Vegetable Garden Thrives Thanks to Students and Volunteers

Posted on September 14th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

by Gabe Costanzo

Near the end of the last school year, in the second session of May Term, I had the privilege of working with five ambitious Upper School students who took on the task of renovating Allendale Columbia School’s vegetable garden. Danielle Fuller ’18, Kenny Mogauro ’18, Toshi Shizuuchi ’20, Aaron Kalvitis ’19, and Roxy Reisch ’20 met me in the Band Room, my home base, on the first day of May Term, and we had a discussion about the factors that contributed to their participation in this particular May Term course, “Grow Your Own Food.” (more…)

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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

Discovery, Collaboration, and Community in the 2018 May Term

Posted on June 1st, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

Every year at the end of the spring semester, Middle and Upper School students at Allendale Columbia complete their usual curriculum and begin May Term. May Term exists to provide educational opportunities outside of the normal structures of the school year to support intellectual discovery, encourage collaboration, and foster community involvement.

Here are some May Term highlights so far this year:

  • Students learned about honey bees, built a beehive, planted flora that bees love, and installed a starter colony of bees at the school garden in the “Buds and Bees” course led by Mrs. Guzzetta and Mr. Costanzo. Students will continue to monitor the hive and harvest honey in the fall.
  • A panel of judges from the AC Kitchen and maintenance evaluated student culinary creations in a Master Chef-type competition, with students presenting the science behind the creation of those food items in the “Science of Cooking” course led by Ms. Crosby and senior Gio Martino.
  • In “Human Impacts on the Environment”, AC students worked with students from the World of Inquiry School 58 at a Water Quality Summit in Rochester to understand the Genesee River ecosystem, which was featured on WROC and WXXI. Mrs. Lisi and Mr. Godkin led this session.
  • In “Life Underwater”, students explored the flora and fauna in Corbett’s Glen with Mrs. Guzzetta.
  • Students visited the Women’s Rights Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls as part of “Nevertheless, She Persisted” (above) with Mr. Neeley

Other topics included:

  • Positive Psychology
  • The Great Outdoors
  • Console Wars: The History of Video Gaming
  • Be Here Now: Mindfulness as a Practice
  • What do you want to be when you grow up?
  • What would Susan and Frederick Think? The Legacy of Rochester’s Agitators
  • Muse: Making a Magazine
  • Bilingual Theatre
  • Building, flying and using drones for media production
  • Nicaragua
  • Music with Kids
  • Confidence & Courage: Dare to Show Up, Be Seen, & Be Brave
  • Wheelin’ Through Rochester’s History
  • Stigma and Mental Health: Issues and Interventions
  • Ornithology Science and Art
  • Ableism
  • Exhibition Night Planning
  • Grow Your Own Food
  • Social Impact Filmmaking
  • Day Trading and Cryptocurrency Lab
  • Making Community Service a Way of Life
  • 2019 College Workshop
  • The AC Genome Project
  • Innocence and Guilt: Learning about the Law

We’ll have additional updates as May Term progresses. Everyone is also welcome to participate in an interactive May Term Exhibition Night where students will discuss their projects on Thursday, May 7th from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.

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Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Entrepreneurship, Global Engagement, Highlights, Invent, Middle School, Ninth Grade, Partnerships, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

Experience May Term at Exhibition Night

Posted on June 1st, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

One of the highlights of May Term is our culminating event called Exhibition Night. Each May Term session creates an interactive exhibit with which attendees can participate. Experience exhibits spread across the entire first floor of our school, inside and out. Check out our newest residents in the apiary built during May Term, and taste some of the delicacies created by the Science of Cooking class that investigated the chemistry of cuisine.

This year we will share our learning and experiences on Thursday, June 7th, from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. We hope you join us to learn more about the incredibly innovative work happening during May Term. All Middle and Upper School students are required to attend this integral part of the learning experience. For students, this is a dress-up occasion. The Tom Wahl’s food truck will be in attendance for any families who wish to purchase dinner or snacks as they experience the exhibits! (more…)

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Posted in: Entrepreneurship, Invent

AC Senior Project Program Seeks Sponsors

Posted on January 18th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

For more than two decades, the Senior Project Program has been the culminating experience for countless Allendale Columbia alumni. As such, seniors are given the choice to participate in either Upper School May Term or the three-week Senior Project Program. This year, the program will run from May 21st through June 7th.

At its core, the Senior Project Program is an unpaid experience in a professional environment with a dedicated work sponsor/mentor, and as the workplace has evolved, so has the Senior Project Program to supports students’ diverse interests. Allendale Columbia seniors have devised a wide variety of projects and internships with several ends in mind: to explore a potential career, to participate in community service or advocacy, or to indulge their curiosity in a constructive way about some field of interest. Some examples of past experiences include: building houses with Habitat for Humanity, teaching students with disabilities, working in the healthcare industry, and helping with publicity for the Rochester Red Wings.  (more…)

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Posted in: Alumni News, Highlights, LS Birches, MS Birches, PACK, The Birches, Twelfth Grade, Upper School, US Birches

AC Students Study Financial Literacy During May Term

Posted on June 11th, 2015 by klapa

Have you ever heard yourself say, “I sure wish someone had taught me about money when I was in school”?  Well, this is just what some AC students got to experience during the May Term class on Financial Literacy.

The course was co-taught by Arthur Cruz of AC’s Computer Science Department and AC parent Annie McQuilken, MS, CFP®, and financial planner with Forever Financial Advisors, LLC, who uses and teaches these concepts in her work with clients. This collaboration supports AC’s goal of providing coursework that is Real and Relevant, as students went through an AC-designed curriculum based on the NEFE High School Financial Planning Program® (HSFPP), a nationally known money management program. Students also covered basic money management topics such as budgeting, borrowing, earnings, investing, financial services, identity protection, and insurance.

Many young people today are experiencing serious financial problems and finding themselves in a debt cycle that will be hard to reverse. In the meantime, important life goals are not being saved for. Fortunately, learning how to manage money isn’t rocket science. Individuals who have a plan for spending, live on less than they bring in, save for things, have an emergency fund, understand credit, have good insurance, and link financial plans to life plans, are well on the way toward financial security.

We encourage parents to talk with their children about these topics. Your teen is likely to ask you questions about management, and we hope you will take time to share your experiences and lessons learned!

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Posted in: Highlights, Upper School

Middle School May Term – An Insider’s View

Posted on June 12th, 2014 by tduver

One of the main reasons I enjoy working in an independent school like Allendale Columbia is the flexibility afforded faculty to try new things based on what is best for kids. For the Middle School students at AC, the last twelve days of school were transformed into May Term, during which both faculty and students immersed themselves in work that is not found in the traditional classroom. I had the unique perspective of walking around campus and feeling the energy that was present in the hallways.

Stopping by one room, I watched students giving each other lie detector tests and developing their own social experiments during their Forensic Psychology course. Students were in deep discussions about human behavior and making observations of their test subjects while sitting in the hallway. Walking a little further, I looked out the window and noticed students going to the courtyard to prepare a play called “Text This” about cyber-bullying to present to their classmates after having their own mini-summit.  Their reflections and hopes for schools across the country covered a whiteboard as they left the classroom to prepare.

Heading down stairs, my feet stepped on aluminum foil that triggered the piano that was rigged for the MaKey MaKey course, in which Allendale Columbia’s S.T.R.E.A.M. (the integration of science, technology, research, engineering, arts, and mathematics) initiative came to life.  Students excused themselves past me and they headed down to the shop to get PVC pipe to make a steering wheel, and conductive Jello was strewn over the lab table.

Students in MaKey MaKey let their imaginations run wild

Students in MaKey MaKey let their imaginations run wild


Approaching the science room, I heard the squeaky soles of wet feet on the tile floor.  It was the waterbotics course, in which students were trying to solve scenarios based on real-world challenges in an underwater environment using the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT Robotics System.  The theme song for Hawaii Five-O played in the background, and students were wearing beach clothes.


Continuing down to the second grade classroom in the Lower School, I couldn’t help but smile as I watched our Middle School students working one-on-one with seven year-olds, combining their creativity and design skills to create a garden space for Project Scion, a group that transform neighborhoods with resident inclusive green spaces in our Rochester community.

Sometimes the talent of Middle School students can take your breath away, as I peeked into the art room as students created self-portraits in their Face to Face course. Students looked up at me and gleamed with pride as they were able to put such a personal piece of themselves on canvas.

Students work on self-portraits during Face to Face

Students work on self-portraits during Face to Face

I snapped a few pictures, and headed on to Twitter to share with our AC community what amazing things were happening on campus.  I smiled, as my colleagues had just shared pictures already of groups off campus, like biking down the Erie Canal to learn about the history our area, or hiking in the high peaks of the Adirondacks working with Paul Smith’s College professors on reptile research.  As I sat back down in my office, I could hear the distant din of young musicians with homemade instruments in the Southeast African music May Term course, and I felt proud to be part of a community that embraced and valued this experience for students. As I looked at the schedule, I couldn’t wait to see what the next six days had in store for the students.

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Endurance Base Camp members learn to work as a team in kayaks at BayCreek Paddle.

May Term was summed up perfectly by one student’s self-reflection, “I thought school was over and May Term was just something we did until the last day of school – I now realize that school was just beginning…”

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Posted in: Eighth Grade, Highlights, Middle School, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade

AC Middle School Students Learn About Improvisation through May Term Course

Posted on May 29th, 2014 by klapa


Post written by Erica Ragan, AC Faculty

Ten Middle Schoolers participated in an awesome afternoon of improvisation in a recent Creative/Collaborative session of May Term with Mrs. Ragan. Overall, students were very imaginative and created fantastic scenes during the afternoon, providing considerable entertainment for all involved.

ImprovStudents learned several drama games to warm up including “Yes/No” arguments and practiced different vocal techniques for stage. Students also played “Near and Far,” a game teaching about the importance of body space when performing.

We progressed to “Freeze Conversation” and situational improvisation that students created themselves. Imitating the French Canadian model of competitive improvisation, students then competed in two teams of five students with scenarios created by students but chosen randomly from a basket. Memorable skits included “The Dog Ate My Homework” starring Emma Li, “My Cousin Got Lost in the Sea” with Madison DeCory and Sera Anderson, “Your Wallet and Keys and Phone Fell in the Pool” starring Jean-Paul Klem, and “A Car Drove into Starbucks.”

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Posted in: Eighth Grade, Highlights, Middle School, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade

Middle School Meets May Term

Posted on June 13th, 2013 by Tony Tepedino
Special thanks to Lindsey Brown for this write up on Middle School May Term.
Middle School Students at Allendale Columbia School broke new ground this Spring by participating in an authentic learning initiative called May Term.  Students spent three hours each morning completing an in-depth exploration of a topic outside of the conventional curriculum.  In these sessions they were required to work together to solve real-world problems in ways that reached beyond the immediate school community.
Whether it was analyzing artifacts from a real archeological dig, creating a video game for a larger audience, building a survival shelter in the rain, or writing and staging a play at a community nursing home, students were challenged to be creative and collaborative often in areas outside of their comfort zone.  They were also invited to use technology to create their own content in sessions such as “Behind the Lens: Photojournalism” and “Action: Screenplays, Storyboards and Soundtracks.”
In the afternoon, students were able to choose eight different intramural sessions taught by a wide variety of Allendale Columbia community members.  Students made muffins with the kitchen staff and practiced meditation with the school psychologist.  They walked the nature trail, played rugby, drew original Manga and auditioned for our talent show.  Faculty and staff offered a total of twenty eight sessions, and students were able to choose the experiences that most interested them.
Reflection was also an integral part of May Term.  Students participated in daily discussion groups and created a blog to record and process their experiences.  Tina Duver, Dean of Middle School students, writes:

Words and picture will never fully describe the success and energy present this week, but it will help serve as a memory and record of a wonderful May Term during this final week of the 2012-2013 school year.

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Posted in: Eighth Grade, Highlights, Middle School, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade