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posted: Mon, Nov 26th, 2018

Nico D'Amico, Emily Rose Murray, and Ryan Kennedy

The escape room without an escape 

Edgar Allen Poe, master of the macabre, would have been proud of the eighth-grade literary escape room that was based on "The Masque of the Red Death." Much like the castle in which the short story is set, there was no escape.  

Seven stations were set up in a classroom representing the seven castle rooms where the story’s action, a masquerade ball, takes place. In each "room," students wearing masks were tasked with completing a specific literary challenge before being allowed to move on to the next room. There were stations designed to test comprehension and understanding of the short story’s literary devices (e.g., foreshadowing, alliteration, simile, etc.), symbolism, allegory, and theme, among others.

“The kids loved it,” said teacher Jenna Barstow of the escape room. “We’re going to try to do more later in the year.”

The students competed against each other to be the first to solve all seven challenges which included sets of multiple choice questions, a short essay, riddles, and cryptograms. At the end of the seventh challenge, the eight-graders pretended to do what the characters did in the story’s seventh room: die. Not really an escape at all.

“Things like this make you really comprehend things,” said student Nico D’Amico. “And it made you work.”

“It adds a spin,” said student Nate Miller. “By making it a game, it made you want to do. If someone said ‘Do you want to take a test?’ you’d say no. But if they asked if you want to do an escape room, you’d be in.” 

In addition to “The Masque of the Red Death,” eighth-grade classes also read other Poe classics including “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and “The Raven.”

Matthew Barrino

MOMS choral students selected for honor choirs

Two Mount Olive Middle School students have been selected for national honor choirs and will perform in Kansas City, Missouri this spring. 

Eighth-grader Kayla Marvin will perform with the American Choral Directors Association National Junior High Honor Choir and seventh-grader Brendan Blazier will perform with the ACDA National Children's Honor Choir. They’ll travel to Kansas City on February 27 to begin rehearsal and will perform at the Kauffman Center on March 2 as part of the ACDA's 60th Jubilee Conference.

To be considered for the choir, Kayla and Brendan submitted a recording of assigned scales, an assigned section of a choral piece, and a solo piece of their choosing.

Kayla and Brendan will also perform with a dozen other MOMS students in the Morris Area Choral Directors Association Honor Choir on January 12. The students auditioned in front of a panel of judges, singing scales and an assigned solo which music teacher Joanna Scarangello helped them prepare for. 

Students accepted for the Morris area choir are:

Brendan Blazier

Adalyn Conner

Nathaniel Decker

Jack Fabian

Ricci Granberg

Abbey Huhn

Shrivats Iyengar

Synthia Mani

Kayla Marvin

Jonathan Narcise

Anish Patel

Emma Rasmussen

Charmaine Sebastian

Sean Wooster



Mount Olive Middle School
160 Wolfe Road Budd Lake, NJ 07828
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