School News

poetryslamEmpire Tea and Coffee was the setting for today’s fifth grade Poetry Slam. Each student performed their original poems for their classmates, teachers, and parents. Afterward, they enjoyed some hot chocolate before returning to school.

dsc06499_0This morning the sixth grade held the premiere of their “Where I’m From” videos for parents and faculty. The annual project combines original poetry from Mrs. Sullivan’s English class along with work using iMovie software in the computer lab with Mr. Foehr. The videos offer a personal look at what makes each student truly unique.

governorchafeespeakingtostudentsStudents in Mrs. Ellyn Eaves-Hileman and Mr. Whitney Slade’s public speaking class at St. Michael’s Country  Day School recently received a visit from Governor Lincoln Chafee. The Governor observed four teams of three students in a mock debate on two topical and thought provoking issues – is homeland security more important than the protection of civil liberties and should voting rights for U.S. felons be reinstated after they have served their time? “Public speaking is an essential life skill,” stated Slade, who is also the Head of School at St. Michael’s. He added, “The ability to communicate is critical for success in the 21st century workplace.” The debate was a culminating experience in the course. Preparing a persuasive speech tied in important skills such as critical thinking, writing, delivery, and presentation. Following the debate, the Governor shared some feedback on the students’ performance and spoke of his own experience in the debate forum while campaigning for office.

As part of the year long celebration of St. Michael’s 75th Anniversary, the school will be offering a lecture series to the community that reflects the excellence and values that a St. Michael’s education has delivered to children throughout its 75 year history. The series will address how to prepare children for success in the 21st century.

In the second installment of the four part  series,  Ken Read and Louis Mariorenzi will share their respective adventure stories and the dedication, challenges and sacrifices made to achieve their goals.

Ken Read is considered to be one of the world’s most accomplished sailors. He has twice helmed America’s Cup programs in 2000 and 2003 and was twice named “United States Rolex Yachtsman of the Year.” He has 46 World, North American, and National Championships to his credit. Most recently he skippered the PUMA Ocean racing team in the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012. Ken Read is from Newport, RI.

Louis Mariorenzi is an avid mountaineer who is on a mission to conquer the Seven Summits – the highest peaks in each of the 7 continents. He has summited the highest peaks in North and South America, Antartica, Africa, and in May of 2011, he summited Mt. Everest. Louis hails from Jamestown, RI and is an orthopedic surgeon.

img_4240Students in the Early Childhood program at St. Michael’s Country Day School will be using a new piece of technology in their classrooms this year. The SMART Table, created by SMART Technologies, is an interactive, touch screen, learning center that allows students to work simultaneously on one horizontal, 360-degree surface. The SMART Table is pre-loaded with a variety of age appropriate games and activities, and also has the capability for teachers to design their own interactive lessons. Use of the device will not only foster collaboration, but will also help to build cognitive, social, and fine motor skills.

Jessica Boyle, kindergarten teacher at St. Michael’s, said the SMART Table will provide her students with an introduction to technology, while supporting literacy and numeracy, the basic areas of curriculum in her classroom. She added, “It was clearly designed with young children in mind. They can reach the entire surface and use the touch screen effectively. Something they can’t do with a SMART Board.” The Early Childhood students have received a brief introduction to the table, and the response has been enthusiastic. Each student was able to quickly figure out how it worked, and what they were supposed to do. Throughout the school year they will be working in small groups, both independently and with a teacher, to complete lessons tailored specifically to meet their needs.

SMART Technologies also produces the popular SMART Board, which is currently used in each grade level at St. Michael’s.

y4c_flyer_8-8-1-1St. Michael’s Country Day School will be hosting a one-day workshop by Yoga 4 Classrooms on Wednesday, August 8th from 9am to 3pm. The six-hour interactive workshop will demonstrate simple yoga and mindfulness techniques that can be brought into the classroom to help create a peaceful and productive learning environment. Teachers, administrators, school counselors, special education teachers, health educators, speech and occupational therapists, aswell as others who work with children in a school setting are welcome and encouraged to attend. For more information and to register, please visit the Yoga 4 Classrooms website Instructor Jenny Williams can be reached at 401-359-2315 with any questions regarding the program.

From the Head of School Blog…This past week I asked some members of the administrative team to put down on paper their top ten favorite things about the school this year. Top ten lists abound at the turn of the calendar year as we ring in a new year: the top ten best movies, best books, most influential personality etc. While a familiar annual exercise, this was the first time we have undertaken this as a school.  The results, while not scientific, led me to some interesting thoughts. One list could not be contained to just ten items, rather the list topped twenty-five. Another list was entirely conceptual avoiding the classic events heavy list. Less tangible  items on this list were flexibility, encouragement, trust in individuals, and freedom to try new things. It also blends the perspective of participating in an event versus the emotions associated with an event. So this dichotomy led me to thinking about our school. Are we a school of exciting, praiseworthy events that are finite in time, or are we a school of thoughts and feelings that transcend time and space? The answer is the two are inexorably intertwined.

The recent fifth grade Fakes and Forgeries project is a good example of this chicken or the egg debate. The fifth grade spends time researching their artist and their choice of painting, and then executes their forgery. In the process they learn how to do research and figure out the scale and look of their copy. This event has become an annual favorite where students are recognized for their creativity. There is the obvious facility with cray-pas, and students are expected to speak publicly about their artist and the process they went through to replicate their painting. So on one level, this is a three day event that showcases our students creativity and comfort level speaking with adults, culminating in several students recognized for their forgery. But beneath this event are many more ephemeral yet vital aspects of education such as risk taking (being an artist when maybe you don’t believe in that talent); trial and error, dealing with failure and success; and maybe most importantly what we learn from the feelings and emotions rather than the event itself.

The answer to the question is this-what do we learn from best?  Do we remember the event? Yes I am sure SMS graduates remember lots of “events” and whether they were fun, boring, challenging. But the lasting imprint is the emotions we associate while engaging in a learning exercise. We may not remember the details of plot and character, but we do remember how a book moved us, made us angry, happy or sad. We may not remember the exact historical timeline of the Holocaust, but we do remember the deep emotions associated with human tragedy. We may not remember the final record of a lacrosse season, but we do remember the emotions associated with success and failure. So as the school year ends we know we have accomplished a lot, but real learning lies in the emotional realm.

At yesterday’s whole school assembly, the middle school students took part in the second annual Poetry Slam. The Poetry Slam is a poetry recitation contest in which students recite an original or a published work of poetry in front of peers and faculty. Students can perform solo or in pairs. The students are judged on their performance, which is based upon physical presence, voice, diction, and dramatic interpretation. Winners were chosen in four categories. Congratulations to all of our performers on a job well done!

Best recitation of a published poem solo: Hannah B.

Best recitation of a published poem pair: Tatiana S. and Paris E.

Best recitation of an original poem solo: (TIED) Eliza S. and Arthur M.

Best recitation of an original poem pair: Jake G. and Ted A.

28_views_of_hope_-_art_installAn art installation focusing on the Rhode Island state motto of Hope and the state symbol of an anchor, by the seventh grade at St. Michael’s Country Day School, will soon be on display in our nation’s capital. Aware of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s long-standing commitment to the promotion of Rhode Island artists and their works in his offices, Leslie Grosvenor, Director of Institutional Advancement at St. Michael’s, reached out to Vivian Spencer, the Senator’s Special Projects Coordinator.


smcds_7th_grade_art_installThis led to a collaboration by St. Michael’s art teacher, Leslie Fisk and middle school English teacher, Tami Holden on a multi-disciplinary project with the seventh grade, incorporating their studies in English and art. After exploring various Rhode Island themes, including landmarks, bridges, Mr. Potato Head, and the Rhode Island Red, they settled on the state motto of Hope. Inspired by poet Wallace Steven’s “Thirteen Ways to Look at a Blackbird”, Holden had the students write one or two line  stanzas of what hope meant to them in a project called “Twenty-Eight Views of Hope”. These stanzas were then transferred in Fisk’s studio classroom onto square 10”x10” canvases done in acrylic paint with the anchor symbol as the centerpiece. The installation was picked up earlier this week and is currently en route to Washington, D.C. As one student stated on their artwork, “Hope is the wheel that lets you steer, not the anchor that holds you in place.”