You Never Know What Seeds are Planted During May Term

Posted on June 6th, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

By Judy Van Alstyne ’88, Head Librarian

You never know what kinds of seeds are planted during May Term. Four years ago, Tony Tepedino and I offered a Middle School May Term called Getting Schooled the Minecraft Way. At that time, Mojang still owned Minecraft; MinecraftEDU was a separate installable modification (mod) which allowed teachers to host servers specifically for their students to engage in Minecraft activities designed for learning all kinds of concepts.

Garrett Wilson, Ethan Truong, Carter Previte, and Ben Smoker work on Minecraft during AC May Term 2015.

We had high expectations for the ten Middle School boys who signed up. They weren’t going to be students in a Minecraft activity designed by us grown-ups; they were going to have Lower School teachers as clients, designing educational activities for students in grades two, four, and five. For the second grade class, four boys (Dylan Reece, Ben Smoker, Jack Wheeler, and Garrett Wilson) designed “U.S. Landmarks” to teach about symbols of the United States. For the fourth graders, three boys (Marlin Bassett, Henry Grasman, and Cameron Perry) designed “Bomber Math” for practice in calculating area. For the fifth graders, three boys (Caden Kacprzynski, Peter Klem, and Kasi Natarajan) created “Island Adventure” to teach geometry, measurement, and economy. The boys worked hard and had fun, and when we concluded by inviting the Lower School students in, everyone had fun playing and learning. It was a success that we were sad to end.

Jonathan Ragan tries his hand at a Minecraft May Term in 20115.

But this past week, the Rumsey Library was alive again with students (this time in Upper School) busily playing and creating with Minecraft thanks to two of those former Middle School students, Caden Kacprzynski ‘20 and Cameron Perry ‘20, running a student-led May Term titled Experimenting with Architecture and Code in Minecraft: Education Edition. Now computer experts, they explained to me much that has changed in the Minecraft education world. Mojang was bought by Microsoft, which created a new product for teachers called Minecraft: Education Edition. Caden and Cameron explained how much easier it is (no need to create a local server, for example) and it has a coding curriculum already built in (in conjunction with Code.org). Learning how to code has the immediate benefit of allowing users to create more efficiently and with enhanced functions, for example, building a wall with one command rather than placing each block individually. There are also more possibilities for saving work to be shared with others in the future.

Cameron Perry ’20 and Caden Kacprzynski ’20 lead a student-led May Term titled “Experimenting with Architecture and Code in Minecraft: Education Edition.”

Caden and Cameron decided that for their May Term, they would keep the parameters somewhat loose, requiring only that students work solo or in groups to create worlds for others to play and explore, so long as they incorporated coding into each world’s creation. Each world provides challenges for players such as finding secret levers, parkour, and escape rooms. They reflected on how much noisier those ten Middle School boys were compared to this group of fifteen Upper School girls and boys. Also of note is how much more skilled older students are with group problem-solving. Although they were initially concerned that their peers might not follow their instructions or be engaged in the work, they were pleased to see everyone working very hard on their projects, even skipping breaks or parts of lunch in order to make more progress. Similar to what Mr. Tepedino and I discovered long ago, giving students autonomy to play and create keeps them very engaged!

In preparing for May Term Exhibition Night, I discovered the laminated Minecraft instructions from four years ago. While the Lower School players from the past are now in Middle School and probably don’t need them, we suspect some parents will find them very helpful! I also found the signs we had put up for each of the projects the Middle Schoolers had created. Cameron and Caden each took one as a souvenir; Caden remarked, “This is more meaningful to me than any certificate I could have gotten from a summer camp.” We are so proud that Caden and Cameron decided to share Minecraft with new learners, and we hope they are proud of themselves! And we hope you found a chance to play a little Minecraft on Exhibition Night, June 6th!

Judith Van Alstyne

Judith Van Alstyne

Judy worked as a reference librarian and children’s librarian in several public libraries in the Rochester area before coming to Allendale Columbia in 1997. At AC, she serves as Head Librarian and teaches Digital Literacy, Information Literacy, and library classes for students in nursery through first grade. Judy holds a bachelor's degree from Tufts University, a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and a Master of Library Sciences Degree from Simmons College. Judy is leaving AC after the 2018-2019 school year to complete her PhD in Education (Teaching & Curriculum) with a focus on digital literacies and online learning.
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Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Invent, Lower School, Middle School, Ninth Grade, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

AC’s Innovative 3-Day Play Stretches Imagination

Posted on May 31st, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

Allendale Columbia Upper School students participated in an innovative experimental theatre experience: a Three-Day Play! Students worked with AC faculty and community experts to write, design, stage, and perform an original play, complete with a set and costumes…in one weekend!  (more…)

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

Biking May Term Collecting Used Bikes for R Community Bikes

Posted on May 31st, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

Allendale Columbia’s “Biking Beyond Rochester” May Term class is collecting old and used bicycles for R Community Bikes, a partner organization that collects and fixes used bicycles for free distribution to Rochester’s most needy students and adults. They also provide a tune up and teaches basic repair skills to AC’s group. The “Biking Beyond Rochester” students will be collecting bikes at Exhibition Night on June 6th. Bikes can also be dropped off at the AC athletic entrance with a “FOR DONATION” note on it. (more…)

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Posted in: Authentic Learning, Highlights, Middle School, Upper School

AC Mexico Trip Builds Connections and Global Mindset

Posted on May 31st, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

By Rodrigo Gutierrez and Maiyen Sulera Frere 

There’s nothing like traveling to a different part of the world to develop a new perspective. Through the Allendale Columbia Center for Global Engagement, a group of 11 students and two teachers traveled to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on a cultural immersion trip during AC’s 2019 May Term.

The following notes and photos are taken from a series of emails sent to parents of the students on our AC Mexico trip. (Check back for updates.) (more…)

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

College Essays: Choosing a Topic That’s Uniquely YOU

Posted on May 30th, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

By Emily Nevinger 

Photo: writing college essay

Emily Nevinger will be leading the workshop
Finding your Voice: Personal Statement, Supplemental Essays, and Common Application

Sunday, June 2nd
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Allendale Columbia School
What makes a college application essay stand out from the thousands of others? This event is open to to the public at a cost of $50/student. If you choose to partner with AC College Consulting after attending the workshop, you will receive a $50 credit towards your college advising package. Register here!

I’ve read about 15,000 college essays, so believe me when I tell you I’ve seen every topic under the sun. There are the essays I wish I could unread, too crude to even mention here, and essays from my early days as an admissions counselor that still stick with me today. There have been hilarious anecdotes, emotional tell-alls, and countless stories about making the winning goal as the game clock expired. I always appreciated the essays that would transport me from my neverending application reading days to the blissful land of high school seniors on the verge of greatness. From smiles and tears to questions about judgement, college essays have the potential to resonate with college admission counselors and impact your admission decision. (more…)

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Posted in: College Advising News, Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

Donate Prom/Formal Dresses for Community Service May Term

Posted on May 23rd, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

Allendale Columbia’s Community Service May Term group is collecting prom dresses, formal dresses, and accessories to donate to Fairy Godmothers, a non-profit organization that gives back to the community. Please bring your gently used dresses and accessories to the Welcome Desk at Allendale Columbia School. Donations will be accepted through Thursday, June 6th. Please contribute!

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Posted in: Highlights, Middle School, Upper School

May Term Focuses on Helping Others With 3 Charitable Drives

Posted on May 23rd, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

By Amy Oliveri, Director of the AC Center for Entrepreneurship and May Term Coordinator

This year’s May Term is focused on helping others. Each Session incorporates service learning into its curriculum. Three charitable drives will run until the end of May Term, which culminates in Exhibition Night on June 6th from 6:00-7:30 p.m. This school-wide celebration showcases the projects and learning that take place during these twelve days of interdisciplinary learning, highlighted by cross-divisional and collaborative teaching models. Some of our sessions are even co-taught by students. (more…)

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

Help Animal Care May Term by Donating Pet Supplies

Posted on May 23rd, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

The Animal Care May Term at Allendale Columbia is looking to support Lollypop Farm and Joyful Rescues Animal Shelter by donating supplies needed by these organizations. You can make a real difference for these animals and help them live comfortably in these shelters until they find their “forever” home. Please consider donating any of the following items (please no dollar store items since they are dangerous to animals):

  • Canned dog & cat food
  • Sturdy leashes
  • Dog collars (especially size small)
  • Dog & cat treats
  • Non-clumping cat litter
  • Blankets (new/used)
  • Cat towers & scratching posts
  • Pet beds
  • Cat & dog toys
  • 8-to-10-gallon garbage bags
  • Gift cards to gas stations, Wegmans, Pet$avers, CountryMax, Tractor Supply
  • Paper towels
  • Clorox bleach

Please bring these items to the AC Welcome Desk anytime through June 6th. You can also bring items with you to May Term Exhibition Night on Thursday, June 6th, 6:00-7:30 p.m.

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Posted in: Highlights, Middle School, Partnerships, Upper School