Change Provides Car for Afghan Hero

Posted on January 15th, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School
Ellen Smith (NOLB Rochester Chapter Head) and Abdul Wali Akrami receive a ceremonial check from Change We Can Believe In leader Elina Natarajan '22.

Ellen Smith (NOLB Rochester Chapter Head) and Abdul Wali Akrami receive a ceremonial check from Change We Can Believe In leader Elina Natarajan ’22.

Abdul Wali Akrami, a humble hero who helped U.S. Armed Forces in Afghanistan, received a car and insurance to help him resettle in Rochester as a result of AC ninth-grader, Elina Natarajan’s inspired “Change You Can Count On” fundraiser at Allendale Columbia School.

Natarajan rallied the Community Service Club to help with the project, in which students in each grade and faculty sought to fill 2-liter bottles with loose change. All those coins added up to $743.00 to support No One Left Behind (NOLB), an organization that helps resettle the Afghan and Iraqi heroes who assisted the U.S. as drivers, interpreters, and special assistants.

“I was inspired when I met Matt Zeller and Janis Shinwari after a discussion at school,” Natarajan explained. AC alumnus and 2018 CNN Hero, Matt Zeller ’00, is a co-founder of NOLB with his Afghan translator Janis Shinwari. “I heard Ellen Smith (the Rochester Chapter Head) talk in the evening forum about raising money to help provide vehicles to these relocated helpers, and I thought, we can do that!”

“Wali” and his family fled his home country of Afghanistan to go to Pakistan when it became too dangerous under the Taliban. He returned when U.S. forces arrived to, as he put it, “help restore our country”. He became the trusted driver and special assistant to Fulton Jones, DynCorp International’s Deputy Program Manager for the Ministry of Interior’s Mentoring Program working with the Afghan National Police. Jones is the one who sponsored Wali’s visa. “On two occasions while we were traveling in my vehicle around Kabul, nearby coalition military bases or Afghan governmental institutions were attacked by Taliban insurgents. Wali quickly assessed the situation and realized that we were in danger of being hit,” Jones wrote in his letter of recommendation, and related how Wali got them to safety. “Wali risks his life daily just coming to work…but firmly believes what he is doing is right and worth the risk.”

Wali’s son, Aleem, related some of his father’s story to the packed Curtis Performance Center at AC, while tears of gratitude streamed down Wali’s face. A family friend, Jawad Tawakali, who moved here as a child, translated Wali’s thanks to the group. “It feels good to know we could help,” said Natarajan, who also noticed the tears. “It was a very emotional moment.”

 

Interested in supporting No One Left Behind? Send donations to:

No One Left Behind, Inc.
888 Pittsford Mendon Center Road
Pittsford, NY 14534

You can also email Irwin Solomon at irsolnolb@gmail.com.

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Posted in: Alumni News, Centers for Impact, Eleventh Grade, Global Engagement, Highlights, Ninth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

Now in College, AC Grads Sound More Like Their Parents and Teachers

Posted on January 10th, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

By John Palomaki

Get to bed earlier.
Don’t wait to the last minute to start your homework.
Get out of your room and make friends.
Do your laundry.
Talk to your teachers.
Manage your time.
Find your passion.
School work comes first.
Surround yourself with good people.
Turn your homework in on time.
Make sure you get enough sleep.
Just do the work.
Think about who you are.

Admonitions from parents or teachers? Not this time. These are some of the many tips Allendale Columbia graduates gave Upper School students based on their college experiences. (more…)

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Posted in: Alumni News, College Advising News, Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Ninth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

AC Alum Recognized as 2018 CNN Hero

Posted on November 9th, 2018 by cnickels

Veterans Day celebrates our soldiers and marines who served this country or, in some cases, made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. But what about all those people who help our troops? The people who live in the country that is being torn apart by war. The people who risk their lives to help our soldiers communicate, navigate, and survive. What about them?

Matt Zeller, an AC Class of 2000 alum, left our campus with ideas of being a lawyer or a politician and went on to earn degrees from Hamilton College and Syracuse University before joining the U.S. Army.

In 2008 his life, and his future, changed forever. (more…)

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Posted in: AC in the News, Alumni News, Authentic Learning, Entrepreneurship, Global Engagement, Highlights

AC Connects with Boston Area Alumni

Posted on October 19th, 2018 by Amelia Fitzsimmons

Each year, members of the Alumni Office travel around the country to reconnect and reminisce with AC alumni.  This year’s first stop was Boston!

On Tuesday evening,Head of School Mick Gee, Karen Higman, and Kayla Himelein enjoyed catching up with alumni and friends at the Union Club of Boston. Among the distinguished guests was former Head of Upper School, John Harrison. Alumni and friends reconnected with former classmates and shared stories of their time at AC over drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Regardless of background or graduation year, many of their stories revolved around the shared experiences they had with beloved faculty and the personalized care and attention they received as students at AC.

Mick Gee and Kieran Draper P’19, Current Trustee, also spoke to the group about the progress of the school as we come out of the Impact Initiative Campaign and the establishment of AC’s new Centers for Impact. Thanks to the support of AC alumni, parents, students, faculty, and staff, AC exceeded its $4 million campaign goal and is now able to provide students with enhanced access to innovative and authentic learning opportunities.

Save the Date
Thursday, December 20th
Annual Alumni Holiday Reception (Rochester, NY)

We hope to see YOU at an upcoming alumni reception or event soon!

 

 

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AC Connects with Alumni in NYC

Posted on October 19th, 2018 by Amelia Fitzsimmons

After navigating the tricky feat of holding a reception in Boston during a Red Sox playoff game, Mick Gee, Karen Higman, and Kayla Himelein packed their bags and headed to New York City. Along the way, they had a lovely visit with former Headmistress Miss Joan Twaddle at her home in Rhode Island. 

Then it was on to New York to enjoy the company of a lively crowd of alumni and parents.

Among the guests present was beloved former faculty member Lorraine Van Meter-Cline who, with  celebrity-like magnetism, had alums of all ages flocking to her. Over the course of the night, the drinks flowed freely, as did the stories, and rumor has it, a number of attendees continued the party for several hours after the reception, where AC stories continued to be shared along with many laughs.

Also present at the reception was former staff member Karyn Vella, who was recognized by Mick Gee, Head of School, for her monumental work on the Impact Initiative Campaign. Thanks to the support of AC alumni, parents, students, faculty, and staff, AC exceeded its $4 million campaign goal and is now able to provide students with enhanced access to innovative and authentic learning opportunities.

“The energy of the New York City reception was just incredible,” recalled Karen Higman, Director of Advancement at AC. “It was refreshing to see so many recent (within the past five years or so) AC alumni gathered together. And to personally witness the connection they still have with one another… and with Lorraine! It truly shows just how strong those bonds are between AC students and faculty alike.”

We, of course, must also give a special thanks to Mr. Stephen B. Ashley, our gracious host, without whom none of this would have been possible.

We look forward to seeing YOU at an upcoming alumni reception or event soon!

Save the Date
Thursday, December 20th
Annual Alumni Holiday Reception (Rochester, NY)

 

 

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Strawberry Breakfast Delights an Appreciative Crowd

Posted on May 25th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

A long-standing tradition at Allendale Columbia School, Strawberry Breakfast always draws an appreciative crowd as we kick off the Memorial Day weekend. In fact, the audience has grown to the extent that it’s held in the Gannett Gym for greater accessibility, and it’s streamed live on the internet.

The expected traditional pieces, such as the Maypole Dance, Sword Dance, and the “Inch by Inch” song by second graders still enthralled. See the entire agenda below, and click here for more photos.

Former AC parent Mitzie Collins again joined our ensemble for the Maypole Dance. Mitzie created the recordings that have been used for the dances at Strawberry Breakfast for over 30 years. She has a long-standing career in music performance and research, teaching music history and hammered dulcimer at the Eastman Community Music School.

Strawberry Breakfast concluded with…strawberries and donuts!

Agenda

Greeting
Head of School Mick Gee

Welcome
Sophomores Fiona Lutz and Roxy Reisch

 “Good Cheer”
Upper School Select Chorus

Processional Chain
Featuring AC Fourth Graders

Crowning and Pinning of Seniors
AC Sophomores

“Now is the Month of Maying”
Upper School Chorus

Bulaklakan
AC Fifth Graders

Circle Dance
AC Third Graders

Simple Gifts
Middle School Chorus

The Sword Dance
Sophomore Students
Music performed by Upper School Band and Mitzie Collins

“Garden Song (Inch by Inch)”
AC Second Graders

The Maypole Dance
Sophomores Students
Music performed by Upper School Band and Mitzie Collins

When You Believe
All Strawberry Breakfast Performers

Closing Remarks
Sophomores Fiona Lutz and Roxy Reisch

Senior Recessional Chain
Featuring AC Fourth Graders

 

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Posted in: Alumni News, Fifth Grade, Fourth Grade, Highlights, Lower School, Middle School, Second Grade, Tenth Grade, Third Grade, Upper School

Learn Some Secrets Behind Strawberry Breakfast

Posted on May 10th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

by Gabriel Costanzo

Did you ever wonder why certain dances were included in the Strawberry Breakfast at Allendale Columbia? What are their origins? What’s the story behind this tradition? A few secrets will be revealed by Mitzie Collins, Rochester musician and parent of three former AC students.

Collins is a well known musician in Western New York, and she will be joining the AC musicians accompanying the Maypole Dance and Sword Dance at this year’s Strawberry Breakfast. This Monday, May 14th, at 12:05 p.m., Ms. Collins will give a presentation about these traditions to those musicians and dancers.  The presentation will be in the Curtis Performance Center.

 

Kristin Cocquyt

Gabriel Costanzo

As 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.
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Make Your Mark at the 2018 Gala!

Posted on April 20th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

Get ready for the celebration of the year in just 50 days: the Make Your Mark Gala on Friday, May 18th, 2018, at Oak Hill Country Club. You can go online now to sponsor the event, purchase an ad for your business or to recognize someone special, donate an auction item, host a table, or buy individual tickets at allendalecolumbia.org/gala. Next Friday, April 27th, is the last day to buy tickets!

Join us for an evening of fine food, friendship, and lively entertainment as we celebrate the many ways the Allendale Columbia community makes its mark on the world.

Sponsorships are available at several levels and include opportunities to host a table of 8 or 10 of your best friends, class parents, colleagues, or clients. With your sponsorship or individual tickets, you and your guests can enjoy good spirits, fine family-style fare, charitable auction action, and the impressive talents of Allendale Columbia students throughout the night.. Oh, and did we mention you will also have chances to win a variety of live and silent auction items, including vacations, one-of-a-kind experiences, and valuable local products and services?

If you would like to donate experiences or items for the silent or live auction, you can enter the information at allendalecolumbia.org/gala, or contact Kayla Himelein at khimelein@allendalecolumbia.org or 585.641.5288.

Your active participation will help us in the final push over the top for our 3-year, $4 million Impact Initiative Campaign that supports AC’s strategic initiatives and opportunities for students this year and in the years ahead.

Join us!

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