Bi-Cultural Day School News

Bi-Cultural Races for Education

Posted on: March 28th, 2016 by admin

bcds-rfe-150x150On Thursday, May 26th, the entire Bi-Cultural Day School student community will be uniting for a common goal, combining physical fitness with raising needed funds for the physical education department during the school’s Race for Education Fundraising Event.

The students of Bi-cultural have spent many months submitting labels with addresses of friends and family members and collecting pledge money for this annual fundraising event in which students are encouraged to either walk, jog or run around the school field together as a group. All the funds raised through the Race for Education event will be used for the school’s physical education program. This year the event will take place on the holiday of Lag B’Omer, which signifies the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer. In addition, Bi-Cultural’s 8th-grade class, who will be visiting Israel during this time, will be participating by running, jogging or walking during their Israeli travels.

The Bi-Cultural Parents’ Association is sponsoring this event and parents Meredith Cohen and Judith Jelen are serving as the program’s co-chairs. Last year, the school raised more than $30,000 through this fundraising effort and was able to purchase an electronic score board for indoor basketball games.

Bi-Cultural’s Lilah Steinberg Places at Connecticut Science Fair

Posted on: March 28th, 2016 by admin

 

lilah_steinbergOn Tuesday, March 15th at the Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn., Bi-Cultural Day School’s 7th grader Lilah Steinberg received 2nd Place Honors for her research experiment entitled, “Do plants grow faster with sugar water?” The Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair is a yearly, statewide science and engineering fair open to all 7th through 12th grade students residing, or enrolled, in Connecticut schools. (Photo by Adrianne Robinson)

Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Bi-Cultural

Posted on: March 4th, 2016 by admin

bcds-wizardThe Bi-Cultural Day School Players will be performing the Wizard of Oz on Thursday, March 31st at 7:00 p.m. and on Sunday, April 3rd at 10:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. The Wizard of Oz production is the school’s annual spring musical and is the traditional telling of the time-honored classic, featuring such well-loved songs as “Over the Rainbow,” “If I Only Had a Brain,” and “We’re Off to See the Wizard.” The cast and stage crew for this show features Bi-Cultural students in grades 5th through 8th, who have been rehearsing since the beginning of the school year. The Director for this year’s production is Janice Steinberg and the Musical Director is Jonathan Cahr.

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Creativity and Music Humming at Bi-Cultural

Posted on: March 4th, 2016 by admin
Fifth grader Isabella Kuhr received a first-place ribbon in the portrait category in the first-ever BCDS Photo Contest sponsored by the BCDS Student Council. (Photo by Dora Salm)

Fifth grader Isabella Kuhr received a first-place ribbon in the portrait category in the first-ever BCDS Photo Contest sponsored by the BCDS Student Council. (Photo by Dora Salm)

Gaia Sokolov, a fifth-grader at Bi-Cultural, performed her original song entitled, “Hero” in the BCDS School-Wide Talent Show, which took place on Sunday, February 28th. (Photo by Dora Salm)

Gaia Sokolov, a fifth-grader at Bi-Cultural, performed her original song entitled, “Hero” in the BCDS School-Wide Talent Show, which took place on Sunday, February 28th. (Photo by Dora Salm)

February is the shortest month of the year, but Bi-Cultural Day School managed to collaborate to ensure that this short month was jam-packed with culture, creativity and music. The school began the month with the Student Council-sponsored BCDS Student Photo Contest, in which students from all grades were able to submit an original photo for the judges’ consideration in the following categories: black and white photography, portrait, still life, landscape, and love of Israel.

Bi-Cultural ended the month with the School-Wide Talent Show on Sunday February 28th. Parents and Co-Directors Melanie Riker and Janice Steinberg and Bi-Cultural’s Musical Director Jonathan Cahr took charge of the event, which included more than 60 students from all grades and featured 22 different production numbers.

Bi-Cultural Day School is a recipient agency of United Jewish Federation of Greater Stamford, New Canaan and Darien.

 

Photo Captions:

 

Photo 1: Fifth grader Isabella Kuhr received a first-place ribbon in the portrait category in the first-ever BCDS Photo Contest sponsored by the BCDS Student Council. (Photo by Dora Salm)

 

Photo 2: Gaia Sokolov, a fifth-grader at Bi-Cultural, performed her original song entitled, “Hero” in the BCDS School-Wide Talent Show, which took place on Sunday, February 28th. (Photo by Dora Salm)

Bi-Cultural’s Masora Program Focuses on Shabbat Study and Celebration

Posted on: March 4th, 2016 by admin

 

Even an award-winning program can keep evolving and innovating, and that’s what Bi-Cultural’s innovative Masora Program has done by enhancing the Shabbat Project, an experiential learning program that explores the myriad dimensions of Shabbat as a cornerstone of Judaism and Jewish learning.

Seventh-grade students Aaron Jaffe and Zachary Ostroff write a peer review for eachother’s Shabbat Projects as part of the Masora Shabbat unit of study. (Photo by Gina Fass) Photo 2: Georgia Baer and Danielle Hadge make hand-made challah during class. (Photo by Gina Fass)

Seventh-grade students Aaron Jaffe and Zachary Ostroff write a peer review for eachother’s Shabbat Projects as part of the Masora Shabbat unit of study. (Photo by Gina Fass)
Photo 2: Georgia Baer and Danielle Hadge make hand-made challah during class. (Photo by Gina Fass)

Bi-Cultural’s Masora Program offers an inter-disciplinary course of study for middle schoolers grounded in “Big Ideas” (themes) that integrate text study and experiential projects to explore meaningful topics in Jewish history, tradition and ethics, with an emphasis on personal relevance. Since Masora is designed to engage students and provide a foundation for life-long Jewish learning, growth and involvement, it is only fitting that the Shabbat Project should integrate into the curriculum.

“The Shabbat Project has such deep and personal resonance with the students in this program. We began the unit by studying and learning about Shabbat observance as a way to appreciate a part of the community tradition. Our students of course are knowledgeable in Shabbat, but we were really trying to make the study of Shabbat personal in a truly reflective way,” explained Masora teacher Gina Fass, who explained some of the components that students have completed in the program, ranging from text study, relevant videos and written personal reflections.

Georgia Baer and Danielle Hadge make hand-made challah during class. (Photo by Gina Fass)

Georgia Baer and Danielle Hadge make hand-made challah during class. (Photo by Gina Fass)

Students designed their own family Shabbat service and blessings that fit within the paradigm of their own family’s celebration rituals. Each student created their own service pages based on how their own family celebrates Shabbat. “Some students included full Hebrew blessings and songs such as Shalom Aleichem, some included transliteration and English blessings and some even incorporated elements of art and poetry into their service,” said Fass, “and all included their own Parsha (weekly Torah portion) sheets for discussion with their families.”

As a creative, hands-on project aspect of the program, each student created a game or activity that they could take home and use to teach their family about the principles of Shabbat discussed during classtime. The games, which including traditional board games, matching games and Jeopardy-type quizzes featured questions and challenges related to Shabbat and were all “Shabbat-friendly.” Middle school teacher Yona Goldman assisted the students in making hand-made challahs to take home, bake and enjoy with their families on Shabbat.

“Each element of The Shabbat Project was intended for the students to bridge what they learned in class with celebrating Shabbat at home and also empowering students to teach and help their own families find reflection and meaning in Shabbat,” explained Fass.

Seventh-grader Aaron Jaffe explained that the best part of the Shabbat Project for him was being able to create a meaningful and special Friday night Shabbat experience for his family, sharing all the things that he had learned in class. “My family was so impressed with what I had done and thought that it was amazing that I was able to lead an entire Friday night service from what I had learned in class; we all had a really fun time.”

 

Bi-Cultural Unveils Makerspace Lab to the School Community

Posted on: March 4th, 2016 by admin

On Thursday, February 25th, Bi-Cultural Day School officially unveiled its Makerspace Lab to the school community, culminating months of planning and preparation, and launching the school to the forefront of this modern education movement which blends learning innovation with cutting-edge technology and hands-on discovery.

The Makerspace Lab includes a row of sewing machines and supplies and a dedicated area for a 3D printer. (Photo by Dora Salm)

The Makerspace Lab includes a row of sewing machines and supplies and a dedicated area for a 3D printer. (Photo by Dora Salm)

The Makerspace Lab is a unique space that encourages discovery, collaboration and creation; melding DIY (do-it-yourself) methods with modern technology. Every part of the lab space is devoted to a distinct method of tinkering, from a full-scale Lego wall to a pegboard of traditional tools such as hammers and screwdrivers to a corner for woodworking to a bank of sewing machines and quilting supplies. In addition to tools and building materials, the lab features a new 3D printer attached to a standalone PC loaded with the most current 3D software.

Teachers Beth Fritz and Adrianne Robinson first introduced this national, STEAM-based initiative (science, technology, engineering, art and math) to the school, teaming together for months to transform a former large storage space into a specially-designed, colorful and visually engaging work space as well as raising the necessary funds to build and equip the Lab.

First-graders Eden Cohen and Sylvie Rosenberg look at the Star Wars-themed 3D object created in the newly-opened Makerspace Lab at Bi-Cultural. (Photo by Kathryn Danner)

First-graders Eden Cohen and Sylvie Rosenberg look at the Star Wars-themed 3D object created in the newly-opened Makerspace Lab at Bi-Cultural. (Photo by Kathryn Danner)

“Once we started the project and introduced the idea to teachers, students and their families, Makerspace took on a life of its own. The excitement built as we got closer to the grand opening and parents have been immensely generous with their enthusiasm and support,” said Fritz.

Robinson agreed, adding that once the Lab had been formally opened and the class offerings announcement was sent to parents, she received 40 sign-ups within the first 10 minutes. “The reaction has been incredible; from the youngest kids to the middle-schoolers; it has been thrilling to see the kids’ eyes instantly light up when they walked into the Lab,” Robinson said. “You could literally see the sparks of ingenuity and the wheels of creativity turning.”

The first set of classes offered to students in grades 3-8 through the popular Lunch and Learn program include the following: Tin Can Robot Design, Catapult Design, Design a Star Wars Light Saber, Float a Boat, Jewelry Design, Engineering Build Off Challenge, Marble Run, Ozobot, Sew Creative, Stickman Structure and 3D Doodler Design.

Third-grader Racheli Chavkin expressed her enthusiasm about the Makerspace Lab and the upcoming classes, “I can’t wait to get into the Lab and learn how to make new things out of nothing and learn how to use real tools,” she said.

Bi-Cultural faculty and administration met that same level of excitement. “The Makerspace lab is the most innovative approach in education today making STEAM-based learning come alive, encompassing design, invention, creativity and applying critical thinking skills that our students learn at Bi-Cultural. The best part is that Makerspace has something to offer to every child from Pre-K through Grade 8 right here in our own school. I am so proud of Adrianne and Beth for making this happen,” said Jackie Herman, Bi-Cultural’s Principal and Head of School.

Bi-Cultural Day School is a recipient agency of United Jewish Federation of Greater Stamford, New Canaan and Darien.

Bi-Cultural Students Build Large-Scale Model of Second Temple

Posted on: March 4th, 2016 by admin

On Thursday, February 11th, students in grades 4-8 combined hands-on, project-based learning with traditional study as they helped build a large scale model of the Beit HaMikdash, the Second Temple. Students learned about how the Temple, which was one of the tallest buildings during its time, played such an important role in religious life for more than a millennium. In addition, each class received guidance with the building from Bi-Cultural alumna Adina Cohen, who is currently doing a year of national service in Israel with the Mikdash Educational Center.

Bi-Cultural’s fourth-grade students and the finished large-scale model of the Beit HaMikdash. In the center is Bi-Cultural alumna Adina Cohen, who assisted the students with the project. (Photo by Yehuda Jeiger)

Bi-Cultural’s fourth-grade students and the finished large-scale model of the Beit HaMikdash. In the center is Bi-Cultural alumna Adina Cohen, who assisted the students with the project. (Photo by Yehuda Jeiger)

Bi-Cultural Students Combine Technology

Posted on: January 27th, 2016 by admin

Bi-Cultural Day School students recently combined the use of Skype technology with the study of Talmud. Rabbi Israel’s 8th grade Talmud class recently studied sections of the Talmud concerning crimes committed directly and those committed through an agent. Students studied the original texts as well as some renowned cases in which these laws have played a critical role, such as the Nuremberg Trials following World War II. In closing the section of the course, Rabbi Israel invited former Connecticut State’s Attorney, David Cohen, who now lives in Jerusalem, to teach the final class via Sype. Cohen and the students discussed the relevant sections of the Talmud and compared Jewish Law with American, British and Israeli Law.

Students in Rabbi Israel’s 8th-grade Talmud class recently Skyped with the former Connecticut’s State’s Attorney, David Cohen. (Photo by David Israel)

Students in Rabbi Israel’s 8th-grade Talmud class recently Skyped with the former Connecticut’s State’s Attorney, David Cohen. (Photo by David Israel)

Bi-Cultural Teacher Presented at Education Conference

Posted on: January 27th, 2016 by admin

sakson_headshotOn Monday, January 25th, at Chase Collegiate School, Bi-Cultural Day School middle-school teacher John Sakson presented at the annual Connecticut Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century: Teachers Helping Teachers professional conference. Sakson is the most recent Bi-Cultural teacher to be recognized by his peers for excellence in education with an invitation to present at this prestigious education conference for independent schools across the state.

As a middle school Social Studies and English teacher, Sakson presented two of his signature curriculum initiatives specific to growing vocabulary acquisition and successful student-driven dynamic work groups. As a conference presenter, he has joined fellow educators across from the state from schools such as Miss Porter’s School, Choate Rosemary Hall, Loomis Chaffee School and Greenwich Country Day School, in leading other educators toward higher success, professional collaboration and student achievement and learning.

Prior to Sakson’s invitation, middle-school teacher Adrianne Robinson was the most recent Bi-Cultural teacher to receive a similar invitation to present her proprietary 5th grade “Virtual Occupation” math curriculum to the Association for Middle Level Education Conference in October 2015.

Dads Group Gains Popularity at Bi-Cultural

Posted on: January 27th, 2016 by admin
Bi-Cultural parent Craig Price (third from the right) initiated the Dads Drop-Off program as a way to encourage comradery and involvement within the BCDS dad community. Fathers get the chance to spend extra time with their children during the morning drop-off time and then socialize with other dads in the school. (Photo by Joanne Karow)

Bi-Cultural parent Craig Price (third from the right) initiated the Dads Drop-Off program as a way to encourage comradery and involvement within the BCDS dad community. Fathers get the chance to spend extra time with their children during the morning drop-off time and then socialize with other dads in the school. (Photo by Joanne Karow)

For many parents, the morning rush typically involves a mad dash for the train, a quick cup of coffee or sitting in heavy traffic. At Bi-Cultural Day School every Tuesday of the month, the morning routine is just as harried, but it’s a lot more enjoyable as a group of dedicated dads get the chance for some special time with their children during Dad’s Drop-off Morning.

Dad’s Drop-off Morning is the brainchild of Bi-Cultural parent, Craig Price, who developed the idea of devoting a special morning between children and their dads so that the dads could became more engaged with school activities. The monthly event, which began in 2014 with just a few dads, has evolved into a popular phenomenon with sometimes up to 50 dads, walking their children to their classrooms, and then having a quick breakfast with other school dads.

“I realized if I had any chance of succeeding in getting more dads involved, I first needed to get them into the building to see all the great things happening on any given day. With work and commuting schedules, the idea of meeting during early morning drop-off seemed like a perfect fit. What kid doesn’t like to skip the school bus for a car ride to school — what dad doesn’t like a bagel with the additional benefit of meeting other interesting people? For me, it was more about finding a chance for the dads to make some special memories with their own kids, but it also accomplished the dual goal of getting the dads in the building, giving them the chance to see their children’s classroom and the interesting projects displayed throughout the school,” said Price.

Price explained that the Dad’s Drop-Off Morning had also added a unique element to the school climate, allowing fathers to forge new friendships, network for business opportunities and get first-hand experience seeing new school projects that they otherwise may just have heard about over the dinner table. “For dads who are new to the school, this is a great way to meet other dads and become a part of the BCDS community As a result of being in the building, BCDS dads have volunteered with programs, improvements and events like the annual school picnic, auction and gala event.

The energy created through these mornings is evident, as Jackie Herman, Bi-Cultural’s Principal and Head of School explained. “It’s amazing to see these busy dads take the time to get to know each other and spend special time with their children in their children’s own environment. The school parking lot is packed, the conversation is stimulating, and the kids are thrilled to show their dads their classrooms,” Herman said.

The Dad’s Morning Drop Off is extending its success beyond just mornings through a variety of other men’s events throughout the school year. They kicked off the school year with a football party, and a basketball event during the NCAA March Madness Basketball Tournament and a Lag B’Omer event are also being planned.