Mary Help of Christians Academy

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Focus On: Academics

Contributed by Mr. Bliss, Faculty Member
This semester's Sociology class has been off to a great start! Our class of juniors and seniors demonstrated their lyric-writing and vocal talents while singing "sociology karaoke" to the Dean Martin classic, That's Amore. As we studied social norms (social rules which can be broken down in to three categories - folkways, mores, and laws) our students demonstrated their understanding of the differences among the types of norms through creative lyrics and performances in class.
The formula was as follows:
  • Replace stanzas such as:
    • When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore.
    • When the world seems to shine like you've had too much wine, that's amore.
  • With an example like this:
    • When you chew, chew, chew, and chew and we see all your food, that's a "folkway."
    • When you see ma and pa and you don't say "hola," that's a "more."
Later, Sociology students conducted the social experiment of "breaking a folkway." A folkway is a social norm with no legal or moral overtones or implications. We usually behave according to these norms without even realizing that they even exist. The show Seinfeld became one of the most popular television series of all time because it often examined the breaking of folkways in every day life. Some memorable episodes of breaking folkways include "the close talker," and "the puffy shirt."
Our Sociology students showed amazing creativity in their "Breaking Folkways" social experiment. They were asked to describe the folkway they would break, predict the response from friends or family, and then record the response. Some notable examples include Kaylan Quijandria dressing in her school uniform and eating breakfast with her family on a day off, Audrey McMillin saying "hello, how are you?" to inanimate objects during the school day, and Simona Graceffo replying to text messages with a phone call instead of a text, including a simple "Okay!" (and then hanging up). Through this social experiment, students learned how through the socialization process, we all learn to behave according to rules that we don't consciously think about... and what the reactions, or social sanctions, are for those who break these unwritten rules.
Stock Market Competition
Contributed by Mr. Bliss, Faculty Member
In Quarter 3, the juniors in US History II and AP US History participated in the grade-wide 1920s stock market contest. We began with the basics: how the stock market works, what a share is, how investors could "buy on margin" in the Twenties, and how to calculate net worth. From each class, some students volunteered to be brokers, and help classmates with their investing decisions. Each started with $1,000 and a Prospectus of popular stocks from the 1920s. Each day represented one to two years of the twenties, with all stock prices generally rising - with the exception of the 1924 Teapot Dome Scandal's effect on those students who invested heavily in oil! As the competition progressed, share prices skyrocketed along with student anxiety; they knew it would eventually crash, but did not know when.
On the day of the crash, wailing and gnashing of teeth could be heard through the halls of the 000 level! As students looked over their lost fortunes, they calculated their final net worths. Those who were in the negative, due to unpaid loans, were sent to a Hooverville set up in the back of the class. Those with some cash leftover were quickly informed that they might lose it all in the 1930 bank panic. Congratulations go out to our winners, who combined smart investing strategies with a little bit of luck to come out on top. They are: Kellie Vaughn (Period E), Rea Mitri (Period F), and Kristina Erskine (Period H). And a big congratulations to the winner of the entire 11th grade, the investor who sold it all right before the great crash, and pocketed $139,630, Isabel Condon!
Napoleon Gets Instagram; Sophomores Build a New Republic
Contributed by Mr. Dunn, Department Chair
In the third quarter, Freshman World History explored the events of European history by creating a social media feed out of Napoleon Bonaparte’s career. This fun exercise allowed Mary Helpers to practice not just their research skills, but to learn how to translate complex ideas into easy-to-understand summaries through a technology they engage in daily.
Sophomores, on the other hand, engaged in a thought exercise by creating their own countries while studying the US Constitution. Once the girls created their model countries, they presented them to the class for an open debate. This moment of living history allowed the Sophomores to empathize with the American founders, each of whom spent hours developing ideas on how to shape a new country only to have it questioned and debated. Solutions could only be found through compromise when the students were then asked to combine their countries into one Federal Republic.
English Department
Freshman English
Contributed by Mrs. Sullivan, Department Chair
Grade 9 students began the third marking period by finishing up To Kill a Mockingbird. Cumulative work included a DBQ as well as various projects: Honors students had their first experience with a DBQ here at MHC Academy. Analyzing varied documents, such as articles on Rosa Parks, Malala Yousafzai, a political cartoon, and poetry, students synthesized their understanding of those documents with lessons learned from the novel into an original essay on their definition of True Courage.
Non-honors classes focused on character study through creative projects such as a character cell phone, a character Fakebook page, or a newspaper article.
All grade 9 students, junior College Composition, and AP Literature spent the bulk of the marking period in the world of William Shakespeare. In typical Shakespearean form, the themes of love and betrayal punctuated the plays as the freshmen studied Romeo and Juliet, our juniors studied Macbeth, and senior AP students studied Hamlet.
Sophomore and Junior English
Contributed by Mrs. Kirt, Faculty Member
In Mrs. Kirt’s English classes this quarter, students have been working diligently on their research papers. After carefully selecting an interesting topic and formulating a thesis statement, students researched their topic and organized their papers using notecards and an outline. We even had “field trips” to the MHCA Library! The juniors did an outstanding job, and the sophomores will be submitting their first drafts at the end of the month.
The sophomores recently finished reading the thriller I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson. This classic connects to current pop culture by featuring the character of Robert Neville as the last man on earth, which is now plagued by vampires. Students explored the concept of the “other” and related it to modern-day issues involving race, religion, disabilities, homelessness, and immigration.
The juniors read Macbeth, the classic Shakespearean tale of an overly-ambitious thane who lets the quest for power turn him into a manipulative, murderous, and evil villain. Students learned about the history of Shakespeare and his tragedies, Elizabethan drama, and the concept of Macbeth as a tragic hero. After finishing the play, they watched a film adaptation that adhered to the original script, thus enhancing their understanding of the play and fostering appreciation of its original intent to be viewed as a performance.
During Catholic Schools Week, the students analyzed the grammar of their favorite song lyrics! It’s amazing how much poetic license some artists take with the English language, and it was both fun and educational to try to make the students’ favorite songs grammatically correct! The most fun was Gwen Stefani’s “Hollerback Girl,” which was corrected to “I am not a girl who will call you back.” Students are pictured below working on this assignment.
For the upcoming 4th quarter, the sophomores will be reading The Great Gatsby, and the juniors will be covering Frankenstein.
Senior English
Contributed by Mrs. Evans, Faculty Member
Seniors recently submitted the final research paper of their high school careers. In their last year, they have the privilege of choosing their own topics, which covered a wide array of interests. Subject matter ranged from sports injury to the history of fashion, from the evolution of animation to human trafficking, and everything in between. These students are thoroughly prepared for the rigorous challenge of college-level writing.