Lower School Curriculum Unveiled for 2019-2020

Posted on May 23rd, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

By Michelle Feiss, Head of Lower School

View the Lower School Curriculum Night slideshowThis past Tuesday evening, we unveiled Allendale Columbia’s new Lower School curriculum for the 2019-20 school year. Over the past 10 months, teachers have met in various teams to research the best programs globally in order to develop new standards for mathematics, literacy, and our project-based learning units for next year at AC.

We are privileged to have a team of experienced educators in our Lower School who also have advanced degrees in curriculum development that worked tirelessly to create the very best experience for your children. We discussed the drivers we used for ensuring that our students are successful and they include: creativity, curiosity, essential skills (sometimes called ‘soft’ skills), and a solid foundation in math and literacy.

VIDEO: Allendale Columbia Lower School Project Based Learning (PBL) Ideas

We also announced that we have selected Donna Chaback as our STEM educator for the next school year. Donna is excited to begin a “facelift” of the program with new technologies and a revamped STEM curriculum that will more closely align with our project-based learning units and our overall Lower School Curriculum. We know that when children make connections between various subjects, they retain what they have learned more readily.

VIDEO: Donna Chaback Introduced as Lower School STEM Educator

It is an exciting time in the Lower School as we push the envelope on what our children are capable of doing while also nurturing their natural curiosity and creativity. We look forward to working with each child (and each of you) on their amazing learning journey next year.

VIDEO: “The Documents”

Kristin Cocquyt

Michelle Feiss

Michelle began her career in Baltimore, Maryland teaching first grade students and moved on to faculty and leadership team roles in London, Hong Kong, and Germany. Most recently she was the Head of Lower School at the International School of Ulm in Germany. Michelle holds a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and a Master's degree in Educational Leadership, both from the University of Notre Dame in Maryland.
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Posted in: Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Highlights, Kindergarten, Lower School, Second Grade, Third Grade

Donate Prom/Formal Dresses for Community Service May Term

Posted on May 23rd, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

Allendale Columbia’s Community Service May Term group is collecting prom dresses, formal dresses, and accessories to donate to Fairy Godmothers, a non-profit organization that gives back to the community. Please bring your gently used dresses and accessories to the Welcome Desk at Allendale Columbia School. Donations will be accepted through Wednesday, May 29th. Please contribute!

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Posted in: Highlights, Middle School, Upper School

May Term Focuses on Helping Others With 3 Charitable Drives

Posted on May 23rd, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

By Amy Oliveri, Director of the AC Center for Entrepreneurship and May Term Coordinator

This year’s May Term is focused on helping others. Each Session incorporates service learning into its curriculum. Three charitable drives will run until the end of May Term, which culminates in Exhibition Night on June 6th from 6:00-7:30 p.m. This school-wide celebration showcases the projects and learning that take place during these twelve days of interdisciplinary learning, highlighted by cross-divisional and collaborative teaching models. Some of our sessions are even co-taught by students.

We hope you’ll contribute to these three drives:

  • Community Service is collecting prom dresses, formal dresses, and accessories to be donated to Fairy Godmothers. Please bring your gently used dresses and accessories to Mr. Hunt’s room or drop them off at Mrs. Broberg’s office. The collection will run all the way through Wednesday, May 29th.
  • Biking Beyond Rochester is collecting old/used bicycles for R Community Bikes, a partner organization that provides a tune up and teaches basic repair skills to our group. They will be collecting bikes at Exhibition Night on June 6th.
  • Caring for Animals is looking to support Lollypop Farm and Joyful Rescues Animal Shelter by donating supplies needed by these organizations. You can make a real difference for these animals and help them live comfortably in these shelters until they find their “forever” home. See what they need here.

More info about each of these fundraisers can be found on the May Term website. You can also see the full listing of sessions and student-led workshops there. Our 2019 May Term includes such engaging sessions as Adulting, Ableism, Artful Activism: Art and Social Justice, From Flour to Flower – Rochester Innovates, Problem Solving Through the Cultural Lens, Experimenting with Architecture and Code in Minecraft, Knights and Banquets: Life in Medieval Times, and Waterworld.


Kristin Cocquyt

Amy Oliveri

Amy has been a part of the Allendale Columbia Art Department since the fall of 2010 and serves as Director of the AC Center for Entrepreneurship. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Illustration and a Concentration in ASL as well as a Master of Science Degree for Teachers in Art Education from the Rochester Institute of Technology.
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Posted in: Authentic Learning, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Middle School, Ninth Grade, Partnerships, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

Help Animal Care May Term by Donating Pet Supplies

Posted on May 23rd, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

The Animal Care May Term at Allendale Columbia is looking to support Lollypop Farm and Joyful Rescues Animal Shelter by donating supplies needed by these organizations. You can make a real difference for these animals and help them live comfortably in these shelters until they find their “forever” home. Please consider donating any of the following items (please no dollar store items since they are dangerous to animals):

  • Canned dog & cat food
  • Sturdy leashes
  • Dog collars (especially size small)
  • Dog & cat treats
  • Non-clumping cat litter
  • Blankets (new/used)
  • Cat towers & scratching posts
  • Pet beds
  • Cat & dog toys
  • 8-to-10-gallon garbage bags
  • Gift cards to gas stations, Wegmans, Pet$avers, CountryMax, Tractor Supply
  • Paper towels
  • Clorox bleach

Please bring these items to the AC Welcome Desk anytime through June 6th. You can also bring items with you to May Term Exhibition Night on Thursday, June 6th, 6:00-7:30 p.m.

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Posted in: Highlights, Middle School, Partnerships, Upper School

Gettysburg & D.C. Excursion Humbling, Insightful for 8th-Graders

Posted on May 17th, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

Allendale Columbia’s 8th-graders traveled to Gettysburg and Washington, D.C. in early May as the culmination of their Middle School experience, with many tie-ins to their Capstone Project. First, they visited the Gettysburg Civil War battlefield where more than 50,000 Americans lost their lives. The visit dovetailed perfectly with the class’s studies, and, as one 8th-grader said, “Being there really helped me comprehend what happened.” Mr. Seth Hopkins, a Civil War buff, guided our bus tour, providing colorful commentary on Gettysburg’s significance and on the considerable sacrifices made by Upstate New York regiments.

In D.C., the 8th-graders spent two days exploring museums on the National Mall, including the National Gallery of Art, National Museum of American History, National Air & Space Museum, National Museum of the American Indian, and the National Museum of Natural History.

A first for AC was a visit to the new National Museum of African American History & Culture. Students connected to their studies of slavery’s origins in the Americas, Abolitionism, and the Civil War, as well as to the African American experience during both World Wars. “I learned about how the African slave trade was started. Seeing actual slave shackles helped me gain a  better understanding of how badly they were treated,” noted one student. Another explained, “At Gettysburg, we learned how African Americans took up arms to fight for their freedom. When we visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture, I was surprised to learn that African American soldiers did the same thing during the Revolutionary War.”

Another highlight was the new “Americans and the Holocaust” exhibit at the U. S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, introduced by Jeffrey Parker, a Rochesterian who now heads the museum’s education program. Finally, students were awed and inspired by night visits to the Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR, Martin Luther King, Jr., Vietnam, Korean, and WWII memorials. “When we saw all of the small names listed on the Vietnam Memorial,” said a student, “we found it both sad and shocking, especially as we thought about the fact that most soldiers were only a few years older than we are now.”

Another important facet of this trip was the bonding among students encouraged by both the long bus ride and our overnight facilities. By limiting electronic device usage to only photos and calls home, students conversed, played games, and got to know each other better. “I actually liked that rule in the end,” said one of the students. “It forced us to talk to each other!” Students also benefited from staying at a Boy Scout camp. They played outside, hung out and made s’mores around a campfire, cooked breakfast, packed their own lunches, and then cleaned up after themselves before we left. The trip was an action-packed three days that our 8th-graders will remember for a lifetime!


Kristin Cocquyt

Andrew Ragan

Andrew came to teach Middle School History at Allendale Columbia School after 20 years in educational publishing and living in Pittsburgh, New York City, Los Angeles, Toronto, and the Adirondacks. He began writing for young people at Junior Scholastic magazine and has since published hundreds of articles in such magazines as JS, Scholastic News, Disney Adventures, Creative Classroom, and more. After teaching freshman composition at the University of Southern California for several years, Andrew served as the Senior Editor for Disney Adventures Magazine. He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and Communications, with honors, from Carnegie Mellon University and his master's degree in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.
Kristin Cocquyt

Deanna Interlicchia

Deanna graduated from St. John Fisher College with a bachelor's degree in Adolescent English Education and went on to get her master's degree from SUNY Brockport in English Literature. She joined Allendale Columbia in 2007 from Freddie Thomas Learning Center where she student taught, and Canandaigua Middle School before that.
Kristin Cocquyt

Teresa Parsons

Teresa joined the Allendale Columbia team as a Middle School STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) teacher after spending 15 years in the engineering industry. She was a product engineer, then she transitioned into marketing and business development. As a business development manager, she created and provided product training, and it was in that role that she discovered her passion for teaching. Teresa earned a Master of Science Degree in Education from Nazareth College, and also holds two bachelor's degrees in Interdisciplinary Engineering/Management from Clarkson University and in Physics from the State University of New York College at Geneseo.
Kristin Cocquyt

Seth Hopkins

Seth brings 22 years of teaching experience at the Middle and High School level from Wellsville Central School District, The Charter School for Science and Technology, and most recently, The Norman Howard School. Seth holds a CAS in Educational Administration from The State University of New York College at Brockport, an MS in Adolescent Education in English from The State University of New York College at Geneseo, and a BA in History from The State University of New York at Stony Brook. Seth also holds New York State Certifications in Social Studies (Grades 7-12), English (Grades 7-12), Students with Disabilities (Grades 7-12), School Building Leader, and School District Leader. Additionally, Seth has been involved with grant writing efforts and curriculum development, and has served on a variety of professional committees.
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Posted in: Authentic Learning, Eighth Grade, Highlights, Middle School

Capstone Exhibition Shows Grade 8 Interdisciplinary Learning

Posted on May 17th, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

8th-grade students showcased their learning at the 2019 8th Grade Exhibition Day. This was the fourth year that 8th-graders have spent their second semester immersed in an interdisciplinary capstone experience related to World War II that combined concepts from their history, English, and science courses.

The capstone experience began after reading Most Likely to Succeed by Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith, furthering the emphasis on 21st century skills such as research, collaboration, and communication versus traditional classroom learning as students prepare to transition to Upper School and the world beyond. (more…)

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Posted in: Eighth Grade, Highlights, Middle School

Produce a Play in Just 3 Days!

Posted on May 16th, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

Calling all Upper School writers, performers, and designers (or anyone who has ever wanted to try…)!

Allendale Columbia Upper School students are invited to participate in an innovative Three-Day experimental theatre experience where they will work with AC faculty and community experts to write, design, stage, and perform an original play, complete with a set and costumes…in one weekend!

  • Friday, May 31st, 3 – 11 p.m.: Writing, editing, casting, read through
  • Saturday, June 1st, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.: Staging, rehearsing, designing, building
  • *Sunday, June 2nd, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.: Rehearsal and PERFORMANCE!
    NOTE: *Sunday times may change due to HAC Varsity Year End Awards

Register to participate by Monday, May 22nd.

Return to this page for updates throughout the production.

Please direct any questions to Amanda Meldrum at ameldrum@allendalecolumbia.org


Amanda Meldrum (Event Manager/Director)
A native of Rochester, NY, Amanda has been on stage since she can remember, either in musicals, bands, orchestras, or choirs. Amanda holds a Bachelor of Science in Music Therapy from SUNY Fredonia, has studied Vocal Performance and Music Education at Eastman School of Music, and has completed her master’s coursework in Creative Arts Therapy at Nazareth College. Her work as a music therapist took her to Detroit and Southern California, where she worked with children and adults in schools, hospitals, and community centers. After returning to Rochester in 2009, Amanda decided to pursue another passion and soon found herself immersed in the city’s vibrant world of youth theatre. She spent 6 years as a music director and vocal coach at Spotlight Theatre Arts and A Magical Journey Thru Stages before joining the faculty at Allendale Columbia School as a full-time music and theatre instructor. Amanda is so happy to be a part of the Allendale Columbia community, and loves watching our students grow from the rich, diverse experiences an education in the arts provides.
Chris Henning (Technical Theatre Expert)
Chris has been providing technical theatre education for nearly 20 years and has been with Allendale Columbia for 6 years. Chris also provides support for other special events on campus like Holiday Breakfast, Graduation, and TEDxAllendaleColumbiaSchoo l. Over the years, Chris has worked with many local organizations and schools such as Nazareth College, JCC, and Blackfrairs. When Chris is not working in the theatre, he can be found touring the country providing production support for CMI Communications.
Amanda Gianniny (Writing Expert)
Ms. G. has been a writer since Kindergarten when she published her first book, Little Duck Hatches, a book so memorable her father still quotes it to this day. She went on to write more stories and poems and eventually combined her passion for writing and her love of live music and became a music journalist in Austin, TX. She covered concerts and music festivals and even interviewed several bands. In her day job, Ms. G. brought her enthusiasm for writing to the classroom and worked with students from Kindergarten through 12th grade as a tutor and classroom teacher. She was the leader of a summer writing program in Texas and has founded several writing clubs, including one here at AC! She currently spends part of her summers as an artist/writer in residence at a summer camp. Ms. G. is the literacy advocate for the Lower School. She is partial to poetry, creative nonfiction, and writing silly song parodies. “Everyone has a story to tell, and I love the process of helping writers to play with words and bring those stories to life.”
Nicole Carson (Design Expert)
Nicole has worked on scenic design, sets, props, and costumes for nearly every Allendale Columbia production over the past several years, including The Sound of Music, Through the Looking Glass, You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, Into the Woods JR, and Peter Pan JR. In real life, she’s a baker at the Red Fern restaurant in Rochester.
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Posted in: Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Ninth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

Lower School Reads for 100 Minutes at Camp Read-A-Lot

Posted on May 10th, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

Students camped out at school with some good books as Allendale Columbia’s Lower School students completed their 100 minutes of reading at Camp Read-A-Lot on May 10th. (Read the preview, Wolfie Stirs Students to Read and Help for May 10 Read-A-Thon.)

With Wolfie and Ranger Feiss (Head of Lower School Michelle Feiss) kicking things off in a fun assembly, students returned to their classrooms where they staked out comfy spots to read in tents, under desks, in comfy chairs, on rugs, and other places.Head of School Mick Gee announced, “Ready, Set, Read!”, and they began their 100 minutes. Some read alone, some read together, fourth graders read to Kindergarteners, and some first-graders even read to their newly-hatched chicks!

Overall, camping out to read was not only fun, but beneficial: the money pledged to student readers goes to benefit AC’s Summer LEAP program.

Go to our Google Photos album to see all the photos from Camp Read-A-Lot.


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Posted in: Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Highlights, Kindergarten, Lower School, Second Grade, Third Grade