“That Band Was Sick!” Jazz Clinic Hones Student Musicianship

Posted on April 12th, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

By Gabe Costanzo, Music Teacher

Blake Pattengale contacted me around the beginning of March to see if we had any interest in a jazz clinic at AC. I am always looking for ways to bring exceptional performers to school to show students the kinds of experiences they could be having if they continue to develop their musicianship, so this sounded like a great opportunity.

Blake and his band, the Gray Quartet, did not disappoint. They taught our students about jazz by playing a plethora of tunes, starting with today’s pop hits and working back in time to make connections with the jazz tunes that influenced pop music.

We ended the clinic by having AC students play their instruments with the group, learning blues licks by way of a call-and-response method. Later in the day, senior Marissa Frenett commented, “That band was sick!” (I think that means she liked them.)

  • Blake Pattengale – Guitar, Voice, Music Business specialist
    Blake Pattengale graduated from the Eastman School of Music with a degree in Jazz Guitar Performance. He currently works as a freelance musician with Silver Arrow Band, Gray Booking Agency, Redbeard Samurai, and many other venues and agencies around Rochester. In addition, he is developing courses for the Rochester Contemporary School of Music.
  • Max Greenberg – Piano, Organ, Synth
    Max Greenberg has a Bachelor’s Degree from Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and a Master’s Degree from the Eastman School of Music in Jazz Studies with a specialization in Piano performance. He currently works as a freelance musician and additionally teaches at the Rochester Contemporary School of Music while also maintaining his own private studio.
  • Scott Kwiatek – Double Bass, Electric Bass
    Scott Kwiatek graduated from the Eastman School of Music this past spring with a Bachelor’s in Jazz Performance for the Double Bass. He now lives in Rochester teaching bass lessons at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and gigging regularly around town with Eastman professors Clay Jenkins and Rich Thompson.
  • Stephen Morris – Drum Set, Percussion
    Stephen Morris graduated with a Bachelor’s in Jazz Performance from the Eastman School of Music and is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree at this time. Beyond being an exceptionally versatile drummer, he is an incredibly humble and kind-hearted person. He has a wealth of knowledge and the patience to relate it to his students and peers.


Kristin Cocquyt

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

Should Figures from the Past Meet Today’s Moral Standards?

Posted on April 12th, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

At the end of rehearsal, Mr. Gutierrez gives some final notes.

By Rodrigo Gutierrez, History Teacher

Should public figures from the past be judged by today’s moral standards? Ninth-graders chose that topic for the Freshman Forum because of its relevance, especially with recent controversies regarding the reevaluation of the legacies of John Wayne, Michael Jackson, and others.

I had the pleasure of being the faculty mentor for the Freshman Forum this year. The process takes about six to eight weeks. Students volunteer to be part of the Forum and give up free time to prepare. After identifying students that want to participate, they discuss and debate possible topics. After they choose a topic, they research it. Students have a small tryout, and then we work together to assign roles. Once students have their roles or positions, they go through the writing process: outline, rough drafts, and final speech. Along the way, they get advice and revisions from faculty members and others.”

Eliza Nicosia set the stage as moderator, introducing the topic and each of the panelists’ positions. She also managed the question-and-answer period at the end, which had more questions than most Forums, a good sign that the audience was engaged with the topic and presenters.

Margot Queenan started off the position speeches, arguing that problematic public figures of the past should be strictly judged by today’s standards, and all honors bestowed upon them should be withdrawn.

Mary Cotter, on the other hand, argued that all the statues should stay up and that the revered public figures’ reputations should stay intact because it is unfair to judge someone from the past by modern-day standards.

Mansa Brown-Tonge stated that we need to start by educating Americans on our country’s mistakes, but taking the statues down would not be feasible.

Aidan Wun concluded by saying that one’s personal beliefs should not have an impact on their professional accomplishments and that all dedications made in honor to the historic figures should stay.

Freshman Forum participants with judges: Ken McCurdy, Wendi Plenge ’78, Toddy Hunter ’58, Ebets Judson ’64, Mary Cotter ’22, Bryan Hickman ’63, Aidan Wun ’22, Mansa Brown-Tonge ’22, Caroline Hill ’06, Margot Queenan ’22, and Eliza Nicosia ’22.

I thought the Forum went really well. I’m really proud of the freshmen and really excited for them. I kind of knew from the beginning with this group that it would go well, that they would do a good job. They’re just really engaged and motivated students; they’re curious about the world around them, especially social issues. I could tell from when they came in and were discussing possible topics that they were excited.

That being said, when we first started writing our speeches and getting ready, it was a little rough; but, they all invested themselves into the process. They all wrote outlines and talked to each other, they did rough drafts, shared them with me, with parents, with other English teachers and history teachers. We must have gone through about three or four drafts with most of them. Then the last couple of days, it really came together when they practiced, and I could tell that they were not just nervous but excited. So, I’m glad it went so well for them.

Many thanks to the judges who provided such valuable feedback to the Forum students: Caroline Hill ’06, Ebets Judson ’64, Ken McCurdy, Bryan Hickman ’63, Toddy Hunter ’58, and Wendi Plenge ’78.

Kristin Cocquyt

Rodrigo Gutierrez

Rodrigo brings 14 years of experience, having served as a history and geography teacher in public, private, and charter schools in Texas, Connecticut, Arizona, and Delaware. In addition to teaching, Rodrigo has also served as a Department Chair, baseball and basketball coach, and mock trial advisor. He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in History from Yale University and his Master of Arts Degree in History from the University of Texas, Austin.
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Posted in: Highlights, Ninth Grade, Upper School

AC’s Student Artists to Exhibit at Anderson Alley May 3rd

Posted on April 5th, 2019 by cnickels

Honors Art students will be exhibiting their works at the Richard Margolis Art + Architectural Photography Studio during First Friday and Second Saturday in May! The spring exhibition is the student thesis project and incorporates a taste of the “real world” art scene.

See the finished works May 3rd and 11th!

“Precipice” Exhibition
First Friday: May 3rd 6-9 p.m.
Second Saturday: May 11th 12:30-3:30 p.m.
Anderson Alley Artists Studios
250 N. Goodman St. #408

Cheney Chen, Grade 12, is working on an abstract mixed media painting inspired by figure studies.

Tsioianiio Galban, Grade 12, is throwing high fire clay on the wheel to create altered figural pottery.













Thank You!

The students would like to thank Richard Margolis for loaning his studio space to for the exhibition for the second year in a row. The class visited with Richard Margolis to plan the show back in March.




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

AC’s Student Scientists to Exhibit at St. John Fisher College April 26th

Posted on April 5th, 2019 by cnickels

Upper School students from AC’s Science Writing & Research class will be presenting the results of their yearlong research projects at St. John Fisher College’s annual Student Research and Creative Work Symposium. AC students have followed all the steps of scientific research and reporting that they will need in college and in many future careers. Come learn from our student scientists!

Student Research and Creative Work Symposium
Friday, April 26th
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
St. John Fisher College
3690 East Avenue
Rochester, NY 14618


AC Students, Their Topics, and Tentative Presentation Times
  • Cassidy Draper – Closing the loop: The effectiveness of biochar from anaerobic digestate in filtration of nutrients from liquid digestate (9:05-9:25 a.m.)
  • Anna Mihalyov – Exploiting evolutionary costs to reverse antibiotic resistance in E. coli (9:25 – 9:45 a.m.)
  • Ruilu Gao – The effects of digital devices on memory (9:45 – 10:05 a.m.)
  • Noah Levine – The efficacy of therapeutic videos to help children on the autism spectrum to self-regulate (10:10 – 10:30 a.m.)
  • James Morrell – A quantitative categorization of voicing differences in pianos of similar make and model (10:30 – 10:50 a.m.)
  • Nathaniel Pifer – Potential aerodynamic performance improvements by utilizing shark denticle inspired vortex generators on automobiles (10:50 – 11:10 a.m.)
  • Dongming Shen – A comparative study of multi-chip while-light led and phosphor converted white-light led (11:15 – 11:35 a.m.)
  • Jin Zitong – How the precision unibody aluminum enclosure influenced the rise of MacBook computers: A comparison of the physical characteristics of computer case materials (11:35 – 11:55 a.m.)


Volunteer as a Symposium Reviewer

If you have experience or expertise in any field that is conducting ongoing research, you can help develop Allendale Columbia’s young scientists as they present their original research. We are looking for adult volunteers to serve as subject experts and feedback panelists. This opportunity is geared toward any AC parent or alumna/us who has experience or expertise within any field that is conducting ongoing research. Please email Travis Godkin at tgodkin@allendalecolumbia.org if you are interested.


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

Students in Children’s Drama Class Embrace their Inner Eggheads

Posted on April 5th, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

by Deanna Interlicchea, English Teacher

Gwyneth is a little girl with a great big secret, and her reputation hinges on nobody finding out the truth. She can tell absolutely no one—except for maybe just one friend. In no time flat, the entire class is talking about Gwyneth and her terrible truth. What will Gwyneth do once everybody knows that she no ordinary fourth grader, but a genius bound for the seventh grade?

When I purchased Jimmy Brunelle’s children’s play, Eggheads, to read in my Children’s Drama class, I had no idea what it would become. I intended it to merely be a 20-minute in-class reading to serve as a model for their own one-act plays. At the end of the play, though, I heard an energetic chorus of, “we should perform this.” Before I knew it, we had a student director, a costumer, a tech designer, a set manager, a marketing crew, a full cast, and two weeks to pull it all together. (more…)

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Posted in: Authentic Learning, Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Ninth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

AC Tops McQuaid (Again) in Collaborative TEAM+S Competition

Posted on March 29th, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

by Elizabeth Cotter ’20

On March 9th, I was a member of a team of six Allendale Columbia students, with Riley Leibeck ’20, Mary Cotter ’22, Sasha Furdey ’19, Nate Pifer ’19, and Cassidy Draper ’19, who competed in the Tests of Engineering Aptitude, Mathematics and Science (TEAM+S) competition, claiming victory over McQuaid.

The TEAM+S competition encourages students to explore the field of engineering through problem solving and collaboration with their teammates. The theme for the competition this year was The Engineering Brain. We had to learn about cognitive neuroscience, artificial neural networks, the intersection of artificial intelligence and biology, and more. (more…)

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Posted in: Centers for Impact, Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Invent, Ninth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

AC College Advising Team Reminds Families of Best Practices

Posted on March 22nd, 2019 by cnickels

The recent news coverage questioning the integrity of the college admission process is unsettling for all of us. Students work incredibly hard to earn a spot into their best-fit college and that is how it should work for everyone. At Allendale Columbia we want to assure you that we have always followed the NACAC’s Code of Ethics and Professional Practices, which governs the actions of college admission officers, high school counselors, and independent admission consultants.

As your family considers next steps for the college application process, and your friends or family members consider working with AC College Consulting, we wanted to share a few reminders and best practices when it comes to supporting your child in his or her college application process.

  • Stay encouraged. The vast majority of college admission decisions are based upon the holistic review of students’ merits.
  • Trust our experience. Kristin Cocquyt, College Advisor, and Emily Nevinger, College Advising Consultant, have 30 years of combined admissions-related experience.  We believe in the ethical practice of college advising, working with families and students on individualized plans for their college search and application processes.
  • Ask our advice. If you ever feel like a company or organization is offering you additional support or guarantees that seem too good to be true, you can contact us for help in evaluating the organization.
  • Trust the process. We do not condone the financial contributions of families to colleges for the purposes of preferential treatment in the admission process.
  • Know we have your student’s best interests in mind, as do college admission officers. We regularly and ethically engage our professional networks to authentically support our students’ success in the college admission process.


Upcoming AC College Advising and College Consulting Events

College Consulting: Creating an Authentic, Well-Rounded Application – April 6th
What types of classes, extracurriculars, and recommendation letters make a college application stand out? This workshop is designed for students early in their high school careers, when there is time to discover and build a strong foundation. This program is open to the public.


AC Class of 2020 Family College Meetings – Now through May 23rd
Family College Meetings, which include student/parents(s)/host parent(s)/guardian(s), are crucial opportunities for us to discuss the family’s goals for the college process. During this meeting, we will create a student’s standardized testing plan, discuss the important criteria and goals for the student’s college search process, and Kristin Cocquyt will follow up with a personalized list of college suggestions and resources. Families should contact Kristin directly to schedule their meeting after one “Junior Parent Survey” is submitted in Naviance Student. Meetings can be scheduled during a student’s free period or at 3:15 p.m. Skype meetings can also be scheduled with international families. Since early planning is key to a successful college process, Family College meetings should be wrapped up before Strawberry Breakfast on May 23rd.


Kristin Cocquyt

Kristin Cocquyt

Unlike most of our peer schools, we have a dedicated full-time college advisor. Kristin Cocquyt's primary focus is to support, guide, and advise AC students on their college search and application process. She has been in the field of education for 13 years and has visited over 160 colleges, giving her a solid basis for recommending colleges that are great matches for our students. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public Policy from Hamilton College and is a member of both the New York State Association for College Admission Counseling and the National Association for College Admission Counseling.


Kristin Cocquyt

Emily Nevinger

Emily brings a wealth of knowledge and real-world experience in college admissions. She worked in colleges for the past 15 years, including nine years at Emory University where she directed the selection process that helped shape the freshman class from more than 20,000 applications each year. Emily is thrilled to bring her experience as a member of highly selective Admissions Committees to high school students and families, providing you with an insider's glimpse into the world of college admissions.

Emily's Prior Roles
  • UNC Chapel Hill, Senior Associate Director of Admission (2016-2018)
  • Emory University, Associate Dean of Admission and Director of Selection (2007-2016)
  • University of Miami, Assistant Director of Admission (2005-2007)
  • National School of Technology, Director of Career Services (2003-2005)

Contact Emily directly to learn more: enevinger@allendalecolumbia.org
Posted in: College Advising News, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Middle School, MS Birches, Ninth Grade, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School, US Birches

AC School, Students Win Awards at Terra Regional Science Fair

Posted on March 21st, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

Allendale Columbia won the Terra School Award at Terra Science and Education’s Rochester Finger Lakes Regional Science and Engineering Fair (TRFSEF) hosted by Rochester Museum and Science Center (RMSC). Thirteen AC students also received recognitions at the event, including the right to advance to higher-level competitions.

Sixteen AC Middle and Upper School students submitted 11 projects, the most of any participating school, which resulted in the award that comes with a check for $2,000 for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) initiatives. The students packed up their AC Innovation Day Science Fair projects and took the displays the next morning to RMSC. After setting up their projects and passing a Display and Safety check (science can be “messy”, after all), the students went to a lunch keynote address by Maria G. Korsnick, President/CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute.

“Science Fair is inspiring and invigorating, because all these students are excited about science, every student, from fifth graders who are doing behavior projects with their cats and a dog to senior research projects that have to do with cancer diagnosis and research and machine learning, really high-end stuff,” said Maya Crosby, Director of the AC Invent Center for STEM and Innovation, and Director-in-Training for TRFSEF. “But everybody who is here is excited about their project and can’t wait to talk about it with the judges who are coming around. That curiosity all packaged in one room is really inspiring; that’s the great part.” (more…)

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Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Fifth Grade, Highlights, Invent, Lower School, Middle School, Ninth Grade, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School