Lower School

Syndicate content

Thermo Scientific awards Kristin Qian '14 top scholarship

Send by email

Kristin, who will be a first year student at Princeton this fall, was selected from a pool of graduate and undergraduate students nationwide for this $10,000 scholarship. "This scholarship was created to help provide educational opportunities for the future generation of scientists."

Video: PLACE students impress at City Hall, Oregonian newspaper takes notice

Send by email

Students from Catlin Gabel's PLACE civic leadership program presented their plans in July 2014 to Portland's mayor and city council for improvements to SE Powell Blvd., a major Portland artery. Their plan was exceptionally well received! A reporter from the Oregonian newspaper took note and wrote this article about their presentation (pdf here and downloadable below).

PLACE program announces new public-private partnership

Send by email
Catlin Gabel's civic engagement program getting storefront space in North Portland

Catlin Gabel’s PLACE (Planning and Leadership Across City Environments) urban civic leadership program and One North, a Portland development and neighborhood project, have created an innovative new partnership. This partnership gives PLACE a storefront space in North Portland to continue operations and expand its mission of student and community engagement. The new location is set to open in the winter of 2015.

“Catlin Gabel is an integral part of this public-private endeavor,” said Catlin Gabel head Tim Bazemore. “Being part of this pilot project will create more experiential learning opportunities for our students, and PLACE will be a catalyst for local youth to engage and lead.”

The development group behind One North, Eric Lemelson and Ben Kaiser, generously donated storefront space to PLACE for five years. “Catlin Gabel aligns with One North’s commitment to community involvement, sustainability, and sharing resources. We are excited to create authentic partnerships in the neighborhood, and have a public purpose impact,” said development team member Owen Gabbert ’02.

This month, the unique nature of this public-private development was recognized by Metro, the regional governing body, which granted the project $420,000. The grant will support the development of the project’s outdoor courtyard, which will become an asset available for use by the community.

PLACE uses urban planning as a tool to teach students from Catlin Gabel and other schools in the region how to become active and engaged citizens working toward positive change in their communities and the world. For example, students have completed projects for clients such as Zenger Farm in outer southeast Portland and the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability in north Portland. For Zenger Farm, students surveyed nearly 900 youth in the David Douglas school district about food insecurity. Not only did Zenger Farm implement some of the PLACE student design recommendations, but its board of directors still uses that survey data to make organizational decisions.

Since its inception in 2008, PLACE has grown into a three-part program with an international following.

• PLACE courses are offered to Upper School students at Catlin Gabel and worldwide through the Global Online Academy during the school year.
• The PLACE summer program has enrolled students from 15 high schools in the Portland area. About 50 percent of summer students receive financial aid.
• In keeping with Catlin Gabel’s mission to model for others, the PLACE curriculum is offered for free to other schools, and is replicated by educators in 40 cities around the world.

PLACE director George Zaninovich shared his excitement about the increased opportunities provided through this public-private-educational partnership: “Expanding the PLACE program into a permanent home in the community provides more opportunities to use the city as a classroom. This will allow our students to develop closer working relationships with people of all ages, cultures, and backgrounds. This permanent home and authentic community partnerships in a vibrant urban and multicultural environment will better prepare PLACE students for collaborating in an increasingly global world.”

During the 2014-15 school year, George will continue teaching in the Upper School while also taking the lead on planning for the PLACE program’s expansion. He will work in consultation with two advisory committees—one made up of community stakeholders, civic leaders, and North/Northeast neighborhood advocates, and one composed of youth from North/Northeast Portland, PLACE, and Catlin Gabel.

One North consists of three office/retail buildings opening up to a large courtyard that will serve as a place for sustainability education and for neighbors to meet formally and informally. The project developers are working to realize a vision focused on maximizing energy efficiency, reducing waste and consumption, and sharing resources with the community. Tenants include Instrument, a digital creative agency, and the Kartini Clinic for Children & Families. 

Ten students complete 500-mile walk from Switzerland through Italy

Send by email

This week 10 current and former Catlin Gabel students completed a 500-mile month-long walk on a pilgrimage route from Switzerland through Italy. Palma Scholars director and trip co-leader Dave Whitson said: "From Lake Geneva, we crossed the Alps, descending into Italy through the Aosta Valley. We picked up the trail at the start of the Apennine Mountains and crossed those, too. Then we walked across Tuscany before ultimately arriving in Rome. For a month, they walked every day, despite tendonitis, shin splints, blisters, and other ailments. This is the third time my co-leader and I have taken students on this route, and the first that all students completed every step of the walk." Kudos to the group!

Senior Alex Lam wins two bronze medals at the 2014 Fencing Summer Nationals

Send by email
We salute you!

Alex was 3rd out of 67 in the Division 1A Men's Saber and 3rd out of 262 in the Junior Men's Saber (U19) events in Columbus, Ohio.

His national ranking in the Junior Men's Saber (U19) category moved from 34th to 22nd in the country. He is currently in the top 10 of U19 high school fencers.

Alex was also named to the first team of the 2014 USA Fencing All-Academic Team.

Video: Reflections on Lark Palma's 19 years as head of school

Send by email


Please consider making a gift in honor of Lark Palma's extraordinary leadership 

Critically acclaimed author Miranda Beverly-Whittemore ’94 reading at Powell’s on July 1

Send by email

Alumna Miranda Beverly-Whittemore’s third novel, Bittersweet, is a suspenseful and cinematic beach read. Join her at Powell’s on Burnside for a reading on Tuesday, July 1, at 7:30 p.m.

About Bittersweet: Secrets unfold when a scholarship student at a prestigious East Coast college visits her roommate’s pedigreed New England family.

“A page-turner riddled with stubborn clues, a twisty plot and beguiling characters.” —Kirkus, starred review

“Beverly-Whittemore’s novel is suspenseful and intriguing… Her short chapters, with their cliff-hanger endings, will keep readers turning pages late into the night.” —Booklist

“The theme of Paradise Lost courses through this coming-of-age tale tinged with mystery.” —Publishers Weekly

“A suspenseful tale of corruption and bad behavior among wealthy New Englanders.” —Library Journal

“Evokes Gone Girl with its exploration of dark secrets and edge-of-your-seat twists.” —Entertainment Weekly, A- review

“Like a Downton-in-Vermont, Bittersweet takes swift, implausible plot turns, and its family secrets flow like a bottomless magnum of champagne, but Beverly¬Whittemore succeeds in shining a light into the dark, brutal flaws of the human heart.” —New York Times Book Review

The Best Place to Live in the U.S.

Send by email
4th graders learn about our nation by becoming informed regional advocates

From the Spring 2014 Caller

By Keli Gump

How can 4th graders learn lasting lessons about the variety and complexity of the United States? This year, for the first time, we’ve approached this question through the study of migration. This theme provides for authentic integration across all content areas, and weaves the richness of identity, diversity, and culture with geography and history in a way that is engaging and deep. We began close to home, learning about how we all come to be in Oregon today. Then we looked at how people came to Oregon on the Oregon Trail. The next layer to our migration study was all about the regions of the United States
Some of our guiding questions included:
What are the regions of the U.S.A. and why are they important?
Who moved to this region? When? Why?
Why do people stay? Why do people leave?
What is the relationship between people and the environment in each region?
Our students began with research about all of the regions of the U.S.A.—which we defined as the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, and West—and enjoyed trying to name all of the states from memory. No easy task! They formed literature circles around books set in the five main regions, all of which included geography, history, culture, and dilemmas specific to that area. Our conversations have been full and varied; students come prepared to pose complex questions to the group and explore regional vocabulary along with visualizing life in these areas.
From the novels we moved to in-depth study of the regions, naturally creating five groups in both 4th grade sections. Led by my colleague Maggie Bendicksen, 4th grade team members Courtney Plummer and John Hellman, and me, students immersed themselves in learning about the immigrants, history, topography, geography, natural and man-made resources, culture, language, weather, and traditions of their particular region. Some students spent most of their time on one project while others worked on two or three projects, depending on the needs of the teams and the requirements of the projects. Some were short and sweet, others much more in depth.
Another goal was to help students access a variety of resources; for this we received valuable help from Lisa Ellenberg and Dan Woytek in the Lower School library. The My America State Collection had a wealth of information on regional weather. Our weather experts were excited to interview KATU-TV meteorologist Rhonda Shelby in person to find out how to best create their weather reports. Our brochure experts pored over a collection of travel brochures the 4th grade team had collected. Students discovered helpful online resources such as “Learn About the States” at kids.usa.gov, National Geographic’s kids’ world atlas, and Wiki for Kids, which provided information about natural and manmade resources, political map features, and popular tourist attractions. Catlin Gabel parent Mike Ferron-Jones spoke about the main facets of marketing, which helped students develop a message for their target audience. Having kids get their hands all these resources helped them to become the experts themselves, while learning how to cite those sources.
What are the factors that help people choose where to settle?
We hoped to help children truly understand this question as they sought to answer it through our culminating project. Each group created a booth for our Regions Fair, which took place in March. We opened the doors to our students’ families as well as the greater Catlin Gabel community of adults.
Using their persuasive powers and now-vast knowledge of these regions, students tried to entice their visitors into moving to their region. From inside their carefully crafted and painted refrigerator-box booths, our 4th graders were armed with digital timelines, carefully designed travel brochures, hand-made souvenirs, giant maps, regional weather report videos, and foods from the regions that they had brought with them.
Our students took the food part of their research very seriously. They created recipe proposals using regional cookbooks from our library and presented them to Catlin Gabel adults who had lived in the various regions, who made the final food selections. Sumptuous Key lime pie from the Southeast was a huge hit. Who knew hasty pudding was made from corn meal? Kids from the Northeastern region group now do! From the two West regions, kids created applesauce and fruit kabobs. The Midwestern region groups were pleasantly surprised to find out how delicious cherry cobbler and cheesy potatoes turned out. The students learning about the Southeast region were so inspired by its foods that Nayan Murthy and his mother baked a king cake at home to bring to the fair, and Jake Andrichuk’s mother and grandmother cooked Frogmore stew in our kitchen.
The fair was a tremendous success, with a huge crowd of interested adults moving through, sampling the food, viewing the videos, and most of all engaging the students in discussions about their region. The students loved becoming mini-Chambers of Commerce, armed with the fruits of their research.
When asked at the end of our study what one challenge was to living in the West, Noga Tal showed how deeply she was immersed in her studies when she quickly answered, “For me, a challenge would be to work with the tough winters. Every five years, there is a major storm, but I successfully got through it this winter because school was let out.”
We love these kinds of units of inquiry because they offer authentic opportunities to integrate our work in literacy, math, and social studies. The students read about characters who live in the region, discuss challenges that real people have, learn to writing persuasively about a topic, study the distances between places, and conduct meaningful research. Along the way, students had opportunities to practice time management, teamwork skills, organization, and the art of persuasion.
As with all of our units of inquiry, we used the Understanding by Design model to think through what is enduring and essential for students to learn, and plan backwards from there. As Judith Pace wrote in Education Week in 2007, “depth of historical, political, and cultural understanding” is essential if this democracy is to survive and thrive. “Powerful social studies teaching helps students develop enduring understandings in the core content areas of civics, economics, geography, and history, and assure their readiness and willingness to assume citizenship responsibilities. Powerful social studies learning leads to a well-informed and civic-minded citizenry that can sustain and build on democratic traditions.”
We were thrilled to receive this email from parent Lorraine Guthry after the culminating event: ‘Thank you for putting on a terrific fair this afternoon. The kids were so excited and engaged and really putting the shine on their presentations. It was clear they all thought their region was the place to be! So many good ideas and sooooo much work! A very nice way to pull together the variety of things they studied and learned. . . . I especially loved that you allowed them to mix refrigerator boxes and glittery cootie catchers equally with videos on iPads and neat digital timelines on laptops. The kids seemed to consider them all equally valid media for expressing their ideas. That is great!”
Keli Gump has taught 4th grade at Catlin Gabel since 2011, and has also taught 4th grade for many years in several other regions of the USA. Thanks to parent Alex Ho for some of the Regions Fair photos.  

Who Tells the Stories? Who Benefits from the Stories? Who is Missing from the Stories?

Send by email

From the Spring 2014 Caller

Ann Fyfield’s 6th grade humanities class centers on these three key questions as they explore the world from ancient civilizations through modern notions of gender. Eight of her students reflect here on their year of learning, posed with the selfies they took for their unit on gender studies.


I loved the unit on ancient India. You can see from the past how they made great advances and made us who we are. . . . We can change the course of history. If a woman doesn’t fit a stereotype, she’s not accepted into society and is put into a box. Men are in a box, too, but it’s bigger. When we put up this wall of selfies, we put girls under “strength” and boys under “beauty.” But if we separated it by gender, which is who you are in your mind and not your body, it would be turned around and look different.


I originally thought history was boring and bland. With Ann, I find it more fascinating. She lets you state your opinions, and brings in creativity and interactive activities. Our project with imaginary civilizations made me really understand that civilizations aren’t black and white and are not at all simple. Our gender groups are a great place to talk about sexism and LGBT people. We can talk a lot more when we’re with our own gender. Stereotypes do not define who we are.



I never thought before about the fact that we’ve had no woman president, although half the people in the U.S. are women. . . . . Learning about the people who lived before us and the stuff that isn’t here now interests me.


We talk a lot in class about social justice and gender issues. There’s an ancient Greek ideal, arête. It combines beauty and strength. The Greeks didn’t care about gender equality, but they still thought women could be strong. I like the recitation I did from Socrates’ Apologia. The meaning was that no one knows anything until they realize they don’t know that much.


We watched a video about beauty and how you perceive yourself. It’s a problem that people try to look a certain way, and maybe not eat. If you change the way you think about yourself you can change everything. Ann’s class is the most creative of my Middle School classes. One of my favorite things in her class was at the beginning of the year, when we interviewed someone in class and learned something about them. It made us feel like people cared about us, and the new kids got to meet somebody. . . . Middle School is different from Lower School because everything has higher stakes. You can’t turn in something that isn’t good, and you have to put in 105 percent to do your best.

James and Britt

James: We studied gender stereotypes in Ann’s class to see if gender affects learning. We were separated into boys’ and girls’ groups. I learned that most legends and myths are written by men or based on ideas from men.
Britt: I was surprised by girls’ stereotypes about boys. . . . I also liked the ancient civilizations project. My group studied Egypt and had to write an essay and do research. I chose to research the kingdoms, and James did the dynasties.
James: We made a video, with a green screen and fancy lights, and wrote the scripts.
Britt: Right now we’re inviting people to an imaginary dinner. I researched and invited Black Elk, Cornel West, St. Marcella, and Pericles.
James: We wrote about why these people merited invitations, and some were famous and some we hadn’t heard of. I invited Demosthenes, Chief Seattle, Ralph Waldo Emerson, César Chávez, and Jimmy Carter.


One of Ann’s projects that made me think was the creation of an imaginary culture: how would I want a civilization to be? My partner and I made it powered by women, and it intrigued me. . . . If women were treated as equally as men, what would the world be like? I hope we have a woman president soon. A parent named Jason Stevens came and talked to us about ancient Greece. We found out that their culture was similar to ours right now because men overpower women and have more rights. When I’m an adult I want to make a difference, even if a small one, to advance my community and make it better.