School News

On Thursday, January 15, SMCDS hosted its annual Geo-Bee, sponsored by National Geographic. The contestants, who were culled from the middle school advisories and the fourth grade, competed to answer questions that ranged in geography from Africa to Europe, and from Texas to the Yukon.

Our Geo-Bee winner, fifth grader Patrick, who was runner up last year, and the runner up, fourth grader Charlie, represented the lower school with confidence, proud of his presence in the championship round.

Congratulations to everyone who participated in the 2015 Geo-Bee!

“Its a great day for a great cause,” said Head of School John Zurn, as he watched more than 50 girls and boys ranging from grades 5-8 shoot hoops and practice drills with the athletes and coaching staff of the Bryant University men’s basketball team.  Bryant head coach Tim O’Shea brought his coaches and his entire team to St. Michael’s Country Day School to host a skills clinic for middle school students. The added twist? Each athlete was asked to bring non-perishable food items in support of the food pantry at the Martin Luther King Community Center, here in Newport, RI. The athletes managed to collect over 50 pounds of food for needy families, helping to chip away at the increased demand for food across the Newport neighborhoods.

Each student went home not only with a Bryant basketball and a Bryant t-shirt, but the feeling of having made a difference in our community. Thank you to the Bryant Bulldogs and the students from across the greater Newport area who demonstrated their leadership!

Ryan Andrade, an SMCDS alum and son of current 1st grade teacher Karen Andrade, met with the Lower School students on Friday, January 9. His presence as part of the “Follow Your Passion” speaker series, focussed on his love of flying. Since he was a little boy, when his favorite book was The Little Red Plane, Ryan was fascinated with airplanes and flight. He harnessed his passion, and this past fall, Ryan earned his pilot’s license.

Ryan told the Lower School students to “pursue your dreams” and to “stay psyched about those things that you are really into.” With advice like this from an SMCDS alum, the Lower School students left the presentation fired up to pursue their own passions!

John, one of our SMCDS fifth graders, was the second speaker in the Follow Your Passion Speaker Series for our lower school students. While in third grade John was inspired to learn more about the presidents by a U.S. presidents puzzle that his father bought him on a trip to Washington D.C. Over his holiday break, John researched and then drew detailed portraits of each of the forty-four U.S. presidents. If you look closely you will notice that each portrait contains a clue about something that was unique to each gentleman’s term in office. For example, Rutherford B.Hayes is depicted speaking on a telephone given to him by Thomas A. Edison because he was the first president to ever use a telephone.

On Friday, December 12, John presented the fruit of his research and artwork to a packed audience of students in grades 1-4. “It feels good when you do something that other people get excited about and learn from,” John shared with his young audience. A sampling of John’s presidential portraits will be on display in the Founders Library between December 15 and December 19. We are happy to showcase this great example of a student’s passion and dedication to learning, and hope it will inspire other students to do the same! Way to go John!

St. Michael’s Expands STEM Programming…

St. Michael's Country Day School, Newport, RIWe are pleased to share with you the news that we have hired Bonnie Epstein to serve as our part-time STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) program developer in our Lower School. Dr. Epstein is the Founder and President of the Board for the Rhode Island Museum of Science and Art (RIMOSA) and is a part time faculty member at the Rhode Island School of Design. She is a graduate of Brown University where she majored in Geology/Biology. She also earned her Ph.D. in Oceanography from University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography. She is the mother of Hope (Grade 4) and Noah (grade 6) Silverman.

Dr. Epstein has a longtime commitment to regional science education initiatives in the state and we are excited to have her energy and wisdom in our community. She will be working with St. Michael’s Lower School teachers developing new and existing STEM initiatives in the Lower School. You will be hearing more from Dr. Epstein about STEM programs in upcoming issues of the St. Michael’s Weekly newsletter.

imagesKindergarten Innovation Hour – Plan, Build, Revise, and Share!

Marshmallows and gumdrops were the materials at the center of Ms. Jessica Boyle’s first Innovation Hour with her Kindergarten students this week. Each child was challenged to imagine and build a structure with the same amount of these tasty treats. The students moved step by step through such stages as:

1. Make a Plan

2. Build

3. Revise

4. Present / Share your structure with other students.




On a sunny Thursday, November 13, our Middle School students helped their Early Childhood buddies plant bulbs for the spring. Our students planted 1639 bulbs to commemorate the year the City of Newport was founded. This is the second year that St. Michael’s Country Day School students have participated in the Daffodillion Campaign for Newport. The Campaign began as a way to recognize Newport’s 375th Anniversary. Our Student Leadership Board raised the money to join at the Founders Member level last year.  We are grateful to the Wellness Committee for supporting our effort at the Founders Member level this year.  The blooms will be visible this spring throughout our campus. You’ll also see them along the stone wall on Rhode Island Avenue and on the corner of Gibbs and Memorial Blvd.


On Thursday, October 30th, SMCDS’s fifth grade hosted two special visitors from the other side of the globe! Fifth grade teacher Claire Stieff  invited Jafari and Indira, a woman and her daughter, both from Afghanistan, to come and talk to the fifth grade. Mary Goodman, a retired teacher and Claire’s friend, is involved with a women’s group and thus knew about Jafair and Indira, who were visiting family and friends in the U.S., and quickly offered to invite them to visit the students at SMCDS. Jafari and Indira arrived on campus dressed in their native Afghani dress, and they spent an hour talking with the fifth grade students about life in their homeland. It was an amazing cross-cultural connection.



Bryant University Men’s Head Basketball Coach Tim O’Shea spoke with SMDCS 8th grade students on Tuesday, October 28, field questions and sharing advice about the challenges and rewards of leadership. Coach O’Shea brought along a Bryant University student, who also shared advice on how to persevere and accomplish your goals.

Enjoy the gallery of images from the wonderful morning conversation.

Ms. Shivani Bhalla, a leader in animal conservation, visited our campus on Tuesday, October 14, as the second speaker in our 8th grade Leadership Speaker Series. She is the founder and executive director of Ewaso Lions, an organization that conserves lions and other large carnivores in northern Kenya by promoting coexistence between people and wildlife through science and education. National Geographic recently named Ms. Bhalla to its 2014 class of “Emerging Explorers, a group of 14 visionary, young trailblazers from around the globe whose innovative ideas and accomplishments are making a significant difference in the world.” Following her remarks to our students in grades 4-8, Ms. Bhalla met with our 7th and 8th grade girls to discuss the particular challenges of being a woman in a leadership position, the value of networking and relationship building, and the importance of finding your passion and pursuing your interests. We are incredibly proud to have hosted Shivani, and wish her well in her important work!