Please join us tomorrow afternoon with New York Times Best Selling Author Sharyn McCrumb. Ms. McCrumb will be speaking at 2:15pm in Fishburn Auditorium. She will discuss with our middle-school students and audience her process as a writer, including her extensive research and how she has navigated the publishing world. She appears as part of the CrossCurrents Annual Speaker and Dialogue Series at North Cross School. Middle School Director Edward Dickenson is excited to welcome Ms. McCrumb to our campus, saying, "We always want to encourage our students to embrace writing and to appreciate the writing process. In this light, we try to invite guest writers as often as possible to allow them to share their thoughts, talents, and life experiences with our students."
A message from Deborah Jessee, Assistant Head of School for Academics
This afternoon the faculty met for the year’s third afternoon of professional development. I would be remiss if I did not mention once again how grateful we are for the support shown for these opportunities at the winter Gala with the “Paddles Up” fundraiser. The chance to come together as a faculty is so valuable in terms of connecting divisions and academic departments, working together and learning from each other.
Today, faculty moved through two sessions, each tailored for the age groups involved (ECP and Lower School / Middle and Upper School).
School Counselor Leigh Ann Hamlin addressed technology and social media in our first session. She introduced author Devorah Heitner’s TED Talk on Raising Digital Natives and led a discussion centered around Dr. Heitner’s ideas on how to guide kids thoughtfully in the “digital age.”
This week marked a beloved tradition in Middle School science, the annual release of baby trout that had been hatched and nurtured in the biology classes of Mrs. Patterson. Students in the eighth grade went with Ms. Sandy Patterson and Director Edward Dickenson to Roaring Run where the native species of trout were released in the stream. The brook trout arrive as eggs at the beginning of the year. The team is responsible for monitoring the water in the classroom tank, feeding the trout, and cleaning the tank, all to make sure they are prepared for release in the spring as fingerlings.
For the past two weeks, Upper School math and computer instructor Amy Bagliani has been visiting classrooms in the Lower School, from Kindergarten all the way through fifth grade, to help introduce coding into the classrooms. Library director Amy Holley has done units in the past with students when time allowed, but the hope is to more fully integrate programming into the students' every-day curriculum.
On Wednesday, Mrs. Holley continued what Mrs. Bagliani had introduced on paper ("unplugged") to the fifth graders, by allowing the students to explore coding on the Learning Center computers. Both instructors use lessons offered by Code.org to help teach the students how to create algorithms and move objects across the screen.
As is the tradition for our third-graders, Thursday marked North Cross' annual celebration of "Colonial Day" which is the "hands-on" portion of their unit on Colonial history. With a trip to Monticello in a couple of weeks, Mrs. Clark's and Ms. Martin's classes will be prepared having explored the topic firsthand—and in costume! Mr. Lamas started the day off by greeting carpool in costume (three-point hat and all). Parents volunteered to steer students through different activity stations including crafts, quill writing, period games and metal lanterns—so much fun even Dr. Proctor joined in. The entire school enjoyed a Colonial menu at lunch, P.E. featured games of the era, and the festivities concluded with a recorder concert and folk dance presentation for families.
As March comes to a close so does the observance of Women's History Month, which traces its roots back to the first International Woman's Day held on March 8, 1911. Though our curriculum makes an effort to keep a balanced perspective of many social factors all of the time, adding a special focus to a historically neglected group helps our students understand how our concept of what is important enough to be deemed "historical" has changed over the years, and continues to do so.
Our formal Global Studies Program begins in the Upper School, however, even our youngest students have the chance to explore different histories and cultures in their studies. This week, second graders welcomed a Sara Brooks from Kimoyo, a local non-profit agency whose work in Ghana, Africa, has helped to establish a hospital, literacy project for girls, micro-financing for businesses, and Internet access for those communities in which they work.
On Saturday, while volunteers were busy using their braun to unload items for the Big Flea, a group of students used their brains to compete in the University of Virginia High School Programming Competition. Teachers Amy Bagliani and Jennifer Landry took 5 students (Nalin Jha ’19, Sean Auwater ’17, Ben Li ’18, Simon Chen ’17, and Triff H'Doubler ’19—the first female from North Cross to compete!). The competitors had 4 hours to complete 12 programs which become progressively complicated as they moved along in the competition. For each program solved, competitors received a colored balloon. While the students were competing, the teachers "spent the afternoon, talking with teachers and sharing ideas. There were two we took away as great ideas for the school," notes Mrs. Bagliani, which she says she'll share with Upper School Director Mark Thompson.
This Monday, seventh-graders presented their completed family history projects to history teacher Heather Slaughter. The binders, filled with family photos, interviews, an autobiography and historical timeline, were the culmination of a month-long research project in which students used online databases and personal interviews to discover their roots and to find some surprising discoveries. Joelle Juneau ’22 mentioned that she found out her paternal grandfather came from Cuba when he found out he could do better as a physician if he trained in the U.S. Another student, Shayla Kyle ’22, discovered a great aunt she hadn't known about during her search on Ancestry.com in the library. The students remarked that they enjoyed creating this family history and know that it will be something they hold onto for a long time; "Except the baby pictures," added Joelle, "My mom wants those back."
This Tuesday, 3/14, the Math Department celebrated Pi Day (3.1415926...) with a number of academic and not-so-academic exercises. The Lower School read the story of Sir Cumference and calculated area, diameter and cicumference of circular objects, while in the Upper School, a presentation included several student-created film biographies on famous mathematicians (featuring the students as actors for such characters as Ada Lovelace, her estranged husband Lord Byron, and Archimedes), a student slide presentation on Ada Lovelace, a rap on Descartes, a Pi memorized recitation, and finally, a quiz contest for the different features of Pi and circles in our every-day lives were all part of the festivities.
Perhaps the most enjoyed part of the day was during lunch when the Upper School had a pie-eating contest (Tiger Xu ’18 took the prize—a T-shirt that said "Come to the Math Side, We Have Pi") and a raffle for students to "pie" a teacher in the face. The brave faculty included Stephen Belderes, Josh Kier, Dan Dudek and a very lucky Wesley Clagett whose student decided he just couldn't pie his teacher in the face (he got to pie a student volunteer instead). The day's festivities were coordinated by Upper School math teacher Amy Bagliani and Lower School math teacher Audrey Osborne.
The Crossties Blog provides timely updates about activities from the campus of North Cross School.