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 Counselor’s Corner WAPA Notes and News
March 2014 Newsletter
From the Head of School On Thursday, February 27, our chapter of the National Honor Society held its winter induction ceremony, recognizing the 17 Upper School students who have earned membership in this prestigious organization. The keynote address for this event was offered by Betty Flythe, our Academic Dean and Director of College Guidance. This month, it is my pleasure to share with you her thoughts about character, habits, and the pathway to success. As some of you know, about this time last year I became a grandmother for the second time in a six-month span, so I guess it’s natural that these days I find my mind wandering to Ada and Emerson and wondering what they are doing. When I go to Barnes and Noble I gravitate to the back of the store where the children’s books are housed, and I recall the early years of my own girls’ childhoods. This line of thinking brought to mind the TV show Sesame Street, probably the earliest TV many children watch. You may recall that each episode focused on a specific letter of the alphabet, and much of the hour was spent exploring that letter. In the vein of Sesame Street, my remarks today are brought to you by the letter “C,” specifically as it relates to the word character, clearly the most difficult criteria for membership in the National Honor Society for us to quantify. The first two “C” words that I want to address are words that you are very familiar with – choices and consequences. You’ve all figured out that not reading your assignment for English results in a poor reading quiz grade, that missing soccer practice before a big game might result in more time on the bench, and that speeding down the streets of town may well result in a ticket. Swim a 200 IM on a full stomach and . . well, you get it. Consequences of our choices can be positive as well. If you study conscientiously for that vocabulary quiz, you will earn a higher grade. If you practice playing FIFA, you will beat the opposing virtual team. If you spend hours practicing free throws, you will increase your shooting percentage. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book The Outliers, takes a look at the factors that contribute to success. He explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, and what made the Beatles the most successful musical act in history. In addition to environmental factors, birth date, and experiences of their upbringing, Gladwell asserts that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert at virtually anything. 10,000 hours! Wow! That’s a lot of hours! Now, I’m not advocating that you spend 10,000 hours preparing for a vocabulary quiz or playing video games, but I am making the point that to become really good at something we have to commit to it and practice it. Choices and consequences. . . we choose, at least to some degree, where we commit our time and focus our energy and effort. I’m sure you probably agree that skill and expertise, coupled with hard work, practice, and repetition, produce desirable results. How do you think Brenton Williams of the South Carolina Gamecocks established a free throw shooting percentage of 96.3? What about Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers who has a 348 batting average? What about your classmate who routinely aces the vocabulary tests? All of these people have consciously chosen to put in the time required to be their best. Today, however, I want to take the notion of choice and consequences and apply it to other aspects of our lives – those parts of our lives that are so routine that sometimes we don’t even think about them or put time into
assessing them. The Greek philosopher Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” Habits are formed by repetition of thoughts and actions. Think back to how you started your day this morning, when that first foot hit the floor and you rousted yourself from your warm, cozy bed. You probably reacted to that alarm clock the same way you did yesterday and the same way you did last Thursday, whether it was to groan, turn off the buzzing and roll back over, or whether it was to bound up out of bed ready for the day. You may not have realized it, but you had a choice when that alarm clock went off. These kinds of choices are actually even more fundamental than those choices you make when driving or when preparing for class and go a long way toward addressing that hard-to-define notion of “character.” You see, I am a firm believer that we all have the power to choose how we to live our lives, beginning with how we start our day. We have the power to choose how we respond to circumstances or to other people. We have the capacity to take control of our actions, our thoughts, our emotions, and our responses: we are not at the mercy of those around us. Through a little awareness and some repetition, we can create habits that set us up for success, even in our daily routines and interactions. Character – we build it daily through even our smallest endeavors. In addition to forming good habits and maximizing our potential in particular areas, we can also choose to improve our outlook on life by thinking positive thoughts and putting small inconveniences and blips in our day in perspective. You may recall the children’s book by Judith Viorst entitled Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, a book about a little boy who went from one disappointment to another as he navigated an ordinary day. From waking up with gum in his hair, to being served the dreaded lima beans for dinner, Alexander went from one seemingly catastrophic event to another. I suggest to you that Alexander chose to see his experiences that day as major issues rather than putting them into perspective and seeing them as challenges or minor interruptions. One of the most important life lessons I have learned is that we can choose to take control of how we react to setbacks and disappointments and, like those habits we form from repeated effort, can actually train ourselves to respond to words and deeds in a constructive, positive way. In doing so, we find our whole outlook on life changes for the better; we find that those positive thoughts and actions become what and who we are. Like Alexander, we are all going to have bad days, no doubt, but where our “character” comes in is how we react to those days and to adverse circumstances. Every one of you here today is fully capable of developing the type of character that sees the glass half full, decides to smile instead of scowl, puts others before self, and takes charge of your own emotions, refusing to let someone else or a set of circumstances drag you down or determine how you feel. It’s this ability to put things in perspective and be intentional about even your small, minute-to-minute choices that frees you from dependence on outside forces and allows you to fulfill your potential. You have the power to become the person you want to be. Finally, let me close with one last “C” word, and that is congratulations. Congratulations to those of you who will be recognized in just a few minutes because you meet the standards of scholarship, leadership, character, and service set by the national office of NHS and endorsed by the Westchester Faculty Council. You follow in the footsteps of hundreds of other Westchester students who have gone before you, and as new members you accept the responsibility of maintaining the standards by which you were selected. I challenge all of us here today to make the choices that bring with them positive consequences and desired results. We all have in us the potential to take control and do just that!
We Need Auction Items!
azzing up Wildcat Nation Saturday, May 3 5:30 p.m. Finch Center
Can you donate: • A vacation home • Concert or event tickets • Jewelry • Home furnishings • Electronics • Gift certificates Click here for a record of donation form. Thank you!
Headlines Seventh Grader Wins Essay Contest Kamran Chodri was the winner of the 7th grade DAR American History Essay Contest. He and his family were honored at the High Point Country Club on February 11. The American History Essay Contest was established to encourage young people to think creatively about our nation’s great history and learn about history in a new light. This year’s essay topic was: Forgotten Patriots Who Supported the American Struggle for Independence. The contest is open to students in grades five through eight. A winner is selected from each of the four grades and advances to the state level. Essays are judged for historical accuracy, adherence to the topic, organization of materials, interest, originality, spelling, grammar, punctuation, and neatness.
Mock Trial Team Makes School History Westchester sent two Mock Trial teams to the regional competition in High Point on February 1 where they won five awards - the most in school history! Award winners were: • Best Attorney Round I - Lewis Miles • Best Witness Round I - Sam Argo • Best Attorney Round II - Abbi Khan • Best Attorney Round II - Cam White • Best Witness Round II - Jonathan Bethel Both teams lost their morning trials by split decisions; both teams won their afternoon trials 3-0! Westchester competed against seven other schools and because it is a single elimination competition, we will not move on to the state competition. The North Carolina Advocates for Justice High School Mock Trial Program is sponsored by the Carolina Center for Civic Education.
17 Students Inducted into NHS Westchester held its National Honor Society inductions on Thursday, February 27. The following students were inducted: Back row, from left: Adam Kirkman, Tommy Boggis, Lowie Vandeplancke, Jonathan Bethel, and Casey Crouse Middle row, from left: John Andrews, Ryan Beale, Josh Evans, Leila Abebe, Laura Folk, Miranda Bryson, and Daniel Ayodele Front row, from left: Savannah Lewis, Campbell Kinley, Sarah Wahid, Yuqi Yang, and Paige Hetley.
Middle School Update from Mary Keever Many may think of February as the month of love, but our Middle School is proving it is a month spent loving learning! Some navigated this endeavor as an individual, as was the case for Kamran Chodri, while others chose a collaborative approach, as was the case for our mathematicians who travelled to a Math Day competition, and all Middle School Wildcats who learned to dance. Kamran wrote and presented a beautiful essay for the annual Daughters of the American Revolution luncheon. He was poised and won the admiration of all. His essay focused on the hardships and challenges faced by soldiers, especially young soldiers, as well as their bravery and courage. Challenges were also faced by our mathematicians at the annual Math Day competition at Jamestown Middle School. On February 1, 27 middle school students gave up their Saturday to do math. Students took a 40-question multiple choice test with a time limit of ninety minutes. The scores from this test were used to determine the top ten individuals in each grade. The top four student scores of each school were used to decide the team scores for each school. After lunch there was a second competition called ciphering. Teams of four went one member at a time to answer four questions each as problems were projected on a screen. Students had one minute to submit an answer. Although our students did not bring home any trophies, it was apparent by their scores that out of fifteen schools competing, they were in the top third. The students who qualified, trained, and competed were: sixth graders Ellison Beaver, Carson Boyette, Alex Casas, Caleb Green, Zach Green, Deni Lewis, Nick Nottoli, Elizabeth Ragsdale, and Aditi Shah; seventh graders Zach Beale, Kamran Chodri, Susan Dhakal, Rayha Haque, Aidan Lim, Marcus Neacsu, Lilly Sheffield, Griffin Shigo, and Ava Tuggle; and eighth graders Victoria Atkinson, Matthew Boggis, Alex Evans, Luke Evans, Max Johns, Ambar Khawaja, Edward Lindner, Samantha Mickey, and Samuel Noyes. The highlight of the event was the prestige earned by Max Johns as he demonstrated the well-roundedness of our Wildcats in a free throw competition!
The two weeks between the winter and spring physical education seasons were spent dancing! Wildcat alumnae Cres Calabrese and her talented assistants Gloria Wilson and Victoria Bailess taught students and teachers alike how to dance! While some felt a bit of trepidation prior to the lessons, a great time was had by all! Ask a Middle School student to demonstrate the Bernie or the Shimmy for you; they will do so with enthusiasm and skill! These are just three examples of the creative learning endeavors occurring in our Middle School. We have all been struck by the arrow of curiosity!
Westchester Piano Students Shine Four students of Westchester piano Instructor Claire Clark performed in the Greensboro Music Teachers Festival at UNC-Greensboro on Saturday, February 1. All four received Superior Ratings for their piano performances. The students are: Clark Easley, Annabelle Fisher, Hannah Sharpe, and Ella Timberlake. Congratulations!
Fourth Graders Transform into Famous Personalities from the Past Since returning from Winter Break in early January, the fourth grade students have been working diligently to prepare for the unveiling of the Interactive Wax Museum on Wednesday, February 19.
George Marsh as Elvis Presley
The Interactive Wax Museum is a culminating event in a study of biographies. One of the first steps in the biography project was to choose a deceased person of interest to research. After reading a biography, researching information on the internet, and organizing notes about the person’s lifetime, students wrote a biographical report and speech. On Wednesday, February 19 (rescheduled due to a snow day!), the Lower School hallways were bustling with costumed characters from all parts of history as the students prepared to become “statues” in the Finch Center. Some of the characters included Wilma Rudolph, Elvis Presley, Princess Diana, Thomas Edison, Julia Child, Leonardo da Vinci, Pocahontas, and Henry Ford. Upon arriving in the Finch Center, the students took their places and waited for someone to come push their “buttons,” which brought the character to life, and the student shared their character’s brief story of his or her lifetime. Parents, grandparents, faculty, and children of all ages who visited the Interactive Wax Museum left with new knowledge about famous people throughout history.
Olivia Beaver as Julia Child
Adam Elsayed as Thomas Edison View more photos on our website!
This project incorporates integral 21st century skills. Students improved critical thinking skills by carefully evaluating research. Students learned how to evaluate websites for reliability, while also double-checking the facts they read through multiple resources. Also, students cultivated communication skills by preparing oral presentations meant to capture the attention of their audience. Through significant preparation, students memorized their oral presentations and learned how to speak clearly and confidently. “The best part of this entire experience is seeing the students begin to take ownership of their learning,” said fourth grade teacher Blair Hawley. “Throughout the month, students began to make connections with the people they were researching. Some students were even able to make personal connections to the struggles or successes of the people they researched. The students will always remember this experience and the interesting facts they learned. Most of all, students learned that through hard work and perseverance they can accomplish amazing things!”
Second Grade Celebrates Black History Month In 2nd grade, students have been reading and discussing stories about heroes. In honor of Black History Month, students chose a black hero to research. They spent two weeks researching their heroes on iPADs and computers, then presented their research in front of the class. They also designed posters to enhance their oral presentations.
Spotlight on Student Work
Poem by Ambar Khawaja for Mr. Smith’s 8th Grade English class
Welcome New Wildcats! 6th Grade Miss Taylor Jones Ms. Debbie JonesPermenter 8th Grade Mr. Mohanad Shehata Mr. Mamdouh Shehata and Mrs. Samia Almahmoud 11th Grade Mr. Omar Shehata Mr. Mamdouh Shehata and Mrs. Samia Almahmoud
Summer camp registration is now open!
This will be the best summer yet with lots of great new options including: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
American Girl Art Camp Backpacking Baseball Camp Basketball Camp Career Exploration Cheer Camp Cooking Camp Drama Production Mad Science Mountain Biking NC Adventure EXTREME Odyssey of the Mind SAT Prep Soccer Summer Celebration Wildcat 101 Yard Art and many more!
Click here for dates, descriptions, and registration information!
Scenes from Science Class
Students in Mrs. Bealeâ€™s sixth grade science class recently completed projects for their unit on air. Above, Nick Notolli demonstrates his 3-D fluorescent cloud project. Below, Gaby Culler presents her cloud poster.
What is the science behind the sports in the Winter Olympics? In Lower School science enrichment, students learned about the concepts of forces (drag, gravity, thrust, friction, centripetal, and centrifugal) involved in the sport of bobsledding. Students took a virtual ride on a bobsled that reached speeds of up to 100 mph! They then showcased their knowledge of forces by engineering, designing, and building a miniature bobsleigh from recycled materials. Above, Jamie Atkinson performs a test run of his bobsled. Below, Kate Leonard works with a partner to engineer and build her miniature bobsled.
Upcoming Events FoFA Meeting Tuesday, March 4, 8:00 a.m., Library WAPA Book Club Wednesday, February 5, 8:00 a.m., Finch Faculty Lounge Lower School Special Persons’ Night Thursday, March 6, 6:30 p.m., Lower School classrooms WAPA Coffee and Chat Wednesday, March 12, 8:00 a.m., Library
Meet Your Wildcats
C.A.R.E.S. Crews Event Thursday, March 13, 1:30 p.m.
Name: Dawn Frank
Lower School Talent Show Thursday, March 13, 6:30 p.m., Rives Hall
Title: Registrar and Assistant in the Pre-K Classroom Family: Husband – Doug Frank, Son – Drew Corns Daughter – Erin Corns Step-son – Brian Frank Granddaughter – Paislynn Frank What was your favorite subject in school? Math
Blood Drive Wednesday, March 19, 8:00 a.m., Finch Center Holiday Break Monday, March 24 - Friday, March 28
What book are you reading? Sycamore Row by John Grisham Name of the last movie you watched: The Monuments Men Favorite Restaurant: La Hacienda Dream Vacation: A month on Cat Island in the Bahamas Something most people don’t know about you: That I’m a grandmother! Favorite thing about Westchester: It’s my home away from home!
Arts Update from Ann Parks Arts Education: Creating Student Success March is National Youth Art and Music Month, and we will be celebrating the Arts throughout the month in many different venues. You may want to attend the Friends of the Fine Arts monthly meeting Tuesday, March 4, at 8:00 a.m. in the library. We’d love to see you there! Lower and Middle School students will be auditioning for Disney’s Aristocats, Jr. on March 18. Our Pre-K through first grade students will get to experience live theater at the Carousel Theater March 12 and then actually perform on the stage for the annual Lower School Talent Show on Thursday, March 13. Our Upper School students will share their talents during community meetings and courtyard concerts, if the March weather cooperates. The Middle School is dancing to a different beat and will showcase their newly learned steps at a party on March 21. Finally, help celebrate Arts Advocacy Day on March 25 by doing something creative during Spring Break: share your photographs, learn a new song on your guitar, or visit a museum wherever you’re traveling. The Arts: Together make life more colorful!
The Arts: Together Together We Create Wildcat Nation
Advocacy Statement: The Arts Prepare Students for School, Work, and Life
As this country works to strengthen our foothold in the 21st Century global economy, the arts equip students with a creative, competitive edge. To succeed in today’s economy of ideas, students must masterfully use words, images, sounds, and movement to communicate. The arts provide the skills and knowledge students need to develop the creativity and determination necessary for success in today’s global information age. 1
Duncan, A. (2011) Foreword in PCAH Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools (p.1).
For The College Bound Snow, snow Go away Even the kids want to go to school all day! Thanks to the snowiest winter in recent years, a number of activities have had to be re-scheduled, including the annual meeting of juniors and their parents that is focused on the college search and application process. That meeting is now scheduled for Wednesday, March 5, at 8 am in the Westchester library. Hopefully Old Man Winter will cooperate this time and the meeting will go on as planned. Another program that will impact the junior class this semester is a workshop series that I will present through their English classes. Thanks to the graciousness of Robin French and his willingness to offer some of his valuable class time to me, I will help the juniors work toward launching their own college searches through this four-session program. One of the points that I emphasize to these students is the importance of using the upcoming summer weeks constructively. It is now early March, but it is not too early to begin thinking about how the summer will be spent. I encourage all of our students from ninth through eleventh grades to choose at least one substantive activity in which to engage during their time away from school. Often our Upper School students find themselves so over-extended during the school year that they have little or no time for many of the activities for which colleges are looking. With demanding course loads and athletic involvement, students often don’t have time to do volunteer work, hold down a part-time job, or pursue hobbies such as writing or painting during the school year. In addition, sometimes our young people just need some down time to get to know themselves better. Cheryl Cunningham has information about a variety of summer programs that are available to our students, and parents or students may want to
contact her if they are interested in a particular type of activity. Juniors should consider getting started on their college applications over the summer and should, at the very least, plan to finalize their personal essays. Late in the summer most colleges make their applications available online, and we have determined that in many instances applications submitted early receive a more favorable response than if submitted late in the process. Every Upper School student should include in his or her summer schedule at least one activity that will enhance the résumé and allow the student to expand his or her horizons. Congratulations to the following members of the Class of 2014 who have received college acceptances since our last newsletter: Laieke Abebe – East Carolina University Jessica Barker – Hollins University Roanoke College Daniel Crooker – Millsaps College Wingate University Mary Kate Farris – Clemson University Daphne Foster – Clemson University George Heath – UNC Charlotte Messiah Henderson - High Point University Anna Hood – Wofford College Avery Keefe – Clemson University Prajan Marhatta – UNC Asheville Western Carolina University Lewis Miles – Morehouse College Myles Sowell – North Carolina A & T State University North Carolina Central University Cameron White – UNC Charlotte West Virginia University Betty Flythe College Placement Advisor
Invention Convention Third grade students in Ms. Robinson’s class show off their inventions to parents at an Invention Convention. Their recent social studies unit had been about inventions that changed our lives. Their challenge was to create something that would make their lives or the lives of others a little bit better. Their creative minds were out of this world!
Athletics Update from Coach Schwartz The 2014 winter athletic season concluded last week after a very successful four months in the water and on the courts! The NCISAA 2A State Swim Meet was held at the Greensboro Aquatic Center where sophomore Virginia Marsh won the state championship in the 100 freestyle and 100 butterfly. At the conference meet at American Hebrew Academy, Jane Nunn and Virginia Marsh both made the all-conference team.
A special thank you goes out to all of our Wildcat boosters, parents, coaches, teachers, and players for volunteering at the NCISAA 2A basketball tournament at Westchester. We were voted “best hospitality room” for the tournament, and our welcoming attitude was felt throughout the state.
On the hardwood, the Varsity Boys Basketball team made an incredible run to win the TAC regular season conference championship. Unfortunately, the TAC conference tournament was cancelled due to the inclement weather. The boys qualified for the state tournament before losing to Harrells Christian in the state tournament at WCDS. David Ayodele and Justice Cuthbertson were named to the TAC all-conference basketball team. Justice was also named Conference Player of the Year and was selected to the NCISAA 2A all-state team.
Spring sports practices are off to a great start, so please check the website for games and matches in the area, and come out and support the Cats!
Thank you to Coach Heather Singer for leading our Wildcat cheerleaders this winter at all of our varsity basketball games. The Middle School teams also had tremendous seasons, and all of our younger Wildcat athletes performed at the highest level. The future of Wildcat athletics sure does look promising!
Spring Teams and Coaches:
Varsity Baseball – Joey Hammond, Mo Blakeney, Jeff Wilson Varsity Girls Soccer – Rustin Thomas, Megann Huggins Varsity Golf – Adam Schwartz Varsity Boys Tennis – Sterling Smith Varsity Track- Tim Anderson, Jeb Burns MS Golf – Robert Vinson
Two BIG events to put on your calendar for the spring: April – 10th Annual Big Cat/Lil’ Cat Golf Tournament at Emerywood Golf Course May 10 – 10th Annual “Hobey” W-Day 5K at Westchester
The Career Fair was a huge success. Thanks to all the parents, teachers, students, and volunteers for making this year’s event the best ever! Above left, Wake Forest Head Baseball Coach Tom Walter and WCDS Head Baseball Coach Joey Hammond discuss careers in sports. Above right, Upper School students visit a booth on careers in the military during the event in the Finch Center. Heather Singer Middle and Upper School Counselor
Westchester Country Day is a college preparatory school that seeks to educate each child toward moral, academic, artistic, and athletic excellence in a nurturing, family environment where students, teachers, and parents support one another. By respecting the student and honoring learning, Westchester aims to cultivate informed citizens who are ready for a rapidly changing world and to graduate students who view the pursuit and wise use of knowledge as a lifelong joy.