Allendale Columbia School Hosts Iraqi Students for Summer Leadership Program

Posted on October 16th, 2019 by acsrochester

For the third summer in a row, local Allendale Columbia students participated in the Summer Global Leadership Program, alongside Iraqi students from the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP). IYLEP is a four-week exchange program for promising Iraqi students to visit different U.S. cities and learn about leadership, peace building, and civic engagement. It is sponsored and funded by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and implemented by World Learning. Rochester is the only host city that has American students participate in the IYLEP program for the full two weeks, allowing both American and Iraqi participants to build a strong bond and further break down stereotypes and misconceptions.

AC Program Coordinator Tony Tepedino, shares his reflections on this year’s program:


“For two weeks this summer, I was the Program Coordinator for a summer program called the Iraqi Young Leadership Exchange Program (IYLEP).  This is the second year I have been in this role, and I have been very fortunate to be able to be a part of this program. IYLEP is a program that brings a group of Iraqi students to the U.S. for four weeks. The first week is in Vermont, then the next two are in one of four host cities, and then the students travel to Washington D.C. for the last week.

Iraqi teens choose to apply to be part of this program. From what the students have shared with me, it’s a highly selective process, and a spot in the program is very sought after. I wanted to share a few things that have really impressed me about these students (and families) I have worked with over the last two years.

First, as a parent, it’s difficult for me to wrap my brain around how hard it must be to send your child to another country, let alone a country that has been at the center of so much controversy, tension and, simply put, war. I really don’t know how I would react if my teenage child approached me to ask to travel to Iraq. The courage they need to have to travel from their home in Iraq, to the U.S., for four weeks is no small thing. The  students arrive here with an open-mind and an accepting nature. They stay with host families for two weeks, and with that comes getting used to a new home, new people, new foods, new routines, and a language barrier (a few students shared that their primary English teacher was YouTube!). Having New York as a destination brings excitement, until they realize that Rochester, New York and New York City are two very different places and that the famous NYC from movies and television is unreachable for a quick day trip.

As our busy two weeks began, I especially enjoyed observing how quickly the U.S. and Iraqi students bonded and came together as a group. This is something we work on and teach at Allendale Columbia, but the cool part is how this happens genuinely and organically. There is a real sense of connection, love, and caring for each other that occurs during our two weeks together.

During our time together, we covered a lot of ground, through the city and beyond, to immerse ourselves in a variety of different cultural and skill building experiences:

We ended our time together with a day trip to Niagara Falls and an exposition at AC to share our experiences and learnings with the community.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with, and to get to know, the students who have been a part of this program. I applaud their bravery and their willingness to travel so many miles to learn, grow, and share their culture and perspective.

I can only speak for myself, but I know that I am forever changed by this experience, and I hope that it has left a similar mark on each of the individuals who were able to be a part of this unique program.”

Anthony Tepedino

Anthony Tepedino

Throughout his 25 years at Allendale Columbia, Tony has played many important roles. He taught physical education for seven years, kindergarten for seven years, and served as the Director of Curricular Technology for five years. Most recently, Tony has taken on two new roles as our Hybrid Learning Coordinator and Faculty Professional Development Coordinator. Tony also teaches in AC's Summer Camp program. He holds a master's degree in Education from Roberts Wesleyan College.

Get Involved!


Allendale Columbia School’s Center for Global Engagement, in partnership with Rochester Global Connections, offers the Summer Global Leadership Program designed for young people in Rochester interested in learning about and engaging in global issues. Students participate in a 2-week, all-day program where they work, eat, and play with highly-selected youth who are part of the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP). Together the students receive training and engage in hands-on projects that explore leadership skillscivic educationdiversity and inclusionhuman rights, and peace building. Through cross-cultural collaboration, this program provides all participants with a life-changing experience to help make an impact both locally and globally.

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Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Global Engagement, Partnerships, The Birches, Upper School, US Birches

How to Get the Most Out of Teacher Recommendation Letters

Posted on October 15th, 2019 by acsrochester

The applications of five students with similar grades, test scores, and extracurriculars landed on my desk. “Emily, we can add two more Biology students,” the Dean of Admission shared. “Would you mind presenting these applications in Admission Committee and helping decide which students are the right fit?”

Throughout application review season, I faced the same dilemma: how would we make fine distinctions between students with similar academic qualifications? The students would have strong grades in rigorous curriculums and test scores that fell into our published ranges. They all took advantage of the clubs, sports, and volunteer opportunities at their schools.

More often than not, the key to finding students who were the right fit for the college was the detailed information found in teacher recommendation letters.

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Posted in: AC College Consulting, College Advising News, Eleventh Grade, Events & Workshops, Highlights, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

Paying for College: The Expensive Elephant in the Room

Posted on September 22nd, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

 

Take a guess. How much are families currently investing in a college education? 

Including tuition, room and board, and other expenses, families will spend an average of $92,304 for four years at a public in-state college; for private colleges, it jumps to an average of $169,732 for four years (NCES 2017-18). With the cost of higher education seemingly reaching no limit, families are feeling stuck.

Is it better to save for college as soon as a child is born, or will limiting assets benefit your student in the college financial aid process?

Where can you turn when you have questions about paying for college?

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Posted in: AC College Consulting, College Advising News, Eleventh Grade, Events & Workshops, Highlights, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

College Admission Committee: What Happens Behind Closed Doors?

Posted on August 20th, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School


Ten stern-looking men and women, stacks of college applications surrounding them, gather around a conference table, where they are poised and ready to dash the dreams of thousands of high school seniors. Is this what you picture when you think of college admission committee?  Having spent fifteen years in selective college admissions, I can promise you that image is not entirely accurate. Sure, there may be admission counselors sitting in a meeting room, but they’re looking bleary-eyed because they’ve spent the past 5 months reviewing seemingly endless files of transcripts, letters of recommendation, and essays. They’re not excited about sending bad news to anyone, let alone you.  

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Posted in: AC College Consulting, College Advising News, Eleventh Grade, Events & Workshops, Highlights, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

Out of the Mouths of Babes: A Brief Overview of the Allendale Columbia Student Commencement Speakers

Posted on June 18th, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

By Ted Hunt, AC History Teacher

“A few weeks ago, I was thinking about A/C and what it has meant to me over the last four years; after all, I had a graduation speech to write.”

With those words, Brandon Block, Class of 1985, began the first senior Commencement speech in Allendale Columbia School history. The list of student speakers now numbers thirty-five, and what a group it has been: articulate, poised, thoughtful, and diverse in just about every parameter imaginable: gender, race, and ethnicity; urban, rural, suburban.  Over the course of the last thirty-four years, these speakers have had two commonalities. First, their speeches collectively represent some of the most impressive student prose imaginable and, secondly, I have had the pleasure to work with all of them as they crafted and rehearsed their speeches. Year after year, our student speakers were able to distill the essence of Allendale Columbia, its programs, and its people as well as any group of professionals we could have hired to market the school. I saved each and every one of those thirty-five speeches and I would like to share some of their highlights. (more…)

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Posted in: Alumni News, Highlights, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

Class of 2019 Has Diverse Plans, $3.6M in Scholarship Offers

Posted on June 13th, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

by Kristin Cocquyt, College Advisor

AC's Class of 2019 on College Decision DayCollege, travel, work, and seminary: these are some of the diverse plans of the Allendale Columbia School Class of 2019. The newly-minted graduates will be attending colleges across the country, including 9 different states, the District of Columbia, and 18 different colleges and universities in New York State. In addition, the Class of 2019 has reported over $3.6 million in four-year academic scholarships! Congratulations to the Class of 2019! Click here to see our graduates’ plans. (more…)

Posted in: Eleventh Grade, Ninth Grade, Tenth Grade, The Birches, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

Senior Project Program Students Explore Careers and Service

Posted on June 13th, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

Raheema Muhammad, Mikayla Cappon, and Nicole Filipi

For more than two decades, the Senior Project Program has allowed Allendale Columbia seniors  to explore potential careers, participate in community service, and indulge their curiosity in constructive ways.n These three-week off-campus experiences take place in professional environments and are expected to occupy at least the equivalent of the regular school day. At the conclusion, students must prepare and deliver a ten minute presentation to a Review Board of professionals from the AC community. On June 5th, three members of the Class of 2019 presented on their experiences. (more…)

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Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Highlights, Partnerships, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

Students Conduct Scientific Inquiry In 10-Day Costa Rica Trip

Posted on June 6th, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School
By Kelsey Lisi, Aaron Shepard, and the Costa Rica Trip Students

Twelve Allendale Columbia students conducted scientific inquiry while immersed in regional culture and Spanish language during an intensive 10-day trip to Costa Rica during AC’s May Term session in the final weeks of the 2018-2019 school year. The experience took place in the region between San José and the Caribbean coast and was organized by the AC Center for Global Engagement and the AC Invent Center for STEM and Innovation.

We began our journey at the Ecology Project International (EPI) campus in San José. From there we traveled to the Tirimbina Biological Reserve where we spent two days exploring the rain forest, conducting scientific inquiry, and learning about native species. Our next destination was the Pacuare Reserve, a nearly 2,000 acre tropical forest with six kilometers of beachfront. Pacuare is one of the most important leatherback sea turtle nesting sites in Costa Rica. We were fortunate to take part in three nights of turtle census work, during which we encountered several females that had come up on the beach to dig their nests and lay eggs. Some of the students were able to take measurements and act as “midwives” by collecting the eggs in a plastic bag for relocation to a safer area.

On the return trip to San José, we stayed one night at Casa Calatea, a community–supported neighborhood hostel high up on a forested mountainside. Here we enjoyed delicious food and an amazing view that included howler monkeys and toucans. The next day we traveled to the village of Cahuita, with its eponymous national park, where we went on a snorkeling expedition. We had a tasty lunch at a local diner before continuing our journey back to the EPI campus in San José. Our final full day in Costa Rica included a visit to the active Poás volcano and a tour of the Toucan Rescue Ranch, a rehabilitation facility for numerous wild animals such as toucans, sloths, owls, and monkeys.

As chaperones, we found the experiences we had to be life–changing, and can only imagine the impact it had on the students’ lives. They were an inspirational group who are forever bonded by their unique experiences on this trip. You can read their impressions below.


Blog Post 1

During our trip to the Pacuare Reserve in Costa Rica, we excavated a previously relocated leatherback sea turtle nest.  Researchers excavate the nest after sixty days to see if there were any survivors who had hatched but had not been able to reach the surface and to collect the egg remnants to determine hatching success of the nest.  When the nest was relocated, the team dug the nest to a matching depth to the original nest, which is usually about 80 centimeters deep!

The researcher found seven living leatherback sea turtle hatchlings which we were able to exhume and release for the long journey to the ocean.  Although it was tempting to carry the sea turtles to the water, the turtles had to make their own journey to the water so they could pick up chemicals and environmental clues which will help them to return to the beach when they are of breeding age.

Since we couldn’t carry them to water, the group was assigned individual turtles to follow them on the sand to ensure that they make it to water. Along the way, the turtles were met with debris such as sticks and trash, sandy hills, and vicious crabs hoping to make a meal out of them.  The turtles made the approximately 30 meter trek from the nest to the ocean in about 20 minutes. During this time, we were their cheerleaders and their guardians. Some of us chose to take the time to name our turtles; others viewed the journey as a race and started to cheer for their turtle to win.  Marlin Bassett said, “I felt really protective of the baby turtles as they moved toward the water.”

All seven of our turtle hatchlings made it to the ocean and were carried away by the waves after submerging.  This experience gave us hope for the future of sea turtles and the marine environment. Hopefully in twenty years we can see our turtles return to the beach to lay their own eggs and ensure the success of the species.  This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that made our trip so memorable.

Mrs. Lisi collected some responses from our reflections that afternoon.  There were many words and phrases to describe this experience and the trip including magical, powerful, thankful, incredible, and fortunate.


Blog Post 2

During our trip to Costa Rica, we spent nights 4-6 on Pacuare Reserve. We had 4 hour shifts nightly for turtle censuses, at either 8pm or 12pm. Both of us (Marlin and Greg), were given the opportunity to be up close to the Leatherback Sea Turtle while it laid its eggs. At around 1pm on night 4 Marlin saw the massive Sea Turtle, while Greg saw the Sea Turtle on night five around the same time. Even though we both worked with different turtles our experiences were very similar. Only females lay eggs and they come ashore on the beach to do so. She will dig a hole in the sand about 70cm deep with her massive flippers, and lay around 80 eggs. What’s unique about Leatherback Sea Turtles, is that they first lay their fertile eggs, and then on top of the hole infertile eggs. This is done to protect them from predators, and shield them from the elements such as heat. Their eggs unlike any other reptiles are very soft in the beginning, so they don’t break while falling into a 70cm deep hole. If you were to look at the dug hole from the side, it would have a unique shape similar to a boot.

We both had the opportunity to hold this ancient dinosaurs flipper while it laid its eggs into her hole. Before she started to lay her eggs we had to place a large plastic bag under the cloaca so we could collect and relocate the eggs to a safer location, away from poachers. Our main job during this activity was to try and count the eggs that she laid as well as moving the flipper out of the way so other people could observe the amount of eggs that she laid. We both felt how strong she was even by just holding her flipper. Although we tried to move her flipper sometimes it became apart very quickly that once she decided she was moving her flipper, she was moving it and we had no way to stop her. She continued laying eggs for about 10-15 minutes depending on the turtle. When she was done laying, we had to quickly remove the bag before she started filling the hole back up with sand. We then handed over the bag to on-site researchers, so they could relocate it to a safer place which has a higher egg hatch rate. It would then be monitored and checked after 60 days. Data would be collected on the amount of hatched and unhatched eggs.

This made us feel humbled and gave us an overwhelming amount of respect for the Sea Turtles. They have been alive longer than us and have experience far greater than we could ever know. Especially with the problems of pollution and poaching even the effect of global warming it is truly amazing how this animal survives each day and makes this trip to lay its eggs. It makes us hopeful for future generations of life watching the eggs, knowing they will likely hatch and go on to become adults. Thus changing the lives of people like us.


Blog Post 3

On our second day at Tirimbina, we had a midday snack led by our trip guides, Katherine and Catalina. It consisted of the sampling of eight tropical fruits. These were Cocoa beans, Guava, Sour Guava, Passionfruit, Granadilla, Starfruit, Pejivalles, and Mamey Sapote. We ate the pejivalles with mayonnaise, which tasted similar to very dry squash. Starfruit and sour guava were dipped in salt to enhance the flavor. Overall, our favorite fruit was the granadilla (4 orange masses), which had a similar feel to the passionfruit. It was quite sweet with a tang, and its innards were protected by a styrofoam-like barrier. The granadillas were simple and fun to crack open, as we pushed our thumbs into its side and ripped it in half.

For the duration of the trip, we ate rice and beans for practically every meal. However, it was prepared differently each time and even through our various locations, we never repeated a meal. It altered between the separation and combination of these two dishes. There was also consistently a variety of sides, such as plantain chips, shredded cabbage, chicken, fish, beef, mashed potatoes, diced vegetables with corn, mango, watermelon, pineapple, and papaya. We also had many different fruit juices each day, including Passionfruit, Hibiscus, Watermelon, and Cas.

Our favorite meal was at our stay in Casa Calatea. We stayed here for one night after our three days at Pacuare, which was similar to a giant tree house. The staff made us an incredible dinner, which was made up of very tender chicken, mashed potatoes, diced vegetables with corn, plantain chips, and a very good, sweet coconut dessert. It was in a dark brown bar shape and combined coconut pieces with sugar and butter.

 

Kelsey Lisi

Kelsey Lisi

At Allendale Columbia, Kelsey teaches AP biology, biology, and chemistry. Prior to coming to Allendale Columbia, Kelsey taught at St. Paul's School in Brooklandville, Maryland. She earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree at St. John Fisher College and her Master of Science Degree in Biology at Towson University.

Aaron Shepard

Aaron Shepard

Aaron has 16 years of experience as an educator and has been teaching at Allendale Columbia for ten of those years. He began working at AC as a long-term substitute teacher for fifth grade and began teaching in the Middle School full-time shortly after. Prior to joining AC, Aaron was a special education teacher at BOCES and in the Bradford Central School District in Bradford, New York. He earned a Specialized Technology Degree from The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary and Special Education, with a focus on English, from the State University of New York College at Geneseo, and a master’s degree in Educational Psychology, specializing in gifted and talented education, from the University of Connecticut.

 

Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Eleventh Grade, Global Engagement, Highlights, Invent, Ninth Grade, Partnerships, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School