School Dispatches: May 24, 2017

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Maret School

Our annual Publishing Party is held in May and features at least one book from each student from kindergarten through fourth grade. One student explains: “We made our books step by step. Everything had to be just right.” The Kindies began by choosing a favorite nonfiction book. Then, “we got facts from our books, did a rough draft and wrote a final.” Through the editing process, “we learned to not get frustrated with [having to do] do overs. We made sure our letters weren’t wobbly,” and “we had to work really hard so people think it’s a real book.”

Finally, they included an About the Author page, with a photograph of the author and some information about where they live and things they enjoy. When the big moment finally came, the Kindies dressed up in their finest and stood at tables in the gym with their books. “It’s fun because you can read to strangers,” noted one student. This was the best part for many students as the Publishing Party is “all about looking at other people’s books.”

— Ms. McHugh and Mr. Scott’s Kindies

School Without Walls High School

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School Without Walls would like to congratulate one of our own students this week: Senior Jack Nugent received the national 2017 Presidential Scholarship Award.

After his four years at our school, Jack was one of 161 students nationally to receive this very prestigious award, one of the highest academic honors for high school students. Jack will be one of two School Without Walls seniors planning on attending Harvard University next fall. He also represented School without Walls in the United States Senate Youth Program this year.

Ms. Taneka Parascandalo, a member of our remarkable, dedicated teaching staff, also received recognition: as a 2017 Presidential Scholar Distinguished Teacher.

— Michael Edgell, 11th-grader

Sheridan School

Sheridan School’s sixth grade is studying Washington, D.C. From the United States’ choice of a capital to the present day, we are examining the important people and events in D.C.’s interesting history.

On May 4, Donald Wines came to visit. This was the seventh year in a row that he has visited the sixth grade. He spent more than three hours with us. The grandfather of a former Sheridan student, Mr. Wines grew up in a segregated D.C. in the 1940s and ’50s and will turn 80 later in May. He talked about his experiences living through segregated schools and neighborhoods where separate was not equal.

One thing that really made an impression on our class was when he talked about the beginning of the Cold War and how America fought for freedom, yet there was racial segregation and inequality at home. The mere hypocrisy of this was astonishing and made us think about why America would do that. After all, we are the “Land of the Free.” At the end of legal segregation and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. Wines noted that the pure rage and the eruption of riots changed D.C. by showing that segregation and racial prejudice was not really, truly over.

It was an amazing experience to learn about one person’s experience and hear his thoughts. We saw D.C. through his eyes and learned about what happened to him, not just generalizing all blacks’ experiences into one story.

— Sabrina Kestnbaum-Cook, sixth-grader

Washington International School

The most recent middle school assembly was different from usual. Instead of a guest speaker, our track and softball coaches spoke. We started with track. Kristin White, a math teacher, coaches both cross-country and track. She talked about how amazing the team is and the fact that the girls track team came in second place this spring. That is the best result in our school’s history.

Ms. White gave out six awards in total — three to the girls team and three to the boys team. Both teams present a coach’s award. I believe that getting the coach’s award shows you are really important to the team.

The next speaker was Amy Tong-Meisels, a science teacher who coaches soccer, basketball and softball. This year’s softball team did a really good job and beat one of the toughest teams in the league. Our school is very proud of the results in all sports.

One last really cool thing happened this assembly. The middle school’s Service Club has been working on a fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders. The club got students involved by asking them to donate money in the name of a teacher, who would then perform a trick. Ms. Strangfeld, a science teacher and a CrossFit god, won. She had to walk across the theater on her hands! She is very strong and a great role model for everyone, especially girls. She left all of us speechless!

— Emily Muenzer, seventh-grader