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Whatever It Takes

Ed World spends a year with a seventh grade team at Bennet Middle School in Manchester, Connecticut.

The Year at Bennet Draws to a Close
It has been a year at Bennet Middle School of roof leaks, collapsing ceilings, and new leadership, but also one of student metamorphosis, with new-self discipline, sweeter dispositions, and a commitment to learning blossoming.

What I Learned (the Second Time) in Seventh Grade
Spending a year with a seventh grade team at Bennet Middle School brought back memories, instilled new lessons, and evoked admiration. And it was a chance to share lessons from a school dedicated to doing whatever it takes.

A Look Manchester's Other Middle School
Bennet Middle School's counterpart in town, Arthur H. Illing Middle School, has a much different campus from Bennet Middle School, but the staff members face many of the same challenges and have many of the same goals for students.

Take a virtual tour of Bennet Middle School!
See Bennet's stately buildings, the grounds, and the interiors of some of the five buildings that comprise Bennet.

The Debate on the Iraq War Continues
Second period social studies students get to flex their debating muscles during a debate on the war in Iraq. Those who disagree or agree that the invasion was a good move have to try to sway their classmates who are undecided.

Debating the Iraq War
Most Americans, it seems, have an opinion on the invasion of Iraq, and members of the Royal 7s recently got a chance to air their views. Classes divided themselves into groups who agreed or disagreed with the war or were undecided, and the debate was on.

Signs of Spring at Bennet Middle School
With spring in the air, or at least on the calendar, units wind up, and lessons focus on a new season. The Royal 7's get ready to show their stuff on science tests, literary essays, and bar graphs.

Exploring the Geography of Non-Western Nations
Seventh graders at Bennet Middle School may venture into unfamiliar territory, with the study of non-Western geography. Students also review the cultures of these regions, in social studies and art.

Tying History, Culture Into Art
Art at Bennet includes not just sculpting and drawing, but researching and writing as well. Students complete writing assignments and rubrics with their artwork, to show their understanding of the skills and the culture in which the art is rooted.

Fighting the Distractions of 7th Grade Life
Seventh graders are magnets for distractions and unforgiving when it comes to others' mistakes. Bennet middle school staff members offer their explanations for these conditions, and how they cope.

Student Talent Abounds At Bennet Show
The hidden talents of many Bennet students were showcased at the school's first talent show. From hip-hop favorites to Irish step-dancing, the line-up was pure Bennet; unassumingly multicultural.

Bennet's New Principal Welcomes the Challenges
While appreciative of Bennet Middle School's assets, new principal Dr. Ann Richardson wants to make sure her students are ready to hop into the next phase of their lives. So that means more reading and more writing -- in every subject.

Royal 7 Teachers Bring Range of Experience
Almost all of the Royal 7 teachers came to teaching as a second career, in their search for work that was challenging and rewarding. The Royal 7 teachers shared information about their backgrounds, goals, and feelings about Bennet.

On the Road to Algebra
Grasping the concepts of algebra is a big step in a student's career, and Royal 7 math teacher Taryn Kutniewski is helping students understand the reasons behind the rules before moving on.

Want Math With That?
Royal 7 math teacher Taryn Kutneiwski is ready for the question, "When are we going to use this?" Answer: next time you eat out. Students were allotted an imaginary $40 per day and had to plan three meals in local restaurants without going over their limit.

After School, Kids Are Creative, Active
The Royal 7's and other Bennet students have plenty to keep them busy after school as well as during the day. From skiing to sewing, youngsters get a chance to be active and creative and give back to the community.

Learning to Make Informed Choices What to wear, what to eat, who to get in a car with all are decisions middle schoolers face often or daily. During their health class, students discuss their growing personal responsibilities and explore health topics.

Exploring the Lessons of Dr. King
Through films, photographs, and discussions, the Royal 7's spend a Team Day learning more about the life and times of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Their own dreams for the future reflect an understanding of Dr. King's mission.

Metric Moments at Bennet
Knowing the metric system is key for scientific work, and the Royal 7's spend several classes weighing, measuring, and displacing. Math joins with science as they prepare for projects and labs.

Bridge Building Challenges Royal 7's
As the first quarter comes to an end, the Royal 7's wrap up technology education by building and testing wooden bridges, a project some find frustrating. Sixth graders celebrate the end of the quarter by testing racing cars they built.

Weathering the Holidays at Bennet
While the holidays are a fun and relaxing time for many at Bennet, for other students, the break means more than a week away from familiar routines and people. Staff members have learned to meet students' special December needs.

Testing New Shoes
Scott Gagnon, one of Bennet's vice principals, is bridging the gap between principal Kathleen Ouellette's departure and the hiring of a permanent replacement. As he fills in, he mulls whether the position could be a good fit for him.

Goodbye to Bennet's "Cheerleader"
The departure of Bennet Middle School principal Kathy Ouellette to become district superintendent brings mixed feelings to Bennet's staff and students, and Ms. Ouellette.

Poe, Baseball Are Focus at Bennet
The rich language and intriguing plots of Edgar Allan Poe's short stories are up against the baseball playoffs at Bennet Middle School. Despite the suspense and late hours of the games, Poe still holds students' attention.

Poe, Skills-Building Are Center Stage at Bennet
While reading Edgar Allan Poe helps students get into the Halloween spirit, science and math teachers are laying the groundwork for more complex lessons.

P.E. at Bennet Brings Own Challenges
With a field two blocks away, and many not-so-eager participants, physical education teachers at Bennet Middle School have to be both cautious and creative, as they try to build strong bodies and social skills.

Royal 7's Build Team Spirit
Despite some disruptions in Bennet Middle School's day -- two quickly-interrupted fights and a stink bomb, the Royal 7's September Team Day goes smoothly, and allows team members to learn more about each other.

Reading, Writing In Different Subjects
From reflecting on the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to discussing what science means to them, the Royal 7's had a day filled with reading and writing recently. Principal Kathy Ouellette also talked about the importance of data shaping instruction.

Bennet Copes With Death, Roof Woes
Just two weeks into the school year, Bennet Middle School staff and students found themselves mourning the brutal death of a recent graduate, and shifting students and classes after another section of ceiling collapsed.

The Royal 7's Get Acquainted
Using People Puzzles, interviews, and Personality Bingo, teachers and students on Bennet Middle Schools Royal 7 seventh grade team get to know one another during the second week of school.

As Another Year Begins, Bennet is Ready to Do Whatever It Takes
If the students are on time or early, and the sneakers are white -- it must be the first day of school. Bennet starts a new year with few bumps, as Royal 7 teachers spend time getting to know their students. 10/07/2004

Welcome to Bennet Middle School
Bennet, the Manchester, Connecticut, middle school that does "whatever it takes," readies for another school year of finding ways to help a diverse group of students succeed.09/30/2004