Rippowam Cisqua School

News Events
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  • Foundations of Education Speaker Interviewed on CBS This Morning

    Our Foundations of Education speaker, Dr. Lisa Damour, was interviewed on CBS this morning. To watch that interview, please click HERE.

    Dr. Damour is scheduled to appear on March 1 at 7:00pm in the Crosby-Fiala Playhouse on the Upper Campus. For more information on the Foundations of Education lecture, and Dr. Damour, please click HERE.
  • Barbara Winton, Daughter of Sir Nicholas Winton, Visits the Upper Campus

    On January 25th, the Upper Campus was privileged to witness a very special presentation by Barbara Winton, daughter of famed Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton. She discussed the life and achievements of her father in an assembly attended by RCS students in Grade 7, 8, and 9, along with faculty and staff. Sir Winton, then a 29-year-old stockbroker in the 1930s, organized the evacuation of nearly 700 Jewish children from the Czech Republic in the days immediately before the Nazi takeover. Ms. Winton, author of the memoir If It's Not Impossible, depicting her father's achievements, is a tireless advocate for Sir Winton's faith that "If it's not impossible, there must be a way to do it." She was in New York City to speak at the United Nations, but graciously came to Rippowam Cisqua to ensure that our community's children could learn about "the power of one" through a dazzling presentation that was one part lecture, one part review of photographs and other firsthand documents outlining Sir Winton's achievement, and one part Question and Answer session as led by students in the audience. After the presentation, Ms. Winton graciously stayed long afterwards to speak with our students and sign copies of her book.
  • Ninth Graders Participate in the Midnight Run

    While most of us were warmly snuggled in our beds on the night of Friday, January 29, the RCS ninth graders and their chaperones were traveling to Manhattan to participate in the annual Midnight Run. There was much work to be done before they even hit the road - making sandwiches and putting together sack suppers including hot soup and coffee, packaging up personal care items, sizing and grouping clothing, and packing up blankets.

    For over ten years, RCS ninth graders have participated in the Midnight Run. This year, a group of ninth graders--Blair Clayton, Julia Gastone, Gabe Grimeh, Jack Kovensky, and Eric Ochsner--took on the challenge of organizing the Midnight Run, some of them as part of their ninth grade Portfolio. The Portfolio program is a wonderful opportunity for students to explore areas of interest. As leaders, the group hosted a jeans day/bake sale to raise funds to purchase the supplies needed for the Run. In addition to helping with baked goods, parents of the ninth graders volunteered to cook soup, make hard-boiled eggs, and bake meatloaf (a sandwich staple favored by many of the homeless). Members of the RCS Community also donated toiletries and clothing.

    Two weeks prior to the Run, Dale Williams shared his unique perspective on homelessness in New York City with our ninth graders. Now Executive Director of Midnight Run, Mr. Williams spent nearly three years on the streets in the late 1980s. A product of a middle class family with a college education, Mr. Williams spoke about not knowing the meaning of being cold, dirty, hungry, and lonely until he faced that stark reality of homelessness. Members of the ninth grade asked a myriad of questions as they listened to his story. During his talk with the group, Mr. Williams emphasized that, while giving out food, toiletries, and clothing is important, his assessment of a “successful” run is when each participant has a meaningful conversation with someone they meet on the streets.

    On the 29th, after all Run materials were loaded into the vans, Vic Fried, our Midnight Run leader of many years, talked with the group about the logistics involved in a Run “stop.” After the ninth graders decided the jobs they would take on during the Run--handing out meals, serving soup, passing out jackets--the students piled into three vans and headed out to the first stop. Over the course of the next three hours, they encountered a host of interesting characters, all appreciative of the donations, and most willing to chat with the kids.

    Conversations between the ninth graders and the men and women they met ran the gamut from sporting events to politics, music, and more. As the night progressed, the ninth graders came to appreciate the “homeless” as people with names and faces, people with more similarities to us than differences, and people who were experiencing rocky points in their lives.
    Thanks to all who helped provide resources for the Run, and special thanks to the Run chaperones: Vic Fried, Mike Kober, Missy Swan, Bill Barrett, and Chris Perry.
  • New Book by Justin Cronin '77
    The City of Mirrors, the final book in RCS alum Justin Cronin's The Passage trilogy is slated for release in the spring. Click HERE for more information.

    For more RCS Alumni news stories, click HERE. Continue to watch the RCS Alumni News page for more news about our alums in the future!
  • RCS Eighth Graders Volunteer at the Food Bank for Westchester

    Last week a group of RCS eighth grade students spent their Friday afternoon at the Food Bank for Westchester in Elmsford, New York. Students helped sort, organize, and pack donated non-perishable food items. They also had the opportunity to take a tour of the large facility. They learned about food insecurity in our communities and social justice issues specific to access to fresh food and produce for all socioeconomic classes. Students began to break down their stereotypes of hunger issues in the county and think critically about solutions to these complex issues. The student volunteers recognize the importance of stepping outside the RCS community and learning about others within our own local community.
  • RCS Students Share Holiday Warmth with Local Community

    Rippowam Cisqua students on both campuses embraced the spirit of the holiday season. Through philanthropic projects and a focus on community partnership, the students became aware of their own gifts and welcomed the opportunity to share with their neighbors.

    In advance of the holidays, both campuses participated in the annual RCS Share the Warmth clothing drive and collected new warm children's pajamas, robes, socks, and slippers for the Community Center of Northern Westchester. While students and staff on both campuses donated the clothing, on December 4, Upper Campus students held a bake sale to raise money to purchase additional sleepwear. Our first and second grade students spearheaded the school-wide collection and, during the school day on December 10, they sorted and packed the clothing and made sparkling holiday decorations for the patrons of the center. The following day, first and second grade volunteers, along with their parents, delivered the clothing and decorations. At the Center, the students weighed the donations (totaling 137 pounds) and toured the facility, seeing the food pantry and clothing bank in action.

    At the same time, the Upper Campus community held its annual holiday food drive also to benefit the Community Center. Drumming up enthusiasm for the collection, the red and blue teams competed to see which team could collect the most, with an ultimate joint goal of 1000 items. Mr. MacMahon fueled the drive when, during the final stretch, he offered to match additional donations. As a result, the goal was surpassed with Upper Campus students and staff collecting 1077 nonperishable food items to stock the shelves of the Center. Delivering these 1000+ food items, along with 137 pounds of new warm clothing, our RCS students certainly shared the warmth this holiday season!
  • Welcome Back, Tess!

    Tess Greenwald ’10 is interning on the Rippowam Cisqua School Upper Campus for two weeks. Currently an English major at the University of Denver, Tess is thinking about becoming an English teacher for seventh, eighth, and ninth grades, and she is thrilled to be back on campus to “see how it all works.”

    We asked her what her experience was like being a student at RCS and here’s what she said: “I did JPK through ninth grade - I was a ‘lifer.’ It was a great experience, such a nurturing environment. I love this school. Rippowam taught me to embrace who I am and everything that I am. It’s true. This school has defined me as a person.”

    When we asked her what her greatest experience was at Rippowam Cisqua, her response was: “Probably my ninth grade year, and the portfolio project. The fact that Ripp not only requires, but also encourages, you to pursue something that you’re passionate about is special. I sewed costumes for the spring musical. Staying for ninth grade was amazing. It gave me the chance to develop self-confidence and self-advocacy. It helped me transition from here to high school. My sister is in eighth grade right now. She’s staying for ninth too, as my brother and I did. The ninth grade program is great.”

    Finally, we asked her how it felt to be back. “It’s nice coming back and seeing the same faces, and everyone remembers me and knows who I am,” she said “from the lunch ladies, to the bus drivers, to the history and math teachers, and the Head of School Mr. MacMahon. Working with the kids is so rewarding but this experience, coming back to Ripp and everyone remembering me and welcoming me, is cool too.”
  • Lower Campus Mathematicians Visit the Rippowam Applied Physics Laboratory

    On Monday, November 30 and Wednesday, December 2, the fourth grade math teams took their velocity calculating skills and visited the Upper Campus to collect data for analysis. The teams built and tested helium-filled launch vehicles, trying to achieve the slowest, continuously-rising design. Making a slow rising vehicle is a real challenge, especially when the only variables are the ballast, and the helium leaking from the balloons. These fourth graders formed teams that were resourceful, motivated, and resilient. In spite of the technical hurdles, all teams came to the final test site to demonstrate a working launch vehicle with recorded test data to calculate velocity.

    Each year the fourth graders make a few trips to the Upper Campus to visit the Rippowam Applied Physics Laboratory. The activity is part of a joint campus program to combine math, science, and engineering while giving our Lower Campus children a glimpse of Upper Campus science curriculum.
  • RCS Welcomes Award-Winning Author/Illustrator, Grace Lin, to Campus

    On Friday, November 20, the RCS Upper Campus was privileged to meet, and learn about, the writer’s craft from Grace Lin, an award-winning author and illustrator. In the morning, Ms. Lin met with the sixth graders for workshops focused on her book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. The sixth graders were especially engaged as they had just finished their study of ancient China in humanities and read Where the Mountain Meets the Moon in language arts class. They learned about Ms. Lin’s research and the many Asian myths and folktales that inspired her books. In addition, they learned about her journey to become a children’s book author and how her life experiences shaped her path to becoming a writer.

    After completing the workshops with the sixth graders, Ms. Lin spoke to the entire campus, presenting her program “Behind the Art,” where she discussed the inspiration behind the art in her books as well as her journey to becoming an author. In the afternoon, she met with the faculty for a presentation entitled “The Path of a Multicultural Author.” Ms. Lin shared what it was like to grow up as the only Asian-American in her upstate town and what it was like for her to rarely see herself in the stories she loved to read. These experiences, as well as her art school and travel experiences, helped her learn more about the value of multicultural literature. All people benefit from, and enjoy reading, different types of stories. In addition, reading enables us to see through “windows” and learn about people with different stories from our own, while we must also promote reading books that allow us to look into “mirrors” and see ourselves in the stories we read.

    Ms. Lin’s visit to RCS provided an opportunity for students to learn about the writing process from a published author. Ms. Lin confirmed that it takes time and hard work to revise writing that meets editorial standards for publication! This authentic experience is one of many ways we are building our community of readers and writers at school.

    Ms. Lin currently resides in Massachusetts, but she grew up in upstate New York. She is a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design and is the author and illustrator of over twenty picture books, early reader books, and middle grade novels. She published her first book, The Ugly Vegetables, in 1999, which was soon named an American Booksellers Association “Pick of the List” and a Bank Street College Best Book of the Year. Other awards followed. Her first middle grade novel, The Year of the Dog, drew on her family’s cultural heritage and was followed by The Year of the Rat and Dumpling Days. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon was published in 2009 and was awarded a 2010 Newbery Honor and was chosen for Al Roker’s Today Show Kid’s Book Club and was a New York Times Bestseller. This book was followed by Starry River of the Sky. The first in Ms. Lin’s series of early readers, Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same won the Theodor Geisel Honor in 2011. Ms. Lin has been recognized at the Boston Public Library, receiving the Literary Lights for Children Award, and was an Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award nominee for the United States. On her website, Ms. Lin is quoted as saying: "Books erase bias; they make the uncommon every day, and the mundane exotic. A book makes all cultures universal."

    The Upper Campus will long remember its special day with Grace Lin. Many thanks to all who supported this wonderful visit.
  • Eighth Graders Walk the Highline and Visit the Whitney

    On Tuesday, November 17, the eighth graders, along with chaperones Charlie Duveen, Mike Kober, Andy Kuhn, and Marnie McLaughlin, spent a spectacular fall day in New York City. We visited the Highline and the Whitney Museum of American Art, where we saw the Frank Stella Retrospective. Leading up to the trip, the class learned about Stella's ever changing styles and processes from Minimalism to sculptural Abstract Expressionism.

    We started the day with a walk along the entire length of the Highline, beginning on the newest section at 34th Street with views of the Hudson River and overlooking the Hudson Rail Yards, an area that just opened to the public this past September. The path threads through quickly developing high rises and on through the buildings and neighborhoods of Chelsea and the Meatpacking District. We walked along the visible rails and lounged in the sun on reclaimed wooden benches while taking in the great views of public art, buildings, street, and sky. After picnicking in the Highline's amphitheater overlooking 8th Avenue, we descended upon the Gansevoort Market for gelato and other treats.

    At the Whitney, we were in for a great surprise. The museum is closed to the public on Tuesdays but open to school groups. While sitting before Stella's larger than life abstractions, our docents discreetly pointed out that the artist himself was present in the gallery with a small group of associates. Excited whispers passed between our students as they caught a glimpse of the unassuming, older man in a baseball cap amidst his bold and monumental work in the Whitney's light-flooded space.

    We boarded the bus at the end of the day, inspired by Stella's grand color and form, and the unique cross section of the West Side we experienced on the Highline.
  • Hands On Science at RCS!

    They’re outside and it’s hands on for Joe Karr’s fourth grade science class. It’s all about asking scientific questions and making observations -- and the students are definitely doing that as they learn about habitats in Mr. Karr’s outdoor science classroom.
    Mr. Karr and his students built the classroom themselves. They dragged logs and stumps into a circle, and they’ve been meeting in this spot in the woods ever since. On a beautiful fall afternoon, it’s the perfect place to study the natural world. On this particular day, third graders were manned with clipboards, colored pencils, thermometers, and a soil core sampler.

    How is it different for the students to be studying and gathering data outside?

    Mr. Karr explains: “By comparing the forests and fields right outside our door, we position ourselves to better understand our local habitats, put skills to work, and feel the joy of discovering creatures that were always so close, yet unknown.”

    Meanwhile ... inside the eighth grade physics lab on the Upper Campus, the eighth graders were gathering their own data and making observations in order to determine how a candle works. It is probably one of the simplest tools of man, discovered, perhaps in prehistoric times, when a woman inadvertently tossed the beeswax into a fire and the blaze got bigger. Her discovery led to lighting up the cave, even in her tribe’s darkest hours.

    The eighth grade scientists have been struggling to unlock the process that keeps a candle burning. How does it do that with such consistency? What exactly is the role of the wax, the wick, and the flame? Using only the tools and equipment in the lab, the teams went to work, given no specific apparatus or parameters to measure, just a set of safety rules and precautions. They learned how to operate a Bunsen burner and how to burn materials in a controlled environment.

    What looked like a simple lab investigation wasn’t easy at all. With four lab teams in each section, it took over five weeks to complete, with the first breakthroughs occurring after a week and a half of discovery, dead ends, and misleading conclusions. This wasn’t an internet research project. It was a nuts and bolts challenge, “What can you prove with your collective creativity, in this lab, and with this equipment?”

    “Wax is not flammable; it helps to slow down the burning, so the wick doesn’t burn right up and go out.” This conclusion, proven many times in different ways was finally overturned when one team heated wax in an evaporating dish over a Bunsen burner. The hot smoky liquid caught on fire with no wick. The team concluded that wax is indeed flammable when it reaches a high enough temperature and turns to a gas.

    Another team identified the black substance on the wick as the element “carbon.” One lone member of that team postulated that the carbon came not only from the burned wick but also from the wax. It turned out that she was right.

    Using small bits of carbon as indicators, another team identified currents moving in the pool of wax at the base of the wick and proved that the liquid wax was moving toward the wick. This later helped to explain the capillary action occurring in the wick to draw up the liquid wax to deliver it to the base of the flame, where it heated to a gas and kept the flame going.

    Some teams created an apparatus and carried out a procedure that resulted in no discoveries, brea
  • Ninth Graders Volunteer at A-Home

    Volunteers who saw a need for permanent affordable housing for seniors and individuals with disabilities in Northern Westchester founded A-HOME in 1985. On Friday, November 13, members of the ninth grade class raked leaves and planted over 100 bulbs at A-HOME’s Pound Ridge residence. While we were working, Lonna Kelly, Director of Development for A-HOME, took photos of our team (ones she called “UNselfies”). Gerry Granelli, A-HOME’s property manager, commented that we have great kids and that it’s always a pleasure to work with them. The ninth graders should be proud of their willingness to lend a hand in this worthy effort. Thanks to Mike Kober and Chris Perry for helping the event run smoothly!
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