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Bobcat Newsletter February 19th, 2017

Anybody who attended Wednesday’s Science Fair surely was as impressed as I by the overwhelming sense of accomplishment and excitement that pervaded the (crowded) Flex Room. Whether it was a volunteer participant in 1st grade or a seasoned science fair 7th grader, every student provided a thoughtful, articulate summary of his/her project. My favorite question is always, “What surprised you most?” Responses to that query unfailingly demonstrate the depth of a student’s understanding. LTS science fair projects truly reflect the strength of our science program – thank you Ms. Wendy and Mr. Tayler! – and the value and emphasis we place on problem-solving. We constantly ask youngsters to “figure it out”; science fair is simply a dramatic summary of how well they do that. How much fun is it to anticipate a new building into which all displays will fit with plenty of room to spare?!

Following are the names and projects of students who were recognized at an all-school assembly on Thursday. Congratulations to all students who participated, required or not, and good luck to the students who will be representing LTS in the regional competition next month.

7th grade Finalists 

Life Science: Brenna Ritchie & Bella Artle

Physical Science: Shane Green

Earth/Environmental: Jack Ludviksen

Engineering: Keira Sabin

6th grade Finalists

Sean Kirkland

Aiden German

6th grade Honorable Mention

Billy Dayton

Kennedy Kurtz

Luc Casini

5th grade Finalists

Katie Belle Rau

Parker Bacon-Mirzayan

5th grade Honorable Mention

Auri Fernandez

Evee Propst

4th grade Honorable Mention

The Cloning Company:

Josh Ludviksen, Chloe Ronning, Keatyn Kurtz, Ridge Gerken

The Western Nevada Science and Engineering Fair will be March 8-9. All 5th through 7th grade finalists will be submitted. 7th grade finalists will be interviewed in person. Additional information will be emailed to finalists directly following our winter break.

Should anyone have forgotten…we will be closed all next week for February break, otherwise known as Ski/Skate Week. Enjoy this time, whether you stick close to home or venture to warmer climes. We look forward to welcoming you back on Monday, February 27th.

 

Bobcat Newsletter February 12th, 2017

An annual Lake Tahoe School highlight event is scheduled for this Wednesday, February 15th: The Science Fair! The past several weeks, 4th through 7th grade students have been doing background research, refining hypotheses, designing and carrying out experiments, analyzing results, and creating visual displays. We start the process in 4th grade, where students work on a single project within small groups. This year, they cloned plants. 5th graders conduct their research and create their reports at school. 6th and 7th graders become more independent. 8th graders do not participate in the science fair; instead they work all year on individual Exhibition topics.

During my tenure at Lake Tahoe School, our science fair focus and preparation have evolved. We want our students to learn how to conduct research in a scientific fashion and to analyze the data they collect. We want them to learn to work with increasing independence over the course of their four-year science fair preparations. Our goal is for students to take ownership of their work and to manage time effectively. It’s always a developing process. We also want to free parents from feeling responsible for the production of “perfect” exhibits. It is fair to say that many parents welcome that freedom, while some miss the opportunity to work closely with their children.

The results of the past many weeks’ work will be displayed in The Flex Room from 4:00 to 5:00 Wednesday afternoon. A team of independent judges will interview students and determine awards that morning. The results will be announced Thursday morning at 8:45 in an all-school assembly.

Everyone is encouraged to attend the Fair Wednesday afternoon. This is a marvelous opportunity to observe, first hand, how students at LTS grow and mature during their years with us, as well as to confirm the strength of our science program. Youngsters work hard on their projects, and each is present during the hour to explain why or why not their hypotheses were correct and to answer your questions. Even our youngest children enjoy the evening, and in many a spark is started that translates into impressive science ventures of their own in ensuing years.

Please join us Wednesday evening for a fun, educational, community evening!

Bobcat Newsletter February 5th, 2017

The process to find my replacement is beginning. I confess to feeling conflicted about the topic. Some days, June 2018 seems blessedly far away; other days it’s but a blink. The good news is that we have contracted with an experienced consultant and his firm to guide us through all the necessary steps. Douglas Cummings, of Educators Collaborative, will be on campus next week to begin interviews with parents and staff, as well as to facilitate a two-day Board retreat. We chose Doug partly because he has such great depth as a consultant.

During this first round, there will be three opportunities for parents to meet with Doug. Thursday, February 9th, 8:40–9:10 AM or 4:15-5:00 and Friday, February 10th, 8:00 – 8:30. All parents are welcome to attend these sessions, which will serve as a preliminary means to gather information about LTS and what traits and values parents consider important in my successor. We recognize that time frame might not be ideal for everyone. There will be future opportunities to meet. In addition, Doug will be sending an on-line survey to all parents during the next few weeks.

In an entirely unrelated vein, every week grades K-8 meet for an assembly. It was my studied opinion that, in the past, we did not gather enough as a full community, hence we didn’t have sufficient opportunities to talk about things that are important to us all. Those include how to treat each other with respect, that it’s important to do the right thing when no one is watching, and that it’s important to recognize hard work and achievement in all areas of student lives. In the fall, I created what we call “Best Bobcat Awards.” Every week, I call a few students – sometimes faculty and parents – to come forward and receive a Bobcat pin in recognition of notable actions. Henceforth, you will be able to find the names of those recognized in a Best Bobcat box in weekly newsletter.

The Bobcats recognized this week actually were an accumulation of all of January, since the 30th heralded our first assembly in 2017. Those recognized:

Mr. Mark and Mr. Jimmy for keeping our school accessible and safe during the many storms

Jack O’Donnell, winner of the NLTFPD (fire department) holiday card contest

Brooke Klinger, for displaying toughness and poise during a trying time

Sam Page and Max Weiss, winners of the 5th grade geography bee

Jack Ludviksen and Billy Dayton, geography bee finalists

Mr. Fleming also recognized the eleven middle school students who participated in the American Math Competition national 8th grade exam. The AMC 8 is a 25-question, 40-minute, multiple choice examination in middle school mathematics designed to promote the development of problem-solving skills. The AMC 8 provides an opportunity for middle school students to develop positive attitudes towards analytical thinking and mathematics that can assist in future careers. Students apply classroom learned skills to unique problem-solving challenges in a low-stress and friendly environment. http://www.maa.org/math-competitions/amc-8

We are proud to announce that Kenna Bacon-Mirzayan, a 7th grade student, is a gold medal winner, registering in the top 10% of all participants at #15 in the nation. Brian Wiebe and Cody Reeth received silver medals, and Michael Sabin, JT Page, and Brenda Martinez-Ruiz were recognized at the bronze level. Congratulations to all participants, our medal winners, and the many LTS teachers who have helped prepare them on their math journey.

Bobcat Newsletter January 29th, 2017

It has been lovely to be back in school this week and have the sun shining at the same time. There is nothing quite like going without to remind us what it is we frequently take for granted. Even the students seem glad to be in class! I commend those children and parents who took seriously the assignments and activities that were sent home during snow days. In today’s electronic age, there is no reason to stop learning. It has been clear who took their home responsibilities seriously and who didn’t. Class time with our teachers is best; however, there is never a reason to stop progressing.

Speaking of progressing, the school calendar has a way of rolling along, regardless of the weather. Next week, 4th-8th grades will be participating in annual standardized testing. Lake Tahoe School uses the Educational Records Bureau, which is the testing service most common to independent schools across the country. Our reasons for testing are four-fold:

  1. To assess how our curriculum compares to independent schools across the country. We can ascertain our strengths and where we might make adjustments.
  2. To assess class progress. We track each class over the course of the five years they test and can use the data to reflect on where a given group excels and where they might use more support.
  3. To assess where a student “fits” within his/her class and to identify specific strengths and needs. While testing is only one small part of a big picture, it does help us deliver differentiated instruction.
  4. To provide benchmarks against which to measure our students against others. Year after year, our top students hold their own against those in the most competitive schools around the country. As one of the Visiting Team members in our accreditation process observed, “Your ERB scores are unbelievable!”

It is our duty to prepare your children for whatever Life After Lake Tahoe School holds. As long as we live in a society that utilizes standardized testing as a matter of course, we will continue to help our students learn how to take such tests and to relax, as much as possible, while doing so.

Attendance next week will be critical. Please make sure your children are rested and fed before you drop them off in the morning. And while no new homework will be assigned in grades 4 through 8, students should expect to continue to work on their science fair projects, Exhibition, and any other ongoing projects that are in the works.

Have a lovely weekend! How can it almost be February?

Bobcat Newsletter January 22nd, 2017

We are certainly off to an interesting and unexpected start to 2017. I trust you received my Wednesday evening email delineating changes to our schedule and general responses to questions relative to the snow. I greatly appreciate the specific feedback from so many of you. It has helped us formulate our next steps.

Your children and many of you have met Paul Woiciechowski (“Mr. Paul”), our Director of Safety and Security. Paul’s first few days have been seamless, thanks to the efforts of the stafulty and his own easygoing nature. Paul’s office is located in the space between my office and the stafulty room. His priority for the first couple of weeks will be simply to observe how we do things and to get to know as many school community members as possible. I was pleased by how many of your sons and daughters introduced themselves to him with a firm handshake and direct eye contact. They are an impressive crew.

Paul will also be working with Mark Brockway and the very thorough safety assessment that was conducted by outside sources last February. He will develop a list of protocols that we might improve and share them with the administration and me, whereupon, I will share, as appropriate, with you. The “as appropriate” refers to saving you from the details of things like the updated health protocols and reports for Washoe County. Should you have any concerns about safety and security that you would like to express, feel free to contact Paul directly.

I can use your help in something that may seem little but makes a difference to me. The culture of Lake Tahoe School expects students to call all stafulty by their formal names. Some choose to use their last names (Mrs. Glass, Mr. Tayler), some elect an abbreviation (Ms. B), and some prefer versions of their first names (Miss Laurie, Mr. Kris, Miss Heidi). While I recognize that many families are comfortable having children address all adults by their first names, I ask that you help your children respect School culture of using the more formal terms of address – including Miss Karen, Mr. Mark, and Mr. Jimmy. Many thanks for your assistance.

This is a winter we will long remember. Our children read more books than ever!

 

Bobcat Newsletter December 11th, 2016

We are a school that values many things. We want students to enjoy being here each day. We want them to learn the value of hard work. We want them to have opportunities to go beyond our walls and to discover how well prepared they are for The World.

We recognize that all students have particular talents. In the performing arts department, we hope to see all of you, crowded yet happy, at our holiday program next Friday, December 16th, starting promptly at 9:30AM. I can guarantee you will leave the performance with smiles on your faces and in your hearts.

Meanwhile, academics continue apace. The 8th grade Algebra class, plus three 7th graders, participated in the American Math Competition 8 online math competition on Thursday, Dec 8th. This is a great opportunity for our students to join a national competition. Thanks to Mr. Fleming and all of the LTS math teachers who have prepared their charges well.

If you have not seen it already, please read the lovely article written by LTS 7th grader in last week’s Bonanza. Then stay alert, in the years to come, as Kenna Bacon-Mirzayan becomes an author of renown.

Chimney Beach field trip touts importance of Tahoe environment

Few things demonstrate the value of a Lake Tahoe School education more than the success of our graduates. Ethan and Alaina Chen currently attend Deerfield Academy, one of the most challenging and prestigious secondary schools in the country, where we hear they are both thriving.

It is a big step from Incline Village and Lake Tahoe School, with our small populations and our somewhat remote location, across the country to an institution populated by some of the best adolescent minds in the country. We are very proud of Ethan and his classmates, scattered here and there and all doing well.

Please remember, if you have not yet participated in this year’s Annual Fund, that the program that prepared Ethan, Alaina, and all LTS graduates for their considerable and consistent success in high school was made possible through contributions. The same need holds true today. We need your participation.

Bobcat Newsletter December 4th, 2016

All parents received an announcement last week inviting you to attend a very special workshop Monday, December 5th. Charles Fay, son of the founder of internationally recognized and respected Love & Logic, will be with us from 3:15 – 6:15, conducting a workshop for parents and teachers. Dr. Fay’s interactive presentation is entitled How to Teach and Raise Responsible Kids (Without Raising Your Blood Pressure). This is a fantastic opportunity for all of us, and I hope to see a great many of you there.

LTS Bobcats continue to make themselves heard and seen around our community. The 2nd and 4th grades will be performing some seasonal music on Wed. Dec. 7 at an annual holiday celebration hosted jointly by Rotary and AAUW.  The 2nd grade will play their violins and sing, and the 4th grade will sing and accompany themselves on their ukuleles.  The program will begin at 6:30 pm in the main banquet room at The Chateau.

What’s on your mind? Please join the PA Board and me on Thursday, December 8th, from 8:30 – 9:30am in the Library for an opportunity to share whatever parenting or education questions might be foremost in your thoughts. Such gatherings have taken many shapes over the years: parent peer groups, book discussions, grade-level meetings. Whatever the configurations, what has proven to be most appreciated is time simply to share. Questions that relate to things like internet access, cell phones, what chores are appropriate for any given age, and managing the differences in family expectations are always current topics. As parents, there are usually things on our minds that are best addressed when we share them and hear others’ experiences and perspectives. Coffee and pastries will be served. Please join us!

Before long, you will see a brand new addition to our Annual Fund drive displayed in the front window of the LTS entrance. Participation in this essential fundraising effort is critical. To help spark a bit of healthy competition, a new banner will reflect the participation level of each class in the school. Every class that reaches 100% participation of parents will win a pizza party. The race is on!

Winter is upon us. With the advent of cold weather comes the necessity of appropriate outdoor clothing. Unless there is a blizzard, all students are expected to be outside for morning and noon recesses. We don’t accept “I forgot my jacket…” kinds of excuses. Please make sure that your kiddos are properly prepared. On the other end of things, winter is also a time when the Lost and Found table overflows. Periodically, we use Monday assembly time to distribute found items; however, it is the responsibility of students and parents to check regularly for lost possessions. What has not been claimed by the holiday break will be laundered and given away. Lost and Found is located in the lower school cafeteria.

With only two more full weeks of classes until break, there is much hustle and bustle on campus. Miss Eunice is hard at work to prepare yet another magnificent program. Please make sure your calendars have reserved 9:30 – 11:00 on Friday, the 16th!

 

Bobcat Newsletter November 20th, 2016

Heading into Thanksgiving break, I am grateful for the exceptional teachers and staff at Lake Tahoe School. Every person on campus is genuinely dedicated to providing the best education possible to your children – both in and out of the classroom.

First trimester report cards will be distributed at the end of the week following our return from break. Please do take the time to read the comments that each teacher has written. Grades mean something; insight and recommendations from teachers are even more reflective of the differentiated instruction that every child receives.

As we head into winter season and the accompanying breaks (Thanksgiving, December, long weekend in January, February week, spring break), I respectfully ask that all parents consider what makes Lake Tahoe School unique and what lies at the core of our mission and education: the teachers and the work that they do. We are not a school that assigns huge amounts of homework. That which we do assign ties directly to in-class instruction. There is no real substitute for the experience your children have in class every day. Please plan your trips with that very real fact in mind.

We recognize that sometimes children are absent for very valid reasons. Those include illness and, sometimes, family time away from campus. Teachers will, of course, give children extra attention to help them make up what they missed during illnesses. They also do their best to provide meaningful work for extended absences. That said, it is important for parents to recognize and appreciate that no “packet” can possibly replace the interactions with peers and teachers that make up every day in Lake Tahoe School. The same holds true for field trips and Adventure Learning experiences. Such experiences are carefully designed to fulfill our mission and help all LTS students be their best selves.

Some of you have expressed concerns about field trips in inclement weather. Rest assured that there is no greater priority for LTS than the safety of our students. Our buses are equipped with chains, and our drivers are extremely experienced. I suggest very few of us are as capable drivers as they. Decisions whether to field trip or not are made by the drivers, Mark Brockway, and the administration.

In a related vein, classes start and end according to the following times. Please plan your mornings and afternoons accordingly:

Grade Levels                                       Classes Start               Classes End

6th – 8th                                               8:00 am                          3:05 pm

K- 5th                                                   8:15 am                          2:50 pm

PreK4                                                   8:30 am                          2:30 pm

PreK3                                                   8:30 am                          11:30 am

Team Practices                                    3:15 pm                          4:30 pm

Games                                                 Times announced by coaches

After School Activities                         3:00 pm                          4:00 pm

If you are someone who has either not been aware of the times listed above or has felt they are not critical, please consider the impact on classes and teachers, not to mention your child, when they are not observed. Thank you for helping us do our best for your children.

May your coming week be filled with loved ones and opportunities to reflect on the many gifts that fill all of our lives.

 

Bobcat Newsletter November 13th, 2016

Sometimes the best way we can demonstrate the value of a Lake Tahoe School education is to let our students, present and past, speak for themselves. Below are two communications I received last week. The first is from the Secretary of our Student Council, Kenna Bacon-Mirzayan, describing the results of an in-house Halloween celebration for the middle school, organized and run entirely by the Student Council:

Yesterday, the middle school took part in Halloween activities including capture the flag, a costume contest, and more. Billy and Trey were the winner and runner up of the bottle-flipping contest.

The winners of the costume contest were Luc Casini and Aiden German for Best Group Costume (Hawaiian girls), Lukas Burton for Best Seventh Grade Costume (nerd), Billy Dayton for Best Sixth Grade Costume (Billy Bob’s Burgers, as he said), and more. Gibson Pinneo won Best Eighth Grade Costume (Joker from Suicide Squad) and Sean Kirkland won Best Homemade Costume (Fragile stickers).

Extending the notion of giving back to the community, I received the following well-written letter from Aidan Pretti (LTS’16), which I pass on to you as a worthy project.

Dear Mrs. Glass,

As you may know, Incline High School has a Build On club, where students get the opportunity to travel to African countries and help build schools. 6 LTS alumni: Kobe Robinson, Serena Faulkner, Olivia Schneider, Simon Votaw, Kate Tong, and myself are now a part of this club, and are fundraising for the trip this year, which is to Senegal. I am wondering if we could possibly be featured in the school newsletter that goes out every week. LTS parents are some of the most charitable people I know. Our club would provide them a more local charity, which would allow them to see the long-lasting effects their donations would have. I believe an article in the newsletter would reflect very positively on LTS, as it would show that alumni are actively making changes in the world around them. I have attached the link to the Build On organization’s website below, followed by the link to the IHS chapter’s website. 

https://www.buildon.org

https://act.buildon.org/fundraise/team?ftid=81751

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Aidan Pretti

I encourage LTS parents to support Build On, as Wayne and I do. We are, indeed, proud of the many ways Lake Tahoe School students continue to demonstrate leadership, generosity, and a commitment to helping others after they graduate.

 

Bobcat Newsletter November 6th, 2016

It appears that I missed acknowledging the work of three key Trail of Treats players in last week’s Bobcat credits. Extra thanks and my apologies to Stacie Bodel, Craig Pinneo, and Karen Derhalli for their work both in setting up and disassembling our marvelous Trail of Treats. Over 600 kiddos and their parents came through The Dark Theater doors, where they were hosted by several middle school students and 5th graders. Dani Dayton, PA Chair, and I are exploring ways to fill the cracks through which some volunteers fall so that we can acknowledge the work of all.

We love our Bobcats and the many ways they demonstrate their generosity and creativity. Best student Bobcats for the week include Gibson Pinneo, Brian Wiebe, Brenna Ritchie, Billy Dayton, Kenna Bacon-Mirzayan, Sean Kirkland, and Kylie Reeth. All of them volunteered time and unflagging good spirits on the long, wet, cold evening of Trail of Treats.

It was with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Jim Baldwin this past week.  Jim was the beloved husband of Susan, father of former LTS students Jimmy and Philip, and valued member of the Lake Tahoe School community.  Jim was a local contractor and a passionate musician, who among many other things, took pride in building intricate and spooky haunted houses in the Lake Tahoe School basement for Trail of Treats.  He took great joy in this endeavor, which in turn brought joy to the children in the Incline Village Community.  He will be missed.

The Trail of Treats Squad:

Co-Chairs:

Dani Dayton

Stacie Bodel

Donna Fung

Helpers:

Karen Derhalli

Craig Pinneo

Lina German

Robert Green

Sari Rogoff

Evaleen Horvath

Sarah Howard-Harwood

Chris Talbot

Dana Kirkland

Katrin Burton

Sue Jenkins

Jeannie Reeth

Leslie Martinez

Joshua Khaler

Kristen O’Donnell

Martha Osornio

BIG KUDOS to Craig Pinneo and Karen Derhalli for showing up Monday morning to help Dani, Mark, and Jimmy pack and put everything away.  The job nobody wants!