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The Power of Creativity: Catlin Gabel's New Creative Arts Center

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From the Summer 2013 Caller

The new Creative Arts Center will foster interdisciplinary work in the arts and collaboration among disciplines, teachers, and students in grades 6 through 12. We hope that, ultimately, the creative practices engendered in this building lead to innovative thinking in all disciplines, and our students’ ability to make their way in the world in whatever career they choose, armed by the creative thinking habits they’ve honed here.

The space to create

US visual art, US choir,
US media arts, MS drama,
MS music, MS visual art
Current arts square footage: 6,786
CAC square footage: 20,000
 
Creative Arts Center Upper Level
Gallery
Outdoor plaza
Media arts
Theater control room
MS visual arts
US visual arts
Shared print room
3D studio
Art Walk
 
Lower Level
Black box theater (two levels)
Theater tech space
Drama classroom
Instrumental room
Choir room
Music laboratory
Practice rooms
Instrument storage
 

“A truly outstanding school excels in all areas of curriculum. A well-balanced course of study allows students to develop the wide variety of skills needed to succeed once they leave school. A robust arts curriculum is crucial in fostering those creative skills that are increasingly in demand in the 21st century workplace.” —Dan Griffiths, Upper School head
 
“We have often said that we have the teachers, we have the program, but we just have never had the facility to help our children become leaders who can think abstractly and outside the box. Now we will have a first-class building to house this exciting program. It has been a joy to be part of a team that is finally seeing a vision come to life for an amazing school.”—Craig Hartzman, campaign co-chair, parent & donor
 

“It’s only in retrospect that I truly appreciate how definitive my exposure to the arts at Catlin Gabel was for my career and myself. Honing my artistic side made me more explorative, creative, imaginative, and probably a super-spoiled brat.”—Megan Amram ’06, Harvard College graduate & professional comedy writer

 

ARTS CLASSES & SAT SCORES: A POSITIVE LINK

Math teacher Kenny Nguyen and two of his statistics students, Siobhan Furnary ’13 and Lianne Siegel ’13, analyzed data for 422 Upper School students from 2005 to 2013. They found that taking more Upper School arts classes was correlated with higher SAT scores—an expectation of 22 points for every arts class taken.


Did you know?

“John Maeda, the president of the Rhode Island School of Design, has been a fervent advocate of converting STEM to STEAM—adding arts into the equation. The central tenets of his argument are that any advance is useless unless it can be communicated, and that flexible thinking, risk taking, and problem solving are essential to any kind of innovation. Those attributes are exactly what is nurtured in a rich and rigorous arts curriculum. In essence, Maeda’s argument is that creativity will become the commerce of the 21st century.”—Nance Leonhardt, arts department chair  

"The Learning is in My Hands"

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The Catlin Gabel journey of lifer Qiddist Hammerly '12, now at Northwestern University, was made possible through financial aid

From the Summer 2013 Caller

Catlin Gabel helped me develop skills in organizing, fundraising, and creating projects that were my own, because it gave me the freedom to take an idea and run with it. My projects in Lower School included an Environmental Friends club, a huge potluck and tree planting, and a tsunami relief fund and walkathon—I even had an opportunity to go on the local news to talk about that. I’ve continued to use those skills.
 
In the Catlin Gabel community there’s a lot of trust and respect, both among peers and between peers and teachers, that inform how students learn and give them the ability to succeed both in school and out in the real world. Teachers hold you accountable for your own learning and give you a lot of responsibility, whether that’s teaching a class or creating a class discussion that engages your peers. The level of trust allows students to take safe risks in the classroom and when they leave the school. I always think back to what my 1st grade teacher Zalika always said: “Your worth is not bound in your performance.” You learn that you’re not always going to do perfectly, but you’ll push yourself to strive for something. You learn that it’s more about the learning and not about the grade.
 
Going through Catlin Gabel has helped me to not be afraid to try something new at Northwestern University, or tackle something that might be really hard. Catlin Gabel has taught me that if I’m interested in something, I should put my all into it, and that it’s worth the challenge. I’m majoring in social policy; I’m interested in education and education policy, and working with youth in the criminal justice system. I have a job working in a 1st grade classroom, teaching reading and writing skills. I’m also doing a mentorship at a youth detention center in Chicago, with its music program.
 
Talking to students from other schools, I’ve found that it’s a uniquely Catlin Gabel thing to have such a close and personal relationship with your teachers. That’s something that the school does really well. That connection outside of the classroom has been really beneficial to me.

Catlin Gabel teachers and the school push you and encourage you to make your learning your own, and they give you the ability and the freedom to create your own experiences. If you have an idea, you have the power to turn that idea into a reality. As a kid, for me that was the coolest thing. I have the power to create what I want to do? The learning is in my hands? That’s what made Catlin fun for me, whether it was volunteering in Middle School at Albina Head Start, or a research project as an intern at OHSU, or going on a trip to Botswana.

My parents didn’t really expect to send me to Catlin Gabel: financially, it didn’t seem like an option. Through the combination of the sacrifices that they made throughout my time here and the generous scholarships I received, I was able to stay all the way through. I am grateful to everyone who made it possible for me to stay here, both to the donors and to my parents. I’m also grateful to my teachers, because I was here from such a young age. Catlin Gabel made me who I am.
 
Excerpts from an interview with Qiddist conducted in February 2013.

Scholars Program Named to Honor Lark Palma

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The first step in a year of celebrating Lark's leadership

From the Summer 2013 Caller

By Steve Gordon, chair of the Catlin Gabel board of trustees 

This is a year for celebration—a celebration of where we’ve been, where we’re going, and Lark Palma’s contribution to our journey. This is Lark’s last year as Catlin Gabel’s head. For nearly two decades, she has completely dedicated herself to guiding the school to the fullest expression of its mission.
 
Honoring Lark this year begins with a fitting tribute from Phil and Penny Knight—the renaming of the Knight Family Scholars Program to the Palma Scholars Program. The Knights appreciated Lark’s vision for innovating curriculum and broadening our admission reach. In Phil’s own words:
 
“In celebration and recognition of Lark Palma’s remarkable career at Catlin Gabel and the legacy she leaves, as she embarks on her final year as head of school, the Knight Family Scholars Program will now and forever be referred to as the Palma Scholars Program. To be consistent with future recipients and to not confuse the community, all eight prior recipients will be deemed to be the Palma Scholars. Congratulations to Lark.”
 
The Palma Scholars Program brings in exceptional 9th graders—excelling in academics, athletics, leadership, and service—and provides all Catlin Gabel Upper School students with new ways to learn based on collaboration and creativity. The program prepares tomorrow’s leaders with an inspired curriculum that we hope will serve as a model for our nation’s high schools.
 
Lark’s expansive vision for education has also focused on increasing the availability of a great education. From the start of her teaching career she has believed in the importance of financial aid and the necessity for a school community that would represent the wider community. “We could not deliver the kind of education we want to without diverse voices,” she says. “I am confident that through all means possible, including increased financial assistance, the school will continue to incorporate this wide range of voices and cultural values.
 
”When Lark was told about the honors planned for her, she said, “I’m proud to have my name on the Scholars Program for 9th graders, and to be associated with our general financial aid endowment benefiting students of all ages. All my life I have believed that the best way to provide equality is to provide access to education. This is an irrefutable truth.”
 
To kick off this celebratory year and acknowledge Lark’s abiding interest in financial aid, the board and I invite you to join us in honoring Lark in one of these ways:
 
• Make a gift to the Palma Scholars Program to benefit Upper School students
• Make a gift to Catlin Gabel’s general financial aid endowment fund for students of all ages demonstrating need
 
These are fitting tributes to Lark, who has dedicated her career to attracting excellent students regardless of their ability to pay tuition, and creating an innovative and vibrant curriculum and a secure financial future for Catlin Gabel.
 
Please join us this year as we continue to recognize Lark’s extraordinary leadership. To make gifts to the Palma Scholars Program or Catlin Gabel’s financial aid endowment in Lark’s honor, please email Miranda Wellman ’91, director of advancement, or call 503-297-1894 ext. 398.

The Allen Neill Schauffler Financial Aid Fund

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Fundraising has begun to honor this longtime teacher

From the Summer 2013 Caller

Allen Schauffler retired this summer after 45 years at Catlin Gabel. Her dedicated service to the school included positions as preschool and kindergarten teacher, Beginning School head, and director of multicultural affairs. She also worked in financial aid, and it holds great meaning for her.

 
“Those of you who know me well know how passionate I am about the importance of financial aid at Catlin Gabel,” she says. “The Beginning School is unique because the whole Catlin Gabel community trusts us to build the core group of a class that we hope remains together for 14 years. One of the most important pieces we think about when we enter this process is how to make the class as diverse and inclusive as possible.
 
“Financial aid dollars provide a key ingredient in helping to build a group of students who bring with them a world of culture, race, gender difference, socioeconomic strata, and physical difference. My dream for financial aid at Catlin Gabel is that any child who qualifies for admission in any division be granted the full amount of demonstrated need,” she says.
 
A new fund for financial aid has been established to honor this beloved teacher, parent, and longtime member of the Catlin Gabel community. For more information or to participate in the fund, please email Marianne Falk.

Financial Aid is Absolutely Critical to Catlin Gabel's Health

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The Campaign for Arts & Minds supports increased endowment, which directly increases the school’s financial aid budget

From the Summer 2013 Caller

By Sara Nordhoff, admission and financial aid director

“An effort shall be made to have students of the school represent a cross-section of American life, having various economic backgrounds and religious beliefs, and chosen for their promise in qualities of character, intelligence, responsibility, and purpose.” —founder Ruth Catlin, 1928  

Catlin Gabel has funds right now to offer financial aid to 26 percent of our students. If we had $250,000 more each year for financial aid, we would have had enough funds to admit the following students—but we could not: Kids from schools in neighborhoods that would add more diversity to Catlin Gabel’s community, kids at the top of their classes with passions they pursue in meaningful ways, competitive athletes, excellent artists and writers, scores of siblings and legacies, kids devoted to service, and many more deserving, wonderful students who would have an enormous impact here and beyond—kids for whom a Catlin Gabel education would change their lives.

Faculty feedback on students we could not admit: “this is one of the best candidates I’ve ever seen,” “I would love to have this student in my classroom,” “admit this incredible student!”

Some examples of students we had to turn away:
A published author at the age of 10
An athlete who would have been a game-changer in our Upper School girls basketball program
A competitive chess player and violinist with one of the highest SSAT scores of the pool
An accomplished ballet dancer
A Parkour champion
A young martial arts master
A brother and sister, both at the top of their class
A three-sport athlete completely devoted to community service
A top gymnast with international living experiences
 
Catlin Gabel is affordable to only about three to five percent of the greater Portland population. In order to attract the very best and brightest students and live out our mission, we must sustain our commitment to a strong financial aid program. Our goal is to make a Catlin Gabel education accessible to as many qualified students as possible, regardless of socioeconomic status. Our discussion- and team-based learning environment is successful only when disparate voices and viewpoints are heard. We devote a greater percentage of our budget to financial aid than many of our peer schools. Catlin Gabel grows as our commitment to financial aid grows. Reaching out and enrolling a diverse population is a high priority for our enrollment strategy. We think of diversity as having a broad definition, including socioeconomic, ethnic, and geographic diversity. We’ve made strides towards broadening our reach to a larger population of families, in large part due to our stronger commitment to financial aid. Catlin Gabel will flourish, along with its students, with a financial aid budget that allows us to admit all the students we’d like to admit—with mitigated concern for their ability to pay tuition. A successful finish to the Campaign for Arts & Minds will supply the $250,000 per year we need to make this happen and keep Catlin Gabel healthy and relevant.
 
• The average financial aid award has increased from $14,430 in 2010–11 to $16,200 in 2013-14
• In 2013–14 CG allocated $3.3 million in tuition assistance, out of an entire budget of $17 million
• Families who received awards had annual household incomes ranging from $8,400 to $168,000 (CG uses a national formula to determine aid awards that takes into account income and variables such as the number of children in tuition-charging schools, including colleges. Awards at the higher income levels are smaller and do not include books and laptops.)
• Average grant: $16,200
• Awards range from $1,800 to $25,750
• Tuition ranges from $19,200 to $25,850
• Our ultimate goal is to admit all students without regard for their family’s financial situation, but that would require more than $50 million in new endowment funds. The steps we take today are important in moving us toward that future.
 
% OF FAMILY NEED THAT CATLIN GABEL MET
2009–10 (92%)
2010–11 (93%)
2011–12 (92%)
2012–13 (90%)
 
% OF STUDENTS RECEIVING ASSISTANCE
2009–10 (26.25)
2010–11 (27.8%)
2011–12 (25.7%)
2012–13 (25.8%)
2013–14 (27.4%)
GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR FINANCIAL AID
• We create classes that lead to diverse viewpoints in the classroom
• We grow financial aid responsibly, meeting need in a sustainable way
• Relevant independent schools keep financial aid at the forefront
 

"My story, like the stories of many others who have received financial assistance at Catlin Gabel, is a testament to the power of philanthropy. . . . Without a Catlin Gabel education, my life would have looked drastically different. The growth each student experiences here is indescribable. In fact, without the financial assistance that allowed me to receive such an enriching education, I’d probably still be the same shy child I was seven years ago. But today I can tell you with all sincerity that Catlin Gabel has changed me. It’s given me the opportunity and support to redefine myself in ways I never thought possible. Catlin Gabel equips its students with everything we need to face the future."
—Anthony Lin ’09, graduate of Duke University in neuroscience and computer science

"Running a high-quality, progressive, independent school is an expensive proposition, and thus tuition remains beyond the reach of many. To match reality and idealism, Catlin Gabel must have a robust endowment for financial aid, to open our doors to every deserving, qualified student regardless of her family’s means. Without this, our school’s expressed commitment to our ideals and our community becomes hollow and less meaningful. Catlin Gabel without generous financial aid would not be the Catlin Gabel we chose as the right school for our children. It would become a more homogeneous community, less interesting and vibrant. It would ignore the reality of economic diversity that all of our children must understand and appreciate. It would shield our children from the “real world” in which they will all live and work as adults. It would deny the value and contribution of children from all walks of life, from a wide range of circumstances."
— Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, trustee, parent, donor

The Campaign for Arts & Minds

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What sets Catlin Gabel apart?
Campaign Components
Creative Arts Center
This new building fosters the ability to create and provides the encouragement to be original. It brings multiple disciplines inside one facility for intense, collaborative teaching and learning. Students will experiment in the black box theater, hear each other play instruments, view and critique each other’s work in the school’s first proper gallery, and learn from guest artists.
 Expanding Our Endowment
Launching new programs, admitting more students with financial need, and compensating outstanding teachers requires stable and robust funding. We must pursue these initiatives with the confidence that they can be sustained. The campaign for the endowment is how we’re doing it.

 

CHRIS PARK ’14
Senior, student body president

"Catlin Gabel gave me confidence in my own thoughts, while not completely blocking out those of others. It taught me that there are often more perspectives to every situation than what one might initially think. The confidence I gained from our small class discussions encouraged me to take part in our school’s student government. This school has given and taught me more than I could possibly repay."

MIRA HAYWARD ’13
Entering Harvard College

"As my class prepares to leave for college, the mark that Catlin Gabel’s holistic approach to education has left on us shows clearly: our strong academic skills are matched by our strong characters; our passion for learning matched by our passion for life."

BRIAN GANT
MS life skills and PE teacher

"Catlin Gabel takes pride in supplying students with a quality, well-rounded education. Students learn to take ownership of the direction of their passions, as well as to respect and appreciate individual differences." 

ALLEN SCHAUFFLER
Longtime preschool teacher

"Do you wish that you had attended a school where you were asked to examine 60 acres, be stretched to discomfort, navigate the idea of community, have fun with the basics, and use what you know to serve? Imagine a place children come each day, where what they bring with them is treated as the fertile ground of possibility rather than something to correct or change."  


 

ALINE GARCIA-RUBIO ’93
US science teacher and assistant head

"At Catlin Gabel we teach how to sing, how to talk to a crowd, welcome others, disagree, advocate for ourselves, talk to adults, write our congressional representatives, read between the lines, learn what’s not in front of us, include others in play, weave and intersect with other cultures, and find balance in our lives. We learn from our students every day. We educate whole children. We educate ourselves. Every day.

TONY STOCKS
US English teacher

"Whenever visiting writers come to share their work with our students, or parents attend Back-to-School Night, or folks new to the school come to Open House, they always say: ‘Wow!! I wish I could have gone to high school here.’ They see the school’s serious, but freewheeling, intellectual atmosphere, the strong bonds it forges between teachers and students, its deep commitment to building a community of trust and mutual support, and realize what a special place this is to be a teacher or a teenager."

NADYA OKAMOTO ’16
Sophomore, Malone Scholar

"I love Catlin Gabel not only for the friends I have made and the resources it can provide, but also for the atmosphere of support, in-depth curiosity to learn, and a rigorous and beneficial learning experience. It also served me as a second home and support system as my family went through a major move." 

RIVFKA SHENOY ’09
Student at New York University Medical School

"After Catlin Gabel college seemed easy. At Catlin Gabel I didn’t just learn the facts, I learned how to learn and use those facts in novel and creative ways. The biggest lesson I learned, which I always carry with me, is that education and ambition are not accessed passively, but instead actively.

Video: Creative Arts Center from the Ground Up

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Thank you, Ian McClanan '16 for producing the video. Photos by Kitty Katz and Eric Shawn.

On October 4, 2012, we broke ground on a new Creative Arts Center for Middle and Upper School students. Less than one year later, 6th through 12th grade students started the 2013-14 school year with a brand new facility. » Link to more information about the Creative Arts Center.

Carter Latendresse named an NAIS Teacher of the Future

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Carter Latendresse, 6th grade English teacher at Catlin Gabel, was selected by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) as part of the 2013-14 Teachers of the Future program. The NAIS Teachers of the Future were selected from a large pool of nominees who inspire academic excellence in students and serve as opinion leaders among their colleagues and peers. The Teachers of the Future were also chosen for their expertise in particular areas—environmental sustainability, globalism, equity and justice, or the use of technology in their teaching—that NAIS believes are hallmarks of a high-quality education for the 21st century. As one of only 25 teachers nationwide chosen for the program, Latendresse will lead an online discussion forum designed to share innovative ideas and teaching techniques, and he will create a demonstration video to inspire others.
 
ABOUT CARTER LATENDRESSE
Latendresse earned an MA and a BA in English at the University of Washington. He has been teaching at Catlin Gabel since 2007, and he is also the school’s garden coordinator. His classes explore themes of empathy and social responsibility through ancient and contemporary literature that is chosen with an eye toward gender, ethnicity, and cultural diversity. He was nominated as a Teacher of the Future by Catlin Gabel Middle School head Barbara Ostos, who had this to say about him:
 
“Carter’s presence in our school community embodies a teacher leader working collaboratively towards educating conscientious, critically thinking students whose responsibilities will be to mold a more equitable and sustainable world through creativity and innovation. Through his classroom instruction Carter challenges 6th grade students to see the world beyond themselves. . . .
 
“I see his teaching and community membership as innovative because he is not only willing to try new techniques in the classroom, but is constantly re-evaluating and thinking about content and delivery, and most importantly how he and his purpose help student connect to deeper meaning. To my mind, truly innovative teachers are the ones who continually look to improve what they do, and especially how they do it. . . . .His thinking is vast and deep, and his potential to share this in a leadership role through Teachers of the Future Program would benefit his own professional development, and certainly others.”
 
ABOUT NAIS AND THE TEACHERS OF THE FUTURE PROGRAM
The National Association of Independent Schools, based in Washington, DC, is a voluntary membership organization for over 1,400 independent schools and associations in the United States and abroad. Click here for more information about the Teachers of the Future program.

»Read the Oregonian article about Carter's honor

Junior Valerie Ding featured in Washington Post and White House blog

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Executives from Amazon, Google, Facebook and other major technology companies will meet with female students interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics Wednesday morning, as one of a series of roundtables hosted by the House Republican Conference and its chairwoman, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.) …

» Read the Washington Post article


Today, at a private meeting in the West Wing of the White House, US Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, Deputy US Chief Technology Officer Jen Pahlka, and other senior Obama Administration officials specializing in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), met with five inspiring young women to discuss academic and career pathways in STEM—and barriers to the involvement of girls in those fields. The students were past winners and current finalists of the annual Google Science Fair—an online science competition open to high-school-aged students that solicits “ideas that will change the world.” …

» Read the White House blog

Read the PLACE urban studies student blog

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Students in PLACE, Catlin Gabel's urban studies program, are now blogging about their experiences as they learn about how our city works. One of their summer projects for these 19 students from six area high schools is designing a neighborhood greenway for the Pearl District for their clients, Portland's Bureaus of Planning and Sustainability, and Transportation. They are also studying Portland's Cully district. The students have written thoughful reflections about the program and their discoveries so far and will continue throughout the project. A fun read!

The principal of an urban design firm, Terra Fluxus, also wrote about his time with PLACE students on their blog.

Rising sophomore Anirudh Jain wins national Stockholm Junior Water Prize

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We are proud!

Anirudh received a $10,000 college scholarship and an all-expense paid trip to Stockholm, Sweden, in September to represent the United States and compete with students from around the globe for the international Junior Stockholm Water Prize.

He was selected for the prize based on his science project “Sulfidation as a Novel Method for Reducing Toxicity of Silver Nanoparticle Pollution.”

The Stockholm Junior Water Prize is the world's most prestigious youth award for a water-related science project. The prize taps into the potential of today's high school students as they seek to address current and future water challenges. 

» Link to Oregonian article about Anirudh

» Link to Portland Tribune article about Anirudh

Logan Smesrud '12 receives outstanding student award at OSU

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Congratulations, Logan!

Logan Smesrud '12 was one of six freshmen at Oregon State University to receive the Waldo Cummings Freshman Outstanding Student Award. She is a pre-environmental engineering major.

Sophomore Valerie Ding a finalist in Google Science Fair

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Congratulations, Valerie! We are so proud of you.

Valerie Ding is among the 90 regional finalists for the 2013 Google Science Fair for her project Rapid Quantum Dot Solar Cell Optimization: Integrating Quantum Mechanical Modeling and Novel Solar Absorption Algorithm. As a finalist, she is also in the running for the Scientific American Science in Action Award, which honors a student whose project makes a practical difference in the world by addressing an environmental, health, or resources problem.

Google will announce the 15 global winners and Science in Action award winner later this month. 

Valerie wrote, "This is a huge honor for me, and I really want to thank the entire Catlin community for its constant support and incredibly nurturing and encouraging environment. Genuine interest from faculty members and fellow students has not only bolstered confidence in my own work, but also has reminded me of how instrumental Catlin, its science, math, and computer science departments, and especially its science research program have been these last two years. I’m really looking forward to another two."

Iolanthe photo gallery

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The class of 2017 performed Gilbert and Sullivan's "Iolanthe"

Many thanks to Tom Wynne for the photos!