By Beth Guzzetta
Fall has arrived and with it the scent of apple pies and pumpkin spice lattes. However, the apples and pumpkins that we are craving were not self-reliant during their early months of formation. No, not at all! In order to pollinate, they relied heavily on the numerous insects that started buzzing around actively in the spring. Allendale Columbia School students, too, began buzzing in activities to support the bees and, in the process, learn about life cycles, environmental impacts, and bees’ role in our food systems.
During that spring, flowers were blossoming, and you were probably thinking, “Go away you irritating bug; I want to enjoy the beautiful flowers.” But you probably were not thinking about the fact that those irritating insects were spreading pollen so the flowers can continue with their life cycle. Without those marvelous yet occasionally annoying creatures, we wouldn’t have as many delicious fresh fruits and vegetables at our AC lunches. The salivating scents of apple delicacies certainly would not have become as abundant or a tradition that we so look forward to as the leaves begin to change colors.
If you’re still reading and have not left to find a warm piece of apple pie yet, I’d like to tell you about an amazing project that I started at AC during The Buds and The Bees May Term class last spring due to the gracious donation and support of the Pinkowski family. For one and a half weeks, Middle and Upper School students joined together to create an apiary on campus for everyone to enjoy.
Students split into areas of interest during this time, working to develop the foundation of this project. They had much to accomplish in a short period of time, but their high motivation and interested was like a continuously fueled fire that kept them energized and engaged. Prior to the actual start of May Term, students had to prepare the hive by weatherproofing it with many layers of polyurethane and/or tung oil.
Once May Term began, students worked diligently with Gabe Costanzo to prepare the school garden by weeding a plot of land and choosing flowers that honeybees prefer. They visited Lucas Greenhouses to gather more information from the very friendly botanists and to pick out their chosen flowers that Lucas Greenhouses generously donated. They planted their flowers in the prepared plot.
Other students created a sturdy stand to hold the hive and keep it from tilting or falling over, especially during periods of high winds. They designed, sawed, drilled, and assembled the stand, and then leveled an area and set pavers for the stand to rest on. Other students needed to “seed” the bars and tack down the bars in the hive boxes so the honey bees would quickly start building honeycomb across them. Another group researched aspects of honey bees and honey, then wrote a book that even included some recipes that contain honey. Once the garden and hive were ready, we introduced our honeybees.
We purchased our bees from Wolf Creek Farms in Tennessee because they have very healthy and docile honeybees that are a mix of Russian, Italian, and Carniolin genetics and have never been treated with chemicals. Michael VanEdwards, a local beekeeper who is educating me as I teach my students about beekeeping, picked up our six pounds of bees and drove them to AC so that they arrived healthy, happy, and hungry. With his help, the students introduced the thousands of bees to their new home. Needless to say, they stuck around due to the yummy homemade nectar that included amino acids and essential oil that we fed them in the first few days, making honeycomb right from the start.
Through the summer and fall, Michael, AC students, and I have been checking on the hive and all of its activity, especially for mites and beetles that can be devastating to honeybee colonies. Luckily the hive is healthy and happy! Naturally, the bees swarmed a bit late and stole some of the honey, so the students began a feeding schedule in September to boost the bees’ honey production so they are able to maintain their colony through the cold winter months that are quickly arriving. Students have been actively learning about their colony and honey bees in general and visiting the hive daily in full beekeeper regalia. They have also been monitoring our swarm in the hope that they too survive the winter and possible come back to a second hive that we plan on installing in the spring.
In the fall and winter, the Middle School students will continue their honeybee research in Seventh Grade Science and Sixth and Eighth Grade Math. They will install BroodMinder bluetooth connected monitors that will allow them to monitor the hive weight and temperature so they can measure their hive’s health and share their data with other beekeepers. Data analysis on our hive, as well as the data entered by other beekeepers nationwide, will help them stay connected and engaged with the dynamics of their honeybee activity. They will also team up with Lower School students to teach them about the honeybees, possibly collaborating cross-divisionally to write the first AC Honeybee book.
Through their involvement this project, students are connecting more with nature and beginning to notice and wonder about other types of beneficial insects that abound in nature. They are paying closer attention to other environmental phenomena, such as weather patterns, plant life cycles, chemicals such as pesticides and their impact on honey bees and other pollinators, food sources, and so much more. Through this increased awareness and engagement, they are being transformed and inspired to make positive sustainable life changes. They are inspiring others to do the same by acting as nature’s stewards.
So if you see a group of large walking marshmallows on campus, stop and say hello and ask them about the sweet work that they are doing. I am sure that they would be happy to engage with you and educate you about their flying community members that live across the creek.
Elizabeth GuzzettaBeth, AC's Lucius and Marie Gordon Chair in Science and NY State Finalist for the 2016-17 Presidential Awards for Excellence In Science Teaching, has taught mathematics, science, and computer courses at the middle school, high school, and college levels in addition to private tutoring for 29 years. She has also coached Varsity boys and girls soccer and Modified softball and basketball. Beth has coached Odyssey of the Minds, helping one team receive second in the world, and enjoys bringing students on domestic and international academic and cultural experiences. She holds a bachelor's degree in Mathematics from St. John Fisher College as well as a master's degree in Education from Curry College, and brings experience from an international exchange program in Wales.
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Eighth Grade, Highlights, Invent, Middle School, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade
By Shari Ellmaker and Arielle Gillman
Young readers often get stuck in a particular book genre, especially if they’ve become fond of a series. To expand their palates, Allendale Columbia School’s third grade teachers held a “Book Tasting”, something you can also try at home.
To prepare, we spent some time learning all about a few different genres of texts: biography, fantasy, nonfiction, graphic novel, realistic fiction, and poetry. We also practiced “interviewing” a book to see whether it is a good match for the reader by reading level, interest, etc.
Next, our “Book Taste Testers” entered our classroom restaurant. Their servers, Ms. Gillman and Mrs. Ellmaker, took their requests for an appetizer, an entree, and dessert, and delivered them one at a time. Students sampled the texts and wrote a brief review of each course. By the end of the meal, everyone was full from great books!
Why is reading different genres important for young readers?
Young children love to hear stories read to them over and over again. Many parents encourage their young ones to listen to a different story, but to no avail. Your little one is “feeling like a reader” when they hear predictable text each night. You may notice them “reading” along with you and finishing sentences. They love books with patterns, sound words, and repetitive phrases.
As the children get older, they are more open to different genres. Parents should take this opportunity to explore a new genre. Why?
Students are learning that a genre is a form of text that follows a particular format and structure. Using the word “genre” provides a way for the students to organize and talk about their observations of texts. When a student can identify a genre, they can recognize what they are reading and quickly adjust their reading style. So for example, if they read an article about how to make something, they can read the text at a slower pace in order to follow specific directions. Students will learn information quickly and efficiently when using headings, for example, while reading informational texts.
So, the more children are exposed to different genres, the quicker they will be able to take information and synthesize it for understanding and application. Parents should model reading a variety of genres and spend time reading with and to their children.
How and why should a child “interview” a book?
A reader interviews a book by asking a lot of questions:
- Does the title sound interesting?
- Do I know anything about the author?
- Does the blurb on the back of the book sound interesting?
- Is the book a genre I like to read? (Hint: some books have words like “Mystery”, “Memoir”, or “Fiction” in the corner of the back cover.)
- Did the book win any awards?
- Is the book too hard? Try the beginning and read a page from the middle to decide. Use the “Five Finger Rule” to decide if the book is too hard. Read a random page, put a finger up for each unknown word you encounter. If you reach four or five fingers before the page is finished, it may be too hard. Three may be right and one or two would be too easy.
Setting up a Book Tasting at home is a fun way to get your child interested in different genres and extend your child’s reading range. Have your child help you set up a restaurant-like environment in your kitchen or dining room. Find your favorite apron, table setting, flowers, and notepad to “take the guest’s order.” Use books from your child’s collection and sort them by genre. Begin by serving the child choices from the menu of genres. You can then try swapping roles so the child is the server asking you for different genres you’d like to read. Take some time to interview the book and talk together about your review. By the end of the experience, both you and your young reader will have an appetite for books of all different genres!
Reading Rockets. The Importance of Reading Widely (2010). Retrieved from http://www.readingrockets.org/article/importance-reading-widely.
Kissner, Emily. Using Genre to Help Students Learn from What They Read. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/ascd-express/vol5/511-kissner.aspx.
Inquiry By Design, Inc. Setting Up the Literacy Studio (2013).
Sharon EllmakerShari has been an educator for over 26 years, and teaching at Allendale Columbia for 19. She has taught second, third, and fourth grade with experience in public school, suburban, inner-city, independent, and college-level settings. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education from Bluffton University.
Arielle GillmanArielle has been involved in the field of education, either through volunteering, as a college student, or as a teacher, since she was 14 years old. She has taught students in multiple grades in Penfield, Fairport, Webster, and Newark and has also worked at the Mary Cariola Children's Center and The Community Place of Greater Rochester. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Childhood Education from SUNY Fredonia and her Master of Science Degree in Literacy Education from SUNY Geneseo.
Connections are vital. As we are reminded nearly every day in the media and educational literature, connections are especially important in a fast-paced and often impersonal society. At Allendale Columbia, the importance of connections is a core value. To emphasize and instill this value, AC’s Upper School used the first Friday of the school year, Class Day, to focus on building connections between students and between students and faculty.
Each class’s activities centered on a theme with the goals of bonding as a class, community building, and fostering interaction between faculty and students outside school, setting a tone of mutual respect and positive teamwork. These events addressed skills and themes which help instill our core values, and they help build the community and connections our students will rely on for this year, and years to come.
9th Grade: Community
Ninth grade focused the whole day on making connections with each other, beginning with some team-building activities with seniors. They then boarded a bus and headed to RocVentures. The staff at RocVentures guided the students in some very fun and challenging games that required teamwork. They also spent some time on the high ropes course and the climbing walls, where they learned a bit of resilience, a healthy respect for gravity, and trust in their teachers, who belayed them, and RocVentures staff, who guided them in the ropes course. In the afternoon, students did an introspective activity, in which they were asked to think about how their learning could connect with their passions or interests, and they ended the day with a fun, collaborative activity with the 4th and 5th graders. This activity, directed by Randy Northrup, involved Lower and Upper School students working together to make balloon hats and connecting all of the hats together, so that the whole group was essentially wearing one very large, comical-looking balloon hat.
10th Grade: Equality
Tenth graders worked with David Sanchez from the Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence in an eye-opening workshop centered around conflict without contempt. After a cultural lunch with Indian food at AC’s International House, the afternoon revolved around a role play activity to make students aware of their various social identities. The day concluded with yoga to introduce an effective stress management solution.
11th Grade: Leadership
Herb Alexander from Roberts Wesleyan College conducted a workshop for the junior class on forward planning and self assessments. Hilary Bluestein-Lyons from STAGES and Noah Chrysler from RIT’s improv group then conducted a workshop on improvisational theater, which teaches participants how to listen and communicate effectively. The juniors then put on a show for the 2nd graders. They are poised to use the leadership skills they cultivated that day.
12th Grade: Legacy
A trip to Niagara Falls was riddled with activities focusing on legacy and team building. A scavenger hunt and a ride on the Maid of the Mist were two highlights. The class spent the night at AsburyCam p and Retreat Center on Silver Lake, continuing the conversations about the legacy they will leave at AC. As they sat around the campfire theat night and shared what they liked about each other highlighted the bonds they share. The morning ended with skits about their 20-year reunion.
Posted in: Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Ninth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School
After a successful inaugural “Advisory Day” last year, Allendale Columbia continued using Friday of the first week of school for Middle School students to participate in a meaningful bonding experience with their advisors and fellow classmates. On September 7th, students engaged in various on-campus and off-campus experiences to begin their year-long work focusing on each of their class themes.
This year, the 8th grade spent their advisory retreat at Mount Hope Cemetery where they performed community service and learned about many legacies of the Mount Hope “residents” from guide Pat Corcoran. Ms. Corcoran was very impressed and grateful for the enthusiasm and energy the 8th graders put into clearing brush, digging up weeds, and “picking up” around several sections of the cemetery. Students also learned new things about Mount Hope’s famous residents, such as how many people visited Susan B. Anthony’s grave during the 2008 presidential election and the legacies left by Frederick Douglass’s wives. They also learned cool facts about many others buried at the cemetery, including Margaret Woodbury Strong, Hiram Sibley, and Emma Sibley Watson. This day helped set the stage for a year-long exploration of their own leadership within the Middle School and the legacy they want to leave behind as they move into the Upper School only a short ten months from now. At the end of 8th grade, a capstone project in their physics, history, and English will highlight all the work and progress these students have made over the course of the year. This retreat also served as a springboard for the students to think about their goals and look ahead to the 8th grade trip to Gettysburg and Washington DC.
The 7th grade partnered with Best Buddies and School of the Holy Childhood this school year. Best Buddies International is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). On Friday, students were introduced to Best Buddies and spent the day at Charlotte Beach with a group of students from School of the Holy Childhood.
The theme of the 6th grade year in advisory is ”independence.” Sixth grade is a perfect time to introduce topics of independence as students transition from Lower School to Middle School. Students spent advisory day on campus focusing on community building as a class and within advisory groups. Advisory groups were tasked with creating, designing, and building their own “origin worlds”. Similar to writing a science-fiction story, students were asked to think about their own unusual powers and create a fictional world from which they came. These worlds included geography, traditions, language, and supernatural elements. Students then designed and created these worlds out of gingerbread. This task asked students to think about themselves both as individuals and as members of the Middle School community. Self-advocacy, accountability, and individuality are key parts of this day and the 6th grade advisory program.
Posted in: Eighth Grade, Highlights, Middle School, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade
by Gabe Costanzo
Near the end of the last school year, in the second session of May Term, I had the privilege of working with five ambitious Upper School students who took on the task of renovating Allendale Columbia School’s vegetable garden. Danielle Fuller ’18, Kenny Mogauro ’18, Toshi Shizuuchi ’20, Aaron Kalvitis ’19, and Roxy Reisch ’20 met me in the Band Room, my home base, on the first day of May Term, and we had a discussion about the factors that contributed to their participation in this particular May Term course, “Grow Your Own Food.” (more…)
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Middle School, Ninth Grade, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School
For the second summer, local Allendale Columbia students participated in the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP) here in Rochester. IYLEP* is a four-week exchange program for promising Iraqi students to visit different U.S. cities and learn about leadership, peacebuilding, and civic engagement. Rochester is the only host city that has American students participate in the IYLEP program for the full two weeks, which allows them to build a strong bond and further break down stereotypes and misconceptions.
“Before this program, what I thought and knew of Iraq was based off what I see in the news, and sure, we have our differences, but we have way more in common than I thought,” said AC student Garrett Wilson.
During their time in Rochester, Iraqi and AC students visited an array of places, ranging from workshops at the M.K. Gandhi Institute, site visits to Rochester International Academy, a service project at Foodlink, and a night out at a Red Wings game.
On August 16th, students, host parents, and members of the community gathered in the Curtis Performance Center for the IYLEP Student Showcase. As guests trickled in, IYLEP participants laughed, sang NSYNC, and posed for selfies together, further proving that teenagers are teenagers, no matter where they’re from.
“Just because we’re from different places, it doesn’t mean we have different kinds of hearts.” – Mikayla Gross ‘19
Showcase presentations included a student-produced video highlighting the activities and friendships formed over the course of the two weeks in Rochester; a skit depicting some of the cultural differences identified between American and Iraqi students; and a touching thank you video to the host families. Many participants spoke about the lasting impact of the program, including the simple experiences like living with pets or riding a bike.
The evening concluded with the presentation of awards to the IYLEP participants by RGC Executive Director, Cecelia Hencke, and Program Facilitator, Mary Beth Moyer, followed by a friendly mix and mingle over refreshments in the Dining Commons.
“The lasting impact of this program is the person-to-person connection formed between people from diverse backgrounds,” said Hencke. “It increases international understanding and promotes positive U.S. foreign relations and a more peaceful and prosperous world. The program has a multiplier effect because the students are now ambassadors of one another’s country and will help further breakdown the stereotypes or misconceptions.”
Allendale Columbia School has been involved with IYLEP since 2017, when the AC Center for Global Engagement partnered with Rochester Global Connections (RGC), a local nonprofit organization that promotes cultural exchange, to bring this opportunity to our community. Local high school students who participate in the program are eligible to receive accreditation from AC’s Center for Global Engagement. This year’s participants included 11 high school students and one adult mentor from Iraq and eight local Allendale Columbia students.
Since the program’s founding in 2007, IYLEP has brought more than 2,300 promising Iraqi high school and undergraduate students to the U.S. In addition to promoting mutual understanding between the people of Iraq and the U.S., IYLEP also fosters relationships within the diverse group of Iraqi participants, who represent a broad range of ethnic, religious, and geographic backgrounds.
During their program, IYLEP participants visit two to three U.S. cities where they engage in experiential learning activities and cultural exchange. Upon their return to Iraq, they implement projects in their communities, such as organizing peace festivals and providing relief services to refugees and orphans. As an investment in global understanding and peace, IYLEP has created a cadre of future leaders of Iraq.
It is clear this program benefits both American and Iraqi students alike. Together, it prepares them to become global leaders- to learn global empathy, compassion, and humility. They learn leadership skills- such as working with people from diverse backgrounds, problem solving, teamwork, dialogue, and self confidence. From this experience, students are prepared to be successful in our global and diverse society and be empowered to make a positive difference in our community and communities around the world.
“We hope to continue this program on an annual basis, so I encourage local students to apply!” said Hencke.
*IYLEP is sponsored and funded by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and implemented by World Learning.
Posted in: Global Engagement, Highlights, Partnerships
August 15th marked the end of another successful summer, here at AC Summer LEAP! Students, parents, and faculty came together to celebrate the hard-work and dedication of this year’s participants in an interactive, up-beat Student Showcase.
After opening remarks from AC Summer LEAP’s Program Director, Lindsey Brown, and LEAP’s PTO President, Leticia Castro, LOLSuperstar and School No. 17 music teacher, Chaz Bruce took, center stage with partner Toshman Powell. Together, “ChazNDash” led the audience through an uplifting and enthusiastic call-and-response song that got the whole auditorium singing and clapping along.
This year’s AC Summer LEAP theme was “Wonders of Wakanda,” based on the recent popularity of Marvel’s Black Panther movie and comics. Through this theme, culturally relevant instruction was created, and each grade was assigned a topic to present at the Showcase as a “tribe.” Topics included, safety, entrepreneurship, leadership, and technology, and presentation styles ranged from home-made videos and fidget spinners to fashion shows, spoken word, and dance.
Established in 2014, AC Summer LEAP is a six-week summer enrichment program that seeks to close our community’s opportunity gap by offering high-quality summer learning experiences to low-income children from the Rochester City School District. Studies show that low-income students can lose up to three months of academic gains when they are out of school for the summer, which by 5th grade, can account for a 2.5-3 year achievement difference between low-and middle-income students. AC Summer LEAP is here to help fill that gap!
WHAT WE’VE ACCOMPLISHED SINCE 2014
362 students served 329 families served 1,800 books distributed
37 community speakers 12,400 meals served 60 field trips taken
WANT TO GET INVOLVED?
Director of AC Summer LEAP
Lindsey BrownLindsey earned her bachelorâ€™s degree in Spanish and masterâ€™s degree in Creative Writing at SUNY Brockport and holds New York State Teacher Certifications in Primary Education with a Bilingual Extension, Spanish (7-12), and English (7-12). She has been in the field of education for nine years, and at Allendale Columbia School for six, where she teaches Spanish 6, 7, and 8. Before coming to Allendale Columbia, Lindsey worked in community health and taught in the Upward Bound Program at the University of Rochester. She teaches Middle School Spanish and is Co-Director of ACâ€™s Summer LEAP program.
Community members and supporters recently stopped in to see Allendale Columbia School’s Summer LEAP program in action! After a brief introduction by Head of School Mick Gee and Executive Director of AC’s program, Lindsey Brown, guests toured campus, visited in classrooms, and spoke with faculty and parents to see first-hand the impact of Summer LEAP.
Summer LEAP is a six-week summer enrichment program that seeks to close our community’s opportunity gap by offering high-quality summer learning experiences to low-income children from the Rochester City School District. Studies show that low-income students can lose up to three months of academic gains when they are out of school for the summer, which by 5th grade, can account for a 2.5-3 year achievement difference between low-and middle-income students. AC Summer LEAP is here to help fill that gap!
Throughout the day, it was clear that AC Summer LEAP is a vital program targeting the area of greatest need in the Rochester City School District. AC partners with a community school, Enrico Fermi School No. 17 and its principal Caterina Leone-Mannino, helping to lift it out of receivership. School 17 and AC’s LEAP program serve a high proportion of Spanish-dominant Latino students, including some who arrived in Rochester post hurricane Maria.
AC’s Summer LEAP program is unique in many ways. It features bilingual balanced literacy, a comprehensive restorative justice program that helps students develop positive conflict resolution skills and maximizes academic time for all students, a wellness program in partnership with the JCC, and family-style lunches with locally-sourced food.
This year, LEAP is using the theme “Wonders of Wakanda”, based on the recent popularity ofMarvel’s Black Panther movie and comics, to emphasize culturally relevant instruction. An amazing 84% of faculty are teachers of color, more closely matching the student population than any other school in the city. Students are choosing projects related to innovation, the arts, and leadership. AC Summer LEAP’s 5th graders are reading the Black Panther graphic novel and writing their own graphic novel origin stories that emphasize self-awareness, cultural pride, and themes of leadership.
VIPs in attendance included: Jan August of the Office of Major Gifts at the United Way; Jerome Underwood, CEO of Action for a Better Community; Simeon Bannister, Interim Vice President of Community Programs at the Rochester Area Community Foundation. Several members of AC’s Summer LEAP Advisory Committee participated, including Jori Cincotta, Ebets Judson, and Jill Wynn.