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. Highlights this year included a feminist Egyptian princess, the re-branding of Miley Cyrus, a unicorn dancing to "What Does the Fox Say," jugglers, and, of course, a suave Turkish Knight, a noble St. George, a fearsome dragon, and a guest appearance after the show by our next school head, Tim Bazemore.
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When school does not open in the morning or opens late due to inclement weather, we notify the media before 6:45 a.m. We update the school website as soon as possible. We also send an email with closure information to the parent and faculty-staff email listservs.
We do not notify the media when school runs on a normal schedule.
We will post a newsflash on the website alerting families that we are open when conditions are uncertain.
The school avoids mid-day weather closures whenever possible.
Catlin Gabel does not necessarily follow the decisions made by Portland Public or Beaverton schools because our students come from a wide geographic area.
Plant manager Eric Shawn and assistant head of school Vicki Roscoe make the decision to close school or delay opening based on conditions on campus and throughout the metro area.
Sometimes school is in session, but we suspend one or more of the bus routes because of hazardous road conditions (typically at higher elevations). We post a message on the website as soon as decisions are made. We will send an email with bus cancellation information to all families and faculty-staff. If buses are canceled in the morning on a given date, they are also canceled in the afternoon, regardless of weather conditions.
The safety of students is our primary concern. Parents should make personal weather-related safety decisions for their families. If it does not seem safe where you are, keep your children at home. If conditions deteriorate in your neighborhood during the day, you may pick up your children early (making sure to notify the division administrative assistant).
Catlin Gabel's inaugural History Bowl team, at its first competition, qualified for the National History Bowl by placing 2nd in the junior varsity division at regionals. Team members Adolfo Apolloni, Daniel Chiu, Ian Hoyt, Julian Kida, and Andrew Park (all 9th graders) will travel with club advisor Peter Shulman to the national competition in Washington, D.C., in April.
The team members also participated as individuals in the closely related History Bee, and all five qualified for the national History Bee. Daniel Chiu placed 3rd and Ian Hoyt placed 5th.
Upper School teacher and PLACE urban studies director George Zaninovich collaborated with alumna Erin Goodling '99 to produce a curriculum guide for educators, activists, community leaders, and, above all, students. The 121-page guidebook is an outgrowth of Catlin Gabel's PLACE urban studies and leadership program. We are grateful to George and Erin for walking our talk of being a model for progressive education.
The free curriculum guide is posted on our website. We are eager to share this work with others.
Help spread the word.
When we invited Will Richardson to speak at Catlin Gabel, we knew his theories about the future of education would trigger a range of responses from skepticism to agreement to “we already do that.” And Will did not disappoint! At both his evening talk for parents on October 17 and his talk for teachers the next day, Will raised more questions than he answered—and that was his intent.
Changes in technology during the past 20 years have had more impact on culture and education than anything in the previous 200 years (including brain research). Will did not provide quick answers to the question of how technology affects our thinking, the acquisition and delivery of information, and the value of content. Rather, he challenged educators to think and talk together about complex questions and work toward a shared vision.
Among his provocative ideas is the notion that to best serve students for the digitally connected, globally networked, and information-saturated future, the role of teachers needs to evolve from providers of information to master learners who model inquiry and connect students with specialists who can engage in dialogue related to subject matter. Will asked us to think of classrooms as part of a world network connected to other classrooms and experts.
He raised some eyebrows with another concept: institutions aren’t needed for content anymore. They are needed for nurturing students, getting the most out of them, and preparing them for modern learning with a mindset and disposition for self-organizing.
In asking how much people need to know given our world of ample access to information, Will asserts that the job of educators is to help students build skills to assess information, to persist, to create, and to work with people from different cultures. He further recommends that students do something with their learning – produce authentic work for real audiences for real reasons – to create work that lives in the world.
Regardless of what any one of us thinks about the specifics of what Will had to say, we are delighted that his visit to Catlin Gabel sparked conversations about the future of education among parents, teachers, and staff members.
Following Will’s presentation on the in-service day, faculty and staff broke into morning and afternoon discussion groups. Each cross-divisional group focused on one essential question. The discussion titles, suggested by teachers, reveal a great deal about what educators at Catlin Gabel want to explore. Will's book and presentation prompted some of the topics, but his is just one voice among many. We consider the vast body of research related to teaching and learning in our ongoing conversations about how our program should evolve to best serve students.
Some of the many complex questions teachers and staffers considered on our in-service day
• What are we afraid of that's stopping us from creating our ultimate school?
• How does assessment and feedback to students need to change to align with progressive values?
• How can students become self-determined challenged learners and maintain the balance in life so needed for health?
• What should the graduation requirements of 2027 (current preschool class) look like?
• How can we wed individually centered learning with communitarian goals and collaborative skills?
• What does progressive learning look like and how is it demonstrated in the language classroom?
• What is our vision for tech use in the classroom at CG?
• How might we bring making and tinkering into the classroom?
We asked division heads to share some of their takeaways from Will Richardson’s visit and our in-service day.
Beginning School Head Hannah Whitehead
The question that most interested me, coming from Will’s talk and the reading I’ve done, is: what is the school’s role in preparing our children for a world of ubiquitous learning, when experts and information are available to anyone with connection to the Internet? When just-in-time learning is available, whatever our passions and curiosities might be? When we are moving as a society from institutionally organized learning to self-organized educations? This is a lot to chew on!
With a tsunami of information coming our way and the need to, in Will’s words, curate it, there is much for teachers to do. Helping students become digitally literate springs immediately to mind, as does guidance in critical assessment of information, creative use of it, and supporting persistence in problem-solving. Helping students create “authentic work for real audiences for real reasons – work that lives in the world – not just the classroom,” is exciting to think about at this expanded scale!
I found myself wondering, however, about students who struggle with organization, and with determining what is important, even in a structured text. Think about facing an avalanche of un-curated material with these challenges in mind! We need to think hard about how to support these students so they can be successful, perhaps in part by using technology to help out.
I also have been thinking a lot about Howard Gardner’s work Five Minds of the Future as I consider what our Beginning School students will need as they grow up. Gardner and the folks at Harvard’s Project Zero have delineated the “minds” we all need to cultivate in the world of globalization and digital revolution. Lifelong learning is certainly required! Here is the CliffsNotes™ version:
• The disciplined mind (digging deep and subject mastery)
• The synthesizing mind (critical for the digital flood of information so that it is possible to do something with it)
• The creating mind (poses important questions, doesn’t expect everything to work out, keeps trying, creates the new)
• The respectful mind (diversity is a fact of life, so being able to understand and respect others’ perspectives is essential when we are working with people of all cultures)
• The ethical mind (we need good global/earth citizens if humanity is to continue)
It was rewarding indeed to have the time with colleagues to mull, debate, explore, but not conclude our thinking about these important topics. I can’t think of a better use of time.
Lower School Head Vicki Swartz Roscoe
Will Richardson’s ideas provoke a great deal of spirited conversation among teachers and parents. Technology is playing an increasingly important role in our lives. How does this play out with our young children? How much screen time is healthy? How much is too much? What about the balance with playing outdoors and interacting socially?
We are working on developing digital citizenship with our students and, since Will’s talk, have shared a variety of resources with parents. We have committed to having a parent meeting to talk about this topic head-on. Additionally, we are exploring our next steps with integration of the “maker movement” also mentioned by Will. How can our students be involved in making and building things that help solve problems? We have a team of teachers looking closely at what happens in woodshop and art class, and how we might integrate more projects with the homeroom. A number of Lower School teachers are keenly interested in this idea.
However, Will’s assertion that today’s technology means that students no longer need teachers in schools is not one I embrace. Teaching is all about relationship building, and Catlin Gabel’s greatest strength is the extraordinary teachers who connect deeply with our students. Online connections are not, and will never ever be, the same. I assert that once healthy bonds are made between the teacher, the student, and their parents, there is no limit to the learning that can take place. And I’m talking about healthy in-person bonds. Bonus points for a beautiful school environment.
Middle School Head Barbara Ostos
Among the many great things about our professional development day with Will Richardson were leaning in to discomfort, pushing pedagogy, questioning the industrial model of teaching and learning, discussing who we are and what we do, and asking who we want to be and what we want to do.
But the topics themselves are secondary to the wonderful synergy created when teachers from across the school engage in the same line of inquiry. The opportunity to gather our entire faculty to ask questions and spend extended time discussing answers was by far the best aspect of that day! Days like these allow us to remember that regardless of where we teach – be it the Beehive or Dant House – we are essentially facilitating the same type of learning lab, designed developmentally to meet students where they are. I heard this concept time and time again on October 18 from teachers from all four divisions. This synergy affirms our mission and vision as a school, and perhaps more importantly, allows for relationships to build between teachers across the campus so they see one another as resources and colleagues. This is what good schools do!
Upper School Head Dan Griffiths
The best thing about Will Richardson’s visit was the way his in-service day talk with faculty inspired our discussions for the rest of the day. It’s rare that we have the time and space for the entire faculty – preschool through high school – to really think about Catlin Gabel’s mission and consider together important ideas about educational philosophy. We were able to break from the day-to-day operations of running this great school, get out of our silos, and have substantive discussions from many different viewpoints. His talk and the pre-reading stimulated a wide variety of takes on several topics. Each group took a different topic that we were allowed to pick up and run with. The unmeeting format allowed self-selecting a topic of interest, which translated to full investment, deep engagement, and energized teachers. I particularly appreciated how many of my colleagues critically examined what a CG graduate should look like, asking ourselves what skills and knowledge students need when they leave us in today’s rapidly changing world.
The boys took 3rd place in state with freshman Max Fogelstrom placing 17th overall.
The girls took 6th in state with freshman Samantha Slusher finishing in 5th place and freshman Grace Masback in 15th. Samantha qualified for the Nike Border Clash race on November 23.
The girls soccer team qualified for the state playoffs when they defeated Westside Christian, 1-0. Their opening match is on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. here at Catlin Gabel. Come cheer on the mighty Eagles as they face the Umatilla Vikings!
Robin Mamlet, co-author of College Admission from Application to Acceptance and former dean of admission at Stanford University, Swarthmore College, and Sarah Lawrence College spoke with parents at an all-school college evening on Monday, September 7, 2013. Our second annual State of College Admission event covered many of the issues on the minds of students and families as they consider their plans beyond Catlin Gabel.
Freshman Samantha Slusher won the district championship with a season best time of 19:34.
The top 10 placers at districts were
Girls: #1 Samantha Slusher, #3 Grace Masback, and #5 Kelsey Hurst
Boys: #5 Max Fogelstrom, #7 Garet Neal, and #10 Luca Ostertag-Hill
The state championships are on Saturday, November 2. For more information, go to http://www.osaa.org/docs/bxc/xcspecinfo.pdf
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The Upper School science research class has launched Elements, an annual publication showcasing student research. The publication's mission is to increase awareness about what a scientific research project entails, and to create a hub where our community’s researchers can learn, ask questions, collaborate, and see their hard work in a formal science journal format. The inaugural edition features the work of students in the classes of 2013 through 2016.
Open the PDF below.
Catlin Gabel’s Global Community Engineering Club is one of 15 teams across the country that was awarded $10,000 through the Lemelson-MIT 2013-14 InvenTeam initiative. Thanks to the grant, the team now takes the new name, Catlin Gabel InvenTeam.
The Catlin Gabel project, ScumBot, addresses the real-world problem of duckweed infestation in Aspen Lake in Sunriver, Oregon. ScumBot is an autonomous robot that propels itself around inland bodies of water collecting algae and duckweed and depositing that cargo in designated areas. With the grant money, the team will work to build the Scumbot under the leadership of Alexandra Crew '16, president; Anna Dodson ‘16, communications manager; Max Armstrong '15, mechanical manager; Jacob Bendicksen '16, control systems manager; and Vincent Miller '15, software manager. For more about the project visit the Catlin Gabel InvenTeam website.
A respected panel of invention and academic leaders from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Lemelson-MIT Program, industry, and InvenTeam student alumni selected the InvenTeams from a national pool of applicants.
Members of Catlin Gabel’s InvenTeam will travel to MIT’s EurekaFest in June to present their project, meet other teams, get behind-the-scenes tours of MIT labs, and engage in hands-on challenges.
Dale Yocum is the dedicated faculty advisor of Catlin Gabel’s InvenTeam. “InvenTeams isn't a competition, it's more of a celebration of the creative spirit,” said Dale.
“Our team is thankful for the support of Lemelson-MIT in bettering our local Oregon community through invention,” said CG InvenTeam president Alexandra Crew. “We are proud to be doing our part to help the environment.”