School News

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Day 1

The ride up was quiet and uneventful, with an easy passage across the border. We dropped our suitcases at the hotel and headed to our first activity, riding toboggans   down a fabulous run at the foot of the Hotel Frontenac. We then took a walk through the beautifully lit streets of Quebec City to a wonderful three course meal of French cuisine. Dinner was followed by a ride down the Funiclaire to the St. Lawrence where we made an icy river crossing in a large ferry.

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Day 2

Another fabulous day in Quebec! A continuous light snow filled the air. It was almost magical. After a breakfast of chocolat chaud and croissants, we spent the morning on a walking tour of Quebec. Our guide kept us moving as he shared stories about the city’s history and architecture. We then headed to Carnival where we took in some fun winter rides and games, including a wild contest of human foosball, and had our lunch. Finally, we headed out to the country to visit a sugar shack where we learned how to make maple syrup, had an authentic Quebecoise meal, and enjoyed some local music and dance. Everyone is now settling down for a good night’s rest.

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Day 3

We had an action packed day for our last full day in Quebec. We started with crépes for breakfast, and then moved on to some authentic dog sledding. From there we headed into the walled city of Quebec to see the Ursuline Chapel, a 17th century chapel founded by a missionary group of nuns, and the oldest school for girls in North America, as well as for gift shopping and lunch. From there we headed back out to an afternoon of skating, snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Then a short stop at Montmorency Falls, taller than Niagra Falls even full of winter’s ice, they were still a sight to see. Finally, in case that wasn’t enough activity, we headed for the Village Valcartier Resort for dinner and an evening of snow tubing. The snow tubing was an especially big hit and I trust you’ll hear more about it tomorrow.
As you know, our scheduled arrival time is 9:00 PM. Please keep an eye on your email as we’ll alert you of any significant change to that time.

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In this week’s Innovation Hour, the kindergarten students used pipe cleaners and beads to make sculptures. Before starting we talked about “over, under, and through” and how the materials could be used for those positions. All the children became engrossed in their designs. They had a lot of interesting discussions about the different shapes they were making and how they fit together.

It was fun to see the many different approaches the children took to this activity. Some had a picture in their mind they tried to follow, others went entirely free form. Some built with as many materials as they could get their hands on as quickly as they could, others worked slowly and methodically. Some named their structures- “starship destroyer”, “lala loopsy land”, “the enchanted garden”, “the giant pirate ship”.  It was a fun session to see the children’s creativity and

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Mary Ashby’s 8th grade Spanish class came to teach the first graders how to count in Spanish and recognize numbers by playing a bingo game. The older students enjoyed sharing their knowledge and were very excited to exclaim “Ole” when a bingo occurred. The first graders can’t wait to play color bingo in the near future.

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Native American Tribes Research Project

The second grade had an opportunity to ‘teach’ their parents all about Native Americans during a recent C.A.T. – Children are Teachers. The students began this in depth study with the Wampanoag people of the Eastern Woodland Region. Then, the children selected another North American tribe for their independent research project. They presented their facts in a ‘paper bag book’ and created 3-D models of their tribes’ shelter.

Putting their design thinking skills to work, the students did a preliminary sketch of their dwelling and decided which materials would work best. We had a wetu, a wickiup, a chickee, an adobe pueblo, a barkhouse, and several tepees, just to name a few! Our students should be commended for their depth of knowledge on the topic and the persistence and motivation shown throughout this unit. Job well done!

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January is Persistence Month at St. Michael’s

I have no doubt that persistence has been a core concept of education and learning since the beginning of time. Many, many, many years ago, my own third grade teacher, Mrs. Clark, was a champion of persistence.   I remember her rather stern admonitions about “Idle hands….” very clearly.

Malcolm Gladwell in his book, The Outliers, makes the simple, but very compelling case for persistence that anyone can achieve success at anything as long as he or she is willing to spend 10,00 hours perfecting the craft- he notes that the Beatles performed every night for 18 months (10,000 hours!) in Germany just prior to their American breakthrough; and at age 15, Bill Gates gained late night access to one of the country’s premier early computer systems and spent his 10,000 hours programming long before using his skills to develop Microsoft. Over time, I think we all share with our children, our personal vignettes about famous people, colleagues, and friends who have worked hard to achieve success.

But persistence for the sake of persistence is a deceptive aspiration. Devoid of interest, passion, or inspiration, a focus on persistence alone can lead children to lose interest quickly. And in our attempt to love and nurture our children, we can often find ourselves rewarding them when they lack persistence because we feel in our hearts that children by their nature are not mature enough to really work hard.

But how many hour does your child spend on Legos or Minecraft, on basketball or ballet, on household art projects or computer design programs …….and what does this suggest to us about persistence? My sense is that our children are more capable of persisting than we often give them credit for.   Our challenge as parents is to help them build the muscle of persistence through to their adulthood.

As with most other parenting issues, teaching children persistence comes in small steps. It is finding opportunities in which your child shows a sustained interest and then labeling that interest as persistence. Children need to recognize that the book they loved reading, the computer simulation they couldn’t put down, the time they put into making the lemonade stand, the weekly sports team practice they attend- these are all examples of persistence. Persistence helps to build interests. Interests lead to inspiration. Inspiration leads to passion. Passion leads back to persistence.

So start with the simple things that interest your child. Look for opportunities to expand those interests as a way to flex the muscle of persistence. If you say it, if we say it, if we all say it…..our children will believe that persistence does indeed yield success.

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PreSchool Health Lesson

Nurse Buchanan visited the preschool today to introduce the children to a new unit of study on healthy eating and the body. Today the focus was on the the organs in their body and what they are used for. She even had a 3-d model that the children were excited to examine. Additional lessons will focus on how health eating, exercise, and sleeping habits effect our bodies.

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Kindergarten Journals

This week the kindergarteners received their first story journals! It was a big milestone for the class.  Throughout the fall the children had been learning about letter formation, segmenting sound in a word, and dictating sentences to teachers. With this new activity, the children are bringing those pieces together to do their own writing. It is an exciting new accomplishment, but also a big challenge.

The children have to think of sentences, remember the words, sound them out, remember how to form each letter, and then work on learning the conventions of spacing, capitalization, and punctuation. They are certainly demonstrating persistence during this work time!

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Insects in Grade 1

As the students continue to learn more about the amazing Monarch migration to Mexico, they enjoyed an informative slideshow about insects, their life cycles, including butterflies from a special visitor Pam Gilpin, a gardener and an insect aficionado. The children learned about the importance of letting nature take its course and to let the cycle of life continue with each species. They also learned how important it is “not to spray poison on them, be curious about nature, try to identify what you find and most importantly, enjoy these unique creatures.”

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Exemplifying the Traits for Success

Fourth graders Ava and Caroline have collaborated in creating a fundraising effort for Amenity Aid, a RI charity that provides essential hygiene products to organizations that assist homeless, at-risk, low-income and victims of violence.

Amenity Aid’s efforts to collect and distribute personal care products such as soap, shampoo and toothbrushes strive to meet basic human needs that are under met in our community.

Ava started helping Amenity Aid’s founder, Liz Duggan, with the project when Liz would nanny for Ava.  Liz founded Amenity Aid in 2013 after seeing firsthand the immense need for toiletries in shelters.  As a frequent business traveler, Liz would donate hotel amenities to homeless shelters. She was always met with overwhelming gratitude for her donations and learned most shelters never have enough hygiene products to serve their clients.

Overwhelmed by the notion that others are without basic products like soap and feminine care, items that many of us take for granted, Liz became motivated to find a solution. Today Amenity Aid is the only nonprofit in Rhode Island (and one of only a few nation-wide) solely focused on ensuring our most vulnerable populations have access to toiletries that are crucial to health and wellness.

Ava and Caroline have displayed the Traits of Success through the organization of the fundraiser, generosity of their time, and courage to present to the lower school; all of which will contribute to the success of this project.

But we need our students to help Ava and Caroline reach their goal of 100 items to donate!  If each child brings in two hygiene items (can be travel size!) from January 6-13, they will be able to reach their donation goal.

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Join Us!

St. Michael’s is proud to support A Wish Come True at Newport’s Annual Polar Bear Plunge on January 1st at Easton’s Beach. We have created a team to support our community and raise funds for this important cause.

Founded in 1982, A Wish Come True is the oldest wish granting organization in RI. They have been serving sick children and their families in our community for over 34 years.

They grant the wishes of medically qualified children ages 3 through 18 who have a life-threatening illness and live in Rhode Island and areas of southeastern Massachusetts.

Learn More about A Wish Comes True.

After the Plunge

Join us in the Mason House for hot cocoa and coffee, where you can warm up, dry off, and change.  This is open to anyone and everyone!  Bring your family and friends for this fun community event. For questions, please contact Mollie Williams at mwilliams@smcds.org.

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The Plan

11:20 am   Meet at St. Michael’s
11:35 am   Bus Trip 1 to the Beach (2nd lot)
11:45 am   Bus Trip 2 to the Beach
11:55 am   Gather in front of the Snack Bar at Easton’s Beach for a Team Photo
If you’re not coming to St. Michael’s beforehand, still meet up for the photo and plunge!
12:00 pm  PLUNGE!
12:20 pm  Bus Trip 1 back to St. Michael’s
12:30 pm  Bus Trip 2 back to St. Michael’s
12:30 pm  Hot Cocoa and Coffee at St. Michael’s

What to Wear

Plungers should wear their bathing suit or athletic gear under other layers. Flip flops or water shoes are easiest to take on and off. (Note: There is no place to change at the beach.)

What to Bring

A towel and change of clothes. Plungers can change at St. Michael’s afterwards.

All are welcome! Even if you’re not coming to St. Michael’s beforehand, meet us at the Snack Bar for a picture! Sign ups are encouraged but not required. Bring your family and friends for this fun event! Don’t want to Plunge or can’t donate, but want to take part?  That’s OK!  We need volunteers to help with clothes, coats and towels while the group braves the Atlantic.

Fundraising: How it works

  1. Click HERE to access the St. Michael’s fundraising page.
  2. Click the “Fundraise” button under Join This Team, on the right.
  3. Create a Fundraiser Name (this will be your team name)
  4. Click “Start Fundraising”
  5. Create a profile, with information about you and why you’re taking part.  Set your goal, post a picture and tell our community what inspires you!
  6. Publish and Share with family and friends!

All the money that is raised will go to support A Wish Comes True’s initiatives and programming.  With December’s trait of success being Generosity, what better way to show our support of others.

Email Mollie Williams, mwilliams@smcds.org, with questions or to Sign Up!

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Sharing Holiday Traditions

This December we learned about different holidays and traditions!

In the preschool, Robert’s mom Whitney visited the classroom to teach the children about the different winter holidays her family celebrated growing up, including Hanukah, Christmas, and Ramadan.

She told us about the Dreidel game and gave the preschoolers golden coins to take home. They even got to try some homemade latkes. Yum!

The Kindergarten learned a lot about different celebrations around the world including St. Nicholas Day in The Netherlands, St. Lucia in Norway, Las Posadas in Mexico, and Hanukkah in the US and Israel.
Elanora’s Dad Hayden came in to share ways that celebrating Christmas in Australia are different than in the US. He shared a fun Australian version of The 12 Days of Christmas and brought Christmas Crackers.  They also decorated Gingerbread Houses and baked cookies with Ms. Boyle’s mom!

In the first grade, Geffen’s mom Netali, dad and grandparents (who flew in from Israel), came to the first grade and shared the story of Hanukkah.

The students learned about the menorah, played the dreidel game and ate traditional pastries! Geffen demonstrated the Success Trait of “generosity” by giving each of her classmates a dreidel and chocolate Hanukkah gelt to take home.
The second grade had a visit from a very special Elf who taught the children how to make an adorable snowman ornament!

In second grade, Lucy’s mom Emma showed the children how to thread the needle and use simple stitching techniques. It was a wonderful example of collaboration between the novice and more experienced sewers. Everyone ended the session with a keepsake 2016 snowman ornament to adorn their tree! Special thanks to our sewing Elf!

The PreKindergarten and 4th Grade Buddies showed generosity and holiday spirit when exchanged holiday gifts with each other.  The 8th graders shared what they had learned about Las Posadas in Mexico with their kindergarten buddies.

Click through the galleries!

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Visiting the Breakers Mansion

The glitter of gold and the sparkle of silver dazzled the Kindergartners and Grade 5 as they visited the Breakers, which is decked out in Yuletide finery.  The Breakers Great Hall features the iconic 15 foot tall poinsettia tree.  Model trains, recalling the Vanderbilt family’s New York Central Railroad, will be on display in the second floor loggia around three decorated trees.

The Breakers, Marble Hours and the Elms will be decorated for the holidays until January 2 if your family wants to experience the houses during the holidays!

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Decorating a Holiday Tree for the Newport Mansions

In Art Class, Grade 4 designed and created ornaments for a special holiday tree, currently on display at the Breakers Mansion.  They chose the theme of plankton, to coincide with a science lesson. By using CD’s and paint there personalized ornaments really made quite a unique tree!  Take a read of the plankton poem by Ava for a little insight into the theme selection.  Special thanks to our friends at The Newport Mansions for displaying our creativity!

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Middle School Holiday Spirit!

The Middle School Student Council took action this season and presented an idea to the faculty for some holiday fun. Grades 5- 8 worked together to in a competition to decorate their homeroom door and the results are in!

Great effort by all of the students and teachers who helped! Proud of the Student Council for taking the initiative to put this proposal and plan into place.

Most Creative: 8H

Most Festive: 7A

Best Team Effort: 5H

 

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Chorus performs at Blenheim-Newport

Residents of Blenheim-Newport were treated to a performance by the Middle School Chorus who sang holiday songs and Christmas carols.  In the spirit of the holiday and our trait of the month “Generosity”, they shared their gift and love of singing with this special community.

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Chorus at Blenheim-Newport from SMCDS on Vimeo.

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The Night Before Christmas

Eighth graders presented French and Spanish versions of  The Night Before Christmas at this week’s Middle School Assembly.

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Sunday, January 1, 2017
11:40 am meet at St. Michael’s
12:00 pm Plunge at Easton’s Beach

All are welcome to join our team for the Plunge.  Afterwards join us at St. Michael’s for hot cocoa and coffee. Bring your family and friends for this fun community event!

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Questions? Email Mollie Williams, Head of Middle School.

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Design Thinking Project

Design Thinking challenges students to problem solve through critical thinking, collaboration, and communication.

Mrs. Anquilla and Mrs. Huth led Middle Schoolers through a design thinking project in which they created toys they thought would be “hot” this holiday season. Once completed, the students pitched their product to a panel of judges.

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Bravo! Bravo!

Standing ovation for the St. Michael’s Acting Workshop students for their performance of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”  Congratulations to the Stage Craft students, whose vision came to life with the set design, lighting and sound of the show. All of our Middle Schoolers did a fantastic job at both the Friday night and Saturday afternoon shows.  The crowd delighted in the songs, acting and set design, all done by The Acting Workshop and Stagecraft students.  Congratulations to all of the students and the supporting staff on a wonderful community event!
Take a look through some of the photos from the show!

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This annual competition is organized by the National Geographic Society, designed to inspire and reward students’ curiosity about the world. Each year, thousands of schools across the United States participate in the National Geographic Bee, competing for college scholarships and the glory of being the National Geographic Bee Champion.
Preliminary classroom GeoBees were held this week at St. Michael’s.
Congratulations to the following Middle School students who will be competing in the school-wide Geo Bee in January!

Grade 4: 

Tanner M.
Rowan D.
Campbell C. (Alternate)

Grade 5:

Ally A.
Anderson S.

Grade 6:

Christian A.
Charlie de R.
Ben R. (Alternate)

Grade 7: 

Nastia G.
Jordan W.
Avery A.  or Jacob M. (Alternates)

Grade 8:

Adam B.
Christopher L.
Jack M. (Alternate)

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