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

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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

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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

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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!

PLACE urban studies students presenting at City Hall

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You're invited!

PLACE students will present their recommendations for improving SE Powell Blvd. to the Portland City Council on Wednesday, July 16, at 9:30 a.m.

Come to City Hall to hear the presentation.

City Council Chambers
1221 SW 4th Ave
Portland, OR 97204

Link to Google Map

They are making the same presentation at the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability on Thursday, Juy 17, at noon.

Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
1900 SW 4th Ave
Portland, OR 97201

Link to Google Map

About the PLACE recommendations

PLACE students have created design concepts for the Oregon Department of Transportation parcels on Powell Boulevard between 50th and 82nd to assist with the implementation of high-capacity transit. Specifically, they hope to improve the aesthetics and functionality of the ODOT parcels on Powell, while prioritizing the needs and desires of the community.

Check out the PLACE blog for more information

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

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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

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

Commencement 2014 photo gallery

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Congratulations to the newest members of the Alumni Association!


Students at the Center of Their Learning

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8th grade teacher David Ellenberg empowers his students to find their voices

From the Spring 2014 Caller

By Nadine Fiedler

Adopting an idea from the ancient Greeks, 8th grade history teacher David Ellenberg provides a way for his students to reflect deeply on their studies—and for their voices to be heard. His classroom is enlivened over the course of the year by innovative ways of teaching and learning as they delve into American democracy, the Holocaust, and modern politics from the Cold War on. His students have opportunities to express what they’ve learned, ask hard questions, and engage these complex topics in two key ways: debates and Socratic seminars.
By having his students take part in debates about difficult topics, David teaches them the critical skills of taking a single point of view and defending it, and learning how to articulate and defend both sides of an issue. “Topics such as privacy, death penalty, abortion, student rights, end of life decision-making, and marijuana use will face these soon-to-be voting 8th grade students,” he says. David encourages them to go beyond basic information as they prepare for debates. “They dig for supporting quotes, statistics, and personal stories. These elements enrich their arguments,” he says. They improve their skills in public speaking by taking on a classmate who is arguing against them, and their peers score the debates and share their own ideas. In the process of these debates, these controversial topics come alive for the students in a way they will never forget.
The Socratic seminars bring a different focus—one that teaches students to dig into their materials for aspects that excite them, confuse them, or just make them see history in a new light. These open-ended discussions bring an element of unpredictability into their studies as students learn from each other by talking through ideas that spark them.
One sunny day in April, David’s 8th graders took part in a Socratic seminar centering on their readings about the Cold War. They entered a totally rearranged room, with a cluster of tables in the center of the room—the “fishbowl”—and the remaining tables around the edges. As they filed in, the students seemed chatty and happy to have this change of pace, and nervous and eager to share the questions they had for one another.
“What are seminar techniques?” asked David. The 8th graders’ respond: “Pay attention.” “Are they thinking, listening, responding, speaking?” “Is everyone participating equally?” “Do not dominate!”
“We should encourage others, saying things like, ‘as Lydia said.’ There should be lots of answers to a question. Extend it, go deeper,” says David. He divides the students into two groups, with partners who will observe them and give them notes at the end of the session. The first group moves to the fishbowl, then the next after several minutes, and what takes place is a real and provocative conversation among students who have not only read their materials, but absorbed their import and placed them into the context of their prior learning in history.
They pose their questions and observations for the group to discuss, and they’re good ones: “Do you think war solves problems of control?” “What would make someone believe someone else is a Communist?” “What made Joseph McCarthy who he was?” “Why is war good for business?” “What is it like to grow up and be given your opinions?” “Would American attitudes have been different if the media wasn’t creating fear?” After initial hesitation common to 13–14-year-olds, they take comfort in the fact that everyone has something to offer, and begin offering their ideas. They are careful to include their classmates and keep the conversation moving. The atmosphere is respectful and non-judgmental during this freewheeling sharing of ideas, although the students don’t hesitate to disagree or challenge each other. It’s an exhilarating example of a teacher meeting his goal: for David, that goal is having students at the center of their learning, building critical thinking skills and their own understanding of complicated world affairs.
“Studying government and society brings students to the moment, to the ‘now’ where they live. It’s their first time to begin thinking about citizenship,” says David. “It’s so natural for children to look at the world around them and take it for granted. When you study society and government, you realize it’s not just there: it comes from a long process.
“I like to think that by the end of the class they pay more attention to current events and are more excited about becoming voters in four years. When we study the founding documents of American society, I bring modern-day topics into the curriculum. Students consider themes from the civil rights movement, the use of Native American images for high school mascots, and marriage equality, for example. I like to think that they recognize that what a government does really affects life on a personal level, and that they can confront inequalities that they come across—that they can speak up and won’t stay silent,” he says.
David prepares his students for this discussion-based class—and makes sure their voices are heard—using many other techniques besides debate and seminars. Students read at home and respond to guiding questions. His 8th graders write in classroom journals to “prime the pump” of discussion and often work in small groups to prepare for larger class discussions. “We use shared documents. We teach them to take ownership of their learning. I put them in front of the class and remind them that they can do better, that learning is a team sport,” he says.
David is undeniably a masterful teacher. Students respond easily to his calm and firm manner in the classroom, where he always shows the consideration he asks his students to show one another. When there’s a little too much typical 8th-grade talk or squirming in the class, he simply calls attention to it, and miraculously, those students stop and refocus. He commands respect because he gives it generously.
David’s own interest in the world led him to teach history, he says. After earning a BA at Brown University in biology, he taught both science and history at the Athenian School in Danville, California. Catlin Gabel hired him in 1991, and after teaching the 6th grade core class, science, and history, he found his niche in 8th grade history 10 years ago. It turns out that’s the sweet spot for his passions and talents. “History for me is personal,” says David. “Our stories are a part of history. I wonder how historians in the future will sift through so many millions of tweets and emails. We’ve done well moving away from history as a study of wars and treaties among European powers. What we know is that individual stories are what really matter.”

Nadine Fiedler is the Caller editor and Catlin Gabel’s director of publications and public relations.




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

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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

Gabby Bishop '14 on her experiences as CatlinSpeak co-editor

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From the Spring 2014 Caller

I came to Catlin Gabel in my sophomore year from Grant HS. . . . I had never done any journalistic writing before.
One of the favorite stories I wrote came about because I heard that a friend was involved in a protest against austerity measures in November 2012 with the Portland Student Union. There was no permit to walk in the street, but they walked near Lloyd Center, and the police pepper-sprayed them. Researching it was a very long process of asking for and being denied access to public records. . . . It was a fun article to write, but I found the process to be the most interesting part.
Editors Simon McMurchie, Nico Hamacher, and I each lead groups of three to four people, and each group publishes every third week. It keeps the workload lower but allows for more in-depth articles. The editors lead the groups, create schedules, help students come up with ideas, and edit the articles.
Our advisers Pat Walsh and George Zaninovich review the ideas and content to see if we are on the right track with angles and help facilitate class discussions. We talk about current events and about possible articles. We talk about how to pump an article up or offer angles so a student can choose a direction if they are having trouble writing.
CatlinSpeak is a creative outlet for me. Catlin Gabel has an open curriculum, but CatlinSpeak is astronomically more open. Writing about what I’m interested in is very rewarding, especially when I think I’ve done a good job or learned from it. As editors, it’s gratifying to see other students fulfill their full potential. The education offered here is amazing, and students accomplish wonderful things. CatlinSpeak is just one way.
I guess I just have an open mind. I’m very determined about things and have opinions, but they’re not set, and I want to learn more. If people ask me for my opinion and I’m not educated enough, that drives me to find out more.
From an interview in March 2014

»Read about her co-editor Simon McMurchie '15

My Introduction to Journalism

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The CatlinSpeak newspaper provides an incredible learning opportunity

From the Spring 2014 Caller

By Simon McMurchie '15

I had little idea what to expect when I entered into CatlinSpeak, the student newspaper, in my sophomore year. I was aware that it had only just become an official class, moving beyond its traditional club status, and it was clear its presence in the community in the school community was growing from year to year. Still, I wasn’t quite sure how I would fit into it, especially as a feckless youngster in a class of accomplished juniors and seniors. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I was welcomed right away. My editor, Fiona Noonan, who graduated at the end of that year, was a phenomenal writer and leader in the class, and as much could be said of the rest of its members. What at first had been a typical course, consisting of semiimportant assignments that begged to be completed half-heartedly, quickly transformed into a wonderful opportunity to be ambitious and creative in a loosely structured system.
I wrote an article on the quirks of the electoral college, I attempted to tackle the complex and convoluted relationship between federal and state legislation, I submitted a 4,000- word piece that previewed each and every one of the 32 college football bowl games that was met with a smile and an editor’s critical eye (the final version was a tidy 1,500). I interviewed, among others, a member of college basketball’s March Madness selection committee, and gained the valuable experience of teasing out the words and phrases I needed for a quality piece.
With little instruction, and a healthy dose of freedom, I found I could research any topic I found interesting, learn how to synthesize it into something meaningful, and then publish and share it with the community. Suddenly the pieces I wrote for school extended beyond the essay process: my grandfather emailed me about a piece; I found myself speaking to friends and classmates about something I had written; Peter Shulman, a history teacher, approached me and said one of my articles had sparked an interesting debate between him and a friend.
In January of 2013, CatlinSpeak’s advisers, Upper School teachers George Zaninovich and Patrick Walsh, reached out to non-seniors working on the paper to feel out interest in filling the positions of the graduating editors. I leaped at the opportunity, sensing the chance to push further my role in the class, and was lucky enough to be selected along with Nico Hamacher, a fellow sophomore, and Gabby Bishop, then a junior.
Changes were proposed for the new year, including a switch to daily news updates in place of the traditional weekly editions. Most ideas were student-driven, and the structure of the class was largely left up to discussions between the editors-to-be and the advisers of the course. All of a sudden I found myself helping to design a curriculum, the type of responsibility I would never have expected of myself, but which presented a wonderful and exciting opportunity.
Summer came and went; with its departure came the arrival of a new crop of writers ready to forge a new identity for the class. Daily news began without a hitch, and even as new writing styles and heavier workloads were introduced, students produced an incredible number of quality pieces.
Lauren Fogelstrom, a current junior and a newly appointed editor-to-be, followed an interest in the issue of youth homelessness, writing a piece focused specifically on the issue in Washington County. While it would have been simple and easy to do the entirety of the research online, Lauren reached out to nonprofits in the area and directly interviewed kids on the streets. She wrote an article that felt authentic and relatable, going beyond the requirements to produce something with a greater level of meaning.
Trevor Tompkins, a senior fond of writing about basketball and hip-hop culture, visited De La Salle North Catholic High School for its Black History Month celebration and reacted so positively that he wrote an article both describing his visit and, to some degree, pointing out the lack of effort by the Catlin Gabel community to promote discussion on issues of racial diversity.
Trevor’s story is key to what makes CatlinSpeak important. This is one of the few opportunities for students to have a voice in the community, to speak up and, at the very least, start the discussions that need to happen. Often, Catlin Gabel’s biggest problems are student-driven, and thus the response needs to come from within the student body. CatlinSpeak provides both a forum and a firestarter for meaningful discussion and, hopefully, change.
Looking to next year, fewer students have signed up than in years past, but to look at the numbers as a negative would be a mistake. With the ability to scrap the class structure and start from scratch at our fingertips, CatlinSpeak’s future is thrillingly malleable. Perhaps we’ll be a monthly periodical, with students required to report on topics within the school community. Perhaps we’ll make each edition focused on a particular issue, ranging from climate change to election coverage and more.
What makes CatlinSpeak such an incredible and unique opportunity is its nature as a class that will give back however much a student puts in. All it takes is a few inspired kids to create something great, and with some effort, those kids can make a difference in a community they care for deeply.
Simon McMurchie will be a senior this fall at Catlin Gabel.  

The Best Place to Live in the U.S.

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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.