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.
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
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.
Grab a cup of coffee, relax in your favorite chair and relive happy memories from holidays past as you watch the recording of this year’s AC Holiday Breakfast!
0:00 – Wind Ensemble
0:30 – Welcome (Shannon Baudo)
2:33 – Lifer Speech (Cynara Nelson)
3:33 – Kindergarten Intro (Linden Oliveri)
4:32 – Kindergarten “Up on the Housetop”
6:54 – Lifer Speech (Victoria Edwards)
8:26 – Lower School Intro (Leighanna DeWitt)
8:58 – Lower School “3 Rounds for Peace”
11:53 – Lifer Speech (Alicia Strader)
12:53 – Lifer Speech (Gregory Castellano)
13:25 – Middle School Intro (Calla Schwartz)
14:02 – Middle School Chorus “Winter Wonderland”
16:36 – Lifer Speech (Brynn Peters)
18:41 – Storytime with Mrs. Baudo “The Wish Tree”
23:21 – Lifer Speech (McKenna Shearing)
24:23 – Wind Ensemble Intro (Zoe Crego)
24:47 – Wind Ensemble “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen”
27:54 – Lifer Speech (Marlin Bassett)
29:57 – Upper School Chorus Intro (Mary Cotter)
30:20 – Upper School Chorus “Sleigh Ride”
33:19 – Lifer Speech (Amaja Elliot)
34:12- Lifer Speech (Jack Wheeler)
34:27 – Dona Nobis Pacem
37:28 – Closing Remarks (Shannon Baudo)
38:46 – Credits
Please join us by spreading cheer and making a gift to AC today.
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
Each year, we typically conclude our Holiday Breakfast with a group sing of Dona Nobis Pacem, and while we cannot physically be together this year, we are hoping that we can include some of our families in a special rendition of this song! If you would like to participate, please submit a video recording of you and/or your family. You can access the instructions and materials you’ll need for creating the recording below.
The deadline for video submissions is Friday, December 11th!
Posted in: Alumni News, Art, Events & Workshops, Highlights, Lower School, Middle School, Pre-Primary School, 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