Biweekly e-newsletter of Community Day School
9 February 2017
13 Sh’vat 5777
In this issue:
Weekly Torah Portion (Beshalach):
Light Shabbat candles - 5:32 p.m.
Shabbat ends - 6:41 p.m.
Tu B’Shevat occurs on Saturday, February 11
New on the calendar:
Head of School Message
Photos: Joe Appel Photography
Up Ahead at CDS
Mishloach Manot Project
It’s Time For Tu B’Shevat
By Sarah Glascom Morris, 3-Year-Old Room Lead Teacher and Early Childhood Co-Director
Over the past two weeks, we’ve explored Tu B’Shevat in a variety of ways in the 3-year-old room. Initially, we asked the children what they knew about the holiday. Neta, Leila, and Ava spoke excitedly about the candles and the challah, which told us educators that they thought we were saying Shabbat because they almost rhyme. As an introduction, we played a Tu B'Shevat song, “Plant a Tree” by Felicia Sloin, and had the children listen for words they recognized as they danced and swayed. After the song, we asked what they heard. Arbel said, “I hear digging dirt and tree, and they said Tu B'Shevat at the beginning.” This led to a question about trees in Israel. Neta said, “They look like giant trees like Christmas trees, but the snow is not on Israel.” Kiki said, “Sometimes they dig a tree. I saw when I was a baby.”
As we talked about planting trees, we learned that sometimes people need to cut them down, too. I was in Georgia shortly after Hurricane Matthew and filmed someone cutting down a giant tree. We watched the video a few times, and I told them about some of the destruction caused by the storm. This tree was dislodged and would have crushed a house if it had fallen on its own. The children agreed that it was OK to break the tree if it saved a person.
Arbel decided that if a tree is broken, we need to fix it. We wondered how we could fix a broken tree. He suggested tape, which inspired a few children to offer ideas that built upon this idea, as well as start new ones. Eden said she would “put colors on it and make a house tree.” Molly added, “If you put more tape on it, it will grow into a house tree.” Leila decided, “We would have to cut off a trunk to make a house. You need giant scissors.” Ava came up with the finishing touch—“Put leaves on it. Birds and bugs are there.”
Together with Pre-K, we recently learned about how we can do our part by composting and recycling through a visit from “recycling raccoon”/CDS sustainability coordinator Molly Muffet. On Friday, we’ll have a taste test of the seven species and plant seeds, as well. We’re also honoring the holiday by practicing Tikkun Olam. We saved plastic water bottles from last week and are turning them into sensory bottles filled with recycled materials like broken Chanukah candles, corks, little mirrors from a deconstructed disco ball, and more. These bottles will become open-ended props in our dramatic play space, as we transform it into Superhero Headquarters. Our little superheroes will save the day and the planet!
Getting ready to celebrate the new year for the trees in the 3-year-old room!
How Do You Celebrate a Tree?
Sometimes the words of children simply just speak for themselves. We asked the Pre-K students how they would celebrate Tu B’Shevat, which they learned is the “birthday” of the trees. Here were their answers:
Chag Tu B’Shevat Sameach from Pre-K!
1st Grade Habitat Explorers
By Elizabeth Halfhill, 1st Grade teacher
Those bagels hanging from the trees at Blue Slide Park are not a lesson in Jewish cuisine. The 1st Grade class recently took a trip back to Frick Park as part of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Habitat Explorers program, where they made bagel birdfeeders to observe their feathered friends up close and personal.
Bundled in puffy coats and colorful hats, the intrepid 1st graders embarked on an expedition to the park to learn about the woods in winter. Students discussed the characteristics of woodlands and learned how plants and animals adapt to winter conditions. They were engaged in a woodland exploration activity and did a stewardship project by creating bagel bird feeders. They learned about how local birds they need to eat all day long to stay warm in the winter by finding seeds on plants across Pittsburgh to keep them full.
Our next goals were exploring the parks woodlands and spotting birds! Learning out of doors, with nature as our guide, cultivates discovery and curiosity in children. Plus, it’s fun! We cannot wait for our next Habitat Explorers trip to Frick Park in the spring to study streams … stay tuned!
1st Grade Habitat Explorers learned about winter adaptations of the animals in Frick Park
Pittsburgh Parks Visits Kindergarten
By Tzippy Mazer, Head of Lower School and Hebrew and Jewish Studies
In preparation for Tu B'Shevat, kindergarten students were given the opportunity to taste a variety of fruit, including pomelos, blood oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes. As part of their adventure, they also got to taste the seven different species that grow in Israel, which is described as “A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey.” (Deut. 8:8) These seven species were the staple foods consumed by the Jewish people in the land of Israel during biblical times.
Today, the celebration of our Earth continued when the magical Ms. Lydia, a naturalist educator from Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, visited Morah Michal’s kindergarten classes and brought dirt from the park, shovels, magnifying glasses, and boxes. Even on one of the snowiest days of the year, the children had the opportunity to dig and explore in the dirt. They found rocks, leaves, and yes, lots of worms, grubs, and centipedes. Our young pedologists (soil scientists) learned how forces of nature and animals help create the dirt, which is necessary to sustain life. On this week of Tu B’Shevat, the students also learned about the strong connection between soil and the trees. A good―and plenty messy―time was had by all!
Kindergarten students got all the “dirt” this week on trees and Tu B’Shevat
3rd Grade Tackles Immigration
By Elke Cedarholm, 3rd Grade teacher
Last week in Social Studies, we began working on a timely chapter in our textbook that is all about immigration, both historically and currently, in the United States.
I simply have to say “Wow!” when I listen to 3B learning about this topic! The students are asking some interesting questions, including “Am I an immigrant if I move from another state?” or “Were my grandparents immigrants if they moved here from Europe/Asia?” Another student asked, “Am I an immigrant if I visit family in Israel?” The 3rd graders are also providing some powerful insights into some of the challenges that many immigrants face. For instance, one student shared that “My family had to leave people behind when they moved here.”
When discussing why people might want to move to the U.S. today, they responded very thoughtfully with possibilities including different opportunities; to learn and see new things; they may not have enough food or access to education in their homeland; to start over; to start a better life; may not have a good life because of wars or conflict; or their homes aren’t safe.
I know that there are a lot of questions in our country and in the world right now about these issues, and I am so proud of 3B's willingness and enthusiasm for discussing and analyzing really challenging topics with no clear right or wrong answer.
3rd Grade explores hard questions about immigration
Thank You For Not Idling
By Jennifer Bails, Director of Marketing and Communications
Two years ago, a grant from the CDS Parent Association GRANTED! program made it possible to install signs to ask parents not to idle their car engines unnecessarily in the carpool lane. But every now and then, we all need a little—or louder—reminder about the right thing to do.
Jr. STUCO demonstrated their leadership skills on Wednesday and helped to clean our air by raising their voices to encourage CDS parents to turn off their vehicle engines while waiting for students to be released from school. In a lesson in activism, these courageous 4th and 5th graders rose up after school in (mostly) peaceful protest with chants of “No idling!” They also made signs to educate drivers about how idling makes our air unhealthy and wastes valuable resources and passed out “business cards” with reminders about idling. In addition, a group of students delivered thank-you packages to the bus drivers and asked them to kindly turn off their diesel engines while waiting for students in our parking lot. Thanks to the community for caring about our air and the health of our students. And special thanks to CDS parent and sustainability coordinator Molly Muffet for her tireless leadership and vision for the Green Team.
Please note that tomorrow, 3rd Grade will raise the first colored flag as part of the EPA School Air Quality Flag Program, and we will have a presentation from the Group Against Smog and Pollution about air quality in Pittsburgh and our health. In addition to staying tuned to our flagpole, getting up-to-date air quality information is easy by subscribing at enviroflash.info or downloading the AirNow app. You can get the daily air quality forecast sent to your email, cell phone, or Twitter. Another excellent resource is the mobile crowdsourcing app Smell PGH, where you can help track odors across our region.
Please turn off your engine … kids’ lungs at work
To The Beat Of Their Own Drum
By Jeremy Lerner, Art Teacher
Our 4th Grade is currently focusing on African and Native American drums in relation to the ceramic technique of slab building and the elements of design such as form and shape. We chose African and Native American drums as our art history and art motivation component in conjunction with their Social Studies unit, which has focused on these two cultures. Drums are among the oldest musical instruments in most cultures and play significant roles throughout their respective civilizations. Clay is also one of the oldest materials used throughout history and has an ability to connect us to the past.
As we have moved on to our new project, we are focusing on creating our own unique ceramic drums that will be fully functional, with a traditional drum head and emphasis on the particular forms we use and how those forms can represent our own cultures through decorative elements and the overall composition of our drum. Students have been learning to create basic forms from modeling clay such as spheres, cubes, cylinders, and cones, and have been learning about three-dimensional composition through the model-making process. All students will create a functional stoneware drum that has three additional decorative components that are indicative of their cultural background, in addition to the basic form of their instrument. Stay tuned for their creations at this year’s Art Show on March 16 from 6-8 p.m.
4th graders are shaping their African Djembe drums
Spark IGNITED in IS
For instance, the adventurous students in the anatomy and physiology experiential learning group recently dissected a sheep's heart! Over the past few weeks, they have learned from Ms. Grosso about circulation, the chambers of the heart, and the valves and the pathways that the blood takes through the heart and lungs. The dissection was an opportunity to see how all of these parts and systems function together.
In game creation with Ms. Hilton, students are designing everything from board games (like a CDS-style Monopoly game!) to card games. They are writing clear directions for the players of their games modeled after the directions given in other games they have played. Meantime, the performing arts IGNITE group has been busy preparing a personalized version of The Three Little Pigs play. Their preparation has included composing musical accompaniment, learning about blocking, and planning their costumes, props, and scenery. The Big Bad Wolf doesn't know what's coming at their final performance!
Archery students continue to hone their skills with Mr. Helfer and Mr. Hoover through additional practice, and they are enjoying fun, but challenging games such as Tic-Tac-Toe. Students have been especially excited about learning about probability and its effects on arrows. When you stop into Mr. Harris-Gershon’s room during IGNITE time, you might feel like you are in your favorite cafe, with dim lights, Miles Davis playing in the background, and writers hard at work. His creative writing students have been independently working on developing pieces of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. They have been experimenting and exploring both on their own and with guidance and editorial help from each other and Mr. H-G.
Last but not least, the jewelry group students continue to define and grow their individual, thematic collections. Students have begun drafting their own artist statements to display alongside their work at IGNITE Fest. In addition, they have begun learning how to speak about their work as an artist.
MS Science Fair STEM-ulates Minds
By Mark Minkus, Head of Intermediate and Middle School
Albert Einstein once said: “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination.” Well, our 6th-8th graders showed a tremendous amount of knowledge and imagination at the annual Community Day School Middle School Science Fair. A quick walk around the Ulam K’lalee to view this year’s project boards revealed that these students are really thinking “outside the box” with titles like: “The Endless Potential of The Magnetic Force”, “Racial Bias in Youth Populations,” “Perpetual Motion: Possible or Not?” and “Determining the Hardest Part of the Human Hand to Wash.”
Our future scientists tackled topics like: renewable/clean energy sources, thermodynamics, microbiology, and human memory/recall ability. Each student was interviewed by at least three judges and was required to explain their hypothesis, independent variable, dependent variable, and conclusion. Our Middle Schoolers were confident as they presented their projects because of the high-quality of their work. If you missed the open Science Fair viewing hours, you can view the outstanding projects here.
Each grade has a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finisher, as well as one to two honorable mentions. These winning students will then go on to the Pittsburgh Regional Science and Engineering Fair, to be held at Heinz Field on March 31, 2017. Middle School science teacher Kyle Ison has put forth a monumental effort to make our Science Fair such a huge success. From countless hours of helping students in and out of the classroom to arranging judges and creating rubrics, Ms. Ison is the motor that keeps our Science Fair running smoothly.
In a special honor this year, 8th Grade students Zack S. and Emma S. were awarded the Community Day School Young Scientist Award. This award was presented in recognition of superior and consistent Science Fair Achievement to 8th Grade students who won at the school Science Fair during their 6th and 7th Grade years and also attended the Pittsburgh Regional Science and Engineering Fair. We celebrate these young scientists who create, discover, and innovate and look forward to seeing what they will achieve in the future. Congratulations to all of the Science Fair winners and good luck at regionals!
16 students took home prizes at the Middle School Science Fair and are eligible to compete in regionals
CDS Wins Big In Waldman Competition
By Jeremy Lerner, Art Teacher
CDS Middle School students took top prizes in this year’s Waldman International Arts and Writing Competition, including a clean sweep in the Visual Arts category. The annual competition is presented by The Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh, in cooperation with JFilm: The Pittsburgh Jewish Film Forum, Classrooms Without Borders, and P2G: Partnership2Gether, and the judges in both Pittsburgh and Israel had the hard task of picking winners. Among them were:
Dori C. - 1st Place - Visual Arts - Lost Hopes
Madison Z. - 2nd Place - Visual Arts - A Man in His Mirror
Emma S. - 3rd Place - Visual Arts - Protecting Poetry
Sophia L. - 3rd Place - Creative Writing - Hear O’ Israel
This year’s theme was Spiritual Resistance (passive, unarmed, non-violent resistance). During the Holocaust, the Nazis dehumanized their victims and stripped them of their identity, their sense of value, and their self-worth. How were victims able to hold on to humanity in the face of inhumanity? How were victims able to maintain their personal integrity, dignity, and sense of self?
Our students’ projects about this theme reflected research and are historically accurate. For example, Dori’s 1st Place project (middle) titled “Lost Hopes” is based on the “Paper Brigade,” Jews who maintained a secret public library in the Vilna Ghetto in a form of spiritual resistance. Another winning entry called “A Man and His Mirror” (right) reflects a children’s opera called “'Brundibar” composed in 1938 and first performed in Nazi-occupied Prague at an orphanage where Jews circumvented rules against attending public performances by staging their own secret concerts. Emma’s 3rd Place entry “Protecting Poetry” (left) placed poems by Anne Frank, survivor Tadeusz Rozewicz, and others inside of a silver, twine-wrapped heart.
I commend our Middle School students on their artistically skilled and meaningful Waldman entries and look forward to the awards event in April.
This year’s Waldman competition theme is “Spiritual Resistance”
8th Grade Is Making An Argument
By Cara Shuckett, Middle School Language Arts
If you ask any parent or teacher, they will tell you that middle school students are great at arguing. Currently, the 8th Grade students are putting those skills to good use in their Language Art class. Students have been learning to investigate complex, real-life issues, take positions that are contextualized and nuanced, and write principled arguments that defend a position while being fair to multiple perspectives.
The study began with an examination of video games and role-playing games with simulated violence. The 8th Grade had some passionate ideas about whether or not teenagers benefit from these games. This week, we will look at a more complex and sensitive subject that also deals with violence. Students will be answering the much-debated question whether amnesty should be given to child soldiers.
The students began studying by reading and taking notes on various articles, videos, and books before taking a position. In order to further develop their claims and counterclaims, the class will turn into a debate club by watching debating clips and by following a traditional debate protocol to help enrich and build on their positions. These 8th graders are leaving CDS in just a few months with the tools they need to tackle complex, sensitive issues and then take a stand. Watch out world—here comes the class of 2017!
8th graders are honing their debate skills in Language Arts
Megillah Prep Underway
Student Council Update
By Ada P., Historian
By David Thyberg, Assistant Athletic Director/Varsity Coach
Admittedly, the title might be a bit misleading. After all, none of our basketball players are actually able to slam dunk a basketball, nor should they be (except maybe on the mini-hoops in the gym!). Most fully grown adults can’t perform such a feat, so it’s easy to see why our valiant, yet diminutive Lions haven’t exactly been hanging from the rims like LeBron James. Even so, this year’s winter basketball season has been a “slam dunk” in terms of the growth and success enjoyed by all who participated.
The Boys’ Varsity team posted a winning record once again, and each individual member of the team was involved in making that happen. They faced off against tough, physical competition, but proudly held their own in every match while playing some truly attractive basketball with smooth movement and clever passing that kept both the fans and the coaches on the edge of their seats. The Lady Lions Varsity team provided lots of action in their own right. The girls were fearless and determined every time they hit the court, working together and grinding it out for all four quarters of every game.
Our younger Step Up players proved to be a hungry bunch as well. These JV squads put forth a great effort at practices and made real strides in their development. Of course, they’ll need to continue practicing and learning the game outside of school in the off-season to reach their full potential, but the foundation has been laid for yet another generation of enthusiastic Lions athletes. With an established CDS sports culture of teamwork, sportsmanship, dedication, and skill-building, it’s no wonder so many students are participating in these programs. This winter has been great fun for players and coaches alike.
Speaking of fun, the Student-Faculty Basketball Game is coming up tomorrow! In this annual tradition, the 8th Grade Boys and Girls teams don their jerseys one last time as they take on the aged, yet resilient teachers and staff in a winner-takes-all contest in front of the entire student body. The CDS Little Lions Cheer Team will be putting on a show at halftime, providing all the atmosphere needed for one of the biggest school-spirit events of the year. Parents, friends, and guests are also welcome and encouraged to attend. The game will start promptly at 1:30 p.m.
Lastly, in this week’s edition, we take time to mention the upcoming spring sports on the horizon. It’s still early, but the Athletic Department has already begun planning for the final trimester. Surveys are being conducted as we map out our spring sports lineup. Potential offerings for Middle School include baseball, lacrosse, ultimate frisbee, and track. Lower School will have the chance to play field hockey and participate in Girls on the Run. Stay tuned for more information as the details come together.
So, who will you be rooting for on Friday? You really can’t go wrong either way! See you on the court for one last showdown. Let’s go Lions!
Follow all the CDS sporting news that’s fit to tweet at @CDS_Sports
Alumni Profile: Dayna Greenfield
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Kol Hakavod to …
Jenny Jones and her committee
The 2017 Gala was GROOVY! Thanks for planning and executing an event enjoyed by all!
Ms. Ison went above and beyond to prepare students for science fair this year. She offered students help outside of normal hours and inspired students to work harder than they ever had.
Leslie did a fantastic job giving us a really amazing speaker for our professional development Tuesday! She is always organized and ready for whatever comes her way. Leslie has given her own time to help fellow teachers selflessly and often.
For Morah Michal, Mrs. Freedman and all of the teachers
We were so proud of our kids, who knew all the words to the songs! It was a beautiful night for CDS!
Thanks for helping out and always being a team player! You lead by example!
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