Chris Hughes, an Upper School history and psychology teacher, participated in a five day teacher seminar this summer aboard the U.S.S. Midway Museum in San Diego. The topic was World War II in the Pacific, and thirty teachers from across the country were chosen to take part. Lecture topics included military strategy, the home front, military psychology, and the Roosevelts. Social history sessions related the wartime experiences of Asian Americans, Native Americans, African Americans, Latinos, and women. Some of the most interesting sessions concerned the use of propaganda by all of the combatant nations and the ways in which the war is remembered to this day in different countries.
The lectures and discussions were complemented with three two-hour behind the scenes tours of the aircraft carrier which was in service from 1945 to 1991. Teachers were provided with books, a film and other teaching resources to bring back to their classrooms.
“It was a wonderful experience and I really appreciated the opportunity to have high-level discussions with leading experts and other teachers about so many aspects of World War II in the Pacific, said Chris Hughes. “I learned so much, not just through the formal lectures, but the chance to compare notes with experts and other teachers one-on-one at meals or between sessions. The whole experience was a like a history fantasy camp. It renewed my enthusiasm for teaching history and gave me so many ideas to bring back to my classroom and share with my colleagues.”
Like most schools, Stanwich’s hallways are commonly quiet after the last bell has rung, and students and faculty depart after a full school day. This certainly wasn’t the case on the evening of Wednesday, October 4, when nearly 100 Stanwich parents and Upper School students attended an Evening of IBDP Mini-Lessons. Stanwich is completing a two-year process to become authorized to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) to students in Grades 11 and 12, beginning in the fall of 2018. Presented by Upper School faculty, the mini-lessons allowed participants to experience the excitement of learning in an IBDP classroom.
Participants attended two “mini-lessons” — 20 minute classroom simulations designed to highlight the distinctive IBDP curriculum and approach to learning. Ranging from Art to Biology, from Psychology to Math, the lessons invited participants to witness first-hand how the IBDP encourages students to think critically and independently. Afterwards, the assembled group participated in a “Theory of Knowledge” lesson, a signature element of the IBDP, during which students examine not only why they learn, but also how they learn.
“It was traditional teaching, but the content delved deeper. There was an emphasis on understanding how to learn,” said Mindy Nagorsky Israel, parent of a Grade 5 student.
Echoing the positive feedback from fellow attendees, Michael Estock, parent of students in Grades 12, 8 and 3 said, “It seemed like the teachers were listeners. It wasn’t a one-way lesson, it was conversational.”
Alison Bevan, parent of a Grade 10 student said, “I love the idea of ‘what do you think’ instead of ‘here is the answer.’”
“I have two sons who graduated from Stanwich … and I recognized that the teachers are already teaching this way. This is a really great program,” said Jackie Rivera, parent of a Grade 10 student.
Students who attended the mini-lessons also walked away excited about being enrolled in IBDP classes next school year. “I actually thought the lessons would be more difficult. I liked how it correlated with the regular academic study we already have here. I feel that I’m ready and will really enjoy the program next year,” said Nicole Roldan, Grade 10 student.
Pointing out the important role classroom teachers hold, Grade 10 student Dylan McCormick said, “One thing I noticed, which is already great about Stanwich in general, is where the teacher/student connection in the lessons was deep, which is not like other schools.”
It is widely believed that high student achievement and strong school performance depend heavily on a school’s program and quality teaching. At Stanwich, exemplary faculty deliver focused, individualized attention that challenges students to achieve their personal best. The Stanwich graduating class of 2020 will be the first to graduate with both a Stanwich School diploma but also an opportunity to earn the IB Diploma, recognized as a gold standard of a quality secondary school education around the world.
The IBDP is a curriculum taught in over 2,500 schools worldwide to students in Grades 11 and 12. The IBDP aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who are prepared for living and working in a complex, highly interconnected world. The programme is known for its academic rigor and emphasis on students’ personal development. A “holistic” educational approach, it aims to develop students who have excellent breadth and depth of knowledge – students who flourish physically, intellectually, emotionally and ethically. The principles underlying the IBDP are ideally suited to Stanwich because of their shared emphasis on the essential elements of the Stanwich mission: academic rigor, holistic learning, and improvement of the world.
IB Diploma Program courses place a particular emphasis on independence, creative thinking, and information synthesis. “The program creates an environment that fosters independent learning and an autonomy that is critically important when students progress to higher learning,” said Jerome Murphy. “All of our research and all of the feedback that we have received supports the claim that students who participate in the Diploma Programme are far better prepared to succeed in college than those who do not. The program is highly effective at preparing students not only for college but also for life. ”
The requirements for the IB diploma conform to an international standard and include the completion of seven rigorous classes across a spectrum of subjects. The program also requires two long-form essays and self-selected extracurricular projects that are designed to promote engagement with the larger world.
“Pursuing an International Baccalaureate diploma is an amazing opportunity. With a changing landscape and the uncertainties of the 21st century, more than anything else I believe an International Baccalaureate education for our oldest students is necessary for their success,” said Head of School Charlie Sachs.
Ending the evening with group reflections, Grade 10 parent Robin O’Hara summed up her main takeaway by saying to the attendees, “Our children are always asking us ‘how is this relevant,’ so now I can go home and say (the IBDP) will prepare you for college. That’s how it’s relevant.”
A group of Senior House students spent the day engaged in at Stamford’s Cove Island Park. Run through SoundWaters Coastal Education Center, the students participated in the Watershed Science Research Study program, a rigorous, hands-on scientific study. Donning wetsuit waders, the students used sieves to collect particles from the Sound and then came ashore to analyze their findings. This ecological study emphasizes the fact that diversity and different life cycles of all organisms are important for the survival and health of Long Island Sound.
Stanwich School senior Henry Hittle was named a semifinalist in the 63rd annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Noted as academically talented students, semifinalists will continue in the competition for 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million that will be offered next spring.
About 1.6 million high school juniors entered the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2016 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of semifinalists, which represents less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest scoring entrants in each state.
To become a finalist, the semifinalist and his/her school must submit a detailed scholarship application that provides information about the semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test. Of the 16,000 semifinalists, 15,000 are expected to advance to the finalist level in February.
Congratulations to Henry who has attended Stanwich since Kindergarten!
“Instead of looking into the future, I would like to encourage you to cherish the present,” Stanwich Valedictorian Helen Wang told her fellow graduating seniors at the school’s commencement ceremony on June 1. “Cherish this connection with your teachers, with your friends, and with Stanwich.” Helen will be majoring in Global Studies at the University of California Berkley.
Addressing the audience, salutatorian Aidan Sebold said, “I’m here to tell you that the class of 2017 is not only prepared for college, but I would argue we may be even better prepared than many of our fellow graduates at larger high schools. We’re engaged every day in lively discussions with our teachers and classmates, and we’re constantly challenged to offer our opinions on a variety of topics. Here, your individuality is allowed to shine.” Aidan will be studying industrial design at The Shintaro Akatsu School of Design at the University of Bridgeport.
Giving the commencement address, Steve Ginsburg, Director of the Connecticut Region Anti-Defamation League, said, “Your personal success and happiness will undoubtedly at some point depend upon having a productive and positive relationship with someone who is coming from a different place than you are. Whether they are your neighbor, co-worker, boss, friend or partner, the world is simply too small to surround yourself only with people with similar ideas and backgrounds. So do everything in your power to make these relationships work.”
Joining Wang and Sebold in the class of 2017 are Shelby Crimmins, Yona Dervishi, Samantha Erfe, Alexander Gardner, Lauren Henderson, Jenny Matute, Luke Martin, Isabelle Nelson, Matthew Rivera, Matthew Shindel, and Michelle Wakim.
In a crowded gym in Rahway, New Jersey, the Stanwich Robotics team put forth an effort at the 2017 New York/New Jersey Botball Tournament on May 13, 2015 that demonstrated both skill and character, earning a trophy and a few new friends. An experience that might have been marked by bad luck was transformed into a display of perseverance and sportsmanship, and eventually resulted in victory.
The team earned its best seeding-round rank in our brief history — Finishing 7th — and entered the double elimination round with spirits flying high. It was then that technical difficulties got together with misfortune and after two short matches, in both of which we were favored to win, we found ourselves eliminated. We entered the third and final competition, the alliance competition, partnered with another team and worked to score points cooperatively, continuing to give our best effort. Team Stanwich finished in first place for the alliance competition!
At the start of the spring season, all 20 teams sent representatives to a two-day workshop and received a kit of components with enough material to build two completely autonomous robots. The mechanical components used in Botball are Lego technic bricks and other metal structural supports as defined by this year’s tournament kit contents.
“The object of the game is to build a robot that will earn the maximum amount of points by collecting and distributing objects across the board at various locations,” said Ed Miranti, Educational Technologist. “The students wrote programs and built the robots to successfully complete the various tasks laid out for them.”
Feeling confident with their computer programming abilities, Team Spartans will return to the Botball Tournament next year.
Jordan Mirabile probably doesn’t ever have to worry about using a GPS or getting lost. Jordan, a Grade 7 student at The Stanwich School, recently won the school’s geography bee and qualified to compete in the 2017 Connecticut National Geographic State Bee at Central Connecticut State University.
The event in New Britain on March 31 was the second level of the National Geographic Bee competition, now in its 29th year. Students in grades 4-8 across the country participated in school bees, and the 100 top-scoring students in each state were invited to their state’s bee. The Connecticut state competition started with 100 students separated into 5 preliminary round groups of 20 students each.
According to Jordan’s mother, Joan Mirabile, “In this preliminary round, Jordan answered seven out of eight questions correctly and proceeded to the second round.”
In the second round, there were three slots open for the Top 10 Finalists, as seven students had answered eight out of eight, thus automatically qualifying for the podium. Jordan competed with 20 others for the last three slots. This group went through a single elimination question period. At the end of six rounds of questions, Jordan and three other students remained - all still vying for those three spots on the final podium. Jordan missed the next question and therefore missed placing in the podium for the Final 10.
“To put the #11 positioning statewide into perspective we were advised that over 10,000 middle school students from all over the State of Connecticut participated in this year’s competitions to decide the Top Ten Finalists,” says Joan. “Still, no easy feat: placing #11 in state is something to be very proud of.”
It is impressive to note that 2017 is the second year Jordan has been competing in the Connecticut State Finals as he has been the Stanwich School champion two years running — first in 2016 when he was in Grade 6, as well as this school year.
Jordan’s map studying isn’t over yet, however. What is his goal for next year? To place in the top 10!
With superhero capes in place, Stanwich’s Grade 3 students saved the day at their Hero Convention. Each student was assigned a real life hero and had their choice of a fictional super hero. Then they set about researching the real life hero with their Grade 12 “buddies” and compared him or her to their fictional counterpart. Students created their own “iPad apps” and shared what they learned with their parents, buddies, other students and faculty at this morning’s convention.
“We’re all about character education at Stanwich,” said Grade 3 teacher Danny Combatti, adding that the project tied into the Stanwich Seven – Commitment, Compassion, Wisdom, Courage , Honesty, Forgiveness and Joy. “They got totally hooked and loved it,” he said.
This event is just one example of the many advantages of being a coed, PreK through Grade 12 school with the ability to have older and younger students collaborate on meaningful projects.
Stanwich students were tested on their knowledge of geography when they recently competed in the 28th annual National Geographic Bee.
There was palpable excitement in the air as a group of The Stanwich School’s sixth, seventh and eighth graders prepared to be questioned during the school’s qualifying round for the 28th annual National Geographic Bee. The competitors included nine students, three in each grade, who qualified for the bee by taking a preliminary exam.
Each round during the bee, Stanwich Upper School history teacher Chris Hughes, the event moderator, asked questions for each contestant to answer orally and then asked a number of group questions in which contestants wrote down their answer on a dry erase board. In this competition, it’s two strikes and you’re out.
By the last round, three of the students were eliminated by a variety of questions, leaving seventh grader Jordan Mirabile as the victor in the competition.
Jordan’s map studying isn’t over yet, however. Mr. Hughes gave Jordan a qualifying test and he scored high enough to advance to the state level geography bee at Central Connecticut State University on March 31, 2017. Each state then sends its winner to the national competition in Washington, D.C. from May 15 through 17.
The winner receives a $50,000 scholarship, a lifetime subscription to National Geographic magazine, a Galápagos trip, and $500 cash.