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.
Congratulations to the
Allendale Columbia School
Class of 2020!
By Elizabeth Cotter ’20
Hello everyone and welcome to the graduation ceremony for Class of 2020! I’m so happy we could all be together today, and I couldn’t be prouder of our class… we made it, guys! I’m so honored that my classmates voted to have me speak to all of you. But most importantly, I’m proud of everyone here today because, unlike the past few months, none of us are wearing sweatpants. That’s what I call progress ladies and gentlemen.
In all seriousness, we’re here today to reflect on the good times we’ve had together as a class and talk about the future. I’m not going to start at the very beginning– despite its reputation as a very good place to start– but instead, I’m going to begin with the future. The future is always uncertain, but right now it is even more so. Our lives have been turned upside down, and we don’t know when it will end or when a crisis like this will happen again. Even though the future is scary, I feel that our experiences over these past four years indicate that we will be able to adapt. We maintained our sense of calm through multiple administration changes, rose to the challenge of following the schedule which seemed to impossibly get more complicated and convoluted each year, protected our homebase when our lounge was closed by moving the couches outside the technical “lounge area”, and learned to tell time by the sun when our clock was smashed by our favorite absolute unit. Right now, the world needs people with flexible and innovative mindsets. It is up to us to use our past experiences and the new skills we’ll acquire in the future to make sure we make the world a better place.
This pandemic is something we’ve all had to adapt to, and already I’ve seen a change in the character of our class. Our “brand” if you will, is that we’ve always been the class with the least school spirit. We never cheered at the grade-by-grade roll-call during those first-day-of-school assemblies, and we always placed last at pep-rallies, even as we became upperclassmen. That may sound bad, but our “anti-spirit” has been a sort of bonding for us, and honestly, I wouldn’t trade it for more traditional school spirit. Interestingly though, over these past few months, I’ve seen a change. Our unspoken bond forged from rejecting seemingly harmless practices has evolved with the recognition that our time together is drawing to a close… and with less finesse than I think any of us could have imagined. In the wake of our change, I’ve seen enthusiastic participation in the things we used to find enjoyment in rejecting. We even exerted the extra effort to create a socially distant senior skip day— Thanks to Evelyn and Riley for planning that.
I think our change in character mirrors what this quarantine has taught me– we need to seize every opportunity to connect with our fellow humans. The incredible connectivity given to us by air travel apparently has a very steep price that will likely continue to manifest from time to time. So, during our newly-revered periods of normalcy, we need to bond with each other. I’ve watched enough inspirational speeches and TED talks to know that in 30 years I won’t remember my standardized test scores or my grades in any of my classes, but I hope I will forever remember collectively making the bold artistic decision to do the Maypole dance barefoot last year, saluting the state anthem of the Soviet Union in front of the entire upper school, and the infamous Lounge War of 2019. When world crisis strikes again and face-to-face interaction is scarce, I know I’ll truly cherish memories like these.
As we move into the next chapter of our lives, we can anticipate it will be more academically demanding than our four years in high school, but I hope we all take the time to make personal and meaningful memories. Because who knows when the next time will be that we’ll have to distance from each other again.
I wanted to keep this speech fun and light-hearted because this is supposed to be a time for celebration, but I think it would be wrong to gloss over the tragedy that is tearing our nation apart. Let’s have a moment of silence for Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and all victims of racially motivated police brutality. As we head into the world, we need to recognize the effects of systemic racism and learn how to be better allies, which is going to mean doing more than making blackout posts on Instagram. It’s going to mean listening– really listening– to black voices and taking on this struggle as our own. If you would like more information on being an ally, guidetoallyship.com is a good resource.
Speaking for each member of the Class of 2020, I say “thank you” to our friends and family for your love and support through this wild ride called “growing up”. We would not be the same people we have become without each and every one of you. Thank you to all the coaches, theatre directors, and mentors who have shaped our extracurricular lives and transformed us into hard-working, passionate and well-balanced people beyond the classroom. Thank you to the lunch ladies for nourishing us during the day, and thank you to the AC staff for keeping our campus beautiful and lively. Thank you also to the administration and all the AC family who lovingly insisted there be a special day to celebrate the Class of 2020 and painstakingly created exactly that. As much as today is a day to celebrate the accomplishments of the graduating class, it is also a day to appreciate the tremendous amount of work our teachers have devoted these past four years. Thank you for inspiring us to work hard, while recognizing that we are not just a wave of students, but individuals with complicated lives that can affect our academic pursuits. I can’t count how many of my Zoom meetings have started with my teacher asking “So how is everyone feeling today?”. Even if we never took you up on the opportunity to divulge all our new-found quarantine habits, stressors and emotions, just knowing you cared has been appreciated.
Finally, one small thank you just from me: Thank you Class of 2020 for all the wonderful memories and the inclusive, supportive atmosphere we created together. Thank you for being tolerant, kind-hearted, open-minded people who will surely make a positive impact on the world.
Since 2015, February 11th has been recognized as “International Day of Women and Girls in Science”— a day aimed at ensuring full and equal access to, and participation in, science for women and girls.
At AC, however, students of all genders have full and equal access to STEM every day. Starting in our Lower School curriculum, STEM is a piece of every unit and is tightly integrated across K-5. As students advance to Middle and Upper School, our curriculum allows for an even deeper study of the sciences.
Did you know, AC offers science electives, including:
- AP Computer Science A
- Video Game Design
- AP Computer Science Programming
- AP Biology
- AP Chemistry
- Science Writing and Research
- Biochemistry of the Cell
- Human Disease
Over the course of just three years, enrollment in AC’s STEM electives has gone from 100% male to approximately 50% male and 50% female. In fact, this year’s enrollment in our culminating science course, Science Writing and Research, is comprised almost entirely of females, with only one male enrolled.
Maya Crosby, Director of the AC Invent Center for STEM and Innovation, recently said, “The key to getting more females interested in science isn’t just having more female teachers in STEM. It is an identity you’re trying to build. Students build their formative ideas of what a scientist is over time, and it is not just what they look like and how to act, it has to do with their [the student’s] confidence level and personal interests.”
This is no different from AC’s overall philosophy of making students feel like they belong here. Our teachers inspire students and build their confidence to make them believe that yes, they can do math and science and become a mathematician or scientist.
If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.
An integral and unique part of AC’s STEM program is our focus on authentic and individualized learning. These opportunities not only provide teachers with a variety of ways to measure student progress, and thus remove gender and race bias, but they also allow our students to actively see and do the things they are learning about. This year alone, students have had the opportunity to participate in partnerships with RIT and U of R to dig deeper into their study of STEM topics and career paths.
“I am a science and technology evangelist,” said Crosby. “It’s my passion to get people excited about all things STEM and make fresh connections to the science and technology in their daily lives. It was evident before I even walked through the door that AC was a special and unique place. I am thankful for my incredibly talented and accomplished colleagues and the atmosphere of encouragement and confidence we are building around STEM for our students.”
Get to know AC’s inspirational women in STEM
“I am not a woman in science. I am a scientist.” — Donna Strickland
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”
Join us for PACK Connections
Wednesday, February 12th
8:00-8:30 a.m. Coffee and breakfast pastries
8:30 a.m. Meet & Greet with Kate Dunlavey
This month get to know our school counselor, Kate Dunlavey!
Kate is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with 17 years of experience providing family, group or individual therapy for children, adolescents, and adults. She is a Tree of Hope Affiliate and has experience in supervision of staff and students of varied backgrounds. Kate also has extensive training in evidenced based trauma-informed therapies.
Kate is on campus on Tuesdays and Thursdays and is available to provide referral services for our students.
Come meet Kate and learn more about her involvement at AC!
No need to RSVP! We look forward to seeing you next Wednesday!
All current parents and grandparents are welcome.
This summer, AC LEAP once again welcomed more than 100 Rochester City School District students to campus for six weeks of learning, wellness, and enrichment activities.
During the program students enjoyed:
- Individualized reading instruction
- Field trips
- Family-style lunches
- STEM activities
- Weekly swimming
For the past six years, AC has partnered with School #17 to provide high-quality summer learning to students from the Rochester City School District. By extending the community school support students enjoy during the academic year, AC LEAP works to close the opportunity gap often experienced by students with low-income during the summer months.
“To be with these kids every summer and to see their growth is amazing,”said AC Alumnus Justin Kennedy, who works in the fifth grade classroom. “They continue to impress me with how passionate they are and how much they invest in our community. It means so much to me to be able to work with them and see them develop as people.”
Beyond their classroom studies in reading, math, and STEM, AC LEAP students explored this year’s program theme: Restorative Justice League, in which they used restorative practices to build community and resolve conflict. They also had the opportunity to meet with, and learn about, a variety of restorative justice leaders from the Rochester community.
This year’s off-campus learning included:
Director of AC LEAP
Lindsey BrownLindsey earned her bachelor’s degree in Spanish and master’s degree in Creative Writing at SUNY Brockport and holds New York State Teacher Certifications in Primary Education with a Bilingual Extension, Spanish (7-12), and English (7-12). She is currently working on her Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Leadership which will be completed in the Spring of 2021. Before coming to Allendale Columbia, Lindsey worked in community health and taught in the Upward Bound Program at the University of Rochester. She is the Director of AC LEAP Program and the Director of Equity and Community Engagement.
AC LEAP Accomplishments Since 2014
- More than 362 students and 329 families served
- More than 1,800 books distributed
- More than 12,400 meals served
- More than 60 field trips taken
- More than 37 community speakers
Posted in: Highlights, Partnerships, Summer LEAP, The Birches, Uncategorized