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Catlin Gabel News Winter 2010-11

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From the Winter 2010-11 Caller

NEWS FROM AROUND HONEY HOLLOW

Nobel laureate poet Billy Collins visited this fall as the 2010–11 Karl Jonske Memorial Lecturer, surprising an English class with a visit before reading his poetry to all. . . . Students and teachers from Martinique and Gifu Kita, Japan, visited campus this winter. . . . Upper and Middle School students performed at Portland’s Winningstad Theatre during the Fall Festival of Shakespeare, a collaboration between Portland Playhouse and area high schools.
 

OUR GREAT TEACHERS

Upper School science teacher Bob Sauer was named an Outstanding Classroom Teacher in his region by the Oregon Science Teachers Association. The citation noted his ability to engender enthusiasm about science in his students and his international efforts for science education and experiential travel. . . . A paper co-authored by Upper School math teacher Lauren Sharesian on oscillators will be published by the prestigious journal Physical Review E . . . Woodshop teacher Michael deForest was this year’s Esther Dayman Strong lecturer and spoke on his apprenticeship to Ghana’s fantasy coffin-makers. . . . 4th grade teacher Mariam Higgins traveled to Haiti with a team of doctors to assist with surgical care and deliver medical and school supplies
 

ROBOTICS NEWS

The TechStart Education Foundation named robotics program director Dale Yocum Oregon’s technology educator of the year for inspiring passion and commitment and making technology accessible to all students; the award came with a $1,000 donation to the robotics program. . . . Catlin Gabel’s Flaming Chickens robotics team hosted the first annual Girl’s Generation robotics competition, and our girls team picked up the win. . . . Eighth grade Team Delta won the 1st place champion’s runner-up award at the state Lego robotics competition with an innovative research project on lower leg prosthetics for developing countries.
 

OUR AMAZING STUDENTS

Vighnesh Shiv ’11 earned the AP Scholar with Distinction Award for receiving and average score of at least 3.5 on all AP exams taken, and scores of 3 or higher on five or more of these exams. Rohisha Adke ’11 earned the AP Scholars Award. . . . Samme Sheikh ’11 was named an outstanding participant in the National Achievement Program, an academic competition that recognizes African American high schoolers. . . . 768 pounds of produce gleaned by 3rd and 4th graders at Kruger’s Farm was donated to the Oregon Food Bank. . . . Casey Currey- Wilson ’13 won first prize in the teen category of the nationwide Canon Photography in the Parks contest. . . . Aditya Sivakumar ’18 came in 3rd nationally in the elementary division of the Music Teachers National Association music competition. Lauren Mei Calora ’20 and Megan Stater ’12 won their age group at the Oregon Music Teachers Association classical piano competition. Holly Kim ’12 was selected for the All-State and All-Northwest Honors Orchestras.
 

ATH LETICS and SPORTS KUDOS

Catlin Gabel won three state championships this fall: the boys and girls soccer teams, and the girls cross country team. McKensie Mickler ’11 was named volleyball league player of the year, and Joseph Oberholtzer ’11 was voted state soccer player of the year. Joseph and teammate Ian Agrimis ’11 made first team all-state. Boys golf coach John Hamilton was the Oregon nominee for the National Federation of High Schools “Coach of the Year” award. . . . Portland Tribune named three students athlete of the week: Zoë Schlanger ’13 and Ian Agrimis ’11 for soccer, and Esichang McGautha ’12 for basketball. McKensie Mickler ’11 was recognized as athlete of the week by the Oregonian. USA Synchro named Katy Wiita ’12 to the 2011 National Synchronized Swimming Team, which will compete in Shanghai, China. . . . Alex Foster ’11 was one of 150 students nationwide named to the 2011 McDonald’s All American games for basketball.  

 

Come to the arts building presentation for all parents

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Friday, April 8, from 7 to 8 p.m.

Join Lark Palma and board members in the Middle School commons for a casual conversation about the vision behind the proposed Middle and Upper School arts center.

Middle School parents are encouraged to swing by after dropping off their children at the dance.

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.  

 

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
 

Upper School Jazz Band opens for Portland rockers "Search Party"

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Fundraiser for Catlin Gabel's Jazz Band

Rock trio Search Party is recording a concert CD and Catlin Gabel's own Jazz Band is the opening act!

Don't miss this night of rockin' good music sponsored by Slipknot Productions.

Friday, April 22
7:30 pm. (doors open at 7 p.m.)
Cabell Center Theater

Advance tickets $5 (available through division offices)
Tickets at the door $10
Proceeds benefit the Catlin Gabel Jazz Band

Check out the video of Search Party in concert. Scroll down to sample their CD.

Audio: 

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Fantastiks photo gallery

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Upper School production of the world's longest running musical

Directed by alumna Elizabeth Gibbs

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!

Rebecca Garner '11 wins top regional art award

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On February 23 senior Rebecca Garner will be awarded the Gold Key in art, the highest regional award given annually in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards program, sponsored by New York’s Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. As a result of Rebecca’s Gold Key standing, her artwork will be forwarded to New York City for national judging.

Rebecca’s artworks, from the portfolio she entered in the competition, will be on exhibition at the award ceremony, to be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Pacific NW College of Art (1241 NW Johnson St., Portland) on Wednesday, February 23. All regional Gold Key artwork will be on display at PNCA from February 6 to February 25.
 
Rebecca also won two Honorable Mentions in drawing.
Three other Catlin Gabel students were also honored with awards:
 
Junior Andrea Michalowsky won an Honorable Mention in sculpture
Senior Lynne Stracovsky won a Silver Key in drawing
Senior Kashi Tamang won seven Silver Key awards in ceramics and glass, drawing, photogrpahy, mixed media, and painting
 
Founded in 1923, the Scholastic Art & Writing program is the oldest, longest-running, and most prestigious recognition program for student achievement in the visual arts and creative writing in the United States. The 15 top national winners each receive a $10,000 cash award to help pay for college, plus special recognition on the stage of Carnegie Hall in New York. The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, a nonprofit organization, identifies teenagers with exceptional artistic and literary talent and brings their remarkable work to a national audience through the awards program.
 
Congratulations, Rebecca, Andrea, Lynne, and Kashi!

 

Martin Luther King Jr. community meeting photo gallery

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Lower School students, teachers, and families honor a great man through music and poetry

Leaving Iowa Photo Gallery

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Upper School play

Thanks go to Bruce Johnson for these photos.

Revels 2011 photo gallery

Drama teacher Deirdre Atkinson appearing in Portland Playhouse production of “The Missing Pieces” January 20 – 30

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Thursday – Saturday at 8 p.m.
Sundays at 2 p.m.

$15 general admission
Buy online at: www.portlandplayhouse.org
Or call the box office: 503-205-0715
602 NE Prescott St.

The story: Mt. St. Helens volcanic ash is smothering Portland and Timmy is dying of the VD, but before he goes, he’s gotta get to the Playboy Mansion. Can Miss May 1963 (Deirdre Atkinson) free him from his mother’s Catholic claws and help Hugh Hefner see that Timmy’s the son he always wanted but never had?

Fresh from the 2009 JAW playwrights’ festival, The Missing Pieces by Portland writer Nick Zagone is a warped, hilarious journey of adolescence where nothing, especially the Church, is sacred, and everything is up for grabs.

For mature audiences.
 

St. George and the Dragon Photo Gallery

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The class of 2015

A hero, a dragon, girls acting dippy, and boys in tutus. This decidedly 8th grade show is a perennial favorite that has been performed to the delight (and horror) of Catlin Gabel audiences since the 1940s. Borrowing from the same basic plot (we use the term loosely), each class reflects its own personality in St. George and the Dragon.

Click on any photo to begin slide show, enlarge images, and access printable downloads of the pictures.

As You Like It photo gallery

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Middle and Upper School production

Catlin Gabel students were part of a collaboration in which Portland Playhouse partnered with seven area high schools to produce a different Shakespeare play at each school. These images were shot at the dress rehearsal.