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Catlin Gabel students take home awards from NW Science Expo

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The 28th annual Intel Northwest Science Expo (the statewide science fair) was held at Portland State University on April 1. Four Catlin Gabel students had qualified to attend the state fair based on results from the earlier regional science fairs. All four students won awards in their categories, and one was selected to continue to the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).

 
Senior Vighnesh Shiv entered a project titled "Novel Algorithms for Automatic Music Transcription." He won first place in the Computer Science category and was selected to represent Oregon at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Los Angeles in May. Vighnesh also won the Intel Excellence in Computer Science Award and a special award from the IEEE.
 
Senior Rohan Jhunjhunwala entered a project titled "Road Detection via Computer Vision and Laser Scanning." He won second place in the Engineering: Electrical and Mechanical category, and in addition won the Outstanding Project award from the the U.S. Air Force and won a special award from the IEEE.
 
Sophomore Terrance Sun and freshman Lawrence Sun entered a team project titled "Using Formal Verification Techniques to Find Contradictions in Laws Concerning Police Use of Force." Terrance and Lawrence won Third Place in the Computer Science Category.
 
Congratulations to all of these students for their hard work!
 
—Andrew Merrill, computer science teacher

 

Traditions Seen Through Two Seniors' Eyes

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From the Winter 2010-11 Caller

Passionate learning
By Sarah Lowenstein ’11

A childhood amidst the towering trees of the Fir Grove, forming stars during the sword dance, performing St. George, and traveling to the Pumpkin Patch with my 1st grade buddy represent some of the traditions at Catlin Gabel that encapsulate its atmosphere of experiential and passionate learning.
 
As I reflect on my time at Catlin Gabel, a smile appears on my face. My soccer coach asked me this year, “Will you miss Catlin next year?” Without hesitation I responded, “Yes,” in a nostalgic, but optimistic tone. My most cherished memories of Catlin Gabel stem from the relationships I have fostered with my teachers and peers. The school’s unique aspects start with the individualized attention students receive, and the teachers’ devotion to the students. Catlin Gabel students develop a passion for learning beyond the grade.
 
Spending the majority of my life at Catlin Gabel, time didn’t pass like a routine. The traditions and community on campus makes every day at school irreplaceable. In kindergarten I sat on my knees in the Cabell Center, mesmerized, by the play St. George. This annual production became a highlight of the year, and by second grade I decided I wanted to be Queen William. Then in 8th grade my six-year aspiration became a reality as I paraded across the stage as Queen William. The traditions keep the community strong, and unite the classes involved. The values at Catlin Gabel help students evolve into intellectual, passionate, and ambitious individuals ready for new experiences with a smile.
 

Some aspects of Catlin Gabel will never change
By Kate Posner ’11

I began school at Catlin Gabel as a preschooler, so I have seen the school go through countless changes over the years. Moving through all the grade levels I saw changes in teachers, administrators, and students. Though not all of these changes were positive, they all had a profound effect on the school as a whole. When I first started attending, younger children waited for their parents to pick them up at the old Crossroads building. In its place now stands the Upper School library, one of many significant changes I have seen during my 14 years at this school. But some aspects of Catlin Gabel will never change. Upper School students will always memorize the school chapter, and it will be imprinted in their memories forever. The bonfire after the homecoming game will eternally be a source of excitement, and 1st graders will always tentatively step out into the Paddock to perform the Maypole dance at Spring Festival. The traditions of Catlin Gabel may evolve over time, and changes will continue to occur whether they are for the best or not— but we can all expect traditions to hold a special place in our community.
 

 

What Does Tradition Mean at Catlin Gabel? Alumni Respond.

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From the Winter 2010-11 Caller

Jenn Stallard ’92

Ritual creates a sense of familiarity. The term “familiarity” is closely associated with “family,” so it’s not surprising that Catlin Gabel’s many traditions are what help create a sense of community and history—in other words, family. It was my home. I always loved the Blue vs. White team competition around the Rummage Sale—what a great way to promote school spirit and community, for a very good cause! I also thought the class trips (8th, 9th, 12th) were fun, not to mention extremely valuable. My class (1992) was the first to take our 8th grade musical (Pirates of Penzance) on the road. I will never forget it! It would be an understatement to say I’m a creature of habit, and I’ve often wondered whether Catlin Gabel had a part in that. It may also be why I appreciated all the tradition as much as I did. After graduation, I attended a small private college and have generally lived in smaller towns that foster a sense of community and closeness.

 

 

Jim Bilbao ’79

Some of the ideas about why St. George is important:
* It’s fun. This works for everybody.
* It’s a charade. This works for the maturity of the kids.
* It’s easy: there’s no pretense of quality about the acting, sets, or costumes.
* The audience is easily satisfied.
* 8th graders get to try on acting in broad range of adult roles from mythic (Santa, George, devil, angel) to vocational (photographer, nurse, doctor).
* 8th graders get to touch real ethical issues, without any of the tough reading.  

Jamie Bell ’92

I think Catlin-ites love a tradition because the school has tradition and ritual written all over it. I remember loathing the sophomore year position paper. We all knew it was coming, and we all knew how long it had to be, but once it was over it was sort of an accomplishment, and something that we could talk about later on to upcoming sophomores. Tradition also helps us as alumni reconnect with other students, past, present, and future. I can tell a 5th grader, a senior, or a 50-year-old that I was giant Blunderbore in St. George—those people will know what I am referring to. Traditions as I see them: writing the epic in iambic pentameter. I remember the Lower School awards assembly: I got the messiest desk award and the coveted “golden foot” award (was that its name?). Lower School Pet and Field day was a good one. Obvious ones are St. George, Rummage tonnage (student contest Blue vs White), Maypole, gingerbread men with the primary, Pumpkin Patch as a 1st and 12th grader. Random traditions: the Can Car (Sid Eaton started for Candowment), Scarlet letter day, Chaucer day, Corinthian day, playing foursquare, ringing the bell at Lower School recess, ordering lunch at the Barn, school dances in the Barn. The fact that we have places named the Barn, Toad Hall, Fir Grove, Zot Room, and Nutshell.
 

Debbie Kaye ’73

I believe that “the child as the unit of consideration” is one of the most important elements of our founders’ vision. It moves me still. Just how we act on that principle has changed as pedagogy, technology, and the culture have changed. Yet putting each child at the center of the reason Catlin Gabel offers its particular type of education has remained constant. Our alumni love ritual because it connects us to the community, over years and space. St. George and the Gilbert and Sullivan musical are classic examples of shared experience. In more recent years, the Elana Gold ’93 Memorial Environmental Restoration Project and the senior trip, whose purposes and activities are constant, fill the same role. Years later, alumni can and do recall how they participated and with whom, the games and fun and food, the camaraderie. Shared experience and ties that bind. We look back fondly, smoothing the difficult edges of fatigue and any frustration, recalling the overall experience, lessons, and skills learned and yes, carried forward into other elements of our lives. Lifelong learning through community effort. Fabulous!

Peter Bromka ’00

I think that Catlin Gabel people love rituals because they are the experiences through which we learn about the world. Plays teach us to have confidence. Rummage used to teach us how to reuse and recycle, how to see further value in an object. Epic papers, like the poet paper juniors used to have to write, teach us how to write. The 6th grade go-carts teach us about mechanical systems. Camping trips teach us how to be outdoorsy. When everyone in a community buys into an experience it becomes emotionally rewarding and cohesive. We feel a part of something and less exposed to failure, which is important when we’re trying something so new! I have not carried any of the specific traditions on in my life, but I point to those that I’ve mentioned as early examples of my confidence with public speaking, writing, mechanics, outdoorsmanship, and more. I also hold them closely as the events that taught me I could succeed at something new that I’d never tried before. That said, I believe the traditions can and should evolve. The Poet Paper died off while I was still in high school because the English teachers decided that it wasn’t the best way for us to learn how to tackle a large academic endeavor. C’est la vie. And, as someone who works in the world of design and creativity, I’m inspired by rituals that are intended for nothing more than pure fun and entertainment. It’s important to remember that life is worth laughing at, that it’s all right to laugh at ourselves and enjoy it.
 

Mason Kaye ’04

Initially, I remember being excited about go-carts due to the mythology surrounding the experience. Seeing the 6th graders driving them when I was in the Lower School was quite an experience. I was on a team with my two best friends at the time, Patrick Santa and Deni Ponganis. I’m not sure if this is still going on, but the amount of unsupervised use of power tools during that project was exhilarating. We played with the go-cart all summer.
 

 

Why We Need Our Traditions

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From the Winter 2010-11 Caller

By Tom Tucker '66

Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof,” said Tevye in the musical of the same name. The strength inherent in tradition lies in its power to bring us together to a common purpose. At Catlin Gabel we often laugh about the “instant” traditions we create, but a look at the ones that have survived over time are a testament to the values we hold close.
 
Community service in the Middle School formally arrived under Sara Normington’s leadership and Roy Parker’s support in 1988. The first efforts from the old Middle School were fledgling but enthusiastic. Kids chose whom they wanted to serve—young children, old folks, animals, work on campus—and adults signed up to fill the spots. For seven years George Thompson ’64 and I led groups of kids to the Regency Park care facility to sing songs and tell stories.
 
As time progressed, the service learning program, as it came to be called, switched to a C&C activity. With Carol Ponganis as my C&C partner, we took kids to several Headstart programs, Store-to-Door shopping for the elderly, the Children’s Book Bank, and our second round at the Blanchet House. A week ago Wednesday, a 7th grader and I chopped our way through nearly a bushel of potatoes, as our C&C-mates produced a tub of green salad and an equally large tub of fruit salad. Our efforts that morning helped feed 200 people in need of a meal. Working together with the men who live at the Blanchet House in a common and immediately discernible goal was satisfying for us all. The kids, I believe, now see people down on their luck or in recovery in a personal and newly informed light. Through giving we receive.
 
The mural-making aspect of woodshop arrived about the same time. In 1986 the woodshop was given a large number of redwood squares. The Upper School shop class used the squares to carve a mural depicting many aspects of our Oregon landscape, and it hung on the outside of the old Middle School until the building came down to make room for the new US library. It currently resides in the shop, its surfaces textured by years of wind, sun, and rain. Others have been installed on the outside of the Cabell Center, the Lower School, the US art room, and various nooks and crannies about the campus. Seventh graders have been capturing their own take on topics such as current culture, music, movies, and catastrophes in mural form since we have been in the “new” Middle School building. What they have made is art for all to see. Students can see, in a visual way, the steps traveled before and can imagine the steps yet to be taken. We learn from and contribute to our own history and place in the world.
 
I have had the privilege of participating in one idiosyncratic tradition at Catlin Gabel, the productions of St. George and the Dragon and Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, first as an observer of my older siblings and more actively as a student. For the past 25 years I have been involved as an arts team member, building sets, making props, writing lines, and generally trying to corral the creative process. I haven’t tired yet of watching, re-living, and enjoying the stories as re-interpreted by the current crop of 8th graders. I think their appreciation of contemporary life and culture as imprinted on the time-honored tale of good and evil in St. George is complemented by the more thorough exposure to humor, language, and lyric as captured by the astute eyes and ears of William Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. Some of the mores have changed, but the human foibles captured in song and story are as contemporary now as they were then.
 
St. George has been presented to our Catlin Gabel community for more than 60 years. It is a gift that has been told and re-told many times, always the same, yet always different for each student. The Gilbert and Sullivan musicals date back even further, and for the past twenty-some years they have gone on the road to the San Juan Islands, where students have performed for local communities, schools, and a retirement center. Our students’ hard work is shared with people who have come to appreciate it and who look forward to their visit. The production represents a complex process of trust, of rising to the occasion, and of growing maturity and responsibility. When I see former students I always ask them what roles they had and what they remember. They don’t always remember the specifics, but they are always able to reflect on the bonds created. And connections are what traditions are all about.
 
Tom Tucker ’66 teaches Middle and Upper School woodshop.  

 

What Has Changed in Teaching?

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Catlin Gabel teachers reflect on their careers working with students

From the Winter 2010-11 Caller

Why I Like Change
David Ellenberg, 8th grade history

In the minds of many humorists and some clever students, history is “just one damn thing after another.” As such, teaching this discipline involves the ongoing challenge of making coursework relevant. Perhaps this is most true with middle school students who are distinctly changeable in their approach to learning. When I began teaching in the 1980s, chalkboards and comp books were common; word processing and Google searches were not. We ordered educational films and showed them on 16-mm projectors. The vast array of web resources for locating film clips, most notably YouTube, was in the distant future.
 
Today, a plethora of previously unimagined futures are at the ready. Revision of student writing is far more streamlined, any geographic location on the planet can be easily examined with current maps, and historic events can be quickly viewed and analyzed using newsreel footage or fine documentaries. Despite the unfortunate aspects of the Information Age such as full inboxes, phony websites, and endless digital distractions, for a history teacher the Internet Age is a godsend. The advent of the World Wide Web enables me to teach students in new ways about accessing credible information for research. When introducing topics, I use written, video, and musical sources accessed through my laptop. Students have online interactions that even the playing field for all, quiet and loquacious alike. Using shared documents for editing and revision eases group work.
 
In addition to what I share directly with students, web searches also allow me to access an array of sources when planning lessons. For example, I routinely keep pace with new graphic memoirs that might be used during a global studies unit. When students access world events through artwork and family histories, learning is sparked. These true-life tales combine well with more traditional texts and expand student knowledge and understanding.
 
New approaches to accessing teaching resources complement traditional classroom work. Reading, writing, analyzing, and public speaking will forever be part of student life. These timeless skills are enhanced when positive aspects of technology find their mark. When I ask students to memorize a portion of a John Kennedy speech, how wonderful that they can easily find the president’s address on the Kennedy Library website. Speaking effectively in front of peers is a lifelong skill in any day and age.
 

The Traditional and the New in Art
Laurie Carlyon-Ward, Upper School visual art

Technology has affected art education in all parts of the curriculum—music, theater, and visual arts. Our students are able to create projects on a professional level now that we couldn’t have imagined five to ten years ago. The internet has given students greater knowledge of living artists, and they are being influenced by artists from around the globe. There’s still a great deal of joy here in making things by hand, and we give our students a chance to know how technology works in the world that they’re inheriting.
 
Enrollment in visual art classes at Catlin Gabel has increased over the past few years as students and parents become aware of growth in occupations such as animation, graphic design, film, and photography. Our students graduate, if they choose, with working knowledge of the Adobe Creative Suite. It is also a necessary part of college studies in many fields such as architecture, film production, and photojournalism.
 
In our visual art classes, we still teach from a traditional curriculum, which balances skills like observational drawing with new technology. Landscapes, life drawing, and portraits are popular subjects in media such as charcoal, watercolors, and acrylics. We explore new painting mediums, too. We use water-based oils, which have a nice feel and good colors—with no turpentine or noxious fumes.
 
The curriculum is more flexible now. We no longer have a drawing and painting prerequisite for the honors art seminar. We encourage students who take photography or one of the media arts to build a portfolio and take drawing and painting to balance out their arts foundation and have a wider range of artistic skills.
 
It’s been an incredible pleasure for me to teach drawing, painting, printmaking, and digital photography at Catlin Gabel for 26 years. After all these years, I’m glad I realized I could fill the Dant House with student art. We can now have student work up all year long, and everyone loves it.
 

Growing as a Teacher
Maggie Bendicksen, 5th grade

In the nine years I’ve been in Catlin Gabel’s Lower School, I have felt so lucky to work with creative, brilliant, and fabulously kooky colleagues. We constantly question and learn from each other, especially in the areas of brain research and how kids learn best, and it has made an enormous impact on my teaching.
 
I feel that now that I have the curriculum under my belt, I can focus more on each individual kid, hearing them and seeing them for the gifts they bring. I’ve become more playful, truly willing to not know the answer before I ask the question, willing to be wrong as I puzzle over an equation in front of the class, or marvel at a student-originated strategy that I had never thought of before.
 
What I’ve learned from our learning specialist Sue Sacks and others, including 1st grade teacher Mimi Tang and Beginning School head Hannah Whitehead, is that the better we understand how different kinds of minds work, the better we can teach. Perhaps more important, though, we can help kids to know how they work best, how they can stretch in what we call the zone of proximal development (that space where work isn’t too easy, nor too hard, but just right) and ultimately advocate for themselves.
 
This fall, I was especially struck by how my 5th graders walked into the room already knowing what they needed to succeed. Their previous teachers had helped them know themselves so well. For instance, one of my boys knows he does best when he works and sits alone, another child wears noise-canceling earphones so she can focus, and another knows he needs to talk out his thinking before starting to work.
 
My teaching in math has changed, too. It’s no longer just in literacy and humanities where I can truly listen to students’ questions and their understanding of what will help them learn more. These days our best math workshops evolve from the kids’ theories, like Miriam and Nicolette’s partnership to find what makes equivalent fractions equivalent, or Macey’s burning question: “Is there something like a prime fraction? How could it exist?” There’s no better feeling as a teacher than when you see that intellectual energy buzz. It’s a privilege to work in a place where teachers are honored for saying, “You know what, Macey, I don’t know, but how do you think you can figure that out?”
 

Language Teaching Demands Evolution
Roberto Villa, Upper School Spanish

Language teachers have seen a significant evolution over the past few years. The advent of continually improving computing and technology tools have made it easier for to us to customize students’ learning based on their learning styles and differing abilities.
 
Some of us teaching Spanish no longer order printed books. We can get all the materials we need—grammar or literature— online, especially with what’s in the public domain. We can also order online textbooks for half the price of a printed version, and they do what paper books can’t. They feature links to hear audio or watch videos, tutorials that give immediate feedback, and the flexibility for students to paste in their own work and proceed at their own rate. We’ve seen many students focus better with these online tools.
 
At the same time that technology evolved, serious work in brain research began to be published. For us in language, merging the two allows us to individualize as much as possible, especially given Catlin Gabel’s small classes.
 
For example, we’ve always talked about shopping for food. Previously we used classroom visuals and vocabulary lists, and students role-played in the classroom. Now we can go to Hispanic supermarkets on the web to learn about products and prices, and we can submit an order. We also tour local Hispanic markets, and the students complete a specific shopping activity we’ve set up beforehand. This suits our educational philosophy: we provide students with real, authentic, hands-on opportunities to reinforce what they’ve learned in class, and they can each learn in the way that suits them best.
 
We’ve benefited from the evolution and growth of the local Hispanic community, which has grown from 40,000 when I began teaching to 360,000 today. Students now have many opportunities to experience the Hispanic culture and language firsthand. If a language teacher can help students grasp the relationship between what they learn in class and the reality of the world, then students learn better.
 
Students are learning faster and more amply now. They’ve moved up a notch from our expectations 20 years ago. One result of all this has been that next year we’ll have the first sizable Spanish 6 class. More Catlin Gabel students than ever before now take two languages at once.
 
The arrival of new technological possibilities gives me energy and motivation. I’m grateful to Catlin Gabel for reminding all of us of Miss Catlin’s philosophy of the school as a laboratory, which spurs us to try new ways of teaching. We’ve come a long way from the first internet cable on campus.
 

A New Teaching Experience
Joanne Dreier, kindergarten

Over the past few years, we have been developing a new studio component to Catlin Gabel’s kindergarten program. This year is the first time I have had the opportunity and privilege to be the studio teacher as part of the kindergarten team, and my experiences are teaching me more about how to teach, even after many years in the kindergarten classroom.
 
A set of questions to the children guide my work every day. How can we learn new things together? What can we do with materials? How can we organize them? What can we do with collections? How can we transform things? How can we see things in a new way?
 
As one example, students collected leaves, twigs, pods, seeds, pinecones, bark, moss, herbs, and more on autumn trips into the Fir Grove. They admired and handled the pieces over and over for many days, then used them as rich storytelling materials. A pinecone became a horse, twigs became bridges, and acorns became campfires. As materials continued to arrive, our containers could barely hold them all.
 
The conclusion of storytelling brought a time for individual close observations of a favorite piece of nature. Representations might begin with a drawing, but would then become a painting, clay piece, watercolor, or wire creation. Finally, several children created delicate sculptures that included the original piece of nature integrated with other objects found in proximity to it outdoors. The sensitivity and depth of relationship between the child and material as they are encouraged to work in this way can be breathtaking. The studio becomes silent, almost like a sanctuary of concentration and focus.
 
My role as a studio teacher is to enable and encourage the children to experience the many “languages” that are the domain of every young child. As the printed word in school can quickly become the most valued language, in kindergarten the child is welcome to use the vast array of materials that allow us to understand their important thinking. I create opportunities for them to pursue their own questions, and I encourage the natural collaboration that results from their explorations. Catlin Gabel’s Beginning School devotes itself to children and their experiences. As a result, I get to listen to all the stories and discoveries that our children eagerly share. What an enviable place to be!
 

PE and Sports Change, too
John Hamilton, Upper School coach and PE/ health teacher

Change hasn’t come only in the classroom, or from technology. Over the past 20 years we have seen many changes in the way we approach our coaching, teaching and mentoring in health, physical education, and athletics.
 
In the Beginning and Lower School we now have two PE specialists, which allows department members to focus more in their individual areas of expertise. Through a generous gift, our two specialists received training about core strength, and we were able to purchase the equipment to implement this new program. Our offerings for these young students now include a broader health curriculum.
 
Middle School health and PE has changed dramatically, promoting a healthier, more active life for our students. Class sizes, which have been reduced by half, meet every day. Upgraded facilities and higher-quality equipment allow a much more diverse range of activities. We encourage Middle School students to play on any of our numerous interscholastic teams. By the time students enter 9th grade, they have been exposed to a wide variety of activities and fitness options.
 
The Upper School has benefited from the addition of new sand-based soccer fields and an all-weather track facility. Gymnasium additions allow our teams to use their own locker rooms on game day. The upstairs classroom now hosts our health classes year round, and it has become a favorite site for department and team meetings. The weight room adds a new dimension to our curriculum and offers a great year-round training space for students, faculty, and staff. In addition to elective requirements, students must complete a lifetime fitness course and required health curriculum. In 9th grade we teach nutrition and human sexuality, and we teach sociology in the 10th grade.
 
Students show great support for our athletic program, and about half take an active role during the playing seasons. Over the course of the year we normally have 65- 70% of the student body participate on at least one of our athletic teams. Through the success we have achieved in the OSAA-sponsored state championship competitions over the years, Catlin Gabel has won the all-sports award for schools our size in nine of the last ten years.
 

Keeping Up with Technology
Bob Sauer, Upper School science

In my 27 years of science teaching I’ve seen amazing advances in technology used in the classroom. As I’ve worked to incorporate the good parts into my teaching, my students’ interest, involvement, enthusiasm, and learning have all increased. I strive to keep up with the advances, and the burgeoning, booming rate of development and my own expanding activities and responsibilities have made this effort increasingly challenging (but worth it!).
 
The greatest impact has been the rise of the personal computer. When I started teaching, my classroom had one dusty Radio Shack TRS 80 mounted on a square of particle board, with a cassette player for program and data storage, and 4 kilobytes of RAM. Within a few years I was excited to introduce an Apple IIe to my classroom. Collecting and analyzing data with computers has made laboratory work far more accurate, easy, and fun than it used to be. The more recent advent of laptops has facilitated the administration of my classes. I make syllabi, lab instructions, answers to homework, and practice tests all accessible online, making them easy for students to get, and difficult for them to lose. Originally I wrote my own grading programs in BASIC. More than once the custodian was shocked to find me still at school at 8 p.m., debugging the code. Now I use Excel spreadsheets that I can put together in far less time.
 
Another important development has occurred in projectors and smartboards. I started out showing 8 mm film loops of events like the Tacoma Narrows bridge collapse (resonance in action) and diffraction in ripple tanks. My first astronomy presentations were 35 mm film slides in a carousel projector. Now I assemble my digital photos along with graphics, highlights, and figures from the text in Powerpoint presentations for much more informative and instructive lessons.
 
I feel fortunate to have had my teaching career coincide with this blossoming of technology. I’ve been able to develop my strategies and abilities in instruction along with the expanding capabilities of technology. This synergy has kept my teaching fun and fruitful.
 

Building on the Basics
Mark Pritchard, Middle School music

I’ve always taught the basic components of music—composition, performance, and analysis—and will always teach them. But the way I teach now differs from how I was taught, mostly due to technological improvements in music equipment and software.
 
When I took composition classes in high school, I had to rely on my brain to “hear” all the parts of a composition. Technology has made composing much more immediate. Now 6th grade students can sit at the keyboard, use samples of many musical styles, hear immediately what they’ve composed, and make adjustments. The free music software GarageBand simplifies the technology to the point where kids without any musical experience can compose without being tech-savvy. Kids work at their own level in class, and they all can feel that they’ve accomplished something.
 
We’ve been providing music for all five drama productions in the 7th grade for the past six years. Students learn about different styles and elements such as overture, underscore, scene change, fight scenes, and sound effects. Once their music is finished, we go watch the actors rehearse with their musical cues. It’s great to see our students’ reactions when they hear their own compositions supporting the scene on stage.
 
Today’s amplification, mixers, and microphones allow us to produce a variety of music cheaper, better, and more accessibly. It’s changed my teaching. The 8th graders listen to and learn about rock and roll, and they compose and perform pieces on keyboards. We move all this wonderfully portable equipment into the Middle School commons and perform a rock and roll concert of our own compositions.
 
Kids in 6th grade are ready to take the knowledge, heart, and dexterity they’ve gained in Lower School and apply it to technology in a new, creative way. I still love teaching live music in class. The addition of technology allows me to extend beyond what I could teach before and opens up new styles and ways of composing.
 
Listening is important in understanding styles. Performing is important in making the style your own. Composing gets you to think about how the instrumental parts make a whole. It all goes back to the basics of musical analysis, performing, and composition. These will never change.  

 

What's Next? The Catlin Gabel Service Corps Begins!

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A student and an alumnus talk about the joy of volunteering as a community

From the Winter 2010-11 Caller

The Catlin Gabel Service Corps debuted in October with three community-wide days of working together for the greater good. The Service Corps emerged from our community process to figure out “What’s Next” after the Rummage Sale. As we examined what we would miss most about Rummage, we came to consensus around several essential ingredients for developing a new tradition: multigenerations working side by side and having fun together, serving the greater Portland community, student leadership, and demonstrating who we are at Catlin Gabel. The Service Corps was developed with these elements in mind. You can find out more on our website. Since those fall service days, the Service Corps has also gathered 50 boxes of books from our community for children at Bienestar, a migrant worker housing complex in Hillsboro where our students help with their Homework Club. More events and projects are in the works—and we encourage all our community members, past and present, to come and pitch in, work together, and have fun.

The Energy and Fun of Volunteering
By Qiddist Hammerly ’12

As a Catlin Gabel student, I’ve participated in many activities at the Oregon Food Bank. In Lower School, we collected food during the fall harvest festival. In 8th grade, we participated in monthly service at the Food Bank, and in high school we often ask the students for food donations. These ordinary and expected contributions have made the Oregon Food Bank a familiar name to all Catlin Gabel students, yet I have never experienced it in the way I did with the Catlin Gabel Service Corps in November. As part of this year’s initiative to provide cross generational, community-building service opportunities, more than 75 students, parents, alumni, and faculty-staff joined together for a day of packing pasta— and it was anything but ordinary.

If one thing was exceptionally exciting about this service activity, it was the palpable energy of the kids. Eagerly running back and forth and lifting boxes almost bigger than themselves, the kids probably worked the hardest of anyone. For close to three hours, we packed boxes of various kinds of pasta in two-pound bags. At any given table, students, parents, teachers, and siblings worked side by side. Some kids eagerly scurried back and forth, providing each table with more empty boxes, and taking the full boxes to the growing tower of pasta.

The tangibility of our work made it appealing and rewarding for everyone; at the end of the day, we could look over and see just how many pounds we packed, and how many families we were feeding. One Lower School student checked the weight of each bag meticulously to make sure no one family would receive more food than another. Some of the adults, who seemed apprehensive about letting the kids handle tape guns and carry heavy boxes, grew impressed with their unfaltering persistence. Everyone joked and laughed while scooping bag after bag, and we even participated in some friendly competition, betting on whose table team could pack their boxes of pasta the fastest.

After we were done packing, we enjoyed a group lunch at McMenamin’s. It was only then that I realized how rare it is to see so many different Catlin Gabel constituencies in one place. I had the chance to catch up with one of my 1st grade teachers, make a new friend, and chat with parents. Enjoying lunch together wrapped up the day in the perfect way. Too often when we engage in service, we simply break off and return to our daily work without any processing or reflection. Having a relaxed meal together allowed everyone to reflect on the day, catch up, and enjoy each other’s company.

What made this day so successful was the connection we felt as we volunteered. We weren’t simply packing boxes of pasta: we were engaging with each other and observing the product of our work. I think this service experience provides a glimpse into the future possibilities of multigenerational service at Catlin Gabel, both on our own campus and in the greater community. Despite the occasionally excessive use of the word “community” in our, well, community, engaging in service as a community truly is a unique experience that exceeds the benefits of individual volunteerism. Looking back over my 12 years at the school, some of the memories that stand out most to me are the engaging service projects I participated in with my Catlin Gabel family. At the Food Bank that day I could clearly see in our students’ eyes that very same engagement and motivation.

Qiddist Hammerly is a junior at Catlin Gabel and a Malone Scholar. She has been involved for years in community service.
 

Connecting Through Tree-planting
By Markus Hutchins ’02

After the revelry of the previous night’s Homecoming victory (we defeated OES 2–0), I was excited to spend the day with fellow Eagles at the inaugural Catlin Gabel Service Corps outing to Mary Woodward Garden Wetlands. When we arrived, my parents and I were greeted by a warm cup of coffee and a big hug from Middle School head Paul Andrichuk. We introduced ourselves to our fellow and future alumni, received our assignments, and then headed out into the wetlands.
 
The tools were heavy but effective, and the task was hard but rewarding: removing non-native invasive plants and replacing them with native species and trees. Working alongside former teachers, parents, and current students was a pleasure, and providing our service to the greater community reminded me of the core values of Rummage. The clearing and planting activity was not limited to the Catlin Gabel community, so having the opportunity to work with others for the benefit of the great Portland ecology, knowing we represented one of our school’s core principles, was a positive experience and wonderfully rewarding.
 
Nostalgia was in attendance as well; while clearing ivy, a little girl shared her excitement about the 1st grade overnight. My own overnight trip was more than 19 years ago, yet I still remember my tentmates, where we camped, and the fun we had. Experiences outside the classroom are the fibers that shape Catlin Gabel. Similar moments and conversations always remind me how fortunate I am to have Catlin Gabel as the foundation of my education.
 
After the work was completed, our troop of volunteers piled back onto the school bus and shared lunch at a nearby restaurant. While relaxing and enjoying the sunny setting, I spoke with English teacher Art Leo and some parents of current students. We discussed Catlin Gabel, college admissions, sports, my career path, and a host of other topics. I found that sharing my own experience at the school, and its lasting impact on my life, was extremely rewarding. The parents seemed appreciative of the opportunity to speak in a relaxed forum. They asked many thought provoking questions, even some I later shared with fellow classmates. Crossgenerational discussions are unfortunately rare, but I hope that with the continuation and future growth of the Catlin Gabel Service Corps, these can occur on a more regular basis.
 
As I reflect on the day, I am thankful on multiple levels. Providing service to the community, interacting with current students and alumni, and sharing the experience with faculty and staff made for a true Catlin Gabel experience. I look forward to participating in many more Catlin Gabel Service Corps events in the future.
 
Markus Hutchins ’02 is the alumni board president and a member of the school’s board of trustees.

 

 

Second Graders as Superheroes

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How two teachers helped their students celebrate their unique brain strengths

By Zalika Gardner '90 and Herb Jahncke

From the Winter 2010-11 Caller

See 16-minute video below for more

For most people, classroom learning means reading, writing, math, and social studies— skills and facts. It’s easy to overlook some of the more fundamental questions bouncing around in a student’s mind: Am I good? Who is better? Will I be strong in math? Will I ever learn to spell? And the all-important: Am I smart?
 
We saw how our 2nd grade students were already thinking about their own thinking, wondering how they fit into the classroom community, discovering their strengths, and worrying about their weaknesses. We began to wonder: what would it be like if the students learned about themselves in a way that celebrates who they are, and accepts them, imperfections and all? What would it be like if a major focus of learning allowed students to learn about themselves and how their brains work?
 
When we consider the development of the brains in our boys and girls, we have an overall idea of what to expect when they enter the classroom. As we get to know our 2nd graders, we are able to more specifically identify their unique brain strengths and challenges. We know who needs some extra time to think about a concept before being able to apply what he or she learned. We know who works more successfully with a pair of headphones in a quiet spot. We know who needs to move around in order to listen and learn. We know who thinks deeply and makes connections that many others will miss. We know our students and we help them to know themselves. When they are able to identify what they need to help them learn best, they are empowered to take responsibility for their own learning.
 
While everyone has a unique perspective on the world, we all have some basic commonalities in the way our brains function when we learn. The All Kinds of Minds approach, led by a national nonprofit institute, helps break these commonalities into specific, observable phenomena that are most relevant for learning and help us better understand the infinite diversity of individual profiles. All Kinds of Minds provides a neurodevelopmental framework that allows us to observe and identify the unique strengths and challenges present in each child’s mind.
 
When we explain to the students what we see about how they approach tasks, this helps them learn about their own learning. When we infuse them with optimism about their unique ways of thinking, we help demystify how their brains work. We replace the worry and misinformation children tend to attach to their challenges with specific information and observation, supportive recognition, and tailored intervention. When learners are clear on their strengths and recognized for their affinities, they are much better able to sustain effort and identify growth.
 
What does that look like in the classroom? In 2nd grade we want the students to recognize that everyone is different, and that’s actually a really great thing. Some students can think numerically and solve math problems quickly. Others in the class may be challenged by writing. Some may be reading challenging chapter books. Our goal is to help them understand who they are and how they learn. We also want them to learn who the other individuals are in the classroom and how they learn. Our journey towards learning about the individuals in our community begins with the work of Howard Gardner, who proposed the existence of multiple intelligences. We all know that people seem to possess particular affinities and strengths. After all, adult careers generally are not “be good at everything” endeavors but rather the practical application of specific strengths. There is a reason we are teachers rather than accountants or electricians or astronauts. While certainly “nurture” or the combination of people, events, and experiences in our environment play a role in our adult successes and choices, clearly “nature” provides different brains with innate strengths that affect our school success, from academics to relationships.
 
Theorists have further refined this thinking by adding to the idea of intelligences evidences of different styles of learning. Some learn best by hearing, some by seeing, and many by doing. Some learn best in quiet and some with a little background noise. Some learn easily through pictures and diagrams, some learn well by words and explanations, and some will remember best when given the opportunity to move or doodle. In our pursuit of best teaching practices we tackled readings on attention, memory, social skills, and learning, and all continued to raise the question: What if we not only acknowledged the unique composition of learning strengths in our classrooms but actually taught children to recognize the presence of these differences as the “norm?” What would it mean to help children look at their strengths as a means to contribute to their community, and their challenges as opportunities to grow?
 
Metacognition, thinking about your thinking, is a novel concept to most 7- and 8-year-olds. Yet we’ve found that they are ready to start thinking about themselves, their brain strengths, and areas for growth. As we were thinking about how to teach these ideas to the students, we pooled our collective brain strengths to plan and design a project that would help them better understand themselves and how they learn.
 
It’s OK (cool even) to be different. This was the big idea that we started with in 2nd grade in our exploration of ourselves. We looked at our outsides, including the colors of our skin, eyes, and hair, recognizing that we are all a mix of dark and light shades of brown. We also looked at the globe and discovered that skin color, along with the rest of our outside features, comes from our ancestors and where our families are from in the world. As we studied ourselves we also considered that there is so much to know about people that you “just can’t tell by looking!”
 
We can tell how different everyone is with one look around the classroom. Some students are reading curled up in a corner, and some are most comfortable working at their desk. Some writers find that words fairly leap onto the paper, while others work very hard to fill the page. Some mathematicians like numbers and calculations, while others enjoy geometric shapes. Some kids live for soccer at recess, while others prefer to gather in the library around a board game.
 
Since our main objective in the classroom is to learn, we want the students to think about how they learn best. Taking ideas from Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, and the principles from All Kinds of Minds, we work with students to discover ways our brains are wired for thinking and understanding the world. For example, one person may have a “words and language” brain strength which makes reading a pleasure, and an activity sought out during quiet times. Another individual may have a “numbers and logic” brain that loves to solve puzzles, play with numbers, and think mathematically. Other strengths we explore include problem solving and creative thinking, friendship, music, nature, body movement, and drawing, design, and construction. We all have these brain strengths to some degree, though one or two tend to be super strengths for us.
 
Our students, after considering this list of brain strengths, identified their own super brain strength, their super power. Of course, when you have a super power, you really need a superhero identity. And a cape (you really need a cape when you have a super power!). The students created their superhero identities based upon their brain strength, designed their superhero logos on capes, and illustrated comics about their superhero identities. Taking what they learned about physical features, affinities and brain strengths, we invited families and friends to join us in celebration of a lot of hard work and learning. Everybody in 2nd grade loves this project. It’s fun, it’s active, and it involves some serious thinking.
 
Now the students are able to use their strengths to help others, and to get help when working with a brain strength that presents more challenges for them. They are beginning to find their place within our community, and understand that there is strength in differences and in knowing who we are. We are strong as individuals, but together we are stronger.
 
Having explored the idea of differences, affinities, strengths, and challenges, we hope the answers to those internally asked questions sound something like this: “So what if I can’t do everything brilliantly? I have brain strengths that I know and can use to help negotiate my weaknesses. I can engage with and give to my community while both acknowledging and working on the shortfalls that bring me pause. I am free to hold both wild successes and repeated failures in the palm of my hand knowing that of course, my journey will look different from others and yes, I am smart.”  
 

Catlin Gabel launches the Knight Family Scholars Program

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A new program for the Upper School will bring talented students and an emphasis on experiential learning

From the Winter 2010-11 Caller

This past fall, Phil and Penny Knight honored Catlin Gabel with the largest gift in the school’s history—a multimillion- dollar contribution for the new endowed Knight Family Scholars Program. The Knight’s unprecedented generosity is a tremendous vote of confidence in our school from world leaders in philanthropy.
 
“My goal is to honor the progressive ideals articulated by school founders Ruth Catlin and Priscilla Gabel—not by resting on our laurels, but by continuing to progress,” said head of school Lark Palma. “Phil and Penny Knight have given us the financial ability to try a new teaching and learning paradigm, see how it works, evaluate the program, and refine it over time. We have been given the opportunity to research, experiment, and stretch our wings in pursuit of improving education. We can be bold, like our students.
 
“The Knight Family Scholars Program will benefit all students through the innovations we pilot,” continued Lark. “The program also catapults Catlin Gabel’s visibility as one of the leading independent schools in the country, adds to our financial aid corpus, and will undoubtedly have a positive overall effect on admissions and on our ability to attract phenomenal student applicants. I could not be more delighted.”
 
“The Knight Family Scholars Program quite simply opens doors,” says Michael Heath, head of the Upper School. “It is a chance for us to grow as a school, to stretch our preconceptions of education and our assumptions about those we are educating. The scholars who attend Catlin Gabel every year will gain much from their opportunity, but I think we will learn as much from them, if not more.”
 
This Q&A by communications director Karen Katz ’74 with head of school Lark Palma explains more about this new program.
 
What is the Knight Family Scholars Program?
It is a pilot program for the Upper School faculty to explore a new model for high school education and attract outstanding new high school students. The gift funds an endowed faculty member to direct the program and teach in the Upper School. In the anticipated inaugural year, 2012–13, we hope to enroll about four Knight Family Scholars as fully integrated members of the Upper School student body who benefit from our exceptional curriculum. The Knight Family Scholars Program is similar in concept to the Rhodes Scholar program in terms of the caliber of students who will qualify.
 
What is your vision for how this program will affect Catlin Gabel?
The current generation of students is far more sophisticated than previous generations. Their educational needs are evolving quickly. Educators must ask, what more can we do to prepare them? How can we ensure that they have a great liberal arts and sciences foundation for success in college, plus the experience and skills to thrive in a workforce and world that will change in ways we cannot imagine? Catlin Gabel teachers have envisioned a high school that is more real world, project based, experiential, and interdisciplinary—but limited resources have stymied our progress toward this goal. Now we can take some big steps in building on our curricular innovations and evolve more quickly. As a new Catlin Gabel faculty member, the Knight Family Scholars Program director will collaborate with our high school teachers and students to develop methods of teaching and learning that respond to the changing educational environment.
 
Where did the idea for the program originate?
The genesis for the program stems from the Imagine 2020 conference held in the spring of 2006. A lasting idea that emerged from the conference was to enrich Catlin Gabel’s educational offerings by taking advantage of what our great city and region have to offer— using Portland as a learning laboratory. Bringing students together with creative, analytical, medical, political, entrepreneurial, and science leaders would further our experiential and progressive education goals. The intent is to get our students “off the hill,” as one alumnus put it in 2006. Our global education and PLACE programs, and the urban studies class in the Upper School, also stem from the Imagine 2020 conference.
 
How did this gift come about?
As I got to know Phil, our shared interest in improving education emerged as a vitally important theme. Phil and Penny Knight are long-range visionaries and Oregon’s most generous individual education philanthropists, which is humbling and exciting. We talked about Ruth Catlin’s vision of modeling for others and how, because of our relatively small size, our success, and our focus on progressive education, we are the ideal school for innovation. I described some of the seminal ideas that emerged from the Imagine 2020 conference and how hard our teachers work to implement those ideas.
 
Can you give us an example of a program feature from Imagine 2020 that this gift allows us to implement?
The faculty and the program director will have the opportunity to advance the exchange of ideas in seminars taught by a network of community experts, including some of our talented and notable parents, alumni, and grandparents. The seminars, both on and off campus, will examine topics that emerge from the shared interests of the students and the director as they move through the program together. The seminars will also respond to the availability of influential mentors, speakers, and guest instructors. Upper School students, not just Knight Family Scholars, will be able to attend seminars. It is vitally important that this is open and inclusive, and that we prevent any kind of “us and them” dynamic. We also expect that as the program grows, it will include opportunities for the Knight Scholars to travel nationally and abroad for summer learning.
 
How else does the program benefit current students?
The research is clear: high caliber students raise the level of learning for everyone. The positive peer effect is evident throughout our school. Students in our supportive, noncompetitive environment engage more deeply when their classmates are excited about the lab, discussion, problem solving, or literary analysis at hand. And, naturally, teachers are at their best when their students are highly engaged.
 
What are the student qualifications for the program?
Prospective Knight Family Scholars Program participants will stand out in four key areas: academics, community service, athletics, and leadership. As Knight Scholars they will receive tuition assistance funded by the program’s endowment. The amount of assistance will depend on their families’ need. The program will attract well-rounded students who will inspire their peers, take advantage of everything Catlin Gabel has to offer, and go on to serve their communities.
 
Can current Catlin Gabel students apply for Knight scholarships?
Current and former Catlin Gabel students are ineligible to become Knight Scholars because one objective of the program is to attract new students and deepen our pool of admitted students. The Knight Scholars Program will raise the profile of our excellent Upper School and entice students who will be wonderful additions to our community.
 
Who determines who qualifies for the program?
The faculty, admission office, and a new program director will decide whom we accept.
 
Who is the Knight Family Scholars Program director and how is the position funded?
Typically, when donors make large gifts to institutions they fund a position to oversee the program. We will launch a national search for a Knight Family Scholars Program director to fully realize the vision of this program. The director will be Catlin Gabel’s first endowed faculty member. This turning point for Catlin Gabel could very well lead to additional endowed faculty positions.
 
What are the director’s responsibilities?
First and foremost, the director will find the right students for the program. A big part of the job is outreach and making a wide range of communities aware of the program and our school. As the program spokesperson, the director will bolster the Knight Family Scholars Program and our overall admission program. The director will also lead the scholars’ seminar and teach other Upper School classes so he or she is fully integrated into our faculty. We will hire a dynamic educator who becomes a vital member of our school community.
 
How will this historic gift change the school?
When we laid out strategic directions in 2003, one of our top three goals was to strengthen our identity and visibility in the community. We set out to identify and attract qualified, informed, and diverse applicants and to increase our applicant pool, particularly in the Upper School. The Knight Family Scholars Program will move us quickly and decisively towards these goals.
 
Has Catlin Gabel ever received a gift of this magnitude?
In 1987, the school received a $3.6 million bequest from the estate of Howard Vollum that allowed Catlin Gabel to establish an endowment fund. His foresight and generosity moved the school beyond a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle.
 
What other benefits does the Knights’ gift offer?
The Knight Family Scholars Program raises our visibility as one of the leading independent schools in the country. On a purely financial and pragmatic level, the program releases financial aid dollars for students in all divisions. On a more philosophical and curricular level, the Knight Family Scholars Program will stretch us to take some risks about how we teach. All Catlin Gabel students will benefit from the innovations we pilot through the program. On a grander scale, my dream is to model innovations that can benefit students nationwide. We cannot underestimate the value of raising our profile, too. What’s good for Catlin Gabel’s reputation is good for Catlin Gabel’s students and teachers. As far as fundraising goes, this is the tip of the iceberg for all programs and needs of the school. I know Phil and Penny Knight’s generosity and confidence in Catlin Gabel will inspire others to give. In fact, two other donors are planning to contribute to this program. We anticipate a positive overall effect on admissions and on our ability to attract phenomenal student applicants. Some great young people, who perhaps don’t qualify as Knight Family Scholars, will still apply to our Upper School when they learn about Catlin Gabel’s curriculum, meet our faculty and students, and hear about our generous financial assistance program.
 
Is this Phil and Penny Knight’s first gift to Catlin Gabel?
In the past three years, the Knights have quietly and generously funded other immediate needs that I identified. They were instrumental in our ability to provide financial aid for families who have struggled through the recession. I am so honored that they have put their trust in me and in Catlin Gabel.  

 

Mission and Vision: The Cornerstones of Tradition and Change

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By Lark P. Palma, PhD, Head of School

From the Winter 2010-11 Caller

When you think about your experiences in school, what do you remember best? It’s probably not what happened in class, but the long-held traditions: the plays, the picnics, commencement, the dances and banquets, the times when a school felt like a community. We have many wonderful traditions at Catlin Gabel, some of which you’ll read about in this issue of the Caller. And although we love our traditions, we also feel free to innovate and change.
 
The strong, resilient visions of Ruth Catlin and Priscilla Gabel underlie our philosophy. With our mission as our rock, we are able to embrace both change and tradition. Like the Constitution, our mission is an anchor—not a blueprint. It gives us the confidence to interpret that mission as we move from decade to decade.
 
Traditions connect the generations together, while change never ceases. Every year we welcome new students, new parents, new faculty, and new staff. Each year our world is challenged by conflicts, competition, and complexity. We cherish our beloved traditions in the context of the changing world, and the passion that helps us create traditions helps us change them. Our mission tells us who we are—but it doesn’t tell us what to do next.
 
Versed in our mission and the traditions, our creative, ambitious, and dedicated faculty and staff have the courage to welcome innovation. Innovation keeps the educational experience fresh and relevant for our students, as it was for students back in Ruth Catlin’s day.
 
We’re seeing change throughout the school, and it’s all steeped in our deepest tenets. Our urban studies and leadership program, PLACE (Planning and Leadership Across City Environments), has expanded our commitment to experiential education and service to others. Our school has had a tradition of reaching out to communities around Portland; now we serve the children of Hispanic migrant families in a homework club in Hillsboro. Global programs have begun to include significant service elements, from Costa Rica to Martinique, to Botswana and Senegal. We have had a long tradition of helping students connect with their learning styles and best approaches to learning. Starting this fall, professional development and learning services for children will be linked in our re-visioned teaching and learning center led by the dynamic Paul Andrichuk, who will be moving there from his post as Middle School head. We’ve always taught art with verve and respect for the powers of creativity; now students create that art in film and video, computer graphics, photography, and other new media.
 
The school has long sought mission-appropriate students who can bring their unique talents to this unique community. You will read in this issue about the new Knight Family Scholars Program, which will help us bring outstanding students to Catlin Gabel from a variety of communities. The program will expand our Upper School curriculum with innovative seminars and intensive off-campus experiences. The Knight Family gift is extremely generous, but it does not mean that it’s a time for us to rest. Resources for financial aid continue to be a longstanding, urgent need. Having sufficient funds for aid will allow our school to develop a diverse student body, in all senses of that word, and ensure that we are able to offer admission to our top student candidates, regardless of their financial situation. We are grateful to the Knight Family for setting a high bar for us—and there is so much more to be done.
 
The Knight Family Scholars program, our new Service Corps volunteer program, and our curricular innovations represent the best of what change can bring to a school. Our hearts are big enough to enjoy the traditions that define us, change with time, and build the best future we can for our students.

 

Experiential Week: a short video of on-campus workshops

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Scenes from Experiential Week 2011 on the Catlin Gabel campus

From April 2011 Headlines

By Lark Palma, head of school

What kind of crazy school is this? Sometimes this question comes up when people meet our students and teachers during Winterim, Breakaway, and Experiential Days. And it’s a question we love to answer!

Catlin Gabel is a school that prizes deep, hands-on learning and innovation. We integrate experiential learning into our daily classes—and we dedicate one special week for alternative schooling that is totally experiential.

Our experiential week courses and affiliated trips offer between four days and two weeks of focused study, and a healthy break from routine. In the Upper School, students design the courses, and in the process they learn about planning and leadership. Course offerings for 1st through 12th graders this year ranged widely, from pirates exploring the Peter Iredale shipwreck at the Oregon coast to investigating Portland through photography, studying literary satire, and learning about coastal biology.

Perhaps you heard about the Middle School group traveling to Taiwan and their encounter with the aftermath of the massive earthquake in Japan. Their flight from the U.S. had been scheduled for a layover in Tokyo. After a long but uneventful flight across the Pacific, they learned of the earthquake when their plane began circling the Tokyo airport. The flight was diverted to a military base and the group was later flown to Osaka, where they were grounded for two days.

Despite exhaustion, hunger, and a night on the airport floor, spirits were high. The 10 students were philosophical about their circumstances. They knew a bit of discomfort and inconvenience paled in comparison to the horrors and sorrow facing the people of Japan. They passed the time playing cards and telling stories. Once flight arrangements were made for their continuation to Taipei, everyone’s thoughts turned to practicing the Mandarin language skills they would need during homestays in Taiwan.

I share this story with you to illustrate how experiential learning teaches self-reliance, resilience, and perspective. No other experiential week adventure could claim high drama, but during a week of miserable Oregon weather, I saw cheerful students and teachers return from adventures at Mt. Hood, the Oregon coast, Ashland, and downtown Portland. The cold and rain might have dampened anyone’s spirits, but our students and teachers carried on with joy and a sense of accomplishment.

When we ask alumni about their favorite Catlin Gabel traditions, Experiential Days, Breakaway, and Winterim top the list. Among the reasons they give for valuing this particular Catlin Gabel tradition are interacting with students and teachers they had not previously known and discovering they have a passion for something they had never tried before. Learning happens in so many ways, and discovering how to do new things, work together with new people, and brave the unknown is valuable for all our students. During experiential week, Catlin Gabel really walks its talk.

Experiential Days, Breakaway, and Winterim course sampler

Lower School: Walk Like an Egyptian, Super Sleuths, Hip Home Ec, Forts, Pets and Vets

Middle School: SeARTle, The River Wild, Shakespearience, Glass Fusion, Salmon Nation

Upper School: Urban Adventures, The Art of Movement: Parkour, Sailing in the San Juans, Cylinders, Pistons, and Crankshafts: Driving, Fixing, and Learning About Cars
 

Bienestar honors Catlin Gabel with Community Partner of the Year award

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Upper School head Michael Heath accepted the award given for Catlin Gabel's support of Bienestar, a nonprofit community development corporation serving migrant families in the Hillsboro area. Catlin Gabel students serve as volunteer tutors, have made donations of clothing and household items, and the entire school recently held a book drive that collected more than 3,000 books for Bienestar children. Former teacher Mark Lawton and Spanish teacher Roberto Villa were honored for their three years of support and dedication to the partnership between Catlin Gabel and Bienestar.

Read the Oregonian article.

Flaming Chickens robotics team competing at regionals

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March 25 and 26, Memorial Coliseum

The Oregon Regional FIRST Robotics competition engages high school teams from around the northwest in a competition that's a blend of rock concert, sporting event, and science fair. Catlin Gabel's Upper School robotics team, 1540 the "Flaming Chickens" will compete along with 60 other high school teams. Each team spends six weeks designing and building 120-pound robots for the competition. Catlin Gabel's robot is completely student designed, programmed, and built by students.

This is our homecoming, senior night and rivalry game all rolled into one! If you're there, be sure to come down to the pit to say hello, we always love visits from our supporters!

Admission is free and open to all.

» Watch the action via webcast

» More information on this year's game

» Twitter and Facebook updates throughout the tournament

Mock trial team wins second consecutive state championship

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Oregonian article, March '11

Congratulations to team members Leah Thompson, co-captain, Grace McMurchie, co-captain, Talbot Andrews, Rachel Caron, Lauren Ellis, Mira Hayward, Andrew Hungate, Josh Langfus, Eli Wilson Pelton, Megan Stater, and Karuna Tirumala.

Special thanks to adviser Lauren Shareshian and coaches Bob '73  and Nell Bonaparte, Jim Coon, and Scott Thompson.

» Read the Oregonian article
 

Mock trial team competes at state finals this weekend

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Good luck!

Both the blue and white mock trial teams had a great day at the 2011 regional competition. The Blue Team advanced to the state finals on March 11 and 12 to compete against the best teams in Oregon. This year’s case, State v. Freeman, is a criminal case where the defendant, a chef, is charged with murder by locking her business partner into the restaurant’s walk-in cooler.

Congratulations to Catlin Gabel Blue Team members Talbot Andrews, Rachel Caron, Lauren Ellis, Mira Hayward, Andrew Hungate, Josh Langfus, Grace McMurchie (co-captain), Megan Stater, Leah Thompson (co-captain), Karuna Tirumala, and Eli Wilson Pelton.

White Team members include Audrey Davis, Layla Entrikin, Brian Farci (co-captain), Ian Fyfield, Andrea Michalowsky, Fiona Noonan, Chris Park, Nick Petty, Nama Rosas, Henry Shulevitz, Emily Siegel, Curtis Stahl, Lynne Stracovsky (co-captain), Terrance Sun, and Mary Whitsell.

 

Middle School boys basketball team wins league championship

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Blue Team victory!

Their stunning and convincing victory is a testimonial to their hard work, scrappy play, and tenacity. Thanks got to their coach, David Smith, who prepared the team members positively and encouraged them to play at the top of their game. Fan support was tremendous – thanks to everyone.

We have every reason to be a proud Eagle community!

 

Arts campaign update

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Interview with Lark Palma, head of school

by Karen Katz '74, communications director

Catlin Gabel plans to build a new Middle and Upper School arts facility, something the school has needed for a long time. So far architect Brad Cloepfil and his Allied Works team have developed preliminary designs, and we are in the leadership stage of fundraising. Here Lark answers some important questions about the project.

Why we are building an arts center

What are the educational benefits of studying art, especially if you aren’t an artsy person?
Beginning School parent, noted artist, and Rhode Island School of Design alumnus Michael Lazarus explained it beautifully when he said, “We are developing one of the most important tools: a creative, problem-solving mind. The process of art making is great practice for life!”

We know that art education strengthens overall academic achievement and school success. Studies show that young people who participate in the arts are:

  • Four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement
  • Four times more likely to participate in a math and science fair
  • Four times more likely to win an award for writing an essay or poem

And, compared with their peers who do not take art classes they:

  • Read for pleasure nearly twice as often
  •  Perform community service more than four times as often

In a still challenging economy, can we afford to invest resources in the arts?
One hallmark of a Catlin Gabel education is innovation. Another is our dedication to a comprehensive liberal arts and sciences curriculum. The arts are central to innovation and a well-rounded education. We cannot afford to ignore the arts. Can you imagine Stanford or MIT neglecting the arts? That would be unthinkable! In fact, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, and Pomona are raising money for arts facilities. We’re in fine company. Don’t think of this as investing in a building; we’re investing in our students.

What are the arts requirements at Catlin Gabel?
The arts are integral to our program schoolwide. Creative study is central to our mission. We require all students to be involved in the arts throughout their time at the school. Beginning and Lower School students take art, music, and woodshop. Middle School students rotate through a full complement of arts classes in drama, music, woodshop, fine art, and media arts. Upper School students are required to take at least two years of art — many take three or four years — and choose from a wide array of classes.

What does the future of the arts look like at Catlin Gabel?
Lower School head Vicki Roscoe is leading a two-year curriculum review of the arts. Arts teachers are working with Vicki to investigate best practice in arts education, examine the role of technology in the arts, and explore the role arts play in cross-disciplinary studies. We are excited that the curriculum review coincides with the arts center project, because it allows our teachers to think big.

Project nuts and bolts

I thought the arts center was going to be built two years ago. Why was the project delayed?
The economy! While a handful of generous families stepped forward, the downturn in the economy delayed the larger fundraising effort.

Where are we in the process?
We have selected an architect, approved a preliminary schematic design, formed a volunteer campaign committee, and secured some important lead gifts. Fundraising is one of my top priorities this year.

When will shovels go in the ground?
The board of trustees determined that we would only break ground when 80 percent of the funds are raised. The facility will cost $6.9 million total. We need about $4.1 million more to proceed. We hope to break ground next year; construction will take about 15 months.

Tell us more about the architect.
Brad Cloepfil and his team at Allied Works Architecture are known nationwide and are becoming internationally known for designing facilities that fuel creativity. An early local project example is the Wieden + Kennedy Agency headquarters in Portland. Current parent Renny Gleeson, global director of digital strategies at Wieden + Kennedy, describes their building as a spa for the soul. Allied Works also designed the Seattle Art Museum expansion, the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, and the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, Texas.

Brad Cloepfil studied with Thomas Hacker, who created Catlin Gabel’s master plan in 1996, designed most of the Upper School buildings and grounds, and remodeled the Beginning School. It is fitting that Tom and Brad’s teacher-student relationship will be reflected on our campus.

How would you describe the early schematic design?
Brad Cloepfil and Allied Works has sketched out an elegant yet simple, open facility that will attract spectators, art dabblers, and serious artists alike. We’ve joked about naming the building the Magnet! The design includes an outdoor courtyard that mirrors the Upper School quad and an indoor gallery, both of which will serve as community gathering spots.

What will the new arts center house?
Middle and Upper School classrooms, including fine arts and media arts studios, vocal and instrumental classrooms, a computer music lab and music rehearsal rooms, a gallery, and an intimate black box theater with a spring floor for classes, rehearsals, and performances. The facility will be a great venue for interdisciplinary studies, collaborative project work, and independent study.

How will the building accommodate changes in the arts curriculum?
Allied Works is especially thoughtful about how arts education has changed and will change in ways we cannot even predict. Their design emphasizes flexibility so that different disciplines can be accommodated. The plans call for raw studio space that is like an artists’ retreat. The students and teachers who use the spaces will influence how they are used. A studio might house a filmmaking class one year and a painting class the next. The black box will be a haven for drama, dance, and music. For the first time students will be able to collaborate across disciplines on a single project, in the same space.

The Cabell Center is in great shape. Why do we need a black box theater?
The Cabell Center is in high demand for performances, classes, lectures, formal presentations, meetings, assemblies, rehearsals, and community events. It doesn’t accommodate our needs the way it did when it was built in 1973. For example, the Cabell Center is not available for the 19 performances produced by Middle School students each year. They make do in Chipmunk Hollow, a cramped and inadequate “temporary” building that was put up 42 years ago. The Middle School drama program will move to classrooms in the new arts center. Upper School students will also take classes in the new classrooms. Students in grades 6 – 12 will perform in the black box. The intimate size and flexibility of a black box is something we’ve needed for a long time, and will open up possibilities in our theater curriculum.

What is the location for the new arts center?
The building site is west of the Dant House and adjacent to the Middle and Upper School areas of campus. The building will link the Middle and Upper Schools, benefiting older and younger students academically, artistically, and socially. For the first time, Catlin Gabel will have a building that allows the arts faculty to work together in a central location. (Scroll down to see PDF of current arts facilities across campus.)

Will the new building free up space for other programs?
Most immediately, our computer science classes will no longer share space with media arts classes in the lower level of the library. It’s premature to make plans for the other 4,200 square feet of classroom space that will be vacated. We need to carefully consider what the greatest needs are before determining what programs move into current spaces such as Chipmunk Hollow, the Middle School art classroom, and the choir room.

Are we going to increase the size of the school when the arts center is built?
No, we are not planning to increase enrollment.

Funding the arts center

Is the new arts center a real need or a luxury?
Upper School students cannot paint on large canvases or do large three-dimensional works, because the art studio is too small. Film editors and composers collaborating on a project, for one example, must work separately in classrooms that are across campus from each other. Bringing the arts together in one facility will provide proximity, stimulating collaboration and increasing creativity.

During the past 17 years, the school has grown, but the square footage per student that is dedicated to the arts has decreased. The lack of adequate space for teaching the arts has been singled out in our last two accreditation reports as an important area for improvement. This project is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. We owe it to our students.

Have we secured any lead gifts?
Being in the leadership phase of fundraising means we are seeking families who are willing to be the first, and in some cases the largest, donors to the project. I am happy to say that several donors have stepped up with lead gifts. Campaign volunteers, trustees, the development team, and I are working hard to secure the 80 percent of funding we need to break ground.

Will everyone be asked to give?
In due course, we will ask all parents, alumni, faculty-staff, and friends to participate in supporting the arts campaign. I love how campaign co-chair Craig Hartzman talks about the responsibility shared by all community members to invest in our school’s future, just as others have done before us. People who cared about the future funded every building on this campus. That is what community responsibility is all about.

Does this mean the Annual Fund and the Gambol auction will ease up?
Absolutely not. Our first priority is to fund the operating budget, which includes $1.5 million in essential annual gifts. Historically, capital campaigns strengthen overall giving to programs like the Annual Fund and the auction.

Find out more

How can people see for themselves what our arts program is about?
The arts faculty welcomes drop-in visitors. They are very proud of the program and are eager for parents and friends to see why our students deserve better facilities. We want parents, especially of younger students, to see the amazing array of talent and artistic pursuit in our upper grades. Please e-mail or call arts department chair Laurie Carlyon-Ward to arrange for a tour, carlyon-wardl@catlin.edu or 503-297-1894 ext. 402.

A lot of information about the arts program is available on our website, including an overview and the Upper School course catalog, which is a great resource for class descriptions.

Can you share the architect’s schematics?
We are not posting the current schematic design on the website because it is a preliminary plan, and building plans tend to evolve. We don’t want people to become wedded to something that could change significantly. But we are presenting the designs at a Lower School coffee on Monday, March 7, at 8:30 a.m.; at a Beginning School coffee on Friday, March 18, at 9:15 after Friday Sing; and at a yet-to-be-scheduled PFA meeting in the spring. Join us!