Spanish intensive honors students transformed their classroom into an international court of law. At this improvised “Superior Court of Country Day,” Hernán Cortés was brought to trial for crimes against humanity. Both lawyers and witnesses presented compelling arguments on both sides.
Over the past few weeks, Tiny Torreys have enjoyed exploring a unit about transportation. They studied a variety of vehicles that drive on the road, float in the water, fly in the sky and move down a track. For each area of exploration, the children engaged in fun, hands-on activities to support and enhance their learning experience through play.
Summer is almost upon us. Does anyone else feel like this school year has flown by? What should we read during the lazy days of summer? Read exactly what you want to read! I use the summer season to get caught up on books that experts say I should read, but it’s also the time to just explore and discover new reading materials—books, cookbooks, travel guides (check out Atlas Obscura), or fun new magazines (my new favorite magazine is The New Philosopher from Australia).
Because I am a Shakespearean, people regularly ask me which of Shakespeare's plays is my favorite. This is always a tough question to answer because there are, of course, so many greats. Usually, I reply that I love Measure for Measure on an intellectual level because of its thorough exploration of the relationship between mercy and justice. As a teacher, Othello is an almost perfect play in a classical sense, lining up with Aristotelian observations on tragedy. The play, however, that evokes the greatest emotional response from me is As You Like It.
Last week, third graders were excited to be treated to a pizza lunch and visit the Upper School, an area that usually brings a bit of mystery and awe. The highlight of this event, though, was finally meeting their pen pals, LJCDS senior Peer Leaders.
On Tuesday, May 16, the Mobile Countertop group, consisting of students Spencer Alligood ’18, AJ Dhus ’17, and Skylar Kelley-Duval ’19, presented their invention of a lapboard for cooking for people in wheelchairs to help improve safety and independence for those who are unable to utilize their kitchens fully. They are one of nine groups in the Design Thinking to Open Entrepreneurship class who participated in a yearlong project in partnership with Ottobock, a company whose mission is to restore and improve independence for people with mobility challenges.
As a history teacher, Dan Norland spends much of his time focused on the past. But as one of the editors of the new book Witnesses of the Unseen: Seven Years in Guantanamo, Norland is looking to the future, hopeful that the journey of two unjustly imprisoned men can provide inspiration and lifelong lessons for his students and others.
In the last year, the neuroscience and AP World History classes partnered with the Virtual Reality (VR) Club at the University of California, San Diego, proving VR is not just for gaming. The partnership provided opportunities for two students, Eric Cohen ’17 and Nikko Sambold ’18, to join the student organization at UC San Diego and partake in a special project, coding a program in cooperation with the San Diego Museum of Air and Space. Eric and Nikko are now helping to create a game within a virtual museum complete with life-sized replicas of planes that are controlled to maneuver in desired locations.
Middle School math teacher Pam Madigan was named Educator of the Year, presented by the La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Club. Mrs. Madigan was one of two outstanding educators in San Diego honored for her leadership, inspiration, mastery of teaching and love for her students.
Congratulations to Posy Stoller ’17 who was named 2017 U.S. Presidential Scholar—one of the nation's highest honors bestowed upon high school students. Posy is one of 161 American high school seniors who received this prestigious award for her outstanding academic achievement, artistic excellence, leadership, citizenship, service and contribution to LJCDS and the greater community.
Second graders were treated to a performance of Flamenco dancing by World Language Teacher Eva Power P'17 '21 and Oscar Valero P'26 '29, husband of World Language teacher Maya Torres. In their Spanish classes, second graders are learning about Spain and its geography, culture, food and music. During this unit of study, students were introduced to Flamenco music and dance. The presentation was an enriching opportunity to expose students to the music and basic steps of Flamenco, and they even had the opportunity to learn some dance moves.
Congratulations to Gabriella Herman ’23 who was awarded honorable mention for creativity in engineering and Daniela Mendoza-Diaz ’23 who was awarded honorable mention for creativity in design at the recent Fly Your Ride STEM-based competition flying car finals held at the San Diego Air & Space Museum in Balboa Park. Thirteen LJCDS students joined a record 272 other middle school teams from Southern California to compete. Fly Your Ride encourages local students to employ science, technology, engineering and math in a fun, homemade flying car competition. Read more in Times of San Diego and on Aviation Pros.
Happy Spring! I consider myself a futurist with a passion for learning how technology will impact society in the next 25-50 years. I admittedly spend a great deal of time on the internet reading and watching copious amounts of news on technology. Here are a few technology and futurism updates to share.
As the 2016–2017 school year comes to a close and retirement looms large, I find myself reflecting back on my career in education and trying to figure out exactly what it is I have learned. From my first teaching job in a suburb of Chicago with a master’s degree in hand at the ripe old age of 22, and 36 kindergarteners in my morning session and 36 more in the afternoon with no assistant, I was convinced I could conquer the world. Or, at least be able to teach 72 five-year-olds.
Congratulations to Ken Lew ’20 for winning first place in the Senior Division Engineering Fuel and Transport Category and the U.S. Navy Science and Technology award at the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Science Fair. Over 1,200 Grades 7–12 students in San Diego or Imperial County entered a project for screening and a possible invitation to the fair.
Christine Campbell ’13 pitched Lehigh to a Senior Day win over Army to push the Mountain Hawks record to 30-14 and one win shy of the Patriot League championship. It is Lehigh’s 17th consecutive year with at least 30 wins. Christine owns a record of 18-4 and plans to pitch for the Irish National Team and play on a pro team in the Netherlands after graduation. Click here for the complete story.
On Friday, April 21, students were recognized for both visual and performing arts accomplishments during an awards ceremony at assembly. Parents, faculty, staff and fellow students were there to applaud their great accomplishments and contributions to the arts at LJCDS. Director of Visual and Performing Arts Barbara Weinstein concluded the event by congratulating the students before introducing the honors orchestra who performed “Feed the Birds,” written by the Sherman Brothers and featured in the 1964 motion picture, Mary Poppins.
Although glamorized on TV, crime scene investigations are complicated scientific endeavors. Forensics experts are faced with daunting tasks to analyze crime scene evidence and unravel murder mysteries. With this in mind, students in the Grades 7–8 forensic science elective enthusiastically took on a multitude of responsibilities to identify the culprit in a campus-related mock crime.
To supplement their gardening unit, Tiny Torreys went on a field trip to the Carlsbad Strawberry Company on Wednesday, April 19. This was a perfect opportunity to immerse themselves in first hand garden exploration. Everyone received a bucket and filled them up with fresh strawberries. They went up and down the rows of strawberry plants and gently picked the fruits off their stems. This gave them a hands on opportunity to examine the leaves, stems and flowering fruits of a strawberry plant. They were eager to use their knowledge in labeling the parts of a plant to point out the fruit they picked.
Congratulations to Elaina Sassine ’18 who earned honorable mention in the women and gender studies category in the final round of the MIT INSPIRE national research competition. MIT INSPIRE is the only national high school research competition in the humanities, arts and social sciences. With nearly 600 total entries, Elaina was one of 105 finalists who was invited to MIT to present her research findings.
Is kindergarten too early to understand the significance of why something is important? Is fourth grade too premature to understand perspective and point of view? Is sixth grade too young to expect students to provide evidence for how they know something is true or correct? Is 10th grade too late to expect students to know how to make connections or the reasoning behind the how or why something applies? And would we be remiss if by 12th grade our students couldn’t employ supposition or the understanding that in uncertainty one questions the status quo and embraces speculation? What are our habits of thinking at La Jolla Country Day School? How are we preparing students to develop these habits and meta thinking during their journey from grade to grade?
My wife, daughter and I have been going to Cabo San Lucas during spring break for years. This year was no exception. The weather in Cabo this time of year is not much different than in San Diego. In Cabo, however, there is no lawn for me to mow or other things on my “honey-do” list. Much of our time during spring break is spent relaxing and reading. While on break this year, I read Shawn Achor’s The Happiness Advantage. Achor suggests most people follow the formula “you work hard, you become successful and then you become happy.” For students, this often means “if I work hard, I will get that good grade and then I’ll be happy.” Achor suggests that the formula is broken and argues that happiness breeds success. I don’t disagree with him.
French is spoken by more than 274 million people. It is the official language of more countries—33—than any other language except English. And every March 20, all 77 member states of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonieobserve “International Francophonie Day,” a celebration of French language and Francophone culture.
On Friday, March 17, La Jolla Country Day School welcomed five alumni to campus to speak with Upper School students for the annual Career Day. Alumni Andy Altman ’08, Katy Foltz Hastings ’03, Daniel Neukomm ’97, Porschia Talbot ’03 and Alet Oury Taylor ’88 shared stories about their careers and the paths they took to get there. After listening to brief introductions from each graduate during assembly, the senior class attended smaller group presentations by each alumnus/a. Learn more about each of our Career Day speakers below.
La Jolla Country Day School has a long history of displaying amazing student art for the whole community to observe and enjoy. But imagine having your art displayed at the downtown Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD). That’s what 11 Upper School art and technology students experienced during a student art exhibition on Thursday, March 16. Every year, the Upper School art studio partners with the MCASD in the Extended School Partnership (ESP) program, which offers teachers and students an opportunity to develop more flexibility and curiosity as a team of creators.
On Friday, March 17, sixth graders took part in an interdisciplinary project titled “This American Life” where they transformed into adults with jobs, budgets and rent or mortgage payments. Based on Parade magazine’s “What People Earn” article, students researched the life of a real person and worked with their “character” to create a portfolio filled with factual and creative information related to this person and culminated with a presentation for the LJCDS community.
Tracy Brymer P’15 '18 and Belinda Donner P’19 ’22, volunteer co-chairs of this year’s Blue Bash, sat down with Jennifer Fogarty, assistant director of marketing and communications, to share with us what to look forward to on Saturday, May 6, 2017, at the Belly Up. Blue Bash is LJCDS’ annual fundraiser that supports financial assistance, professional development, Parents Association activities and upcoming school projects.
As I sit down to write, I have just come from embracing a colleague who was visibly shaken after an interaction with an upset parent. Several of us paused during the busy work day to debrief on what had just occurred and to process this event with our colleague who felt he/she had a very positive rapport with this parent. We reflected on the fact that Donna Hicks, Ph.D., the author of Dignity, is writing her next book and is including La Jolla Country Day School in it. How do we encourage all members of our community—faculty, staff, administrators and parents—to model dignity for our students? It starts with treating one another with kindness and concern.
Thanks to a friend and colleague, I was pointed to a brilliant article about the importance of the arts in education with a focus I never considered as key until now. What is it that we do in the arts profession that empowers students outside of the classroom? The article from actor, author and teacher Eric Booth was an edited version of his presentation from the Educational Theatre Conference in 2007. Essentially, he focused on how we are comfortable using nouns to describe the arts, but it’s the verbs that get lost in translation.
Alumna Alet Taylor ’88, an actress and writer living in New York and Los Angeles, returns to La Jolla to play the role of Torrey and understudy Katherine in Disney’s new musical Freaky Friday at La Jolla Playhouse. Based on the celebrated novel by Mary Rodgers and the Walt Disney Motion Pictures, the story is about a mother and daughter who magically swap bodies for 24 chaotic hours.
As part of the sixth-grade Classroom Without Walls project on February 22–23, students worked with Habitat for Humanity to build and decorate playhouses for local Head Start programs. This was the first time that San Diego Habitat for Humanity facilitated Camp Habitat with students in this age group, and the students showed how well they could collaborate to make eight colorful and lively playhouses.
Now in my third year as the director of financial assistance and enrollment management, I have come to realize that, at times, there seems to be a tremendous amount of mystery around the topic of financial assistance at independent schools. As a result, demystifying financial assistance at La Jolla Country Day School has become one of my primary objectives.
A cursory glance at literature on character education will illuminate growing research that cites empathy as a vital trait in building leaders of the future. A Google search instantly reveals hundreds of empathy coaches working with top companies to build morale in the workplace. Despite these trends, a strange adversarial relationship still exists between students and administrators. Students often view administrators as “sheriffs” plotting devious ways to fill the student experience with endless hurdles and red tape. Throughout my tenure at the school, I have worked to defy such misconceptions. How can an administrator expect to mentor and guide students without, as Atticus Finch opines, “walking around in their skin”? To prove my point and to grow as an administrator, I spent a day shadowing my advisee and Student Council President Remy Reya ’17.
Congratulations to the following students who were inducted into the Cum Laude Society on February 24. We’d also like to extend congratulations to our two new faculty Cum Laude Society members: Upper School world language teacher Eva Power, B.S. and Upper School English teacher Ary Tohidi, B.A.
Congratulations to Kelsey Plum ’13, the all-time scoring leader in NCAA women’s basketball history with 3,397 points! After scoring 57-points while leading the University of Washington over the University of Utah on Saturday, February 25, Plum surpassed former Southwest Missouri State standout Jackie Stiles on the career scoring list. What made it even more special was that she broke the record with her family and LJCDS coach Terri Bamford by her side and as the school celebrated Senior Day. Below is the story from the Union-Tribune.
Tiny Torreys met with Lower School computer science and innovation teacher Andrea Flagiello to engage in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) activities this past month. She brought several Fisher Price® Code-a-pillars™, which allow children to explore basic concepts of coding. Each body segment of the caterpillar has a different function. This can include the simple movements of accelerating forward and turning right or left in various degrees to stopping and singing or repeating any action. When put together, the caterpillar moved according to the order of functions attached by the children. It wasn't long before the students figured out how to build the longest caterpillar and enjoyed watching it inch along down the sidewalk.
I live by my calendar. Maybe you do too. It’s one of the first things I check in the morning and the last thing I review before bed. My calendar influences my mood and the types of interactions I will have: Do I have time to have an impromptu chat with a colleague or commend a student? Can I dive into a big project or is my day divided into tiny pieces? The way my time unfolds governs my energy at night. Too many fragmented days take their toll on my effectiveness. A school’s class schedule is no different; it influences productivity, stress levels and satisfaction. There is one key distinction, though: students have little, if any, control over how their time is divided in school. Therefore it falls on the educators to ensure we are using the schedule to not only foster productivity and a sense of fulfillment but also to favor teaching methods that prepare students for the changing work world. With these goals in mind, the Middle and Upper Schools undertook a review and revision of the daily schedule rotation, and we are excited to embark on a new schedule in the 2017-2018 academic year.
Spanish IV students recently connected via Skype with Juan Pablo Esquivel, Ph.D., a research scientist at the Institute of Microelectronics of Barcelona, located on the campus of the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Bellaterra, Spain. He spoke with students about the role of science and innovation, his experience as an international researcher and his current role at the National Microelectronics Center in Catalonia, Spain.
Terms like STEM, STEAM, maker space, design thinking or innovation are used interchangeably, especially in the school setting, but what do they mean? I believe these terms are used to answer the same question: How do we make K-12 education relevant and give students a competitive advantage in college and their careers?
Turn on your imagination as we travel back to 1865. What is that sound? A rooster crowing, “cock-a-doodle-do.” Time to get dressed for school. On Friday, February 10, a special presenter from History in a Trunk visited third graders and played the role of the teacher in a one-room school. Student volunteers were given old-fashioned names and dressed in knickers, bloomers, aprons and bonnets. Quill pens, slates and dunce hat props were used as the presenter shared examples of a typical school day. Students participated in the live simulation and were flabbergasted by the rules and punishments of the first one-room school in San Diego. They learned school was quite different than it is today.
Congratulations to the Middle School student-athletes from the 2016-2017 winter sports season. Students were honored at the Athletic Awards Ceremony on Friday, February 10 in the Four Flowers Theater. Coaches from basketball, fencing, soccer and softball programs spoke about their seasons and award winning athletes.
We should not be surprised if there is a course in the near future titled, “How to Augment Your Intelligence.” Here’s why: In today’s world, it would be hard to imagine traveling without cars, trains, planes or ships. The first Industrial Revolution utilized new energy sources, including steam power, fossil fuels and electricity, to augment human power. Today, cars driving on the highway harness 250 horses. As we create cities, roads, buildings and desalination plants, it requires power beyond our own capabilities.
Devoted readers with photographic memories will recall that Part 1 of this series, “Beach Ballers,” closed with a quote from Skyler Kelley-Duval ’19, a tenth grader by day and ace attorney by night: “I truly feel like a part of this team and I can’t wait until the Menlo tournament!” In January, Skyler’s wait came to an end, as the Torrey Mock Trial team journeyed north to compete as one of 16 teams in what the tournament organizers described as “the strongest mock trial field ever assembled in California.”
With more than $2 million in sales, Joyce Hsieh ’17, the founder and CEO of a fashion e-commerce website, is not your typical student. An online celebrity in her own way, Hsieh gained a following on Instagram with 29K followers and 73K YouTube subscribers. What started as a hobby bedazzling phone cases when she was 13 years old has grown into an international online store complete with trendy sunglasses, jewelry, sweaters and graphic T-shirts, which she designs on an iPad and prints at home. Below she chats with Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications Jennifer Fogarty.
Congratulations to the Upper School robotics team, the Torrey Techies, who became Turing League Champions on Sunday, February 5 at Mater Dei High School in Chula Vista. Students wrapped up their qualification season with a big win in the Turing League for FIRST Tech Challenge. The team competed in three tournaments since early December, coming into Sunday's competition with two wins and one third place finish. This last competition was critical for advancing, and the team was ready.
The Tiny Torreys and junior kindergarteners and their parents enjoyed an evening of investigation and observation at the Early Childhood Center Science Night on Tuesday, January 31. Their curiosities were stimulated by the many different science activities in each of the five classrooms and courtyard—complete with a selfie station, phases of the moon and glow sticks. Children were engaged in STEM activities, having fun while learning at the same time.
On Tuesday, January 31, the entire freshman class and students in computer science, robotics and AP World History visited the Center for Cyber-Archaeology & Sustainability (CCAS) at UC San Diego Qualcomm Institute. As stated on their website, “cyber-archaeology is “the marriage of archaeology, computer science, engineering, and the natural sciences,” which provides “21st-century solutions to safeguard the past for future generations.”
“A dumpling of a woman, sweet and soft and barely five-feet tall. Her brown eyes were bright with the promise of knowledge.” These are some of my favorite words to describe La Jolla Country Day School’s founder, Louise Balmer. This summer, I immersed myself in the history of our school, eager to understand the rich traditions and history that have sustained us for 90 years.
Xin Nian Kuai Le! That’s Chinese for Happy New Year. This Lunar New Year, starting Saturday, January 28, marks the start of the Year of the Rooster. The Middle School celebrated cultural activities throughout the week thanks to the parent-led Chinese Culture Workshop, student-run Asian Explorers Club, parent volunteers and faculty members.
More than 70 students and faculty members traveled to D.C. from January 17-22 to witness the inauguration. While on the trip, students also attended oral arguments at the Supreme Court, met with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Senator Elizabeth Warren, visited museums and national monuments, and some participated in the Women’s March.
When my eldest son was coaching at Stanford, the head coach, Jim Harbaugh, posted a sign that everyone walked by every day. The sign was titled "Four Ways to Cheat Your Players" and at the top of the list was, “Doing for them what they can do for themselves.”
The flow experience is a state of complete involvement in an activity that requires complete concentration (Csikszentmihalyi, 1999). Flow is characterized by the matching of high environmental challenges with equally high levels of personal skills, the merging of action and awareness, the loss of reflexive self-consciousness, a sense of control and a distortion of temporal experiences (Nakamura & Csikszentmihalyi, 2005).
Chris Eliopoulos has two rules to cartooning: always be silly and have fun, and sound effects must be made while drawing. Second and third graders had no problem following these rules on Friday, January 20, as Mr. E, as he requested to be called, walked them through the drawing of Albert Einstein, Abe Lincoln, Rosa Parks, Helen Keller and Kermit the Frog. Even adults in attendance, including Head of School Gary Krahn, tried their hand at cartooning (and making sound effects). In the end, Eliopoulos explained that cartooning is easy; it’s just a matter of using letters, numbers, lines and dots.
Third graders are finishing their studies on colonial America and will soon be packing their wagons to head west as pioneers. In preparation for the westward expansion unit, students went to the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park on Wednesday, January 18 to watch an IMAX movie about the historic journey of Lewis and Clark.
As we move through the height of the admission season, I am reminded of the power of relationships. An interesting concept when considering “word of mouth” marketing is a riff on the real estate marketer’s phrase, “location, location, location.” With admissions, it is all about “relationship, relationship, relationship.”
I went into education because I love Shakespeare; he brings to life many of those activities that make us human, one being the evolving nature of leadership. Henry V leads the charge, for example, at Harfleur, shouting “Once more unto the breach, dear friends,” showing adeptness at leadership by example.
For the past five years, LJCDS has partnered with Braille Institute San Diego to help students better understand the world of the visually impaired. As part of the study of the five senses, kindergartners were first introduced to sight, and part of their studies included learning about Helen Keller and Louis Braille.
There is no doubt in my mind that parenting is the hardest job in the world. As parents, you have sole responsibility for the caring and nurturing of your child. You make an enormous amount of decisions regarding such important issues as healthcare, education and discipline. Ultimately, you may feel responsible for your child’s happiness and success in life. It may even seem overwhelming at times.
Seventh and eighth graders visited the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust on Wednesday, January 11 and Thursday, January 12 as part of the Facing History and Ourselves (FHAO) course. FHAO is a nonprofit international educational and professional development organization whose mission is to engage students of diverse backgrounds in an examination of racism, prejudice, and antisemitism in order to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry.
Miles Himmel ’10 was recently featured in the Union Tribune for his leadership in creating The Larry Himmel Neighborhood Foundation, a foundation for which is named in honor of his father, Larry. The foundation offers support and resources to organizations and individuals in the spirit of Larry’s connection with the communities and people of San Diego.