Students in all three divisions of Allendale Columbia were recently introduced to the school’s new Equity Statement, which was adopted by the Board of Trustees in August. “Current AC students were among the first at the school to voice the need to focus more intentionally on DEI,” said Lindsey Brown, Director of Equity & Community Engagement. “It is amazing to see students connect these equity values to their experiences at home and at school.”
Parents, faculty, staff, alumni, community partners, and students came together to form the inaugural AC Equity Committee in 2020. The committee collaborated to identify equity priorities and develop the Equity Statement. The tenets of the statement were designed to become intrinsic to AC’s mission, aiming to deepen and broaden a community sense of belonging. The AC Equity Statement state that the Allendale Columbia School Community:
- Affirms and celebrates its members as global citizens who seek to build compassionate connections rooted in social justice.
- We promote a strong ethic of social responsibility in our students, parents, faculty, staff, and alumni.
- We strive to build a diverse community that promotes equity and justice for all.
- We foster an environment that reflects the diverse experiences and perspectives present in the larger world.
- We embrace the National Association of Independent Schools’ principles of good practice for equity and justice as a framework for inclusion.
- We commit to continuous, intentional evaluation of our practices to cultivate a culture of belonging, renewed and reimagined by the collective community.
“We are extremely proud of the work that has been accomplished,” said Head of School Shannon Baudo. “This is a long-term process. As a school community, we are committed to staying the course and continuing to nurture an inclusive environment where everyone is safe, welcome, and celebrated.” The Equity Statement was also revised to make it easier to understand for AC students of all levels. The Student Equity Statement, designed for students in the Lower, Middle, and Upper School, is:
- We are global citizens
- We make compassionate connections
- We are socially responsible
- We believe in equity and justice for all
- We embrace diverse experiences and multiple perspectives
- We are a culture of belonging
In advisory and morning meeting, students studied the Equity Statement and were challenged to examine what it means to embody these values.The Equity Statement was also revised for our Little School, Nursery, and Pre-K students. In a group discussion led by Pre-K instructor Lindsay Graves, students explored the concept of fairness and what it looks like in school. They then listened to Mrs. Graves read Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin, a story where cows advocated for justice in their community. This prompted the Pre-K students to examine their own responsibility to treat each other fairly by using their words and speaking up when seeing something unfair.
“This discussion was so natural in its flow,” said Mrs. Graves. “The students had wonderfully thoughtful contributions.”
The AC Pre-Primary Equity Statement is as follows:
- We care about ourselves
- We care about each other
- We are different and we are the same
- We believe in justice
- We belong
To better understand the Pre-Primary Equity statement, students read the statement aloud and matched picture cues to each prompt. Students practiced saying the statement together and hung a poster of the statement up in the classroom. Mrs. Graves said of the activity, “We are so proud of the children for sharing their ideas and thinking deeper about ways to take care of ourselves and our peers.”
The Allendale Columbia Invent Center for STEM and Innovation celebrated Computer Science Education Week December 6th-12th. CSEdWeek is an annual call to action to inspire K-12 students to learn about computer science, advocate for equity, and celebrate the contributions of students, teachers, and partners to the field. CSEdWeek is held annually during the week of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper’s birthday (December 9th).
At AC, students are exposed early to the world of computer science through robotics, coding, and more. In Lower School, students are introduced to coding during weekly STEM class starting in Kindergarten. For our youngest learners, STEM instructor Susan Layton’s platforms of choice include Kodable, Scratch, and robot kits like Ozobots and Dash. The robots are connected to visual programming applications that are easy to understand and familiarize students with basic concepts of coding. As students progress through Lower School, they further explore coding through Lego Education and building EV3 robots.
In Middle School, students participate in an Hour of Code activity. Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify the world of coding and broaden participation in the field of computer science.
In Upper School, the Applying Programming class has been extra busy this year, exploring impressive forays into what coding can accomplish. Mary ’22 built an interactive matrix that supports a two-player game of Connect Four, which she recently presented at the Rochester Maker Faire. She is currently working on tweaking the code so the game can be played with one person versus A.I.
The Connect Four game was created using Arduino, an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. Arduino boards are able to read inputs and turn it into an output. Mary wrote all the code needed to create a “set of instructions” for the Arduino’s microcontroller.
Maya Crosby: Director of AC Invent Center for STEM and Innovation
Maya earned her Bachelor of Science Degree at the University of Rochester, where she studied science and communications, and then worked in biotech and scientific publishing. While at the University of Maine for a Master of Science degree in marine microbiology, she loved being a teaching fellow so much that she shifted her focus to fostering science education and experiences for all students. After several years of teaching science, computer science, and technology, she became the Director of Innovation and Technology at Lincoln Academy in Newcastle, Maine. She also brings experience as a Developmental Biology and Microbiology Instructor at Bowdoin College, an Education Coordinator at the Gulf of Maine Foundation, a Science Editor for Blackwell Science, and a Research Technician for ImmuLogic Pharmaceuticals.
Susan Layton: Lower School STEM Instructor
Susan joined the AC faculty after serving as the Head of School and Teacher Programs at the Rochester Museum and Science Center. Prior to her work at the RMSC, Susan worked at a number of science centers in Massachusetts, including the New England Aquarium, the Needham Science Center, and the Boston Museum of Science. Her career has also taken her into schools as a teacher in Georgia, and she has been a researcher of aquatic birds at the Bronx Zoo in New York and a researcher of bottlenose dolphins at the School for Field Studies in North Carolina. Susan earned her undergraduate degree in Biology with a minor in French from Hiram College, and she also has her Masters of Education in Middle Grades Education from Armstrong Atlantic State University.
Teresa Parsons: Middle School STEM Instructor
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.
Alexander Reinhardt: Upper School STEM Instructor
Mr. Reinhardt brings a decade of teaching experience to AC. He has held numerous teaching positions throughout North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC before moving to New York. He’s taught STEM, math, physics, coding and computer science. Alex earned his B.A. in Physics and received his 9-12 Science Certification through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also earned a Master’s in Software Engineering from RIT.
Philip Schwartz: Head of Upper School & Computer Science Instructor
Phil began his career in academic technology, teaching computer science for over 20 years before pursuing leadership in independent schools. Phil holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Management from Elmhurst College and went on to receive an M.A. in Educational Technology and Curriculum Development from Illinois Benedictine University.
Allendale Columbia Middle and Upper School students participated in the first-ever Student Makers Market on Friday, December 10th. Held in the STEM Commons, the event was organized by Ayla ’22, who is working towards earning her Entrepreneurship Engagement Diploma. With the help of Amy Oliveri, Director of the AC Center for Creativity & Entrepreneurship, Ayla was responsible for the conceptualization and execution of what AC hopes to be an annual event.
“The makers market had a really nice turnout with many people who showed up to support,” said Ayla. “I learned a lot through planning this event and was happy to be able to include so many of my friends who received recognition on their handmade products.”
Amy Oliveri shared, “Students tapped into their entrepreneurial mindset with a socially responsible goal. This team of creative entrepreneurs had a blast selling their work at the first ever Student Makers Market. Proceeds from the event will benefit Action for a Better Community (ABC), an organization helping Rochester’s low-income families become self-sufficient. Our goal as a Center for Creativity and Entrepreneurship is to teach social innovation through action in alignment with our DEI initiatives.”
The vendors at this year’s Student Makers Market included:
OTN Productions: OTN was founded by Oliver ’25, Thomas ’23, and Nolan ’23. This crew is available for all your live streaming needs. Have an upcoming event but there are still restrictions on attendees? Call this crew and they will make everyone feel like they’re in person at your event while participating from the comfort of their own homes. Learn more about OTN Productions at http://otnproductions.acstudents.site.
Frog Nursery: Founded by Lee ’22, Frog Nursery is an exclusive collection of stickers and keychains featuring Lee’s quirky, original art and illustrations. Follow @frog.nursery on Instagram to see more of Lee’s incredible work.
Holiday Ornaments: Evelyn ’24 creates stunning hand-painted ornaments, which make gorgeous keepsakes for your Christmas tree or as year-round decor.
Leatherwork: Kai ’23 creates extraordinary custom hand-stamped leather keychains that make the perfect stocking stuffer for your friends and loved ones.
Art Above Ground: Maya ’23 is a prodigious digital artist whose work focuses on bold, graphic portraits of artists, geometric patterns, and more. View her work on Instagram at @art.above.ground.
ChaosCraft: Created by Nora ’27, ChaosCraft has some incredible handmade trinkets ready for gifting or for yourself! Her work includes miniature food sculptures, handmade polymer jewelry and pins, Harry Potter-inspired wands, and slime.
MareBear: Mary ’22 is a senior who enjoys making all kinds of art that is inspired by the world of STEM. Mary sells hand-lettered holiday cards, and you can view more of her work on Instagram at @marebear_c.
Lil Miss Sweet Shop: Lanae ’27 is a talented pastry chef who specializes in creating cupcakes. With flavors like Very Vanilla, Chocolate Lovers, Red Velvet, Luscious Lemon, and Strawberry Crunch, there is something for everyone. Follow @lilmisssweetshop on Instagram to see more of Lanae’s work.
Nolan’s Workshop: Upper School Junior Nolan ’23 is an incredibly skilled craftsman working with handcrafted wood, including coasters, cutting boards, and more. See his work on Instagram at @nolansworkshop.
Ayla’s Christmas Wreaths: Budding entrepreneur Ayla ’22 is behind this lovely collection of custom, high-quality wreaths made from all-natural trees from Crossroad Christmas Tree Farm in Conesus. Follow Ayla on Instagram at @aylas_christmas_wreaths.
Our Upper School Production and Design class worked this semester to establish monthly Heritage and Cultural Spotlights inspired by Heritage Dinner. As a group, we wanted to do more to educate our community about different cultures. Each month, the team will share educational components around a featured heritage or culture. The team is comprised of Julianna T., Charlie S., Ayla S., Hafsah Z., and Nolan R. who filmed and edited the video of our 2nd graders below.
The second grade class created this land acknowledgment in honor of Native American Heritage Month. This is an important piece of their project-based learning unit which celebrates community. Annie King, believes that,
“Being a good steward of the land is an integral component for our students to engage in. Students research and learn about communities from the past. In doing so, they became super passionate about what activities and traditions communities celebrated. They wondered about which aspects of these communities they would like to bring to AC and their classroom community. The students were really drawn to respect and love of the earth and their ability to be peacemakers.”
Gianna I. told me she really enjoyed reading the book, Hiawatha and the Peacemaker. From this book, she loved the parts about being peaceful. She believes that you should never be mean and always be peaceful. When Gianna is peaceful it looks like being kind and loving and helping people.
Production and Design students collaborated with these young allies to record, edit, and share this spotlight feature.
“Allyship is a process, and everyone had more to learn. Allyship involves a lot of listening.” – Taylor Converse
The three sisters are corn, beans, and squash; crops that form a natural ecosystem as they grow. The corn provides a stalk for the beans to climb. The beans convert nitrogen from the air, and convert it into forms that can be used as nutrients. The squash’s large leaves shade the ground which helps retain soil moisture and prevent weeds.
The Haudenosaunee were the first to call these crops the “three sisters.” The Haudenosaunee also have a special way of planting the three sisters. In this method, all three types of seeds are planted together in the same mound, which assists with drainage because this region receives lots of rainfall in the summer.
Selected videos highlighting local Native American history from our friends at Ganondagan were carefully curated by the students in the group. This is the second year we’ve worked with Ganondagan. Last year at Heritage Dinner, Mansa B.T. of our Black Student Union presented this Land Acknowledgment to open the event.
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Diversity Equity and Inclusion, Eleventh Grade, Entrepreneurship, Global Engagement, Humanities, Lower School, Ninth Grade, Second Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School
Allendale Columbia’s Digital Art Lab is now home to a Cricut Air Explore 2 and students are loving it. Students taking the Digital Art elective in Middle School, seventh and eighth graders, started off the semester with an intro to Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to learn about the difference between the kinds of files each program makes.
From there kids were able to create two designs. The first was a vinyl sticker cut out of permanent adhesive that could be applied to a car, laptop, mug, etc. The second project was to design an iron-on vinyl decal to be applied to a piece of clothing. Each student created designs using Adobe Illustrator and the Image Trace process.
Students then set to work creating two designs. The first was a vinyl sticker cut out of permanent adhesive that could be applied to a car, laptop, mug, etc., and the second was to design an iron-on vinyl decal to be applied to a piece of clothing. Each student created their designs using Adobe Illustrator and the Image Trace process.
Many of the students’ designs needed to be modified, due to the fact that the Cricut is mainly a cutting machine and not a printer (although you can insert pens and draw onto the vinyl), so they learned how to adjust their designs and make them 1-3 colors. Once their designs were complete, we sent their .svg files to the Cricut Design Space for processing. Some designs were returned to Adobe Illustrator for edits, and some were ready to be sent to the machine via Bluetooth.
Below you can see some of the steps involved, from sending and cutting out a design with Chloe, Lorelei weeding excess vinyl, and Alex ironing a design on.
The possibilities of creation are endless with this new skill! I am excited to see how these creative students can become entrepreneurs and create items that can be customized or sold.
Posted in: Art, Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Eighth Grade, Entrepreneurship, Highlights, Invent, Middle School, MS Birches, Seventh Grade
A small group of AC students approached Amy Oliveri, Director of AC’s Center for Creativity and Entrepreneurship, to facilitate a field trip to attend RIT Day of Photo on Friday, October 22nd. This full-day event provided students with an opportunity to learn more about Rochester Institute of Technology’s School of Art and Design and the majors available in the Photography Department: Photojournalism, Advertising, Fine Art, Visual Media, and Photo Science.
Students heard from a panel of faculty who spoke about, and showed, examples of student work. An engaging student-led panel discussion followed.
“I liked the student panel. It was really informative,” said Nya ʼ23. “The biggest thing was that I felt like I had to pick what I want right now, and it’s nice to know I can go into one program and move amongst the different programs.” This event piqued Nya’s interest in applying to RIT’s photo program.
AC students also had the opportunity to tour The Cage, a place that Mx. Oliveri described as “magical.” Resident gearheads Thomas ʼ23 and Nolan ʼ23 fell in love with the abundance of cutting edge equipment available for RIT student use.
“My highlight from this event was seeing the gear,” said Nolan. “I was able to hold, shoot, and adjust the camera settings on a Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro with a Canon 200-400 f4 lens worth more than $16,000. I was able to look at two massive cameras in the cage… I didn’t think I would ever get the chance to see stuff on my wish list in person. It was super cool.”
Thomas added, “It was a great experience to be able to interact with the cameras and talk to someone experienced in using them.”
Evelyn ʼ24 really enjoyed the afternoon workshops, where guests visited studios and worked directly with students and faculty on shoots. The three workshops were Thermal Imagine Portrait Demonstration, Advertising Portraits, and High Speed Portraits.
“The afternoon workshops were really cool, especially the high speed one,” said Evelyn. “This workshop gave students a balloon with air and a small amount of water in it. There was a sound activated flash in a dark room allowing the photographer to capture the balloon mid-pop. I thought it was really interesting to see the effect of the flash on the water and to learn more about the flash and how it was activated.”
Rochester and NYC-based portrait photographer Clay Patrick McBride led an Advertising Portrait workshop, which offered students the opportunity to be the subject of a high-end studio portrait session. “I really liked the workshop with Clay,” said Nya. “It was so different to be in front of the camera rather than behind it. I now know that I want to study photography, and I’m excited about what RIT has to offer!”
We are grateful to Mx. Oliveri for facilitating such a valuable experience for AC students to see what our local institutions have to offer in the way of art and technology.
One of AC’s most beloved traditions is the annual seventh grader trip to Camp Pathfinder in Ontario, Canada for a weeklong outdoor education experience.
This year, out of an abundance of caution, the decision was made to stay in the U.S., so our middle school faculty jumped into gear and organized Seventh Grade Adventure Week.
The week was comprised of a series of outdoor field trips designed to get students to fully embrace the majesty of the Finger Lakes region, escape their comfort zone, become immersed in local history, and work together as one united team.
During Seventh Grade Adventure Week, AC students visited the following regional destinations:
- Bristol’s Aerial Adventure Park
- A Nature Hike on the Finger Lakes Trail (Camp Cutler to Ontario County Park)
- White water rafting at Letchworth State Park
- Mount Morris Dam
- Chimney Bluffs State Park
“It was fun to experience the outside when we spend so much time on our electronics,” said Rylee ’27. Casey ’27 added, “It was a unique experience and something I wouldn’t plan to do every day. There were so many cool things that I have never done before, and it felt good to do that. The ropes course was awesome!”
“The time away from classes was still learning,” said AC Faculty Aaron Shepard. “It was just as valuable as academic time and it was a great opportunity to bond in a different way with our seventh graders. I appreciated the chance to challenge them in a non-academic setting which was outside their comfort zone.”
Written by Mary Cotter ’22
Right before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, I was a member of the 9-10 Allendale Columbia TEAM+S team that included Aidan Wun ‘22, Harmony Palmer ‘23, Chris Smoker ’23, and me, Mary Cotter ’22. We competed in the Tests of Engineering Aptitude, Mathematics and Science (TEAM+S) competition, earning the title of NYS Champions! Our win would have earned us a position at the National competition, but this was cancelled due to COVID-19.
The TEAM+S competition encourages students to explore the field of engineering through problem solving and collaboration with their teammates. The theme for the competition this year was improving zoos. This encouraged us to delve into research about solutions to common complaints about zoos, the costs of such solutions, and the environmental impact.
Before the competition, our team wrote an essay responding to the prompt: “Your team is tasked with modifying an existing zoo within your state to develop innovations that would maximize economic, environmental, and/or societal benefits.” We wrote about modifying the Utica Zoo by planting native plant species, installing more energy-efficient appliances, and transforming the zoo into a sanctuary.
Zoo animals, including those at the Utica Zoo, have been observed as “anxious and bored” creating a “depressing” experience for visitors, according to Google Reviews. And it’s easy to see the reason for bored animals and bored children. Utica Zoo attendance has declined in recent years, and the Zoo has suffered financially. The Utica Zoo depends on government bailouts, but our essay outlined a few changes that could transform the Zoo into a healthier environment for the animals and a fun and educational experience for visitors.
On the day of the competition, we worked together on a 90-minute, 80-question multiple choice test. The topics of the questions were centered around the theme and required us to divide the questions based on individual strengths in math, biology, technology, and creative problem-solving. Then we completed the engineering challenge in which we created the lightest crane to lift the most weight to the greatest height. We were given limited time and resources to create our crane.
This competition was very intellectually stimulating and forced us to work collaboratively to find the best solutions to complicated problems. It was a fun way to explore the field of engineering.
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Posted in: AC in the News, Authentic Learning, Highlights, Invent, Upper School