Rippowam Cisqua School

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  • Foundations of Education - Thursday, January 29th

    Rippowam Cisqua School’s Foundations of Education Series kicks off its eighth year on Thursday, January 29 at 9:30am with a visit from educator, author, and NY Times columnist Jessica Lahey who will discuss The Gift of Failure: Fostering Intrinsic Motivation and Resilience in Kids. In her lecture, Jessica will explore the best ways to motivate students to own their education and develop grit and resilience, as well as share current research on autonomy-supportive parenting and teaching.

    Jessica Lahey ( is an educator, writer, and speaker. She has been a middle- and high school teacher of English, Latin, and writing for over a decade. She writes the bi-weekly "Parent-Teacher Conference" advice column for the New York Times and her work appears regularly in the Atlantic and on Vermont Public Radio. Her article, "Why Parents Need to Let Their Children Fail," went viral in early 2013 and became the genesis of her forthcoming book, The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed, which will be published in August by HarperCollins.

    Rippowam Cisqua School’s critically acclaimed Foundations of Education Series is a dynamic program featuring informative lectures on how to raise successful, lifelong learners. The lectures are free and open to the public. All lectures take place on the Lower Campus, which is located at 325 West Patent Road, Mount Kisco, New York. For more information, please contact Ryan Smith at 914-244-1292 or
  • RCS Builds Community this Holiday Season

    Service-learning activities at Rippowam Cisqua School offer our students the opportunity to consider social justice issues, to think critically about these social justice issues and, as a result, to take informed action within the School, local, and global community. This holiday season, Rippowam Cisqua’s Upper Campus students and staff collected over 1,000 nonperishable food items for Neighbors Link and the Community Center of Northern Westchester.

    In addition, students and teachers brought in sets of new pajamas and raised money to purchase sleepwear. The Upper Campus community donated over 150 new pajamas to the Community Center of Northern Westchester’s Share the Warmth drive. Through these activities, students become aware of their own gifts and welcome the opportunity to share with their neighbors. Students, faculty, and staff look forward to continuing to partner with Neighbors Link and the Community Center of Northern Westchester in the future. Many thanks to all who participated in this very successful holiday drive.
  • Fourth Grade Engineers Visit the Upper Campus

    On November 12th and December 9th, fourth grade students traveled to the Upper Campus to meet with physics teacher, Charlie Duveen, at the Rippowam Applied Physics Laboratory. Given only a few materials — a helium filled gas container (balloon), a platform (Dixie cup), shroud and tether lines (sewing thread), ballast (a lump of clay), and adhesive (masking tape) — these young engineers worked in teams to construct and test the slowest-rising launch vehicle.

    As part of their math lessons on velocity, the objective for each design team was to create its own unique launch vehicle and to collect the necessary data (distance traveled and time) so that the team could calculate the vehicle's upward velocity. In his briefing to the students, Mr. Duveen told them that the key to success in meeting this challenge was to work as a team. "Good teammates," he said, "help each other to solve problems, supporting one another, even when things go wrong."

    There are four reasons why this task is especially challenging. First, the vehicle must continuously rise until it reaches the ceiling; secondly, the only variable to change velocity is the amount of ballast; thirdly, in any engineering venture, stuff goes wrong. All the teams had only ten minutes to complete the build and test phases of this project while recording the time-of-flight for several test trials. Finally, it is easy to make a fast launch vehicle, but creating the slowest, continuously-rising vehicle is a real trick. This is pretty much how engineers bring applied physics and mathematics together.

    This particular challenge took some real teamwork. Through thick and thin, the design teams persevered, recording data over several trials, and adjusting the ballast on successive launches to improve its performance.

    As we all know too well, not every engineering project goes smoothly. Some teams lost the gas container and had penalty points to pay for getting another one to replace it. One team's launch vehicle was complete, and in testing, when the gas container exploded (popped). The team had to start all over with new materials and less time, but prevail they did, as any good team will do, in spite of the setbacks.

    Since fourth graders already understood how to use area and perimeter formulas, fourth grade math teacher, Babs Johnson, created activities using the velocity formula. Children ran different distances and used a stop watch to record their times to hundredths of a second. They actually calculated their personal velocity, accurate to two decimal places. Even the concept of acceleration, a change in velocity, came up during their discussions. By the time the fourth grade engineering teams arrived at the Upper Campus to work on launch vehicles, they were experts at the mathematics involved.

    Mr. Duveen ended each session with a discussion about helium and balloon safety. The dangers of balloons as a choking hazard to infants is well documented. The helium in industrial cylinders brought into the home must be supervised by adults.  The helium itself is not purified for human consumption (inhalation) and the reducer valve on a tank has too much pressure if used to inhale the helium and could damage the lungs.

    Babs Johnson coordinated the field trip with 4th grade teachers, Harriet Doniger, Gail Laird, Stephanie Kaplan, and assistant teachers Adrienne Adorno and Eliza Tighe. Penny Jennings, Head of the Lower Campus, came to watch her students working effectively in teams and having fun doing it.
  • RCS World Languages Department Launches iPad Pilot Program for Grades 7-9

    After attending a four day summer conference in Boston on “Technology in the World Language Classroom,” RCS World Language Facilitator, Kathy Perry, returned to school with a mission: to bring iPads into our French, Spanish, and Latin classrooms. “There are so many exciting ways that iPads are being used in language classrooms across the country,” Mrs. Perry explained. “The nimbleness and flexibility of the iPad makes it a great tool for the modern world language classroom. Bringing iPads into my 7th, 8th, and 9th grade Spanish classes has allowed me to engage with students in a new and dynamic way.”

    Currently, iPads are being used to enhance classroom learning at RCS in both French and Spanish. Mrs. Perry's fellow language teachers - Mrs. Pleitez, Mrs. Englis, and Mrs. Lespes - also report that integrating iPads into their classrooms has increased students’ engagement in lessons and given them a new way to interact with, and immerse themselves in, the language and culture they are studying.

    A sample of the applications currently being tested as part of this pilot program include:

    Kahoot! -- Kahoot! is a student response system for creating and administering unique, game-like quizzes. Questions, along with answer choices, are projected onto the classroom SmartBoard while students submit responses from an iPad. It is a compelling and easy way to engage students in pre-assessment activities that give students immediate feedback and allows the teacher to see which material requires extra review before a formal assessment. It is so motivating that students can't wait to play.

    ThingLink -- ThingLink for iPad lets you create interactive images instantly. It is a great alternative method of presenting information on a topic. Students can link text, audio clips, video clips, photos, maps, and other information to a single picture, organizing their references. These “ThingLinks” can be created by the teacher ahead of time and uploaded to the homework portal as well. They can also be displayed and shown on the classroom SmartBoard.

    Sphere -- Sphere allows students to look at photographs taken in a 360 degree fashion. As they turn right with the iPad, they look to the right in the photo. As they tilt it up, they see the sky. Sphere allows students to feel transported to just about anywhere in the world. Through Sphere, students can visit a street in Paris, a castle in Madrid, a sunny beach in Mexico, or a snow covered bridge in Belgium. This allows for a fantastic new way to teach the prepositions of location, and the language of weather, time of day, and descriptions. The iPad can be linked to the classroom’s SmartBoard so that, as a single student tilts and rotates the iPad, the whole class "sees" the changing view displayed.

    Tagul -- Tagul is a word cloud app that allows students to choose a silhouette of a picture and then input related words to create the image. This can be created by the teacher and used by the students to categorize the words or created by the students and used as a visual in a display where they talk about their interests.

    In addition, our French and Spanish textbooks have many digital listening, reading comprehension, mapping, and grammar review activities. Bringing iPads into the classroom means that these activities can be done in class, allowing the teacher to circulate and give individual attention and address the areas that each student is struggling to learn, or to individualize review time and activities in class. iPads are also being used as an alternative method of assessing listening skills, and to enhance students’ research and presentation skills.

    Mr. Lillis is currently researching a dictionary app that he believes wil
  • Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk is a Success!

    Thank you to everyone who supported RCS in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk at Manhattanville on Sunday, October 19th.
    We raised over $1,000 for this great cause and we had a great time walking. We could feel all of the positive energy around us!
    Thank you again for your donations and for supporting our team!
  • RCS Announces New Head of School

    Rippowam Cisqua School is pleased to announce the appointment of Colm MacMahon as its 17th Head of School.  To read the announcement from Kirtley Cameron, Chair of the Board of Trustees, and Will McLanahan, Chair of the Search Committee, please click HERE We look forward to welcoming Colm and his family to RCS in July 2015!
  • Homecoming 2014

    It couldn’t have been a more perfect day for a community-wide celebration on Saturday, September 27th. The sun was shining and the excitement in the air was contagious as hundreds of parents, students, alumni, parents of alumni, and faculty and staff joined together on Meyers Fields for the All School Picnic and Homecoming 2014.

    The children enjoyed lots of activities including water balloon toss, bouncy castles, face painting, and tug of war as many of the adults, older students, and alums watched the football game. The Varsity Football team emerged triumphant again this year, beating Iona Prep 32-8.

    The perfect ending to a perfect day came in the form of a great barbecue lunch as the RCS Community came together for another successful Homecoming Day.

    Check out some great photos from the event! And click HERE to view the upcoming athletics schedule. All RCS Community members are encouraged to come out to the beautiful playing fields on the Upper Campus to watch the games!
  • Homecoming is Coming!
    Parents, students, alumni, parents of alumni, and all faculty and staff are invited to the All School Picnic and Homecoming 2014 on Saturday, September 27th!  

    Meyers Fields - Upper Campus
    439 Cantitoe Street, Bedford
    10:30am - childrens' activities begin
    11:00am - kick off
    Lunch to follow
    The RCS Varsity Football team is ready to take on Iona Prep!

    School Spirit will be in full effect on the Lower Campus on Friday as students kick off the Homecoming festivities with a great Pep Rally led by the 9th Grade Red and Blue Team Captains! And on Saturday, alumni from the classes of 1963 and 1964 will return to the Upper Campus for their 50th Reunion!

    Hope to see everyone at Homecoming on Saturday!
  • Ninth Graders Experience the Institute of Culinary Education

    An Unexpected Surprise

    On Thursday morning, September 18th, as the ninth graders began to settle into Mrs. Stern’s history class, Mr. Barrett came in wearing a serious expression on his face. The ninth graders thought they were in trouble for something but then he asked a student to read a note that said “You are all going to NYC for a surprise.” The students looked confused. Then Mrs. Stern shouted "surprise!" and everyone started to cheer and smile.

    Mr. Barrett said "The bus is waiting for you next to the swings. Let's go!" Like honeybees to the hive, students ran out the door toward the bus. After a quick ride to NYC and a screening of Dead Poets Society, we arrived at ICE (the Institute of Culinary Education). Students wore smiles from ear to ear as they entered the lobby of ICE. Almost immediately the discussion turned to food and they began chattering about what they might eat.

    Our mouths watered as we were greeted by the scrumptious fragrance of fresh basil, tomatoes, and parmesan cheese that teased our taste buds. Black and white uniformed waiters greeted us with trays decorated with picturesque butler-style Italian hors d'oeuvres such as arrancini and bruschetta. Students were divided into three groups and each cooked one course under the direction of a chef. The appetizer group prepared fresh ricotta, spinach, and herb ravioli with parmesan and lemon broth; the main course group prepared hanger steak with salsa verde, chanterelle mushrooms, bacon, and creamy potatoes; and the dessert group prepared molten chocolate cake with cinnamon crème anglaise. After much hard work, many giggles, and numerous tastes of delicious ingredients in the kitchen, the students had worked up an appetite.

    It was time to sit and break bread for lunch. We feasted our eyes and our taste buds on the plates that were placed before us on elegant tables set for a fine dining experience. Students scarfed down the ravioli and devoured the steak and delicate chanterelle mushrooms, which the chef had told them cost $40 per pound. The finale was the chocolate cake as each student had his or her own small individual cake. Plates looked as though they had been licked clean as dessert was the clear winner. Afterwards, the ninth graders quickly fell into a blissful “food coma” as we boarded the bus back home and watched the movie “Freaky Friday.” Toward the end of the ride, the students happily erupted into song. It was truly a day none of us would ever forget.

    "Surprise days" such as this one are part of the larger program provided in Rippowam Cisqua's ninth grade Capstone Year.
  • School is Back in Session at RCS!

    On a beautiful, sunny September morning, students, families, and teachers across both campuses celebrated the start of a new school year. With the "shorts clause" in full effect (that welcome wrinkle in the School uniform policy that kicks in when the weather forecast calls for temperatures of 75 degrees or more), both campuses came to life this morning as friends reconnected with each other and teachers welcomed their eager and excited new students. Parents gathered on the Lower Campus for a Welcome Back Coffee and Parents Association meeting, where they were welcomed by Head of School Matthew Nespole and other members of the School community. It was an exciting day for the entire RCS community! The 97th year of teaching and learning at Rippowam Cisqua School has officially begun!
  • Congratulations to the Class of 2014!!

    Congratulations to the ninth grade graduates (class of 2014) and to the departing eighth graders (class of 2015).  Have a wonderful summer!!
  • RCS Receives Green Award

    On Tuesday, June 3rd, the Town of Bedford Conservation Board presented their annual Green Awards, and Rippowam Cisqua School was honored to be among the recipients. The Green Awards were presented to those organizations that work to protect and preserve the Town of Bedford's environment, and RCS was highlighted for its commitment to environmental sustainability in all aspects of school life. The Conservation Board particularly highlighted Rippowam Cisqua School's use of the Rocket Composter, the community garden on the Upper Campus, the School's water conservation efforts, and the School's energy conservation efforts--including the installation and use of solar panels.

    The award was presented to Head of School Matthew Nespole at Bedford Town Hall and, in his acceptance remarks, Matthew thanked the Town of Bedford, the Conservation Board, and all of the members of the RCS community--the faculty, staff, parents, students, and parents of alumni--who implement and support the School's sustainability efforts each and every day. Matthew also thanked and acknowledged Director of Buildings and Grounds John Della Vecchia and the entire Buildings and Grounds team for all that they do each day to advance the School's sustainability initiatives.

    Congratulations to the entire RCS community on this award! Sustainability is a community-wide effort at Rippowam Cisqua School, and this award is shared by all who work each day to advance the School's mission. Special thanks to the Town of Bedford and the Conservation Board for supporting and acknowledging these efforts through this wonderful awards program! For more on Rippowam Cisqua School's commitment to sustainability, please click HERE.
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