Category Archives: In Class

ACADEMIC BRIEF: Symbols of Hope

IMG_0415_AGUILERA_BESTDean of Faculty LCDR William Bushnell, first-year English instructor Megan Klukowski and her post-9/11 literature class spent fourth period on September 11 flying kites above Colonels Field.

“In Afghanistan they have a tradition where they fly kites and they have competitions,” Brennan Morand ’16 said. “We had the Battalion Commander Emran Babak ’16 come to our class and teach us about that tradition, and then we went out and flew kites.”

According to Klukowski, flying kites on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks was the “perfect memorial.”

IMG_0562_babak “I really wanted the boys to do something hopeful on September 11,” she said. “There is something beautiful about kites flying in the air. It’s like they are dancing on the wind.”

“It was my first time and I absolutely loved it,” Drake Davis ’16 said of the kite activity. “After having all of the string unwound, it was hard to maintain it in the air. It represented the freedom we have to be able to go out and enjoy flying kites.”


We are reading The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini. In this text, we learn that the Afghan culture really values kite flying as a pastime. We get to learn about how the main characters take the time to make string out of glass shards, choose the best kites, work as a team and even fly them in competitions. We had BC Babak, who is from Afghanistan, teach us about kite flying in his culture, answer some questions about Afghan culture, and teach us how to fly the kites. KLUKOWSKIKlukowski, Megan

Klukowski comes to MMA from Olivet Community Schools in Michigan. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Education and a Master of Arts in English with Emphasis on Teaching from Western Michigan University.

Eighth graders discuss their hopes and dreams in Language Arts class

18Middle school cadets presented projects about their hopes and dreams during CSGT Mike Harding’s second period language arts class March 12 and 13.

Carlos Liriano ’18 spoke of his ambition to become a computer programmer and game designer, sharing screenshots of programming programs.
“To do computer and game programming, you need a special programming language called C++” Liriano explained.

Next up was Lucas Moore ’18, who wants to be a dentist when he grows up. “The median expected salary for a typical dentist in the United States is $150,791,” Moore said. “That’s a lot of money for someone like me. That’s so much money. I don’t even know where to begin to spend it.”

William Moore ’18 next presented his dream of enlisting in the U.S. Army after college and going through Basic Combat Training. “This will be really fun,” Moore said. “I hope to be in the Rangers. Rangers lead the way!”

The final presentation was by Donald Williams ’18, who spoke about his hope of learning to ride horses and becoming a part of the U.S. Army Cavalry Division. “I want to have a greater future,” Williams said, flipping slides with photos of uniformed men riding horses.

Other middle schoolers involved in the project included eighth graders Paul Murphy and Jacob Wright. Murphy spoke of his amibition to become a computer engineer.

“I’m good with computers and I like working with them. I know a lot about programming,” Murphy said.

“A policeman, state trooper or ranger is what I want to be when I’m older and get a job. It is dangerous but I like helping people,” Wright wrote in his report. “I would prefer to work in a small town to begin with. The reason I don’t want to work in a big place like NYPD is because it is too crowded and I’m more likely to get injured if I’m being shot at all the time. My job will be a very important one. … The fun begins when we get to raid buildings and other hostile places. Before I can become a cop I have to go to a police academy to learn how to be one.”

In Class: Cadets conduct mock trial of The Scarlet Letter’s Hester Prynne

Cadets in first-year instructor LT Samantha Reuss’ English III classes conducted a mock trial of Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter on October 24 and 25.

During second, fourth and fifth periods, court was “in session” in the Koster Global Media Center. Faculty and staff members served as the “judge” while cadets acted as members of the “jury.” Prior to the day of the trial, students prepared to play the part of prosecutors, defense attorneys, witnesses and defendants.

18“They will be researching their roles in the trial, preparing questions for their witnesses and defendants, creating scripts and preparing,” Reuss said. “It should be a good experience and the students are putting in a great deal of work for this project.”

During fourth period on October 24, “judge” CPT John Noel called the courtroom to order. Noel swore in witnesses, asking each to “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God or whatever higher power you believe in.”

Head prosecuting attorney Mason Kussman ’15 began the trial, calling LT Samantha Reuss (AKA townswoman) to the stand.

“How do people treat Pearl?” Kussman asked.

Reuss responded by saying that she frowns upon the child and feels that Hester Prynne’s infidelity reflects poorly on her daughter. The witness testified that only having one parent in the house probably led to a lack of discipline, displayed in acts of bullying such as throwing rocks at other townspeople.

“I tell my children not to play with Pearl,” Reuss concluded.

Other prosecution witnesses included Prynne and her father (played by cadet Jonathan Richardson ‘15.)

After the prosecution rested, the defense took the floor. Benjamin Swiger ‘14 and Alex Wilson ‘15 served as defense attorneys while Nolan Borgsmiller ’15 and Donald Canard ’15 assisted as defense team members and strategists.

Canard acted as Chillingsworth and was called to the stand.

“If Hester were to walk up to you and ask who did this to her, what would you say?” Wilson asked.

Defense members attempted to make Canard divulge the identity of Prynne’s lover, but they were unsuccessful. Canard refused to comment on the matter and was allowed to step down.

The defense next called Prynne, who was played by Borgsmiller. The defense argued that it would be in Pearl’s best interest to remain in her mother’s custody.

12“Pearl is my life,” Borgsmiller said.

The defense rested, at which point the prosecution made their closing argument. Cadets reminded the jury that adultery is illegal in more than 20 states and argued that the government would be committing child neglect if the jury voted to leave Pearl in her mother’s custody.

Defense attorneys turned the prosecution’s words against them, asserting that Prynne loves and cares for her child – this is the opposite of neglect. Were Pearl to be removed from her mother’s custody, students said, the state would be essentially sanctioning child negligence.

Jury members deliberated on whether to declare Prynne “guilty” or “not guilty.” Jury members included: Edmond Biruta ‘15; Jose Garcia ‘15; Roger Gonzalez ’15; Victor Marroquin ‘15; Roel Rodriguez ’14; and Rodrigo Vilches ‘15.

The jury ultimately returned a verdict of not guilty and ordered that Pearl remain with her mother. During an After Action Review, Reuss said the jury was correct in finding Prynne innocent – the prosecution never proved that neglect happened as a result of Hester’s “A” brand.

“The goal of the mock trial was to give students an opportunity to show their understanding of the novel The Scarlet Letter. The trial was a way to differentiate the class, diverging from the typical test or essay assessments and asking for students to show their understanding through explanation, interpretation, application, perspective, empathy and self-knowledge,” Reuss said. “Many facets of understanding [are] missed in a stereotypical assessment. In my classes, I push my students to take the lead in their learning, and this is something the mock trial required them to do.”

Second Hour by Borgsmiller: Fine Arts & Office Suites

CPT Keith Morgan’s second hour Office Suites class spent September 23 determining the pros and cons of different teaching methods. Boys met in the Koster Global Media Center to study how much each method costs. Cadets also considered the impact of each option on the students involved.

With the help of a textbook exercise, Charlie cadet Gregory Prinster ’17 calculated the effects of pulling all-nighters. Prinster said CPT Morgan’s class is his favorite because it’s “easy, fun and entertaining.”

Gavin Martin '16 paints Vincent Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” masterpiece September 24.

Gavin Martin ’16 paints Vincent Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” masterpiece September 24.

“He’s funny, he’s smart,” Prinster said of Morgan. “His intelligence is rubbing off on the class.”

Fine Arts Instructor LT Chris Bain’s second hour Fundamental Art students practiced painting like the pros in room 211 on September 24. Cadets used famous images as inspiration for look-alike drawings.

Gavin Martin ’16 mimicked Vincent Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” masterpiece while Nishan Khanal ‘16 spread shades of orange, blue and black in a silhouetted city skyline scene. Battalion Commander Roel Rodriguez Valdez ’14 was just beginning to sketch the pencil outline of a watch on a blank white canvas as Colton Helvie ’16 painted a tractor scene.

Gerardo Guerrero ’14 said his last project was a painting inspired by the Courbet color palates. He loves to draw landscapes in art class because it is an opportunity to relax.

“My mind goes to other places, where I can get away from MMA life and go to a more fun place and enjoy school,” he said. “I do plan on excelling and turning this into a career.”

(Interviews by Nolan Borgsmiller ’15. Check back every week for “Second Hour by Borgsmiller” updates.)

In Class: Stage Combat

Missouri Military Academy Dramateers

Much of Director of Enrollment Management Phillip Dunbridge’s college work featured instruction in theater and the arts. Dunbridge goes over the basics of stage combat, the art of fighting on stage in preparation for the spring show, The Princess Bride.  Pictured are Eoghan Matthews ’13, Blake Bibles ’13, and Benjamin Mertens ’13.  

In Class: Humanities Students Asking Big Questions

CPT Eric Reynolds may be new to Missouri Military Academy this school year, but he is already challenging his students to think big.

His sixth period Humanities class has been posed with a very deep question:  “Who am I and where do I fit in?”

Reynolds then encouraged the students to reflect on this question by experimenting with ancient writing style called cuneiform.  Similar to Egyptian hieroglyphics, cuneiform was how ancient cultures in Mesopotamia recorded their history and told tales.

John Mertens ’13 labors during his first attempt at cuneiform.  Students said it took about two hours to translate and write out one phrase. 

Reynolds educated cadets on the history of cuneiform, but then asked them to create their own cuneiform tablets after learning how to translate simple phrases.

“I had the students come up with one phrase to ‘write out’ in cuneiform,” Reynolds said.  “The total time it took for them to write a single phrase equaled about two hours.”

Reynolds then asked students to read the “Epic of Gilgamesh,” one of the earliest surviving works of literature.  It is an epic containing five independent poems about the Mesopotamian king, Gilgamesh.  However, the poems were written completely in cuneiform.  After viewing photos of the original tablets on which the epic was written, Reynolds called on his students to reflect on their experience with one phrase in cuneiform and compare it to that of the ancient writers they just studied.

Students mulled several different questions relating to the assignment including, “How has this project changed your views regarding human achievement and advancement now?”  Reynolds says he will continue to present opportunities to cadets to stir their minds and think about their place in history.