School News

dsc08797The Fall Sports Awards were handed out at today’s Middle School morning meeting. Members of the Girls B, Boys B, and Coed A teams received honors for “Most Improved Player”, “Most Valuable Player”, “Sportsmanship”, and the “Coaches Award”. This morning’s honorees are pictured here.

Also of note from the 2013 soccer season, the Boys B team went undefeated. The first team to do so since 1999!

Congratulations to all of our student athletes and many thanks to the coaches for another great season. Go Hurricanes!

dsc08762The city of Newport will celebrate its 375th anniversary next year. St. Michael’s is proud to call this wonderful community home and will take part in many of the commemorative events planned for 2014.

The first of which is the Daffodillion Project. This citywide initiative aims to have 1,000,000 daffodils in bloom around Newport next spring. To “dig in” and do their part, the students and faculty at SMS planted 1,639 bulbs (a nod to the year the city was founded) around campus. The preschool and prekindergarten students, along with their fourth grade buddies, planted a portion of the bulbs in their playground area behind the van Beuren Building. The remaining bulbs were planted (on a very rainy day) throughout the rest of campus by the kindergarten through eighth grade students along with faculty members. It was a  true team effort.

All are looking forward to seeing the fruits of their labor in April when the flowers begin to bloom!

To see more photos, visit the gallery by clicking here.

dsc08748Dr. Kenneth Walsh, a local historian and SMS grandparent, visited the seventh grade U.S. History class today to speak about Revolutionary War era forts in Newport and around Aquidneck Island. In addition to sharing his extensive knowledge about fortifictions, Dr. Walsh also shared maps of the area from the time period. The students enjoyed seeing how the island has changed since the late 1700s!

dsc08651With shovels and rakes in hand, the students in Ms. Keohane and Mr. Kalaidjian’s middle school Studio Art class traveled down the hill to Easton’s Beach today where they created an eco-conscious art installation. After collecting shells, seaweed, pebbles, and other debris that had washed up on the beach, the young artists began their work.

This annual project is a student and staff favorite and this year’s creation did not disappoint! Shaped like a massive serpent curving down the beach, the sand sculpture was designed in segments. Groups of 3 to 4 students each worked on a section and were required to carry elements from the neighboring groups’ work into their own portion of the installation. To see the class at work, check out the photo gallery by clicking here.

web_0After a carefully planned and systematically executed process, the Search Committee identified John Zurn from a national pool of twenty-one top candidates as its unanimous choice to be nominated to the Board as the next Head of School. The Board enthusiastically and unanimously accepted the nomination at a special meeting that was held on October 16, 2013.

John comes to St. Michael’s from the Pegasus School, a school for bright and gifted children in Huntington Beach, California. Prior to his tenure at Pegasus, John spent 20 years at St. John’s Episcopal, a K-8 school in Olney, MD. During his time in Maryland, John’s accomplishments included doubling enrollment, expanding facilities to accommodate the additional students and increasing annual giving by an order of magnitude. In 2009, the last year of John’s tenure, St. John’s Episcopal was recognized by the National Association of Independent Schools as one of twenty model schools from around the world for its Global Education Resources Program.

A native of Erie, Pennsylvania, John attended the William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia, Williams College where he earned a B.A. in English, and the University of Pennsylvania where he earned an M.S. in Educational Leadership. In 2006 he attended the Head’s Fellowship program at Columbia University’s Klingenstein Institute. He has served on independent school boards and the boards of several school associations through his career. John has two adult children, Josh and Alexander. He enjoys squash, basketball, sailing, and travel. He is a fan of the Philadelphia Phillies.

We look forward to welcoming John to the St. Michael’s community in July of 2014 when he will assume the reins from Whitney Slade, the longest serving Head in our school’s 75 years. Whitney has been an inspirational and transformative leader over the last 16 years. The impressions that Whitney leaves on our campus, curriculum and culture are indelible and our gratitude for his service is enormous. His tireless devotion to the faculty and his unwavering dedication to the children are the hallmarks of his tenure. We will plan opportunities in the coming months to celebrate our time with Whitney and his wife Ellen and to thank them for their contributions to St. Michael’s.

At the outset of this search, the Board was committed to seeking the counsel and guidance of the entire school community – parents, faculty, administration, staff, alumni, students and trustees. Your input was highly valued and greatly appreciated as the Search Committee went about its due diligence and your participation was critical to our success.  We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Search Committee members – Lauren Abraham, Karen Andrade, Bethany Di Napoli, John Dunn, Tamara Farrick, Ken Hileman, David Howe, Mary LoPresti, Cory Plumb, Molly de Ramel, Becky Smith, and Bob Tavares – for the many hours and seemingly infinite energy that they devoted to this process.

While the applicant pool was impressive, John stood out as the candidate that most completely met the expectations of our community, the needs of our school and our collective vision of the future. In his cover letter to the Search Committee John wrote,

“I want to work in a school that celebrates its traditions with pride, but that also embraces the challenges of the future with urgency.  I want to work in a school that challenges its community to lead. I want to engage people in a discussion about what makes a great school and how we discipline ourselves to get there.”

We trust these words will resonate with the school community much as they did with the committee. They closely reflect the position statement that was developed for this search as well as the goals and values expressed by the Mission and Philosophy statements of St. Michael’s.

With Mr. Zurn leading the way, we are certain that our future will be bright and that St. Michael’s Country Day School will continue proudly and successfully on its mission of excellence.

dsc08630First grade had a very special guest this morning as NBC10 meteorologist Kelly Love visited their classroom to speak about her job – and of course – the weather!

Ms. Love explained her inspiration and desire to become a meteorologist, which started at a young age. Hard work in school, especially in her science classes, helped to get her where she is today. She answered numerous questions from the students, including many about tornadoes.

dsc08520New ideas took center stage in the Old Library, as the third grade hosted their Invention Convention. Inspired by the great inventor Ben Franklin, the students took their turn demonstrating for family and peers the function and use of their own creations.

To see more photos, please visit the gallery by clicking here.

dsc08490Using the knowledge gained from their studies in Physical Science, the students were asked to design a chair that would bear weight. The rules were simple…use only cardboard, no tape or glue allowed. The best design would hold the most weight and would earn the designer the double distinction of highest grade as well as bragging rights.

In the photo here, Mr. Drayton and his eighth grade scientists pose with their creations. The winning chair was able to hold over 300 pounds!

dsc08478As the fifth grade began reading the award winning children’s novel The Breadwinner, they had the opportunity to hear a firsthand account of life in the book’s setting, Afghanistan. Zarifa, a second year student at Salve Regina University, visited the students to discuss her experiences as a child in Kabul.

The Breadwinner tells the story of a girl who has to dress as a boy in order to go out in the city of Kabul to make money and provide for her family. Zarifa stated that the book was very true to her own childhood in the city.
The students enjoyed their special guest’s visit, asking many thoughtful questions. They are looking forward to seeing Zarifa once more upon their completion of the novel.