Allendale Columbia’s Middle School students aren’t just building community and an understanding of theatrical productions in this weekend’s Peter Pan JR. They have been engaged in an interesting dialogue about cultural representation.
In the original stage productions of Peter Pan, written by J.M. Barrie in the early 20th century, the people of Neverland were often depicted as caricatures of Native American stereotypes. This was a common trope in the literature and entertainment of the era, though these types of depictions would be decried as offensive today.
Since its initial stage performances, the show has been adapted several times for both stage and film, most famously with the animated Disney film from 1953. Even in this depiction, the people of Neverland are exaggerated and culturally insensitive versions of Native Americans in their appearance, customs, and language. For Disney’s Peter Pan JR. adaptation for the stage, there were notable efforts to reduce the misinformed and insensitive representations of Native Americans, but as a school, we felt even these efforts fell short.
While some of the more distasteful language had been cut for the junior edition, and the song “What Makes the Red Man Red” altered to “What Makes the Brave Ones Brave”, the people of Neverland are still referred to as “Indians”, which harkens back to the story’s history of misrepresentation of culture. Rather than allowing these issues to prevent us from performing an otherwise excellent show, the production team chose to rework the depiction of these characters. We opened up a dialogue with Middle School students about why it is important to properly represent cultures and the reasoning behind the decision to make the changes we did.
The process began when we realized that, if AC is a school that truly values other cultures, it was our job to present a telling of this story that reflected these values. The word “Indians” was still in the script we received, but we felt that this was not an accurate description of the people of Neverland nor the role we wanted to present. In the program, we chose to call them “Neverlanders”.
We discussed with the cast how we could develop Neverlanders’ culture in a way that did not draw from existing cultures, but rather was unique to life in Neverland. As the Neverlanders’ main song has a recurring message of “what makes the brave girl brave?”, we cast all our Neverlanders as girls. We highlighted the idea of strong female role models while developing their characters. This worked with the material in the script and reflected a positive message, replacing the image that was previously intended to poke fun at stereotypes.
The discussions that took place within the cast and in the Middle School as a whole will hopefully continue and build a more educated and culturally engaged environment.
You can see Peter Pan JR. at Allendale Columbia School this Friday and Saturday, March 15th and 16th, 2019, at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are available at http://acs.booktix.com and at the door. Parents of Allendale Columbia Kids (PACK) will sell refreshments during intermission.
PACK invites AC parents to sign up to support our AC students at this year’s Middle School musical by baking, selling, and assisting with bake sale set up and clean up. Sign up to volunteer today!
Cassidy DraperCassidy Draper '19 is the Middle School musical's Student Director. Between her Science Research and Writing Project, participation in the regional TEAMS competition, and work for the Global Engagement Diploma, she has performed in 10 AC theater productions between Middle and Upper School and has now decided to bring her theater experience to the next generation of AC's performers. She has enjoyed taking on the Student Director role and the opportunity to build connections between the Middle and Upper School that she hopes will last far beyond her graduation this June.
Posted in: Eighth Grade, Highlights, Middle School, PACK, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade
For the third year in a row, an Allendale Columbia School team of fifth-graders earned an invitation to the VEX IQ Robotics World Championships.
On Saturday, March 9th, three fifth-grade teams from AC went to the Museum of Science and Technology in Syracuse to compete in the VEX IQ Northern New York State Robotics Competition. A total of 24 teams of students in 5th to 8th grade won awards at local qualifiers to get there.
The MAGMAS, (composed of Morgan Wilson, Achanti Thongjang, Gia Pellegrino, Marc Voloshin, Amora Thongjang, and Sammy Davis) won the Excellence Award, which earned them the invitation to Worlds April 28th-30th, 2019. They will be one of 400 Middle School teams collaborating and competing from such countries as the U.S., China, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Puerto Rico, Colombia, South Korea, Egypt, Mexico, United Kingdom, Philippines, Finland, Myanmar, Estonia, United Arab Emirates, Morocco, and India. (more…)
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Fifth Grade, Highlights, Invent, Lower School
AC’s ongoing pursuit of civil discourse in society was challenged during this year’s Sophomore Forum. Following its counterparts for the Junior Class, Should Celebrities Speak Out?, and the Senior Class, Standing Up for Civil Discourse, this year’s Sophomore Forum tackled the topic of “Toxic Masculinity”, prompted by the recent Gillette commercial, “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be”. The ad has stimulated a lot of discussion on social media about what toxic masculinity is, if it’s a bad thing, and what we should be doing (if anything) to address it. (more…)
Innovation Day on March 15th is dedicated to all the new and unconventional ways students, teachers, and the AC community teach and learn, shaking things up from how it’s always been done. Anchored by a pitch competition for prospective young entrepreneurs and a science fair, the event will include interactive workshops, speakers, a gallery walk, and performances. (more…)
Posted in: Entrepreneurship, Highlights, Invent
Students throughout Allendale Columbia School don’t just learn about other parts of the world, they become global citizens, learning alongside their peers in other parts of the world. That’s just as true in Lower School.
Last year, AC first-graders explored the Amazon rainforest and ran a successful fundraising campaign to become stewards of a section of the rainforest equal to the size of AC’s campus. Building on that experience, AC’s Head of Lower School, Michelle Feiss, brought in Paul Hurteau, Executive Director of OneWorld Classrooms and a former Upstate New York teacher, who thrilled current first- and second-graders with stories of his experiences teaching students in Ecuador, complete with photos of the people and wildlife, poems, and artifacts from that rainforest community.
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Global Engagement, Highlights, Lower School, Middle School, Ninth Grade, Partnerships, Second Grade, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, Third Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School
What do a school psychologist from New York, a boy named Ken from the Dominican Republic, a girl named Jazmin, and a boy named Jared all have in common? During the summer of 2018, they all found themselves at Fundación Niños de María in Quito, Ecuador.
Fundación Niños de María is a private Catholic school in Ecuador. Students who attend come from public schools where they used to experience academic failure and where the ratio was often one teacher to 45 students. Niños provided a safe and often year-round educational experience for some of Quito’s most vulnerable students. For a student like Ken, whose family had recently relocated from the Dominican Republic, much about Niños, and Ecuador in general, was new. Jazmin had gone unnoticed at her last school and was quite shy, and Jared’s teacher shared that, while domestic violence was a part of his home life, he was usually upbeat and talkative.
Posted in: Global Engagement, Highlights
No one points out injustice quite like a child does. And no one gives us more hope than our children do.
Beginning with their preparations for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and their annual Kindergarten Breakfast, Allendale Columbia Kindergarten students learned about the life and legacy of Dr. King and the outstanding contributions of African American authors, artists, statesman, and scientists.
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Highlights, Kindergarten, Lower School
By Lori Kimbrough Wun
Allendale Columbia students Ava Gouvernet ’20 and Gabe Rosen ’19 received coveted Gold Key Awards in The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards competition conducted by the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, with four additional students also getting awards.
The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards is one of the country’s longest running and largest juried art exhibitions for visual art students in grades 7-12. The Awards have an impressive legacy dating back to 1923 and a noteworthy roster of past award winners including Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote, Richard Avedon, Robert Redford, Zac Posen, Ken Burns, and Joyce Carol Oates. (more…)
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Kid Kudos, Ninth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School