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News & Announcements

Juniors and Seniors Gather for the Annual Summer Reading Symposium
Marquis Austin

Last Thursday, the Prep School English department held its annual Summer Reading Symposium for 11th and 12th grade students.

Last Thursday, the Prep School English department held its annual Summer Reading Symposium for 11th and 12th grade students. The symposium was the culmination of a program that began at the end of the previous academic year, when English Department head Glenn Cramer solicited book recommendations from all teachers within the Prep School, regardless of discipline. The goal is to build a summer reading selection that represents a variety of interests and subject matter. “We try to get a good mix of styles and genres from different departments to suit different reading interests and tastes,” Mr. Cramer said. 

The list of books included suggestions from faculty members Christopher Nattrass, Jayne Connell, Dr. Eric Conrad, Maggie Karlin, Heather Denbow, Nicholas Verga and Victor Puccio, who represent the English, science and history departments. Each student chose to read at least one of the following: The Moor’s Account by Laila Lalami, Summer by Edith Wharton, In the Distance by Hernan Diaz, The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, Human Acts by Han Kang, The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein and The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. As is tradition, students met in groups during the symposium and engaged in discussions with their peers and teachers about these books. 

The Weekly spoke with Prep School Dean and English teacher Dr. Conrad and science teacher Ms. Karlin about why they chose the books they did. Dr. Conrad championed Hernan Diaz’s coming-of-age novel In the Distance, which follows a Swedish immigrant as he travels east from California in search of his brother. Meanwhile, Ms. Karlin advocated for Elizabeth Kolbert’s Pulitzer-prize winning exploration of past mass extinction events and the man-made one unfolding before our eyes titled The Sixth Extinction.
 
Why did you suggest these books for the Annual Reading Symposium?

EC: In the Distance collages together lots of different narrative conventions, drawing heavily from nineteenth-century literature and culture (my specialization). What I think is most important about the book, however, is how it challenges the way cultural narratives are constructed.

For example, the main character, Hakan, is an immigrant. There is a scene towards the end of the novel where Hakan stumbles into a crude theatrical performance dramatizing his own life which, on stage, has been warped into a violent myth. Standing in the audience of that performance, Hakan doesn't recognize the fictionalized version of himself on stage and the audience doesn't recognize the living subject of the play standing among them. To me, that is a powerful statement about how reality can be distorted and simplified by the force of all sorts of narratives. Hakan, a complex human we've come to understand with real nuance, is reduced to a caricature—and that reduction is the true violence of In the Distance, not anything Hakan himself does. That's a timely commentary worthy of our attention.

MK: Elizabeth Kolbert won a Pulitzer Prize for this book, which was also a NYT best-seller. This book exposes a crisis that many people are not aware of and does so in a relatable way that grasps the reader's attention, gives them facts based on scientific research and makes them care. I thought it'd be interesting to a variety of students whether they like history, science, current events, animals or statistics. Many students already know about dwindling clean water resources, devastating climate change, wildfires in the Amazon and more. Now they will also know about the alarming loss of species scientists are observing and that we expect to lose 50% of all species on Earth by 2050. 

I hope this knowledge will lead to thoughtful awareness about our individual and collective actions and may even result in a change in behavior. 

  • Prep School
Middle School Library Has an Exciting Year in Store
Marquis Austin

Middle School librarian Jessica Harrison has implemented a couple of exciting changes to the library for the new school year.

This year, Middle School librarian Jessica Harrison has implemented a couple of exciting changes to the library for the new school year. For one, Middle Schoolers who find themselves in the fiction section will notice it is now sorted by genre. “Organizing the library by genre and topic helps students find books they want to read and will increase their willingness to come in and look for books, ask questions and grow as readers and thinkers,” Ms. Harrison said. There are new desktop computers in the library for research, as well.  

Ms. Harrison is excited about what she has in store for her students this year: “I have designed a curriculum that gives students the research skills they need to be responsible users of information.” The fifth graders will explore world issues and dissect how they affect our daily lives. Meanwhile, the sixth and seventh grade students will “focus on finding reliable information, evaluating for bias and the dangers of misinformation.” Ms. Harrison aims to get them to think critically about topical issues, how to go about conducting research to make informed opinions on these matters and even how to develop potential solutions. As the year progresses, she will collaborate with other Middle School faculty, too. She has plans to work with the STEAM program to create a technology-friendly curriculum and with humanities teachers to nurture the students’ love of reading. 
 

  • Middle School
Families Have a Fun Evening at Game Night
Marquis Austin

Last Friday evening, the CGPS Mosaic Committee, which helps foster an environment that is understanding, inclusive and respectful of all, held its annual Family Game Night in the Grammar School Center.

Last Friday evening, the CGPS Mosaic Committee, which helps foster an environment that is understanding, inclusive and respectful of all, held its annual Family Game Night in the Grammar School Center. Former Mosaic co-chairs James and Rhoda Super started Family Game Night in 2012, and the event has since proven to be a cherished CGPS event that brings families together and welcomes new faces to the community. “It is a great community-building event and an opportunity to welcome new parents to the school,” Mosaic told the Weekly. Students and their families enjoyed a fun night of Connect Four, chess, puzzles, Trouble, musical chairs, desserts and more. To see more of Family Game Night, check out Photos of the Week. 

  • Grammar School

Academic Calendar for 2019-2020

First Day of School:
Grades 5-12: Thursday, Sept. 5
Grades PreK - 4 (half day for Grades 1-4): Thursday, Sept. 5
First full day of class for Grades 1-4: Friday, Sept. 6

Fall:
SCHOOL RECESS Rosh Hashanah: Monday & Tuesday, Sept. 30 & Oct. 1
SCHOOL RECESS Yom Kippur: Wednesday, Oct. 9
SCHOOL RECESS Columbus Day: Monday, Oct. 14
PARENT/TEACHER CONFERENCE DAYS (no classes PreK-12): Thursday & Friday, November 14 & 15
THANKSGIVING RECESS: Wednesday, Nov. 27 - Sunday, Dec. 1

Winter:
WINTER RECESS Grades Pre-K – 12: End of school day, Friday, Dec. 20 - Monday, January 6   
SCHOOL RECESS Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: Monday, January 20
PROFESSIONAL DAYS (no classes PreK-12): Monday & Tuesday, January 27 & 28
PRESIDENTS' BIRTHDAY RECESS: Monday & Tuesday, February 17 & 18

Spring:
SPRING RECESS:  Grades Pre-K -12 End of school day, Friday, March 13 - Monday, March 30 
SCHOOL RECESS Easter/Passover: Thursday, April 9 - Sunday, April 12
PARENT/TEACHER CONFERENCE DAYS (no classes PreK-12): Thursday & Friday, April 16 & 17
SCHOOL RECESS Memorial Day: Monday, May 25
GRADE 12 COMMENCEMENT EXERCISES: Thursday, May 28
SCHOOL CLOSING: Noon, Friday, June 5
EXAM RETURN DAY (Grades 8-12): Monday, June 8