A Celebration of US MOD 1

Oct 13, 2021 | Blog, Upper School News

As the first MOD came to a close for the Upper School last week, displays of the student’s learning were seen all throughout the US building – featuring improv shows, an open mic night, a fashion showcase, Zoom calls with authors, and more.

Mount Vernon’s own rock band, The Fabulous Mustangs, have become a constant presence on campus, opening the year at Convocation and performing weekly at Chapel services. Last week, they held an open mic night where students and faculty could perform alongside them, celebrating the end of the MOD.

In addition to Mount Vernon performers, the band was also joined by professionals for their hour of live music-making.

Also in performing arts, students in Clark Taylor’s improv class completed their final assessment of the MOD with a live show, acting out different improv prompts in front of an audience – even pulling them in as part of the show! Throughout their improv journey, these Mustangs also learned transferable skills like thinking on their feet, how not to overthink, and how to trust a team, all paired with the confidence to get up in front of others and perform on the spot. Failing up and having fun was on display for all to see.

In Marie Graham’s immigration class, students have been immersed in the study of our country’s complex immigration history, policies, and current issues. Part of this deep dive included reading The Devil’s Highway, a story of 14 Mexican men who try to cross the desert into Arizona, directly addressing differing perspectives of people attempting to enter the United States illegally, border control, and even those who assist them.

Marie shared, “Many students felt ‘changed’ after reading this book. There are no flat characters here; every person in the book is offered up in all of his/her flawed, but beautiful humanity. You cannot help but be pulled into this story and stand in awe and horror at what you are seeing and now understand more authentically.”

As they closed out their unit last week, the class was joined via Zoom by The Devil’s Highway author and Pulitzer Prize finalist Luis Urrea. NPR describes him as a “master storyteller with a rock and roll heart.” He is a member of the Latino Literature Hall of Fame and the writer of 17 best-selling books, winning numerous awards for his poetry, fiction and essays.

In line with Mount Vernon’s theme for the year of being a connector by building bridges, Urrea, born in Tijuana to a Mexican father and American Mother, is recognized as a border writer but shares “I am more interested in bridges, not borders.”

During MOD 1, students also took on a leadership role while forming clubs – providing opportunities for students to come together while pursuing passions and interests at a deeper level. All Mount Vernon clubs are student-driven.

With a student leader and a staff sponsor for each, Upper School club leaders put on a fair, showcasing all of the ways students can join and get involved. MV clubs range from Chess Club to Literature Club, Body and Mind Wellness Club to a Podcast Club, and more.

Some clubs, such as the Bridging the Gap Club, were created by past Mustangs and are continuing on under new leadership. This club in particular was created by Class of 2021 Valedictorian Aqil Merchant, and has the main goal of helping refugees in the community of Clarkston, Georgia, effectively acclimate to American life. Members of this club tutor refugee children in English, organize clothing drives, and set up apartment homes for recently-resettled families.

The Robotics Club got started after the Club Fair and began working on their first project, making and programming a pinball machine. This club will meet weekly with volunteer instructor David Vogt and the club’s two leaders, Addison Vogt and Herris Fentress.

As the Upper School faculty and staff begin MOD 2, we can’t wait to celebrate and share all that they will soon accomplish and to recognize ongoing projects taking place in iProject and Innovation Diploma.