LS Students Wake Audience with “I’m Not Sleepy…Yet!”

Posted on February 16th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

Lower School students in Grades 1-5 should rest well now, having thrilled audiences with their musical, “I’m Not Sleepy…Yet!” Last performed when this year’s seniors were in 5th grade, this home-grown story mixes popular lullabies and a theme song written by an alumnus with the background of a sleepover at school and students’ playful attempts to resist the teachers’ plans to have them get to sleep.

Students acted, sang, played instruments, and even became puppeteers for memorable songs like “Puff the Magic Dragon” and a spectacular black-light rendition of “All the Pretty Little Horses”. And what’s a sleepover without a pillow fight?

Click to open 2018 Lower School Musical Program“Sleepy” was written and directed by 5th grade teacher and Artistic Director Randy Northrup, with musical direction from music teachers Lynn Grossman and Rachael Sanguinetti and assistance from all of the Lower School faculty. The main song was composed by AC alumnus Carson Cooman ’00! A professional composer now, he is a graduate of Harvard University and Carnegie Mellon University and currently serves as the Composer in Residence at the Memorial Church at Harvard.

Students also conducted a pajama drive, collecting 100 pairs of PJs that will be delivered to the Rochester Area Interfaith Hospitality Network (RAIHN)!

Click here for a Google Photos album with song videos and more pictures.

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Posted in: Alumni News, Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Kindergarten, Lower School, LS Birches, MS Birches, Second Grade, The Birches, Third Grade

AC Connects with SF Bay Area Alumni

Posted on January 19th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

AC is happily exploring California this week!

The hospitality of our west coast alumni and friends has been more than generous as they kick off our visit by welcoming us to the San Fransisco Bay Area, showing us their favorite spots, reminiscing about their time at AC and on the east coast, and asking great questions about where Allendale Columbia is headed. On Wednesday evening, Tony Tepedino, Karyn Vella, and Kayla Himelein enjoyed catching up with loyal alums and friends at the University Club while sharing strategic plan updates and throwback yearbook photos — even some of Mr. Tepedino when he joined the AC family 21 years ago.

Tepedino, AC’s Hybrid Learning Coordinator and teacher with the AC Center for Entrepreneurship, noted how AC at its core is the same, but continues to evolve. “We believe strongly in creating and establishing connections with students. AC is evolving to meet the current needs of our students,” Tepedino remarked. “I have been fortunate to evolve with AC during that time, and it has been exciting and transformative for me as an educator to see how this evolution is impacting our students.” Tony also mentioned the importance of alumni as resources for student growth and learning, another way they can give back to AC.

On Friday, AC heads to southern California to continue the fun with alumni and attend the 2018 CASE-NAIS Independent Schools Conference. We warmly welcome all of our friends in or around the Los Angeles to join us at The Fifth’s rooftop bar in Anaheim this Sunday for a drink, appetizers, and to hear what’s new at AC.
Can’t make it SundayContact Kayla and we’ll do our best to schedule time come to you!”
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Posted in: Alumni News, The Birches, US Birches

AC Senior Project Program Seeks Sponsors

Posted on January 18th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

For more than two decades, the Senior Project Program has been the culminating experience for countless Allendale Columbia alumni. As such, seniors are given the choice to participate in either Upper School May Term or the three-week Senior Project Program. This year, the program will run from May 21st through June 7th.

At its core, the Senior Project Program is an unpaid experience in a professional environment with a dedicated work sponsor/mentor, and as the workplace has evolved, so has the Senior Project Program to supports students’ diverse interests. Allendale Columbia seniors have devised a wide variety of projects and internships with several ends in mind: to explore a potential career, to participate in community service or advocacy, or to indulge their curiosity in a constructive way about some field of interest. Some examples of past experiences include: building houses with Habitat for Humanity, teaching students with disabilities, working in the healthcare industry, and helping with publicity for the Rochester Red Wings.

In addition to their parents and family friends, students are encouraged to speak with faculty and staff at AC about their interests so that we can help by providing work sponsor ideas or personal contacts. That being said, we would like to engage members of the AC community in the Senior Project Program as possible Senior Project Work Sponsors.

Would you or a colleague be willing to sponsor and mentor an AC senior throughout the Senior Project Program? Our hope is that our students would have the opportunity for authentic, hands-on experiences to keep them engaged for 6-8 hours per day. Sponsorship could also include an independent project that a student is tasked with completing in a supervised setting. Please complete this Google Form to submit information about volunteering as a Work Sponsor.  These opportunities must be unpaid; however, many successful Senior Project experiences have resulted in paid summer employment.

Our Senior Project Advisors, Vince Bissonette and Maya Crosby, facilitate the Senior Project Program, so please contact them directly at or if you have any questions. Thank you for considering these opportunities, and we look forward to partnering with you and your work places.

Kristin Cocquyt

Ryan Burke

Ryan began his 16-year career in the field of education as a teacher with areas of expertise in literacy and special education. He earned a Master of Science Degree in Applied Behavior Science with a focus on family therapy, and he has done some work as a therapist. Ryan's primary focus in the field of education has been and always will be working in schools with students and their families. In addition to his role at Allendale Columbia as the Head of Upper School, Ryan is the co-founder of Leadership+Design (, a non-profit organization dedicated to transforming the work of school leaders through professional development experiences.


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Posted in: Alumni News, Highlights, LS Birches, MS Birches, PACK, The Birches, Twelfth Grade, Upper School, US Birches

Alumni Discuss College Life (2018)

Posted on January 11th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

By Kristin Cocquyt, AC College Advisor

On Thursday, January 4th, over 20 Allendale Columbia alumni from the classes of 2014-2017 enjoyed an afternoon back on campus for the annual College Life Program. A joint effort between the College Advising Office and the Alumni Office, this annual tradition welcomes back recent alumni for an opportunity to reconnect with friends, faculty, and staff and to share their words of wisdom about their college experiences with Upper School students during a panel discussion.

This year’s panelists included Samantha Bilinski ’16 (RIT), Yasmine Kangbeya ’17 (Northeastern University), Ethan Kennedy ’14 (Cornell University), Nicole Salpini ’17 (Syracuse University), and Xinyuan “Tom” Yi ’16 (University of Rochester).  The top three tips from our panelists to our Upper School students:

  1. Don’t stress during the college process. Even if you do not get into your first-choice college, it will all be OK.
  2. Sit towards the front of a lecture hall…even if there are 300 other students in there!
  3. Read your textbooks and go to class (set a double alarm for those early-morning labs, too!).

Kristin Cocquyt

Kristin Cocquyt

Unlike most of our peer schools, we have a dedicated full-time college advisor. Kristin Cocquyt's primary focus is to support, guide, and advise AC students on their college search and application process. She has been in the field of education for 13 years and has visited over 160 colleges, giving her a solid basis for recommending colleges that are great matches for our students. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public Policy from Hamilton College and is a member of both the New York State Association for College Admission Counseling and the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

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

Music and Stories Bring Tradition to Life at Holiday Breakfast

Posted on December 21st, 2017 by Allendale Columbia School

Bountiful music and touching stories brought one of Allendale Columbia’s oldest and dearest traditions, Holiday Breakfast, to life on Friday, December 15th, kicking off the winter break.

The AC Brass Ensemble greeted family members with holiday songs, the Kindergarten children thrilled all with their traditional number, choruses sang, and joyful tunes from students across the school joined together for a rousing finale.

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In between, students spoke of heritage, history, and the future, and the “Lifers” (students who have attended AC since Kindergarten — and some since Nursery!) regaled the crowd with humorous and heart-felt tales of their experiences at AC. Head of School Mick Gee continued the tradition of reading a story. This year, he told the tale of “The Penguin and the Pinecone”, complete with prop penguins, a giant pinecone, and scarf-wrapped trees, reminding us all of the importance of nurturing friendship and kindness.

Please enjoy the gallery below of some highlights from the event, and have a very merry holiday break!

Want 300 more photos? Click here to open the Holiday Breakfast Google Photos Gallery.

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Posted in: Alumni News, Highlights, Lower School, LS Birches, Middle School, MS Birches, The Birches, Uncategorized, Upper School, US Birches

College Life Program Taking Place January 4th

Posted on November 30th, 2017 by klapa

AC alumni from the Classes of 2014-2017 are invited to return to AC for a nostalgic visit that includes reconnecting with AC faculty, staff, and fellow alumni and sharing a family-style meal during Upper School lunch. As part of this event, Upper School students will hear from a panel of select alumni about their college experiences and all returning alumni will have the opportunity to share words of wisdom with the Class of 2018.

Date: Thursday, January 4th, 2018
Time: 12:15-3:00 p.m.
Location: Allendale Columbia School

Click here to RSVP. Additional details will be sent to those who RSVP.


Posted in: Alumni News, College Advising News, Highlights, The Birches, Twelfth Grade, Upper School, US Birches