The new kindergarten class of “2031” began their 13-year journey with the Darien Public Schools on Thursday, Aug. 30. Joined by their parents, they had an opportunity to meet their smiling teachers and classmates for the first time. Can you think back to your first day of kindergarten? As with most things in life, some things change and some things stay exactly the same.
Tokeneke Principal Mary Michelson can now easily spot the school’s mascot from anywhere inside the school’s Common Room. Nestled among the painted trees, the Tokeneke “Eagle” is a prominent feature of a new mural painted by Darien High School students and commissioned by the fifth-grade class. “Every year at Tokeneke School our fifth-graders donate a gift to the school. This year they voted to have a mural painted in the Common Room,” said Michelson. “It is a true collaboration of talents between the two schools.”
Darien Public Schools (DPS) Art Coordinator Jaclyn Sammis and DHS student artists Liam Morrill, Nadia Czebiniak, Julia O’Brien, Emma Seely, and Alex Adelman completed the mural and presented it to the school. __________
See also: Darien Student Wins 1st Place in Oils Category, Another Darienite Gets 3rd Place for Photo in Rowayton Art Exhibit (June 18)
Tokeneke was scheduled to hold its moving up ceremony this morning, Monday, June 18 at 9:15 a.m. in the Common Room.
Spread out among the shelves and tables in the Middlesex Middle School library, sixth grade students waited for their end-of-year conference to start. There was, however, no teacher standing or sitting next to them.
Instead, students — with their Chromebooks — were leading parents through their digital portfolio which had work representing their growth as learners across all subjects. The portfolios featured spreadsheets of workout logs; Prezi (a computer program for presentations) for book reviews; and a mix of written work, images, video and audio clips from all subject areas. Avery Fahrman, a student whose interest in football and lacrosse could be seen in his portfolio, said compiling a digital portfolio was a good experience.
Theatre 308, Darien High School’s acting and performance arts club, took top honors recently at two state-wide awards programs.
For the second year in a row, both of Theatre 308’s mainstage productions have received nominations for the The Halo Awards, an award ceremony that honors high school student achievements in dramatic and musical theater from over 60 high schools throughout Connecticut. Freshman Jackson Wood took home “Best Featured Dancer” for his performance in the spring musical Footloose. Senior Lexi Staubi, who starred as Ariel in Footloose, was awarded a performing arts scholarship as she prepares to go the University of Southern California this fall for acting. Junior Mackenzie Lauture, a dance captain for the show, also won a dance scholarship to take classes this summer at the Molinari Dance Studio in New York City. Stephen Sondheim Awards
In addition to the Halo Awards, this year’s musical main stage was entered in the first ever Stephen Sondheim Awards, the gateway production into the National High School Musical Theater Awards show, also known as the Jimmy Awards.
Darien High School recently awarded the Seal of Biliteracy to 82 seniors studying French, Latin, Mandarin, and Spanish. In 2016, Connecticut passed legislation for the Seal of Biliteracy, a nationally-recognized award given at graduation to seniors that have achieved proficiency in both their world language of study and English. Beginning with the Class of 2018, school districts can award the Seal of Biliteracy to qualifying seniors. Students must meet state English requirements for graduation, and also achieve intermediate proficiency in a world language on state-approved exams.
“Because it is nationally-recognized, the Seal of Biliteracy sends the message to our students that the United States is formally recognizing the value of a multilingual society, and that speaking more than one language is necessary to be a global citizen,” said Christina Mauricio, 6-12 chair of World Languages. “It not only honors students that excel in a world language, but also those that arrive speaking their heritage language and then learn English.”
Darien High School felt more like an art museum Monday night as students, teachers and parents wandered hallways, open spaces, and corners of the Library for the annual 9th through 12th grade Art Show. The week-long show opened Monday and featured senior artists and those enrolled in Advanced Placement Art classes. In all, 1,200 pieces were collected from every student who had enrolled in an art course. They included a variety of drawings, ceramics, sculptures, photographs, and paintings. “This was a huge night for us,” said DHS teacher Jaclyn Sammis, who oversees the Art Department.
For more than a decade, Middlesex Middle School students have been lending their handiwork to making thousands of blankets for area hospitals. Each one has been overseen by MMS Science teacher Kelly DePiano and dedicated to the memory of Sean James Maloney. Known as “Blankets for Preemies,” the community service project is partnered with the nonprofit organization The Tiny Miracles Foundation based in Darien. Students make fleece blankets that are given to babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) in Norwalk, Stamford, Bridgeport, and Danbury hospitals. Last week, students on the Navy, Gold, and Red teams got the assembly line in motion. Older students showed younger students how to turn the 1,000 yards of solid fleece, and 1,000 yards of printed fleece, into roughly 500 blankets.
“I loved making blankets for the families in the NICU,” said student Abby Neumann.
Ox Ridge participated in its second Unified Sports “Skills Day” event recently as the only elementary school in the region sending a team. Unified Sports, which is a program associated with the Special Olympics, seeks to join students with and without a disability on sports teams for training and competition. All Unified Sports players are of similar age and matched by sport skill ability, according to the Special Olympics Connecticut website. The Special Olympics Unified Sports School Program, administered by CIAC, currently boasts a participation of more than 3,500 athletes and partners, in 200 schools throughout the state. Principal Luke Forshaw said the philosophy of Unified Sports is based on a simple idea: training and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.
And planting has started at the Tokeneke Elementary School garden.
Starting in late April, the Tokeneke Edible Garden Committee brings in over 450 children to plant vegetables, herbs, and flowers in a fenced-off area adjacent to the school. In the garden, students plant vegetables like peas, carrots, arugula, pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers, and garlic, and flowers like sunflowers and zinnias, according to Sarah Madson, parent and head of the garden committee. Every child gets a chance to plant something in the garden and to learn where their food comes from, she said. The garden also serves as the backdrop for the Lunch Bunch program. Parents can sign up to have lunch with their child in the garden. The children, and parents, love the chance to eat outside and take in some fresh air, said Principal Mary Michelson.
Where some may have just seen a blank wall, a small group of Darien High School students saw a big canvas. Over the course of a few weeks, the 12 students transformed a temporary sheetrock wall put up during construction in the school’s cafeteria into a public art display honoring the Class of 2018. Art teacher Jaclyn Sammis said the students created the mural design — a stylized blue wave — at the request of Principal Ellen Dunn. The students, members of the Mural Painting class, worked together and created the first draft design (see image at right) using a school-issued iPad. The blue wave was drawn over a series of days.
Members of the Barnya Russian Music Ensemble performed for students at all of the elementary schools in Darien. In the picture above they are sharing Russian folk songs, dances, stories, and language with the students at Tokeneke Elementary School. The full Barynya 20-plus member ensemble, made up of singers, dancers and musicians, will be performing at the Darien High School auditorium in a free public concert on Tuesday, April 17 at 7 p.m, said Rick Sadlon, Director of Music. The Barynya performances are possible because of a generous gift from the Darien Music for Youth organization. _________________
— Marc Marin is district director of instructional technology.
During early dismissal days recently, Royle Elementary School students had a chance to explore a wide-range of science, art, robotics, and engineering activities after school. Known as STEAM Week, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM), more than 300 students had an opportunity to explore, tinker, and have a little fun. Through a robotics class, students were able to build their own dancing monkey and spinning top robots, and then code them to move using a program on Chromebooks. They also learned the properties of sound, including how sound can travel and be altered. In a Science activity, older kids experienced first hand Newton’s three Laws of Motion.
Excelling in the areas of finance, food, and sports, Darien High School DECA Club members made their mark at the recent 2018 DECA state competition. Overall, 80 DHS students competed at the Connecticut State DECA Conference in the areas of finance, business management, marketing, and human resources. Over 1,100 students competed from high schools all over Connecticut. DHS began to compete in the international business and entrepreneurship club three years ago. “We had our best year ever with 21 students placing in the top three of their events and 10 students in the top six,” said DECA adviser and DHS business education teacher Claudia Gray.
One student had a Category 5 Hurricane in the palm of her hand. Another a giant honey bee hovering over her head (see picture), while a group later inspected a digital model of DNA like detectives. Inside two classrooms at Middlesex Middle School (MMS), students in the STEM and Computers classes recently had one foot in the real world and the other in the digital. The experience was part of the Google Expeditions AR program — a unique experience offered to select schools nationally to introduce this new Google educational tool under development. Watch this short video for an introduction:
For the day, a Google trainer worked with STEM teachers David Fetter and Jim Brochinsky, and Computer teachers Sandy Norelli and Timara Bruton.
Teacher Ann Novotnik’s second graders at Holmes Elementary School had a unique opportunity to share what they were learning. Titled “An Afternoon of Math,” students and their parents worked together at a variety of math-related stations. The event was intended to highlight how students can move from concrete experiences to pictorial representations to abstract thinking, according to Holmes Principal Paula Bleakley. “Math celebrations are a wonderful way for teachers and students to share the focus of their work — both process and content — with parents and other important adults in our children’s lives, “ said Bleakley. “This shared understanding allows for consistent and shared support of student learning both at home and at school.”
Among staff pitching in to help were K-5 Math and Science Director Linda Johnson and Math Specialist Melissa Labrosciano. “It was an exciting afternoon for our second graders,” said Bleakley.