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
Allendale Columbia School Votes Not to Merge
with The Harley School
Rochester, N.Y. — After thoughtful consideration, the Board of Trustees of Allendale Columbia School (AC) have decided not to proceed with a merger with The Harley School at this time. This decision was reached after an extensive due diligence process with the best interest of all the students, alumni, donors, and employees in mind. The current decision does not affect the schools’ long-standing combined sports program, which will continue to operate as HAC Athletics.
Allendale Columbia School will immediately move forward with an aggressive fundraising campaign to create future financial stability. We are confident AC will continue to deliver a high-quality educational experience. It won’t be “business as usual” at the school as AC will reinvent itself operationally and make necessary and innovative changes in order to achieve long-term sustainability. The entire Allendale Columbia School community is excited about the opportunities ahead and looks forward to opening the doors for the 2019-2020 school year on September 4th, 2019.
“Often times your best success occurs after you are faced with a daunting challenge,” said AC board trustee Richard Yates. “The past three months have given us the opportunity to evaluate our many options and reimagine the possibilities of a truly independent school education. We intend to proceed in a transparent manner that utilizes the strength and enthusiasm of all our stakeholders.”
“I am honored to be returning to the board of trustees, supporting this effort with Richard, and helping to bring together parents, alumni, and the entire AC community. We have a dedicated community who are committed to ensure the health of Allendale Columbia School in the years to come.” said Ann Balderston, former Board Chair and past parent.
About Allendale Columbia School:
At Allendale Columbia, we prepare students for the world they will inherit. In our trusting and responsive environment, students in nursery through grade 12 grow in confidence and develop scholastic independence. Together, our students and teachers imagine, design, and create in order to make a positive impact locally and globally.
Allendale Columbia School. First here, then anywhere.
AC and the American Lung Association invite you to an interactive exhibit and discussion about vaping.
Today, 10.7 million teenagers are using or are open to trying e-cigarettes. E-cigarette use has grown 900% among Middle and High School students despite the fact that just one of the popular Juul e-cigarette pods has the same amount of nicotine found in 1 pack of cigarettes.
Why are teenagers using? What should parents know?
Join us Tuesday, March 26th for a presentation from the American Lung Association about the growing use of these smoking alternatives, the effects, and what you can do to guide your kids in the right direction. The first 25 to register will also get a guided tour through a simulated bedroom where vaping and juuling paraphernalia will be placed.
Tuesday, March 26th
6-7 p.m.: Room Simulation (first 25 to register)
7-8 p.m.: American Lung Association presentation
Open to the public, parents, and students.