The May Term that Kept on Giving

Posted on November 24th, 2020 by aragan

When the pandemic sent students home last spring, Mr. Ragan and Mr. Costanzo had a problem— how would they conduct their usual May Term gardening course with all of their students working from home? You see normally, May Term is an immersive educational experience that allows a teacher to teach the same group of students on topics they are passionate about for six days, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. That clearly, wasn’t going to be the case this year. 

Enter “Get Out and Grow!”, a day of hands-on instruction for students starting their own patio or yard gardens at home! Weeks before the course, Mr. Costanzo and Mr. Ragan sorted and planted hundreds of seeds in their homes to “start” plants for students who needed them. As May Term neared, Middle School families filled out wish lists of preferred plants and seeds. The teachers then distributed dozens of custom boxes filled with tomato, squash, pumpkin, cucumber, broccoli, basil, sunflower, lemon balm and pepper plants, as well as seeds for lettuce, potatoes, and other herbs and flowers. The boxes were placed physically distanced a part in the school parking lot and families drove up to find their box.

During the four May Term days, Mr. Costanzo and Mr. Ragan co-hosted the course on Zoom from their own gardens, getting down into the dirt to demonstrate gardening techniques such as planting seeds and transplanting starts. Students were given time to work on their own gardens, and, by day’s end, most were off and growing. By mid-summer, they sent photos of vining beans, staked tomato plants, squash plants out of control, and budding peppers! Not long after came shots of red, yellow, and orange tomatoes of all sizes, and basil as a bonus! Next came green peppers turning red, and, as summer waned, pumpkins turning orange. In October, pounds of potatoes were dug up, and the tomatoes kept growing, for some, right into November. One student posted the mashed potatoes she made, and others showed off baskets filled with their harvests.

Mr. Costanzo and Mr. Ragan thank all of the students and their families who participated in their May Term and discovered or reignited their joy for gardening. 

We hope that this year will have been the first of many great harvests!


Watch Mr. Ragan, Mr. Costanzo, and Mr. Hopkins starring in “The Tomato Snatcher II: COVID Edition”!

Andrew Ragan

Andrew Ragan

Andrew came to teach Middle School History at Allendale Columbia School after 20 years in educational publishing and living in Pittsburgh, New York City, Los Angeles, Toronto, and the Adirondacks. He began writing for young people at Junior Scholastic magazine and has since published hundreds of articles in such magazines as JS, Scholastic News, Disney Adventures, Creative Classroom, and more. After teaching freshman composition at the University of Southern California for several years, Andrew served as the Senior Editor for Disney Adventures Magazine. He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and Communications, with honors, from Carnegie Mellon University and his master's degree in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.
Gabriel Costanzo

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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Posted in: Authentic Learning, Highlights, Middle School

National Hug A Musician Day!

Posted on November 13th, 2020 by acsrochester

This year has brought about a unique set of challenges for educators, including how to safely continue our music education program. We know singing and playing instruments is incredibly important for students at AC, and instead of saying “no” to music education, as many other schools have done this year, we’ve worked hard to ensure we can continue to make music, while keeping all of our students safe.

It’s amazing to watch our students adapt to these new changes. As part of our adjustment to safely continue music education at AC, all of our musicians wear masks, do not sharing music, sit 12 feet apart, and all of the chairs wiped down after they leave. We have also made our classes even smaller, which highlights the individual more. This means students who, in previous years, may have been shy and played or sang quietly alongside their neighbors are now learning to be more confident. Similarly, without that immediate feedback from other musicians right next to them, students are becoming aware of how much they’ve relied on that in the past and have already noticed a difference in how they’re learning. Everyone is becoming more of a leader in the group, and as a result, our sound is improving by leaps and bounds. Yes, it was an adjustment and it was challenging, but we’ve kept our core value of “fostering resilience” in mind and worked our way through it to come out stronger.
In the midst of this pandemic, there is nothing quite like hearing voices singing. I’ll never forget hearing the 4th graders, who are in chorus for the first time, singing during their first rehearsal in the CPC. It was magical. They overcame all of the obstacles we threw at them and continued to make music. That is what it’s all about.  — Rachael Sanguinetti, Music Teacher
This year, technology also plays a more important role in music education as a medium to both learn and perform. Because we will not be able to host live audiences this year, we are working on recording our groups in order to present our body of work to the community. We are only in the beginning stages of this process, but we are excited by the new dimension this adds to the musical experience for most of our students, who have never formally produced a sound recording. We hope this new process will benefit students by opening their minds to new possibilities in terms of ways they can apply their musical skills.
In Lower School music, in addition to developing music-specific skills, we are also focusing on social emotional learning (SEL) goals: taking turns, opportunities for leadership, creativity, and collaboration through musical activities. For our youngest students, we’ve focused on creative movement in response to music, taking risks to share rhythm patterns or creative ways to keep the beat. For older elementary students, we are working on rhythm stick activities to develop rhythmic skills, as well as coordination, timing, and collaboration. In a time when we can’t physically touch, this work has been really meaningful and engaging for our students.

 

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Posted in: Art, Highlights, Lower School, Middle School, Upper School

National Go to An Art Museum Day!

Posted on November 9th, 2020 by acsrochester

In honor of “National Go to An Art Museum Day” today, check out some of the art created by our Lower, Middle, and Upper School students so far this year!

Lower School Art

Lower School Artists have been hard at work in their classrooms this fall! Our hard work is on display in the Lower School hallways. We have explored the Elements of Art through Color, Line, Texture, Shape, and Value. Each class, Nursery through Fifth Grade, has been excited to explore new ways of creating their art. Nursery and Pre-K classes recently painted with marbles and forks. They also used their “teeny tiny” finger muscles to put a 3D pumpkin together by making loops. The Kindergarten classes experienced the magic of leaf rubbings and then painted the leaves with beautiful watercolors. First Graders have practiced multi-step directions as they painted paper with bright tempera paint and then used the painted paper to create pumpkins of all shapes and sizes. The Second Graders cut black cat silhouettes using symmetry as a strategy. There are black bats hanging out upside down in the Lower School, creatively made by the Third Graders. Fourth and Fifth Graders used yarn to wrap mummies and spiderwebs and these became the finishing touches to a beautiful display in Lower School. 

During each art class, the Lower School Artists have the opportunity to learn new techniques and also have time to develop foundational skills for strengthening fine motor muscles, applying problem solving skills, and enjoying the benefits that Art can contribute to their social and emotional well-being. I am so proud of the students I teach. I regularly hear laughter and see the joy on their faces as they create art. Spreading happiness and joy to all who walk the halls each day this year is an added bonus of bringing art to the classrooms. Keep an eye on social media for more wonderful work from my Lower School Artists this year!

Sharon Ellmaker

Sharon Ellmaker

Shari has been an educator for more than 30 years. During the academic school year, she teaches Lower School art and in the summer, she is a valued member of our AC Summer LEAP faculty. Shari brings with her experience teaching second, third, and fourth grade, in both the public school system and independent schools. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education from Bluffton University.

 

Middle School Art

I’ve been so impressed by my Middle School Photojournalism students. These seventh and eighth graders started off the semester learning how to compose photographs. One difference in this class is it is “self-paced.” This means that students work through assignments at their own pace. They are allowed to continue to work on a unit for as long as they need. Some of the units students can progress through are Composition, Motion, and Portraiture. As the quarter began, they learned how to operate a DSLR camera. Learners shoot photos manually by adjusting their shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. They also manually focus their lens. While a DSLR can do a lot of this work for you, it’s vital to learn how to do it yourself so you can have far greater control over the image. 

As a result of COVID and new health and safety precautions, students bring home the cameras for longer periods of time. They have the cameras every other week for up to 6 days. This gives them ample time to plan, shoot, and reshoot their ideas and experiences. I have seen a noticeable difference in the quality of their work as they have more time to experiment with photography. On our “off weeks” when we don’t have the cameras, students learn how to use Adobe Photoshop to edit their images and use effects. They also spend time curating their photos into albums, getting feedback from their peers, and creating digital portfolios of their work. All of these skills and techniques are industry standards.

Amy Oliveri

Amy Oliveri

Amy has been a part of the Allendale Columbia Art Department since the fall of 2010 and serves as Director of the AC Center for 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.

 

Upper School

I’ve loved working with my students in the Upper School Drawing and Printmaking class this semester. Members of the class include in-person students and several Upper Schoolers who join the class remotely, including three international students in China.

One of the first concepts we study in drawing is “line,” and for this ink landscape drawing project the class chose locations, then worked from direct observation to identify and draw the lines that they saw. Being able to sit outside and work was a terrific opportunity that allowed us to enjoy the immersive experience of drawing while observing social distancing.

Students at AC created these images on our beautiful campus while simultaneously, the three students in China drew a local church, a city boulevard, and a residential building in their own neighborhoods. 

Students recorded reflections about their experiences at the end of the project. Here are some things they said:

“The thing I liked most about this project was going outside to find a good view in the city…since I knew I had a mission of discovering beauty in my city, I walked slowly and paid attention to my surroundings.”

“The thing I liked most about this project was that I think I really enjoy the process of drawing, because when I have a picture in front of me, I just concentrate on my drawing, and I feel pretty relaxed.”  

“What did I like most about this project? I think it was really nice to be able to just sit outside, at the end of the day, and just draw.”

“The thing I liked most about this project was that we got to go outside when the weather was nice, and we got to choose what we wanted to draw and got to focus on one specific place.”

Lori Wun

Lori Wun

Lori has 18 years of experience as an educator and has been an art teacher at AC for 14 of those years. She has taught grades 9-12, elementary, and middle school students, as well as university undergraduates. Lori is a practicing artist with bachelor's degrees in fine arts and art history from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the College of William and Mary, where she focused on drawing, painting, and modern art history. She earned a Master of Fine Arts Degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art where she concentrated on photography and video.
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Posted in: Art, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Highlights, Kindergarten, Lower School, Middle School, Ninth Grade, Nursery, Pre-Primary School, PreKindergarten, Second Grade, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, Third Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

Eighth Graders Immerse Themselves in the Economics of Colonial America

Posted on October 16th, 2020 by acsrochester

AC’s eighth graders recently tackled the “Game of Empire” to immerse themselves in the economics of Colonial America. Imitating Europe’s mercantile system of the 18th century, teams of face-masked and gloved students representing the Southern Planters, the New England Merchants, European Merchants, Colonial Farmers, and British West Indian Planters competed to gain the largest percentage of goods they needed to prosper. Students checked their inventories, bargained with traders from other groups, procured shipping, and sailed loaded ships across the sea to deliver their goods. Ship journeys were not always successful, however: storms sank ships; pirates seized cargo, and the British Navy stopped many vessels to check whether goods were being smuggled. Apparently, the Navy was open to bribery, as it ended the game with an inexplicably large amount of hard cash. Some teams made a killing when they realized that they held monopolies on certain goods that other teams had to have. Students raced around the room in great bursts of energy during four trading rounds, each begun and ended with a “royal flourish” from our resident trombone player, who played it clear across the gym with a mask covering the horn. After the last round, each team tabulated its purchases and sales and calculated what percentage of goods they had acquired. All the eighth graders “won” in the end by learning just how complicated the mercantile trading system was in the Colonial Age, why American Colonists began to bristle at Britain’s strict trade restrictions on them, and how much fun it is to simulate that in the “Game of Empire.”

Andrew Ragan

Andrew Ragan

Andrew came to teach Middle School History at Allendale Columbia School after 20 years in educational publishing and living in Pittsburgh, New York City, Los Angeles, Toronto, and the Adirondacks. He began writing for young people at Junior Scholastic magazine and has since published hundreds of articles in such magazines as JS, Scholastic News, Disney Adventures, Creative Classroom, and more. After teaching freshman composition at the University of Southern California for several years, Andrew served as the Senior Editor for Disney Adventures Magazine. He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and Communications, with honors, from Carnegie Mellon University and his master's degree in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.

 

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Posted in: Authentic Learning, Eighth Grade, Highlights, Middle School

A Culture of Kindness

Posted on October 9th, 2020 by acsrochester

Today marks the first month that Allendale Columbia has been back in the swing of things, buzzing with in-person learning, five days a week. Within this first month I have seen an abundance of smiling faces, great enthusiasm, joyfulness to be among friends again, and maybe above all else, a willingness to help each other out and to just simply be kind. The beauty of my position here at Allendale Columbia is that I get to pitch in and help out in several different areas of the school, changing directions at any given moment. I am able to witness inspiring interactions between students and teachers, teachers and colleagues, parents and their children, or students and their peers. And no matter who is helping who, I always find myself feeling that happy twinge in my heart.

This year, we have 98 new students on campus, and needless to say, some of our most apprehensive students, particularly on the first day of school, were the littlest ones. One nursery student in particular, was understandably very nervous to walk into school without Mom or Dad. Without hesitation, his two older sisters, a first and a third grader, carefully helped him out of the car and comforted him all the way to the primary doors. The very next day, and each day that has followed, he now happily walks into school as long as he’s holding both of his sisters’ hands. This was adorable to see the first time, and yet even after the fourth week of school, it still makes my heart melt. Other youngsters have struggled with putting their masks on their tiny little ears before hopping out of the car, yet I have seen the gentle touch of my colleague and phenomenal Lower School music teacher, Lynn Grossman, easily take care of that and offer warm reassurance. 

As I wandered the halls these past few weeks, I have heard many positive and encouraging words echoing from the classrooms, such as “Great job, Hannah!”, “Can I help you with that?”, or “I’m proud of the way you are all working today!” I see colleagues offering to assist with hand delivering lunches to classrooms, students helping new classmates find their way, and yesterday, the first grade classes handed out random notes of kindness throughout the school to help spark a smile from those who were lucky enough to find one.

Perhaps my favorite demonstration of kindness so far this year was when a ninth grader forgot her musical instrument. Her Dad had already pulled out of campus so she had to call him to come back to the school. After he sat in the morning car line for a second time that morning, she apologized profusely. Her Dad enthusiastically responded, “Don’t be sorry, just be you!”  

With all that’s currently going on in the world, I am so grateful that I have Allendale Columbia School as a place to come each day. Having a great sense of community is what we are proudly known for, but the kindness we lend to one another on a daily basis is the key ingredient of what makes this school so very special. 

Julie Barrett

Julie Barrett

As 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.
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Posted in: Highlights, Lower School, Middle School, Pre-Primary School, Upper School

AC students earn seven coveted Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

Posted on February 13th, 2020 by Amelia Fitzsimmons

 

 

The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, conducted by the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, is one of the country’s longest-running, most prestigious recognition programs for creative students in the U.S., and the nation’s largest source of scholarships for young artists and writers in grades 7 – 12. Since its founding, the Awards have established an amazing track record for identifying the early promise of our nation’s most accomplished and prolific creative leaders. The Awards have an impressive legacy dating back to 1923 and a noteworthy roster of past award winners including Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote, Richard Avedon, John Lithgow, Ken Burns, Robert Redford, Kay WalkingStick, and Joyce Carol Oates. For more information about the program, visit artandwriting.org.

The Awards give students opportunities for recognition, exhibition, publication, and scholarships. This year, students across America submitted nearly 320,000 original works this year in 29 different categories of art and writing. Student entries are judged on originality, technical skill, and the emergence of a personal vision. AC students submitted works into a sizeable Northwest Region-At-Large category, and the following students were honored with these regional awards:


Silver Key Awards, Photography

Matt Duver, ‘20 “Surfacing”

Matt Duver,’20 “Release”

Nya Hauser, ‘23 “Stuck Up”


Silver Key Award, Fashion

Sophie Diehl, ‘22 “Drop Crown” 

 

Honorable Mention, Animation

Ava Gouvernet, ‘20 “Patience and Harmony”

 

Honorable Mention, Mixed Media

Elena Korte, ‘24 “Teardrop”

 

Honorable Mention, Drawing and Illustration

Vivian Osness, ‘20 “Landscape”

 

Posted in: AC in the News, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Middle School, MS Birches, Ninth Grade, Seventh Grade, Tenth Grade, The Birches, Twelfth Grade, Uncategorized, Upper School, US Birches

2020 Current Events Test

Posted on January 29th, 2020 by acsrochester

How’s your knowledge of current events?

Take the 2020 Allendale Columbia School Current Events Test to see how you compare with AC Middle and Upper School students, who took the test on January 28th. You’re on your honor — even though you may be viewing the test on a connected device, you may not consult any sources other than your own memory while you take the test!

 

Click the image to view the 2020 test questions (PDF)

Click the image to download the Current Events Answer Sheet PDF (to mark your answers)

Click the image to download  the Current Events Answer Key (page 1) PDF

 

Click the image to download  the Current Events Answer Key (page 2) PDF

Current Event Test Winners 2020

Overall Winner: Ryan Mogauro – 97

Grade 12
Henry Nicosia – 94
Daniel Saedi – 92
Jaina Dinino – 89

Grade 11
Marc Chuprun – 91
Adrian Fuller – 89
Jack Wheeler – 85

Grade 10
Aiden Wun – 77
Ronan Wun – 76
Gianna de Rosa – 75

Grade 9
Thomas Duver – 88
Maya Schwartz – 76
Josh Nozik – 71

Grade 8
Ben Tucker – 66
Luca Palomaki – 61
Jake Crane – 58

Grade 7
Maya Sams-  63
Carter Previte – 56
Lizzie Bissonette – 53 / Oliver Riveros – 53

Grade 6
Sebastian Costanzo – 71
Sammy Davis – 60
Mackenzie Opira – 50

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Posted in: Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Middle School, Ninth Grade, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

AC Musicians Receive Highest Vocal Solo Festival Rating

Posted on January 24th, 2020 by acsrochester

In the month of January, musicians in Lower, Middle, and Upper school are offered the opportunity to perform in solo festivals hosted by the Monroe County School Music Association. This year, AC has 15 musicians involved in festivals over the course of the month.


The Vocal Solo Festival was held on January 10th and 11th, and the Instrumental Solo Festivals were held the following three weekends (Jan. 17-18, Jan. 24-25, and Jan. 31-Feb. 1). Representing lower, middle, and upper schools, nine singers and six instrumentalists participated in the festivals. Participation entails studying a piece with an AC teacher or a private lessons teacher, performing the piece for a festival judge, and receiving feedback as well as an overall score. All of the singers received the highest festival rating of “outstanding” or “A+” for their performances. (As of this writing, the instrumental festivals have not taken place yet.) This achievement shows both the students dedication and the hard work put in to studying their pieces over the course of many months.


Participation in these solo festivals shows young musicians’ desires to go above and beyond in their musical learning. Participation is optional and requires extra work on the part of the students, who schedule extra rehearsal and lesson time outside of classes to work with teachers in preparation for the festival performances. They are asked to learn challenging repertoire that pushes them to new levels of musicianship. The opportunity to perform and receive feedback is incredibly valuable to young and developing musicians, and we as music educators are grateful our students have the opportunity to participate. 

Posted in: Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Kindergarten, Lower School, LS Birches, Middle School, MS Birches, Ninth Grade, Second Grade, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, The Birches, Third Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School, US Birches