25 Nov

Notable November!

Autism Awareness: by Kim Lewis
Lessons in building awareness and making an impact!

Maya Gunaseharan, Director of Student Activities and class of  ’08, Lana ’22, Briana ’22, Eila ’22, and Lisa ’15

Three fifth-grade girls had a wonderful idea about hosting a fundraiser and raising the awareness of their classmates about autism.  Over the course of the past 8 weeks, their philanthropic spirit resulted in some valuable lessons for the entire fifth-grade class about all that is involved behind the scenes when planning a fundraiser.  

They learned about several things ranging from writing a proposal to the Upper School Fundraising Committee to seeking approval for this event, to the creation of a logo that represents the event and meets D-E branding requirements. They also created a PowerPoint presentation that explained autism and their reasons for wanting to host a fundraiser.  Planning the soccer game and the bake sale proved to be great deal of work with many lessons about process and patience.

On Thursday, November 24, 2014, the soccer game fundraiser was held.  It was a huge success thanks to the contributions of all the 5th grade students, their adult helpers and some very willing Super Senior Soccer Players!











Please read the students’ reflections about the event:

Brianna ’22: I learned that an event isn’t just something that you just plan in your head.  Although everything turned out really well, we had to do some last minute things.  For example, we changed fields because of the weather. All-in-all, it was a great event.  I feel really good about everything!

Lana ’22: I learned lots of lessons too.  The biggest was that everything can’t happen right away.  For example, we wanted to make and sell T-shirts.  We worked with Mrs. Tausner on the design for the logo, but we needed more time to place the order for the shirts so that they would be here in time for the game.  In the meantime, we have come up with a solution to order and sell the T-shirts, before the winter break, as a way of continuing our school spirit.

Eila ’22:
Writing the proposal helped me to learn that there are many steps to take when you want to bring an idea to life.  I didn’t snap my fingers and then everything was done.  It was a great way for us to focus on the real purpose of the day.  I also learned that a fundraiser isn’t just about getting everything to be perfect.  Really, what I learned was that perfection isn’t everything. We put lots of time in raising awareness and money for Autism Speaks!

Sincere thanks to several former Lower School students, 
David Victor ’15, Cory Klein ’15, Yu Omiya ’15 and their senior friends for their participation in the soccer game.

Special thanks to the adults in the community that helped to realize our students’ vision for this wonderful event:
Pat Boig
Maya Gunaseharan
Elizabeth Tausner
Bart Klemensowski
Erik Swanson
Barry Ostrer
Jessica Pomeroy
Susan Abramson
Kim Lewis


Finally, we would like to thank the parents who donated the baked goods that helped the students raise over $579 to donate to the organization Autism Speaks.



5th Grade Trip to the MET by Mary Heveran

On Friday, November 14 the fifth grade, accompanied by the opera teachers, attended a final dress rehearsal of Rossini’s opera II Barbieri di Siviglia at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.

In preparation for the trip, students were told about the story, listened to the music and the arias of the characters Figaro, Rosina and Count Almaviva.  Some students even acted out the scenes as if they were the actual performers.

It was wonderful to have the students see the various opera jobs being executed by professionals   The students have their own opera company, Crew of 52, which is comprised of musicians, singers, set designers, carpenters, electricians, costume and make up designers, public relations officers, historians, stage managers and a production manager – all of which are also jobs that are held by professionals at the Met.

As soon as the students entered the Met, there were very excited. Seeing the Austrian crystal chandeliers, the red carpet, the gold leaf ceiling, the rosewood walls and how beautiful the opera house is, brought such delight to the eyes of all the students.

Below are a few quotes from the students:

“I enjoyed Figaro’s aria.  It was catchy and jumpy.”
“I enjoyed watching the scenery being moved.”
“I enjoyed being able to actually see and hear the the opera after Mary had described the process to us.”
“The singers’ voices were wonderful.”
“I enjoyed watching how much emotion the diners showed while performing.”
“I really enjoyed the music the most.  I play piano, so I know how hard it is to play Rossini.”

3rd and 4th Grade Assembly by Clinton Carbon, Director of Multicultural Affairs

The third- and fourth- grade classes celebrated the observance of National Native American Heritage Month with Kevin “Two Steps” O’Connell, storyteller, artifact seeker, primitive technologist and educator.  He began his study of the Lenape people over forty years ago.  Kevin brought an extensive display of artifacts from his extensive collection.  Pelts, skins, art, tools, instruments, toys and clothing were placed with care along the walls and tables in the Lower School gym.  The students found him to be very knowledgeable and engaging.  Kevin incorporated chants, songs and drumming into stories that he told.  Each story contained an important lesson about friendship, caring for nature and the spirits that the Lenape believed were in charge of taking good care of humanity. It was an excellent celebration filled with facts and fun.

THANK YOU!  Keep the recess ideas coming!

Thank you for sharing your memories about recess games!  If you did not have a chance to share your memories of recess games from your childhood with Ms. Abramson, you may still email her at abrams@d-e.org.  Please refer to the last Lower School blog entry to read about our work with the children about improving recess.

LS Photo Gallery 

First Graders Hard at Work and More Autism Awareness Soccer Game Photos

Reading time in first grade
Indoor recess block building
Collaborating during writers’ workshop
Autism Awareness Soccer Game

Krish ’22 works with Mrs. Tausner on a logo for the event.

Lucy ’22 manages the Bake Sale.

LS Notes Update:

Please note that this blog will be published on a bi-weekly basis during the month of December.  Be on the lookout for new entries during the week of December 8th.

12 Nov

The Curriculum of Recess: by Susan Abramson

Recess is one of the most cherished traditions of elementary schools, and it is filled with opportunities for physical activities and self-directed play.  For some children, recess is their favorite time of day.  This year, we began to notice that for others recess was a time that was more stressful, and we realized that it was time for us to take a closer look at our “curriculum” of recess.  As a part of this work, we have made a commitment to identify and teach recess behaviors throughout the year. 

First graders enjoying their time together!

Recess behaviors include skills such as negotiating rules of organized games, including selecting teams and practicing how to be a good sport, caring for equipment and playing inclusively and fairly. Faculty have identified skills and games they would like to teach, and we now include these skills and games as a part of the “recess curriculum” each week, without cutting into the children’s recess time.  By highlighting and teaching these skills and clarifying our expectations to children, our goal is that with faculty supervision we are no longer reacting to situations, but rather proactively teaching positive recess behaviors.

Lower School faculty learning a game called “Flinch”!  Be careful, Mrs. Sienicki!

Most of the faculty in the Lower School now spend some time supervising recess, which we hope sends the message to children that we think the learning and work of recess is just as important as reading, writing, and mathematics.  Also, we want to assure them that the adults are here to keep them safe, set a positive tone, and make sure that we protect the time and space in the day for recess.

The Importance of Student Voice: by Kim Lewis
As we launch our recess curriculum for this school year, we believe that the inclusion of student perspective and voice are necessary in our work to enhance the recess experience.

All of the students in grades 1 through 5 had a chance to answer the following prompts about recess:

1. Why do we have recess?
2. What do you love about recess?
3. What should recess look like, sound like, and feel like?
4. What are some of the challenges that arise during recess?

Our students are very clear that recess should be both fun and fair. They also shared that they need more assistance in learning how to select fair teams and how to better resolve conflicts that may arise.  

Student recess representatives, from grades 2 through 5, were selected to review the responses through a series of meetings with Ms. Lewis and Ms. Abramson.  They have shared great insights about some of the challenges that arise during recess and they have also been very thoughtful about discussing ways that we can work as a community to address the challenges.

In the coming weeks, the recess representatives will help to craft a statement of belief about recess that they will share with their classmates.  This is an exciting process that is underway!  We will be certain to share the results.

The 5th grade recess representatives have a lunch meeting in Ms. Lewis’ office.

5th grade students listens to reminders about having a fun and safe recess
Third grade friends – taking a recess break near purple playground.

Parents: We need you!
Do you recall any of the games that you played during recess when you were in elementary school?  We hope so!

If you do remember the name of the game and the basic instructions, please send that information to Susan Abramson at abrams@d-e.org.  She and Kim Lewis will be working to create a database of recess games that can be taught to the children this school year.  They would love to know about games that you played during indoor recess as well! 

Thank you!

Recess Photo Gallery – Students and Teachers

Students Having Fun!

Teachers Having Fun Too!

A Very Special Visitor: by Beth Lemire


In science class, the third and fourth grade had a wonderful visit with guest Joani Henry, who came to speak with the children about her Native American culture.  Through open discussion and storytelling, Joani conveyed the importance of the natural world to the children.  She noted the significance of the Hudson River in her culture and spoke of the river as a living being.  

She showed the students some native instruments and some homemade moccasins that she wears at home and for festivals.  Joani explained the process of making moccasins from tanning deer hide with smoke to sewing the individual beads.  The students also received a lesson in some of the indigenous languages that are spoken and that sadly, are in danger of dying out. 

The children noted that in Joani’s culture, traditions were passed down through oral stories so listening was very important. 

The students had many questions for Joani and they continued to talk about her long after her visit had ended.  We are so grateful that she came in to spend time with us!




04 Nov

Project L.E.A.D – A Great Success!

Lower School is L.E.A.D.ing the Way – A Literacy Celebration!

Question: What can we do to really celebrate our love of reading this fall?

Answer: Let’s have a division-wide celebration that involves students and teachers creatively sharing for one full day!

Second grade teacher, Jessica Rullo shared a wonderful idea for celebrating our love of reading, and in collaboration with third grade teacher, Roni Blaustein, and others, created a new Lower School tradition called Project L.E.A.D. – Literacy, Exploration and Adventure Day!

From the earliest moments that students enter Dwight-Englewood as preschool students, they are immersed in literature through storytelling, read-alouds, and other interactive work.  As they progress through the Lower School, students learn to think more deeply about the characters in their books, to step into the shoes of these characters, to empathize with them, and to anticipate how the characters will act as well.

Project L.E.A.D provides an opportunity for our entire Lower School community to playfully reinforce these ideals as students physically and dramatically immerse themselves in beloved literary and non-fictional characters.

Goals of Project L.E.A.D:
1. Further foster and encourage a love of reading in our students
2. Provide yet another opportunity for students to engage their creativity
3. Spark new interest in books, characters and authors

On Friday, October 31, 2014, we actually met our GOALS! Please take a look at the pictures below that chronicle our day!  Thank you to all who supported this wonderful event!


Dia de Los Muertos: A Special Collaboration between Spanish and Art 

During the week of October 28, Mrs. Garcia and Misi Collado worked collaboratively on a Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, unit for third, fourth and fifth grade students.  The Day of the Dead is an ancient Aztec celebration during which people remember family and friends that have passed away.  It is a day that is currently celebrated in many Spanish-speaking countries from October 31 through November 2.  Through this thematic unit, students explored the value of life within the cultural tradition of Day of the Dead, and also explored the art works of Jose Guadalupe Posada, and by recreating “The Land of the Remembered as portrayed in the animated film “The Book of Life”.

To add to the experience, Misi Collado dressed as “La Calavera Catrina” an image of a female skeleton wearing a hat typical of the an ancient time.  “La Catrina” has become an icon of the Day of the Dead.

Students created memorials for family and friends who have passed away.

EXCITING INFORMATION  – From Mrs. Garcia!
I am pleased to announce the launch of the Dwight-Englewood Lower School Visual Art Website! Please visit the site to enjoy the variety of artwork created by children in kindergarten first, second and fourth grades.  Recent projects will be featured as well as archived artwork from previous years. The website is a place to highlight student work and will be updated frequently.  Please enjoy!

SAVE THE DATES for BOOK FAIR 2014 & LS BOOK FAIR PIZZA PARTY! 
This year the annual Book Fair is scheduled for Monday, November 17 (8:00 am – 8:00 pm) and Tuesday, November 18 (8:00 am – 5:00 pm) in Hajjar Auditorium!  Shop from an extensive collection of children’s books, best sellers, raffles, and more!  
On Monday November 17, all Lower School families are invited to a Book Fair Pizza Party at 5:30 pm!  Enjoy food and the company of good friends,  and then head upstairs for shopping at the Book Fair.  See below for details; Please RSVP to Mrs. Rullo at rullol@d-e.org or call 201-227-3220.  See you at the Fair!