September Opening Letter
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Cider Press 2013-2014
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The day before, Sara and some faculty members will again this year be setting up for the Fitchburg downtown holiday decoration project. Thanks to Sara’s leadership in the project, there is a coherent theme this year, and it is peace. Students have been discussing how to contribute to peace in the world; and kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 7th grades have all created items that will be displayed at 699 Main Street, across from the old city hall. We are hoping to have our students walk down the hill to see the window once it is up on December 2, and I encourage you to stop by and enjoy that and the other decorated storefronts that are part of the “Peace Project” – and stop by the museum!
Todd Goodwin also has let me know that the Applewild community raised $552.87 for UNICEF over Halloween, more than last year's total! The Thanksgiving season is when we conduct the Oxfam Fast for our older students and the Hunger Banquet for sixth grade: 76% of our Upper School students and several adults will be fasting to raise money to support Oxfam, which incidentally has a strong presence in the Philippines. These choices promote being reflective about our role in society, about civic-mindedness, and about compassion.
Service also includes the several younger siblings of fourth and fifth graders volunteering eagerly to help Chef Jeff Palmieri stack the chairs after the SRO pizza dinner before the Radio Play – and the families who stayed after the Fall Sports Night to help Kyle Gillis clean up. We also enjoyed a very productive service afternoon in Upper School on November 8 working mostly outside in the upper garden and around the grounds. That helped the campus look wonderful for our Admission Open House on November 16. Thanks in part to the support from current parents spreading the word, we had the highest number of families attend the open house in the past six years. We continue with Take A Look first Thursdays each month, and Emily is always delighted to follow up if you have a suggestion about a family that might be interested.
Laverack Family Alumni Award
We have another opportunity to focus on civic-mindedness and compassion with our recognition of the Laverack Family Alumni Award recipient on December 13. Dr. Sharon Parnes ’63 has been a child neurologist for many years, improving the lives of children and acting as a beacon for women physicians in the early years of the feminist movement. Very self-effacing, Dr. Parnes might not call herself a feminist nor want to be credited with having been a trail blazer, but she is a perfect reminder of how change happens incrementally when individuals take on the challenge on a personal level of acting on their beliefs. She wanted to fully engage all of her abilities, and that led her from an undergraduate degree at Bennington to being one of only six women in her class at Dartmouth Medical School. She still remembers how surprised professors were when she and others asked to actually see patients as part of their early training. Originally interested in pediatrics, it was on such a visit and seeing a classic seizure that Dr. Parnes became fascinated by how the brain works.
I hope those of you with first – third graders enjoyed the French “Little Bird Tales” that Katy Niose helped the students create. My thanks to her for offering what was a very popular French Club after school in October. The third grade’s Colonial Days celebration was another of the special days at Applewild, in which faculty connect across disciplines and help students experience their learning directly to assure that students make connections and are most likely to internalize what they learn. The fourth grade Freedom Trail trip was another such opportunity, as are our service connections with Highlands, ARC, and Head Start.
The fourth and fifth grade Radio Play production of A Christmas Carol is another such example – and a wonderful expression of our Core Competencies and Core Values. Congratulations to Kevin Brodeur and Erin Schlesinger for a delightful show. As one parent noted afterward, the importance of teamwork was so clear without even needing to be mentioned. That notion of collaboration, of cooperating, of being responsible for yourself and to others, was definitely in evidence, as was the level of autonomy displayed by the students. The format of the Radio Play encourages students to develop greater comfort on stage, too, all part of our emphasis on presentation skills. Another parent, relocating after the school year, said “I am already missing Applewild. What a great school!”
CDCA Families in particular
By the way, Christmas Carol was so well done that we decided the ghosts of Marley and Christmas Future would be too scary for our CDCA children. They were even a little scary for some children in the audience Wednesday evening! We do look forward to having CDCA children and their families attend our winter concert on December 18 or 20.
We provided a program last Thursday for CDCA families interested in exploring Kindergarten at Applewild and welcome further interest on an individual basis. Simply contact Emily Bracchitta.
Remember that the CDCA follows Applewild school closing announcements. Also be sure to note the December/January schedule of when the program is open.
If families with children in K – 8 are interested in child care over the December break, please contact Sandi Thompson in the CDCA about space availability. Depending on interest, we can also offer a specific age appropriate program. The CDCA is open all day December 20 and on December 23, 24 (until 4:00), 27, 30 and 31 (until 4:00), and January 2 and 3, if any of these days are helpful to families. Similarly, if you are interested in a possible vacation program for one week of our March break, let Sandi know.
So far we have 40% parent participation in the survey asking about logistics and convenience looking eastward. While this certainly makes the data statistically valid, we would enjoy hearing from more of you. Click this link to take the Parent Logistics Survey and it will stay open through Monday at 3:30.
To help prepare for the holidays, I hope you can join the Parents Association leadership for the annual PA Holiday Breakfast on December third. It is a delightful way to share the companionship and pride that come from all the PA does throughout the year. The concerts are again on Wednesday the 18th (2:30 for LS and 7:00 for US), with the snow date Thursday evening. The combined, shortened concert for the students is on Friday at 10:15 and rumor has it that faculty will again “Croak” and a surprise visitor will appear.
By the way, I am delighted to announce a unique opportunity for Applewild families. The Fay Club invites you to use the club at your convenience. Reservations are welcome but walk-ins are also acceptable. Simply say that you are an Applewild parent, and pay with a credit card. You can consider the venue for parties, also. Dress is business casual except Saturday night in the formal dining room. You can go on the web site for information about specific events: http://www.thefayclub.com/. If you are dropping off Upper School students for Wednesday’s concert warm up, for example, you could then go to the Fay Club for an appetizer and be back in time for the concert.
We will use our traditional Thanksgiving Feast as an opportunity to strengthen community by having one full school sitting for lunch, with buddies sitting together, as happened at last spring’s PA Teacher Appreciation Luncheon. We will combine our “feast” with the traditional end-of-day assembly, with grace being the Governor’s Proclamation. Erin Schlesinger has been teaching students Dona Nobis Pacem, which we will sing to close the meal. I have enjoyed seeing many expressions of thankfulness posted by all ages, from cartoons in the Crocker Wing to Gobble Gobble Turkeys in Lower School. I will share with our students at the meal what our CDCA children are thankful for:
- my mom, my dad, my brother and my sister
- paw patrol
- my mom kissing me
- going to a monster truck show
- my kitties
- my sisters
- (and, of course, my favorite!) for my grandma and grampa
I am also thankful for the nine years that Jim Palojarvi has been working on our maintenance staff. Jim leaves us next week to take a similar position in the Ashburnham-Westminster School District, and we wish him well. Jeff Goodwin has been interviewing candidates, and we expect to fill the position in early December. Have a wonderful family Thanksgiving, and enjoy the excitement of the holiday season that follows!
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