TNCS Bids Fond Farewell to the Class of 2021!

As of Wednesday, June 9, 2021, The New Century School has graduated its third class of 8th-graders!

The graduation ceremony was moving and beautiful and took place under a tent on the playground. In addition, TNCS celebrated the Moving Up ceremony for 5th-graders, who are officially now done with elementary school and ready for Middle School in September. Our four graduates, meanwhile, are headed for Friends School of Baltimore, Baltimore City College, and Cristo Rey High School. The TNCS community could not be happier for them as they embark on this chapter of their lives . . . and no more proud of these four wonderful, talented, kind human beings.

The event included good luck messages from all divisions, speeches from the students themselves, a lovely speech from Señora Duncan, and even a Tribute to our dear Head of School, who is stepping down after 3 years of superb leadership.

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All in all, it was a lovely way to close out a simply amazing school year.

TNCS Elementary and Middle Students Perform Standup Comedy for Theatre Class!

In late 2020, theatre teacher Alex Hewett returned to The New Century School, much to the TNCS community’s collective delight. Ms. Hewett has been with TNCS in various capacities since 2013. (Read Embrace the Bard from 2019, A Week of Wonder from 2016, Theatre Workshop and Drama Camp from 2014, and Summertime Theatrics from 2013.)

Here, we give you Immersed’s latest conversation with this artist, activist, and all-around wonderful human being just before her culminating project with her elementary and middle school students was about to begin.

Immersed: Since the last time we sat down for an interview, a lot in your professional life has probably changed.
AH: Yes! Currently, I teach a class at Johns Hopkins that I’ve developed on creativity inspired by The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I took a workshop with her a few years ago, and it changed my life, so I’ve incorporated some of her teaching. Each unit is different, from visual arts to music to writing and then performance. And in the past year the class was looking at how do you overcome trauma using creativity so that that’s how the class was structured. I have also produced a storytelling show called “Mortified*” for the past 6 years or so. We were not having live shows last year, although we did a few zoom shows to raise money for the Creative Alliance. In this show, adults share their childhood diaries, love letters, poetry—things they created as kids. So we look at the submissions and curate them, and then they share these things on stage. And it’s funny because at the time they were writing they never think they’re going to share it with anyone so it’s messy and hysterical and ultimately very cathartic. I’m also getting an MFA in creative writing and publishing arts at the University of Baltimore.
Immersed: Are you still doing anything with the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company?
AH: I am not actively teaching classes with CSC now but have been involved with their Veterans ensemble.
Immersed: When did you actually come back into the school?
AH: I started teaching in person about 2 months ago and virtually in November.
Immersed: Teaching theatre virtually—was that difficult?
AH: I was working with an acting teacher taking classes as a student myself all last year, and I learned that there’s so much you can do to create some of the intimacy of being on stage through zoom. That really helped me. I also usually don’t teach as young as kindergartners, but I have lots of puppets so with them we were able to move around a lot and keep the younger students engaged. It helped keep them going because they spend so much time on the screen, so much of my class was up and active. It was interesting because they would listen more to the puppets than to me!
Immersed: That sounds wonderful (and funny!). So how was physical reentry for you and when are you here?
AH: On Mondays I’m here for the K through 2nd-grade classes and Wednesdays I’m here for 3rd through 8th grades. Also on Mondays the 3rd through 8th grades get an asynchronous assignment from me, and the K through 2nd-graders get one on Tuesdays. The first day back was a bit overwhelming because some students were still at home and some were in the classroom. I talked to my actor friends who also teach theatre to ask how they approach this, because we can’t be together in this space, we can’t hold hands, we can’t see each other’s whole faces. How do we do this? But this collaboration with my peers and a lot of creativity paid off. We started with the kids writing their own stories—kind of creating their own model of who they are. We did scenes from Shakespeare, “Into the Spiderverse,” and “Harry Potter the Musical” to start with material they’d be more familiar with. After that first day, though, it was pretty joyous.
Immersed: Wonderful. And yet it’s difficult to imagine how you pulled it off with students in two very different spaces.
AH: Oh, well, there were challenges. Sometimes they couldn’t hear each other, for example. But we did lot of yoga and movement and breath and meditation. With the younger kids, especially, we played more theater and movement games. Or, I’d read them a story and then have them act out the scenes according to their own interpretations. We’ve also done a lot of improvisation.
Immersed: Tell us a little more about how you created your curriculum.
AH: You know, theatre is fun, and I think the stuff that I’m teaching is fun. I know I was leaving the classroom each day feeling good, and the kids were laughing. I really tried to do things with them that they would enjoy and ask for their feedback. Sometimes I pull stuff from the Kennedy Center or from live theatre performances and have them watch a play or a musical or even some dance. It’s different for each class depending on what we’re doing at the time. I often had to adapt my curriculum in the moment, so that was stressful in a fun way. I also feel like I’m on stage all the time and, like,
‘Oh no, what am I not getting through to them?’ Because I ultimately just want them to believe in themselves. Theatre does that. So it has definitely been exciting and a creative challenge, but I’m up for that!
Immersed: If we know anything about you, it’s that you are certainly up for creative challenges! And now here we are at the end of the year! What are students presenting for you today?
AH: Well, I knew we couldn’t pull off a traditional play, but I thought, why not do some standup? The past year has been really difficult; let’s end with a laugh! I interviewed a few of my friends who are professional comedians, and I presented the interviews to the kids as their asynchronous assignments to familiarize them with how to craft standup. Unfortunately, standup is usually geared toward adults and not appropriate for kids, so I had to be very careful. But, basically, kids are the funniest creatures in the world, so it’s not that hard to access the funny. I think the biggest part of it is getting over the fear of being by yourself up on stage with a microphone. The microphone makes it so much more real.
Immersed: So what kinds of things did you teach them to “access their funny”?
AH: In crafting comedy, you look at the things that are the most difficult in your life . . . things that bother you, things you want to change, the worst thing that’s ever happened to you. We’re seeing more of that sort of comedy, and it shows that everyone has problems.
Immersed: And through comedy, we can start to come to terms with them.
AH: Exactly. Everyone’s life has been affected this past year, so how can we reflect and talk about it? As you’re talking about the things that bother you the most, everyone’s going to connect maybe not on the exact same things, but it’s that you’re honest and you’re respected for being up there. That takes a lot of courage, so I really tried to stress that we must be supportive of each other, and we’ve been working on helping each other with crafting our pieces. Everyone gave a pitch of what they want to talk about, and we provided feedback about what was funny, what we liked, or how to use your body your body language to tell the story more effectively. So that’s we’ve been working on, and everyone is going to come up on stage for 2 minutes and do their thing!

“I ultimately just want them to believe in themselves. Theatre does that.”–Alex Hewett

Without further ado, we give you the TNCS Comedy Troupe! We even have a recording from a student who was virtual the day of the presentations (and she slays!).

“The microphone makes it so much more real.”

 

*Read more about “Mortified” in this great writeup!

Talking the Talk: Benefits of Multilingual Education at TNCS!

Ever wondered about the potential benefits your child could gain from a multilingual school? The list of benefits is impressive!

Your child’s education is one of your top priorities. You want them to have every possible advantage for a happy, healthy, and prosperous future.

Our children are growing up in an increasingly multilingual society. Studies show that children who have exposure to languages at an early age have an academic advantage

Choosing a school that offers multilingual opportunities for students provides many benefits for your child. And these benefits go far beyond the ability to adapt within a different country or culture.

Here are some of the foremost benefits of multilingual education.

Facilitates Cognitive Development

Children who learn more than one language as they grow up can benefit cognitively. For example, children exposed to language education perform better in pattern recognition, problem-solving, and creative thinking tasks.

Young learners have the ability to soak in new concepts, which makes early childhood an ideal time to begin multilingual education. Plus, learning another language is fun for children.

It helps them develop greater linguistic awareness and a deeper understanding of their primary language as well.

Boosts Academic Achievement

Exposure to more than one language provides an academic advantage for children as they get older. In addition, multilingual education challenges them to communicate and find meaning in multiple languages.

This gives students an edge in communication skills, social interaction, and understanding of complex ideas. However, some educators believe students should master their primary language before learning another.

But children have the unique capacity to learn more than one language simultaneously. As a result, children who understand and can communicate in more than one language have a distinct academic advantage over their monolingual peers.

Furthers Career Possibilities

In an interconnected global economy, a multilingual education can be a huge asset. As a result, many employers look for multilingual candidates who can communicate with business leaders and customers worldwide.

Within global companies, multilingual employees are highly valued. Starting your child off at a young age with a quality multilingual education can lead to a solid career and income potential in the future. 

Multilingual adults are more sensitive to cultural differences and are comfortable interacting with diverse populations. All of this makes multilingual employees an asset for any globally focused business.

Promotes Brain Health

Multilingual education increases cognitive function and enhances brain health. Although learning another language isn’t a miracle cure, research suggests improving memory and delaying dementia in some older adults.

People who think and speak in more than one language switch back and forth between languages on an ongoing basis. This is an effective exercise for the brain.

It’s best to begin multilingual education at a young age. However, it’s never too late to learn a new language. Learning a new language at any age is beneficial for cognition and brain health.

Expands Educational Opportunities

Multilingual students are also multi-literate. This provides a firm foundation for academic achievement and expanded educational opportunities.

A multilingual child may have more options for higher education and more opportunities to go to their college of choice. In addition, they may find more opportunities to study abroad or participate in exchange programs.

Multilingual students benefit from opportunities to immerse themselves in another language and culture. All of these opportunities can help to guide or enhance their future career paths. 

Broadens Cultural Exposure

As children participate in independent school multilingual education, they don’t just learn new words. They learn about history, geography, and other world cultures.

Students engage in language through songs, stories, play, and art in multilingual education. As students are immersed in print, sound, and play, they absorb language. In addition, they develop a deep appreciation for other ethnicities and nationalities.

You want your children to thrive and value others as they grow. In an ever-changing world, children who can communicate within various cultures may have an advantage over those who cannot.

Multilingual education provides so many opportunities for students to grow in their knowledge of languages, other cultures, and the beauty of a diverse world.

Cultivates Collaboration

Learning to work well with others is an important skill for any child. In addition, dual language programs offer students a broader world view.

They encourage communication and working within diverse groups. Multilingual education programs allow students to work together, learn from each other, and appreciate diverse viewpoints.

Students in quality multilingual programs learn to appreciate cultural differences and the value of the individual. This leads to enhanced social and communication skills.

These ideas help students become better collaborative learners as they learn about other cultures and value systems.

Enhances Lifelong Learning

Students who begin multilingual learning at an early age benefit in so many ways. But students of any age benefit from learning another language. 

Students learn the value of learning something beyond the traditional curriculum, enhancing their learning potential for life. In addition, studies suggest multilingual or bilingual capabilities can improve brain health and slow the aging process of the brain.

Young children can absorb new language and concepts easier than adolescents or adults.  These benefits enhance a child’s potential for success in school and for learning throughout their lives.

Amazing Benefits of Multilingual Education

As a parent, you have many things to consider when choosing the best private education for your child’s needs. However, as you make this important decision, don’t overlook the value of multilingual education.

Choose a school that values global awareness, critical thinking, and language learning. We would love to talk with you about your child and all that The New Century School has to offer. 

Contact us to learn more.

TNCS’s First-Ever Silent Auction: Going Once, Going Twice, Gone!

The New Century School held its first-ever Silent Auction last month, and it sure made the grade!  This success is due to the tireless work of the TNCS Parent Council’s Fundraising Committee, including Fundraising Committee Co-Chairs Lauren Davino and Sarah Andrews as well as equally hard-working committee members Sarah Cornblath and Jessica Leonard.

Once again, this blog is guest written by Ms. Leonard!

Show Me the Money!

TNCS’s Parent Council’s inaugural Silent Auction finished strong, raising more than $2,300. The Fundraising Committee knew they were going to face a challenge when asking for donations from local businesses that had already been set back financially by the pandemic. But the Committee got to work confirming donations with vendors and seeking out new donations. TNCS’s very own staff stepped up to the plate and created wonderful handmade pieces. In fact, these donations received some of the highest number of bids and some of the highest bid prices!

There were 158 total bids, with the Kindergarten aftercare artwork tying for the most bids with 11. The MAC membership and custom portraits were also part of the three-way tie, also receiving 11 bids, while the WYPR gift bag came in a close second with 10 bids. And many of the gift certificates went for the asking price, with a few going over asking price!

So what is the Parent Council going to do with this money? A portion of the raised funds are already allocated toward a private online concert from 123 Andres on Friday, June 4th (more information forthcoming), and the Parent Council will also be engaging with TNCS administration to identify ways to best support TNCS staff and students.

The Silent Auction would not have been a success without the wonderful TNCS community. Thank you to all those that participated, donated, or just helped spread the word. The Fundraising Committee can’t wait to do it again next year!


Didn’t participate? Well, just so you don’t make the same mistake next year, here’s what you missed:

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One of two pieces of artwork made by Ms. Tanelle and Kindergarten Aftercare. Value = priceless (obviously).


 

TNCS Primary Students Help April Do Its Job!

April showers bring May flowers—we all know that. But what brings the showers? Students at The New Century School do!

Last month, TNCS students in Maria Waldron’s primary Montessori classroom were given a really big job: to bring the rain. They also learned about the culture of Chile while involved in their rain-making project. Mrs. Waldron’s assistant, Sra. Espinoza, is from Chile and wanted to share something from her home with the students.

Palos de Agua

“Palos de agua (rain sticks),” said Mrs. Waldron, originate from Northern Chile, with African influences as well. Traditionally, they are made from dried cactus, from which the spines are then driven back into in a spiral pattern, and stones or dried beans are poured in to make the sound of falling rain.” Chile, by the way, is home to the world’s driest desert, so conjuring rain storms is important there!

Step Uno

The children punched holes in paper towel tubes in a spiral pattern, using big (safe) tacks.

Step Dos

Then they stuck toothpicks inside the holes and glued them in.

Step Tres

Next, the sharp toothpick edges were clipped off and filed down with manicure tools. “This took a lot of concentration and careful fine motor work,” said Mrs. Waldron.

Step Cuatro

They wrapped the tubes in brown packing tape . . .

Step Cinco

. . . and finally decorated them with colorful yarn and pom poms.

Here Comes the Rain Again!

“The children really enjoyed the process and learning about Chile and the instrument,” said Mrs. Waldron. We can’t wait to see what blossoms they bring!