Life 101

What is Life 101?

Life 101 is the Middle School’s component of our school-wide Student Wellness Program. The Porter-Gaud Student Wellness Program is driven by the school’s core values of WATCH; Words, Actions, Thoughts, Character and Habits. Wellness is an active, ongoing process which involves becoming aware of and taking steps toward a healthier, happier, more successful life.

This program empowers students across all three divisions to acquire, integrate, and practice vital skills related to health and wellness in order to promote social growth and self-awareness. It’s focused on three specific areas which include; spiritual life, social and emotional learning, inclusion and diversity, and leadership.

Life 101 delivers student wellness through a curriculum of mini-courses, workshops, classroom lessons, speaker series, assemblies, presentations, and our school rituals and traditions.

Programming Topics

Week of November 7th:

5th Grade Seminars:

5th grade boys completed their workshops with Kyle Lawton, Meeting Street Academy teacher and SEL leader, on “Zones of Regulation: How to Identify and Control our Emotions”. They continued to work in groups to identify how emotions play out in different scenarios and learned tools for managing anger, sadness, stress, and anxiety. They also learned about positive self-talk and “inner-coach” “and inner-critic”.

5th grade girls had their final session of My Remarkable Self facilitated by Mrs. Daily. They closed out their session by recalling the elements that build positive self esteem for themselves and their peers. They built symbolic 3D models of friendship and finished their session with a spiderweb activity of sharing compliments with one another.


6th Grade Workshops:

6th grade boys worked on their technology readiness with Julie Sessions. They focused on digital organization skills and best practices when using their iPads.

6th grade girls met with Nurse Anna for their Human Growth and Development course on puberty.

7th Graders - Speaker Series- Wake Up Carolina Presentation

Wake Up Carolina is a movement of South Carolinians who have joined our efforts to fight substance abuse. Our 7th graders heard about how peer pressure and social status plays a role in drug and alcohol dependency and addiction. US Olympic snowboarder Mason Aquirre told our students his story of young adolescence and his rise to the Olympic stage in early adulthood.

8th Grade Mini Courses:

8th grade completed their rotation through mini-courses on the following topics:

  • Ethical Decision-Making with Father Wandrey
  • Mindfulness, Meditation, and Yoga with Jennifer Marvel
  • Friendships and Peer Relationships with Anne Frazier
  • MUSC’s College of Psychiatry’s presentation on mental health & wellness, and substance abuse.



Week of October 29th: Student Health and Wellness Topic: Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention

5th Grade Speaker Series: Sylvia Rivers from MUSC's "Just Say Know" program spoke with all 5th grade students. She presented on the science of addiction and why delaying use of any substance is best for brain development. The 5th grade students even had the opportunity to make observations of an actual human brain.

Becky Bergeron, from FCD Prevention Works™, worked with students in grades 6-8. FCD is the leading international nonprofit provider of school-based substance abuse prevention services, working worldwide to provide students and the adults who care for them with the knowledge, understanding and skills they need to make intelligent, healthy choices about alcohol, tobacco and other drug use. This is our third year working with FCD.

6th Grade Science Classes: In these classes, Ms. Bergeron emphasized the need to find natural enjoyment and the "crash" effect that happens from "highs" created by abuse of substances rather than life's authentic positive experiences. Students had the opportunity to ask questions and debunk myths and learn more about healthy lifestyle choices.

7th and 8th Grade Assembly: Ms. Bergeron talked with students about survey data regarding vaping in the Southeastern United States. Becky explained her own path to addiction and recovery and emphasized the importance of delayed usage for brain development. The students were able to ask questions as well as offer ways to say no to using drugs and alcohol. Becky talked about peer pressure, but also sometimes that pressure comes from an overwhelming desire to fit in and be accepted. She shared research, anecdotes, and solicited questions and answers from the students throughout the presentation.

Week of October 24th:

5th Grade Seminars:

5th grade girls were in week 2 of My Remarkable Self facilitated by Mrs. Daily. They worked to define traits that make someone a good friend and then behaviors that can impact friendships in a negative way. They closed out their class with the opportunity to share positive feedback with a peer, teacher, or family member who embodies positive friendship traits.

5th grade boys worked with Coach Tate on labels, name-calling and how we treat each other. The boys also learned more about the expectations of middle school life and were able to give feedback on how their transition to middle school has gone thus far. The boys were also given the opportunity to make suggestions on things that should change….more snacks and free time being the biggest vote getters!

6th & 7th Graders - Speaker Series

*Please note - Human Growth and Development for 6th grade girls had to be rescheduled due to a conflict this morning. 6th Grade girls will meet with Nurse Anna on Wednesday, November 7th for their Human Growth and Development course.

Emotional and Learned Responses to Music and Sound

Andrea White, middle school music teacher, discussed with students Emotional and Learned responses to music and sound. Major questions included:"Why do we hear music and know immediately if it’s sad or happy?" "How do we learn to speak, and what does that mean towards our learned responses?" "How does someone's response teach us right from wrong?"

Our learned responses to everyday interactions (stopping when someone says no/doing something again when someone says yes) then transcends to music and entertainment. We have learned to expect something scary when the music quiets and becomes intense. Or, the expectation of romantic swelling music might bring the visual expectation of a "run to each other" kiss etc. Finally we discussed how our actions, body language, and how their responses affect how the world sees them.

8th Grade Mini Courses:

8th grade continued their rotation through mini-courses on the following topics:

  • Ethical Decision-Making with Father Wandry
  • Mindfulness, Meditation, and Yoga with Jennifer Marvel
  • Friendships and Peer Relationships with Anne Frazier
  • MUSC’s College of Psychiatry’s presentation on mental health & wellness, and substance abuse.

Week of October 15th:

5th Grade Seminars:

5th grade girls began week 1 of My Remarkable Self facilitated by Ms. Daily. They worked to define behaviors that help build positive self-esteem as well as behaviors that can impact self-esteem in a negative way. The girls then shared words or actions someone could take to help all feel confident and positive about themselves.

5th grade boys worked with Kyle Lawton, Meeting Street Academy teacher and SEL leader, on “Zones of Regulation: How to Identify and Control our Emotions”. They engaged in group work to identify how emotions play out in different scenarios and learned tools for managing anger, sadness, stress, and anxiety.

6th & 7th Graders - Speaker Series

  • Positive Relationships & Wellness

Dr. Jeff Cluver, from MUSC’s Department of Psychiatry, spoke to the 6th & 7th graders about positive experiences and peer relationship from his own experience and current work in the field of mental health and wellness.

8th Grade Mini Courses:

8th grade students began their rotation through mini-courses on the following topics:

  • Ethical Decision-Making with Father Wandrey
  • Mindfulness, Meditation, and Yoga with Jennifer Marvel
  • Friendships and Peer Relationships with Anne Frazier
  • MUSC’s College of Psychiatry’s presentation on mental health & wellness, and substance abuse.

Week of October 8th:

5th Grade Student Programming:

This morning the 5th graders met the visiting science author Kevin Kurtz! Kevin has presented several of his books to PG students over the years. This year, he focused on his recent book about the science behind what makes sports gear safer. The 5th graders made Oobleck in their science class the day before, so it was exciting to see what they learned through this book talk! Click Here for more information about Mr. Kurtz' book: What Makes Sport Gear Safer?

6th Grade Workshops:

6th grade girls: Dr. Sessions led a technology readiness program for the 6th grade girls, focusing on the skills needed for a successful 6th grade year.

6th grade boys had the first portion of their Human Growth and Development programming with Daniel Jordan, 6th grade history teacher and Al Wilson, middle school athletic director. This presentation was focused on puberty and additional programs, including Guyology, will be offered in the spring.

7th Grade Assembly:

7th grade students enjoyed an assembly that provided fun facts and an inside look at their 7th grade team of teachers. The impact of a charismatic adult and the meaningful personal relationships students have with their teachers have been proven to show higher levels of academic achievement and improved student wellness. We spoke of how in the middle school we are very intentional to create interactions between students and teachers throughout the year that are outside of classroom teaching such as: Clubs & Organizations (sponsored by the teachers to pursue common interests) Experiential Learning- Class trips & Winterim, (chaperoned completely by our middle school faculty & staff for the very purpose of us seeing our students as much more than just their classroom personae), Socials & Traditions (which build the community between students & adults) and advisory (so students have at least one adult that they can go to if need be).

8th – Mini-Courses

The 8th grade began a 4-week rotation of our Life 101 mini-courses in the following areas. Each week they will get one of the 4 of these classes as they work through all of them.

  • Ethical Decision-Making with Father Wandrey
  • Mindfulness, Meditation, and Positive Thinking with Jennifer Marvel
  • Friendships and Peer Relationships with Anne Frazier
  • MUSC’s College of Psychiatry’s presentation on Mental Health & Wellness

Week of October 1st:

All Student Assembly: In an assembly for students in 5th - 8th grades, students learned how to identify rude, mean, and bullying behaviors and differentiate between the three. Students also heard about the power of being positive and supportive of one through being an "Upstander". Finally, we explained to students how the school responds to rude, mean, and bullying behavior, emphasizing that open lines of dialogue are a key component to this process. For further information about the presentation as well as resources for parents, please click HERE. Following the Life 101 presentation, we enjoyed meeting with parents for our first Parent Life 101 program of the year about this very topic.

Week of September 24:

5th Grade Student Programming:

This morning the 5th graders worked in homeroom quietly organizing their binders and studying, as an action item to their recent time management and organization workshops over the past few weeks with our Technology and Learning Services Departments. Additionally, they got their pictures taken for the yearbook.

6th Grade Seminars:

6th grade girls had their final session with My Remarkable Self. They took 3 previous topics of communication - self esteem, communication, and elements of friendship, and constructed models to represent their idea of positive and healthy friendships. The students closed their session with by sharing compliments about each girl present.

6th grade boys wrapped up their seminar with Coach Tate with a presentation entitled: A Man of Character, which compares and contrast sports figures and characters in the bible. This presentation was delivered from the standpoint of uplifting and truthful words (Prophets), being a Provider and a Protector (Bi-stander). Additionally, the 6th grade boys watched a Tedtalk on the Harvard University study on Men and Happiness that spans 8 decades. This study reinforces the idea that close and positive relationship are the most important factor of health wellness in man and the most important predictor of happiness. The boys were all encouraged to take care of each other, look out for one another, and build positive relationships as they will likely be together for the next six years of school and even beyond.

7th Grade Mini Courses:

7th grade students continued to rotate through mini-courses on the following topics:

  • Ethical Decision-Making with Father Wandry
  • Mindfulness, Meditation, and Yoga with Jennifer Marvel
  • Friendships and Peer Relationships with Anne Frazier
  • MUSC’s College of Pharmacy’s presentation: Generation RX on responsible prescription drug use and the opioid epidemic.

8th - Speaker Series

  • Positive Relationships & Wellness

Dr. Jeff Cluver, from MUSC’s Department of Psychiatry, spoke to the 8th graders about positive experiences and peer relationship from his own experience and current work in the field of mental health and wellness.


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Week of September 19:

5th Grade Student Programming:

5th grade students continued to cycle through orientation activities. This morning's sessions focused on Study Skills, Organization, and Porter-Gaud Technology readiness.

6th Grade Seminars:

6th grade girls had their class with the organization My Remarkable Self. They worked to define traits that make someone a good friend and then behaviors that can impact friendships in a negative way. They closed out their class with the opportunity to share positive feedback with a peer, teacher, or family member who embodies positive friendship traits.

6th grade boys had their second class with Chris Tate, delving into "male" archetypes through the work of John Ehrmann.

7th Grade Mini Courses:

7th grade students continued to rotate through mini-courses on the following topics:

  • Ethical Decision-Making
  • Mindfulness, Meditation, and Yoga
  • Friendships and Peer Relationships

8th - Speaker Series

  • Porter-Gaud Alumni Speakers:

Former Navy Seal and businessman Ben Pittard '01 delivered an inspiring presentation to our 8th graders this morning in Life 101. Using the themes of Navy Seal training, warts and social cliques, and the PG environment, Pittard inspired students to be brave in trying new things and new experiences at Porter-Gaud as he did. "You only get there by putting yourself out there. You have the support of your teachers, your administrators, your friends, so this is the time to do it."

Porter-Gaud Athletic Director Larry Salley '87 shared a similar message and stressed the importance of persevereance and fortitude. He shared his previous connection with Ben Pittard and how the experiences at Porter-Gaud will positively shape all of our students lives moving forward.

For more information about Life 101 programming, please contact Chris Tate, MS Dean at ctate@portergaud.edu or 843.402.4759.