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Middle school students start own FLX Blocks, learn leadership skills

Photo credit: Maya Hernández
Students in the Crochet & Mindfulness FLX block led by eighth grader Kate Rheinheimer decorate their mindfulness journals. Rheinheimer is one of over 30 students who have started their own FLX blocks.

From creative writing to meditation, FLX block is a period in every middle school student’s schedule where they are able to choose what class they want to take, differing from upper school FLX block, which includes options for free periods, meetings and extracurriculars. There are 16 student-led FLX courses in middle school, including crocheting and improv classes. Middle School Director Reed Farley said the opportunity to create and lead their own FLX blocks encourages students to connect across grade levels and share their interests.

Farley helped create MS FLX alongside Director of Academic Operations Kasey Nott. Farley said Archer’s mission aligns with having middle school students become leaders.

“Developmentally, kids are always trying to figure out where they fall in the social circle of middle school,” Farley said. “So this gives them the opportunity and the agency to define their own experiences for their peers.”

Nott said she has recognized how leading a FLX block can be a daunting process, as students have to be comfortable with holding authority. Additionally, their ideas must be approved before presenting in front of the entire middle school to gauge interest, a requirement Farley describes as the first step in developing leadership. After being approved, Nott said students are responsible for making slides for their classes and communicating with her when they need supplies.

To begin leading their own FLX block, students have to fill out a form sharing a description and mission of their class. Farley said leaders share sample lesson ideas and practice meeting the needs of their peers.

Seventh graders Carmen Muñoz Graham and Stella Saliman created their own Acting and Improv FLX block. Saliman said it’s a space for students to get interested in improv and be able to express themselves. The two started the FLX block in sixth grade when Muñoz Graham proposed the idea to Saliman.

“We’re both actors, and I think both sharing our love of acting, we just kind of want to pass it on,” Muñoz Graham said. “Then, it was a really big hit in sixth grade, so we decided to bring it back this year, and it’s going pretty well.”

In each class, they start with an improv warmup, which includes moving and speaking amongst each other. Following the warmup, the main lesson changes from class to class. Last year, Saliman said, they did two-minute skits using stuffed animals and also made skits revolving around one word.

Muñoz Graham said the benefits of student-led classes are that student leaders can be flexible, and they can learn from a peer close to them.

“You can tailor your FLX block to their tastes since you both are in the same grade, and you can understand what they want to do,” Muñoz Graham said.

Eighth grader Kate Rheinheimer started her own Crochet and Mindfulness FLX block this semester, which combines everyday mindfulness practices with learning to crochet. She said she enjoys being able to learn alongside her peers.

“It’s really fun to be able to sort of pass on some of your knowledge to your peers,” Rheinheimer said. “It feels nice to be able to teach other people things that they’ll be able to use.”

Every class starts with students setting an intention in their notebooks about how they want to set their mood for the class. The first class held a meditation and covered crochet terminology. Rheinheimer said the class focuses on practice over perfection and being comfortable with where you are in the process.

“I said that it’s for any skill level and — whatever we get to is okay,” Rheinheimer said. “I wanted to make sure that I showed it was a space where you don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to learn right away and because crocheting is really hard, and it takes everyone different amounts of time.”

Farley said some FLX blocks are open to the entire middle school, and having diversity in grade levels helps bring students together to learn and create.

“Any opportunity that you get a group of students across ages … to gather around something they’re all interested in, yes, that’s going to create more cohesion among grade levels,” Farley said. “So we’re looking at interest groups and, you know, meeting kids’ passions and then bringing them all together to explore it as a group.”

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About the Contributor
Maya Hernández, Staff Reporter
Maya Hernandez is in her first year on the Oracle as a Staff Reporter. She is on the Chess Team, is the leader of the Abortion Rights Club and is a member of the Ambassador Leadership Team Advisory Board.

Comments (2)

As part of Archer’s active and engaged community, the Editorial Board welcomes reader comments and debate and encourages community members to take ownership of their opinions by using their names when commenting. However, in order to ensure a diverse range of opinions, the editorial board does allow anonymous comments on articles as long as the perspective cannot be obtained elsewhere, and they are respectful and relevant. We do require a valid, verified email address, which will not be displayed, but will be used to confirm your comments. Because we are a 6-12 school, the Editorial Board reserves the right to omit profanity and content that we deem inappropriate for our audience. We do not publish comments that serve primarily as an advertisement or to promote a specific product. Comments are moderated and may be edited in accordance with the Oracle’s profanity policy, but the Editorial Board will not change the intent or message of comments. They will appear once approved.
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  • K

    Katie Ray McKillopFeb 25, 2024 at 7:35 am

    Wonderful article!! That was such an interesting piece. Way to go!

  • T

    Tracy MestresFeb 23, 2024 at 7:33 am

    NOW I understand the meaning of FLX blocks! Can’t understate the importance of intrinsic motivation in the process of creating and leading! Well done!