19 Feb

They Put A Little Love in Our Hearts!!

Lower School Students Sing Songs of Love

Contributed by Mary Heveran, Lower School Music Teacher

Music education in the Lower School at Dwight Englewood includes singing, movement, music appreciation and music history, as well as the skills of listening, reading, playing and writing music.

Another important aspect of our music program is giving children opportunities to perform.  In our younger grades, the opportunities include singing alone or playing an instrument for the class. As children grow and develop, so do the experiences for performance.  Children in grades 2, 3, and 4 perform a concert on the main stage in the auditorium in March. Children in grade 5 present their original opera in late April or early May.

It is my belief that although performance is an integral part of music education, children of a certain age should not feel overwhelmed or intimidated by the idea of performing on a stage with bright lights and hundreds of people watching.

It is because of this that we provide an opportunity for children in kindergarten and first grade to perform a concert that is held in the music room and showcases some of the skills and repertoire the students have been working on throughout the year.

I chose Valentine’s Day to conduct this first performance experience for two reasons.  It is at that time of year when children have been taught the necessary skills in music and have had opportunities in their music classroom to perform for each other.  The other reason that this is the most ripe time of year for this first performance is simply because it is a wonderful way for us to show the love and friendship that we feel for our family and friends. This year’s Valentine’s Day concert marks the 36th first-grade Valentine’s Day concert in the Lower School.

Beautiful Kindergarten Voices!

Submitted by Susan Abramson, Lower School Assistant Principal

The kindergartners performed for the first time in the Lower School music room, and their voices, songs and gestures were the most beautiful Valentines gift any of us could ask for!

Led by the kind and gentle hands and voice of Lower School music teacher, Lisa Dove, the children “sang with their hearts” for their teachers and families. As children sang, kindergarten student, Julia, took charge of the felt board to help classmates remember the tricky lyrics.

The kindergartners were especially keen on “Our House” by Crosby, Stills and Nash, and although it was a sophisticated song, they really made it into their own valentine gift to their families.

We are so lucky to have this event captured in video and hope you will enjoy watching with your children and sharing with loved ones both far and near.

19 Feb

Third Graders Making a Difference

Submitted by Roni Blaustein and Michelle Sussmann

The “Third Graders Making a Difference” program is now in its second year of implementation and our students are doing wonderful things to impact the lives of others. Each month our third graders focus on helping a different part of our local or global community.

During our inaugural year of implementing the “Third Graders Making a Difference” program, last year’s third graders (our current fourth-grade students) lead the Lower School in a collection of Box Tops for Education to benefit the St. Joseph’s School for the Blind in Jersey City, New Jersey. The St. Joseph’s School for the Blind provides specialized services for children and adults with visual impairments. For each box top collected from October 2014 through June 2015, the third graders raised ten cents for much needed supplies for this school.

With the sweeping participation of the whole Lower School, the third graders collected over 1,200 Box Tops for Education. We are pleased to report that, as a result of our combined efforts, the St. Joseph’s School for the Blind was able to purchase talking watches for six of their students. Below are some pictures of the recipients of these watches. We would like to thank the current fourth graders and the entire Lower School Community for making a difference in the lives of others.

Stay tuned for additional feature stories about the work that this year’s third graders are doing to make a difference in the local and global community.


18 Feb

Books by Wendy Mass



Amanda’s 11th birthday should have been a happy occasion. Instead she’s dressed in an itchy costume her mother picked out for her Hollywood-themed party that almost no one comes to. Meanwhile, across town, her ex-best friend Leo is celebrating their joint birthday with a huge bash including a hypnotist, a football star, a giant iguana, and a rock band. Amanda can’t wait for the day AFTER her birthday so she can stop thinking about the fight that led to her and Leo having separate parties for the first time in their lives. There’s just one problem. The next day is her birthday all over again. Amanda must figure out how to get un-stuck, in more ways than one.



Book 3 in the Willow Falls series. When Tara tries to steal the school mascot in order to make friends with the popular crowd and gets caught, she gets sent to spend the summer with her aunt, uncle, and strange cousin Emily St. Claire in Willow Falls. Things start off weird and only get stranger from there as she has to find mysterious objects hidden around town and unravels secrets about her own family she never would have guessed.


A Mango-Shaped Space

Thirteen-year-old Mia Winchell appears to be the most normal kid in her family. Her younger brother Zack keeps a chart of all the McDonald’s hamburgers he’s eaten in his lifetime. Her older sister Beth dyes her hair a different color every week and might be a witch. But Mia knows she is far from ordinary. She is keeping something from everyone who knows her: the fact that sounds, numbers, and letters have color for her.



Four children have been chosen to compete in a national competition to create the best new candy. Who will invent a candy more delicious than the Oozing Crunchorama or the Neon Yellow Lightning Chew? Logan, the Candymaker’s son, who can detect the color of chocolate by touch alone? Miles, the boy who is allergic to merry-go-rounds and the color pink? Daisy, the cheerful girl who can lift a fifty-pound lump of taffy like it’s a feather? Or Philip, the suit-and-tie wearing boy who’s always scribbling in a secret notebook? This story, told from each contestant’s perspective, is candy-coated mystery full of mouthwatering surprises!


Every Soul a Star

ALLY likes the simple things in life–labyrinths, stargazing, and comet hunting. Her home, the Moon Shadow Campground, is a part of who she is. BREE is popular, gorgeous (everybody says so), and a future homecoming queen for sure. She wears her beauty like a suit of armor. But what is she trying to hide? JACK, overweight and awkward, is used to spending a lot of time alone. But when opportunity knocks, he finds himself in situations he never would have imagined. When the three of them meet during a total eclipse of the sun, their lives change forever.



Book 2 in the Willow Falls series. Rory Swenson has been waiting her whole life to turn twelve. And she’s got a list to prove it. But as she makes her way through the list, things don’t go quite as planned! Fun, funny, and full of surprises, this is a story about wanting to finally grow up, even when the universe seems to be telling you to wait.



Last book in the Willow Falls series! Angelina D’Angelo has left town to see the world. It’s now Grace’s turn to use her magic to protect the people of Willow Falls, and she is up to the challenge. This is her destiny, after all. But destiny is a funny thing because it doesn’t always behave the way you’d expect it to.



16-year-old Tessa is a spunky heroine who hasn’t always made the right choices. By reliving her life according to the purchases she’s made at the mall, she just might discover what makes life worth living.



Twelve-year-old Jeremy receives a wooden box in the mail with the words, “The Meaning of Life—for Jeremy Fink to open on his 13th birthday.” The box has four locks, requiring four keys. But the keys are missing. He and his best friend Lizzy (who has a little habit of stealing things) set off on a quest through the streets of Manhattan to find the keys before time runs out.



Sixteen-year-old Josie Taylor was born on Leap Day, February 29, and today is her “fourth” birthday! Today it’s the reader who gets to find out what it’s like being born on Leap Day, by “leaping” into the minds and viewpoints of Josie and everyone around her, changing your assumptions of people forever.



Joss comes from a family of overachievers, and is happy to let his older brothers shine. But when Earth suddenly disappears, Joss is tasked with the not-so-simple job of bringing it back. With the help of an outspoken girl named Annika, Joss embarks on the adventure of a lifetime and learns that the universe is an even stranger place than he’d imagined.



The first book in a series for early readers! 8-year-old Archie Morningstar learns that his dad isn’t a regular taxi driver. He’s actually a SPACE taxi driver! His job is to shuttle aliens from planet to planet. Archie discovers he has the ability to read the space map that guides his dad’s taxi through space. He can’t imagine anything more exciting—until he meets a very special talking cat and helps save the universe!



In the second book in this series, Archie, his dad, and Pockets fly to a planet in peril: someone is stealing the water from this underwater world! Can Archie and Pockets save the day?



Archie, his dad, and Pockets visit a planet that resembles medieval Earth in every way but its inhabitants, who have rainbow colored hair and extra eyes. To beat the evil organization B.U.R.P., the trio must disguise themselves as aliens and rescue a princess!



Book 4 in the Willow Falls series. Amanda and Leo have a history with birthdays. Now their friend’s little sister, Grace, has fallen into a strange frozen state on her birthday, and Amanda and Leo must travel back in time in order to heal her As they journey back to each of Grace’s birthdays, they uncover a lot more than they ever expected, and set a powerful force into motion.



When Beauty’s life turns completely upside down and she is forced to head out into the world, she has to figure out just who she wants to be. And when Prince Riley suddenly grows fur, and nails as sharp as sticks, he has to learn that appearances can be deceiving. Before Beauty and Riley can save each other, they have to save themselves.



It’s not easy being Princess Rose. Especially when a fairy curses you and you find yourself avoiding all sharp objects . . . and then end up pricking your finger anyway, causing you to slumber for a hundred years or so. And it’s not easy being The Prince. Especially when your mother has some ogre blood and tends to chow down at the most unfortunate moments. A walk in the woods would help, you think. Until you find a certain hidden castle . . . and a certain sleeping princess. Happily ever after? Not until the prince helps the princess awaken . . . and brings her home to mother.



Journey back to the days when fairy tales were true, and remember, there are two sides to every story…Rapunzel is having the ultimate bad day. She’s been stolen by a witch, may have a ghost for a roommate, and doesn’t even have a decent brush for her hair. Prince Benjamin’s got it pretty tough, too. His father wants him to be more kingly, his mother wants him to never leave her sight, and his cousin wants to get him into as much trouble as possible (preferably with a troll). Both Rapunzel and Prince Benjamin are trapped…in very different ways. Once their paths cross, well, that’s when things REALLY get strange.

05 Feb

A Long-Standing Tradition

Submitted by Susan Abramson

One of our beloved Lower School traditions is that of the Lower School Buddy program. Children and teachers alike both cherish this time for younger and older students to spend time together around crafts, learning activities and holiday celebrations. Younger children especially enjoy the attention they get from their older buddies and make comments such as, “My buddy is nice and is definitely smart!” and “My buddy has great ideas and is so nice to me.”

Older children enjoy the opportunity to mentor older children!  4th grade student, Elliot shares, “I have a chance to teach my buddy how to be responsible, and I like taking care of him and helping him do things he doesn’t know how to do.”

This year, fourth-grade students meet regularly with their first-grade buddies. At the beginning of the year first- and fourth-grade teachers take all the children outside to play, and as they play, teachers observe children as they plan to create the best partnerships for the school year. Throughout the year, the buddies get together to read stories, play games and to work on particular crafts.  This week, first and fourth graders worked together to make Valentines crafts for their loved ones.

Even when they are not making cards alongside their teachers and classmates, buddies Jackson (first grade) and Davide (fourth grade) sometimes give one another cards throughout the week!

Jackson says, “I like getting to know my buddy. He is really cool, and he is the best buddy in the world.” Davide, smiling, chimes in:  “I like meeting my buddies because we get to spend time together. Being older you have a responsibility to take care of your buddy.” Both Davide and Jackson agree it’s like having a brother – for Davide a little brother, and for Jackson an older.

It’s a joy to see younger and older children playing, working and learning alongside one another, and even more of a joy to see the bonds that form over the course of the year.



05 Feb

News from the Preschool 3 classroom

Submitted by the Preschool 3 Team

When adults are asked to recall joyful childhood memories, they often think of being outdoors enjoying nature’s gifts.

When we bring our preschool 3 students outside, we frequently get to see that joy in its full form and what exhilaration and delight we saw recently, when the children first played in the fresh, deep snow!

The play area behind our classroom was naturally transformed for the children by what was left from the blizzard’s path; familiar structures had disappeared under the drifts, and there were huge mounds of snow, a result of the clearing of pathways, to climb.

Children felt happy and powerful, standing on top and seeing they could be as tall as their teachers. The following day we went to the red playground, and that, too, had been transformed. It turns out the curving slide, when damp with melting snow, is twice as fast!

Children slid quickly down in their snow gear, shot out at the bottom onto soft snow, and laughed hysterically. The little stage near the stairs could be approached only by climbing a small mountain of snow which could then be used as a natural slide.

The children were remarkably patient with the process of putting on and taking off snow pants, boots, hats, and special mittens. They knew it was worth the effort, and we agreed with them.