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Garden School Newsletter
Friday, March 6, 2020
Volume 97: Number 14
  • Thursday, March 12 - Sixth Grade Field Trip to the Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum  
  • Friday, March 13 - Faculty Workshop (School Closed)
  • Saturday, March 21 - Brunch With Our New Headmaster Christopher Herman / 10 AM - Noon in the Garden School Gymnasium
  • Friday, March 27 - End of the Third Quarter (Reports Cards are distributed the following week by homeroom teachers).
  • Friday, March 13 - Faculty Workshop (School Closed)
  • Friday, March 27 - End of the Third Quarter (Reports Cards are distributed the following week by homeroom teachers).
  • Monday, April 6 - Spring Break Begins (School Closed)
  • Tuesday, April 14 - Spring Break Ends (Classes Resume)

Richard Marotta, Ph.D.
Earlier this week we were having a discussion in the teacher’s lounge about our college experiences, in particular, what was the pedagogical approach taken by our professors when we were students. I mentioned that at Fordham University, my alma mater, we took a very textual approach to learning, which meant that we read as much as we could but did not read secondary criticism as part of our experience. The goal for us was to have a direct and intense encounter with primary sources and to examine the language of that text in detail.

As I think about that approach now, as both head of Garden School and as a teacher here as well, it seems that the importance of having a direct experience of the text cannot be more important. Having a close reading experience exposes students to a direct intellectual confrontation with language, not a mediated one through the language of others. It helps us develop a self-reliant approach to learning and living that more and more seems to be necessary for our daily intellectual, political, and social existence. Language rules our lives; we have an obligation to help our students understand the nature of words, their relationship to thought and the consequences of their use.

The only precise way for our students to have an authentic experience with the world around them is for them to be able to decipher and decode the language that they encounter every day. Decoding is more than simply understand the lexical meaning of the work; it is the ability to understand the total significance of the word in all of its implications. In our contemporary political and social world, words have begun to lose meaning. Each day we see and hear language being used for the purposes of deception rather than revelation. The skillset necessary to reverse this disturbing trend comes from learning to read and think critically, and that begins with the ability to know what a word means, how it resonates with implications and what the effect of using that word is.

For our students, they need to use words to uncover the truth and assert the values of the world they want to live in for the rest of their lives. When they encounter the language of racism, they need to expound with the language of inclusion; when they hear the language of gender hatred, they need to respond with the language of acceptance, when they hear the language of deception; they need to use the language of realities. More and more our society has moved away from the idea the facts and evidence should be the basis of an opinion. Opinion without facts is an empty, hollow and dangerous position.

Helping our students understand the power and the importance of language and critical reading comes directly from the classroom. For example, when reading a story and a student makes a comments about a character, then the teacher and the class can ask to see the evidence from the text. As English teachers, we do this all the time. Someone in the class says, ‘this character believes that the world is flat;’ the response then is, ‘show us where they say this in the text.’ That simple pedagogical process guides the student into seeking ‘fact,’ ‘evidence’ and ‘reality’ to support the opinion. It’s as simple as that, but it’s important as any learning experience can be. Together we can guide our students and therefore our society into understanding once again that facts do matter; reality isn’t created by spin doctors, and that truth has a vital role in our success as individuals in society.
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- Celebrating the Career of -

Head of School

Terrace on the Park
Friday, April 24, 2020
6:30 PM - 11:30 PM


Cocktails & Open Bar
Hors d'oeuvres & Stations
Mobile Silent Auction
DJ & Dancing

The 2020 Garden Gala, "Toast The Twenties," will take place on Friday, April 24th at Terrace on the Park in Flushing Meadows Park. We are excited to share our theme for the 2020 Gala, “The Twenties” and yes, you may dress in 1920’s attire if you wish! So let’s get creative and dress to impress!

Thank you to everyone who helped with our Invitation Mailing!

We are accepting donations to the Silent Auction. Did you receive a holiday gift that you would like to regift? The Auction Committee will gladly take it. Have a favorite restaurant that you eat at regularly? Ask them to donate a gift card to the Gala. Do you have a skill that you could share? Create a gift certificate and share your passion. Please visit the Gala Website for more information. Auction donations can be dropped off in the main office.

Individual Tickets and Teacher Tickets are $145, Young Alumni Tickets are $95, and Senior Class tickets are $75. Thank you to those who have already purchased tickets. Journal ads are available for purchase and class ads are being created.

The 2020 Gala will celebrate the career of Dr. Richard Marotta, who has spent the last almost 30 years making Garden School the formidable educational institution it is today.

Please contact the Gala Committee if you have any questions or suggestions. Our committee is open to new members so consider joining us. Meetings take place on Tuesday evenings at 6PM in the Library.

Please come celebrate with us and make this Gala the best party ever!
"American Gothic" Gets Parodied! (Read more about this project below)
NURSERY: Master Chefs

by Joanne Vogel

Nursery Lead Teacher
A jiao zi (Mandarin for dumpling) by another name might be called a calzone, a pierogi, an empanada, a samosa, a gyoza, a beef patty, a wonton, a pasteles, or a turnover. This week in Mandarin class we were amazed that Ms. Yang could make her dumpling dough with just flour, cold water, and her two hands! Ms. Yang let us touch the mixture while she transformed it into a smooth dough. Then she showed us how she breaks off a piece, flattens it out, makes it round, fills it with delicious vegetables, and pinches it closed. The best part came next when we each got our very own piece of dough to make into playdough dumplings, added shredded paper vegetables inside our flattened round dough, and pinched them closed. They were ready to be steamed or fried. The dumplings looked so yummy, but they were just for pretend eating! Ms. Yang reminded us that people make special dumplings for the Lunar New Year, too. For those of us who wanted to, we could taste Ms. Ana’s dumplings made for lunch last week. Perhaps a family trip to a local restaurant, or take-out food would “hit the spot.” So cooking and eating food is a great “Social Studies” experience for Nursery students, as are many classroom activities. We learn about different holidays, customs, and cultures; and also being part of a group, understanding our feelings, and being a friend!
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PRE-KINDERGARTEN AND KINDERGARTEN: Dr. Seuss's Birthday Celebration Highlights Our Read Across America Day

by Lauren Yandow

Early Childhood Department
This week Pre-K and Kindergarten students celebrated the life and works of Dr. Seuss to highlight our participation in Read! Across America. We kicked off the week by celebrating his birthday, March 2nd, and learning about his life as a growing author. We discovered that all of his stories contain countless silly rhyming words and that the characters are not always real living things. Students were able to practice coming up with different rhyming words, or word families, through various center activities. We read stories including The Lorax, Green Eggs and Ham, Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish, and Wacky Wednesday! As a silly cooking activity, we made 'green eggs' using cool whip or vanilla yogurt, food coloring, topped with a nilla wafer as the yolk. The students were able to mix their own 'egg whites' with food coloring and watch their eggs turn green like Sam-I Am's! The students also created cat and the hat hats with different rhyming words, red, blue, green, or yellow fish out of modeling clay, and sorted different rhyming words. What a silly but educational week we've had!

To celebrate Women's History Month, students in Early Childhood students will study a new artist. Sonia Delaunay (November 14, 1885-December 5, 1979) was a Ukrainian born French artist, who spent most of her working life in Paris. With her husband, Robert Delaunay and others, she co-founded the Orphism art movement which is noted for its use of strong colors and geometric shapes. Her work extends to painting, textile design, and stage set design. She was the first living female artist to have a retrospective exhibition at the Louvre in 1964, and in 1975 was named an officer of the French Legion of Honor.

Sonia Delaunay’s work in modern design included the concept of geometric abstraction, the integration of furniture, fabrics, and wall coverings. It is Sonia Delaunay’s concept of geometric abstraction that will inspire the Early Childhood students to create geometric designs using a variety of media in bold colors. Next week, the students in Pre-K and Kindergarten will create their own abstract designs using different art materials and learn to draw geometric shapes using tools such as rulers, compasses, and spirographs! Look out for our newly updated bulletin board in the hallway!

by Michelle Ferreria

P.E. Teacher
On Mondays and Thursdays in the gym we focus our skills on hitting a birdie and how to rally it back and fourth. What game is it? Badminton, of course. The kids love to tumble and on Tuesdays, we practice basic gymnastic moves. Let's hear it for the forward roll, cartwheels, and handstands! I love when the kids dance around the gym and express themselves through music on Wacky Fridays! The kids enjoy our theme days. Anticipating the theme, they come into class ready to go, ready for the lesson. Mr. Dervishi and I choose one student to be the class leader. We choose our leaders based on how they comport themselves in gym and their overall ability to meet classroom expectations.

by Chris Zelles

Art Department
Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Graders are currently working on their parody of "American Gothic". For this project, students were introduced to Grant Wood's, American Gothic, and why it became a cultural phenomenon.  Students learned about the controversy it caused in 1930, and how it divided people who lived in rural areas from people who lived in cities. The people who lived in rural areas thought that Grant Wood was honoring people who lived in small towns, while most who lived in cities felt he was making fun of them.  Students learned that the painting itself is a parody and that it was Wood's intention to spark such a debate. The objective for the students was to come up with their own parody of American Gothic using references to pop culture that is relevant to them. The students have seemed to truly enjoy this project and the results so far are fantastic.  
JUNIORS: Psychology Through Literature Evinces Strong Responses

by Amira Esposito

English Teacher
Students Respond to the Psychological Aspects of the Novel
Since wrapping up the epic (and 500+ page)  novel “Middlesex,” Psychology Through Literature students have begun reading Ken Kesey’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” The students have enthusiastically embraced the new text, posting questions about the nature and complexity of institutions as well as offering strong character analyses. This week, after centering our class discussions on several thoughtful and insightful inquiries about the unreliable narrator, Chief Bromden’s perception, students worked collaboratively on a creative art project depicting various visual images from the novel through Chief Bromden’s point of view.

SENIORS: Twentieth Century Literature Students

by Amira Esposito

English Teacher
In the 12th grade 20th Century Literature Elective, students have moved on from reading, comparing, and contrasting Arthur Miller’s “Death of A Salesman” and “The Crucible” -- the first of which focuses primarily on how culture and region affect family, relationship, and then personal dynamics and the second of which focuses on how politics, religion, and censorship affect social issues of both “large” and “small” scales. Students are now reading, analyzing and writing about Tennessee Williams's “The Glass Menagerie” and will next delve into Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”

High School Television Drama Students discuss a controversial documentary series about the tragedy of the Central Park Five case: "Awful, unjust, heartbreaking, devastating, outrageous," writes one student . . .

by Christopher Vallario

English Teacher
In 1989, five black kids - Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise were wrongfully accused of murdering a young white woman in Central young men by coercion and tampered evidence. The case is only one that we as Americans know about, as there are many other young black men who spend their lives in the prison system. In the documentary series When They See Us Ava DuVernay gives each of these men voices and a platform to get their stories out to mainstream. Most students recall it, but did not know the devastating realities of the ways in which the detectives and system coerced them into confessing and all that they endured within their incarcerations.

We screened the four episodes and took the time to discuss DuVernay's work as well as the ways in which we felt for each character. The students wrote a reaction paper. Cailee Malone states, "Awful, unjust, heartbreaking, devastating, outrageous are just a few of the many words that came to my mind as I watched  . . .To know this happened to not only innocent people, but teenagers who at the time were very close in age to myself, it’s just horrible. I thought about their families and how they must’ve felt . . . teenagers who at the time were very close in age to myself, it’s just horrible."

DuVernay carefully places together their accounts and the actual documentations. For artists it is never easy to illustrate harsh realities, as viewers need to feel empathy rather than solely be bulldozed by the atrocities.

Cailee goes on to say, "I actually went on to do my own research on the case and the confession tapes and found out that the coercion was in fact much worse than what Netflix showed us and learning about it continued to show me how badly these innocent boys were treated."

Marginalized lived-experiences are crucial in getting out in the field of TV. These platforms give access to information that mainstream people may not know. DuVernay, known for her 2014 film Selma, earned her an academy award nomination as she traced the Civil Rights movement of 1964, and this series will likely be nominated for an Emmy.

In addition to uncovering dramatic non-fiction, the students are drafting their TV pilots. Most recently I facilitated Clarissa McCoy's workshop on her latest draft entitled Runaways. She is one of our cohort who tells stories that they think need to be told. Her draft features the protagonist's corrupt family standing in the way of her dreams, she devises a plan, but with their people in high places, it makes it next to impossible for her to flee and enter college without being tracked and sent back home.

Each Tuesday, a new student workshops their current draft. We are always revising as writing is never perfect but forever changing and shaping that very story.  
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Garden School
33-16 79th Street
Jackson Heights, NY 11372
United States

"Cultivating Success in Every Child"

Garden School is a Nursery-Grade 12, NYSAIS-accredited independent school in Jackson Heights, Queens.

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