School News

students_on_ipadsLast week, St. Michael’s students wrote more than 15,000 lines of computer code. And they want more!

December 9 -15 was Computer Science Education Week in the United States. To raise awareness of the importance of computer science curriculum in schools, the Hour of Code initiative was launched. Coding helps to develop logic, structured thinking, and problem solving skills. SMS students in grades 2- 8 spent one class period learning how to write computer code using activities and games on their iPads and computers in the technology lab.

Mr. Foehr, technology facilitator, underlined the importance of incorporating  computer coding into our technology program here at SMS.  “Computer programs support everything we do.” He noted, “Computers on their own can’t do anything. It’s the applications people write for them that make them work ”.  According to recent studies, by the year 2020 there will be 1,000,000 more computer programming jobs than programmers. That’s a $500 billion dollar opportunity!

The response from the students was enthusiastic and has faculty members exploring ways to include code in projects outside the confines of the technology lab. The seventh grade is currently learning how to write html code and will be working on building webpages for projects.

A great resource with more information is Not only can you learn more about the Hour of Code, you can also watch videos and try out some of the activities the students used to write their first lines of code.

grinchStudents in the Acting Workshop will present “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” on Friday, December 13 at 7pm and Saturday, December 14 at 2pm. Based on the book by Dr. Seuss, this holiday classic will be brought to life by a cast of seventh and eighth grade students.

A great activity for the family, we invite you to come out and support our talented young actors! Performances will take place in the Hill House and admission is free and open to the public. Donations to benefit the St. Michael’s theatre program are welcome! For more information please call 401-849-5970 ext. 330.

dsc08859_copyThe St. Michael’s Thanksgiving Assembly is an annual tradition here at 180 Rhode Island Avenue. It is the last time the whole school gets together before we head our separate ways for the holiday. This year the third grade performed a “Readers Theater Play” about the harvest feast. The second grade shared the many ways they would help disguise Tom the Turkey, so he wouldn’t end up on the table. And the kindergarten sang a song about a yummy Thanksgiving dinner.

Mr. Slade shared his list of things he is thankful for this year, for the fourteenth and final time. His speech, which received a standing ovation, can be found below.

After the assembly the Early Childhood Program held their Pilgrim and Wampanoag feast. They enjoyed many traditional holiday foods, but the overwhelming favorites were cornbread and apple crisp!

Mr. Slade’s list:

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It is simple, filled with tradition, and you don’t have to bring something to the party. Here is my 14th annual list of what I am thankful and hopeful for. Each year I write a new list. There are certain themes that reappear. I hope these are the things that tie us all together. These are my personal thoughts of hope and thanks. I want each of you to listen, think of what each means to you, and think of your own thoughts of hope and thanks. Over the past 14 years I have focused on consistent themes – not necessarily in this order – my obvious obsession with the Boston sports teams, especially the Red Sox; my love and passion for all things St. Michael’s; our family pets; certain favorite foods; some recent trends and old favorites; all things Newport, RI and New England especially the weather, current events and lastly – but most importantly – my undying belief that how we treat one another in our school community is the most important thing we do, and what we do here makes a difference in
the world.

This year, I once again want to reinforce a plea for peace; our world could certainly use more of it. We spend a lot of time at school working on how to treat one another with respect. So I have mixed in some ways we can make our school, and the world, a more peaceful place.

I am thankful the 2013 Red Sox prove that working together still means something. I am hopeful they will be world champs again in 2014.
I am thankful my dog Millie has been around to hear everyone one of my “What I am thankful and hopeful for.”
I am hopeful she can hear some more.
I am thankful for the book “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus”
I am hopeful the pigeon shares his hot dog with the duckling.
Peace starts right here in our school. It means being respectful of all. It means not being a bystander and standing up for what is right. Peace begins right here, right now.
I am thankful Tom Brady has a golden arm.
I am hopeful he can be as great when he turns 40.
I am thankful we raised a fantastic amount of money to help the people of the Philippines.
I am hopeful that they can rebuild their country.
I am thankful that the Thanksgiving Holiday is still all about family, friends, and giving thanks.
I am hopeful the simplicity of this day will be what we focus on.
We carry peace wherever we go. Peace is in our families and peace can spread to all our friends. Imagine if everyone did the same.
I am thankful for working with children each and everyday.
I am hopeful I can always hold onto my inner child.
I am thankful for M & M’s and the never ending supply that exists in Mr. T’s office.
I am hopeful my new school has someone that loves M & M’s as much as I do.
I am thankful for my love of technology and new gadgets.
I am hopeful we will always use technology wisely and only for good.
Peace is simple. It is saying a kind word. It is seeing differences and trying to understand them. Peace is being patient and wise.
I am thankful for Novembers gray skies, Decembers holiday lights, January’s cold, and February’s brightening light.
I am hopeful that each season brings unique joys-that is why we live in New England.
I am thankful I have lived in Newport for the past 16 years mainly because my children have grown up here.
I am hopeful we all can have great childhood memories.
I am thankful our school is place we can call home because home is a place we can be ourselves.
I am hopeful all of you can be yourselves at home.
Peace is contagious. It spreads like the wind. It does not take great effort to spread peace it just takes all of us to get behind it. If that happens we will have a world at peace.
I am thankful for this years 8th grade. I am so pleased with how they have come together as a group of young people who we can all admire.
I am hopeful they will continue to believe in their goodness.
I am thankful Ben and Jerry’s continues to invent new ice cream flavors.
I am hopeful they will name one after St. Michael’s called Hurricane Seafood.
I am thankful for our community garden and all the vegetables we grew this summer.
I am hopeful folks will continue to weed it.
Peace connects us all. Lack of peace can separate and divide us. Don’t ever be afraid to stand up for peace, now, tomorrow, and the rest of your life.
I am thankful I have had the chance to work with a first class group of teachers.
I am hopeful you all feel that way about yourselves.
I am thankful for the words I say about SMS graduates because it makes me optimistic about the future.
I am hopeful we continue to make the job of educating our children our highest priority.
I am thankful for the privilege of working here for the past 16 years.
I am hopeful I will feel the same at my new school.
Lastly I want to thank everyone who has listened all these years to these bits of wisdom.
I am hopeful they made a difference to someone, somewhere.
Now we are all about to get a well deserved rest, a few days to recharge those batteries, a chance to play, a chance to see old friends and family, and most importantly a chance to give thanks.

book_driveSt. Michael’s is partnering with Child & Family Services of Rhode Island (CFS) to collect much needed supplies for their Residential Program, which benefits young children and adolescents. Representatives from CFS recently spoke at an all school assembly, where they explained what life was like in a group home.

Throughout the school year, the Student Leadership Board will be collecting various supplies that the CFS Residential Program needs. Our first goal is to gather new or gently used books, magazines, and comics for the residents to enjoy during their free time.They love to read and their resources are very limited. Any donation of children and adolescent books will be put to good (and immediate use) in CFS’s group homes around Aquidneck Island.

Collection boxes have been placed in the classrooms, and will be packed up and delivered to CFS on November 22. Thank you in advance for your support of this worthy cause!

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.