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Ross School March 19, 2009

Posted on 20 March 2009

Ross Upper School

The seventh grade class performed three separate productions of an abridged version of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” in the Senior Lecture Hall on March 9. The performance was a culmination of their Rome Unit, integrating English, Cultural History and Performing Arts. Even the Café prepared a menu of Ancient Rome, complete with lentil soup, pickled beets, pea salad with cider vinaigrette, roasted chicken with fig and onion sauce, and potato gnocchi with nut free pesto.

The project was seven weeks in the making and was a team effort, epitomizing the Ross ethos of integration. The students worked hard in Carol Crane’s English class and George Schelz’s Cultural History class, and Performing Arts teacher Gerard Doyle said overall they rose to the challenge.

“Reflecting back, I think they find that they’ve grown in terms of their ability to commit long term to a project,” he said. “They have the ability to choose to take on the responsibility for themselves, to literally translate the verse in modern context and I think that becomes absorbed within them. The door opened for many of them for heightened language, demystifying the convolution of Shakespeare’s text.”

The eighth grade worked on their Guild Projects on March 9 and 10, as part of their studies on Medieval Europe. For two full days, the students worked with “masters,” professional, local artisans who were brought in to train the young “apprentices.” The students chose a focus for their studies in tapestry weaving, mosaics, stained glass, gilding or ceramics.

It is amazing what they can do in two days. You can see how they start to get it and figure it out,” said Cultural History teacher Mark Tompkins.

A particularly important aspect of the Guild Project is that it allowed students to relax and focus on one skill for two full school days. The impact on the students was profound.

In her assessment of the project, student Grace Gill, who worked on gilding, wrote, “I appreciated that we were able to work on art for two days straight compared to an hour and a half a week. It was nice to connect with our pieces.”

On March 11, the students visited St. John the Divine Cathedral in New York City, winding down the Medieval Unit. The unit will conclude on March 25 with a “Medieval Exposition,” where the students’ Guild projects will be displayed outside the Café and in the Conference Room from 4 to 6 p.m.

Ross Lower School

Ross Nursery students, along with their third grade buddies, presented a check for $766 to the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons on March 11. The students visited the facility to hand deliver the check and take a tour.

Their contribution was the result of a collaborative effort between both grades that started a few weeks earlier. Teachers Alison Aldredge and Shannon Timoney had their Nursery students working with clay to develop fine motor skills. “We always start with materials that make developmental sense for the students,” Alison explained. “It strengthens the small muscles in their hands.”

The students began turning out these pretty little clay balls and eventually one of them suggested making these into necklaces. After a while, they turned out so many they decided to sell them and raise money for ARF. “We invited our buddies to help make more jewelry and refine it.” The students made around 250 pieces of painted necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

The project took about six weeks from start to finish. There was even math integration when Megan Sherwood’s third graders were given the job of figuring out how much each piece should cost. During a recent Lower School assembly, both grades held a PowerPoint presentation explaining their project to fellow students, teachers and parents. Carey Reinhardt, Director of Adoptions and Community Outreach at ARF, was also there to explain how the donated money would be used.

“When we get animals in here from other sources, we find we have to designate money to different surgeries that they need,” Carey explained during a recent interview. “It just so happened that we had two dogs that needed the same surgery, so we put the money to what we spent on those surgeries.” Both animals were born with a birth defect where their eyelashes had grown inward. It can be very painful and cause vision problems or even blindness. But the surgeries were a success. The first patient was a Newfoundland mix puppy named Tara, who was adopted last week. The second was a three-year-old Rottweiler, Burmese Mountain dog mix named Josephine. “She turned out to be a super friendly dog,” said Carey, but she is still awaiting adoption.

“The Ross School is certainly very good to ARF and we get children here from the Ross School all the time with their parents,” said Carey. “We love having the kids here.”

Following the school-wide presentation, the jewelry was put on display and the Nursery students manned the table for two days. Only a handful of pieces remain. The project was an opportunity to seamlessly integrate motor skills, creativity and community awareness. “It was really watching the students, seeing what their interests were and taking our cues from them,” said Alison. “It was a very organic process . . . it all just fell into place.”

For the second time, students at the Ross School in Bridgehampton and at the Ross Global Academy in New York City met each other and made connections . . . over the Internet. Through live streaming video, second grade students from both schools shared poetry and songs on March 6.

“We always wanted to communicate with them via video conference because it’s really easy,” said Ross technology teacher Suzanne Bond. Ross teachers Nancy Baxter, Diane Biondo and Kristen Eberstadt coordinated efforts with RGA music teacher Henry Chapin to make the connection. With the help of RGA tech experts Dr. Terrell Neuage and Laffina Ouattara, the social experiment was a success.

“Their kids looked at us and saw us on the video on Crazy Hair/Hat day and thought it was hysterical,” said Suzanne, referring to the last day of Spirit Week at Ross Lower School.

RGA students sang “Follow the Drinking Gourd” in honor of Black History Month and read poetry they wrote about what they see outside their window. Ross second graders sang a Spirit Week song. “They loved the experience,” said Henry.

In a few weeks, the students will reconnect over iChat to sing songs comparing country life to city life.

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