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Bobcat Newsletter March 19th, 2017

It has been a week of awards and celebration at Lake Tahoe School.

Four LTS science fair finalists were recognized by The Western Nevada Science and Engineering Fair, held March 8th and 9th in Carson City. Congratulations to:

Bella Artle                   2nd Place, Life Science Division,  2nd Place, American Chemical Society

Brenna Ritchie            3rd Placer, Life Science Division

Jack Ludviksen           3rd Place, Environmental Science,  3rd Place, American Chemical Society

Keira Sabin                 4th Place, Engineering Division.

Lake Tahoe School was one among many schools represented at the Fair, competing against hundreds of other students.

‘Tis admissions season for secondary schools, and a number of our current 8th graders and recent graduates have applied to a range of exemplary high schools. Since there are those who have not yet made decisions, I am refraining from publishing names and schools together, however, I trust you will be as impressed as I by acceptances from:

Andover

Academy of Arts, Careers, and Technology

Berkshire

Cate

Choate-Rosemary Hall

Colorado Rocky Mountain School

Davidson

Deerfield

Middlesex

Santa Catalina

St. Paul’s

Taft

In other competitions that extend far beyond the Tahoe Basin, once again the Incline High School We The People team will be participating in the national competition in Washington, DC, later in April. During its 17 years of existence, the IHS team has earned a spot in Washington a remarkable 10 times. Every year, Lake Tahoe School graduates help form the backbone of these strong teams. This year, we are proud to support LTS alums Harmony Bates, Emily Donahue, Andrico Mourelatos, Serena Singh, and Devina Stone. Other team members include: Kennedy Cohn, Daniel Gollery, Karyss Thompson, Keegan Wells, Bridget Johnson, Peter Larson, Jeremy Goldberg, Blaise Bibolet, Benji Miranda, Dulce Medina, Alyssa Flynn, and Kim Floam. Should you see any of these hardworking students or their parents around town, be sure to congratulate them and wish them well.

 

Bobcat Newsletter March 12th, 2017

Thanks to the many of you who attended our Parent Forum Wednesday evening. We always appreciate the extra efforts made to leave one’s cozy home following a busy day. Thanks to Jenna Anderson and Laurie Krueger and their middle school helpers who provided child care, and to Karen Laurie for the more-than-we-needed refreshments. Everyone is to be commended for arriving promptly and allowing us to deliver the very packed agenda in a timely fashion.

As I noted that evening, Lake Tahoe School is fortunate to have a deeply committed and hardworking Board of Trustees, many of whom were present for the very exciting presentation of campus expansion plans. I am particularly grateful to Chuck Weinberger, Nate Horvath, and Jeffrey Ornburg for the countless hours that they have donated this year working with Dave and Cheryl Duffield to finalize those plans. Chuck noted how, when he joined the Board ten years ago, we had a wonderful building and quite a bit of land, but did not (and do not) really have a campus in a traditional sense. Starting the day after graduation, our campus will begin to take new shape and form. Exciting times!

Nate Horvath and Jason Green shared a few of the details that will help shape the philanthropic opportunity that will soon be given to all members – past and present – of the LTS community. Stay tuned!

Mark Ludviksen, Board Treasurer, delivered a summary of the budget process by which we operate each year, as well as explanation regarding the “levers” that inform the financial decisions made by the Board and Administration each year.

Dani Dayton, PA Chair, noted important upcoming activities and dates. Please remember to check The Bobcat weekly in order to be best prepared for LTS life.

Dana Kirkland provided an update on the Head Search, which is progressing apace. Announcement of the position has been published throughout the independent school world, and Doug Cummings reports some immediate responses. The Search Committee will have its work cut out for it. Again, I am grateful to Dana and Rob Alston for chairing that industrious group and to the members who have volunteered to help. Knowing the search is in such good hands certainly reassures me that, when the time comes, I will pass the baton to very capable hands.

Have a good weekend, all.

Bobcat Newsletter March 5th, 2017

I trust that you all received an invitation to the annual Parent Forum that will be held this Wednesday evening from 6:30-8:30 in the Flex Room. Childcare will be provided for Lake Tahoe School students at a cost of $10 per family. Light refreshments, including wine, will be provided between 6:10 and 6:30. As is our wont, the official part of the evening will start promptly at 6:30, and we promise to conclude by 8:30. Your time is important, and we all have busy lives.

You may expect to hear short reports from Dani Dayton, PA Chair, and Peyton Jobe, Director of Admissions and Marketing. The PA and Enrollment updates are designed to help keep community members informed.

Following the recent Board retreat and visit from head search consultant, Douglas Cummings, Nate Horvath, LTS Board Chair, will spend a bit of time updating everyone about the status of the search and general focus of the retreat. His remarks will also include a summary of the budget and tuition-setting process for next year, as is done every winter.

We received the NWAIS Accreditation Report just prior to February break. It will be my pleasure to share with you the commendations and recommendations from the Visiting Team and to talk a bit about our next steps. That very thorough report constitutes an admirable summary of the state of our school.

The evening will conclude with the sharing of upcoming dates to hear more about campus expansion plans. As always, there will be an open Q & A period. We hope as many of you as possible will join us Wednesday evening. Please do RSVP via the Evite you received so that we know how many children to expect and what refreshments will suffice.

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!