This fall, AC’s Production and Design students were given a choice of partnerships they could participate in, and seven of the students selected a collaboration with the Western New York chapter of Best Buddies, a global nonprofit organization that strives to create one-on-one friendships between volunteers and children with developmental disabilities to maintain an environment of inclusivity. Since about the third week of school, these dedicated students have worked countless hours to help produce the Best Buddies Champions Gala. This annual gala is the organization’s largest fundraiser of the year, and this year, due to the pandemic, the event needed to be held virtually.
For their part in this collaboration, AC students were given the responsibility of creating and producing vignettes, commercials, and promotional social media content for the gala, and their work culminated in the creation of a 30-minute pre recorded segment that aired December 5th on WROC Channel 8. Throughout the collaboration, students were in contact with the Best Buddies Program Manager, Lindsay Jewett, for nearly two months, often meeting with her via Zoom multiple days of the week as they planned and executed the various aspects of this project. They also had a virtual meeting with WROC to review the formatting requirements needed to properly air their videos on TV.
“Before Thanksgiving break, our group went to the Arbor Loft in Rochester to film for the prerecorded virtual gala. Students in our class also took on the responsibility of filming and editing hours worth of footage to make commercials to play on Channel 8 during the event. Throughout this process, each of us discovered that we were capable of doing big projects such as this, and we put our leadership skills to work identifying peer leaders within our group to help manage the program efficiently. We are very thankful to not only the Best Buddies Organization for letting us help with such a big project, but to our peers and teachers for helping us work on this safely and efficiently and, ultimately, leading us to success.” — Alicia Strader, AC Senior
The Gala raised more than $35,000 for programming in WNY. To learn more about Best Buddies or to get involved visit https://www.bestbuddies.org/.
Watch the Virtual Gala Segment
Behind the Scenes
Social Media Content Designer
Videography and Editing
Videography and Editing
Social Media Logistics Lead
Videography & Editing
Project Lead and Graphic Design
Tony TepedinoSince starting at Allendale Columbia in 1994, Tony has taken on many different roles. He has coached a variety of sports, including Varsity Girls’ Basketball and Varsity Golf. He taught physical education for seven years, kindergarten for seven years, and served as the Director of Curricular Technology for five years. Tony is currently serving as a faculty member in the Center for Entrepreneurship where he teaches electives for both middle and upper school students. He is also the Faculty Professional Learning Coordinator and C0-creator of TEDxAllendaleColumbiaSchool. Recently, Tony was Co-chair of the NYSAIS Accreditation Steering Committee and is a member of the Upper School Student Success Team responsible for Student Life. During the summer, Tony also works as Program Coordinator for the Iraqi Youth Leadership Exchange Program (IYLEP). He holds a master’s degree in Education from Roberts Wesleyan College. Tony is the proud father of two children, Gabi and Trip. He enjoys hiking, reading, travel, cooking, and learning about new things.
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Diversity Equity and Inclusion, Highlights, Upper School
Each November at Allendale Columbia, we open our doors for one of the most treasured and anticipated events of the year, Grandparents and Special Friends Day. Typical preparations for the day include classroom activities, colorful artwork in the hallways, songs rehearsed, and a fabulous lunch prepared and served to our guests. Although this year’s celebration looked a little different, the love and excitement between students and their guests was ever more apparent. By way of Zoom guests, who typically might not have been able to attend, were welcomed from the other side of the world. We had cousins from India, grandparents from Egypt, London, and Germany, and aunts and uncles from Canada. We even had attendees on the west coast who were ready to go at 6 a.m. PST! Our AC mascot, Wolfie, and Mrs. Feiss kicked off the event with a wonderful story, which uniquely incorporated each classroom from Kindergarten through Fifth Grade. Kindergarten shared two songs, “Mi Familia” and “We Shall Overcome”, while First Grade presented a Thanksgiving Day skit entitled, “Run Turkey Run”. The Second Grade class performed a poem called, “Ice Cream Stores”, which spoke about all the ways they see variety in the community. Third Grade presented a poem that highlighted their special guests, while Fourth Grade shared what and whom they were grateful for. Finally the Fifth Grade class read a poem of thanks which also gave us insight into their school year so far. But perhaps my favorite part of the celebration was when each class was highlighted on the screen and guests temporarily (and simultaneously) unmuted themselves to give their special AC student a warm shout out. As students heard their relatives’ voices they jumped up and down with excitement! We wrapped up the event by showing a special slideshow full of pictures and warm sentiments, while students enjoyed some delicious pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Thank you to everyone who participated. We are so grateful to have you as part of our AC family.
Click the links below to relive the fun!
Julie BarrettAs AC’s Welcome Desk Associate, Julie collaborates with several AC departments and ensures that everyone who visits or calls campus feels welcome. Prior to joining AC, she worked for Mattiacio Orthodontics, Rochester Wedding Magazine, and Cardiac Life. She received her Associate’s Degree in Sports Tourism and Marketing from Finger Lakes Community College and is in the process of earning a Certificate in Business and Entrepreneurial Studies from Monroe Community College.
Posted in: Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Highlights, Kindergarten, Lower School, Second Grade, Third Grade
When the pandemic sent students home last spring, Mr. Ragan and Mr. Costanzo had a problem— how would they conduct their usual May Term gardening course with all of their students working from home? You see normally, May Term is an immersive educational experience that allows a teacher to teach the same group of students on topics they are passionate about for six days, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. That clearly, wasn’t going to be the case this year.
Enter “Get Out and Grow!”, a day of hands-on instruction for students starting their own patio or yard gardens at home! Weeks before the course, Mr. Costanzo and Mr. Ragan sorted and planted hundreds of seeds in their homes to “start” plants for students who needed them. As May Term neared, Middle School families filled out wish lists of preferred plants and seeds. The teachers then distributed dozens of custom boxes filled with tomato, squash, pumpkin, cucumber, broccoli, basil, sunflower, lemon balm and pepper plants, as well as seeds for lettuce, potatoes, and other herbs and flowers. The boxes were placed physically distanced a part in the school parking lot and families drove up to find their box.
During the four May Term days, Mr. Costanzo and Mr. Ragan co-hosted the course on Zoom from their own gardens, getting down into the dirt to demonstrate gardening techniques such as planting seeds and transplanting starts. Students were given time to work on their own gardens, and, by day’s end, most were off and growing. By mid-summer, they sent photos of vining beans, staked tomato plants, squash plants out of control, and budding peppers! Not long after came shots of red, yellow, and orange tomatoes of all sizes, and basil as a bonus! Next came green peppers turning red, and, as summer waned, pumpkins turning orange. In October, pounds of potatoes were dug up, and the tomatoes kept growing, for some, right into November. One student posted the mashed potatoes she made, and others showed off baskets filled with their harvests.
Mr. Costanzo and Mr. Ragan thank all of the students and their families who participated in their May Term and discovered or reignited their joy for gardening.
We hope that this year will have been the first of many great harvests!
Watch Mr. Ragan, Mr. Costanzo, and Mr. Hopkins starring in “The Tomato Snatcher II: COVID Edition”!
Andrew RaganAndrew 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.
Gabriel CostanzoAs an instrumental music teacher at Allendale Columbia School, Gabe teaches 4th Grade Band, 5th Grade Band, Concert Band, Jazz Ensemble, Wind Ensemble, and Music Theory. He held the David M. Pynchon Chair in the Visual and Performing Arts from 2008 - 2013 and is a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. He earned bachelor's degrees in Music Education and Music Composition from SUNY College at Fredonia and a master's degree in Music Composition from Bowling Green State University. You can also find him on horn and vocals for the local band The Buddhahood.
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Highlights, Middle School
Allendale Columbia School is committed to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community, and we are proud to be one of the more than 400 local organizations to participate in the United Way of Greater Rochester’s 21-Day Equity Challenge. Prior to the Challenge, AC hosted a series of equity events, including a town hall meeting to explore the history of racism and resistance in Rochester as well as several listening sessions for parents and alumni.
The 21-Day Equity Challenge covered a wide range of topics including basic definitions of bias and privilege as well as an overview of the challenges of talking about race. Education was a key focus of the series and included an examination of the economic and racial segregation of our local schools. It also offered critical tips on how to talk to children about race.
The Challenge also showed how racial discrimination impacts many sectors including housing, wealth, the environment and health outcomes. It closed with a call to action that included advice on allyship and building a culture of racial equity within organizations.
Students, parents, faculty, administrators, and staff from Allendale Columbia School participated in the Equity Challenge. There will be an opportunity for them to come together and reflect on the experience in the near future, and we plan to return to these valuable resources as we work toward achieving our equity goals.
For more information about how you can get involved in these important discussions, please contact Lindsey Brown, Director of Equity and Community Engagement.
Posted in: Diversity Equity and Inclusion, Highlights
Please join us at our Thanks & Giving Celebration by making an online donation to support impactful, in-person learning at AC. Challenge donations will match what we raise between 7:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 19th and 7:00 p.m. Friday, November 20th, up to a total of $25,000!
Posted in: Alumni News, Events & Workshops, Highlights
This year has brought about a unique set of challenges for educators, including how to safely continue our music education program. We know singing and playing instruments is incredibly important for students at AC, and instead of saying “no” to music education, as many other schools have done this year, we’ve worked hard to ensure we can continue to make music, while keeping all of our students safe.
In the midst of this pandemic, there is nothing quite like hearing voices singing. I’ll never forget hearing the 4th graders, who are in chorus for the first time, singing during their first rehearsal in the CPC. It was magical. They overcame all of the obstacles we threw at them and continued to make music. That is what it’s all about. — Rachael Sanguinetti, Music Teacher
Posted in: Art, Highlights, Lower School, Middle School, Upper School
In honor of Veterans Day, AC Alumni Board member Bryan Perkins ’97 sat down with AC graduate and military veteran Matt Zeller ’00 to discuss how Allendale Columbia School prepared Matt for life after AC. Thank you to the men and women who have bravely served in the Armed Forces, including many members of our AC community.
AC Summer LEAP is a six-week summer enrichment program that seeks to close the opportunity gap in Rochester by offering high-quality summer learning experiences to students with low income.
AC LEAP delivered a comprehensive program this past summer despite the challenges of COVID-19. As part of the Rochester Summer Learning Collaborative, AC LEAP offered weekly deliveries of project-based learning boxes and food along with virtual classes in core academic subjects, art, wellness, and music. AC LEAP also provided individualized social emotional support to students, and socially distant celebrations including the Backyard BBQ and the annual Student Showcase.
OUR IMPACT AT A GLANCE
AC LEAP served:
- 111 students
AC LEAP distributed:
- 604 project-based learning boxes
- 4,664 meals
AC LEAP students attended:
- 476 virtual class sessions attended
AC LEAP faculty & staff made:
- 352 face-to-face contacts
- 228 phone contacts
- 206 text contacts
LEARN MORE ABOUT AC LEAP
Posted in: Highlights, Partnerships, Summer LEAP