W+H Media Mashup
A true test of an individual or an organization really comes to light in a crisis. COVID-19 is certainly one of those times when individuals, groups, communities and our Wardlaw+Hartridge family are being tested.
Schools with international students are facing many challenges because of the COVID-19 crisis, and these challenges may continue into the recruitment and admission seasons for the next year or two. Last Friday, I was honored to represent Wardlaw+Hartridge and make a presentation during the National Association for Independent Schools (NAIS) webinar titled Recruiting International Students During and Post COVID-19.
Here at The Wardlaw+Hartridge School, the word inclusivity means that you are given the opportunities to simply be yourself.
As we hit the end of January and the last of the holiday decorations are put away for another year, we look ahead to 2020 to make our promises to be better at this, to do more of that and to make more time focus on this. You get my drift, so fill in the blank as needed. The one thing you should consider is: What am I doing to provide my child the best educational experience possible?
Gerard Gonnella travels to China each year to visit with international families -- both current parents and prospective families. His blog followed his recent trip there in 2019.
As the crisp air begins to descend on New Jersey, we’re gearing up for our annual Fall Fair and Homecoming Day a longstanding tradition at The Wardlaw+Hartridge School.
At W+H, students are provided the tools necessary to stimulate rigorous inquiry, in depth research and writing skills so they can express themselves thoughtfully.
The International Student Program at W+H has recently launched E-Mentoring, an online learning support project that aims at empowering students with their learning.
When I was a senior in high school, I missed eight weeks of classes - two months - starting in late September. Actually my entire public school district and many others in the Wilmington, Delaware area did not have school because our teachers went on strike.
As Upper School Head, I have the privilege of witnessing acts of care, joy, selflessness, support, giving and love, to name a few, every day from students, parents and faculty. Let me share a few from the past several weeks that keep me encouraged and demonstrate the indomitable W+H spirit.
Over the last couple of decades or so, the words diversity and inclusion frequently appear together. Yet I am not sure many of us have taken the time to parse their meanings and understand the important distinction between the two.
Early last spring, when COVID was newly-arrived and we were all just beginning to figure out how we could teach and learn remotely, I shared with students a bit of wisdom from Mr. Rogers: "Look for the helpers.”
A pillar of our Middle School program is service to and learning from others. Churchill’s words are especially appropriate when we consider the many ways our students serve and learn within and beyond the W+H community.
We tell our children and each other that there are silver linings to be found amidst adversity. Our current struggle is a mighty one, the adversary powerful and ruthless. Yet, this war, too, shall pass.
Middle school-aged students crave two things seemingly to be at odds with each other. They want ardently to be seen as and recognized as individuals yet fear being perceived as different.
“I just want to say thank you. I had a good time. I would still rather be at school for Field Day, but I had fun dressing up my dad and playing the fun games. So, I just wanted to say thank you.”
Quotes and verses help us find words when we don’t have them ourselves. Rumor has it country singer Dolly Parton is quoted as saying, “Storms make trees take deeper roots.” Though, recently I found another reference that it was the poet George Herbert who deserves the original credit saying, “Storms make oaks take deeper root.”
At times, we find that it is helpful to see things not only through mirrors but as well through windows. Another voice, or in this case other voices, can bring light to the nuances of a topic that one may have never considered themselves. With that, I turn this month’s blog over to the fifth grade teachers, Liz Schultz and Tim Head, and their students.
As we start this new academic year, it occurs to me that I started my career in a great independent school exactly 40 years ago. (Yes, I am that old). Back then, everything was new to me. This year, everything is new to all of us – though we did have a trial run last spring.
What does the word innovation mean? If you Google the dictionary for an answer, it will tell you innovation is a noun meaning “the action or process of innovating” or a “new method, idea, product.”
If new methods, ideas and products fulfill the meaning of innovation, then there’s been plenty of it here at The Wardlaw+Hartridge School this fall. Everywhere I turn, I see teachers and students coming up with new methods and fresh ideas. This collaborative partnership has yielded a wonderful product – an incredible educational experience that’s being delivered in the most challenging times.
Innovation does not need high level science or technology to be considered successful or productive. You don’t need expensive equipment to produce innovation. Some of the most innovative practices begin with an idea. Our teachers are keeping students engaged in their education safely by providing new approaches and executing their lessons in different ways.
This is happening in every classroom. Teachers are connecting with their students, both in person and remotely. Students are connecting with their classmates, both in person and remotely. Many teachers have taken advantage of good weather to conduct classes outdoors. Some have staged theme days that embrace outdoor instruction. Coaches have found a way to make things work by organizing safe workouts and the Middle School ran some very spirited intra-squad competitions throughout the fall.
Some of our best examples of innovation will come in the performing arts. The final two months of the calendar year are always a busy time for Sharon Byrne, Performing Arts Department Chair. In addition to juggling her many classes, Mrs. Byrne is working with the production staff of the Upper School fall play and collaborating with Band Director Rick Fontaine on the Middle and Upper School winter concerts.
This year, none of those events can be held in their usual form. However, the W+H community will enjoy the opportunity to see our actors, singers and musicians share their amazing talents. Mrs. Byrne, Mr. Fontaine and the play’s production staff have come up with some creative ways to allow our student artists to shine and keep our community entertained in the coming weeks.
Stay tuned and enjoy as W+H continues to deliver innovation as one of its many important educational priorities.
Maybe it was something about the green and gold. There was clearly something special in the air last Friday when students and teachers in all three divisions spent quality time outside on a beautiful mid-autumn day. Of course, there was plenty of fun and games in Lower School physical education classes, Middle School recess and the Upper School Ram Rivalry competition. While those interactions showed wonderful camaraderie and spirit, I was equally impressed with the academic activities conducted in our 36-acre outdoor classroom space.
As I roamed the campus with my camera, the first good photo opportunity came near the Lower School playground. Sixth graders gathered with Mr. Thomas Chavez to begin orienteering, one of many activities included in their Autumn Exploration Day. Since the class could not attend the traditional annual trip to Frost Valley, sixth grade coordinator Andrea Barnett developed a daylong event to replicate that experience right here on the W+H campus. The first group photo I took featured a group of sixth graders with Mr. Chavez under a tree that just happened to have green and gold leaves. It was a sign.
The morning continued with more photo ops in the Nature Trail, trees and wooded areas, Middle School garden and the tent outside the AP Room, where students created leaf rubbings under the expert guidance of Miss Tanda Tucker.
My focus shifted to Lower School and the third graders, who were enjoying a Fall Day of their own. While Mrs. Donna Pedde supervised journal writing on the new outdoor desks, Ms. Katherine Heiss assisted other students in one of her favorite activities – gardening. It was great to see youngsters with their hands in the dirt rebuilding the Lower School garden.
During my second stop to the front of campus, I also caught a glimpse of the fifth graders bonding during their Leadership Day event designed by teachers Mr. Tim Head and Mrs. Liz Stillman. Walking back through the school, I occasional photos of students and teachers clad in the school’s colors. More green and gold.
The Upper School took center stage for my attention in the early afternoon, with a series of entertaining Ram Rivalry competitions on the turf fields that were worthy of video. Although many students in remote learning were missing, it was great to see class unity on display. It was fitting that the seniors won Spirit Week because they are likely going to have a challenging final year of high school that is beyond their control. Class deans Mr. Kyle Modes and Mrs. Justine Borzumato are doing their best to keep things running smoothly for this year’s upperclassmen.
Spirit Week was a bit more understated this year for safety reasons, but Friday’s festivities did not reflect any of the anxiety that has become all too common these days. It was refreshing.
The Wardlaw+Hartridge School is pleased to present One Stoplight Town as its virtual fall play this year. This full-length play was written by playwright Tracy Wells and the W+H thespians will be the first to produce this new title and premiere the show on Friday, Nov. 20 at 7:30 p.m.
One Stoplight Town is a story about people from a town so small that you might drive through without taking a second look. There are many interesting and entertaining stories and characters in this show.
Leading players include Jason Kisare ’21, John Papetti ’21, Sydney Racine ’23, Brian Machado ’21, Tarun Ravilla ’21 and Neil Shah ’21.
For more information and to register for free tickets, visithttps://www.onthestage.com/show/the-wardlaw-hartridge-school/%E2%80%A8one-stoplight-town-28511/tickets
The Middle School offered abbreviated two-day after school STEM workshops focused on aerodynamics in the first two weeks of November. Under the guidance of Mrs. Andrea Barnett, Middle School science teacher and Science Department Co-Chair, pondered the question of how the program could offer a hands-on STEM program that would be safe during the pandemic and accessible to both remote and present learners. The answer came from the sky!
“Aerodynamics allows us the opportunity to solve problems with simple accessible materials and to be socially distant outside,” Mrs. Barnett said.
The students worked on two different problems in two-day shifts. On day one they created simple parachutes by learning how to fold paper and create geometric shapes. Using the engineering process, they questioned what variables made the "best" parachutes and were inspired by the work of scientists studying the flight of dandelion seeds. Students at home zoomed in to create with us and then tried their parachutes asynchronously.
On day two, students learned about the Bernoulli principle to understand what causes lift and folded paper into a diverse array of paper airplanes. The resulting models were a tremendous hit as students flew them to discover which went the farthest.
“The best parts of each day were the heights we were allowed to go to give our creations greater lift!” Mrs. Barnett said.
The W+H girls' soccer team lost its first game of the season to Oak Knoll in the opening round of the state playoffs on Wednesday afternoon. The Rams (7-1) swept through an abbreviated regular season with an undefeated record and unofficial title in the GMC Blue Division. They had outscored their seven victims by a 33-2 margin but dropped a tough 2-1 decision to Oak Knoll in the states.
Oak Knoll scored twice in the first nine minutes of play but the W+H girls carried the play for the rest of the game, scoring with 5:15 remaining in regulation to make the closing moments more dramatic. Student supporters lined the home sideline to support the Rams, who fell just short on a blustery, cold afternoon.
It was the final game for six fantastic W+H seniors: captain Arian Di Landro ’21, Olivia De Sousa ’21, Mikayla Cole ’21, Nyela Liverpool ’21, Samantha Gordon ’21 and 100-goal scorer Bella Wysocki ’21.
New to the Global Scholars Program this year is the Documentary and Discussion Series. About once a month, GSP candidates will watch a selected documentary on their own time, and then meet with other GSP candidates and Mrs. Nicole Nolan, Director of Global Scholars and Community Outreach, on a weeknight evening to discuss the topics and issues covered in the documentary. The goal is to have GSP candidates explore issues in meaningful ways during this time of COVID-19, when field trips and guest speakers are not possible. Each GSP candidate must participate in at least one session.
In October, students viewed the first episode of Immigration Nation, a six-part series on Netflix about Immigration at the US/Mexican border, current government policies, and the lives of a few select refugees highlighted in the series. Students discussed their reactions to what they viewed and learned a lot about the immigration experience, as well as the role of border patrol and ICE.
In November, students viewed The Social Dilemma, a documentary that explores the world of social media and how it has been both beneficial and detrimental to our society. Student discussions focused on the harsh reality of how social media controls our lives, and that the information we receive is designed to create an addiction. Participants explored the effects on mental health, the exploitation of the general population for financial benefits, and how the information we digest is highly manipulated.
The next GSP Documentary and Discussion will dive into the Netflix documentary 13th, named for the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery. The documentary is a deep dive into racial inequality in America and how the US prison population is disproportionately African-American. This will also enhance our Upper School Symposium work and the school’s DEI initiatives that are already ongoing.
Bella Wysocki ’21 made it official by signing her National Letter of Intent to attend Wagner College and continue her outstanding soccer career.
The Wardlaw+Hartridge senior is by far the school's all-time leading scorer with 104 goals. She has also distributed 47 assists in 68 career games for the Rams. Bella broke the previous W+H scoring record in her sophomore year and reached the century mark in the first game of this season back in September. While her senior year has been a modified season due to COVID-19 restrictions, Bella has continued her solid, dominant play and led the Rams to a 7-0 start.
Bella celebrated her signing with an outdoor ceremony and press conference under a tent on a rainy afternoon in the W+H front courtyard on Nov. 11. She was accompanied by her parents, Jim and Raquel, along with sister and teammate Gabby Wysocki '23, W+H head coach Mike Romeo, athletic director Karl Miran and Head of School Andrew Webster.
"I’m excited to continue in my soccer career and hopefully keep it going and make it to a professional league," Bella said. “I’m excited to keep playing at the highest level. I’m just going to work as hard as I can.”
A natural striker with a powerful left foot, Bella made an immediate splash for the Rams and she’s determined to continue elevating her game to propel the Wagner Seahawks at the next level.
“Bella was prepared when she came here as a freshman,” Coach Romeo said. “Her first game was a hat trick at home against South Plainfield. From that game on, everyone knew who she was. Her development in the game has been tremendous. She’s coming out of here ready to make an impact.”