the top three ideas. Students then selected which category they wanted to work on.
One student group worked with Mr. Glen Williams, MICDS’ Multimedia Specialist, to design banners for hanging in the sixth grade hallway. Another group developed an undersea mural featuring fish that represented adolescent life and all the differences in our Middle School community, while a third group designed a mural evoking school spirit with a ram bursting through a “brick wall” and a fourth group created art blocks that spell out and explain LEAD.
Everyone agrees that the sixth grade hallway’s new art spruces up the space and inspires both the students and faculty who work and play there every day and visitors to our campus.
Angela Chen ’26 worked on the undersea mural and loved painting the walls to add color around the area leading into the Middle School cafeteria. She said, “It is important to show that it’s ok to be different and when my group and I made the mural we had people put their weirdness into the fish. It’s pretty cool that something that my group and I made would be where every middle schooler will see. It was so much fun brainstorming and making the project. It expresses ourselves and our differences and I feel like I put part of me into the mural.”
Brianna Goggins ’26 shared how she felt. “I got to be creative and make a piece of artwork that everyone can see and it makes me feel happy and remembered. It is so fun. I love passion projects because they expose you to different things in the world that you wouldn’t normally learn at school.”
Rhys Rainwater ’26 and his friends worked with Mr. Williams to design a banner. He said, “I enjoyed the process of learning how to use Adobe Photoshop and Adobe InDesign.” He was pleased that his work helps the community. “It is important because the Middle School is more interesting and that makes me feel good because I did something good for that. I got to learn how to do something that I would probably never have done on my own. Passion projects are important to me because they make me experience things that I might not think to do by myself.”
Thanks, sixth graders, for your tremendous creativity and work to reinvigorate our School!