Vital Words – September 15th, 2015

Dear Friends,

Some of you may have not visited our Lincoln Place campus where our Middle and Upper Schools live. Many of the hallways are lined with student lockers and it has long been a matter of interest to me that we have locks on the lockers at Lincoln Place. I know the easy explanation is that students may keep something of value in the lockers and therefore the lockers need to be secure. This is more than a little ironic because over the years the biggest concern we have had with students and their belongings is it seems that most carry every last item around with them in their backpacks.

Our endeavors at school are built on trust and I think our students do a very good job of living up to our expectations. Our students are tolerant, honest, and up for taking risks.

At the opening meetings for Middle and Upper School students I invited all of our students to go without putting a lock on their locker. Why?  I hope that as a community we can strengthen our ability to look after one another.  This symbolic gesture would send the message that we are committed to having a safe community.
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Welcome Back Message From US Director Jane Moore

By: Jane Moore
Upper School Director

 Upper School Director Jane Moore welcomed Upper School students back on the first day of school with these remarks. 

Good morning, it is so good to be here on the first morning of the first day of school.  For me, and for all of the faculty, it is wonderful to be done with our week of meetings and finally to be here with YOU. For me, it is especially terrific to be in Year 2 rather than Year 1, and to be looking out at this sea of familiar faces. Let’s give a very special welcome to our seniors, the wonderful Class of 2016, to our 9th graders, who join us this year, and also to our newest faculty members.

As I am sure most of you are aware, it has been a summer of consistent and sometimes disturbing, sometimes disorienting news. There was the heartbreaking mass shooting in Charleston on June 17th. Most recently, we see and hear about the distressing and hard-to-resolve refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East.  In between, I’m sure many of you read or heard about the protests — and response — in Ferguson, Missouri on the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death. I bet that almost all of you are somewhat aware that our two main political parties are in the process of choosing who will run against each other for President next year, and along with it, you know something of the rise of Donald Trump as the potential Republican candidate.

In perhaps less nationally or globally important news, I wonder how many of you are aware that someone named Oliver Sacks died on August 30th. His death was actually front-page news, but if you didn’t know who he was, then perhaps it didn’t register. ​I first became acquainted with the writing of Oliver Sacks when a friend gave me the book with the improbable title of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.

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Vital Words – June 12th, 2015

Dear Friends,
New York City is chock full of glorious sights and the challenge is to find the time to make the most of what is available. Last month the Whitney Museum opened its new building in the far West Village in Manhattan. My wife pushed us to visit but I was reluctant to agree, dreading the crowds and feeling rushed at the close of the school year, but in the end I was glad she persevered.

The new building, designed by the internationally renowned architect Renzo Piano, is an incredible achievement, a collection of wide, long, open galleries, with a jumble of exterior terraces and staircases, made from concrete, steel, and reclaimed wood. Having done several building projects at Berkeley Carroll, in the challenging (read that as maddening) construction environment of New York City, I am astounded by the complexity and size of this building.

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Seniors “Document The World”

By: Ernestine Heldring
Upper School English Teacher

The culminating project of the senior English class, “Documenting the World,” was to create short documentaries. This is the first year students have made documentaries rather than write final papers. Our students worked in groups of six for several months on these projects: figuring out what essential questions they wanted to ask, shooting interviews, finding and recording B-roll and then weeks of post-production and editing. We’re really happy to have partnered with the wonderful non-profit, Reel Works, on this project – they taught us so much about filmmaking!
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Sails and Street Names Come Together in a 4th Grade Field Trip

By: Becky Blumenthal
Lower School Science Teacher

While students in other schools are often presented with classes that divide the world into distinct disciplines such “science,” “social studies,” and “math,” the Lower School, like all of Berkeley Carroll, unites these disciplines to reflect the interwoven nature of our world. Sometimes we plan tirelessly to make this happen, and sometimes a day in the field reveals this naturally.

Throughout fourth grade, science and social studies cross paths. In the fall, students learn in social studies about the native people who lived in this area before European contact, focusing on how their environment influenced their lifestyle. Simultaneously in science, we study the Hudson River watershed, examining at the geology and ecology that shaped the lives of the same groups of people.

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The Value of Hard Work: Girls Varsity Softball Closes Season On A Roll

By: Dick McGrath
Athletic Director 

A very young, but determined, Girls Varsity Softball team embodied the value of hard work during this year’s spring season.

After several key players graduated last May, the team entered the season without no seniors on the roster. Most of the players were sophomores and freshmen, still learning to play softball at the high school level. This inexperience showed at the start of the season, with the team dropping four of its first five games. But despite the early setbacks, the team never let up. Instead, led by Dani C. ’16 and Lily M. ’16, the team redoubled its efforts, practicing through the cold and strengthening its hitting and fielding. The hard work paid off, as the girls won their final four games to post a winning record of 6-5 on the season.
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6th Grade Humanities Talks Dignity, Local Community & Current Events

By: Megan Saxelby
Middle School Humanities Teacher

Sometimes when you teach, there are moments where it feels like the whole world is trying to get involved in your curriculum. Every day there is a headline that connects to your studies, and kids who come in eager to discuss something they heard about or read, particularly when the central theme for our Humanities class this year is the idea of dignity, defined as the fundamental value of every individual, and the theme guiding this current unit is tolerance.

We’ve been analyzing how/why people violate dignity through the study of history and literature, and how these conflicts might be avoided by spreading open-mindedness and empathy. Continue reading…

Start a Conversation: Nepal

By Ana K.
Upper School Student

I made this short film to start a conversation about what is happening in Nepal. Its purpose is to promote thinking about how we can help people when we live far away. I hope that by watching this short video, you feel inspired to donate. If you’d like to donate money through the Berkeley Carroll community please contact Ms. Heldring and Ms. Matthews in the Upper School. If you are unable to donate, having discussions among your co-workers and peers is just as valuable.

And here are some ways we can help:

– Buy “Nibbles for Nepal!” (Bake sales will happen almost daily until we reach our goal of $3,000.)
– Donate to our “Bucks for Nepal” bucket! (located at the front desk)
– Think of a teacher challenge! (What would you pay to see your teacher do —  for example, cartwheel down the hall!)

First Graders Discover: My Matisse

By: Phaedra Mastrocola
Lower School Visual Arts

This year, first graders had the wonderful opportunity to visit Matisse: The Cut-Outs—the largest and most extensive presentation of the cut-outs ever mounted—at the Museum of Modern Art. The trip provided the impetus for an extended unit of study that encompassed the entire first grade art curriculum.

Students improved their cutting skills as they discovered the differences between organic and geometric shapes and positive and negative space. They learned to work both collaboratively and individually as they learned about composition, large and small, with a focus on size, placement, overlapping, and color. And they made color choices based on temperature and visual impact. Finally, they used their fine motor skills to strategically thumb tack their collages together, much like Matisse, adding an element of dimensionality to their final pieces.

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Upper School Debuts BC Talks

The Upper School took part in the first BC Talks (formerly known as “Diversity Day”) this week. To prepare, students, faculty and staff participated in an all-school write-in, responding to what the hashtags #blacklivesmatter and #icantbreathe mean to them. Anonymous excerpts from those responses are currently posted around the school.

The day’s highlights included presentations & group discussions about these themes, and concluded with an activity in the gym where every student and faculty member was given the identity of someone else in the school on a slip of paper (as reported in an online survey) and asked to stand when part of that identity (religion, sexuality, class, etc.) was called out.

Here is the transcript of the opening remarks of the event from Upper School Director Jane Moore:
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