School News

genius_hour1When was the first homework assignment created? And why? Mac Spear is hoping to find the answers to those questions and more through an independent research project.

Mac and his classmates are participating in the Genius Hour, an initiative Mrs. Hutchinson and Mrs. Anguilla introduced to the second grade this year. For sixty minutes each week, the students are able to explore topics and pursue projects based on their individual interests and passion. While the children enjoy reading about topics they love, they are also refining their research and organizational skills, learning how to formulate questions, and writing presentations. They don’t realize it, but they are also practicing skills key to lifelong learning.

So how does Genius Hour work? The students start by selecting a topic of interest to them. Next, using a graphic organizer, they answer a list of ten questions that guide their research. The students have been using iPads and books as research tools, closely monitored by their teachers. The final product will be an iBook of their creation, highlighting what they have learned. They are enhancing their presentations by embedding images, audio, and video into their book.

Mrs. Hutchinson is pleased with the enthusiastic response from her students. “Genius Hour has been such a positive addition to our curriculum this year!  All of my students love it and are self – motivated to do their best because they are directing their own learning.” She noted, “Instead of me telling them what and how they will learn, they decide this for themselves. This is very powerful!”

dsc09223Cephalopod, a strange word used to classify marine species like a squid or an octopus, was the key to victory for a fourth grader in the 2014 St. Michael’s Spelling Bee. Hudson McGuinness, a student in Mrs. Weiner’s class, lasted 23 rounds to emerge victorious over the 36 other contestants from grades four through eight in this morning’s competition.

Sophia Rey, Hudson’s classmate and our runner-up, put forth an equally impressive performance.  Among the many tricky words that wowed the audience were: gorgon, vitriolic, prognosticate, genoise, juxtapose, unctuous, and isochronous.

Hudson’s next stop will be the state finals, where he will face off with other super spellers to determine who will represent Rhode Island in the National Spelling Bee. Good luck, Hudson!

StMikeSt. Michael’s Country Day School will be hosting an Open House on Wednesday, February 26th from 9:00 AM to Noon.  This open house will feature “The Cottage”.  Come and see for yourself our great early childhood program for preschool (3 year olds), prekindergarten and kindergarten. Our program is full day, 5 days per week, with a new tuition structure and a world filled with inspiration, exploration and possibilities.  No appointment is necessary. You will have the opportunity to meet Head of School Whitney Slade and Director of Admission Sally Casey, as well as talk to faculty, staff, and parents as you tour campus, visit classrooms, and receive information about financial aid. Interested parents can contact Sally at 401-849-5970 ext. 302, or e-mail her at, for more information.

dsc08934_0The 2014 St. Michael’s Geography Bee ended in a closely contested sibling showdown during which the audience saw Madeline Colbert-Muetterties (grade 7) top her brother Patrick (grade 4) in the championship round.

All nine contestants from grades 4 – 8 impressed onlookers with correct answers to some challenging questions. Can you answer these three questions from the final round? (Answers located at the bottom of the article.)

  1. The city of Portland is the eastern terminus for an oil pipeline that connects with Montreal, Canada. Portland is located on Casco Bay in which New England state?
  2. The Potomac River rises in the Allegheny Plateau and empties into what large bay?
  3. The Taklimakan Desert, home to the Uyghur people, is located north of the Kunlun Mountains in which Asian country?

The Geography Bee is an annual event at St. Michael’s and is sponsored by the National Geographic Society. The finalists placed into the competition after successfully completing preliminary rounds in their classrooms.  As winner of the school-wide contest, Madeline will take a 100 question multiple choice test at the end of the month to qualify for a place on the stage at the Rhode Island finals.

Congratulations to all of our competitors and best of luck to Madeline!

(Answers: 1. Maine     2. Chesapeake Bay    3. China)

dsc09045The Bryant University Bulldogs Div. I Men’s Basketball team, with Head Coach Tim O’Shea, lead a skills clinic and exhibition at St. Michael’s Country Day School this past Tuesday. Sixty boys and girls from the surrounding community participated and worked directly with players and coaches on games and drills designed to build their confidence and strengthen their basic skills. As the evening came to an end, the players treated the children to a dunking and free throw contest. Admission was a donation of a canned food item to benefit the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center food pantry. Three boxes of donations were delivered this week.

heifetzIn partnership with the Jamestown Arts Center, three talented musicians from the Heifetz International Music Institute will spend a day at St. Michael’s on Tuesday, February 4th.

Heifetz is a non-profit organization dedicated to the artistic growth and career development of some of the most talented and promising young musicians in the world. The Institute holds an intensive six-week program on the campus of Mary Baldwin College located in Staunton, Virginia each summer. Hundreds of the most brilliant and deserving young artists from throughout the United States and internationally apply to the Institute annually. Last summer the sixty-six students represented twenty-two states and thirteen countries, and came from the world’s top conservatories.

The Institute’s faculty members come from conservatories such as The Juilliard School, the Curtis Institute of Music, New England Conservatory of Music, Cleveland Institute of Music, Eastman School of Music, and Peabody Conservatory of Music.

During their visit a trio of young musicians specializing in the cello, violin, and viola will visit some of our classes and perform during an all school assembly. We hope their passion and immense talent will prove inspirational to our students.

More information regarding their visit will be coming soon. Please join us in thanking the Jamestown Arts Center for making this opportunity possible!

StMikeSt. Michael’s Country Day School will be holding an Admission Open House on Wednesday, January 22nd. Visitors can stop in any time between the hours of 8:30 am and 2:00 pm. No appointment is necessary. They will have the opportunity to meet Head of School Whitney Slade and Director of Admission Sally Casey, as well as talk to faculty, staff, and parents as they tour campus, visit classrooms, and receive information about financial aid. Interested parents can contact Sally at 401-849-5970 ext. 302, or e-mail her at, for more information.

dsc07395Emily Levy, sister of Tess and John Lanza (Grades 2 & 4), visited the fourth grade today to share some of her experiences from her trip to Rwanda this past summer. Levy, a student in the Babson College Women’s Leadership Program, visited the African nation to promote entrepreneurship and teach life business skills to school children – specifically young girls.

The students in Mrs. Joubert and Mrs. Weiner’s classes took a keen interest in her presentation. They will do extensive research on the continent of Africa, eventually selecting a country to study indepth. Their efforts culminate in April when they perform African plays and represent their chosen nation at an African travel agency they will create in the Lunch Room.

bulldogs_mens_bball_team_photoThe Bryant University Bulldogs Div. I Men’s Basketball team, with Head Coach Tim O’Shea, will lead a skills clinic and exhibition at St. Michael’s on Tuesday, January 14. This event for boys and girls in grades five through eight will run from 3:30pm – 5:00pm, is open to the public, and free with the donation of a canned food item to benefit the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center food pantry.

Coach Tim O’Shea is in his sixth season as Head Coach of the Bryant University men’s basketball team. He was previously Head Coach at Ohio University, and an assistant coach at the University of Rhode Island and Boston College. Since his arrival at Bryant, he has worked diligently to successfully transition the Bulldogs into Div. I competition. Last year Coach O’Shea led the team to a 19-11 record (12-6 League).  As a result, the Bulldogs tied for 2nd place in the NEC Conference standings – a vast improvement on the previous season’s record of 2-28 (2011-12). This is considered one of the best single-season turnarounds in NCAA history, earning 17 more victories in 2012-13 than the prior year. Currently the team is enjoying a winning season despite a very challenging schedule, including match-ups against basketball powerhouses such as Gonzaga, Notre Dame, and Ohio State.

For more information about this event please contact Leslie Grosvenor, St. Michael’s Director of Institutional Advancement, at 401-849-5970 ext. 365 or

johnl_andrew_jacksonThe front office is sporting a new look these days, with the recent installation of an independent study project by third grader John Lanza. On his free time, John researched and then drew portraits of each of the forty-four U.S. presidents. Upon closer inspection, each portrait contains a clue about something that was unique to each gentleman’s term in office. Wondering why President Taft is depicted in a bath tub? You’ll have to ask John!

Q: What inspired your study and drawings of the presidents? John: My dad brought me a puzzle of all of the U.S. presidents, and that got me interested in learning more.

Q: What sources did you use to do your research? John: I read some books, biographies mostly. I also watched a TV show on all of the presidents.

Q: When did you find the time to do your research and work on the portraits? How long did they take? John: I worked on them over Christmas break. I think it took me a week.

photo-24_0Q: Now that you have learned something about all forty-four presidents, do you have a favorite? John: I would say that John F. Kennedy is my favorite.

Q: Is that because you share the same first name? John: No, because there are a lot of presidents named John. John F. Kennedy started the Peace Corps. (John is interested in joining the Peace Corps someday.)

Q: Would you like to be President one day? John: Maybe someday. But I have some other things I’d like to do first.

Q: You learned a lot of cool facts about the presidents. What was the most interesting? John: Grover Cleveland had secret surgery on his jaw while he was president.

Q: Wow, I never knew that! Tell me more! John: He had cancer, and the surgery was done on a friend’s boat so that no one would find out at the time.

In addition to lending his work for the installation in the front office, John has also been presented his presidential research to his peers in both the Lower and Middle Schools. We are happy to showcase this great example of a student’s passion and dedication to learning, and hope it will inspire others!