At New Canaan Country School’s Closing Exercises Tuesday, June 14, Head of School Aaron Cooper encouraged the members of the Class of 2022 to draw upon the many strengths they developed during their tenure at the Pre-K through Grade 9 school, particularly the skill of leaning in to challenge. The graduates, their families, faculty and staff gathered on the front lawn of the school’s campus for the outdoor ceremony.
“Lean into tension even as it might be uncomfortable. Lean into stress even as it does not feel good. Lean into the new ideas you will encounter in your classes, even when they don’t make sense. Lean into the perspectives of your new classmates, even if you at first disagree. Lean into sharing your own beliefs, in class and with your peers, even if they are first met with silence. Lean into the losses as much as the wins, taking what you can learn from them. It will serve you well in the next several years and in the next several decades.”
At New Canaan Country School’s Celebration of Eighth Graders, Monday, June 13, Head of Upper School Karl Palmgren recognized the 61 members of the Class of 2023 as kind, genuine and talented.
In his remarks, he told the students that he is confident they will do great things with their lives. He also reminded them that academic preparation isn’t all they learned or all that they will need moving forward. “Skill and knowledge without courage is like a car without gas, it won’t go anywhere. You can come to a conclusion as to the next best step about a very difficult decision, but without courage, without that gas, you will be stuck.” He encouraged them to remember that they also learned how to be bold and resilient. Read Karl Palmgren's remarks.
Fifth and sixth grade performing arts students presented their original play "The Quest for the Scepter" to audiences of Middle School classmates, family, faculty and staff during a dress rehearsal and performance held in the school’s auditorium the week of June 3. The production was entirely student-conceived, choreographed, designed and performed by the ensemble cast of 21 students over the course of the spring trimester.
First and second grade students performed original dances on a stage decorated with their own artwork in the school’s auditorium, June 9.
The Lower School “Arts Assembly” as it is known, is a beloved Country School tradition, a kind of creative rite of passage for students in which first and second graders create the set and choreograph all of the dances themselves for a one-hour performance. They performed earlier in the week for peers and younger students during a dress rehearsal, and then held this performance for family.
We are pleased to announce that this summer Beth O’Brien, who has been our Head of Early Childhood for the past 10 years, will take on the role of Director of Enrollment Management, and alumna Jeannie Staunton Bean '83, who has been a member of the Early Childhood teaching team for the last 15 years, will take on the role of Head of Early Childhood.
New Canaan Country School fourth grade students traveled to the Salmon River State Forest in East Hampton, Conn where they carefully released baby salmon— or fry—into the river’s tributary, May 26. The salmon release was the final step in a scientific study of salmon, ecology and environmental issues.
For the last few months, New Canaan Country School sixth graders have been working hard to research, write, and rehearse argumentative and informational speeches. Each student selected a topic about which they are passionate, including topics related to their families, communities and the world. They then memorized their speech and delivered it in front of a live audience in the school’s auditorium, May 17-24.
Led by students, the New Canaan Country School community engaged in a multitude of grassroots activities in an ongoing display of support for the people of Ukraine during the past few weeks. Lower School students Kai and Keilani Gokgol-Kline of Norwalk and Ben Kelsey of Darien have been particularly proactive in rallying classmates to be aware of the impact the Russian aggression has had on Ukrainian children.
Students from New Canaan Country School’s Upper School division (grades 7-9) participated in the 2022 National World Language exams in March and April yielding 52 medals of honor as well as state and national distinctions of merit. Of particular note, eighth-grade French student Anna Zhuperina of Greenwich and seventh-grade Latin student Lucy Ward of Darien each received first-place recognition nationally as a result of their perfect scores.
Over 800 members of the NCCS and Horizons community gathered to enjoy a picnic lunch and a variety of activities designed for the young-at-heart at the 75th annual Frogtown Fair, held on the school’s front lawn, May 14.
On Friday, May 13, the new Athletics and Wellness Center was formally opened with an official ribbon cutting ceremony. More than 170 alumni, parents, parents of alumni, current and former faculty and staff, and Trustees joined Head of School Aaron Cooper to honor teachers and staff - including several retiring teachers and staff members - and to officially cut the ribbon.
More than 170 members of the school community gathered in front of the Athletics & Wellness Center May 13 to celebrate the faculty & staff, reflect upon the unprecedented trials and triumphs of the profession during the past three years and to pay tribute to those who have recently or will retire in June.
“Our school has had a leading voice in childhood education from the very beginning,” said Head of School Aaron Cooper. “From its progressive roots a la Maria Montessori and John Dewey in 1916 through the 1960s and pre-civil rights integration and the founding of the Horizons program, to the turn of the current century as a pioneer in non-cognitive skills measurement and social-emotional learning.
New Canaan Country School sixth grade math students hosted a Probability Fair, offering small prizes to participants willing to try their luck at home-made games of chance. The annual event, a Middle School tradition, featured 55 games including well-known favorites: Plinko, Spin-to-Win and the dice game “PIG,” and was held in the School’s Susan Haigh Carver ’51 Dining Hall, May 13.
NCCS parents, faculty and staff gathered for an evening of adult good cheer, food trucks and fun in the Grace House Circle, April 30. Campfires blazed while friends old and new celebrated the arrival of spring at “Back in Bloom,” a community party hosted by the school’s Parents’ Association.
New Canaan Country School and Horizons families came together to serve the wide-ranging needs of 15 local non-profit organizations on the school’s campus and throughout Fairfield County, April 23. They were participating in the eighth annual Kyle A. Markes Day of Service, named in honor of an NCCS student who passed away in 2013 and is remembered for his commitment to community service.
Students in Beginners 3/4, 4/5 and Kindergarten practiced their greetings and welcomed one another to their Early Childhood Community Gathering Wednesday morning, April 20, in the Thacher Motor Skills Room. Everyone was pleased that the beloved tradition of coming together — which had been temporarily suspended during pandemic safety protocols — had returned.
On Tuesday, April 12, New Canaan Country School announced that Jeannie Staunton Bean '83 will be our Interim Head of Early Childhood beginning July 1, 2022.
Jeannie has been a valued member of the Early Childhood team for the last 15 years. An alumna of Country School’s Class of 1983, Jeannie returned to NCCS in the Beginners program in 2008 as an Assistant Teacher, and in 2011 moved into her current role as a Lead Teacher.
New Canaan Country School seventh-grade science students discussed ocean acidification and the impact of rising CO2 levels on the Earth’s atmosphere, plantlife and oceans with chemical oceanographer and Texas A&M Oceanography Professor Dr. Katie Shamberger on April 11.
As part of their yearlong interdisciplinary study of China, first graders performed a traditional “Peacock Dance” in honor of the Lunar New Year at a community assembly, held April 7. In welcoming remarks, Head of Lower School Meaghan Mallin explained to the many parents and family members who attended in-person and via livestream that the assembly was particularly meaningful in that it was the first in-person Lower School gathering since the pandemic hit.
According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, “well-being includes people's physical, mental, and social health, and the opportunities they have to create meaningful futures.” Whether on-site blood-pressure check-ups, free chair massages, financial advisors, or social outings such as bowling, baseball games, museum visits or surprise Grammy-winning concerts, Country School has a long-standing history of supporting the health and well-being of our faculty and staff. This past fall, we rededicated our efforts by launching several new programs to cultivate employee wellness, especially given the nature of this extraordinary time. This initiative was spearheaded by long-time faculty member and Director of PLUS Program Kathy Kravec. View photo gallery.
Congratulations to Cybil JeanFils, a fifth grade student in the Horizons program who published her first book, “Labor Day Adventure". Cybil said, "I wrote this book because I love adventure and mystery books. So, one day I combined mystery, family, and hope into a single book."
The arrival of March meant only one thing for New Canaan Country School’s Lower School (Grades 1-4) families: March Math-ness! Designed to engage family and friends of all ages in a celebration of math fundamentals, the daily activities were held at home with video tutorials and a packet containing necessary materials provided in advance.
New Canaan Country School Head of Early Childhood Beth O’Brien shared strategies, tips and practical wisdom in her presentation based on the book How To Talk So Little Kids Will Listen at a parent education event sponsored by the non-profit organization, New Canaan CARES, held on the school’s campus on March 3.
New Canaan Country School seventh and eighth grade drama students performed the musical “Beauty and the Beast” for members of the school community, family and friends in the school’s auditorium, Feb. 28 - March 1.
The shows were the culmination of a trimester-long study of the production of a musical and provided students with opportunities to further their development of vocal, dance and acting skills. The 16-member cast and crew also worked on choreography, set design and construction, solo and ensemble singing, positional awareness, pacing and scene transitions.
A long-standing Country School tradition, the ninth-grade competed against the school’s faculty, staff and apprentice teachers in a basketball game held, Feb. 28. The Class of 2022 eked out a one-point win, besting the adults 36-35.
New Canaan Country School fifth graders invited parents, teachers and younger students to an experiential simulation of the Lewis & Clark Expedition on Feb. 16 as a culmination of their social studies unit. The students created an array of hand-made visual displays, short speeches and essays to showcase the Corps of Discovery Expedition. Visitors were invited to follow the trail of tables sequenced in a loose timeline to represent the expedition across the newly acquired western portion of the country after the Louisiana Purchase, and explore important stops along the way. Guests also crossed a suspension bridge contributed by ninth-grade woodshop students which served as the Gateway to the West.
NCCS alumna Mary Birnbaum '99 recently produced the world premiere performance of ‘In the Grove’ by the Pittsburgh Opera. Based on a short story of the same name by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, ‘In the Grove’ follows seven witness testimonies to a murder, each clashing in perspective, offering a searing investigation into the impossibility and elusiveness of truth.
“Director Mary Birnbaum's concept for In a Grove takes inspiration from James Turrell and Fujiko Nakaya, artists whose work renders subtle changes in perception,” said Broadway World.
NCCS is pleased to congratulate New Canaan Police Officer Kelly Coughlin who was named the 2021 Stephen W. Wood Officer of the Year in recognition of her exceptional work, integrity, and overall service. Officer Coughlin works as the school liaison officer for the New Canaan Country School in addition to overseeing numerous community outreach programs in her role as the department’s Community Impact Officer (CIO).
The intersection of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) is embodied in countless creative ways by our teachers and students at Country School, and thanks to a generous donation to the Boldly Forward Capital Campaign from NCCS parents Susan and Roy Mackenzie, it will continue to grow and thrive here. The Mackenzie family recently made a six-figure gift to establish the STEM Futures Fund, which will create new learning opportunities for all students at NCCS across all grade levels – and, as a permanent part of Country School’s endowment, the fund will impact future generations of students in perpetuity.
Trailblazer A.J. Mleczko ’90 discusses her journey from Country School's skating program to becoming an Olympic gold-medal winning athlete and ESPN and MSG ice hockey analyst inBedford New Canaan Magazine'sJan-Feb '22 issue. A.J. will be presented with the school's Alumni Award and share highlights of her career with students, alumni and guests in May.
The New Canaan Country School community celebrated the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. on Jan. 14 in a variety of ways including student assemblies and an alumni panel.
As is school tradition, members of the Lower School community (Grades 1-4) participated in a group recitation of a portion of Dr. King's “I Have a Dream” speech followed by words of reflection on the importance of diversity, equity and inclusivity from Head of Lower School Meaghan Mallin. Fourth grade students who participated in the group recitation included Vivian Kanter, Reece Lenhard and Victoria Shaw. Additional assembly readers included second-grade students Amelia Grant, Walter Lapidus, Hope Gale, Finley Richards, Evvie Lasko and Henry Rust.
The full Country School community came together to celebrate gratitude - and each other - during the annual Thanksgiving assembly, held outdoors in compliance with safety protocols, Nov. 23. Ninth-grade student government leaders, Brendan Buda, Eleanor duPont, Tucker Golden and Matt Rivera donned inflatable turkey outfits to make welcoming remarks and introduce participants which included 5th grade arts students who made a paper mache replica of a Thanksgiving feast, musical performances by Kindergarten and first grade students, the MS Band and LS student speakers who offered acknowledgement for the land upon which the school sits and its past inhabitants.
As part of a longstanding Country School community-building tradition, all students across campus participated in “Buddies” time, which pairs younger students with older students. The first Buddies get-together of the year – and the first since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic – was held outdoors Nov. 15, with “getting to know you” games which included an iPad photo scavenger hunt, and “things we have in common” interviews.
New Canaan Country School is pleased to announce that Olympic gold-medal winning athlete and an ESPN and MSG ice hockey analyst A.J. Mleczko ’90 will be presented with the 2021 Alumni Award. A.J. will accept the honor and share highlights of her career with students, alumni and guests during the 2021-2022 school year.
In many ways, Dave Stoller is the ultimate renaissance man. Dave has taught science, math, woodshop, technology, maple sugaring, and even word processing classes here. He has coached basketball, football and lacrosse and chaperoned trips on the Appalachian Trail and to Nantucket. Moreso, he was the school’s Sustainability Coordinator and created the Green Cup Challenge. He was also the school’s first technology coordinator, oversaw the maker space and is currently the Director of Technology.
Our young alumni continue to transition beyond Country School with ease, pursuing a wide variety of academic, athletic and artistic passions with the courage and confidence that we have come to expect from our graduates. Here is a round-up of some of their recent adventures and achievements.
New Canaan Country School 2012 Alumni Award recipient, Academy Award®-nominated and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Matthew Heineman ’98 directed, produced, shot and edited The First Wave, a feature documentary film with exclusive access inside one of New York City’s hardest-hit hospital systems during the harrowing first four months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A celebration of literacy, Country School’s Festival of Books provided many opportunities to build community, expand libraries and instill a love of reading in students. Perennially one of the Parents' Association's biggest fundraisers, the festival once again brought together storytellers and book lovers of all ages.
The Country School community gathered in-person and virtually at the 2021 Annual Meeting on Oct. 13 to launch the school’s Strategic Plan, “Redefining Childhood Education for the Future.” In addition, the night was dedicated to honoring faculty and staff, celebrating recent accomplishments and looking toward the school’s future.
Mr. Cooper spoke about how the school has been an institution focused on bringing the best of forward-thinking educational pedagogy and philosophy to children for over 100 years.
As part of their study of ecology, Grade 4 science students spent time in the school’s woodlands Nov. 2, lifting rocks and poking underneath fallen logs, looking for food. Not just any food, the plant or prey for the specific animal they had each been assigned to impersonate. Laminated animal descriptions worn by each student on lanyards provided some clues as to where to look, but it was the responsibility of the “bird” to find an earthworm or the “bear” to find a salamander.
A much-beloved annual tradition, New Canaan Country School’s Lower School community (Grade 1- 4 students and faculty) gathered Oct. 28 to celebrate the season by marching in a Halloween Parade around the school’s campus. Led by Head of School Mr. Cooper, adorned for the day in a giraffe costume, and Head of Lower School Mrs. Mallin, as a rainbow bright unicorn, the parade also included the fifth and sixth grade members of the school's marching band.
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 to exercise their imagination on Oct. 20.
Working in small groups or individually, children whisked around the school’s 35-acre woodlands for several hours, collecting fallen branches, stacking logs, piling stones, sweeping leaves aside to make roadways and paths, and creating an imaginary town of their own. View more photos.
In honor of Hispanic heritage and it’s cultural traditions, 4th grade art students learned about Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) which celebrates the life and memory of deceased friends and family members. The students made caretas - fanciful masks, often designed with deeply personal or symbolic meanings - in the style traditionally worn by revelers on Nov. 1 and 2. View video.
Wisdom so often comes from the young. And such strength in our foundational values and structures is due most directly to those who educate our students, especially those who best know our community. So, it is natural that I will now recognize several of our educators who are reaching service anniversaries this year. Paraphrasing Plato, ‘whatever is honored by a [school] will be cultivated there.’
Eighth- and ninth-grade New Canaan Country School music students learned a challenging marimba composition called The Mitty Matty Rag, which they performed on soprano, alto, bass and contrabass xylophones, Oct.12. Click HERE to listen to our talented students!
Sixth grade two-dimensional visual arts students created “get the word out” posters to inform local citizens about the efforts of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to stop the proliferation of the invasive Spotted Lantern Fly, Oct. 5. The project was inspired by the recent increase in local public service announcements and graphic signage, warning the general public of the oncoming scourge of the invasive species.
More than 230 members of the New Canaan Country School community participated in the 5th annual Cougar 5K Run, held Oct. 2 on the school’s 85-acre campus. The friend-raising event was sponsored by the school’s Parents’ Association and involved students, faculty, staff, alumni and parents. The event also hosted a Cougar Junior Fun Run which included a 100-meter dash and obstacle course for children ages 3 through Grade 2. Members of the school’s cross-country teams (Grades 5-9) led participants in group stretches in preparation of the race. The school’s Cougar mascot and non-runners of all ages lined the course to offer encouragement, support and congratulations.
Maker culture and curriculum are thriving at Country School this fall. Students in Grades 1 through 9 are diving into increasingly more complex and authentically challenging lessons with enthusiasm, all while practicing skills of collaboration, creativity and higher-order thinking. -
Four New Canaan Country School young alumni – Audrey Magnusen ’18, Jack Johnson ’18, Maggie Ruvinsky ’19 and Amitav Nott ’19 – have been named 2021 “ Teens To Watch” by Moffly Media as featured in the New Canaan, Darien & Rowayton Magazine September issue.
The Horizons at New Canaan Country School Board, Board of Governors and leadership donors gathered together on Wednesday, September 8, to dedicate the new and improved McNaught Pool and celebrate another successful year. The new pool will serve as a springboard for student success for years to come as our students master swimming skills and build confidence that spills over into all aspects of their lives.
The new school year is upon us, and understandably, for some it can be an exciting but anxious time. New Canaan Country School psychologists Rebecca Comizio and Jackie Britt-Friedman offer the following tips to help reduce stress around the transition.
At New Canaan Country School’s Celebration of Eighth Graders, Tuesday, June 15, Head of Upper School Karl Palmgren recognized the 62 members of the Class of 2022 as “independent, self-motivated, confident, good communicators, hard workers, resilient, empathetic, joyful and collaborative.”
At New Canaan Country School’s Closing Exercises Wednesday, June 16, Head of School Aaron Cooper encouraged the 35 members of the Class of 2021 to draw upon the many strengths they developed during their tenure at the Pre-K through Grade 9 school. The graduates, their families, faculty and staff gathered on the front lawn of the school’s campus for the outdoor ceremony.
To honor and celebrate the 22 graduating seniors in the Horizons at New Canaan Country School Class of 2021, staff, academic coaches, and families attended an outdoor graduation and Alumni Association induction ceremony at Country School on Saturday, June 12.
Among the graduates were NCCS alumni Jennifer Llamas and Brian Villalta, each of whom were presented with an award. Brian Villalta, a 2021 graduate of Rye Country Day School and 2018 graduate of New Canaan Country School was presented the Leah Kimmet Spirit Award by Nehemie Moïse, Horizons Family and Program Director, and Family Council representative, Luisa Osorio.
New Canaan Country School rocked on Saturday, June 5! Parents, faculty and staff came out to support the school’s “Country School Rocks” community celebration and fundraiser. Attendees were treated to a picnic-style gathering on the school’s campus with musical performances by three bands composed of faculty and parent performers along with other musicians. Click HEREfor event photos. Click HERE for video.
Second grade Social Studies students held a “States Exposition” in which they presented individual research projects and their knowledge of the five regions of the United States, including land and water forms, to parents and faculty assembled, by class, in the Welles Lower School Building, June 10. The multimedia event included video, poster board and recitations and was a culmination of their semester-long study of the United States.
New Canaan Country School ninth graders offered words of gratitude and touching reminiscences in their 2021 yearbook dedication to two teachers: Grade 9 Teacher, Coach and Advisor Tom Giggi and Physical Education Teacher and Coach Meegan Horn. The tributes were read aloud before the Upper School community, June 10. Mrs. Horn, who participated via Zoom, was home with her newborn child.
Working in small teams, New Canaan Country School sixth grade social studies students navigated their way around campus to points labelled Spain, England, Portugal, France, England and the Netherlands as participants of a “Trade Routes” game, June 6. The culminating experience follows their year-long study of major explorers who journeyed to expand Western ideals, following trade routes that originated during the Renaissance time-period.
Fifth grade Earth and physical science students and their parents participated in a STEM design challenge in which they were given an engineering problem to solve with limited materials, June 10. Working in small groups, they designed and then created 3D plant models each with a unique adaptation in reaction to a real world issue, such as limited rain, an abundance of sunlight or leaf eating predators.
Fourth grade students performed oral recitals by class and participated in a grade-wide video production of a traditional Greek play for parents, June 1-3. These culminating activities were part of a year-end celebration following their multidisciplinary study of ancient Greece, early democracy, myths and "The Odyssey." Dressed in costume, students also shared their final written thesis projects, along with a gallery of handmade replicas of characters and sailing vessels found in the myths and text of "The Odyssey. " View video.
On May 25th the NCCS Upper School Cross Country team participated in the 2021 Run For It 5k, an event that coincided with Mental Health Awareness Month in raising money for To Write Love on Her Arms, a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide.
I’ve heard the question millions of times. It's the kind of question I've grown used to hearing and it took a while for me to realize that most people don’t want to hear that I am from Connecticut.
“No, where are you really from?”
It wasn’t until I was in college that I realized the truth behind the question of where I was from. Being an Asian American, I often struggled with understanding my identity and that I was different from others. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to understand that my identity as an Asian is an important facet of who I am and I hope to further share that heritage with my students.
When I’m asked what makes Country School special, I often point first to our deeply held value of community.
At the heart of the NCCS mission is a belief that children learn and grow best when they are rooted in an unshakeable sense of belonging. Country School students are fully seen and known, valued for all they are and can become, and surrounded by adults who inspire them to reach their highest potential.
I have a vivid memory of when I learned about the Student Diversity Leadership Conference for the first time. I was in seventh grade and six ninth graders gave a presentation on the eight identifiers - religion, age, ethnicity, socio-economic-status, race, sexual orientation, ability, and gender. As much information as they shared in that presentation, I still had so many questions:
New Canaan Country School admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin and are afforded all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, sex, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry, or disability in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, financial aid policies or any other school-administered programs.