Connections are vital. As we are reminded nearly every day in the media and educational literature, connections are especially important in a fast-paced and often impersonal society. At Allendale Columbia, the importance of connections is a core value. To emphasize and instill this value, AC’s Upper School used the first Friday of the school year, Class Day, to focus on building connections between students and between students and faculty.
Each class’s activities centered on a theme with the goals of bonding as a class, community building, and fostering interaction between faculty and students outside school, setting a tone of mutual respect and positive teamwork. These events addressed skills and themes which help instill our core values, and they help build the community and connections our students will rely on for this year, and years to come.
9th Grade: Community
Ninth grade focused the whole day on making connections with each other, beginning with some team-building activities with seniors. They then boarded a bus and headed to RocVentures. The staff at RocVentures guided the students in some very fun and challenging games that required teamwork. They also spent some time on the high ropes course and the climbing walls, where they learned a bit of resilience, a healthy respect for gravity, and trust in their teachers, who belayed them, and RocVentures staff, who guided them in the ropes course. In the afternoon, students did an introspective activity, in which they were asked to think about how their learning could connect with their passions or interests, and they ended the day with a fun, collaborative activity with the 4th and 5th graders. This activity, directed by Randy Northrup, involved Lower and Upper School students working together to make balloon hats and connecting all of the hats together, so that the whole group was essentially wearing one very large, comical-looking balloon hat.
10th Grade: Equality
Tenth graders worked with David Sanchez from the Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence in an eye-opening workshop centered around conflict without contempt. After a cultural lunch with Indian food at AC’s International House, the afternoon revolved around a role play activity to make students aware of their various social identities. The day concluded with yoga to introduce an effective stress management solution.
11th Grade: Leadership
Herb Alexander from Roberts Wesleyan College conducted a workshop for the junior class on forward planning and self assessments. Hilary Bluestein-Lyons from STAGES and Noah Chrysler from RIT’s improv group then conducted a workshop on improvisational theater, which teaches participants how to listen and communicate effectively. The juniors then put on a show for the 2nd graders. They are poised to use the leadership skills they cultivated that day.
12th Grade: Legacy
A trip to Niagara Falls was riddled with activities focusing on legacy and team building. A scavenger hunt and a ride on the Maid of the Mist were two highlights. The class spent the night at AsburyCam p and Retreat Center on Silver Lake, continuing the conversations about the legacy they will leave at AC. As they sat around the campfire theat night and shared what they liked about each other highlighted the bonds they share. The morning ended with skits about their 20-year reunion.
Posted in: Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Ninth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School
After a successful inaugural “Advisory Day” last year, Allendale Columbia continued using Friday of the first week of school for Middle School students to participate in a meaningful bonding experience with their advisors and fellow classmates. On September 7th, students engaged in various on-campus and off-campus experiences to begin their year-long work focusing on each of their class themes.
This year, the 8th grade spent their advisory retreat at Mount Hope Cemetery where they performed community service and learned about many legacies of the Mount Hope “residents” from guide Pat Corcoran. Ms. Corcoran was very impressed and grateful for the enthusiasm and energy the 8th graders put into clearing brush, digging up weeds, and “picking up” around several sections of the cemetery. Students also learned new things about Mount Hope’s famous residents, such as how many people visited Susan B. Anthony’s grave during the 2008 presidential election and the legacies left by Frederick Douglass’s wives. They also learned cool facts about many others buried at the cemetery, including Margaret Woodbury Strong, Hiram Sibley, and Emma Sibley Watson. This day helped set the stage for a year-long exploration of their own leadership within the Middle School and the legacy they want to leave behind as they move into the Upper School only a short ten months from now. At the end of 8th grade, a capstone project in their physics, history, and English will highlight all the work and progress these students have made over the course of the year. This retreat also served as a springboard for the students to think about their goals and look ahead to the 8th grade trip to Gettysburg and Washington DC.
The 7th grade partnered with Best Buddies and School of the Holy Childhood this school year. Best Buddies International is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). On Friday, students were introduced to Best Buddies and spent the day at Charlotte Beach with a group of students from School of the Holy Childhood.
The theme of the 6th grade year in advisory is ”independence.” Sixth grade is a perfect time to introduce topics of independence as students transition from Lower School to Middle School. Students spent advisory day on campus focusing on community building as a class and within advisory groups. Advisory groups were tasked with creating, designing, and building their own “origin worlds”. Similar to writing a science-fiction story, students were asked to think about their own unusual powers and create a fictional world from which they came. These worlds included geography, traditions, language, and supernatural elements. Students then designed and created these worlds out of gingerbread. This task asked students to think about themselves both as individuals and as members of the Middle School community. Self-advocacy, accountability, and individuality are key parts of this day and the 6th grade advisory program.
Posted in: Eighth Grade, Highlights, Middle School, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade