One of AC’s most beloved traditions is Heritage Dinner, an event typically hosted on campus potluck-style, to celebrate and share the unique cultural backgrounds of our AC families. With this year’s global pandemic and the health and safety of our community at the forefront of our minds, we knew changes would need to be made in order to safely host the event this year. Pulling this off virtually would be a challenge, yes; but it would not be impossible.
Embracing AC’s core values to the fullest — “the importance of connections”, “mastering strategies for learning”, “minds that are curious and creative”, and “developing a resilient spirit that dares to take risks” — we decided to use this real world challenge as a learning opportunity for our students.
Enter AC Production and Design students Ella Prokupets, Mansa Brown-Tonge, Carly Freeman, Jocelyn Wynn, independent study student Chloe Fowler, and global diploma student Brynn Peters. Together, with the guidance of faculty advisor Amy Oliveri, these six students began to analyze the keystone components of the event and the logistics necessary to host it virtually.
Among the goals and objectives identified by the group were:
- The desire to make the event as inclusive as possible
- The desire to provide various levels of engagement to promote the widest accessibility
- The ability to virtually bring people together to enjoy culturally diverse food
- The ability to incorporate local and international partners
To implement these goals, the students set to work connecting with our partners in Senegal, Dubai, Mexico, China, and locally, they reached out to Headwater Food Hub to coordinate the sale of Meal Boxes to our community. These boxes, they hoped, would provide a sense of community with everyone prepping and enjoying the same meal. Driven by the desire to support and shop local during this challenging time, the students also arranged to have extra Meal Boxes donated to our School #17 Summer LEAP families. Additionally, the students curated a list of ethnically diverse restaurants to encourage participants to support local small businesses and try new cuisines from around the world. During this time, they also began building their own website, creating social media content and messaging to help promote the event, and gathering family-favorite recipes and music from our AC community.
When the day of the event finally came, we had just shy of 100 people in attendance! Through a combination of pre recorded presentations and live discussions, we were successfully (and safely!) able to come together, yet again, to break bread and broaden our understanding of the world and those in our community. This event is always such a wonderful reminder of the richness and diversity of our AC community.
We are proud to be Rochester’s most diverse school, and we are committed to continuing to build a community that fosters diversity, equity, and inclusion for all people.
00:00 – Welcome
02:01 – Intro & Land Acknowledgement
05:20 – History of Heritage Dinner
08:06 – Student Speaker #1 (Lizzie)
13:14 – Student Speaker #2 (Ziqi)
15:58 – Student Speaker #3 (Victoria)
20:03 – Faculty Speaker (Mr. Camara)
36:25 – Breakout Rooms
50:17 – Closing Remarks
50:33 – Solidarity Circle Intro
51:41 – Solidarity Circle Video
53:31 – Closing Remarks
*This year’s Heritage Dinner program was organized and produced by students in the Production & Design Class. Thank you to Mansa Brown-Tonge for hosting the evening’s event and Ms. Oliveri for her oversight and guidance.
Posted in: Centers for Impact, Diversity Equity and Inclusion, Entrepreneurship, Events & Workshops, Global Engagement, Highlights, Lower School, Middle School, Upper School
This fall, AC’s Production and Design students were given a choice of partnerships they could participate in, and seven of the students selected a collaboration with the Western New York chapter of Best Buddies, a global nonprofit organization that strives to create one-on-one friendships between volunteers and children with developmental disabilities to maintain an environment of inclusivity. Since about the third week of school, these dedicated students have worked countless hours to help produce the Best Buddies Champions Gala. This annual gala is the organization’s largest fundraiser of the year, and this year, due to the pandemic, the event needed to be held virtually.
For their part in this collaboration, AC students were given the responsibility of creating and producing vignettes, commercials, and promotional social media content for the gala, and their work culminated in the creation of a 30-minute pre recorded segment that aired December 5th on WROC Channel 8. Throughout the collaboration, students were in contact with the Best Buddies Program Manager, Lindsay Jewett, for nearly two months, often meeting with her via Zoom multiple days of the week as they planned and executed the various aspects of this project. They also had a virtual meeting with WROC to review the formatting requirements needed to properly air their videos on TV.
“Before Thanksgiving break, our group went to the Arbor Loft in Rochester to film for the prerecorded virtual gala. Students in our class also took on the responsibility of filming and editing hours worth of footage to make commercials to play on Channel 8 during the event. Throughout this process, each of us discovered that we were capable of doing big projects such as this, and we put our leadership skills to work identifying peer leaders within our group to help manage the program efficiently. We are very thankful to not only the Best Buddies Organization for letting us help with such a big project, but to our peers and teachers for helping us work on this safely and efficiently and, ultimately, leading us to success.” — Alicia Strader, AC Senior
The Gala raised more than $35,000 for programming in WNY. To learn more about Best Buddies or to get involved visit https://www.bestbuddies.org/.
Watch the Virtual Gala Segment
Behind the Scenes
Social Media Content Designer
Videography and Editing
Videography and Editing
Social Media Logistics Lead
Videography & Editing
Project Lead and Graphic Design
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. Tony was also the 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.
If you could do any job in the world besides what you do now, what would it be?
I would co-host the T.V. show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives with Guy Fieri. Who wouldn't enjoy touring the country discovering the best food places and sharing that with the world?!
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Diversity Equity and Inclusion, Highlights, Upper School
Each November at Allendale Columbia, we open our doors for one of the most treasured and anticipated events of the year, Grandparents and Special Friends Day. Typical preparations for the day include classroom activities, colorful artwork in the hallways, songs rehearsed, and a fabulous lunch prepared and served to our guests. Although this year’s celebration looked a little different, the love and excitement between students and their guests was ever more apparent. By way of Zoom guests, who typically might not have been able to attend, were welcomed from the other side of the world. We had cousins from India, grandparents from Egypt, London, and Germany, and aunts and uncles from Canada. We even had attendees on the west coast who were ready to go at 6 a.m. PST! Our AC mascot, Wolfie, and Mrs. Feiss kicked off the event with a wonderful story, which uniquely incorporated each classroom from Kindergarten through Fifth Grade. Kindergarten shared two songs, “Mi Familia” and “We Shall Overcome”, while First Grade presented a Thanksgiving Day skit entitled, “Run Turkey Run”. The Second Grade class performed a poem called, “Ice Cream Stores”, which spoke about all the ways they see variety in the community. Third Grade presented a poem that highlighted their special guests, while Fourth Grade shared what and whom they were grateful for. Finally the Fifth Grade class read a poem of thanks which also gave us insight into their school year so far. But perhaps my favorite part of the celebration was when each class was highlighted on the screen and guests temporarily (and simultaneously) unmuted themselves to give their special AC student a warm shout out. As students heard their relatives’ voices they jumped up and down with excitement! We wrapped up the event by showing a special slideshow full of pictures and warm sentiments, while students enjoyed some delicious pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Thank you to everyone who participated. We are so grateful to have you as part of our AC family.
Click the links below to relive the fun!
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: Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Highlights, Kindergarten, Lower School, Second Grade, Third Grade