The Unquowa School’s 99th graduating class gathered on the evening of June 6th with family, friends, alumni, the Board of Governors, faculty and staff for a ceremony of recognition and closure to mark the end of their time at Unquowa and to celebrate their transition to high school. Reverend Margaret Hodgkins offered the invocation and salutatorian, and Ultimate Unquowan, Alexandra Halas, welcomed everyone to the celebration.
The ceremony included the announcement of several awards. Our valedictorian, Lola Panagos, also an Ultimate Unquowan, received the J. Grippin Award for the highest academic average. Ryan Cawley was given The Unquowa Award for the “most significant growth in intellectual discipline.” The Board of Governors’ Cup for “outstanding school citizenship” was given to Sophia Mughal, The Headmaster’s Cup was awarded to Aaron Gruen and the John P. Blessington Award for “steadfast concern for classmates and the school” was given to Will Hansen. The Elizabeth Curtis and John F. Turlick Awards, given to the eighth grade girl and boy “whose skill and accomplishments in athletics have been matched by true understanding of good sportsmanship” were presented to Ella Stalowir and Will Hansen. The Robert L. Cleveland Award for a student who “demonstrates a keen mind, sound body, and unafraid spirit” was presented to Lisi Chapin. Noah Markus and Mimi Coghlan were named Class Agents, responsible for helping the class stay connected to each other and to the school. The Jean Carpenter Winton Distinguished Alumni Award was given to Kris Hansen ‘83 for his profound dedication to the school as an active alum, as an Unquowa parent for seventeen years and as a member of the Board of Governors since 2008.
After receiving their diplomas, the graduates heard from our guest speaker, Ebong Udoma, Senior Political Reporter for WSHU. Mr Udoma spoke about his passion for music and encouraged the graduates to pursue their own passions. He reminded them that passion often leads to a strong sense of purpose and, as we all know, purpose has power.
This year’s valedictorian, Lola Panagos, spoke about the strength of the Unquowa community and the special bond she and her “classmates, no, best friends” share. Lola also thanked the Unquowa faculty and, speaking on behalf of the Class of 2017, said that “although there may be some forks and bumps in this road, I believe we have been taught how to make the right decisions and how to make it to our final destinations.”
With a closing benediction from Rabbi Rachel Bearman, we said a final goodbye to the Class of 2017. While we will miss this special class tremendously, we wish them all the best in the next step in their school journey and look forward to their return as alumni on Founders’ Day!
It was a very special day in kindergarten performing arts! The students were visited by some of the members of this year’s spring musical, The Wizard of Oz! Since we are working on our own little play in kindergarten, the 8th graders helped coach the kindergarteners in their roles in The Day The Crayons Quit. The students worked so well with one another! The 8th graders gave great tips and helped the kindergarten class with their characterization skills. The kindergarten students were extremely excited to work with these actors and hung on every word they had to say! What a great class!
For the fourth Earth Day in a row the Upper School focused on a theme related to one of the greatest challenges facing our planet. This year the focus was on Global Warming and specifically the impact of rising CO2 on the world’s oceans. Students traveled to Stratford, CT to explore and plant sawgrass at Stratford Point. This exploration had robust science and ecological activities, raised social awareness, and is part of the science curriculum. We worked in concert with Sacred Heart University and Dr. Jennifer Mattei in the Living Shorelines Project to plant sawgrass next to geodesic domes to help combat erosion due to rising sea level.
After lunch the Upper Schoolers led their Lower School partners in afternoon activities demonstrating the effects of Global Warming. For instance 2nd and 3rd graders learned about melting glaciers with their 6th and 7th grade partners.
The eighth graders have been working on an exciting and sophisticated project involving different media and critical thinking skills. Rather than weaving on a flat surface, they have been experimenting with weaving on branches and around corners to create unique framed projects. The students selected branches from Unquowa’s campus and cut and assembled frames in the makerspace to surround them. They had to apply their geometry skills to determine the precise cuts during the planning stage of the project, and then used saws, wood glue, and screws to assemble the frames. Some students chose to paint the wooden components, while others opted to retain the natural look of the materials. Finally, they crafted detailed and intricately patterned weavings that they attached in different ways to their frames and branches. Look for their finished projects on display in next month’s all school art show!
The eighth graders have just completed a unit on simple machines in their physics class. The class has been assigned to use the makerspace to design and build a working, lever-based catapult that can toss a ping pong ball six feet and hit a target. Mr Ross MacCormack provided materials and the tools, the students provided the muscle and ingenuity.
After many years of use by hundreds of students, the art room stools were getting covered in random splotches of paint. Rather than continue this arbitrary application of color, eighth graders began painting them in the style of famous works of art. As younger students walked into the art room for class, their faces lit up as they noticed the chairs, some easily recognizable like the Mona Lisa, and others portraying up-and-coming artists they were just now learning about like the graffiti artist, Crash. By the end of the year we hope to have all the stools covered to provide students with a smile as they enter the room and a learning opportunity to become familiar with a small selection of important works of art history.