School News

Ken Ayars, Chief of the Division of Agriculture in the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, will join a long list of distinguished alumni to deliver the Commencement Address on June 6, 2012 at St. Michael’s Country Day School. A member of the St. Michael’s class of 1974, Ayars graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 1983 with majors in agriculture and resource technology, and zoology. He holds a Master’s degree in plant science, as well. As Chief of the Division of Agriculture, he oversees the programs responsible for a broad range of agriculture-related functions, with the common mission of sustaining and promoting state agricultural industry.

Ayars visited St. Michael’s in November to award a student a $1000 scholarship for winning a statewide cabbage growing competition. He also spoke to the student body about Rhode Island’s rich agricultural history as well as of the importance of local farms.

gatesgalvin_visit4As part of “March Into Reading”, a celebration of children’s books presented by the Aquidneck Collaborative for Education and Salve Regina University, writer Laura Gates Galvin visited St. Michael’s  third through sixth graders. An award-winning author of over one hundred children’s books, Ms. Gates Galvin shared “Art A to Z”, which she wrote for the Smithsonian Institution.

She described the research process that went into the creation of the book. The students were surprised to learn that it took two years to bring it from an idea to a physical book on a shelf in a store or library. Ms. Gates Galvin also shared some tips that the students could use when editing their writing for school. She recommended writing and re-writing a draft more than once and then reading the work out loud. She also said that students should give themselves an extra day to review their writing before handing in an assignment.

The St. Michael’s Country Day School class of 2012 was honored this morning at the school’s seventy-fourth commencement ceremony. Head of School, Whitney Slade welcomed the graduates and special guests in attendance. Roselyn Morris, who will be retiring after teaching for seventeen years at St. Michael’s, delivered the invocation.

Ken Ayars, Chief of the Division of Agriculture in the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, was the commencement speaker. A member of the St. Michael’s class of 1974, Ayars oversees the programs responsible for a broad range of agriculture-related functions, with the common mission of sustaining and promoting state agricultural industry. His advice to the graduating class was to stay true to themselves, and to always remember the values St. Michael’s instilled in them. Ayars was presented with the Distinguished Alumni Award.

classof2012Following a brief personal tribute to each graduate by Mr. Slade, he and Board President Bethany Di Napoli of  Newport handed out the diplomas. The graduates, along with the schools they will be attending next year, are: John Scott Andrade (St. George’s) and Amanda Catherine Barker (Wheeler) of Newport, Allie Christina Bradshaw (Prout) of West Kingston, Isabella Courtland Casey (Tatnall School) of Newport, Andrew Vincent Crocker (Prout) of Saunderstown, Luca Alexander Di Napoli (Moses Brown) of Newport, Jack Dill Finn (St. George’s) and Anne Frances Glassie (Miss Porter’s) of Middletown, Benjamin Ellis Hodosh (Rocky Hill) of Jamestown, Laura Elizabeth Husak (Prout) of Saunderstown, Jasmine Lan Jacklin (Rocky Hill), Oliver Flynn Jantz (Portsmouth Abbey), Mary Secret Jenkins (Miss Porter’s), Benjamin F. Lanowy (Rocky Hill), Morgan Yost Little (St. Paul’s), Sierra Elizabeth Love (Rogers High School), and Michael Frederick Ludwig (Portsmouth Abbey) of Newport, Arthur Kent MacKeith (Moses Brown) of Bristol, Corran Thomas Moore (Avon Old Farms) and Madeleine Ward O’Shea (Portsmouth Abbey) of Newport, Anastasia H. Paterson (Moses Brown) of Tiverton, John Michael Pelosi (Bishop Hendricken) of Saunderstown, Morgan Amelia Rice (Middletown High School) of Middletown, Nathaniel C L Rollo (Providence Country Day) of Portsmouth, Peter James Staples (Moses Brown) and Piers Sebastian Sullivan (Prout) of Newport, and Stephen Witt Tarantino (Rocky Hill) of Jamestown.

Four of the graduates were honored for their contributions to the school. The William F. Whitehouse Cup, awarded annually to the student who has maintained the highest academic scholarship for the year, went to Anastasia Paterson. The James Green Memorial Cup, for the Middle School boy who best exemplifies the spirit and ideals of the school, went to Michael Ludwig. Madeleine O’Shea was the recipient of the Stanley C. Hughes Memorial Medal, awarded to the Middle School girl who best exemplifies the spirit and ideals of the school. The Alan F. Flynn, Jr. Flag, which is awarded to the student who, in the opinion of the Head of School, has assumed a position of responsibility and trust within the school and carried out those responsibilities while maintaining a commitment to academic achievement, was presented to Isabella Casey.

Three individuals were also recognized for their efforts made on behalf of St. Michael’s. Tamara Farrick and Roselle McConnell, both of Newport, received the Clarissa Palmer Volunteer Service Award, which recognizes those who give selflessly of time and talent to St. Michael’s, moving the school in a positive direction. Rachel McCall of Middletown was presented the Andrew Christensen Award, which is given to the individual who has given to the school selflessly and wholeheartedly. McCall served as president of the Parent Association for two years.

The closing remarks and benediction were delivered by Shawen Williams and Andrew MacKeith of Bristol, parents of Hope (’10) and Arthur, one of this morning’s graduates.

dsc01213Fifth grader Eliza Staples was recently named champion of the school’s 2012 Spelling Bee. Eliza out spelled 40 other students before besting her brother in the 13th and final round by correctly spelling the word “adobe”.  Next up will be the state finals, where she will compete against winners from other schools to determine who will represent Rhode Island in the National Spelling Bee.

dsc00947The third grade has been busy learning the importance of the role of bees in our environment. A local  beekeeper and accredited organic land care specialist, Sanne Kure-Jensen, recently visited Lisa Pritchard’s science class.

In class the students grew “Wisconsin Fast Plants” and are learning why flowering plants need to be pollinated to complete the full life cycle. Using “bee sticks”, the students simulated natural pollination that would occur with living bees. Ms. Kure-Jensen’s presentation demonstrated why honeybees are vital to the environment and the food supply. Among the topics covered were how to maintain a bee yard, what plants bees like best, and why organic farming is important to sustaining the bee population. The students also had the opportunity to don a beekeeper uniform, handle parts of a hive, and sample honey.

dsc00826The Student Leadership Board at St. Michael’s Country Day School recently organized a food drive to collect items for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center’s Thanksgiving baskets.  These baskets are distributed to local families in need and contain the food items necessary to create the traditional holiday meal, plus enough food to feed the family during the holiday break.

dsc00267This month St. Michael’s Country Day School sixth graders received iPads as part of the school’s overall plan to integrate technology into the curriculum.  Mobile devices, such as iPads, are increasingly viable as learning tools. iPads provide access to online resources that support and augment student-centered learning, critical thinking skills, and alternative forms of assessment such as digital portfolios. Teachers were given iPads over the summer and received training and support on how best to implement lessons in all areas of the curriculum. The school will assess the efficacy of this pilot program with the goal of expanding implementation for the upcoming school year.

trinityandcabbageSt. Michael’s Country Day School fourth grader Trinity DiNunzio was recently named the Rhode Island state winner of the Bonnie Plants Cabbage Growing Contest. Trinity participated in the contest during Lisa  Pritchard’s third grade science class at St. Michael’s. Since 2002 Bonnie Plants, a supplier of vegetables, herbs, and flowers, has distributed over 11 million free cabbage plants to third grade classrooms nationwide with the objective of teaching young students the value of growing food. Teachers submit a class winner and one student is chosen by each state’s Director of Agriculture.  Bonnie Plants awards the winner with a $1,000 scholarship. Trinity’s prize-winning cabbage weighed in at an impressive 19 pounds and was grown in her family’s garden this summer. She attributes her success to the research she did on cabbage farming methods. Trinity will be presented with a $1000 scholarship by RI Director of Agriculture Ken Ayers at a school assembly on November 17th.

In culmination of their study of the famous inventor Benjamin Franklin, the third grade at St. Michael’s Country Day School recently hosted an Invention Convention. Parents, faculty, and students stopped by to see the unique creations on display.

Michele Evans, a third grade teacher at St. Michael’s, said her students learned a great deal from the creation of their invention. “They learned that not every idea makes a great invention. They also learned that many steps are involved in designing and building a unique invention.” Evans, along with fellow teacher Lori Loughborough, asked their students to think of problems around their house that might be solved by creating an invention. Brainstorming led to discussions where ideas were tossed around. The design and construction of a prototype, was conducted at home using as many recycled materials as possible. “The Invention Convention showcases their talents as thinkers and creators,” Mrs. Evans added, “I am always amazed at how many different inventions we have each year.”

dsc00228The Studio Art class at St. Michael’s Country Day School brought their creative efforts to Easton’s Beach this week. The students were tasked with creating a large-scale group piece, using the sand as their canvas. The artists relied on gathered materials at hand; such as shells, rocks, seaweed and grass. Using simple gardening tools their creations came to life. Inspired by Andrew Goldsworthy in a tradition of site-specific outdoor artwork, fifty students in grades 5 through 8, along with their teachers Leslie Fisk and Robert Kalaidjian, worked on this project.