Biweekly e-newsletter of Community Day School

8 December 2016

 8 Kislev 5777

Issue #7

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In this issue:

Weekly Torah Portion:


Light Shabbat candles - 4:45 p.m.

Shabbat ends - 5:43 p.m.

New on the calendar:

  • Mazel Tov Shevet Joseph for earning the most mensch cards in the past two weeks! These mensch-y students have earned a dress-down day tomorrow, Friday, December 9. Normal dress-down rules apply.

  • The PA Scholastic Book Fair kicked off tonight and continues from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. tomorrow, Friday, December 9. You’ll wide range of titles for every level and interest, as well as favorite series and authors that will get kids (and adults!) excited about reading. Proceeds benefit the CDS Parent Association, so come and shop for a cause. And if you can’t make it to the fair or want to make a purchase after the fair ends, shop online here through Tuesday, December 13.

  • Mark your calendars! The 8th Grade vs. Faculty Basketball Game has just been scheduled for Friday, February 10 from 1:30-2:35 p.m. The “Big Game” is one of the best events of the year at CDS, as the entire school comes together for this (mostly) friendly competition, with a special halftime performance by the Little Lions Cheer Team. Don’t forget to wear your blue and gold—and Go Lions!

Head of School Message
By Avi Baran Munro, Ed.M.

CDS Educators are Lifelong Learners!

Your child’s teachers are students, too! Lifelong learning is mission critical for teachers and administrators alike, and I am delighted to share with you just a few of the many learning experiences we as a staff have been engaged with since the beginning of this school year.

August 2016: Orton-Gillingham Training at CDS 

Forty educators experienced a full week of Orton-Gillingham Training at CDS this summer. Thirteen were CDS teachers, and 27 were educators from area schools including The Ellis School, St. Edmund’s Academy, Carlow Campus School, and Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh.


The Orton-Gillingham Approach is focused upon the learning needs of the individual student with dyslexia or students exhibiting other reading and writing difficulties. Successful adaptation of the approach has demonstrated its value for classroom instruction. The essential curricular content and instructional practices are derived from two sources: first from a body of time-tested knowledge and practice that has been validated over the past 70 years, and second from scientific evidence about how persons learn to read and write; how having dyslexia makes achieving literacy skills more difficult; and which instructional practices are best suited for teaching such persons to read and write.


October 2016: Science Week in Pittsburgh

Kyle Ison, Lorraine Kerr, Sheri Grosso, and Lauren Dunn attended Science Week programming at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. In doing so, they were able to obtain a $1,000 grant for school equipment to enhance each of their classrooms. Both days were spent in sessions designed to further STEM teaching in the classroom. Classes included:

  • Using the Nature of Science to Create Global Citizens
  • Biotechnology Basics: Building Blocks to Creating a Cutting-edge Biotech Classroom
  • SMART: Science Meets Art

November 2016: Kindergarten “Learning Adventure”

Our entire Kindergarten team team along with Tzippy Mazer participated in a “Learning Adventure” day-long workshop presented by experienced classroom teacher, best-selling author, and educational consultant Dr. Jean Feldman. Dr. Jean has written many popular teacher resources, including Dr. Jean’s Reading Recipes and Dr. Jean’s Math Recipes, as well as Wonderful Rooms Where Children Can Bloom. Dr. Jean’s presentation was full of practical and easy-to-use strategies. The teachers were excited and inspired throughout the day. With each activity, educators exclaimed “ I can’t wait to try this in my room,” or “ the kids would love that one.”  As the day unfolded, our team was inspired to see the many more ways in which active learning that engages children easily accomplishes the core standards that our students need to attain. The most gratifying part of the experience happened the next morning in our Kindergarten classrooms when each of our teachers tried out something new that had inspired her the day before.

Raising the Level of Close and Critical Reading of Complex Nonfiction Texts

Also in November, Nicole Lewis, Cara Shuckett, and Charlotte Rakaczky attended a full-day session on “Raising the Level of Close and Critical Reading of Complex Nonfiction Texts—and Teaching Kids to Transfer Those Reading Skills Across the Curriculum,” presented by Mary Ehrenworth. This day was designed for teachers, literacy coaches, and administrators who want to equip young people to read complex nonfiction texts in ways that are called for by today’s world and today’s global standards.

December 2016: Educating for a Jewish Spiritual Life

Allan Dalfen, Bob Helfer, Elke Cedarholm, and Cara Shuckett attended the first of three Institute for Jewish Spirituality Retreats that we will participate in over three years. I joined them for just a few days over the weekend. We are grateful to have been selected to participate in a fully funded three-year pilot program to integrate Mindful Schools practices with Jewish learning and ritual practice. The early phases of training have to do with us refining our own mindfulness practices and beginning to understand how those connect with Jewish tradition and Torah. The retreat was held at Camp Eisner in the Berkshires. We spent much of the time in silence, silent meals, silent meditation, etc., and were able to reset some habits and find new ways of being aware of our mental and emotional strengths and shortcomings. The lead educators are very inspiring and deeply immersed in both mindfulness and Jewish practice, and indeed, inspired us with their example. Our school has been expanding its focus on mindfulness across many grades over the past four years, and we have been seeking the best ways to integrate mindfulness with Jewish practice. We will keep you posted!

Ongoing: Brandeis Teacher Leader Fellowship Program

Jackie Goldblum and Chaim Steinberg were accepted into a 13-month fully funded graduate program through Brandeis University designed to help them identify and lead a professional learning community (PLC) experience with CDS teachers on a topic of shared interest. Collaboration, collegial inquiry, and working together to refine and improve teaching practice in order to enhance the quality experience and outcomes for our students and our teachers are among the goals of this program.

The above examples provide just a brief glimpse of only a few of the many learning experiences our team of educators pursue. And it shows in their work.

When inspired, they inspire!

Up Ahead at CDS

Chanukah Band Concert

The CDS Instrumental Music Chanukah Concert is almost here. The concert will be held from 9-9:45 a.m. on Thursday, December 15 in the gym (please note the morning time!).

As part of our curriculum, students in grades 3-8 may participate in Band (Instrumental Music). Being involved in a school band program fosters a lifelong appreciation of music and group playing encourages unity and a spirit of cooperation. Julie Harris, a certified music instructor with degrees from Carnegie Mellon University and Duquesne University, directs our Band program.

The upcoming concert is an opportunity to enjoy the results of their hard work over the past several months and get into the Chanukah spirit! All are welcome to attend.

Zimriah is Back

In the coming weeks, the halls of CDS will once again be alive with the sound of music as we get ready for our biannual Zimriah on the evening of Thursday, January 26.

Zimriah is a Hebrew song and dance festival for students in Early Childhood through Grade 5. We transform our Ulam Sport into a musical theater, and the night is filled with familiar and not-so-familiar Hebrew children’s songs. Parents, grandparents, neighbors, and friends are all invited to this amazing event, and the room is always packed.

The evening culminates when all of the students come together for a grand finale you won’t want to miss. Come early because seats go fast!

Be a Superhero!

On Super Sunday, you can use your power to help save the world! Be a superhero and sign up today as a volunteer to represent Community Day School on Super Sunday, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s mega phone-a-thon at the JCC in Squirrel Hill on Sunday, December 18. There are sessions from 9-11 a.m., 11 a.m.-1 p.m., and 5-7 p.m. You will make calls for donations that will help to strengthen our community at home, in Israel, and wherever Jews are in need. Giving is a mitzvah, and so is asking others to give. Click here to register


School Supplies Drive

Through December 20, CDS kids and parents are encouraged to bring in new school supplies to school to donate to children in need in our community through Repair the World Pittsburgh. Thank you for your support of this Student Council effort!


Yearbook Now For Sale

The 2016-2017 Community Day School yearbook is now available for purchase. Click here to order your copy today, and you’re on your way to preserving all of the great CDS memories of this school year for a lifetime.

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PJ Invention Time

Please join CDS and PJ Library Pittsburgh with your kids (Ages 3-5) on Sunday, December 11 at 10 a.m. in the CDS Annex for a Chanukah story and an opportunity to build inventions that can spin at our next PJ Invention Time event. RSVP here

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Fill the Gala Treasure Chest

The PA is raising funds for the school at the Winter Gala through a Treasure Chest raffle. Please help us fill the chest by donating a gift card or gift certificate of any amount to your favorite retail store, theater, restaurant, sporting event, coffee shop, and more. Envelopes were sent home with each child for the gift cards, which will be collected by homeroom teachers. Thank you for your help—together we can all build a stronger CDS!

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Thank You X 7!

There’s an unwritten rule in fundraising that you should thank a donor at least seven times for each gift. We simply can’t say thank you enough for the extraordinary generosity shown by our CDS family and the greater community last week toward in support of Community Day School. The week kicked off with Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving back after Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Throughout the day and right up until the midnight deadline, you helped us celebrate our 45th anniversary by making online gifts to CDS through our “45 reasons to love CDS” campaign. All new and increased gifts were matched to multiply the power of your generosity. Also, a group of Middle School students, board members, alumni families, and parents came together that evening to give back to the school they love through a Phone-A-Thon under the enthusiastic leadership of Institutional Advancement Chair Ken Levin. You could feel the gratitude in the room!

Altogether, you helped us to raise more than $53,000 on Giving Tuesday to support our educational programs and to help more of Pittsburgh’s Jewish children experience the transformational power of a day school education. Special thanks to Giving Tuesday chairs Meirav and Josh Loberant. And on behalf of all of the CDS students, teachers, and staff … Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

The giving spirit continued on Thursday night at the Israel Alive! Bid, Schmooze, and Sip for our 8th Grade Israel Trip event. The families of the Class of 2017 hosted more than 100 people here at CDS for an evening of light refreshments, wine, and a silent auction with fabulous items up for bid, ranging from front-row seats at Zimriah to Pittsburgh Penguins tickets. The event was co-chaired by 8th Grade parents Nikki Valinsky and Dana Himmel. Alumni Joseph Finkelstein, Brian Burke, Maya Groff, Lauren Burke, Shayna Josowitz, Maya King, and Sophie Simon shared their favorite memories from their CDS Israel experience. And we celebrated Head of Lower School and Hebrew and Jewish Studies Tzippy Mazer for her 40 years of educational leadership at CDS. Thank you for your generosity and the generosity of all the individuals and businesses who donated items to our auction. Together, you helped us to raise more than $14,000 for the 8th Grade Israel Trip this spring. The evening was a huge success, and we’d especially like to thank the following sponsors:

Mike and Caryl Levin

Richard and Helen Feder

Brian and Amy Himmel

Andrew Stewart and Carole Bailey

David and Lisa Hackem

Mark and Sandy Goldberg

Jonathan Arnold and Hadassah Max

David and Yael Moses

Ken Levin and Marcie Mitre

Martin and Margie Fischman

Shirley Aizenstein

Cheryl and Bill Walter

Zivi Aviraz and Leonardo Rosenfeld

Click here to watch a tribute video to Tzippy Mazer

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Your support made the 8th Grade Israel Alive! auction event a huge success

Pre-K Tackles Hard Questions
By Lindsey Shope, Co-Director of Early Childhood Education

As Martin Luther King Jr. Day approaches, in Pre-K, we have had more opportunities to talk about how we can be upstanders both at school and in our community. One recent discussion focused on two big questions:

1. What is a bully?

2. What do you do if someone is being a bully?

To answer our first question, the children expressed some interesting and very powerful thoughts. They explained, when you are being a bully you “choose” to do “mean things” or “not treat people with respect.” They also talked about how those choices can affect others. “It hurts their hearts,” one friend said.  

Our second question encouraged answers that were just as informative. We talked about how, if we saw someone being unkind, we had to be “brave” and “tell them to stop.” Morah Sharon reminded us that the reason we celebrate Chanukah is because Matityahu did just that when he encouraged the Jewish people to stand up to the oppressive Greek ruler Antiochus IV.

The next part of our discussion was rooted in the Jewish obligation for selicha, or forgiveness, and our understanding that forgiveness for a sin against another human being does not come from God, but from the person we have hurt. We ended with the reminder that while a person may choose to do something unkind, it does not make them a mean person. As always, the children put it perfectly into words: “They just made a mistake, but they can still do good things.”

Pre-K is tackling hard questions leading up to MLK Day and also learning from their friends in 2nd Grade

Pumpkin Investigation

By Tzippy Mazer, Head of Lower School and Hebrew and Jewish Studies

In October, 1st Grade took a field trip to Triple B Farms, returning with four different pumpkins: orange, green, white, and bumpy. The pumpkins were placed on the window sill of the classroom, and the students viewed them daily without really knowing what they would be doing with them. A few weeks later, the wait was over, and the mystery activity was finally revealed. The entire 1st Grade came together for a full-fledged “pumpkin investigation.”  

First, the students had to write four words to describe their pumpkins, as well as use their artistic talent to draw the pumpkin that was in front of them. They touched, smelled, and looked at their pumpkins to come up with adjectives to describe them. A word bank helped them use new vocabulary (e.g., pulp, fibrous strand) to label the parts of the pumpkin. They made some estimates about which pumpkin was the biggest, widest, and tallest, as well as predictions about which pumpkin would have the most seeds. Cubes and yarn were then used to measure all of the dimensions of the pumpkins, and all the data the students collected went into making a collective 1st Grade pumpkin graph.  

The 1st Grade class also learned about the lifecycle of the pumpkin plant. And last but not least, the students lifted the tops of the pumpkin and each got a chance to put their hands inside and pull out seeds. They cleaned the seeds and counted them to see if their predictions were right. Art, Science, Math, Language Arts all rolled into one squash … what a great way to spend an afternoon!

1st Grade explores pumpkins using all of their senses and skills

Hour of Code

By Vanessa Pfendler, Integrated Technology Facilitator

In celebration of Computer Science Education Week, Lower School students at CDS this week participated in the Hour of Code, a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in more than 180 countries. Organized by Code.org, Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer programming designed to demystify computer science and show students that anybody can learn the basics of coding.

During the Hour of Code, students in Grades 3-5 visited the Mac Lab and participated in self-guided coding tutorials with the characters from the hit Disney movie Moana along to help them “find the way.” Teaming up with a virtual village of young computer scientists to stop the Kakamora coconut pirates from wrecking the Internet, they used a visual programming language to drag and drop visual blocks to write code. Visual programming is a fun and easily understood way to teach the logic of coding that lays the foundation for more complex text-based programming.

In Pre-K, Kindergarten, and 1st Grade, students began working with Kodable, which provides an introduction to the logic and concepts needed in computer programming. Simple computer science activities can help nurture creativity, logic, and problem-solving skills. By getting a feel for computational thinking early in their educational careers, students will have a foundation for success in any 21st-century career path. With Kodable, kids can learn to code before they even learn to read!

Hour of Code is a fun jumping off point for our computer science curriculum, which builds throughout our students’ years at Community Day School. Stay tuned for more news from the computer lab!

Disney’s Moana took our students on a wayfinding coding adventure during the Hour of Code

The People vs. Columbus

By Whitney Philipps, CDS Librarian

"You are charged with the mistreatment and murder of thousands, perhaps millions, of Taíno Indians."

So began 5th Grade’s mock trials of Christopher Columbus and those parties involved in early conquest of the Americas. In the years after 1492, when Columbus reached the New World, most scholars estimate that somewhere between one and three million Taino Indians lost their lives on the island of Hispaniola. Our debate about the role of Columbus and other people and systems in the tragic fate of the Taino connected to a Native American tribe research project recently completed in 5th Grade Social Studies. The project also connected to our Facing History and Ourselves curriculum in Library, where each project before Winter Break has focused on basic ethical reasoning—how to become a person of good character who acts with courage and makes compassionate choices.

The students were first divided into five groups—Taino Indians, Columbus, Columbus’s men, the King and Queen, and the “system of empire” (which we affectionately referred to as Bad Ideas). After several weeks of research to hone their information literacy skills using Encyclopedia Britannica (one of our online reference sources) and other preparation, students questioned one another as lawyers and answered as witnesses. Through this mock trial exercise, they demonstrated great critical thinking skills and a strong ability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes.

All students agreed that the loss of life generated during the forging of our new nation was a tragedy, and we held a fascinating range of beliefs about who really was to blame! Was it Columbus, who gave the orders? Was it his men, who carried them out without examination? Was it the King and Queen and their thirst for gold, or was it the drive for conquest? Our 5th graders tended to argue that those who held the most power should be attributed the most responsibility.

What’s your opinion? Ask your child for theirs, too.

Centuries after the early conquest of the Americas, 5th Grade put Christopher Columbus on trial

IGNITING the Spark

By Mark Minkus, Head of Intermediate School and Middle School

When you walk down the Intermediate School hallway on a Wednesday during IGNITE, you can feel the creative energy swirling through the air. Now that we are into the 2nd Trimester, IS students are deep into discovery. Experiential learning takes shape differently in each classroom.

The Performing Arts group has had a show-stopping trimester! In addition to learning strategies for successful improv acting, students have explored how to develop and perform a monologue, acted out skits, and even visited Mrs. Freedman to learn how to use music to create a mood for a play. Recently, the Anatomy and Physiology group examined their fingerprints and explored hair and skin at the cellular level. They plucked hairs off of their wrists and collected cells with tape before examining them more closely under a microscope. Students also took a closer look at each other’s ears to see the tiny ear bones.

In Game Creation, students are using what they discovered while playing board games to develop and design their own games. Some students are making games that are laser-cut or 3D-printed, while others are designing card games. In Jewelry and Design, students have completed several design challenges. Now that students are more comfortable with thinking outside the box, they are ready to start planning cohesive collections to highlight their individual talents and artistic visions.

In Creative Writing, after exploring three genres with Mr. H-G—poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction—students are writing independently, working on pieces of their choosing, and developing characters, narratives, and verses. The Archery Group has been hard at work improving their technique and learning the fundamentals of competitive archery. In addition, they have explored some of the physics behind bows and how arrows move through the air. The target for this trimester (pun intended) is to build on what they have learned throughout the year and work toward consistently positive results.

To learn more about what students are experiencing each week, bookmark the Intermediate School IGNITE Blog. You will be amazed at how student passion grows throughout the IGNITE process!

From exploring human anatomy and physiology to 3-D printing board games that students design themselves, Intermediate School IGNITE is passion-driven learning at its best

Lower School Snapshots

Kindergarten Chanukah Mosaics

The “Morah Michal” mosaic Hanukkiah becomes a treasured heirloom for every CDS family, and this year is no exception. Under the guidance of their Hebrew and Jewish Studies teacher Michal Schachter the kindergarten students have been hard at work designing, laying their tiles, and grouting to make these beautiful works of art their families will enjoy every Chanukah for years to come.  

1st Grade Artist-in-Residence

1st Grade has begun to work with artist-in-residence Saihou Omar Njie, who has been educating and inspiring people with his craft throughout his entire career. Saihou is known for his use of Batik-style art, dance, and mindfulness movement. He will work with our 1st graders to transform the fence surrounding the lower playgrounds into an art installation that will withstand the weather and provide privacy from the carpool lane. Students will engage with several individual art projects with Saihou throughout the winter months to develop their skills for the larger collaborative project.

2nd Grade Paleontologists

In 2nd Grade Language Arts, students first learned about the Greek and Latin roots of the scientific names of dinosaurs. Did you know the word dinosaur comes from the Greek deinos (terrible) and sauros (lizard)? Then, these young paleontologists combined these roots with their own favorite words to create their own dinosaurs. The result: Mystical creatures including the Tricerat-bunny, Yo-Yo-saurus, Stego-art-Rex, and Mega-Pokemon-a-saurus!

3rd Grade Visit to Intermediate School
By Mark Minkus, Head of Intermediate School and Middle School

Moving from the self-contained classrooms in our Lower School to the opportunities and challenges of Intermediate School is a transition for both students and parents alike. Last week, 3rd Grade students had the chance to experience a typical afternoon in CDS Intermediate School as they look ahead to making this leap to 4th Grade next fall. Students visited classes including Math, Science, Language Arts, Jewish Studies, Hebrew, and Social Studies, while interacting with Intermediate School students and teachers. The 3rd graders jumped right into this new experience, and they were welcomed with open arms. While some of the students discussed paradoxes and dilemmas in Shemot 35, others played a fun math game to practice order of operations or worked in teams to identify themes in literature. This week, the 3rd Grade parents visited the Intermediate School in order to get a taste of what the next two years will be like for their children. We can't wait for these students to enjoy all of the exciting opportunities that are waiting for them just down the hall!

3rd Grade parents and students recently got a taste of CDS Intermediate School


By Mark Minkus, Head of Intermediate School and Middle School

We all have certain issues that we feel passionate about. Racism, global warming, lead-free water, immigration, animal rights, homelessness, childhood obesity, human trafficking. Of course, we know there is a difference between feeling, knowing, and doing. We may feel strongly about an issue, learn a lot about that issue, but we often fall short when it comes to taking action to make a difference. Every Thursday afternoon, during 9th Period, the #your-voice Exploratory gives our students an introduction to activism and helps them trace a path from passion to action.

Ms. Shuckett and Ms. Philipps are the leaders of #your-voice, and their plan to get students more engaged with topics and causes is already well underway. Last week, students were presented with the opportunity to think about things that they are passionate about and why those issues are so personal to them. After discussion and time for reflection, each students generated a list of topics about which they feel strongly. This week, the students were asked to consider “How big are your binoculars?” Ms. Philipps explained that they needed to decide how big their focus would actually be: family, school, neighborhood, city, country, world? Additionally, the students were encouraged to ask themselves, “Do I want to learn more about this issue, or do I want to take action?” Of course, the hope is that as they learn more, the desire to engage with the topic will grow exponentially.

Some of the tasks that the students were asked to do this week included: go through their list of topics and narrow it down to just a few, log in and join the new #your-voice Google classroom, complete a “focus and question” list, and begin to track their progress on their “Project Process Journal.” This is just the beginning of an exciting journey that could lead to enlightenment, empathy, activism, philanthropy, and the ability to effect real change in the world.

Kids thinking deeply and working hard to try to positively impact the world.

Sounds like just another day at CDS!

Meet the Director

By Mark Minkus, Head of Intermediate School and Middle School

There are some wonderful sounds coming from the Music Room every Monday afternoon. That is because rehearsals have begun for our Middle School Spring Musical, James and the Giant Peach, Jr. For the fifth year in a row, Lissa Scearce will be our Assistant Director and Eileen Freedman is back this year as the Music Director. We are also happy to welcome a new face to our Drama Department this year, as Sarah Carleton has joined the team as the Director!

Sarah has extensive experience, both as a performer and educator. She has a degree in English Education from Geneva College and a MFA in performance from the University of Louisville, where she focused on studies in Shakespeare and African-American Theater. Her teaching experiences include working with students from elementary to adults at various locations including Geneva College, the Henry Mancini Academy, and the Pittsburgh Public Theater. As an actress, Sarah has performed in short independent films and on stage.

Recently Sarah said, “I'm so delighted to be joining such a great creative team for the upcoming production of James and the Giant Peach Jr. I'm passionate about the arts and love the way performance and creativity can be an avenue of bringing people together and am excited to work with this great group of students and team of teachers to brings together this production over the next few months.” Sarah is a wonderful addition to our creative team, and we are already anxiously awaiting opening night!

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Middle School Musical Director Sarah Carleton is bringing James and the Giant Peach Jr. to the CDS stage

The Light Is Growing Brighter Now
By Sarah Glascom Morris, Co-Director of Early Childhood Education

As adults, we are very familiar with the story of Chanukah, the miracle of the oil, and the importance of light, whether in physical or spiritual form. We use light and darkness as metaphors for good and bad, and often find ourselves wrapped up in the symbolism when discussing the holiday. While this is a critical aspect, it’s very cerebral and abstract for our youngest learners. One of the joys of teaching in the 3’s Room is reconnecting with our own early conceptions of light as the children experience them in real time.  

In the past two weeks, the children have noticed that the light is very bright in our room after nap, but only on sunny days. They get very excited when they see reflections dancing around on the walls, and wonder if Tinkerbell is in our room! This week, we built upon that and started to delve deeper into the exploration of light and shadows, as a perfect lead-in to our study of Chanukah!

Through the use of an old projector, the children have been investigating light and oil from a scientific perspective, as well. On Tuesday, a few students experimented with putting solid and translucent objects on the flat, lighted surface and looked in awe at the shadows they produced. They laughed when Molly wiggled her fingers and the shadows danced on the wall. Michal put a small wooden block on the projector, which made a solid black square shadow. Arbel put a prism on the light and twisted the mirror on top of the arm, “because I was being funny.” What he didn’t realize, however, is that it changed the direction of projection, and the children squealed with glee as they saw rainbow stripes move from the wall to the ceiling. This led some children to build with magnet tiles on the light, and we saw the colorful images they produced. We also made oil and water sensory bags, and put them on the light. Mason used a rolling pin on the bag and laughed as the colorful oil and water moved and displaced in different swirls and patterns, and we watched the magic unfold on the ceiling. Ava exclaimed, “It’s pizza!”

We look forward to a Chanukah filled with further explorations of light and darkness in the 3’s Room, however it takes shape in our world.  

Explorations of the concept light and darkness connect to Chanukah lessons for our youngest learners

Project Lunch Tray

By Carole Henderson, Executive Chef and Event Coordinator

Stop by my kitchen after school on Fridays, and you’ll see young chefs in action. The Middle School graduates of “Ms. Carole’s Cooking Club” last spring were invited to participate in Community Kitchen Pittsburgh’s Project Lunch Tray program. Community Kitchen is a mission-based food service company with the goals of workforce development, community-engaged social enterprise, and food waste reduction. They work with schools through Project Lunch Tray, a junior chef program that pairs students with professional chefs to put healthy, kid-made recipes on school lunch trays. Project Lunch Tray teaches students to create, invent, and collaborate in the kitchen and also to value the power of taking control of what they eat. Ultimately, the students will create a healthy and affordable new menu item for the Community Day School lunch program.

In their first session, the students honed their knife skills with John Micelli, a professional chef who works for SunFresh Produce. They learned about knife safety, handling, and communication, and put their skills to the test chopping fruit. This week, they will refine those skills, learning cuts such as battonet, julienne, medium and small dice, and mince. In future lessons, they will learn about emulsions in making salad dressing, healthy recipe substitutions in making quesadillas, cooking with heat in making stir fry, healthy portions, flavor combinations, and other essential and advanced kitchen skills. On March 30, they will show off what they’ve learned by preparing a delicious dinner for their families. And all of our students can taste the results of the group’s hard work when their new lunch item makes it onto future CDS menus. Mangia, Mangia!

Project Lunch Tray kicks off in the CDS kitchen

What is a Device-Free Dance?

By Mark Minkus, Head of Intermediate School and Middle School

Next Thursday at 7 p.m., the doors of the Ulam K’lalee will be closed. On the other side of those doors there will be pulsating lights, the thumping beat of the latest Bruno Mars song, and the occasional shriek of laughter. On the other side of those doors, there will also be tasty snacks, Candyland-themed decorations, an awesome DJ, and a limbo stick. In the midst of all of that, there will be no cell phones.

We have “Device-Free Dances” here at CDS. All cell phones/iPads/digital cameras are collected from the students when they arrive for a dance. Each student is given a brown paper bag on which they write their name. Their devices are then placed in the bag and stored in a safe place during the dance. Of course, all of the devices are returned at the conclusion of the dance. There are two main reasons for this policy. First, several years ago, students spent a lot of time texting, playing games on their devices, and basically interacting with their phones instead of their friends. The point of the dance is for social interaction and fun! Second, we do not want pictures or videos of any child to be taken during the dance. These photos and videos could end up on the Internet without consent, and there are a multitude of problems that could arise as a result. Basically, we want a device-free dance so that the students can have fun, interact with each other, and not worry about who might be taking a picture or recording a video.

This is our fifth year of holding device-free dances, and they have been well-attended with a high rate of participation (and fun!) throughout the evening. When the students turn in their phones and then walk into the Ulam K’lalee, they can feel free to have fun, be silly, do the limbo, and dance the night away without worrying that they will end up on social media. All of the chaperones can attest to the fact that the students have a blast when they are free to just focus on having fun with their friends.

So if you have a child in Middle School or you will in the near future, rest assured that there is a lot of fun waiting for them just on the other side of the Ulam K’lalee doors!

Lots of fun—but no cell phones—await the MS students at a night in Candy Land

Yo-Yo Masters Visit CDS

Tyler Severance can mesmerize a crowd with the flick of his wrist, and CDS students are no exception. This world yo-yo champion and North American Yo-Yo champion Ky Zizan (a Squirrel Hill native) visited Community Day School last week for a yo-yo demonstration and show about the science behind the yo-yo. The students learned about friction, potential and kinetic energy, and other scientific concepts that make this ancient toy work. And they saw dazzling tricks such as the “double dragon”—and watched with bated breath as these yo-yo masters knock a coin from behind the ears of Mr. Steinberg and Mrs. Wilson using their yo-yos. Read more here in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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The STEM of Spinning

Students from throughout the Jewish community had a blast this past weekend with CDS and our partners at PJ Library Pittsburgh​ at the inaugural STEM of Spinning event. More than 70 children in kindergarten through Grade 6 learned about the science underlying what makes a dreidel spin and then our young engineers used their new knowledge to design and build a dreidel from recycled materials. It was a problem-solving challenge with a Jewish twist, and loud cheers erupted as the most effective design spun for more than 30 seconds! The younger children also enjoyed a Chanukah story read aloud by PJ Library’s Lauren Bartholomae. This event is just one example of the kind of active, inquiry-based learning that takes place at CDS every day.

How would you design a working dreidel from recycled materials?

3...2...1… Tip Off!

By David Thyberg, Assistant Athletic Director

According to iconic UCLA basketball coach, the late John Wooden, “success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” As the winter basketball season gets underway, we are mindful of this sage advice. Thanks to the diligent instruction from our coaches and faculty, this year’s student-athletes are once again learning the values of hard work and resilience, both on the court and in the classroom. With such a broad spectrum of players in terms of age and experience, CDS teams are constantly evolving every practice and every game. It’s a learning process and it takes effort and dedication to make small improvements along the way that add up to something significant. The final scores of our matches may vary, but the heart and hustle of the kids remains constant.

December has arrived, and with it, the first official games of the season! Our Boys Varsity team jumped out to a 25-21 win at home in their opener vs. St. Edmund’s Academy, while the Boys JV team followed up with a tough match of their own. Both Girls teams were in action against St. Ed’s, too. Additional games this week vs. Urban Pathways Charter School for the Boys Varsity, along with a full slate of games for all CDS teams against Falk School, have made for quite a fun-filled start to the season.

On top of all the official games we have lined up with other area private schools, this winter CDS will feature a couple of special Intrasquad games for the Boys and Girls JV teams, respectively. We have the great fortune of record-high participation rates and large roster counts this year, and with such turnout comes the challenge of accommodating all participants at appropriate levels. After all, only five players can be on the court at a time during an actual game! The introduction of these Intrasquad matches will give team members a valuable chance to get some extra playing time and live game experience. There will be professional refs, scoreboard operators, and hopefully some enthusiastic fans! Who knows, we may even manage an appearance from the Little Lions Cheer Squad. It’s important to involve our Step Up 5th graders and developing 6th graders in meaningful competition, and we look forward to these showcase events.

The schedule remains jampacked with games and practices throughout the lead up to the holiday break and beyond into the New Year. Make sure to check the calendar and e-mail updates regularly for all the latest in CDS Basketball, and take a quick moment to follow us on Twitter @CDS_Sports. Lastly, don’t forget to come out and support these young athletes whenever you are able. See you at the games!

Let’s Go Lions!





CDS hoops season is off to a great start

Bright Future Leaders

This week, our Student Council leaders had the opportunity to travel Downtown to the City-County Building to see our government in action thanks to City Councilman Corey O’Connor. Councilman O’Connor welcomed the students into Council Chambers, where they watched the beginning of a City Council meeting and toured the vault that stores the city’s legislative archives. He also fielded tough questions from the students about the city budget, politics, legislative priorities, and leadership during a Q&A session in his office. As Councilman O’Connor said on Twitter, “With upcoming leaders like these, the future of Pittsburgh is especially bright!”

Our Middle School Student Council leaders saw Pittsburgh City Council in action

Welcome Back, Alumni!

We loved seeing so many alumni back in the halls of CDS for an alumni happy hour before the Israel Alive! Auction event, with student-led tours and to share their experiences from their 8th Grade Israel trips!

Alumni Profile: Melanie Levine

We love nothing better than to hear from our alumni! Send news about your whereabouts, families, simchas, and career and education accomplishments to Jenny Jones, Director of Institutional Advancement.

Name: Melanie Levine

What year did you graduate? 2008

What are you doing now? I graduated from John Hopkins University last May with a degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology, and I'm currently applying to medical school and working in Pittsburgh City Councilman Dan Gilman’s office

Favorite CDS memory:
 Lag B'Omer Field Day—spending all day outside playing games and then proudly leading the Kindergarten blue team when I was in 8th Grade.

What is the biggest impact from having CDS education? I learned about Judaism from historical, cultural, social, and religious perspectives, while receiving a fantastic education in all the other subjects that set me up for high school and college.

Tell us something silly about you: During college, I picked up a swing dancing hobby, specifically lindy hop, a social dance from 1940s.

CDS alum Melanie Levine (second from left)

What do you want to do next as a CDS alum?I want to continue to stay invested in Community Day School’s future through my own family and through the families I know who are currently attending.

Kol Hakavod to …

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Want to say Kol HaKavod to an employee at CDS? Fill out this online form.

Sarah DeWitt, Jenny Jones, Jennifer Bails, Carol Beth Yoffee

Is there nothing this team cannot do? What an incredible job they did in organizing the Israel Alive event! What a tremendous asset each one of them is for CDS!

Ellen Goldhagen and Jill Braasch

Thanks for making our school run so smoothly. Your “behind the scenes” work makes our school look great.

Rebecca Williams

Who came in early to meet with our son to help him with a writing project.

Nancy Wilson

Who writes beautiful comments on report cards showing she really understands our child’s strengths and weaknesses.

Get Business Tax Credits & Help CDS!

Every year, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh helps us get scholarship money through Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program (EITC). We are partnering with the Jewish Federation to identify companies willing to participate in this program and we need your help. If you have a business that pays Pennsylvania taxes, or if you can introduce us to someone who owns such a business, please let Roi Mezare, Senior Manager of Financial Resources Development at the Jewish Federation (and a CDS parent!), know at 412-992-5230 or rmezare@jfedpgh.org. The business will get up to 90% tax credits, and Community Day School will benefit directly through scholarships for students in need.

Due to the sale of a long-time EITC donor’s business last year and the reduced tax liability for several other donors, there will be decreased EITC dollars available for our three day schools this year. Read more about this issue, the EITC program, and how it helps Pittsburgh’s Jewish day schools in this recent article.

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Iton is the Hebrew word for newspaper. Since ours is electronic, we call it an E-ton!

Community Day School
An independent Jewish day school educating children age 3 to Grade 8

6424 Forward Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15217
412-521-1100 ︱

Watch our new promotional video to Discover CDS!

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