Students in our multidisciplinary Upper School course “Production & Design” attended the virtual Adobe Max conference October 20-22. This conference provided students with access to interactive workshops and presentations by Annie Liebovitz, Ava DuVernay, and Tim Allen of VP, Design, Airbnb, and many more. Overall, AC students attended more than 20 different sessions, allowing them to learn alongside, and from, leading industry professionals.
At AC, we constantly strive to offer opportunities for students to learn and grow both in and out of the classroom. Bringing global conferences to our students, despite the pandemic, allows our young leaders to continue to make connections and grow their network of resources. We are grateful for the ability and innovation that makes it possible for our students to attend events such as this and then apply their learnings in the events they are organizing this year in “Production & Design”.
This year, our “Production and Design” students are organizing three major events:
- Best Buddies Gala – AC has had a partnership with Best Buddies, a non-profit organization that supports people in our community with developmental disabilities, for about four years. This year, AC students are working with Best Buddies to create their “Champions Gala”, Best Buddies’ largest fundraiser of the year. In a normal year, their gala would be a traditional in-person event. This year, however, is a bit different, and the event will be held virtually. AC students have the responsibility of filming and editing pre-recorded content for the event, in cooperation with Best Buddies WNY and WROC. AC students are also responsible for creating social media content to promote the event. This is a tremendous opportunity for students to do real and impactful work in the community.
- Heritage Dinner – The Heritage Dinner is an annual AC event to celebrate the cultural diversity and heritage of our AC community. This year’s event will take place virtually the evening of December 10th. Our team of student leaders will create meal boxes for purchase in collaboration with Headwater Food Hub, organize performances, publish a digital cookbook of AC family favorite recipes, and provide participants with cultural resources to make this event a success.
- Now. Here. This. – This year’s Upper School musical theatre production is Hunter Bell, Susan Blackwell, and Jeff Bowen’s Now.Here.This., which has recently been adapted to be “flexible” in these uncertain times. This new flexibility allows for freedom in casting, running time, and performance venue. The adaptation can accommodate casts of 4 to 400 people of all genders, races, and sexual orientation, and can be performed live or online. This means that all students can be involved, whether they are learning remotely or in person! This exciting project is being filmed and produced by AC students, who are currently in the storyboarding stage. Auditions took place last week, and cast members are starting to learn material and prepare for recording and filming. The production will be shown in a live-streamed event on January 22nd, 2021.
Here is what our students have to say about the Adobe MAX Conference…
In “Adobe Spark: How to Build Cross-Team Collaboration” they began by introducing themselves and what they do with Adobe Spark currently. They then went on to explain how you should build a team where everyone has different strengths and weaknesses so the team members can focus on using their strengths to the fullest, instead of focusing on building up their weaknesses. Next, they gave a demo on how to create brands and libraries in Spark that you can share with multiple people to help with the consistency of branding and marketing. They then explain how you can share your projects with other people if you want to co-edit. I learned how to use the Creative Cloud libraries in both Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator instead of just in Spark. Before this session, I was downloading the files then adding them to my libraries on Spark. I also learned that Adobe Spark is working on Brand sharing which is also very exciting because this is what we were looking to do for Best Buddies.
The presentation I attended was called “Editing Faster and Smarter in Premiere Pro — Part 1.” The video started off by explaining how to string different clips together. She also went over different shortcut keys and how to make your own shortcuts. I learned a lot of different keys to make my editing go by quicker like how to quickly divide clips, rewind, play, and move bits up and down. I also learned how to create my own shortcuts. I generally thought that the conference was pretty good, and I liked that I could rewind and rewatch segments if I didn’t understand something.
Now. Here. This. – Production Manager
One of the sessions I attended was called “Video in the Spotlight”. I watched the portion of the conference that showcased Ava DuVernay and Zendaya. Ava DuVernay talked about her filming process, and she gave a lot of advice saying that if you want to make a film, you should just do it, and it doesn’t take a lot. One thing that really stuck with me was how she talked about her climb to success. She explained how instead of pushing to get in the room with the big directors, she built herself a room and made the most of it, and that’s how she became successful. Zendaya talked about fashion and film that inspires her, and she talked about how she stayed creative during the quarantine.
Heritage Dinner- External Partner Coordinator
I attended the conference called “Quick tips for creating the most engaging social media videos.” Amber Torrealba was the speaker. I would say that it was about thinking ahead of time, using what you have, being creative, how to create the best videos, and sticking out. I learned about the importance of the first five seconds, lighting, audio, transitioning, planning, words/titles/captions, and to always keep creating. One thing I would change about her presentation would be adding more of the content she has created to show more examples and see other styles besides hers that also are engaging social media videos.
Best Buddies – Social Media Content Designer
I attended a session by Zachary Silverstein and Stephanie Newcomb in which they showed off some of the features of Adobe Spark. I learned how to change the style of text, animate a graphic, add a background, and delete the background of a picture. These things will be very useful to me as I continue to create social media content for the upcoming Best Buddies Virtual Gala, and in life, as I need to use Adobe Spark to create marketing content. If I could change anything about this presentation, it would be to allow viewers to play along with Spark as the hosts do. I think that this would make for a better learning experience.
Now. Here. This. – Logistics, Social Media
I learned that you can’t become better or do better without the help of others. Even if you think you reached your max limit, you have so much more potential. When it comes to making our own content, we have to know our community, our audience, and what they want/desire. It is important to become comfortable with your audience and maintain a formal relationship with co-workers and people you are making content for. Be respectful. Be confident in your expertise as the leader of our own online community. Build business relationships based on trust and good experiences.
Heritage Dinner- Marketing and Content Creator
In the conference I attended each speaker spoke a bit about their life and inspiration for art. Each artist had a different style and thought about their artwork. They talked about what their artwork means to them as well as what it means to other people. They also talked about grabbing their audience’s attention with just a simple poster or painting. I learned about the importance of color in artwork and how to be able to tell how other people will interact with your artwork.
In this conference, the leader took the audience through examples of how to begin the editing process as an introduction to Premiere Pro. He used different clips that were provided by Adobe that you could follow along with. I learned a lot of cool tips and tricks about Premiere Pro that will definitely help me in the future. One example of these tips was when he showed us how to organize files and frame a timeline in file form before you actually start working on the timeline. This makes the process of editing the actual clips together a lot easier because now you don’t have to stumble around in search of a specific clip the whole time. The one thing that turned me off from the presentation was the fact that he never actually played the clips he was editing. He would show the files before he put them in the timeline, but after, he would simply drag the marker along without showing what the edit looked like. If I were to change something about this presentation, I would have played the clips for the audience to see fully.
Best Buddies- Video recording, editing, and design
In the conference I attended the presenter talked about how too many creative people just fall into their positions rather than going for the position they want. He talked about some common career paths for people to follow. I found it interesting that he recommended creative producers be open to any position they might be good at, like a CEO or someone on the business side. I did not think that creative people would want to be CEO, but when you think about it, it makes sense. We need more creative business leaders. He did a excellent job, and his presentation made sense and was well thought out.
Best Buddies – Social Media Logistics Lead
I watched “Creating Great Images With Your Phone Part 1”. In this session Katrin Eissman spoke about Adobe Lightroom which is basically a professional photo editing app for iphones. She showed us her phone while using adobe Lightroom. She showed us all of the cool features that the app has to offer such as changing the exposure of the photos (which I liked the most about the app) and changing the different tones of the photo. I learned a lot about this new app, and I am even thinking about downloading it on my own phone because of how useful it is for professional photo taking. I learned that the better quality the photo (the more professional it appears) the more pleasing to the eye it is thus, the more appreciation for the photo.
Tony TepedinoSince starting at Allendale Columbia in 1994, Tony has taken on many different roles. He has coached a variety of sports, including Varsity Girls’ Basketball and Varsity Golf. He taught physical education for seven years, kindergarten for seven years, and served as the Director of Curricular Technology for five years. Tony is currently serving as a faculty member in the Center for Entrepreneurship where he teaches electives for both middle and upper school students. He is also the Faculty Professional Learning Coordinator and C0-creator of TEDxAllendaleColumbiaSchool. Recently, Tony was Co-chair of the NYSAIS Accreditation Steering Committee and is a member of the Upper School Student Success Team responsible for Student Life. During the summer, Tony also works as Program Coordinator for the Iraqi Youth Leadership Exchange Program (IYLEP). He holds a master’s degree in Education from Roberts Wesleyan College. Tony is the proud father of two children, Gabi and Trip. He enjoys hiking, reading, travel, cooking, and learning about new things.
Amy OliveriAmy has been a part of the Allendale Columbia Art Department since the fall of 2010 and serves as Director of the AC Center for Entrepreneurship. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Illustration and a Concentration in ASL as well as a Master of Science Degree for Teachers in Art Education from the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Amanda Meldrum-StevensonAmanda holds a Bachelor of Science in Music Therapy from SUNY Fredonia, has studied Vocal Performance and Music Education at Eastman School of Music, and is currently completing a master’s in Creative Arts Therapy at Nazareth College. She brings experience as a board-certified music therapist, rehabilitation therapist, private voice instructor, and youth community musical theatre director. At AC, Amanda manages and directs the Upper School musicals and plays, teaches Upper School theatre classes, leads the Boys Ensemble, and teaches Middle School music electives and Drama Foundations.
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Eleventh Grade, Entrepreneurship, Events & Workshops, Highlights, Invent, Ninth Grade, Partnerships, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School
This was an exciting month for AC – we published our first issue of Research & Discovery: AC’s Journal of Student Inquiry!
This publication showcases the work of students who completed independent research projects in STEM in our Science, Writing and Research course. Unique to this area, and to secondary school in general, this class challenges students to learn about the process of scientific research by gaining fluency with scientific literature and then completing a project of their own creation. Finally, students present their work at a formal academic symposium with other students at the undergraduate level.
Faculty member Travis Godkin, who designed the program said, “This is a class that I had been thinking about for a long time, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity and freedom to do this at AC! Helping students through this entire process has been incredibly rewarding, and I think they have gained an experience that is not typically available to students outside of college. I strive to create authentic learning experiences in my classes, and this experience represents the pinnacle of that endeavor.”
Even more unique is a publication of student research and inquiry at the secondary level that is of the same quality as a professional scientific journal. Students analyzed their own data, compiled and wrote their own papers, and prepared them for publication. The cover was also designed by Ava Gouvernet, Class of 2020.
“We are so excited that we have the opportunity to share student work in STEM at the same level as scientific professionals,” said Maya Crosby, Director of the Invent Center for STEM & Innovation at AC. “Mr. Godkin and his students have done amazing work!”
“Thank you to the communications department at Allendale Columbia and to Amy Oliveri, for all their help in preparing our publication for print.”
Maya CrosbyMaya 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.
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Highlights, Invent, Upper School
Today marks the first month that Allendale Columbia has been back in the swing of things, buzzing with in-person learning, five days a week. Within this first month I have seen an abundance of smiling faces, great enthusiasm, joyfulness to be among friends again, and maybe above all else, a willingness to help each other out and to just simply be kind. The beauty of my position here at Allendale Columbia is that I get to pitch in and help out in several different areas of the school, changing directions at any given moment. I am able to witness inspiring interactions between students and teachers, teachers and colleagues, parents and their children, or students and their peers. And no matter who is helping who, I always find myself feeling that happy twinge in my heart.
This year, we have 98 new students on campus, and needless to say, some of our most apprehensive students, particularly on the first day of school, were the littlest ones. One nursery student in particular, was understandably very nervous to walk into school without Mom or Dad. Without hesitation, his two older sisters, a first and a third grader, carefully helped him out of the car and comforted him all the way to the primary doors. The very next day, and each day that has followed, he now happily walks into school as long as he’s holding both of his sisters’ hands. This was adorable to see the first time, and yet even after the fourth week of school, it still makes my heart melt. Other youngsters have struggled with putting their masks on their tiny little ears before hopping out of the car, yet I have seen the gentle touch of my colleague and phenomenal Lower School music teacher, Lynn Grossman, easily take care of that and offer warm reassurance.
As I wandered the halls these past few weeks, I have heard many positive and encouraging words echoing from the classrooms, such as “Great job, Hannah!”, “Can I help you with that?”, or “I’m proud of the way you are all working today!” I see colleagues offering to assist with hand delivering lunches to classrooms, students helping new classmates find their way, and yesterday, the first grade classes handed out random notes of kindness throughout the school to help spark a smile from those who were lucky enough to find one.
Perhaps my favorite demonstration of kindness so far this year was when a ninth grader forgot her musical instrument. Her Dad had already pulled out of campus so she had to call him to come back to the school. After he sat in the morning car line for a second time that morning, she apologized profusely. Her Dad enthusiastically responded, “Don’t be sorry, just be you!”
With all that’s currently going on in the world, I am so grateful that I have Allendale Columbia School as a place to come each day. Having a great sense of community is what we are proudly known for, but the kindness we lend to one another on a daily basis is the key ingredient of what makes this school so very special.
Julie BarrettAs AC’s Welcome Desk Associate, Julie collaborates with several AC departments and ensures that everyone who visits or calls campus feels welcome. Prior to joining AC, she worked for Mattiacio Orthodontics, Rochester Wedding Magazine, and Cardiac Life. She received her Associate’s Degree in Sports Tourism and Marketing from Finger Lakes Community College and is in the process of earning a Certificate in Business and Entrepreneurial Studies from Monroe Community College.
Posted in: Highlights, Lower School, Middle School, Pre-Primary School, Upper School
Forge a different path
Find what fits for you in Allendale Columbia’s new post-secondary program!
Allendale Columbia is now offering a supported transition to post-secondary life after high school through our “AC Launch” program. This individual mentorship program engages students, allowing them to drive their own path with guidance and support from a team of educators. In this program, we focus on:
Individualized learning plans
Earn micro-credentials and gain real-world experiences
Practice core skills in real-time through a variety of experiences and environments
Work within a team to accomplish a high-investment task
Analyze, reflect, and implement valuable feedback from mentors
Mentor a younger student to practice leadership skills
Turn interests and passions into skill sets
Work with a mentor on a significant public project
Weekly meetings with expert mentors
Connection with other postgraduate peers
Create a networking portfolio
Develop and launch a personalized life plan
Participants will integrate deeper learning and social-emotional growth for a lasting impact that unveils their interests and passions, helping to set them up for success and launch them into their future.
Duration: Two 11-week sessions
Cost: $3,500 per session
- Session I: September 24th – December 11th
- Session II: January 15th – April 8th
Ages: Open to AC and non-AC graduates from the Classes of 2019 and 2020
Director of Equity and Community Engagement
Let us know if you’re interested!
Complete the interest form below.
Meet the Mentorship Team:
Posted in: AC College Consulting, College Advising News, Events & Workshops, Partnerships, Twelfth Grade, Upper School
Congratulations to the
Allendale Columbia School
Class of 2020!
Roxy Reisch recipient of the Robert J. Moore Award
Mr. Moore is a former teacher, coach, and athletic director at Allendale Columbia School who played an important role in helping lead HAC athletics. Many players and coaches who worked with Mr. Moore will tell you that his compassion and caring attitude helped to influence them in a positive way. The Robert J. Moore Award honors Mr. Moore for his 20 years as athletic director and his dedication to the Harley Allendale Columbia Athletic program. Mr. Moore retired in 2009 and remained on the Board of Trustees at Allendale Columbia School through 2018.
The Robert J. Moore Award is presented to both The Harley School and Allendale Columbia School students involved in HAC athletics. It is presented to a student athlete who best represents Mr. Moore’s good work ethic, caring attitude, and ability to show compassion for all. I’m extremely proud to announce this year’s Robert J. Moore Award recipient is Roxy Reisch.
Roxy has been a staple on the HAC cross country and track & field teams the past four years, while also competing on the girls swimming team through her sophomore year. She is arguably one of the most accomplished runners in HAC girls cross country and track & field history, having helped her teams capture four consecutive undefeated cross country seasons, four W-FL Division III cross country titles, three W-FL Division III track titles, two sectional titles in cross country, and three sectional titles in track and field. She has represented HAC and Section V in three New York State Championship meets, is a six-time Wayne-Finger Lakes All Star, and has twice been selected to the All-Greater Rochester first team, making her one of only two HAC athletes to earn that distinction in the last 15 years.
All of these successes, however, do not champion the person Roxy is and why she is deserving of the Robert J. Moore Award.
Though her senior year of competition as an HAC athlete was cut short, first by illness during the fall, and then, cruelly, by COVID-19 in this spring, Roxy’s attitude towards this situation and the poise that she carries herself embodies what Mr. Moore and the Robert J. Moore award represents. When Roxy couldn’t compete this fall, she remained a pillar for her team and teammates, supporting them at practices and meets, while taking time to mentor, inspire, and support her younger teammates. As Coach Deckman notes, “Roxy probably has the biggest heart in Section V. She stepped into her role as captain this past fall with ease, leading teammates through her shining example of determination and drive.” When Roxy noticed that a newcomer to the team was nervous about a big mid-season race, she discreetly presented the teammate with a hand-written note of encouragement the night before.
Roxy is often among the first to notice if someone on the team is struggling or needing extra support, and she is among the last to ask for it herself. During her track career, she regularly sacrificed opportunities for individual glory for a tougher work load if it meant improving the team’s chances of success.
Roxy’s compassion extends into her volunteer efforts as she worked to become a certified ‘Girls on the Run’ coach to help lead and guide younger runners and invoke the same passion she has for the sport to those trying it for the first time.
Roxy started her senior track season with bursting energy and promise, so when the season ended a mere week after practice began, and with what happened in the fall, it was indeed a bitter disappointment. However, instead of giving up, she doubled down. She was among the first to start logging workouts via the team’s online training platform and continued to encourage her teammates’ efforts there. As Coach Deckman noted, “Roxy’s accomplishments on the race course are certainly impressive, but her personal growth and dedication to her team’s development will linger for a long time.”
Roxy, your selfless generosity of spirit, genuine care for others, and positive attitude towards all the challenges that you face are the reasons why you are the recipient of the Robert J. Moore award. Congratulations Roxy!
The Gordon F. Smith award is Allendale Columbia’s highest award for athletics. Gordie Smith was a teacher, coach, and athletic director for his career and had coached in over 1500 games at Allendale Columbia.
The Smith award is given annually to a boy and/or girl that meets the following criteria.
- Commitment to Athletics
- Outstanding athletic ability and performance
This year’s male recipient of the Gordon F. Smith Award goes to Gifford Campbell.
Gifford Campbell has been a three-sport athlete since 7th grade. He’s been a leader on the varsity soccer team since earning a sectional call-up his freshman year, a member of the varsity boys basketball team as a midseason sophomore call-up, and a member of the Wolves’ varsity track & field team since his freshman year.
“Gifford is the consummate team player,” said assistant varsity boys soccer coach Rob Richardson who has coached Gifford his entire varsity-career. “He remained positive at all times, and focused on what he could control – his own effort.
As an upperclassman, Gifford seized the opportunity to lead. His leadership and presence was a critical component in the culture change that led to this season’s success.”
“Though he was plagued by injury most of his [senior] season…his leadership qualities never diminished,” said varsity boys soccer coach Ted Hunt. “He came to every game and every practice, providing the ultimate sense of a role model and leadership and helped turn the team’s character back in the direction that coach Richardson and I had always wanted to be reflected in the program: hard work, intensity, and resiliency. That’s what we (the team) became again this year and Gifford was a big part of that.” This past season, Gifford earned 1st Team Finger Lakes West All Star and Exceptional Senior honors as a centre back and key contributor for HAC’s defense.
A two-year starter for boys basketball, as a junior, Gifford helped the Wolves earn their first sectional win in over five seasons scoring seven points in a 50-49 victory over Bolivar-Richburg. This past winter, in what ended up being the last time he’d wear an HAC uniform, Gifford scored a team-high 15 points in a sectional game, demonstrating his leadership and ‘never-quit’ attitude in the game.
“Gifford does a tremendous job of being a floor general,” said assistant varsity boys basketball coach Ryan Johnson. “His IQ on the court has helped us in many ways over the past few seasons. When I think of Gifford, I think of a natural born leader. Gifford’s actions and reactions have fueled the team in practices and games and will be missed.”
In track & field, Gifford is an accomplished sprinter, middle distance runner, and occasional jumper.
When recently asked to name his favorite track and field event, he quickly picked the 4x400m relay.
“I was not the least bit surprised,” said Coach Deckman. “It says a lot about Gifford that he finds more joy in the efforts and accomplishments of his team than in his own as an individual. Gifford is an outstanding and driven runner in his own right but watch him bury himself for his teammates during a relay race and you will know where his true motivation lies. He thrives in the team environment.”
Gifford was a key member of the boys team that finished 2nd overall at last year’s Section V Class C Championship meet. He managed to pass four opposing runners during his leg of the 4x400m relay helping to secure HAC’s victory at the Sectional Championship meet. He also ran a key leg on the4x100m relay team that placed 4th in a season’s best time of 45.49 seconds at the Meet of Champions.
Gifford’s HAC career is a model of consistency and a template to follow when it comes to sportsmanship and leading the right way. He makes those around him better, without making it about himself. Gifford, you are truly deserving of the Gordon F. Smith award Congratulations Gifford!
Liza has been a member of the varsity girls cross country and track & field team since 8th grade and is also a four-year member of the varsity girls swim team. She has been the ideal representation of an HAC athlete and the model for success for student-athletes to follow across her unprecedented career that totals 14 varsity seasons.
Throughout that time, she has earned Wayne-Finger Lakes All Star honors six times, has been selected as an All-Greater Rochester Honorable mention four times, and has been a part of nine sectional championship teams!
“It is no accident that the girls’ cross country and track & field teams have enjoyed an impressive stretch of success all five years that Liza has been a member,” said HAC cross country and track & field head coach Dan Deckman. “As an 8th grader, she was a scoring member of the 2015 girls’ cross country team that won a Section V Class D title, and she (has) never looked back – scoring in every meet she competed in, including two more Section V titles and two trips to the NY State Championship meet.”
Coach Deckman continued on to say, “Liza demonstrates incredible willpower in everything she does…whether in practice, or in competition, whether encouraging her teammates to do another round of core, or zipping past an exhausted rival late in a race. While many runners approach the sport with the speed of a gusting wind, fast, explosive, and fleeting – Liza is more like the force of gravity, tireless, relentless, always quietly working, a constant formidable presence.”
As a runner, Liza competes with a toughness and inner grit that influences her teammates to do the same. As a teammate, her cheerful personality and thoughtfulness allow her to transcend different social circles and connect with everyone regardless of talent, age and experience.
In swimming, Liza mainly competed in the 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle events, arguably the hardest events in high school swimming, “Yet she never, ever begged out of an event and often asked to swim them when she was given alternate events during an easier meet,” said head swimming coach Peter Mancuso. “She’ll be missed greatly as reliable team members like her are very hard to replace.”
“The one attribute that stands out for me having coached Liza for four years on the girls varsity swim team is her work ethic. She gave you all she had that day in practice and it was impressive. The example she set for her teammates with her constant work in the pool and desire to improve helped push them all to get better. These are some of the reasons why she was a team captain both her junior and senior year.
Liza has indeed been a critical member of each of the teams she’s been on, and this past winter she out-swam her seeding time by nearly seven seconds in the 200-yard freestyle to help the girls win the Genesee Region-New Orleans Intersectional Championship.
Liza’s track & field career and team successes are equally impressive. Her performances in the 1500m and 3000m runs, along with running a key leg in 4x800m relay helped the girls track and field team rally-from-behind to secure their 3rd straight sectional championship last spring.
“If there is something Liza is unwilling to do for the good of her team, then after five years, I haven’t figured out what it is yet,” said Coach Deckman. During last year’s Section V Track and Field Class C Championship meet, Liza competed in an exhausting lineup of three distance events, helping to amass just enough points for HAC’s girls to earn a third consecutive team title.
A leader by example, an advocate for her teammates and team, and one of the most genuine and talented student athletes to grace a HAC uniform, congratulations, Liza on being selected as the female recipient of the Gordon F. Smith Award!
AC’s Social Worker and Student Counselor, Kate Dunlavey, recently spoke with parents of graduating seniors to provide support techniques to help students navigate the wide range of emotions they may be feeling during these uncertain times. Throughout the session, Kate focused on the importance of students finding closure nearing the end of the their high school careers and preparing for the next chapters of their lives. She also discussed coping strategies for to process the grief students may feel in response to the potential cancellation of senior milestone events.
Below is some of her parting advice to parents.
A – Plan for right now
When we don’t have answers we begin to fill in the blanks for ourselves. We get stuck in future and past thinking which increases feelings of anxiety and depression. We need to get off the hamster wheel and the way to do that is to get focused on the present.
What can I do right now, in this moment?
What do I have control of right now?
- Use techniques such as mindfulness (defined as anything that gets you focused on the present like taking a walk/reading/yoga/meditation).
- Use the Pay it Forward Challenge to reconnect with a sense of purpose, self control and agency. What can you do to infuse positive messages of hope and support into the world? Examples from Kate’s family, my kids chalk jokes and happy messages to neighbors at the end of our driveway, we put rainbows in the windows to represent hope and good things after the storm, etc.
- Use visual imagery exercises like the Container Exercise (script below) for a safe place to store worries and feelings until we need to or are ready to do something with them.
Container Exercise script:
We are going to create a container that is big enough and strong enough to hold all of your worries and all of your feelings about what is going on right now.
How big is your container? (the size of a box, a room, a house, a building, a mountain, etc.)What is your container made of? (metal, wood, plastic, etc.) Can people see inside?
How does it open and close? Does it lock? Can anyone go in and out or just you? If it locks/unlocks with a key where do you keep the key so it is safe? *this can be magic too!
If a hurricane comes, does your container survive? If there is damage, what changes are needed to fix the damage and make the container stronger?
Once the container feels complete, visualize opening the container in your mind.
Name what color your worried feelings are inside you.
Name what color calm and peaceful energy is, and picture it all around you.
Take three deep breaths. On inhale, picture the calm energy going in and pushing the worried feelings out on exhale. Worried feelings go into your container safely.
[Check in after three breaths to see if there are more worried feelings to get out or if what is left is stuck.]
Visualize closing and locking the container.
Your feelings are safe.
B – Plan for the short term (next few weeks/months)
IF senior events are canceled we can expect a disruption in closure milestones and a disruption in launching milestones.
- Saying good-bye to AC community/friends/etc.
- Processing the end of a chapter with one another
- Graduation parties
- The “what are you doing next year” conversation
- Sharing future plans
This is a loss, and we will all likely experience grief around this.
The Kubler-Ross 5 Stages of Grief (image below) can help us understand the emotional wave we will experience from denial to anger, to bargaining, to depression and finally acceptance (I don’t like it, I can’t do anything to change it, I am going to make my peace with it) and then back through them all again.
Parents and children will all experience this grief. It is critical for parents to model self-care. Children do what we DO not what we say. If you are managing your grief and taking care of yourself, it gives them permission to do the same. Let them see you grieve this and process it together. The best way to help our children through this process is to bear witness (definition below), to let them know we see them and hear them. To validate their feelings. Sometimes, when we try to make it better for our children, we accidentally invalidate their feelings. They don’t need us to make it better, they need us to see and hear them. Reflect feelings back to them (“This is really hard. I don’t blame you for being super upset about this.”).
Definition of Bearing Witness from “Psychology Today”:
“Bearing witness is a term that refers to sharing our experiences with others, most notably in the communication to others of our experiences. Bearing witness is a valuable way to process an experience, to obtain empathy and support, to lighten our emotional load via sharing it with the witness, and to obtain catharsis. It is widely confirmed in the literature that validation in the course of and bearing witness is vital and necessary in remembering and in the healing process.”
A reminder to all that, when we face loss, grief is a NORMAL process. This is a great time to help children create connections and develop networks with peers or other adults to process thoughts and feelings. We can also invite our children to have hard conversations with us (“You are older and more mature now, and if you want to sit down and talk about anything, I will give it to you straight.”). We have an opportunity to teach our children how to manage challenging information, decision making, and longer term planning. This included financial conversations if necessary (around college options).
C – Plan for the long term
We will adjust to this new way of living. We will keep, and honor, what we need to, and we will mourn and let go of what we need to/have to. Rituals help us process, heal, and integrate life experiences. In the midst of this, it is important to create new rituals. We can help our children find closure and meet launching milestones by finding new ways to meet those needs and new rituals to honor them. An example of a new ritual that has already emerged is birthday drive-by’s. These are a meaningful way of celebrating and honoring someone in a new and thoughtful way. We can get creative and work together to find new ways to celebrate and honor our seniors. Most importantly, we must stay connected.
Posted in: Twelfth Grade, Upper School
The timing couldn’t be worse. Juniors visit college campuses during the spring in anticipation of compiling their college application lists. April is the most popular month for seniors to tour campuses where they have been admitted, eventually choosing their home for the next four years. COVID-19 has turned everything on its head, creating unprecedented challenges for families and colleges alike. How can families take advantage of online opportunities to learn about college campuses?
Here are 6 tips on making the most of virtual college visits:
1. Check out the Office of Admission website.
Colleges are just as bummed to be missing your in-person visit as you are. This is typically when colleges roll out the red carpet for prospective students, hoping to “yield” seniors with panel-packed open houses. Be sure to check the Office of Admission website first to review their online offerings, including tours, information sessions, and webinars. It’s also a good idea to connect with the admission counselor responsible for applications from your region.
2. View videos on the university’s official YouTube station.
From research and campus speakers, to updates on what’s happening on campus, the university’s official YouTube station can present a treasure trove of content. It can be a great way to see how the campus engages its local community as well.
3. Supplement official videos with student-produced content.
Even though you should check out the Office of Admission website and official YouTube station, realize these could present an overly-marketed view of the college. Look for videos and content produced by students and student organizations.
4. Connect with faculty.
If you have some ideas about what you’d like to major in, reach out to faculty in those departments who are doing research related to your interests. They will be excited to hear from you, as it is also in their best interests to showcase their work for prospective students. When you’re eventually allowed to visit campus, these faculty can be a great resource for you.
5. Leverage your high school’s alumni network.
Since you’re unable to connect with students during an in-person campus visit, now is a good time to search social media to see who from your high school is currently enrolled at the colleges on your list. These acquaintances can provide first-hand insight into the pros and cons of the college/university as well as give you ideas about the transition from high school to their particular college.
6. Stay informed.
As you research campuses from the comfort of your home, frequently check colleges’ websites for updated information about campus visits. Colleges are eager to have you visit in-person and will let you know when it is safe to do so. Plus, all of the homework you’re doing in advance will make you a savvier campus visitor!
Interested in chatting with a former Associate Dean of Admission and Director of Selection about the college admissions landscape?
Please consider Emily Nevinger a resource as you compile your college lists or decide where to enroll. Emily can set up virtual appointments to discuss what is important about your college search and offer strategic, personalized advice about your best fit. Contact Emily for details.
Emily NevingerEmily is Associate Director of Admissions and College Advising Consultant at Allendale Columbia School. After serving as the Interim College Advisor in Fall 2018, Emily took on a role to offer students and families outside AC with guidance in the college admissions process. Her role has since expanded to the Admissions team, where she helps prospective families learn more about AC's innovative education. Emily joined AC from Emory University where she directed the selection process for more than 20,000 freshmen candidates each year. She started working at the university level in 2003 and was a senior member of the admission committees for University of Miami, Emory University, and UNC Chapel Hill. Emily holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy from Duke University, a Master of Higher Education Administration and Enrollment Management from the University of Miami, and a Certificate in College Access Counseling from Rice University.
Posted in: AC College Consulting, College Advising News, Eleventh Grade, Events & Workshops, Highlights, Ninth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School