Students at Allendale Columbia celebrated the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival on Friday, September 24th. The event was part of AC’s commitment to emphasize diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community. The celebration engaged all students from the Little School to the Upper School in an array of culturally authentic activities and entertainment.
The Festival commemorates the brightest full moon of the year. Mid-Autumn Festival is considered one of the most important celebrations in Chinese culture and is sometimes called the Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival.
“When the bright moon shines over the sea, from far away, you share this moment with me.”
Little School assistant teacher Mengqian Ou performed live music on the pipa, a pear-shaped Chinese musical instrument similar to a lute. Students made greeting cards, designed hand fans to raffle off, and participated in a Chinese calligraphy writing workshop. Mooncakes, a traditional pastry treat, were served during the festival. Storytelling selections included “The Shadow in the Moon” by Christina Matula, and “Thanking the Moon” by Grace Lin.
For many AC students, this was the first time they celebrated Mid-Autumn Festival. Students expressed their revived interest in exploring different cultures and were thrilled to partake in this school-wide event.
“Look. How lovely it is, this thing we have done – together.”
— Toni Morrison
On March 10th, AC students and faculty participated in an African American Read-In. Though this was AC’s first year participating in the event, it was originally established by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English in 1990. The NCTE describes the event as “groundbreaking effort to encourage communities to read together, centering on African American books and authors.” It has reached more than 6 million participants.
At our event, we invited readers and audience members to attend in person or via Zoom. Each reader chose a short text to share. Authors ranged from Sojourner Truth to Lucille Clifton, Ralph Ellison to Jalil Muntaqim. Whatever text was chosen, a highlight was hearing the readers explain why they chose a particular text. Some of these explanations were personal. Readers described first encountering a text before they really understood it and only later coming to fully appreciate it, or they spoke of finding inspiration and solace in what they chose to read. Others spoke of how their texts connected with historical or current events, whether the large-scale rethinking of colonialism that began in the middle of the 20th century or the current fight against systemic racism. A couple of the readers had even personally met the authors they read.
Like all literature — poetry, fiction, memoir, etc. — these texts may be “important” on paper, but they only truly live when we read them and make them meaningful to our own lives. Texts by Black authors historically have been marginalized. When we read them together in a shared event like this, we show how central they are, both in an American context and globally. Thank you to all who came and shared in this event.
View a recording of the program
Eleven enterprising teens pitched creative business ideas from athletic clothing and GPS stickers to affordable rental housing, platforms for mental health, script sharing, and inventors, and even genetically modified fish in the ELEVATE competition at Allendale Columbia School on January 21st, 2021.
In the culminating activity for AC’s semester-long Essentials of Entrepreneurship class, taught by the Director of the AC Center for Entrepreneurship, Amy Oliveri, students learn to develop the mindset and skill set necessary, using design thinking, to turn ideas into viable products, services, and businesses. The class covers the fundamentals of thinking like an entrepreneur, coming up with new business ideas, attracting investors, marketing their business, and managing revenues and expenses.
Judges Rupa Thind (Associate Director of the Albert J. Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at RIT), Tony Tepedino (AC Dean of Student Life), and Julie Barrett (AC Welcome Desk Associate), awarded Luca Palomaki ’24 first place for “ScriptArena”, an online platform for script sharing, writing, collaboration, and licensing. Second place was awarded to Myles Wilson ’21 for his “Simple Living” affordable work-for-rent housing concept. Olivia Fries ’23 and her “GPX” GPS stickers for locating household items earned third place honors.
“I love acting, theater, movies, and TV, and I know it’s hard to develop a script and get it produced. I thought ScriptArena was a pretty good idea that I could implement quickly and pitch with enthusiasm,” Luca related. “I usually have a lot of ideas bouncing around in my head, and this class helped me figure out how I might be able to develop those ideas into real businesses that could maybe make some money and help people.”
The two-minute pitches were evaluated based on how well students conveyed their project’s value proposition, viability research, competitors, definition and marketing to target customer segments, cost and revenue structures, implementation timeline, and social responsibility.
The other participants offered ideas that also could potentially impact their defined areas of need:
- Greg & Jayden: Athletic clothing line
- Evelyn: Mental health salon – Providing education and mental health training to hair stylists, makeup artists, and nail techs to provide people with an everyday safe space
- Cynara: “Gender Forward” – An online site and app to empower and educate people of all ages about an array of issues regarding gender.
- Natalia: “HND Book” – An app that specialized in providing students with mental health resources, including meditation sessions, advice, podcasts, etc.
- Jake & Cameron: Genetically modified plastic eating fish to solve plastic pollution in our oceans
- Lai – An app to connect young inventors with investors to be able to bring a product to market
“The ELEVATE pitch competition has been a fun way to focus the students on not just learning about entrepreneurship but really developing a problem-solving, entrepreneurial mindset and putting it into practice as an entrepreneur does,” Oliveri said. “They learn that these concepts can be applied to help them take any idea they have in their work, school, or home life and turn it into something meaningful.”
The Essentials of Entrepreneurship class provides an introduction to Allendale Columbia’s Center for Entrepreneurship, which launched in 2017 with a commitment to being a hub for community problem solving and social innovation. Its mission is to “create opportunities for our students/participants to make an impact on the world at an unprecedented level by learning to adapt to a constantly evolving world, connecting globally, and carving their own path. This authentic way of thinking and working develops a universally applicable and transferable mindset and skillset.”
Students can also explore entrepreneurship through the Center’s other courses as well as offerings from the AC Invent Center for STEM and Innovation. Those courses include Design Thinking, Making An Impact (Locally, Globally), Production and Design, and an Entrepreneurs as Innovators Cohort in which students build upon an entrepreneurial, problem-solving mindset and skill set to bring their solutions to market.
A recording of the pitch competition is viewable on YouTube.
Posted in: Centers for Impact, Entrepreneurship, Highlights, Upper School
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.
Learn More About the Invent Center for STEM and Innovation
Posted in: AC in the News, Authentic Learning, Highlights, Invent, Upper School
One of AC’s most beloved traditions is Heritage Dinner, an event typically hosted on campus potluck-style, to celebrate and share the unique cultural backgrounds of our AC families. With this year’s global pandemic and the health and safety of our community at the forefront of our minds, we knew changes would need to be made in order to safely host the event this year. Pulling this off virtually would be a challenge, yes; but it would not be impossible.
Embracing AC’s core values to the fullest — “the importance of connections”, “mastering strategies for learning”, “minds that are curious and creative”, and “developing a resilient spirit that dares to take risks” — we decided to use this real world challenge as a learning opportunity for our students.
Enter AC Production and Design students Ella Prokupets, Mansa Brown-Tonge, Carly Freeman, Jocelyn Wynn, independent study student Chloe Fowler, and global diploma student Brynn Peters. Together, with the guidance of faculty advisor Amy Oliveri, these six students began to analyze the keystone components of the event and the logistics necessary to host it virtually.
Among the goals and objectives identified by the group were:
- The desire to make the event as inclusive as possible
- The desire to provide various levels of engagement to promote the widest accessibility
- The ability to virtually bring people together to enjoy culturally diverse food
- The ability to incorporate local and international partners
To implement these goals, the students set to work connecting with our partners in Senegal, Dubai, Mexico, China, and locally, they reached out to Headwater Food Hub to coordinate the sale of Meal Boxes to our community. These boxes, they hoped, would provide a sense of community with everyone prepping and enjoying the same meal. Driven by the desire to support and shop local during this challenging time, the students also arranged to have extra Meal Boxes donated to our School #17 Summer LEAP families. Additionally, the students curated a list of ethnically diverse restaurants to encourage participants to support local small businesses and try new cuisines from around the world. During this time, they also began building their own website, creating social media content and messaging to help promote the event, and gathering family-favorite recipes and music from our AC community.
When the day of the event finally came, we had just shy of 100 people in attendance! Through a combination of pre recorded presentations and live discussions, we were successfully (and safely!) able to come together, yet again, to break bread and broaden our understanding of the world and those in our community. This event is always such a wonderful reminder of the richness and diversity of our AC community.
We are proud to be Rochester’s most diverse school, and we are committed to continuing to build a community that fosters diversity, equity, and inclusion for all people.
00:00 – Welcome
02:01 – Intro & Land Acknowledgement
05:20 – History of Heritage Dinner
08:06 – Student Speaker #1 (Lizzie)
13:14 – Student Speaker #2 (Ziqi)
15:58 – Student Speaker #3 (Victoria)
20:03 – Faculty Speaker (Mr. Camara)
36:25 – Breakout Rooms
50:17 – Closing Remarks
50:33 – Solidarity Circle Intro
51:41 – Solidarity Circle Video
53:31 – Closing Remarks
*This year’s Heritage Dinner program was organized and produced by students in the Production & Design Class. Thank you to Mansa Brown-Tonge for hosting the evening’s event and Ms. Oliveri for her oversight and guidance.
Posted in: Centers for Impact, Diversity Equity and Inclusion, Entrepreneurship, Events & Workshops, Global Engagement, Highlights, Lower School, Middle School, Upper School
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
Students in our multidisciplinary Upper School course “Production & Design” attended the virtual Adobe Max conference October 20-22. This conference provided students with access to interactive workshops and presentations by Annie Liebovitz, Ava DuVernay, and Tim Allen of VP, Design, Airbnb, and many more. Overall, AC students attended more than 20 different sessions, allowing them to learn alongside, and from, leading industry professionals.
At AC, we constantly strive to offer opportunities for students to learn and grow both in and out of the classroom. Bringing global conferences to our students, despite the pandemic, allows our young leaders to continue to make connections and grow their network of resources. We are grateful for the ability and innovation that makes it possible for our students to attend events such as this and then apply their learnings in the events they are organizing this year in “Production & Design”.
This year, our “Production and Design” students are organizing three major events:
- Best Buddies Gala – AC has had a partnership with Best Buddies, a non-profit organization that supports people in our community with developmental disabilities, for about four years. This year, AC students are working with Best Buddies to create their “Champions Gala”, Best Buddies’ largest fundraiser of the year. In a normal year, their gala would be a traditional in-person event. This year, however, is a bit different, and the event will be held virtually. AC students have the responsibility of filming and editing pre-recorded content for the event, in cooperation with Best Buddies WNY and WROC. AC students are also responsible for creating social media content to promote the event. This is a tremendous opportunity for students to do real and impactful work in the community.
- Heritage Dinner – The Heritage Dinner is an annual AC event to celebrate the cultural diversity and heritage of our AC community. This year’s event will take place virtually the evening of December 10th. Our team of student leaders will create meal boxes for purchase in collaboration with Headwater Food Hub, organize performances, publish a digital cookbook of AC family favorite recipes, and provide participants with cultural resources to make this event a success.
- Now. Here. This. – This year’s Upper School musical theatre production is Hunter Bell, Susan Blackwell, and Jeff Bowen’s Now.Here.This., which has recently been adapted to be “flexible” in these uncertain times. This new flexibility allows for freedom in casting, running time, and performance venue. The adaptation can accommodate casts of 4 to 400 people of all genders, races, and sexual orientation, and can be performed live or online. This means that all students can be involved, whether they are learning remotely or in person! This exciting project is being filmed and produced by AC students, who are currently in the storyboarding stage. Auditions took place last week, and cast members are starting to learn material and prepare for recording and filming. The production will be shown in a live-streamed event on January 22nd, 2021.
Here is what our students have to say about the Adobe MAX Conference…
In “Adobe Spark: How to Build Cross-Team Collaboration” they began by introducing themselves and what they do with Adobe Spark currently. They then went on to explain how you should build a team where everyone has different strengths and weaknesses so the team members can focus on using their strengths to the fullest, instead of focusing on building up their weaknesses. Next, they gave a demo on how to create brands and libraries in Spark that you can share with multiple people to help with the consistency of branding and marketing. They then explain how you can share your projects with other people if you want to co-edit. I learned how to use the Creative Cloud libraries in both Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator instead of just in Spark. Before this session, I was downloading the files then adding them to my libraries on Spark. I also learned that Adobe Spark is working on Brand sharing which is also very exciting because this is what we were looking to do for Best Buddies.
The presentation I attended was called “Editing Faster and Smarter in Premiere Pro — Part 1.” The video started off by explaining how to string different clips together. She also went over different shortcut keys and how to make your own shortcuts. I learned a lot of different keys to make my editing go by quicker like how to quickly divide clips, rewind, play, and move bits up and down. I also learned how to create my own shortcuts. I generally thought that the conference was pretty good, and I liked that I could rewind and rewatch segments if I didn’t understand something.
Now. Here. This. – Production Manager
One of the sessions I attended was called “Video in the Spotlight”. I watched the portion of the conference that showcased Ava DuVernay and Zendaya. Ava DuVernay talked about her filming process, and she gave a lot of advice saying that if you want to make a film, you should just do it, and it doesn’t take a lot. One thing that really stuck with me was how she talked about her climb to success. She explained how instead of pushing to get in the room with the big directors, she built herself a room and made the most of it, and that’s how she became successful. Zendaya talked about fashion and film that inspires her, and she talked about how she stayed creative during the quarantine.
Heritage Dinner- External Partner Coordinator
I attended the conference called “Quick tips for creating the most engaging social media videos.” Amber Torrealba was the speaker. I would say that it was about thinking ahead of time, using what you have, being creative, how to create the best videos, and sticking out. I learned about the importance of the first five seconds, lighting, audio, transitioning, planning, words/titles/captions, and to always keep creating. One thing I would change about her presentation would be adding more of the content she has created to show more examples and see other styles besides hers that also are engaging social media videos.
Best Buddies – Social Media Content Designer
I attended a session by Zachary Silverstein and Stephanie Newcomb in which they showed off some of the features of Adobe Spark. I learned how to change the style of text, animate a graphic, add a background, and delete the background of a picture. These things will be very useful to me as I continue to create social media content for the upcoming Best Buddies Virtual Gala, and in life, as I need to use Adobe Spark to create marketing content. If I could change anything about this presentation, it would be to allow viewers to play along with Spark as the hosts do. I think that this would make for a better learning experience.
Now. Here. This. – Logistics, Social Media
I learned that you can’t become better or do better without the help of others. Even if you think you reached your max limit, you have so much more potential. When it comes to making our own content, we have to know our community, our audience, and what they want/desire. It is important to become comfortable with your audience and maintain a formal relationship with co-workers and people you are making content for. Be respectful. Be confident in your expertise as the leader of our own online community. Build business relationships based on trust and good experiences.
Heritage Dinner- Marketing and Content Creator
In the conference I attended each speaker spoke a bit about their life and inspiration for art. Each artist had a different style and thought about their artwork. They talked about what their artwork means to them as well as what it means to other people. They also talked about grabbing their audience’s attention with just a simple poster or painting. I learned about the importance of color in artwork and how to be able to tell how other people will interact with your artwork.
In this conference, the leader took the audience through examples of how to begin the editing process as an introduction to Premiere Pro. He used different clips that were provided by Adobe that you could follow along with. I learned a lot of cool tips and tricks about Premiere Pro that will definitely help me in the future. One example of these tips was when he showed us how to organize files and frame a timeline in file form before you actually start working on the timeline. This makes the process of editing the actual clips together a lot easier because now you don’t have to stumble around in search of a specific clip the whole time. The one thing that turned me off from the presentation was the fact that he never actually played the clips he was editing. He would show the files before he put them in the timeline, but after, he would simply drag the marker along without showing what the edit looked like. If I were to change something about this presentation, I would have played the clips for the audience to see fully.
Best Buddies- Video recording, editing, and design
In the conference I attended the presenter talked about how too many creative people just fall into their positions rather than going for the position they want. He talked about some common career paths for people to follow. I found it interesting that he recommended creative producers be open to any position they might be good at, like a CEO or someone on the business side. I did not think that creative people would want to be CEO, but when you think about it, it makes sense. We need more creative business leaders. He did a excellent job, and his presentation made sense and was well thought out.
Best Buddies – Social Media Logistics Lead
I watched “Creating Great Images With Your Phone Part 1”. In this session Katrin Eissman spoke about Adobe Lightroom which is basically a professional photo editing app for iphones. She showed us her phone while using adobe Lightroom. She showed us all of the cool features that the app has to offer such as changing the exposure of the photos (which I liked the most about the app) and changing the different tones of the photo. I learned a lot about this new app, and I am even thinking about downloading it on my own phone because of how useful it is for professional photo taking. I learned that the better quality the photo (the more professional it appears) the more pleasing to the eye it is thus, the more appreciation for the photo.
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. Tony was also the 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.
If you could do any job in the world besides what you do now, what would it be?
I would co-host the T.V. show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives with Guy Fieri. Who wouldn't enjoy touring the country discovering the best food places and sharing that with the world?!
Amy OliveriAmy has been a part of the Allendale Columbia Art Department since the fall of 2010 and serves as Director of the AC Center for Creativity & Entrepreneurship. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Illustration and a Concentration in ASL as well as a Master of Science Degree for Teachers in Art Education from the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Amanda Meldrum-StevensonAmanda holds a Bachelor of Science in Music Therapy from SUNY Fredonia, has studied Vocal Performance and Music Education at Eastman School of Music, and is currently completing a master’s in Creative Arts Therapy at Nazareth College. She brings experience as a board-certified music therapist, rehabilitation therapist, private voice instructor, and youth community musical theatre director. At AC, Amanda manages and directs the Upper School musicals and plays, teaches Upper School theatre classes, leads the Boys Ensemble, and teaches Middle School music electives and Drama Foundations.
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Eleventh Grade, Entrepreneurship, Events & Workshops, Highlights, Invent, Ninth Grade, Partnerships, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School
This was an exciting month for AC – we published our first issue of Research & Discovery: AC’s Journal of Student Inquiry!
This publication showcases the work of students who completed independent research projects in STEM in our Science, Writing and Research course. Unique to this area, and to secondary school in general, this class challenges students to learn about the process of scientific research by gaining fluency with scientific literature and then completing a project of their own creation. Finally, students present their work at a formal academic symposium with other students at the undergraduate level.
Faculty member Travis Godkin, who designed the program said, “This is a class that I had been thinking about for a long time, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity and freedom to do this at AC! Helping students through this entire process has been incredibly rewarding, and I think they have gained an experience that is not typically available to students outside of college. I strive to create authentic learning experiences in my classes, and this experience represents the pinnacle of that endeavor.”
Even more unique is a publication of student research and inquiry at the secondary level that is of the same quality as a professional scientific journal. Students analyzed their own data, compiled and wrote their own papers, and prepared them for publication. The cover was also designed by Ava Gouvernet, Class of 2020.
“We are so excited that we have the opportunity to share student work in STEM at the same level as scientific professionals,” said Maya Crosby, Director of the Invent Center for STEM & Innovation at AC. “Mr. Godkin and his students have done amazing work!”
“Thank you to the communications department at Allendale Columbia and to Amy Oliveri, for all their help in preparing our publication for print.”
Maya CrosbyMaya 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.
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Highlights, Invent, Upper School