Friday, November 20, 2009

Week of November 16, 2009

As we near our Thanksgiving vacation, I love to wander around the Upper School and think about the many things for which we are grateful. Here are just a few...

Teachers who are teaching to their passions. Here, you can see Susan addressing our community on Friday in preparation for viewing the documentary, "Cruel and Unusual: Sentencing 13 and 14-year-olds to Prison to Die." This video is put out by the Equal Justice Initiative and has been studied by Susan's Civil Rights class. Her class decided that we all needed to see this video. I hope you will ask your child about it. Susan's students helped to introduce the documentary to the rest of us and then led small group discussions following the viewing.

We are grateful for students who are actively engaged and attentive...students who care deeply about learning. Here, you can see the Civil Rights students leading discussions following the video.

We are grateful for our advisee groups. Building community is the foundation of life in the Upper School. Community building begins with our advisee groups. We are so grateful to our staff members for taking this role to heart.

We are grateful for friendships.

We are grateful for students who give of themselves in service to the school.

We are grateful for students who help other students.

We are grateful for our newly beautified school store, thanks to the senior service class.

Our staff members have been very busy this week. They have been grading exams, reading papers, and writing End-of-Term reports, in addition to starting a new term. For some of them, that means starting all new classes. Thanksgiving vacation will come as a welcome respite. The End-of-Term reports will go in the mail on Wednesday. We hope you will take the time to read through these reports with your child. Sharing the reports is a great way to have a meaningful conversation about classes and how things are going in school.
We often talk about wanting our students to take ownership of their learning. We don't expect students to walk through the door with this capability. Taking on such an impressive responsibility is a learned behavior. Working closely with their advisors and teachers, students develop their own understanding of this concept. One area where this skill is especially evident is in student-taught classes. If a senior is passionate about a certain subject, s/he can write a proposal for a class they want to teach and find a staff member to supervise them in this endeavor. This term, we have two seniors teaching classes. Marley is teaching a class in Acting for Film. By day one, she already had her students doing improvisations and by day two, they were working on monologues. Shane is teaching Improvisation under Guillermo's supervision. He is also co-teaching a class in Hitchcock with me. After watching a variety of Hitchcock's films, our students will write and produce a screenplay in the style of Hitchcock. Shane and I are very excited about this experience!
Simply stated, Dave loves math. Each year, we discover that he is not alone. In addition to their already challenging course loads, some students want to challenge themselves further by taking this course, which centers around changes in the historical development of key mathematical concepts from both mathematical and philosophical points of view. For texts, they use Euclid's Winter by Mlodinow and Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Seife. Dave and his students dig deep as they discuss concepts that are way beyond me!
Have a great vacation. Enjoy time with your family. HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fall Symposium Highlights

What a great day! The sun streams through the windows of the Meeting Hall as Bob leads our students in a town meeting discussion. The morning of workshops was a complete success. Here are some student comments about the day: "It was very eye-opening to learn about the differences and common threads in every religion." "I learned a lot about the Middle East that I had never been taught before. My views of the Middle East have certainly changed." " Learning about climate change and its effects on Middle Eastern security was both interesting and thought-provoking. I hope that future advancements in green technology will help ease the strains between countries in the Middle East." "Learning about Brit Tzedek v'Shalom was very inspiring and made me want to find out more information about the Middle East."

Chef Philip Gary stands back as students prepare to take part in our Middle Easter feast. Our three cooking workshops truly did feed the masses...and it was delicious! Taboule and hummus.

The Upper School band ensemble and Quaker N'Oats perform during lunch.

Belly Dancing class with Wanda Brown. Yoga with Sherri.

Cooking Iranian food with Susan Dunlap.Hummus and taboule with Dotty Hoyle.

Learning about prayer flags with Ann Roth.
Cooking preparation with Philip and Viviann.

The weather was perfect. Our students were actively engaged and attentive. All workshop presenters were thoughtful and well-prepared. Thanks to all for a really great day!

Friday, November 13, 2009

November 13, 2009 End of Fall Term

Today is a staff workday. The Upper School is empty, except for a few errant staff members who are grading exams, reading papers, evaluating final projects, and writing reports. I have been walking around the building in search of some final projects to show you. The painting on the left was created by our amazingly talented Hannah K. She is depicting a child soldier for her Holocaust class. I wish I had been in her class for her presentation. Clearly Hannah feels deeply the sadness of the dire conditions faced by child soldiers in various parts of our world.
The title of this poster is Josef Mengele: The Angel of Death.
A series of reading responses, papers, and projects from Jon's American Fiction class. The circles are made of home-made paper that Mickey and Ariel made from some of the fiction they read.

I wish you could see this face up close. The face is actually a collage of photographs about the Holocaust. The white around the face, eyes, nose, and mouth is made of names of people who died in the Holocaust. The quote in larger print is by Voltaire: No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.
You have heard of Johnny Appleseed? Well, we have Frances Brindle! Frances and her students are planting an orchard. After installing the fence and preparing the land, they were able to plant the seedlings last week. Frances was one of the happiest people around when we got all the rain of last week. She says it was great for her orchard. And now we wait...

As you might imagine, I am very excited about our Fall Symposium on Monday. Our theme is the Middle East. Our presenters are ready to share their knowledge in a series of workshops that include Understanding Islam, Farsi, Climate Change and Middle East Security, Belly Dancing, and Brit Tzedek v'Shalom & JStreet, just to name a few. We will show the documentary, Afghan Star. We will have three cooking workshops where students will cook lunch for the masses. A group of students will make prayer flags for the Upper School. After lunch, students will enjoy a rousing game of Capture the Flag. Then Bob will lead students in a town meeting discussion. This symposium promises to be a wonderful educational experience for all.
The date is past due for getting forms in for Winter Term. That said, I'm sure our Bagel moms will accept late forms this week. The new round of Bagel Tuesdays will begin on this Tuesday.
We will host our second Bear Night on Friday, November 20th, after the basketball games. We expect Bear to start at around 8:30. The best idea for students will be to attend the basketball games (5:30 and 7:00) and then head to the Upper School for Bear. The cost is $5. The money raised will contribute to a self-defense class for girls.
On Friday during Advisee time, we will all watch a documentary from the Equal Justice Initiative on the sentencing of 13- and 14-year-old children to life in prison. This documentary tells the personal stories of actual teens who have been sentenced to life in prison. Most of the sentences imposed on these children were mandatory. The court could not give any consideration to the child's age or life history. This film is being brought to our attention by Susan's Civil Rights class. The viewing will be followed by small group discussions, which will be led by members of Susan's class.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Week of November 9, 2009 (Last week of fall term)

Biology research in action. Frances's Advanced Biology students traveled to a biology lab at Duke to learn about Morgan's summer research project on transgenic lines of zebra fish. Morgan worked in her parent's bio lab for a number of weeks during the summer. Last week, she presented her findings to her peers who were quite fascinated with her research. With the use of florescent microscopes, students were able to observe Morgan's process and see day-old embryos.

Last week, we welcomed thirteen 8th grade boys from the Durham Nativity School. The boys joined some of our freshmen for lunch and then visited 5th period classes. They were able to be a part of our Silent Meeting before heading back to DNS.

Our senior service class continues to be hard at work. I actually took these pictures at 5:00 last Thursday evening. Class had met earlier in the afternoon, but Shane and Spencer were still working. Shane was touching up the paint job in the school store, while Spencer was laying brick tile on the new patio. We continue to be very excited about the work these seniors are doing. As we near the end of the fall term, the school store and outside surroundings are definitely taking shape. We look forward to using--and taking care of--this beautiful new space.

Our last day of the term is Thursday, November 13th. Friday is a staff workday. Staff members will be very busy writing End-of-Term reports, which will be mailed to parents before Thanksgiving vacation. After our Fall Symposium on Monday, November 16th, we will begin the Winter Term on Tuesday the 17th. Below, you can see Bob deep in thought as he concentrates on his reports.

This is it. Time is up. Bagel Tuesday forms are due no later than Wednesday, November 11th.
Our second senior parent potluck will be held Monday evening from 6-8pm in the Meeting Hall. The focus for this evening will be on the social lives of seniors and some of the resulting challenges for parents. We hope to see you there.
Just a reminder about the PSA meeting Wednesday night at 6:45pm in the Meeting Hall. There will be a presentation on the Afghan Sister Schools Project. The PSA is another great way to be involved in school life.
You definitely want to get to the Regulator Bookshop this weekend. The Book Fair is scheduled for Friday-Sunday with a percentage of sales going to the CFS libraries. The Upper School Cafe will be held Saturday night, from 6-8pm. The Quaker N'Oats will sing and our wonderful band, Old 86, will play. Other Upper School students will perform original musical pieces and read from original written work. Please come out for this family-friendly and highly entertaining evening. Desserts will be on sale.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Special Edition: The House of Blue Leaves

It's been touch and go around the Meeting House all week. Will we be able to put on the play? Will students be well enough to perform? I am happy to report that the show WILL go on! I went to the dress rehearsal last night, and it was great! We laughed a lot...and sighed in sadness. The play is The House of Blue Leaves by American Playwright John Guare. It is performed by our advanced actors and directed by theatre teacher, Susan Kincaid. Welcome to the world of Artie Shaughnessy (Andrew Meriwether), a frustrated New York songwriter/zookeeper. It is 1965 and the Pope is visiting New York. The entire play takes place in Artie's apartment in Sunnyside. I'm sorry that I didn't get a photo of Hannah Kramer's full set. True to her style, Hannah played close attention to detail in her set design. The apartment is delightful.
Artie's cuckoo wife, Bananas, is played by Emma Trisolini.

The nuns in this scene are played by Tasha Anderson, Kyle Gouchoe-Hanas, and Madeline Allen. At the right, you can see Miles Bonsignore as Billy Einhorn, big time producer.
Bunny Flingus (Marley Toben) is Artie's mistress and a very funny New Yorker with big plans.

Joseph Bishop plays the part of Artie and Bananas' son Ronnie who comes home AWOL, intending to blow up the Pope at Yankee Stadium.

Samantha Garlock plays the part of famous actress, Corinna Stroller.

Performances are Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30pm in the Upper School Meeting Hall. This entertaining play is for mature audiences, 8th grade and older. If you have a free evening this weekend, we hope to see you at The House of Blue Leaves.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Week of November 2, 2009

LATE BREAKING NEWS: Due to the illness of one of the cast members, our fall play, "The House of Blue Leaves", will be performed on Friday and Saturday (November 6 & 7) at 7:30pm in the Meeting Hall. There will be an open dress rehearsal on Thursday at 7:30pm. (The original dates of the play were Thursday and Saturday.) John Guare's comedy/drama explores the life of a frustrated New York songwriter/zookeeper,with a girlfriend who dreams of Hollywood success, a wife who copes with depression, and a son who wants to gain worldwide notoriety. Set in New York in the 1960s, the play portrays a colorful cast of characters that also includes three nuns, a Hollywood movie star, and a famous director.
The content and themes of this play are for a mature audience, 8th grade and up.

Emma, Samantha, and Marley rehearse a scene while Andrew and Miles prepare for their parts in the play.
Our nuns are particularly entertaining!

I hope you are in the mood for pictures this week because I have many to share. Below, you can see our enthusiastic staff and student volleyball players. I am happy to report that the staff beat this talented student team during their first game. By the end of the second game, the students had tied up the contest by winning a close match. By the third game, fatigue was beginning to show in the staff...and they lost. A good time was definitely had by all. Meanwhile, out in the Cross-Country world, we sent our first CFS female to a state meet. Fareeda finished 109th in a field of 156 runners. Way to go, Fareeda!

And then it was Halloween!

Halloween is a big day at CFS...and certainly in the Upper School. Samantha, playing a character from The Office, greeted Upper School students as they arrived at school. John McGovern is arriving on a tractor to pick a group of lucky Upper Schoolers up for a hay ride. I got to go on this hay ride. What fun!
The pumpkin-carving contest brought out the competitiveness in our advisee groups. Here, you can see Darth Vader, from Ken's group. Behind the Phantom of the Opera, you can see the totem pole of pumpkins, which took Best in Show. (Amelia's group)

Here is a beautiful fish swimming in a fishbowl. (Home-made and oh, so creative!)

Gunther and the Sunshine Girls sang and danced for the community.

A farmer and her cow (with the totem pole of pumpkins in the background)

A group of truckers sang an original song, "I Love my Truck."

The H1N1 sisters were spreading the flu. Boo!

On Wednesday, we will welcome two sets of visitors to the Upper School. Thirteen 8th grade boys will visit from the Durham Nativity School. We will present a panel discussion about the Upper School during our pizza lunch. The boys will then visit classes and attend our silent meeting for worship. Also on Wednesday, CFS will welcome a team of four visitors from the Southern Association of Independent Schools who will spend time in the Lower, Middle and Upper Schools. The SAIS representatives will visit classes, meet with staff members and students, and also attend our silent meeting. Specifically, they will meet with student representatives of the Clerks, Head Teacher, and Staff-Student Discipline Committees; and the Gay-Straight Alliance. We look forward to an exciting day on Wednesday!
Ken initiated a new class this term--Fingerstyle Guitar. He is co-teaching the class with senior Haley Barak. Having enjoyed the experience of playing as a group, Haley is starting a guitar club. Interested students will gather to play songs together. I am selfishly hoping that some of our shy players will be more willing to perform for the public as members of a group. We have a talent show in December for the Upper School and a Cabaret in March for the general public. I hope to be able to report that a group of fingerstyle guitarists performed together!
Just a reminder that it is time to turn in Bagel Tuesday orders for the Winter Term. I will attach order forms on my email reminder to parents. There are also forms available on Willy's counter.