5th grade is a time of many changes for children. Not only do home work demands increase, but suddenly there are emotional, social, and intellectual changes occurring as well. Socially, this becomes a time when children begin the process of separation and individuation and start to try on a variety of new roles. Their peer groups take on a greater importance and they themselves begin to try on a variety of new personalities and interests. You may also find your 5th grader playing with different forms of power in their social relationships.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread that way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
- If you develop flu-like symptoms of fever, aches and pains, sore throat, coughing, trouble breathing, runny nose, or nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting, you should contact your health care provider. Your health care provider will determine whether influenza testing and treatment is needed.
Choose how you cruise
On this symbolic day, the Catlin Gabel community will join in an effort to empty the parking lot!
Choose how you cruise
- Carpool (link to carpool map)
- MAX or TriMet
- Ride the Catlin Gabel bus for free – one day only special
Beginning and Lower School parents: Ginny Malm has access to the online registration information so you don't need to call her if you sign up online by Thursday, October 7.
Welcome! I hope you are looking forward to the 2009-10 school year as much as I am. Some fabulous new students are joining us in all four divisions. I know that returning families will join me in welcoming our new community members.
We are proud to open with full enrollment. We were able to increase this year’s financial aid budget by 41 percent, which allowed us to keep our community together despite the recession. This is a real testament to our board members and their commitment to making financial aid a school priority. While we have never been frivolous spenders, faculty and staff worked hard to trim budgets without negatively affecting the academic and co-curricular programs. The school’s long-term financial health is in great shape.
To our parents: sending your child to Catlin Gabel is a big commitment, and we deeply appreciate the trust you have placed in us. Your child will have a great year in school. Your daughter or son will be enthusiastic about learning and will grow in ways you do not expect. Our extraordinary teachers, librarians, counselors, and support staff members will work side by side with students to make learning engaging and challenging.
Teachers and staff members were busy throughout the summer preparing for students to return. The much-needed new coat of paint on the Barn symbolizes our approach to education: honor our traditions while making things fresh and new. We launch the year fully invested in all our students’ success at school.
Catlin Gabel teachers are extraordinary, as exemplified this spring and summer by four faculty members who received honors of note. The United States Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board honored two teachers with awards: Paul Monheimer, 7th grade world cultures teacher, was awarded a Distinguished Fulbright Award in Teaching to conduct research in Israel spring semester, and Cindy Beals, Upper School math teacher, received a Fulbright Teacher Exchange grant to teach in Turkey for the 2009-10 academic year. I am pleased to welcome 6th grade math teacher Nagame (pronounced Nah may) Karamustafaoglu from Turkey, who came as part of the Fulbright Teacher Exchange. Upper School English teacher Nichole Tassoni attended a seminar on Dante in Italy this summer sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The American Immigration Council awarded Upper School Spanish teacher Lauren Reggero-Toledano a grant for her project, “The Hispanic Presence in Oregon During the Great Depression and Today.” Read more about the awards that speak to the excellence of our faculty in the “Congrats!” article.
As the 2009-10 school year begins, I invite you to join Upper School students and teachers in reading Mountains Beyond Mountains. We are fortunate and thrilled to welcome the author, Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Kidder, to campus for this year’s Karl Jonske ’99 memorial lecture on Tuesday, October 13, at 11:30 a.m. in the Cabell Center Theater. You are all welcome to attend this special Upper School assembly.
I look forward to seeing everyone on campus again and finding out about your summer and your hopes for this new year. It’s going to be a great one!
Head of School
Safety and civility expected in parking lots
Did you know that one of the most likely places for a collision is in a parking lot? Now consider the consequences if that accident involves a pedestrian!
Please keep your mind on the road and yield at crosswalks when dropping off and picking up students. Throughout the year, division heads and others will monitor the parking lot to help remind parents (and it is parents who are the problem, not students) that the rules apply to everyone.
For the safety of children and adults, and to model courtesy for our students, please follow these simple rules:
• Drive slowly. The campus speed limit is 10 mph.
• Use only the Toad Hall “drive by” for student drop-off and pick-up.
• Do not drop off and pick up children in the parking lots, unless your car is parked in a designated spot. “Parked” means the engine is turned off.
• Park only in designated parking areas.
• Cars parked illegally may be towed at the owner’s expense.
• Parking for athletic events is in the main lot or in the northeast St. Vincent parking structure. There is no parking beyond the gym.
• Officers from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the Tualatin Valley Fire Department monitor handicap parking spots and fire lanes.
• Refrain from talking on a cell phone when driving on campus. It's the law.
• Allow enough time to slow down in the parking lot. Schedule after-school appointments so you have plenty of time to get there without endangering others.
• Both lanes have moving cars - do not get out of your car. If you have to assist your child in stowing their backpack and putting on their belt then safety is better served if you take the time to park in the lot.
• Do not stop and wait in a particular place. Tell your child to look for you all the way up the line.
• DO NOT ALLOW your child to enter on the driver's side of the car!
• Set an example - We have young, inexperienced drivers on campus and they need your help by setting a good example of safe, courteous behavior when you are on campus whether you are walking or driving through the parking lot.
• Lastly, the neon vest rules. You need to do what they say, when they say it. .
Please use the utmost caution and civility when driving on campus.
Send your kids to school on the Catlin Gabel bus! Riding the bus is good for the environment, reduces parking lot overcrowding, and saves you time and money.
The 2009-10 bus schedules are posted on the school web site on the Bus Service page in the Parents section.
Parents must print out, complete, and sign two 2009-10 required documents (Department of Education Regulations and Parent Guidelines) authorizing bus ridership for this year. The documents are posted as PDF files on the Bus Service page. Please return the completed documents to the administrative assistant in your child’s division.
Rebecca Plaskitt's 4th graders study immigration through story
from the Spring 2009 Caller
By Nadine Fiedler
To the Catlin Gabel 4th grade, immigrants are not just odd people who speak funny languages—because the immigrant’s stories have become the students’ own stories. These students create characters from immigrant groups, then track them starting with their arrival in the U.S. and ending with their new lives as they establish themselves. By the end of the study, they care about their character, they understand the historical perspective of immigration, and they come to see the commonalities among all of us in this country—not only the differences.
The structure for this study comes from the Storyline method, in which teacher Rebecca Plaskitt is an international expert. “The basis of Storyline is that children learn through the power of story, with characters, settings, ways of life, incidents, and conclusions,” she says. “By making characters they are more likely to become emotionally involved in what happens and in their character’s experiences.”
Throughout the Storyline, students in both Rebecca’s and Mariam Higgins’s 4th grade classes pick an ethnic group and gender for the character they choose, based on whom they think has the best chance to make a life in a new country. They talk about the skills this person would need to get a job and get started, and they research their country of origin.
The students make 3-D faces for their characters, and dress them in the clothing they might have worn upon arrival in New York. In the next part of the Storyline, students are randomly assigned to roles as immigrants or workers at Ellis Island. As staffers, the students might work in security or baggage, or as doctors, psychiatrists, or money changers.
“We talk about the significance of feeling like they don’t have any choices,” says Rebecca. “We ask the kids playing immigrants how they feel about the workers who will make decisions for them and maybe send them back home. We ask the workers to reflect on their role: do they like being able to control someone else?” And for one eagerly anticipated day, the inside and the outside of the classroom becomes Ellis Island, and each student plays a role in this tense chapter of immigration.
The drama begins when the costumed immigrants disembark outside with their bundles and carefully researched documents. The workers, equally prepared with official procedures and documentation, are anxious about what might happen during their shift, when they may admit or detain the immigrants.
The process includes lots of reflection about what they’ve been through. At the end, the students write and act out a script about their characters getting work and a new home. At a culminating presentation to parents, students share the immigrants’ story, including a narrated slideshow of the events at their Ellis Island and entries from journals they’ve kept for their character.
The Storyline experience engages the 4th graders in high-level thinking by asking them to build on new information and create something entirely new. And through the process, they also learn history, compassion, and understanding.
Rebecca Plaskitt, a Catlin Gabel teacher since 2004, has presented Storyline courses at conferences in Europe, and she was honored as outstanding student teacher of the year by Phi Delta Kappa after receiving her teaching degree. “I love being with kids and creating. I’ve never taught two years the same way. I really like how Catlin Gabel considers the whole child, not just academic ability but emotions, and confidence, and how the child fits in the group. Everyone is so willing to help, and everyone knows the kids so well. The one thing that’s different here from most other schools is that you can love the children here: it’s totally okay and a great part of teaching,” she says.
Nadine Fiedler is editor of the Caller.
From the Spring 2009 Caller
We asked members of our online alumni community and Catlin Gabel alumni groups on Facebook to share their reflections on teachers who served a transformative role in their lives. Many found narrowing the list down to one or two teachers quite difficult, but they managed! Running throughout the responses, excerpted below, is a common thread: teachers at Catlin Gabel and its predecessor schools were and are united by a passion for working with young people, an inventive approach to teaching, and an uncanny ability to inspire their students’ enthusiasm for the material.
MOLLY MOORES SCHLICH ’44
Producer of film and lecture series, Springfield, Illinois
I had many excellent teachers, but the memory of Rachael Griffin is outsized in her influence on me. She taught art to the young classes at Gabel Country Day School, and she was inspired. She introduced us to many different forms of visual art, and made it such fun. She was warm and outgoing—we all loved her. I am sorry I never had the opportunity to tell her how important she has been in my life.
CINDY LAWSON DeVORE ’80
Corporate manager, Broad Run, Virginia
During these many years since leaving Catlin Gabel, I have thought countless times of Kim Hartzell (known as Mrs. Hartzell to all of us in the middle school). Though I never ended up a professional artist, Mrs. Hartzell greatly influenced the success of my career and my life. The confidence she instilled in her students allowed us all the freedom to experiment with our own creativity, and to be proud of our accomplishments.
Mrs. Hartzell’s small art room in the 1970s middle school was a place of inspiration. She was an incredibly enthusiastic woman who introduced us to arts like Pysanky (Ukrainian egg dyeing), beadwork, and mask-making, all the while exclaiming words like “cool!” and “beautiful!” to describe our “unique” works of art.
My career has traveled a path from military law, to politics, to communications and marketing, and currently rests in management. I’ve had many opportunities to draw from my own creativity—producing a television program, creating advertising, and even making natural soap products for my own small company. Through it all, I must admit that I still see Mrs. Hartzell’s smiling face and hear her encouraging “you-can-do-it” words. Her guidance and adoration for her students will continue to influence my life and how I relate to others.
I’m so thankful for having known Kim Hartzell. Even more, I’m very fortunate to have been one of her students.
TED KAYE ’73
Tech company executive, Portland
Mary Whalen MacFarlane taught me longer than any other teacher. For three straight years—6th, 7th, and 8th grades—she delivered a solid foundation in mathematics. I vividly recall when she exposed us to the wonders of Pascal’s Triangle, the basics of algebra, and the Fibonacci Sequence. Mrs. MacFarlane encouraged innovation in her class—such as when Randy King and I developed a 20-word mnemonic for Pi that began “Yes, I have a green barracuda in school today.” Never theatrical, her serious commitment to mathematics and stretching the capabilities of young minds endeared her to generations of Catlin-Hillside and Catlin Gabel students. I use skills and concepts she taught me every day.
ANNE KILKENNY ’69
Small business owner, Portland
I remember three teachers fondly and with great respect and admiration from my time at Catlin Gabel: Vivien Johannes, Gene Jenkins, and Ann Wright.
“Mrs. Jo” was my English teacher for two years. At the time I did not appreciate her intellect, her joy in life, and what she was trying to teach us. But I did understand in a rudimentary way that she loved teaching, and her students. In retrospect I now realize what a remarkable person and teacher she was. I only wish I could tell her so today. I think her remarkable gifts were mostly wasted on us callow teenagers.
Gene Jenkins and Mrs. Wright taught me the basics for real study habits and how to write a decent declarative sentence.
I can still hear Mrs. Wright saying, “that’s a GROSS generalization . . . be more specific.” And I always remember Mrs. Jenkins’s smile when one of us “got it.”
SUZI EHRMAN ’75
Professional organizer, Charlotte, North Carolina
My hands-down favorite was Sarah Wells, who taught 5th grade for two years while we were still on Culpepper Terrace. Why was she so spectacular? Everything we did centered on the theme of ancient Greece. History, geography, literature, math, science—you name it, it was about Greece. We held our own Olympic Games in the spring in the ancient style (though we were all clothed!). We had to learn how to make togas, we all created our own personalized warrior shields in art, we made wax tablets in shop class and spent a day or two in class writing on them, using Greek letters, as if we were students in ancient Greece. We memorized Greek poetry and performed for our classmates. Truly, the entire year carried the theme. I remember more from this year of school than any other. Miss Wells was tough, but fair and very kind and loving. She started a love of archaeology for me that has stayed with me to this day—I went to Greece in college, was an anthropology/archaeology major, and spent a month on an archaeological dig in Tanzania in 2007.
Finally, Sarah Wells embodied so much of what I think of as great about a Catlin Gabel education: a creative and talented teacher who was given permission to teach in an unconventional manner and was so effective in the process.
UNA CHOI COALES ’83
Family physician, London, UK
My two favorite teachers, John Wiser (history) and Lowell Herr (science), used optimism and enthusiasm when teaching. John always had a big smile on his face, and his passion and joy for teaching American history shone through. It is in part John’s love for history that has spurred me to run for president of the Royal College of General Practitioners. My name will be on this spring’s postal national ballot, and if I win I will be the third woman and first ethnic minority to ever claim the title of president of this esteemed college, representing the majority of family physicians in the UK. I chose to run to fight the injustices that doctors face here because of relentless government regulation. I am working to make a college that is its members’ advocate and not a government proxy.
Lowell smiled and laughed as he taught physics. He loved teaching (and Ferris wheels) and I loved coming to school to learn from him. He included all his students and actively asked for contributions on the chalkboard. In 2003 I began teaching by chance. I went to a friend’s home and helped her with her oral module of the MRCGP (family medicine) exam. She passed. I have since taught over 2,000 doctors to pass their licensing board exam in family medicine. I reflect the teaching styles of both Lowell and John. I smile, laugh, and invite active participation from doctors. By the end of the day, they all believe they are geniuses and have the knowledge and skills to pass, and do. So thank you, Catlin Gabel, for having great inspirational teachers who are shaping students to become great leaders!
JENNIFER ANDERSON MATHESON ’88
Police detective, Olympia, Washington
Dave Corkran was instrumental in my success at Catlin Gabel, which set the direction for the rest of my life. High school was a difficult time for me emotionally and academically. I came to Catlin Gabel halfway through my freshman year. I had Dave Corkran for C&C, and that placement was the beginning of a very important connection for me. Dave believed in me academically and supported me emotionally. With the foundation that Dave was so instrumental in creating and the support of my parents, I finished high school, graduating from college in three and a half years with a major in human development and performance, and a minor in biology. I have a happy and successful life with a wonderful husband and three children, and owe much of my life’s success to Dave. Outside of my family Dave was definitely the most influential person in my life. It was great to see him at my 20-year reunion last May.
CHERI COLLINS SMITH ’68
Gloria Zeal Davis was my English teacher in my junior year at Catlin Gabel. I had many very good teachers during my four years there, but Gloria was the best and had a profound influence on my life. Prior to that year, my academic interests were primarily in the math and science areas. I liked things that were concrete and specific. But somehow, with her warmth and sense of humor, and the style of her teaching and her expectations, she managed to open up another side of my mind, which allowed me to cultivate interests and a kind of awareness that I hadn’t experienced before. That broadened my view of the world in many ways, and was transformative in my life.
I’ve valued what I learned from her ever since, and as it turns out, have stayed in touch with her through the years. I’ve lived in California for many years, but to this day, we stay in touch on a regular basis. It’s a very rewarding and satisfying friendship.
DANIELLE EASLY NYE ’87
Entrepreneur, Bend, Oregon
Reading never came easily for me, but as soon as I could read chapter books I quickly became a book junkie. Going to Catlin Gabel and having a teacher like Sid Eaton brought my love of reading to a new level. As a group we got to delve into authors, enjoy their stories, and use them as a model for our own writing. Having an elective English class with Sid my senior year was learning at its most fun. We studied both essays and short stories, and I still have a strong love of the short story format.
We all became Red Sox fans through the year (if you weren’t a fan you were wise not to speak up), reading specially selected articles that Sid would bring in, and heaven forbid you were in class on a day when the Red Sox lost.
There are the things we need to learn in school and the things that become a part of our lives that we cherish. I am grateful to Sid for the latter.
For additional information about Annual Giving, please contact:
Director of Annual Giving
8825 SW Barnes Road
Portland, OR 97225
By Mimi Tang
My father fondly recalls a period of a few months in my third year when I stopped greeting him at the door with my usual “Hi, Daddy!” or a big, wide-eyed grin on my shy days. Instead, I met him daily with outstretched arms accompanied by the phrase “Once ’pon a time, in a land fah, fah ’way. . . .” which I always left hanging as an invitation . . . an invitation to invent, to create, to write a story together.
When do we begin our evolution as writers? I believe we begin writing the moment we begin to make meaning out of the world around us. Our youngest writers point and utter words, labeling the things they notice. They are researching and gathering material that they quickly begin to string together into phrases, sentences, and eventually stories. Young children engage deeply with the task of writing long before they are able to form letters and words on paper. They retell their experiences with admirable detail and tenacity, they invent worlds of fancy in which familiar people often play the heroes and heroines, they constantly collect material from their experiences and others’ stories that then become a part of their own narratives. Many of us adults, however, might not consider them as writers because they cannot yet engage in the physical act of writing. But good writing is so much more than correct letter formation.
With precious little time for us adults to devote to pleasure reading, how do we choose the writers we read? We choose the wonderful storytellers—the ones who invent fantastical places and events to help us escape the mundane; we choose thorough researchers—the ones who ask great questions and have the tenacity to pursue their answers on our behalf; we choose the entertaining and the familiar—the ones we have read time and time again and who continue to stand the test of time. Young children are these writers. They just don’t necessarily have the handwriting and spelling skills to put pencil to paper—yet.
Handwriting and spelling continue, of course, to be important skills, even in this day and age of quickly advancing technology. I pay close attention to how 1st graders spell words and customize my instruction based on the child’s understanding of the written word. At the same time, I find ways to support this child’s sense of story and writing fluency (taking dictation, inviting stories to be told in a combination of words and pictures, encouraging stories to be told orally in elaborate detail), all ways to support that natural storytelling ability children have been cultivating since early childhood.
I believe that writing is the single most complex academic task we ask of children during their time in school. However, beginning with the first time you respond with a smile in response to your child’s exclamation of “Mommy, look at me!” your little writer is hooked. The reward bestowed upon a child by a sense of audience has initiated your child on his path as a writer. Young children come to us with so many gifts that they began to hone—“once ‘pon a time”—in their earliest days of communication. It is our duty and our great honor to help them extend and refine their natural gifts as writers.
Mimi Tang teaches Catlin Gabel’s 1st grade. She has been at Catlin Gabel since 2005.
In December the school received a gift to the campaign from Mel Baldwin and Marian Hays, relatives of former Lower School teacher Carol Bartel, to endow the Carol Bartel Lower School Fund. Carol died in 1993 after serving as Lower School administrative assistant for many years. The fund, originally set up in 2005, was used primarily for Lower School Experiential Days. However until recently it was a restricted fund that had to be replenished on an annual basis.
Thanks to the stewardship efforts of Vicki Roscoe, head of the Lower School, and a collection of teachers who have remained close to Carol’s family over the years, Mel and Marian made a gift of $50,000 to the school to finally endow the fund. Vicki worked closely with Mel and Marian over the years to find the best way to honor such a beloved member of the Catlin Gabel community. By establishing this fund, Carol’s legacy will continue to grow at the school, and her memory will live on in the teachers and students that this fund will benefit in the years to come.
The Carol Bartel Lower School fund will now be used at the Lower School head’s discretion for the greatest need in the Lower School.
"The Last Day"
It’s over, one of these days.
I’ve realized this only now, just as
I’m peeling away the skin of a grapefruit
And my tongue is wet with bitter anticipation.
I’m wondering if that day will bring leaves,
Skittering across the sidewalk, like those little orange
Plastic cars we used to race across the porch—
Or maybe it will bring sticky, salty, sidewalk heat,
The kind that bites the virgin skin of toes.
And what about the roaring women of that day?
Mouths twisted, tears skating down cheeks,
Because suddenly there are babies,
And two minutes before, there was, really, nothing.
That’s what it is, right?
Birth and death every second?
Or are the rates all topsy-turvy these days?
Twisted and arbitrary, kind of like this tree—
Bent-backed, knot-kneed, crouched outside my window?
By an 11th grade student
"Four Twinkling Stars"
Little clear diamonds still twinkling
in a dusty black spiral, engulfing
but those four gems,
spinning almost cheerily
until they gravitate to the center
and morph into more brilliant
The explosion is shattering,
a million pieces of awesome light
that rock and vibrate the darkness
until everything is more
than it ever could have been
By a 6th grade student
"This Dark is For the Light"
I’ve always loved small spaces, safely surrounded and enclosed by something. Wrapped in warmth and simple physical darkness rather than the expansive suffocating kind. This dark is different. This dark is loving. This dark is only dark to make you brighter, letting your light filter through, filling the space with each breath you take, until you are breathing light. Then your entire world is bright, shining bright, and you know.
And you know too, that when you step back into the world, you can hold it. Imagine sitting low to a ground that is rich with the scent of chocolate mulch and the subtleties of Hyacinth, waiting in this diffuse willow-dusk, surrounded by singular beautiful branches, which filter the light softly through, making it dance, filling the space until it can’t be filled anymore. And you are breathing light. Light from a sky that continues even beyond the Earth’s imagination. And you can feel it, exactly like that.
By a 12th grade student
"Where I'm From"
I am from wide-angle lenses
Seeing everything, everything present
If just from a different perspective
I am from swimming in blackberry thorns
From finding old pathways
Lost to time
I am from the chunk of asphalt on a blown-apart road
The road that I walked down for miles
I am from collecting that chunk
From placing it on top of my dresser
I am from short cuts and long-cuts
As long as they’re out of the way
From climbing cliffs to avoid the crowded path
That wide, flat, paved track
Which carries everyone, everyone but me
I am from running
Not to run, but to get away
I am from the yearning to escape
The yearning to be free
Free from life’s maelstrom
The hustle and bustle that is omnipresent
This is my time to go away
I am from that which strives to act
From the things which are unspoken yet understood
From the passage to danger, to triumph
From the secrets of nature
But that is more than I am
I am from collapsing on long journeys
Too tired to carry on
I am from waterfalls and crumbling cliffs
From recklessness and adventure
But also from the relief of safety after a long,
From fresh-cooked dinners
And my homemade puff pastry
I am from memories, photos, and my family
I am from me
By an 8th grade student
Death penalty debate statement excerpt: pro
The death penalty may be cruel, but certainly not unusual, as the ways in which it is practiced are not unusual at all. Society changes over time, so what may be seen as unusual changes as well—for example, whipping. It was considered normal when the Constitution was written, but now it is seen as unusual. A punishment for a crime is unusual if it is ridiculously high for a crime lower than it, such as life imprisonment for felony. But as the death penalty is far milder than the crimes for which it is given, it is not unusual. It is also not in violation of Amendment V of the Constitution, which states that no one shall “be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”
By an 8th grade student
Death penalty debate statement excerpt: con
The death penalty is a “cruel and unusual” punishment, and an ineffective crime deterrent. It needs to be abolished before more innocent people are executed. For every eight people put to death, one innocent person is released from death row. The system in deciding punishments is not equally balanced with the crime committed, and the whole system is rampant with racial prejudice. Also, while there, people can change, and regret what they have done, but are still put to death. When someone is sentenced to death, they are not only going to be executed, they will have to also stay on death row for many years, and pray to be freed. . . .
By an 8th grade student
Excerpt from science lab report
The charged strips of acetate and vinylite attracted and repelled various bits of string. To quote Shakespeare, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” [Romeo and Juliet (Act II, Sc. II)]. Although we cannot pass this off as a scientific fact, it is logical to assume that a name has little to no effect on the object to which it is tied. This led my partner and me to believe that changing the name of the charges would change nothing about the nature of the charges themselves.
By a 10th grade student, in answer to a question about whether changing the names of positive and negative electric charges would affect how these charges act
"Its a Boy?"
As babies we sleep and occasionally coo
Boys and girls both, our differences few
But similarities end in just a blink
When boys dress in blue and girls dress in pink
We face gender choices at every growth stage
And they powerfully shape us into old age
Dolls and cute animals aren’t much of a hit
For boys dangerous toys are a much better fit
Boys hide their emotions and shed fewer tears
Putting away feelings and childish fears
Watching ballet is tough for a boy
Nothing can beat a slam-dunk by Roy
Passing, shooting, or kicking—boys want control
In all types of sports being first is the goal
Shopping for clothes is not a boy’s cup of tea
Unless shopping includes buying games for the Wii
No make-up or heels or dresses with lace
For boys it’s just clean and no food on the face
What’s important to boys is big, brave, and strong
And in a perfect world to eat all day long
But is all this true? Is this who boys are?
If it is, then we haven’t come far
The male nurse or secretary, the stay-at-home dad
Breaking gender stereotypes should make us all glad
We are impossible to classify
Except girls are xx and boys are xy
By a 6th grade student
I can feel the difference in the terminal’s width.
It’s smaller and we’re bigger. We take up too
Escalators that had appeared dormant wake to
take us up, too fast
Unloading its cargo, it drops us off like
baggage on the empty floor above.
It’s smaller and we’re bigger. Why do we take
up so much space?
We sink into the thick green carpeting,
swallowed whole and unable to speak.
We’re like our cargo, dropped us off like
baggage on the empty floor above.
Our smiles flicker off, like the open signs on
the shop doors.
The thick green carpeting cushions the blow,
swells our throats until they are tight.
The calm voice from the PA matches the air
conditioning, soothing our dry skin like lotion.
Somehow we can’t turn our smiles back on.
Her eyes are weighed down with fear but she
keeps a brave face on. We all do.
The air conditioning soothes our wet eyes
when she turns away while the woman on the
PA tells us everything will be alright.
Our words run through the conveyor belt,
making sure nothing sharp or metal enters our
We keep on our brave faces and don’t look up.
I watch her plane roll on to the runway.
Our conversation is littered with tiny shrapnels,
no matter how hard we try and keep them out.
Escalators that had appeared dormant wake to
take us farther from her. It’s too fast.
We watch her plane from the empty shell of
the parking garage.
I can feel the difference in the terminal’s width.
By an 11th grade student
Of Chang Tuan’s cats,
Cloud Pattern was the loneliest.
She would look upon her brothers
Silk Brocade’s fur was the softest in all of
Drive-Away-Vexation’s dainty paws were the swiftest rat-catchers
in all the land.
Purple Blossom had the most gentle mew ever heard in that dynasty.
Guardian of the East’s ears reached the farthest; she heard the
cream bowl hit the tile before it had.
White Phoenix’s tail was the bushiest and waved about a great deal.
And lastly, her brother, Ten Thousand Strings of Cash.
He was the most well-loved among the staff and visitors at
Chang’s house for his golden eyes.
Of all those magnificent felines, those careful creatures
Cloud Pattern was the loneliest.
His fur was often matted;
His paws, at times, had failed at Cat’s domestic duty.
His voice was loud, and screeched at Master Tuan’s ears;
He was always last in the scramble for the cream, since he
never sensed the delicate clink of porcelain on tile.
His tail was thin, and oft hung limp;
And, above all, Cloud Pattern’s eyes were not gold;
They were green, green on his stained fur.
And for these reasons,
Cloud Pattern was Master Tuan’s favorite.
By an 11th grade student, inspired by Wang Chih, 1100 C.E.
"The Night Painter"
sweeps over my face
cleansing my soul
twirling and dancing in the wind
bringing on a heavy sadness
in the water colored air
with gently painted strokes
dipped from a stormy ocean
Grey wisps which kiss the silent leaves
flying through the stars
continuing on forever
as I stare out my window
on a dark night
By a 6th grade student
"The Two Aliens"
Once there were two aliens and they liked pie. Their names were Bob and Joe. Bob looked like a shark. Joe looked like a firebreathing orange-headed wolf. It had been ten years since they blasted off the planet.
The next day they landed on a pie-covered planet. There were frog leg pies and pasta pies and spaghetti pies and bunny pies and eraser pies and underwear pies and rice pies and ball pies and seaweed pies and feather pies and hair pies and they didn’t know if they were poisonous.
They walked around to see if anybody was there to tell them if the pies were poisonous. Six years later they found some fish to tell them if the pies were poisonous. None of the pies were poisonous, so they started eating the pies. Then one day they were too full. They went to sleep and they got knocked off the planet. They did not know where they were. They were on their home planet. They wanted more pie.
By a 2nd grade student
I am a small, free-flowing river rushing through
I feel energetic as I stream over damp, mosscovered
I laugh as fish tickle me as they dart upstream.
I hear deer softly trample grass as they come
to lap up my water.
I feel frisky as I hustle over waterfalls.
I feel good when the sun heats me up on a
I feel scared and race away when bears
come lumbering in to eat my fish.
I am curious as I flow into
a larger river bound for
By a 4th grade student
Excerpt from essay "Gods Soldiers"
Eight years later, September 11 has had a larger impact on recent global history than any other date in the last five decades. Two wars, countless bombs, and endless amounts of civil unrest, misery, grief, and sorrow have defined the results of this monumental date. Dozens of nations engaged in painful arguments and arrangements, all involving the increasing interest in the Middle East and her oil. Car bombs killing hundreds explode every day in India, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, many traced back to the same causes that fueled 9/11.
I remember this date myself, although I was thousands of miles away from the catastrophe; the date was a day of shame, despair, and unity for all Americans. I recall being shuffled into the school library, and being informed of the recent tragedy just hours after the event. The nation was on red alert. I also remember knowing that my uncle worked in the World Trade Center, and I remember thinking for days that he was dead until he finally called, and notified us he had actually just taken the day off to spend time with his family. All his colleagues were dead. All their deaths in vain because of one single cause: religion.
By an 8th grade student
Most of us attended schools with report cards and infrequent parent-teacher conferences that may have been convened only when a student was in trouble. Things are different at Catlin Gabel. We asked our division heads, Pam McComas, Vicki Roscoe, Paul Andrichuk, and Michael Heath, to talk about our unique approach to student assessment and grades.
How does Catlin Gabel differ from other schools regarding assessments?
Pam: In some schools, students focus their attention and energies on tests. Getting good grades is then linked to the ability to anticipate what will be on the test. Catlin Gabel teachers do not define learning in this way. As goofy as it may seem to some to not give letter grades outright, the practice helps focus student attention on our instructional goals: depth of understanding, creative thinking, and analytic reasoning. These are the lasting gifts of a good education. In a world in which the fund of knowledge doubles every couple of years, these skills will serve students best.
What do we assess?
Pam: As a progressive school we are firmly focused on the development of more than academics. Intellectual growth and social-emotional health are also fundamental elements of a well-rounded education, and so our assessments include these as well. Teachers are interested in their students’ abilities to reason and their depth of thinking, as well as the specific content and skills they have learned. Creative approaches to problems, resiliency, and interpersonal skills and dispositions (persistence, for one) also figure into assessments. Our goal is to educate good people as well as academically skilled students.
What do written evaluations and parent-teacher conferences tell parents about their kids that letter grades do not?
Paul: Written evaluations tell parents about their child’s learning disposition, motivation, response to feedback, and what engages him or her in school life. The teachers can write and talk about specific challenges, such as a child who seems to know the material but does not hand in homework or a student who does fine in class but is experiencing social challenges. Middle Schoolers are experiencing rapid physical and emotional changes. We want parents to understand how these stressors can affect their children’s learning.
Vicki: We do not give letter grades or standardized achievement tests in the Lower School. We believe that showing parents evidence of learning is much more authentic and powerful than a letter on a page. And if the children themselves take ownership of their learning and are responsible for presenting it to you, and are part of celebrating their strengths and successes and setting their own goals - well, in short, it doesn’t get better than that.
Why do students get grades in the Upper School?
Michael: All in all we do a good job of focusing on the things that grades fail to measure: knowledge, sophisticated self-reflection, the ability to think deeply and communicate lucidly, and the cultivated desire to invest in a community and the world. At the same time most colleges and universities request a transcript with letter grades. While we want our children to earn these “measures” of high achievement so that colleges will recognize our students as the intelligent, engaged learners they are, we do not want to overemphasize the importance of the GPA.
How does our Upper School grading compare with other schools?
Michael: Our grade spread is typical of independent schools across the country. Colleges know that when a school awards 50 percent of its students a 4.0 GPA, then that school’s standards are not comparable to a school like ours. Last year a faculty task force compared Catlin Gabel to other highly academic benchmark schools and their grade distributions. As a result of their work three substantial changes were put into place. We added an A+ for truly outstanding students, giving all students the possibility of earning higher GPAs. We instituted the practice of giving individual faculty members a report on how their grading matches up with others in their departments and with every teacher in the Upper School. Finally, we revamped our school profile that is sent to colleges and universities so that students from Catlin Gabel are viewed in the specific context of our program and standards—including how we grade. These changes have made a positive difference already.
What do you say to parents who just want to know where their child stands?
Michael: We resist what I call the Antiques Roadshow syndrome. On the Antiques Roadshow, participants bring in family treasures from their attics so an expert can assess their value. The experts go into all kinds of interesting detail about provenance, design, etc. The owner feigns enthusiastic engagement—when everyone can see that what he really wants to know is how much the thing is worth. We never want parents in conferences or reading narrative reports to think, yes, this is all very interesting, but what’s her letter grade? We provide useful information about how children are learning and thriving. We do want you and your daughters and sons to fully understand where they stand, as it were. It is vital that in every case where a student is struggling, teachers are clear and honest, and offer ameliorating strategies for the individual. The last thing we want in those instances is for parents to be surprised further down the road.
What is the value of parent-teacher conferences?
Vicki: Teaching is about relationship building. Once healthy bonds are made between the teacher, the student, and the student’s family, there is no limit to the learning that can take place. Conferencing is essential to strengthening this partnership. Sometimes parents see a side of child that is not revealed at home. Occasionally, when parents hear about a child taking personal responsibility for cleaning up or helping others they say, “Are we talking about the same kid?!”
Michael: And in the Upper School, when each student has as many as six or seven teachers, these teachers may see a different side to the child when they hear what their colleagues observe. For example, a parent told me about a conference where her son’s math teacher described a problem the boy had with differentiating symbols. His history teacher leaned forward excitedly and said, maybe that explains why he writes well but doesn’t use proper punctuation! Then all six teachers talked about how they could help her son with his particular learning challenge.
When children work with so many teachers how are assessments shared by faculty members?
Pam: In all four divisions teachers, counselors, and learning specialists have formal and informal conversations about individual students. We continually share insights, anecdotes, and progress reports with one another. This gives us a 360-degree view of the child’s learning from math to art to language to social skills. The net effect is that each teacher’s assessment enriches our collective understanding of each student’s learning style, current challenges, and accomplishments. We do a better job of teaching than we would if we worked in isolation from one another.
How are students involved with their evaluations?
Paul: Our assessment practices actively involve students in their own learning. We help students develop their ability to self-assess and articulate their learning styles. Part of this involves asking students to reflect on how well they understand the material. More importantly, the students develop a better sense of how they think about learning. When students know themselves as learners, they are able to create their own learning opportunities. Research tells us that the closer the assessment is to the student, including the criteria and standards for assessing “quality,” the more value it has for him or her.
Vicki: Students in the Lower School and in 7th grade are involved in student-led conferences. I guess that makes them student-parent-teacher conferences. Children get to report their own progress, which makes them active participants in their assessment. Let’s face it, the adults can talk until they are blue in the face, and set the most meaningful and relevant goals in the world for the child, but the goals will never be realized until the kid is actually involved. Our goal is for the children to be intrinsic learners; we’ll never get there unless they are empowered to be part of the process.
How do the close student teacher relationships and small class sizes affect assessment?
Michael: Our low student-teacher ratio allows for in-depth guidance. Our kids are trained to address the substance of the work. Conversations between student and teacher are educational ones, not bottom-line ones. For example, after Upper School teachers send mid-term reports, each student has a one-on-one meeting with his or her advisor to reflect together on the academic progress students have made. Some of the questions advisors ask are: What surprised you about some of these comments? What are you particularly proud of here? If you were to pick just one thing you wanted to focus on for the rest of the year, what would that be? One of the school characteristics that comes up again and again when I meet with prospective students and their parents is the way we know the students in our classes and C&Cs (advisory groups).
Who ya gonna call? Not Julie
Julie will not be answering her phone the week of Experiential Days because she will be off campus with her group. Ginny Malm and After School Care will be the Lower School contact during this time. If you need to get messages to your child or if you have any questions please call Ginny Malm at 503-297-1894 ext. 353. Ginny will also check ext. 666.
• Messages about changes in after school care plans
• Updated trip arrival times (the front desk at Toad Hall will have this information as well)
Will After School Care be offered next week? YES
Before and After-School Care will operate on their usual schedules during Experiential Days. Regular participants who are on campus will be expected unless parents tell us otherwise. Please leave messages regarding after school care changes at 503-297-1894 ext. 353. Ginny will also check ext. 666.
What if I’m late picking up my child?
Children who are not picked up from Experiential Days groups within 15 minutes of the publicized end-time will be sent to ASC. The Village under the Barn will help you locate your child.
Are After School Care Enrichment Classes meeting? NO
None of the enrichment classes (Chess, HW club, strings) will meet the week of Experiential Days. Neither will Girl Scouts.
What if I need to talk to someone in the Lower School office?
Julie will check her voice mail and email at the end of each day. Will route buses operate next week? NO
This year the LS Experiential Days, MS Breakaway and US Winterim are all happening the week before Spring Break. Our bus fleet will be used for trips therefore there will be no route buses on this week.
Will the Barn be open during Experiential Days? NO
The Barn will not be open at all during this week. Please plan accordingly.