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A Newsletter for the families and friends of Westchester Country Day School In This Issue... Headlines Upcoming Events Meet Your Wildcats Arts Update Athletics Update For the College Bound Healthful Hints WAPA Notes and News March 2013 Newsletter From the Head of School Our ongoing, national conversation about education reform has, of late, focused on improving our work in the so-called “STEM” fields as a means to improve our international competitiveness and economic strength. The acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and several key players on the national stage, including NASA, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and others, are leading efforts to improve teaching and learning in academic fields that fall under these headings. Make no mistake, this is important work, and I wanted to take time this month to share with you the variety of ways in which Westchester continues to be engaged in STEM education. As I hope you will see, ideas framed in the national debate as “new initiatives” or “reform” are, in the independent school world, often core elements of long-standing, traditional programs. In many ways, this is the case with STEM education at Westchester. Our long-standing Advanced Placement program offers Upper School students in the 10th through 12th grades the opportunity to study a wide variety of subjects at the college level. Each course culminates in a national exam in May, and students who earn passing marks or better on these tests (at least a “3” on a five-point scale) have the opportunity to earn college credit and/or advanced placement when they matriculate. Currently Westchester offers five AP courses in STEM fields: AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Physics, AP Statistics, and AP Calculus AB. Depending on demand, we offer two additional courses in either a tutorial or independent study format: AP Calculus BC and AP Computer Science. Our students consistently outperform their counterparts in North Carolina and in the nation in performance on national AP exams; WCDS students have a five-year average pass rate on the AP exams in STEM fields - ten percentage points higher than other AP students in North Carolina and eight percentage points higher than students around the country. Lower School students, beginning in the 2011-2012 school year, began traveling to the Finch Center every other week for a hands-on science lab led by members of our Middle and Upper School science department. These lessons are built upon the science curriculum taught in the classroom and offer wonderful opportunities for our younger students to begin to learn laboratory skills and the scientific process in real-time. This fall, under the direction of Terry Andrews and Gwen Russell, students in our Upper School have the option to take the technology elective VEX robotics, a curriculum developed at the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute. Students in the course designed, constructed, programmed, and remotely operated their own VEX robot and competed with each other to complete complex tasks on a variety of courses. This demands that students learn skills in design, construction, programming, problem-solving, and teamwork and apply them in an engaging and demanding competitive arena. I have shared with you in previous columns details about the Odyssey of the

March 2013 newsletter

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