School Dispatches: Oct. 18, 2017

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A group of St. Patrick's Episcopal Day School students recently attended a Library of Congress event where they learned about mythology and heard from Rick Riordan, author of the "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series. (photo courtesy of St. Patrick's Episcopal Day School)
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Blessed Sacrament School

Blessed Sacrament’s school year started with so much excitement and eagerness for the new year.

The first day of school is always a day to remember. Meeting up with old friends, creating memories, unpacking new supplies, discovering who your teachers are, finding your locker and learning your schedule are some of the best things on that first day. There is an excitement at the beginning of the year with so much unknown ahead of us.

During Blessed Sacrament’s school year, there are many ways to be engaged in service. For one, our Christ Care Corps service club sold ribbons for $1 for victims of Hurricane Harvey. We also had a dress-down no-uniform day for $1 to a charity of choice — some classes chose to donate their money to Saint Jude’s Hospital, others to victims of the Las Vegas attacks, Puerto Rico or local animal shelters. Becoming involved in service, especially given current events, helps so many.

Anticipating upcoming events always excite the students and faculty. Everything from a lab hatching fertile eggs in science class to the annual Halloween parade builds school community.

The beginning of the year did not disappoint and I know the rest of the school year will be the same. What a great kickoff to the year for Blessed Sacrament School!

— Dalton Burke, eighth-grader

British International School of Washington

The school’s annual House Sing took place Oct. 10. (photo by Megan Lui)

On Oct. 10, we held our annual House Sing. This competition is an engaging and exciting opportunity that manages to include the entire student body, and is therefore a highly anticipated event by students of all ages. The school population is divided into four houses: Shenandoah, Chesapeake, Potomac and Patuxent, which compete on a regular basis in the hopes of winning the house cup at the end of the year. The House sing is one of the biggest school events whereby each of the houses choose a song to perform, the performance is judged by a panel who are looking for engagement with the piece, participation from all house members, and enthusiasm!

This year the songs that were chosen were: “Take on Me” by A-ha; “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson; “We Are Young” by Fun and “What the world needs now is love sweet love” by Dionne Warwick.

This event is a unique opportunity for students of all ages to work together and to forge friendships across the years. It also enables students to discover musical abilities they may not have been aware they had.

As usual, the 2017 House Sing was a success, the creative abilities of members of the student body shone through, and our school community feels all the more enriched for it.

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

Deal Middle School

Tests and assignments, projects and studying, along with social anxieties all combine into a stress ball that many students find themselves collecting at school.

As you may know, stress has long-term effects. Stress can cause high cholesterol, bad eating habits and malfunctions in blood flow, all of which can lead to death.

My school, Deal Middle, has begun a program called Social Emotional Learning. This program helps students learn how to cope with stress and develop their understanding of themselves, others and life in general. Although we have just started this program, I, as a participant, have high hopes for it. Social Emotional Learning is great, but only as a short-term solution. The real question is: How will we make school less stressful for students?

— Shaina Adams, eighth-grader

Eaton Elementary School

A delegation from Eaton Elementary performed at a Sept. 25 event at the Embassy of Afghanistan. (photo courtesy of Eaton Elementary School)

On the evening of Sept. 25, 15 fifth-graders went to the Embassy of Afghanistan for its Independence Day celebration. Our teacher, Mr. Parodi, worked with the Afghanistan Embassy through the Embassy Adoption Program for two years and we were invited to sing at the event. They asked us to sing the Afghan national anthem in their language, Pashto, and the American national anthem. For one month, we practiced every day with our music teachers, Ms. Mistry and Mr. Brown. It was hard to learn the words in another language but we really liked the melody and the music.

On the night of the event, we were so excited and nervous. We took a bus from our school to the embassy. We were dressed up properly for the performance. When we got into the embassy we saw beautiful artwork, carpets and decorations. Right before we sang, the grown-ups told us that Malala was there and we got to meet her! It was amazing because we got to see a person who stood up for education.

We sang our songs on a stage. At first we were nervous, but we were prepared so we nailed it. There were hundreds of people and everyone applauded and showed gratitude to us. After our performance, we met the ambassador and the composer of Afghanistan’s national anthem. We also got to eat great food. We felt very accomplished and very welcomed at the embassy. What a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

— Eaton Extra reporters Katya Iourienen, Alvaro Orlove Rodriguez, Rhys Stevens and Harper Trail, fifth-graders

Hearst Elementary School

The Mighty Mac & Cheese spent the first six weeks of school learning all about friendship. We learned how to be a good friend, made posters to post around the school to teach others how to be a good friend and we even wrote our own stories about friendship. The Mighty Mac & Cheese and the Ninja Nuggets (kindergarten classes at Hearst) are now experts at being friends!

— Mighty Mac & Cheese kindergarten class

Lafayette Elementary School

Sasha Darlan (left), Sophia Ridgway (center) and Leah Levy read “Wonder” and other books by R.J. Palacio underneath a Daveed Diggs poster, one of many #choosekind posters that blanket Lafayette Elementary. (photo by Sophie Van Dyck, fifth-grader)

The #choosekind movement is a phenomenon that has hit Lafayette this year. Based on the book “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio, it comes from this precept: “When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.”

Reading specialist Ms. Echave proposed the idea of One Book/One School to Principal Broquard and other teachers who formed a #choosekind committee. They wanted to make sure that every student, teacher and parent had a chance to read “Wonder” and to know about Auggie Pullman, the main character. There have been morning book discussions for teachers and parents, and all the grades are reading either “Wonder” or the book that Palacio wrote for younger kids, “We’re All Wonders.”

“‘Wonder’ is a great book; the #choosekind precept resonated with me,” Ms. Echave said. “We really do have a choice in how we treat each other. It’s so simple.”

Now there are posters of Auggie with #choosekind everywhere — in the hallways and classrooms. There is even one of Daveed Diggs with a cheesy grin holding a copy of “Wonder!” It fits well with what we already do. Ms. Ryden, the peace teacher, assigns everyone a weekly kindness pal. At recess, there are buddy benches. If you are lonely you can sit down, and someone will come to you. These are examples of things the school implemented to boost kindness before #choosekind, so Wonder brings it all together for our school community.

#Choosekind has hit Lafayette and is infecting it with kindness!

— Sophie Van Dyck, fifth-grader

National Presbyterian School

Students are making kits that will go to hurricane victims. (photo courtesy of National Presbyterian School)

National Presbyterian School is making kits for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance for people affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. The person in charge is the Rev. Dunfee, our school chaplain. Our families are donating notebooks, scissors, rulers, erasers, pencils, pencil sharpeners and boxes of crayons. Also, we are making cloth bags to hold all of the supplies. Some people, including teachers, are making them at home. There is a special after-school class that meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays for a couple weeks where kids can sew the bags too. Many teachers are helping sew the bags and assist the students. Their names are Mrs. Glass, Mrs. Woods, Mrs. Durbin, Mrs. Seeger, Ms. Williams and, of course, the Rev. Dunfee. The Girl Scouts are helping, too.

The kids are learning while helping, so it’s a cool project. Our goal as a school is to get 100 bags. Right now we have around 30, but a lot of people are helping and we are increasing fast. Our school is glad to help people in need!

— Lucy Madan and Taylor Kittrell, fifth-graders

Our Lady of Victory School

This week, our school decided to take part in the Pulsera Project. Pulsera translated into English means “bracelet.” The Pulsera Project helps and supports families in need in Nicaragua. This project started in 2009 when 13 friends decided to take a winter break in Nicaragua and witnessed poverty and hardship. To help Nicaraguans earn decent wages, they started the Pulsera Project: When you buy a handwoven pulsera, a person involved in the project will receive money. Purchasing one of these pulseras is very personal because there is a picture and signature of the person who made it.

For the past three days, our school participated in this project. Seventh- and eighth-graders sold these bracelets to their fellow students and teachers. It was a great success because everyone fell in love with the eye-catching and unique designs. There was a great feeling of solidarity when purchasing one of these pulseras knowing that someone in Nicaragua will be paid a fair wage.

I was one of the lucky seventh-graders selling these bracelets. Everyone decided to buy one of these enticing pulseras. Seeing the look of astonishment in their eyes when they realized that a human hand had created a wearable piece of art was truly heartwarming. I hope more schools in this community decide to take part in this meaningful project, so more Nicaraguan families can go to bed with a full belly.

— Maia M., seventh-grader

Oyster-Adams Bilingual School

The new Oyster-Adams field has attracted some controversy. (photo courtesy of Oyster-Adams Bilingual School)

Our artificial turf soccer field has recently been replaced. With all the excitement of returning to the field, there are unfortunately still multiple concerns.

The previous field was removed because parents worried the field would not cushion against concussions. However, since the old one has been replaced there have been even more complaints. Some of the parents think that there are carcinogens in the turf field. Students say the new turf field is hard but looks pretty good. The turf is supposed to cushion the fall but it is really rough.

Overall, the return of the field has been useful and helps us manage to share space with the seventh graders. Hopefully parents and D.C. Public Schools can work to determine whether the materials the turf is made from is safe for kids to use in the long term.

— Saul Catalan-Castaneda, Lesly Bautista and Francis Csedrik, sixth-graders

Ross Elementary School

On Nov. 14, third-, fourth- and fifth-grade Ross Elementary students will compete in GeoPlunge. We have 13 students who will go to GeoPlunge to earn a trophy. But if you think it’s boring, you get pizza and candy, plus you can skip half a school day in order to go.

If you don’t know about it, GeoPlunge is a game about U.S. capitals, borders, population and so on. Practices are on Tuesday and Thursday at the Ross library, hosted by Principal Searl and Ms. Chelak.

Now let’s do interviews: “I’ve been studying GeoPlunge in the car and waking up at 6:30 a.m.,” said Nick.

“Well, I have been studying about capitals lately,” said Lucas. “Now I’m really tired.”

Now we are having a field trip on Friday the 13th! It is a low ropes course; hopefully we stay safe. Fourth and fifth grades go on the Summit Outdoor Challenge Course at George Washington University. Transportation is a MetroBus. We think everyone is going to love it.

— Ayman and Gael, fifth-graders

St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School

Last week, 18 seventh-graders from St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School were fortunate to have a chance to go to the Library of Congress for a mythology tour and an author talk from best-selling author Rick Riordan, author of the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series and other young-adult fiction.

The event included actors presenting scenes from “Ship of the Dead” by Rick Riordan. (photo courtesy of St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School)

On our tour, we quickly saw the magnificent detail of the Thomas Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress. The beautiful arched ceilings make room for the amazing Corinthian columns that are just the beginning. Unbelievable paintings cover every inch of the main two-floor foyer and rotunda. Most of the areas we viewed also had many murals, and we found out that it took just nine years to complete them all. Throughout the tour, our guide stopped periodically to show us many images of Greek and Norse mythology and anything else that connected to Rick Riordan’s novels.

After finishing our tour of the unbelievable building, we met with many other schools in one of the library’s auditoriums to see Mr. Riordan. Mr. Riordan introduced us to the characters, conflict, and plot in his newest Magnus Chase book, “Ship of the Dead.” To finish the event, Mr. Riordan did a short Q&A session where we learned some personal facts about his life as a writer.

We are thankful for this amazing opportunity that most people never get to experience. A big thanks to Mrs. Ballenger and Ms. Smith for making it happen!

— Laila Kostorowski and Margot Kennedy, seventh-graders

Sheridan School

On Oct. 5, our third-grade class finished our read-aloud of “Save Me a Seat” by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan. The book was about a boy named Ravi from Bangalore, India, who moved to New Jersey. To celebrate our class’s victory, our teachers Ms. Sethi and Ms. Arca gave us a yummy meal of all South Indian food! We had idli, sambar and coconut chutney. While we ate, Ms. Sethi and Ms. Arca read the last chapter of “Save Me a Seat” in our classroom. We had a wonderful time and our third-grade teachers must have superpowers — they surprised us and quickly made secret arrangements!

— Chloe Isabela Barankin, third-grader

Washington International School

After a great start to the school year, fifth-graders had their first field trip. As an introduction to the IB PYP unit of inquiry on “How We Express Ourselves,” both the Spanish and French sections headed to the Newseum.

We were separated into groups and had about three hours to explore the exhibits we were interested in.

My group, for instance, chose to see “The Berlin Wall,” because we wanted to understand the impact of war and politics on different nations; “The 9/11 Gallery,” which showed us how the terrorist attack of September 2001 in New York and Washington affected people in America and abroad; “Inside Today’s FBI,” where we learned how the FBI deals with criminals, spies and cyberhackers; and finally the funny “Editorial Cartoons of Jim Morin,” which made fun of important political events and people.

After lunch, all the groups gathered in an auditorium to watch a slideshow about the Tinker siblings, who successfully defied their school’s ban on armbands against the Vietnam War. Our task was to try to defend both the school’s and the Tinkers’ point of view. We unanimously concluded that the Tinker siblings had rightly won the case.

I am sure that after this visit we will all be more aware of how certain events can change people’s way of life, and how journalists can capture those moments through different media so that anyone can be informed.

— Ilaria Luna, fifth-grader