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

Upper School Presents Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass

Posted on April 20th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

Allendale Columbia’s Upper School students present Lewis Carroll’s play Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, adapted by Rosemary Nursey-Bray, on Friday and Saturday, April 20th and 21st, at 7:00 p.m. at AC’s Curtis Performance Center. Tickets are now available at for $8.00 (higher at the door).

Synopsis: One sleepy afternoon while playing chess by herself, Alice sees the real Red Queen through the looking glass. Alice enters the looking glass into a world of strange back-to-front magic. Stepping through the mirror, she meets the kings and queens of her chess set. The world inside the glass is marked out as a chess board, across which she must travel as a pawn. She meets talking flowers, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, sees Humpty Dumpty fall from his wall, meets the Mad Hatter and the March Hare, and witnesses the furious battle between the Lion and the Unicorn fighting for the crown. The gentle White Knight rescues her from the cruel Red Knight, as she is able to reach the eighth square and become queen. Or is it all a dream?
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Posted in: Eleventh Grade, Highlights, LS Birches, MS Birches, Ninth Grade, Tenth Grade, The Birches, Twelfth Grade, Upper School, US Birches

The Top 10 Books for Youth from 2013

Posted on December 20th, 2013 by jvanalstyne

‘Tis the season for book lists, and for me, they are truly the gifts that keep on giving. I love book lists for both affirmation (That book is awesome; so glad it’s getting some love!) and exploration (Woah! I’ve never even heard of that book; I better check it out!) and I take a lot of pleasure in creating my own list for the AC community. Although many AC children are under the impression that I’ve read all the books in the library, I must confess that I haven’t even read all the books from 2013. However, I have read a lot of book reviews and best-of-the-year lists and as many books as I possibly can, which culminates with my interpretation of The Best Books of 2013. Enjoy!

-Ms. Van Alstyne, Librarian

The complete list can be accessed at the library website. But for starters, here are the cream of the crop.

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild
by Peter Brown

Celebrating both individual expression and companionship, Mr. Tiger Goes Wild is a joy to read aloud and expertly illustrated. Ages 3 – 8.


Little Santa
by Jon Agee

Every year, the slew of new holiday books rarely fails to disappoint… until 2013 with Little Santa! Silly and charming, this tale of Santa’s childhood feels like it has always been true. Ages 4 – 9.

Journey by Aaron Becker

Breathtaking watercolors depict the travels of a girl with a magical red crayon, where adventure awaits anyone with a little creativity. Ages 4 – 10.

The Day the Crayons Quit
by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers

Why did they quit? They are sick and tired of always being used in predictable ways: blue for sky, green for grass, gray for elephants. A little creativity goes a long way to soothe these irascible crayons. Ages 5 -9.

The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest – And Most Surprising – Animals on Earth
by Steve Jenkins

Not surprising: Jenkins’ outstanding paper collage depictions of animals. Surprisingly awesome: the thematic arrangement; graphs, timelines, and other infographics; a whole section on making books the Jenkins way. A tour de force! Ages 5 – 11

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen
by Lucy Knisley

Have you ever wondered why graphic novels (or graphic memoirs, in this case) are taken so seriously these days? When done well, they are a beautiful marriage of art and story, such as in Relish: a warm, funny coming-of-age tale of an artist raised in a foodie family. Ages 12+

Counting by 7s
by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Perhaps you’ve read books about orphans, or children on the spectrum, or misfits trying to find a place in the world to fit in. But none of those books had Willow Chance in it. Counting by 7s has Willow Chance in it! She is utterly charming, disarmingly precocious, and apparently a magnet for other lovable misfits. Delightful! Ages 10 – 14

Far Far Away
by Tom McNeal

The timeless feel of the small-town setting, elegant writing, very real danger, and the ghost of Jacob Grimm all combine to create an engaging and disturbing contemporary fairy tale. Transporting. Ages 11+

Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang

Are you still not sure about graphic novels? If anyone can convince you of their merit, award-winning Gene Luen Yang must be the one. Boxers and Saints are two books telling opposing views of the Boxer Rebellion in China. Brilliantly conceived and expertly realized, this is how history should treat every war: with multiple perspectives, through the lenses of individuals’ perceptions, and showing beauty, honor, and the inevitable costs. Ages 12+

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

I don’t think it’s possible not to love this book, even if you think you can’t appreciate Young Adult literature. Eleanor and Park are both immensely relatable, quirky and sweet. From their first prickly exchange on the school bus through their tentative romance, you will be cheering them on with a fervent compassion that may surprise you. Not to be missed. Ages 12+

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

AC 7th graders contribute to The LitMap Project

Posted on November 20th, 2013 by jvanalstyne

LitMapAaron Shepard’s 7th grade English students just finished a project where they first had to read a book set in a country other than the United States. They all then created presentations (iMovie, Keynote, or Prezi) to share information about the book and the culture and/or geography where the story takes place. The culminating activity this week was to submit their books to an exciting new web site called The LitMap Project. From the website:

“Explore the world through literature with the LitMap Project, the geographic book database. Books are mapped onto the LitMap by where they take place or the place they are about. We map nonfiction, fiction, mystery, science fiction, any kind of literature that can be associated with a specific geographic location.

We hope that the LitMap will be a great resource for you to discover great books about the places you love. We have big plans for the future of this project. In the coming months we hope to be able to enhance the LitMap to make it searchable by location, author, title, and other criteria. We also hope to allow you to access the LitMap through a mobile app. But in order to accomplish any of this, we will need your help.

You can help make the LitMap as great and as useful as it can be by becoming a LitMapper.”

We now have over 30 LitMappers at the school and hope to have more this year. Go ahead and explore the site. If you limit your search to Young Adult or Middle Grade books, you are sure to discover the books our students submitted. If you check out the Hall of Fame, you’ll notice Allendale Columbia right at the top with the most submissions and the first school to contribute. We even put the world-famous, award-winning The Book Thief by Markus Zusak on the map! Congratulations Class of 2019!

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Posted in: Highlights, Middle School, Seventh Grade

Facing Fear

Posted on April 27th, 2013 by Tony Tepedino
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Posted in: Lower School

“I accidentally finished my book…” | BookGerms

Posted on February 16th, 2013 by Tony Tepedino

Screen Shot 2013-02-16 at 9.14.55 AMCheck out the new blog post by Allendale Columbia School librarian, Judy VanAlstyne and Upper School English teacher Dr. Vince Bissonette. Thanks Judy and Vince!

“I accidentally finished my book…” | BookGerms.

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Posted in: Upper School