School dispatches: April 18, 2018

The Key School Media 101 class visited Key parent Kimberly Hefling at Politico. Key School Press Corps pictured are: Arlo Bierman, Jackson Mello, Lindsey Neal, Michele Dunkley, Claire Swift, Kimberly Hefling and Robert Swift. (Photo courtesy of Key School)

Blessed Sacrament School

On April 13, Blessed Sacrament had a middle school dance and invited five other middle schools to join. It went from 7:30 to 10 p.m., so everyone was tired afterwards.

It started off like every other school dance, divided and awkward. The gymnasium was filled with teenagers standing in clumps that were 10 feet apart from each other. Then there was the group of people who were just there to have fun and dance. The people who were especially confident danced on the stage with their friends.

It was like that for the first half hour until all the boys caved. Everyone was dancing in the middle of the room – it didn’t matter what school you went to or what sex you were. Everyone was jumping up and down to new songs or songs from 2011.

The DJ took requests of songs that people wanted to hear. There were lights flashing and glow sticks to wear as headbands or necklaces. There were rings with blinking lights in them that I found interesting. Even though it was not my first school dance, it may be the best one I ever had. I think everyone had a good time!

– Christopher Cullen, seventh grader


Deal Middle School

This week we are learning about a new unit in history called “Rome.”

Every student has to explain if Alexander The Great was a bad or good leader. Half the class picked good and half the class picked bad. In our opinion, we chose good and bad because he helped expand the empire, but made his army marry women solely from Persia.

​In our English class we read “The Call of the Wild” by Jack London, which was a very emotional book for some people. The book made some feel sad at the end. The main character is a dog named Buck, who is a respectful, loving dog, but went through a lot because he had so many owners who treated him badly. He found a new owner named John Thornton who took care of him, but when he died Buck decided to live a wild life.

In our new unit in science class we are learning about classification. The levels of classification are domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species. We are also learning how to find scientific names. To find the scientific name of organisms we have to identify the genus and species.

Lastly, this week we learned about the “Phytogenetic Tree,” which is a tree chart showing how organisms are related to each other. Later on we will learn new interesting things that will open our minds as students.

In math class we are starting a new unit about probability. Our teacher gave us three ways of getting the exact probability. The first one would be a tree, the second one is a table and the third is a list. They are all accurate. My teacher says it is like going through a story to be able to understand what is happening.

– Daniela Rodriguez-Torres, Grezzia Moscoso-Joyo, Susan Rodriguez, Elsy Salvador and Ashley Hernandez-Rios, seventh graders


Eaton Elementary

Some people in our school had a staycation (staying in town), while some had a vacation out of town. So we went around and asked people about their spring breaks.

Ms. Clayman, a fourth grade teacher, said she went to Miami.

Ms. Briant, a helper, said she missed the school and the kids and was looking forward to getting back to school.

Ms.Laurencin, the art teacher, said she had a staycation and got a lot of rest. Hillary Zavala, a student, also said she had a staycation and celebrated her dad’s birthday.

As we all know, most people like spring break. Some like it because they spend time with family, while others like to rest. Some missed the school. In the end, we all had a spring break and hopefully everyone had some fun.

– Hillary Zavala and Justice Lamar, fourth graders, and Roman Bystriakov, fifth grader


Emerson Prep

Amidst the stress of midterms week, Emerson Prep had a surprise visitor. A busy schedule of pageants, press and photoshoots did not stop Kára McCullough, also known as Miss USA, from stopping by to greet Emerson students.

McCullough was visiting the Thurgood Marshall Center to interview with The Afro newspaper and decided to come upstairs to see D.C. high school students at work. After a few pictures and autographs, students and faculty were interested in what the D.C. native had to say – after all, celebrities don’t stop by every day.

We learned she is not only a nationwide sensation, but also a physical scientist at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Thanks to her extensive knowledge of both the pageant and science world, McCullough was able to settle an argument between two students about the relative safety and hazards of utilizing nuclear energy, and spoke to her experiences on the beauty pageant circuit.

As our student body represents a diverse array of interests and talents, McCullough’s success in multiple fields left us with the hope that as D.C. students, we can explore and prosper in any and all disciplines. McCullough was able to uniquely connect with Emerson students, as someone not much older than we are. To emphasize the importance she places on academic dedication, the 26-year-old said she is more proud of her role as a physical scientist than any pageant title.

– Isabel Fajardo, 11th grader


Key School

We took our last Media 101: Student Reporters class at Key School, which was taught by Mrs. Claire Swift, as an enrichment course.

“The media class I think was the best class I ever took,” said student reporter Michelle Dunkley, one of the five reporters in the class. “We had our own press passes and notebooks and were very prepared to cover Key news in so many ways.”

Mrs. Swift, who was a producer for NBC and ABC News in New York before she became a Key School mom, tailored the class to give kids a real taste of what it is like to be a real reporter. She taught us to get the facts right, how to make a story out of almost nothing, and what a reliable source truly is. We went to Politico to visit Key parent Kimberly Hefling, the White House press room and interviewed Abby Goodnough from The New York Times, and Noah Bierman from The Los Angles Times.

“We are lucky to have such generous and gifted Key School parents who helped with this class,” said Mrs. Swift, who’s son Robert took the class for three years.

If you have a dream to be a reporter, but never have had the chance, you should really have signed up for Media 101. I was so happy when my mom signed me up for this class. It was hard, but very fun and we feel like we know how to be a reporter.

“This is a real example of how sharing your life skills with kids at a young age can be a game changer,” Mrs. Swift said. “I enjoyed every minute of helping these young, gifted students become reporters.

“When we arrived at the White House with these students the guards at the desk were so amazed that the reporters were so young. As they peaked over their front windows to check their press passes, their jaws dropped. It was inspiring!”

– By Michelle Dunkley, fifth grader, and Arlo Bierman, Jackson Mello, Lindsay Neal and Robert Swift, fourth graders


Lafayette Elementary

Mr. Gregal’s fifth grade class went to the Bahamian Embassy on April 4.

We met with three people we already knew because they had visited our classroom twice this year. Mr. Gregal applied to be a part of D.C. Public School’s Embassy Adoption Program over the summer and he learned he had been accepted in August before students arrived back at school. When asked if he would like to participate in the program again, Mr. Gregal said, “Yes! And I wish all the fifth grade classes could do it too!”

At the embassy, the staff members showed us around. The consul general himself gave us a small tour! Addison, a fifth-grader, remembered, “He spoke about celebrating progress. There were photos of the Bahamian New Year’s Junkanoo celebration. Those photos were filled with lots of bright colors. They want to make visitors feel the warmth of the Bahamas when they visit the embassy!”

The tour concluded with a delicious lunch of typical Bahamian food: rice and beans, chicken, mac and cheese, and a tasty cake. When we finished eating we performed a play we wrote about the Bahamas. Next, we presented them with a headdress our classmates had made. In return, the staff gave each student a personalized necklace and we took a photograph.

Classmate Martina said, “The necklaces were really pretty and it was really cool to be recognized. It was kind that they wanted to take a picture to remember us by!”

– Eve Fisher, fifth grader


Our Lady of Victory

Our Lady of Victory School does a reenactment of the Stations of the Cross called “Born for This” every year before Easter. It includes singing, dancing and acting. Each year the students who play roles give up their recess for lent to make the performance perfect. The singing students stay after school for an hour every week, while the dancing students choreograph their own dances. And of course all of the hard work pays off.

The night of the performance, the performers were asked to come at 6 p.m. so they could get dressed, set up with a microphone, and warm up before the show started. We were all so nervous and excited at the same time.

We went through the Stations of the Cross by starting off with a prayer. Throughout the performance there were dances performed by seventh graders. For example, the actor who played Mary danced as another student sang Mary’s song, “Born for This.” Later, the actor who played Veronica danced as another student sang “Veronica’s Litany,” and the weeping women actors danced while Jesus and the weeping women singers sang “Save Your Tears.”

Once the numerous sixth, seventh and eighth graders and choir members completed the stations, we ended by praying the Act of Contrition.

– Delaney J. and Bridget O., seventh graders.


St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School

The Pangolin Protectors.

Pencils scratching on paper. Minds racing at top speed. Murmurs of voices conferring about answers. Suddenly, laughter fills the room.

This is the Foxcroft Competition. Girls working hard while having fun and connecting with each other.

We, eight girls from St. Patrick’s, formed two teams to compete at the Foxcroft STEM Competition for Girls at the Foxcroft School for Girls in Middleburg, VA. And we brought home the school trophy!

The topic of the competition was poaching and endangered species. Our team was named the Pangolin Protectors. In one challenge, we had to pilot a drone and shoot foam bullets out of Nerf guns to tranquilize fake rhinos. We secured third place by landing the drone in the smallest square in eight seconds. We left the room with wide smiles and bright expressions on our faces.

Another challenge was identifying scat, the scientific term for poop, and recreating replicas of some scat with Playdoh. Our team worked on matching the descriptions of scat to the given pictures. We were given pictures and descriptions to recreate with the brown Playdoh and cups of supplies to help us. For example, to mimic insect wings, there was tin foil. This was the most interesting challenge, which we enjoyed.

Participating in the Foxcroft STEM Competition for Girls, we got to explore our passions. We definitely recommend it for future students.

– Margaret Guilarte-Silva, Nora Lowe and DC Noche, eighth graders


Stoddert Elementary

Our Field Trip to Dumbarton House:

First, we compared the picture from Georgetown long ago to what it looked like on the bus trip. Next, we made toys called Worlygigs that were played with 200 years ago. Then we ate gingersnap cookies and talked about how making a cookie back then would take a lot more work. After that, we got to see a house from 200 years ago. We used our five senses to observe the things in the museum. Lastly, we played a game with wooden pins called “nine pins,” which was sort of like bowling. We had a very good time on our trip.

– Ms. Brandt’s first grade class


Washington International School

Cooking, stitching, digital design… the possibilities are endless during Minimester!

What is Minimester? At Washington International, Minimester is a week-long event that happens while the eighth graders are traveling on their language trips (this year they explored Paris, France or Lima, Peru). During Minimester, regular classes are cancelled and sixth and seventh graders have the opportunity to take workshops based on teachers’ passions.

One of the many highlights of the week is Service Day, when students spend one day volunteering at a location of their choice. The most popular activities this year included playing board games with senior citizens and chopping up food at the D.C. Central Kitchen. Unfortunately, the fun day of service got cancelled due to the snow. But four more days of Minimester still called for tons of learning and excitement.

This year’s top workshops included making an escape room, doing Crossfit at a nearby gym, learning about the cultural importance of sushi (and making some!), and something known as the “Pringles Chip Challenge,” where students are pushed to create a prototype container to ship a chip to a school somewhere in the United States without it breaking. It is safe to say kids love this week no matter what choices they get for their top workshops. I’m going to miss the opportunity to do it next year!

– Sophia Rees, seventh grader