School Dispatches: March 7, 2018

Fourth-graders at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School visited the National Gallery of Art. (photo courtesy of St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School)

British International School of Washington

The first week back from half term break has been a busy one, with students recovering from jetlag after the Tanzania trip, returning from the ski trip or finishing off their mock International General Certificate of Secondary Education/International Baccalaureate (IB) exams.

This week Year 12 students made the first steps in the long process of writing their extended essay. This is a roughly 4,000-word essay, designed to be an academic piece of writing with a research topic of the student’s choice. Over the years various branches have been taken whilst writing this essay from maths to English themes, and some even tackle subjects that cover a range of classes.

The aim of the extended essay as an IB core component is to prepare students for the research papers they will have to submit at university. Each student is expected to spend roughly 40 hours on the paper. The student’s supervisor is there to monitor their progress and can provide constructive feedback. However, they are not permitted to edit the student’s work in any way. The essay is paramount for the student to pass the IB diploma.

Although Year 12 students are still early in the process, already a variety of creative ideas have been mentioned. One example is a study on the impact Tsar Alexander II’s childhood tutor had on his future policies (specifically the emancipation of the serfs). In short, it is evident that the Year 12s are excited about this new challenge and will flourish at the opportunity to explore their interests further.

— Sofia Hollowell, Year 12 (11th-grader)

Emerson Preparatory School

Recently, student survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., marched, protested and sparked a nationwide movement in response to the tragic shooting of 17 of their young classmates.

Numerous survivors spouted messages of gut-wrenching outrage on news interviews and social media — some tweets garnering hundreds of thousands of responses.

The National Mall has been utilized as a place to express dissent, and exercise our First Amendment rights. D.C. high school students have banded together to plan a walkout in honor of the victims and in favor of preventive gun control. Emerson senior Imara Glymph said, “It’s incredibly honorable that D.C. high school students are getting involved with policy in regards to the NRA. It’s integral that everyone comes together by subverting the system. If we don’t do anything and are silent, that is complicity.”

Another important concept that has been brought to light are misconceptions about mental health. Principal Mr. Shickler reassured the Emerson community, “It is also very important to remember that, although the gunman in Florida has been reported to have ‘suffered from a mental illness​​​​​​​,’ there are literally millions of Americans who have suffered depression, anxiety or other mental illnesses, and are active, meaningful and compassionate members of their communities, and would never be prone to even the slightest violence.”

The small steps taken by leaders in government are unquestionably not enough to satisfy these students, who are ardent and desperate for effective gun control.

— Isabel Fajardo, 11th-grader

Horace Mann Elementary School

On Jan. 20, the fourth grade at Horace Mann was supposed to go to a field trip to the Renwick Art Gallery. However, a mishap postponed the trip because the bus company thought the Renwick was closed because of government shutdown.

Students got mad because they couldn’t go on the field trip, and some students in the class blamed it on the politicians because they couldn’t get a budget in time. A week later we got to attend the trip and the bus was so nice! It had wood floors, seat belts, comfortable seats and TVs!

At the Renwick we all loved the ceiling art, but one piece of art really blew our minds. It was called “Ghost Clock” and it was a clock with a cloth draped over it, but when you looked closer, it was all one piece of wood!

We got back in time for recess and lunch and it was such a great trip, so thank you to the Renwick Gallery!

— Christopher Maltas and Will Archer, fourth-graders

Maret School

In second grade we have read-aloud. It is one of the best parts of the day! All of the students sit on the carpet, and the teacher sits in a chair and starts reading. It is very relaxing because you just get to listen to a story and picture the story in your head.

Right now, we are reading “Clementine” by Marla Frazee. It is so funny. Clementine is always getting into trouble. For example, one thing that she did was cut off her hair to match her friend’s haircut, and then she colored her head with green permanent marker!

Before “Clementine” we read “The Year of Billy Miller.” That was a good book, too. In the book, Billy Miller is in second grade, just like us. One of the funniest characters is Billy’s little sister, Sal.

We have so much fun doing read-aloud. It’s amazing and everyone in my class loves it.

— Ava Ahaghotu, second-grader

St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School

Two school buses packed with children stopped in front of a huge building with a dome on the top on Feb. 16.  That’s when we, the grade four students, took an exciting field trip to the National Gallery of Art.

The second that I walked into the West Building, I was in awe. We split into groups and all went in different directions. There was the East Building, home to more recent art, and the West Building, the building with older pieces of art. A tunnel lit by more than 40,000 programmed LED light nodes connected the two buildings.

We were all given pencils and journals filled with pages to record all that we learned. There was a docent who led us through the gallery.  We looked at statues and looked for geometric shapes.  We looked at a styrofoam sculpture and struggled to find out the meaning of it.

I had a blast looking at the art: from metal sculptures suspended in the air to a marble statue of a blind woman at the destruction of Mount Vesuvius. This trip was amazing, and I would recommend this for anyone who happens to come to Washington, D.C.

— Silas Frickert, fourth-grader

Sheridan School

The Sheridan junior varsity boys basketball team had a triumphant finish to their season!  Coached by the fifth-grade teacher, Mr. Williams, the boys were crowned champions of the Capital Athletic Conference.

The team, comprised of fifth- and sixth-graders, finished the regular season at 10-2 with a record of 2-0 for the playoffs. Fun, cool and amazing are some of the words my teammates used to describe our season. The junior varsity boys won the conference for the first time in 14 years!

She shoots… and she scores! Go Owls! Sheridan School’s basketball season may be over, but we still have team spirit. Sheridan’s junior varsity girls had a successful season, finishing second in the Capital Athletic Conference with an 11-4 record. The amazing leaders, Coach Jonathan Williams and Assistant Coach Ally Robinson, did a phenomenal job guiding the team, and praised the girls for consistently improving throughout the season.

When asked why the team was so accomplished, member Maddie Aebersold-Burke said, “The coaches understood what we needed as a team, like building stamina by doing tough conditioning.”

Teammate Marielle Van Meter added, “We also knew how to work together on the court. We relied on each other.”

Sheridan is proud of our JV girls and the coaches for their great season!

— Olivia Berman and Gabe Chapman, fifth-graders

Stoddert Elementary School

Mrs. Hills took our first grade class on a field trip to the National Postal Museum on Feb. 23. In school, we are expected to use critical problem-solving skills in our class work. This trip to the National Postal Museum taught us that people use critical problem-solving skills at their jobs too. We saw how the post office can use similar skills to deliver special packages.

During the field trip, we learned that there are four important steps to solving a problem: identify the problem, understand the problem, create a plan and put the plan in action. Sometimes the plan for solving a problem does not work, so it is important to re-think your plan again.

An example the museum used was by having us figure out how a postal worker should dress for work if he or she is faced with a rainy day. We worked together as a team in order to choose the correct clothing for a postal worker to wear in the rain, choosing from a wide selection of clothes, hats and shoes. We ended up choosing a raincoat, a rain hat and rain boots for the postal worker.

We then divided into four teams in order to solve a problem for the post office. They needed us to come up with a way to package a potato chip so that it can be shipped without breaking. We were given twine, tape, bubble wrap, small carton boxes, shredded paper, popsicle sticks and plastic bags…just to name a few.

After each group used dry erase boards and markers to draw out our plans and decide what material each of us wanted to use, our four groups put our plans into action by packing a potato chip according to our designs.

The final step was to put the plan into action by testing out our packaging. All four groups threw the packages across the room a few times. We opened the packages to see if any of the potato chips broke. All of us did such a great job with our packaging that the potato chips survived.

We left the field trip understanding that the problem solving skills we learn in first grade are also used by the post office every day!​

— Ms. Hill’s first-grade class

Washington International School

The primary school community has just finished learning about and celebrating Black History Month in February. The most exciting part was a bulletin board prepared by teachers and students, covered in photos and paragraphs about famous black people who had or still have an impact on U.S. society. That’s not all, though. The fifth-graders have done more!

In English class, every day we had a choice to study one important black person and to read about him or her, both on computers and in books. Then, everyone would share with the class the favorite fact they found. In French, we read and listened to meaningful poems about segregation and episodes of black history. In sport class, we watched a documentary about Jackie Robinson, the first black major league baseball player, and discussed his strong influence on the sports community in the U.S. Finally, in music class we learned about renowned black composers and singers like Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald. We then listened to and sang their songs.

This learning experience was a wonderful way to spread awareness about black people’s struggles and accomplishments. This chapter of history represents commitment, because the black population kept pushing and fighting for equality, even when they encountered obstacles and dangers. We can all take them as examples of truth, courage, belief, perseverance and strength.

This month, we have learned a lot, and the facts have sparked our curiosity. What do you think we’ll discover next?

— Ilaria Luna, fifth-grader