HBHA Middle School Week of Experiential Learning



Sagi Rudnick

Slider image by Michal Cahlon.

Written by Sagi Rudnick and Jared Schultz

Middle school students at the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy recently embarked on a week long adventure of experiential field trips. Each day brought with it another unique journey. These journeys included Mitzvah trips and learning opportunities, and they wrapped-up the week with an exciting treat. This adventurous week of real-world learning consisted of visits to a variety of sites, from cultural exploration at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art to volunteering at Village Shalom. During this special week, students experienced a different kind of education.

Monday, March 14

The week began with some vital Kansas City history. Students visited the Truman Library, subsequent to a learning session led by Jewish Studies Department Chair Michal Cahlon. 7th grader River Hennick assisted Cahlon in leading this session because she had participated in the Jewish Court of All Time (JCAT), a program run by Reshet B’tei Sefer Kehilatiim (RAVSAK), the Jewish community day school network. According to RAVSAK, JCAT is “a unique and innovative program in which middle school students across North America assume the roles of historical figures to debate a current hot topic.” Hennick was assigned the role of former President Harry S. Truman. According to lower and middle school Principal Dr. Jessica Kyanka, “she’s our resident expert” on all things Truman.

Tuesday, March 15

The middle school students were split into three groups and visited three different assisted living facilities: the Bickford Senior Living Center, Village Shalom, and the Atriums. Socializing with the residents was a really special experience for the students. “It made me feel good to put a smile on their faces,” explains 6th grader Max Gershon. The day’s events were “educational while still being fun,” said 8th grader Ayelet Schuster.

Wednesday, March 16

Next, students went to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art on a trip set up by Kelly Reichman, HBHA’s art teacher. “For one, most students don’t go north of 95th street, and it’s an iconic place in Kansas City that every student should be able to experience. It’s a nationally known museum with well known art,” states Reichman. The purpose of visiting the museum was to “learn about different styles of artwork” adds Kyanka.

Thursday, March 17

The middle schoolers then attended “Da Vinci: The Exhibition” at Union Station, but first they were divided into three groups and each group worked at a different mitzvah trip site. “One group went to Shadow Buddies which makes puppets, one group went to Safehome, and one group went to Happy Bottoms, which is a diapering place,” says Kyanka. “Everyone had different jobs. My job was getting diapers out of boxes and passing them on so that they could be wrapped and given to families who cannot afford diapers. It gave me a good feeling, knowing that I was doing the right thing and helping other people,” says 8th grader Addison Brand.


Sixth graders (from left) Emma Jacobson, Ethan Klinock, and Avi Silverberg pose with the Mona Lisa. Photo courtesy of Avi Silverberg.

Friday, March 18th

To round-out their four consecutive days of experiential learning, middle schoolers concluded the week with some plain old fun. Friday was spent at Bump City, an indoor play area which features inground trampolines, rock-wall bouldering, slam-dunk basketball, games, contests, and prizes. Afterwards they engaged in fun team building activities in the gym. “I loved getting to spend time with my classmates and getting to know the other grades [better],”  shares 6th grader Shirel Rudnick.

Seventh graders (from left) Ophelia Shapiro, Nina Schultz, and Ilana Fingersh smile on the playground. Photo by Michal Cahlon.

So what did the 44 middle school students gain from this week of experiential learning? “I hope they saw the value in giving back…and I hope [that] it opened their eyes to a world outside of our school, and how they can give back in different ways. I hope that they learned a little bit more about each other and [about] other students that are in different grades… and [that] they built friendships and made friendships stronger, and I hope they had fun,”  remarks Kyanka.

“We got to see a lot of different places which [we] wouldn’t have normally gone to, and we got to help a lot of people which was great. We got to do Tikkun Olam by helping the less fortunate, and we learned many new things about Da Vinci and others” shares 7th grader Ilana Fingersh.

Oops! We stand corrected. The original version of this article credited the pictures to the wrong person. We apologize for the oversight, and the article has been corrected. -The editors.