There is no shortage of artistic talent in the Birnbaum family. As someone who spent quite some time at their house growing up, I can attest that music and performance have always been at the center of life for the Birnbaums, both in formal and informal settings. As girls, Mary ‘99 and Flora ‘04, sang in the Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus and our playdates often consisted of elaborate performances, usually with full costume and set design!
Every winter, New Canaan Country School students in pre-kindergarten through ninth grade collect maple sap and boil it down to syrup in the school’s Sugar Shack. The students tap the maple trees all over the school’s 75-acre campus, collect the sap, boil it down, then sample it.
First graders have been studying China throughout the year, so they were brimming with excitement last Friday at a special Lunar New Year Assembly, complete with a traditional dragon parade, handmade noisemakers, and the banging of a gong, to celebrate the arrival of the Year of the Pig. View photos.
by School Counselor Nora Goddard & US English & History Teacher Will McDonough
As a continuation of our community conversations on social and emotional well-being, diversity and inclusion, Middle and Upper School students watched select scenes from the film Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, a documentary on Fred Rogers and his television show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
“The Power and Purpose of Play,” a New Canaan CARES parent program featuring Beth O’Brien, Head of Early Childhood of New Canaan Country School, will be held at 10 a.m. on March 12 at the New Canaan Library’s Lamb Room.
The scientific experiment of Jane Walsh, a Country School 7th grade student, has been selected as the National Challenge Grand Prize Winner of Cornell University Lab of Ornithology’s K-12 annual magazine, Birdsleuth Investigator.
Scott Driscoll, President of Internet Safety Concepts, visited the Country School campus on Feb. 11 and met with a large group of parents and Middle and Upper School students. Mr. Driscoll discussed making smart and safe choices while using the internet, social media, and other technologies. He offered tools, strategies, and safety tips for parents to share with their child(ren).
Last Friday, Tatyana and Eral Gokgol-Kline visited Mrs. Balasuriya’s first grade classroom to teach students about their native countries of Ukraine and Turkey. Their son, Kai, helped teach his classmates to count in Turkish, Russian and Ukranian as well.
New Canaan Country School’s boys’ varsity ice hockey team won the 45th annual Upland Invitational Tournament held in Kennett Square, PA, Jan. 12 and 13. The seventh, eighth and ninth graders went 3-0-1, beating The Rectory School, Upland Country Day School and Greenwich Country Day School, and tying a strong Rumsey Hall School team 3-3 in the final game to capture the Championship Cup.
The one-hour STEAM challenge was on! Students spread across classrooms, common spaces and hallways to make a three-tiered, freestanding snowperson with tissue paper, straws, cotton balls, pipe cleaners and tape. Working in buddy pairs, students designed and built their creations during a vibrant hour of collaboration and connection. View video>>photos>>
Lower School students continued to explore the idea of a “giving heart” by participating in two, donation service projects this December: a toy and gift drive for ELM/Camp Amerikids and a warm, comfort food drive for the Person-to-Person Mobile Food Truck.
The Lower School Arts Assembly is a quintessential Country School event, a kind of creative rite of passage for students. In this annual tradition, first and second grade students create the set and choreograph all of the dances themselves for a one-hour performance they perform first for peers and younger students during a dress rehearsal and then for parents during the school's annual Parent Visiting Day. Art teachers Liz Ferran and Performing Arts teacher Jake Alrich guide the students, but the work is very much an expression of the students' collective creativity. View photos & video >>
I wanted to share our latest Lower School community project with you, as we will be carrying it out in these weeks before break. If you have been to LS assembly, you have likely noticed that we always open our gathering with important messaging of community. We talk overtly about what it means to be kind, how we can practice gratitude, and what it means to be our best selves.
One of our favorite events, a panel of recent graduates and parents of recent graduates returned to campus Dec. 10 to answer questions and share with current parents their perspective of the transition through and beyond Country School.
Country School kindergarten students took to the ice Dec. 3 for their first learn to skate class of the season. Guided by professional instructors, students in the school’s lower grades are learning how to glide, stop and skate backwards. VIEW PHOTOS >>
Six Country School 9th graders traveled to Nashville for the annual Student Diversity Leadership (SDLC) conference Nov. 28-Dec. 1. This year marks the 25th anniversary of this multi-racial, multicultural student gathering which focuses on self-reflection and building community.
School Psychologist Rebecca Comizio shared strategies for parents at the Fall Early Childhood and Lower School Parenting Forum, The Art and Science of Communication: How to Nurture Effective Communication with our Children. Head of Early Childhood. Beth O’Brien opened the forum with the quote: “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice” by Peggy O’Mara, and then Mrs. Comizio guided a discussion based on the book, How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & Listen so Kids will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. View slides.
Head of School Aaron Cooper kicked off the informal gathering expressing his excitement about the opportunities that exist to bring these communities together. Attendees took a Horizons quiz and Executive Director Nancy von Euler led them through the answers which highlighted not only the K-8 Summer and School Year Programming that takes place right here at NCCS, as well as the multiple ways NCCS families can get involved in Horizons.
The results are in! The winners of the 2018 French Mousse-Off are seventh grader Tanvi Debnath of Stamford, eighth grader Maeve Baker of New Canaan and ninth grader Alex Almeida, also of New Canaan. Scoring for the annual culinary contest is based on taste and execution as well as overall presentation of the delicious dessert often associated with haute cuisine.
The Country School community, including students, faculty and staff from Early Childhood through Grade 9, collected 2,369 pounds of canned and dry food over the past two weeks in support of The Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County.
Fifth grade science students interviewed Atlanta-based meteorologist Carl Parker via teleconference Wednesday. The interview, led by Middle School Science Teacher Lindsay Frey, was part of a larger study on the forces that drive weather patterns.
New Canaan Country School graduate Matthew Heineman ʼ98 is the director and producer of a new film, “A Private War” hitting theaters nationwide today. A biopic about Marie Colvin, the legendary, eye-patch-wearing Sunday Times correspondent, the film has been receiving rave reviews since it first premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September.
Earlier this fall former apprentice and assistant science teacher Hannah James teleconferenced with the entire Lower School from her current base at Summit Station (atop a 2-mile deep ice sheet!). The Lower School community gathered in the new Susan Haigh Carver ’51 Dining Hall and Commons to hear about her work as a research scientist and life in the Arctic.
If there is one word to describe the John Christophe Schlesinger ’89 Library since it reopened this fall, it is versatile. With the addition of the new Amicus Foundation Innovation Space, it has been a hub of inspiration and collaboration combining the best of traditional and cutting-edge resources. The space was designed to offer flexibility with moveable furniture, write-on tables, and a variety of seating (or standing) options, in addition to shelves stocked with books and robotics kits.
New Canaan Country School cross-country runner Amitav Nott finished the 2018 fall season with first place honors (9th grade division) following Fairchester League’s final race, Nov. 7. For Amitav, the blue ribbon represented three years’ of steady improvement, patience and dedication.
This year’s Festival of Books was a three-day celebration of literacy at Country School. For the first time, it was held in the recently renovated Schlesinger Library/Amicus Innovations Space. One of the Parents' Association's biggest fundraisers of the year, the Festival of Books also provided many opportunities to build community, as well as classroom libraries. VIEW PHOTOS.
Members of the Country School community raised red, yellow and white lanterns at the annual Light the Night Walk on Oct. 28. More than 60 students, faculty, staff and alumni attended the event and raised $5,300 (surpassing their goal of $5,000!) for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
New Canaan Country School eighth graders took on the roles of characters from John Steinbeck’s novel Of Mice and Men, to argue the fate of George Milton, accused of murdering his best friend, Lennie Small, during a mock trial last week.
On Saturday, Sept. 28 the Country School community gathered for the Cougar Run on a beautiful, sunny fall morning. More than 120 registered runners completed the 5K on campus run and young children participated in an obstacle course and a Chase the Cougar Fun Run. Attendees showed their school spirit and purchased logo wear. Our very own NCCS Cross Country team helped design the course and led the way for the runners as did Head of School Aaron Cooper. VIEW PHOTOS.
One recent afternoon, in the innovation space in the Schlesinger Library a pair of sixth grade students were adding aluminum foil to rubber tiles to create a musical hopscotch pad. In another corner, a group carefully attached wires to a handful of gummy bears (snacking on a few at the same time), while a third furiously colored with pencil on a piece of plain copy paper.
Four large murals painted by the 8th and 9th grade Painting Elective and grades 1, 2, and 3 were recently hung in the Dining Hall. They depict a variety of food – fruit, vegetables and grains in vibrant colors.
Inspired by their reading of Roxaboxen, an award-winning children’s book written by Alice McLerran and illustrated by Barbara Cooney, Country School second graders headed to the woods last week to build their own imaginary town.
Will McDonough, Eighth Grade World Cultures Teacher & Dudley Chaperone
The annual trip to Camp Dudley provided this year’s 8th grade class with time to unify, connect with teachers and classmates outside the classroom, and display fortitude, resilience, leadership, and teamwork through a variety of outdoor activities.
On the Outdoor Action Trip (O.A.T.), Country School's 9th grade students broke up into four groups and spent three days hiking and camping on the Appalachian Trail in northwestern CT and southwestern MA.
New Canaan Country School celebrated excellence in teaching by naming three faculty chairs at the school’s Annual Meeting & Dinner on Sept. 13. Middle School Spanish teacher Abby Cali, Kindergarten teacher Darby Webber and Upper School science teacher Scott Lilley were presented the awards by Head of School Aaron Cooper in front of a large gathering of parents, faculty and staff members.
Awarded every two years, faculty chairs have been endowed by three former Country School families: the Holmes Family, the Laverack Family, and the WilliamsFamily. The chairs recognize exceptional full-time faculty who demonstrate a commitment to engaging and inspiring students, creating curriculum to reach all learners, and seeking ongoing professional development. They also provide financial support for growth in academic research, teaching or service.
Head of School Aaron Cooper officially kicked off the 2018-2019 school year Sept. 6 at an assembly which included the dedication of the Susan Haigh Carver ’51 Dining Hall & Commons. VIEW PHOTOS >VIEW VIDEO>
New Canaan Country School welcomes several new faculty and staff members this year. In addition, 16 new apprentice teachers have joined the community. “We have attracted a very talented group of educators with an impressive array of professional experiences who are passionate about children’s growth and development,” said Head of School Aaron Cooper, who also joined the school in July. View the announcement.
New Canaan Country School has named Samantha Flores as the 2018-2019 Horizons Scholar. She will attend New Canaan Country School this fall as a fourth grader and has been a participant in the Horizons Program at New Canaan Country School for several years.
Inspired by the children’s book by Linda Kranz, the Horizons summer program theme is Only One You. Two-hundred and sixty-three students, primarily from Norwalk and Stamford, are celebrating their individuality through art, academics and personal stories. Now in its 54th year, the Horizons program’s curriculum is designed to reverse the “summer slide” in students’ academic progress, as well as instill confidence, resilience and optimism through our supportive community.
Thirty high school seniors from five towns were honored during the Horizons at New Canaan Country School graduation ceremony on Wednesday, June 6. In addition, 26 alumni were inducted into a new Horizons Alumni Association.
“We all know sports are important because they teach you teamwork, respect, determination, resilience, work ethic and the importance of being a part of something bigger than yourself, but I think one of the most underrated aspects of sports is to just have fun,” said New Canaan Country School ninth grader Alex Byrne of Darien during remarks he made at the end-of-term Upper School sports assembly, held on campus May 31.
“Falling in love with softball was easy,” said New Canaan Country School ninth grader and New Canaan resident Katherine Scarborough during remarks she made at the end-of-term Upper School sports assembly, held on campus May 31. “It has a competitive nature deep to its roots, with crazy chants designed just to distract the other team, or to hype up your own. You become a family with your team. It’s bound to happen when you throw eleven girls together, regardless of friend groups, grades, or style.”
New Canaan Country School held its Closing Exercises on Thursday, June 14. Head of School Dr. Robert P. Macrae encouraged the 32 ninth grade graduates of the Class of 2018 to continue to take ownership for their learning. VIEW PHOTOS
New Canaan Country School boys’ varsity lacrosse delivered their second, consecutive, undefeated season, with a 12- 0 final record. The team, consisting of Upper School students (grades 7, 8 and 9), netted 116 goals versus just 39 allowed.
Students, faculty and staff gathered for the annual All-School Memorial Day Assembly on May 25 to honor those who have served our country. It was also an opportunity for students to offer thanks and a fond farewell to Head of School Robert Macrae.
On Tuesday, May 15 over 150 guests entered the New Canaan Country School auditorium to the smell of movie theater popcorn and the soundtrack from Levinson’s The Natural playing. The crowd assembled to support Horizons and hear stories from two legends and current NCCS grandparents: Academy Award winner, Barry Levinson and Emmy Award winner, Bob Schieffer.
Juliana “Topsy” Post, was presented with the 2018 New Canaan Country School Alumni Award on the school’s campus May 18. Mrs. Post was a longstanding member of the school’s World Cultures faculty and a graduate from the school’s class of 1966. VIEW VIDEO
Second graders have been exploring the “fifty nifty UnitedStates” this spring. Working in small groups, they collected and presented research about the regions within the country, highlighting important landmarks and landforms.