In a Commencement ceremony in the Rotunda of Low Library on Columbia’s campus, 40 eighth-graders graduated from The School at Columbia University on Monday, June 9. As part of the ceremony, graduates read original poems, gave extraordinary speeches, sang their class song, and presented their gift to The School, a collaborative painting (pictured above) representing The School's four core values. Special guest Aurora Anaya-Cerda, founder of La Casa Azul Bookstore in East Harlem, inspired students with her Commencement speech, urging them to persevere and be creative to make their dreams become reality.
Congratulations to our graduates, and to their teachers, staff and families for all their support. The School community will miss you, and wishes you all the best! We will let families know as soon as photos and footage of the Commencement ceremony are available. And below, a few parting words from Head of School Mr. Reed:
Every class leaves its mark on The School at Columbia University, and this year’s eighth-grade class is no different. Yours is a class that has chosen to lead. I have seen you support one another in challenging times; I have seen your dedication through social action projects; I have seen you provide amazing performances on stages, in gymnasiums, and on fields; and I have watched you work with classmates and teachers to develop a clear understanding of our school community, and to help us design and build The School of the future.
Over the past years your class has demonstrated a true sense of thankfulness and openness—a vibrant honesty that has made you especially close. You are creative, fun, and passionate about learning. You have challenged each other to be better, stronger and more complete, and we are a better, stronger and more complete community as a result. The friends you have made here will be friends you keep for the rest of your life, and The School will always be a place you can call home.
If the last nine years are any reflection of the impact you will have in your next school, you are destined to do even greater things. I know you have all the academic skills necessary to be successful in high school and college, and to face all the challenges that may cross your path. I am also confident that you have developed the strength of character to embrace your personal and community responsibilities. I am proud of the students you have become, but am even more proud of the adults you are becoming.
To the eighth-grade class of 2014, on behalf of all members of The School at Columbia University community, we wish you the best of luck as you take on new pursuits ahead.
— Amani Reed, Head of School
2014-15: Year of Diversity Congratulations to all our families on a successful, vibrant, and wonderful 2013-14 year of collaboration! Thank you for all your support and thoughtful involvement in our community this year. It was amazing to see collaboration at work on so many levels, and in so many different ways, throughout the school year.
Each year, we select one of our values to be the year’s theme, and 2014-15 will be the year of diversity. We identify diversity as reveling in an environment of myriad learning experiences, and addressing important aspects including identity development, anti-bias skills, and the idea that difference is better. As a community, we share a wealth of cultures, traditions, ideas and perspectives with one another. It is this extraordinary diversity that we can celebrate, support, and most importantly engage with each other about, in the year to come and beyond. I look forward to our conversations, and to reflecting on the meaning of diversity in our school community with you.
Please have an enjoyable, restful, and very safe summer. We look forward to seeing you back at school in September.
— Amani Reed, Head of School
Summer Renovations As you know, last summer we remodeled the fifth and sixth floors, which included the Music and Primary Division classrooms. These renovations were undertaken to make our spaces more healthy, joyful, collaborative, flexible and inclusive for students, and we hope you felt these qualities in the new classrooms this year. This summer we will similarly remodel the fourth floor, which includes Intermediate Division classrooms and our library. When you return in September, you will find exciting changes and a wonderful, new, truly cutting-edge and innovative library space—one that incorporates librarians’, teachers’, and students’ feedback and ideas.
In May, two eighth-grade students, Kavin Chada and Sophie Geskin, formally presented their ideas and plans for the renovation of the third (which will occur in summer 2015) and fourth floors to a group of school administrators and architects, which included the University’s Director of Facilities Cathleen Ryder and Head of School Mr. Reed. The students' drawings began as a class project and developed from there, as both Chada and Geskin nurtured a passion for architecture they felt (and one they hope to continue fostering in high school). Their plans for The School emphasized collaboration; circulation and flow; multiple, flexible meeting and storage spaces; and natural light—and all of these ideas are being integrated into the renovations.
Thank you to all our students for their thoughtful input, and we can’t wait to show you the new spaces in September!
Service Report At a special school assembly in late May, members of the Penny Harvest Roundtable announced the organizations to which each division had decided to donate this year’s Penny Harvest collections.
The Primary Division elected to give the entirety of their collection ($750) to the Nature Conservancy. The Intermediate Division divided their funds among Kiva ($200), Heifer International ($360), and the Rainforest Alliance ($200). A representative from Heifer attended the assembly to accept the check in person, and to explain to students how the organization will use our donation. The Middle Division decided to use their collection (over $700) to support four student Social Action Projects: providing library books for a school in Nepal, purchasing tumbling mats for a local daycare center, paying the fee for girls interested in science to attend a workshop, and funding the cleaning and repair of instruments donated to a fledgling music program in the city.
Two weeks later, all eighth-graders presented their Social Action Projects to the entire school community at an expo in the MPR. The SAPs this year focused on issues of environmental awareness and action, social justice, equal access to education, and much more.
Thank you to students for all you contribute to our school and local communities, and for truly fulfilling our mission as a school.
Our Mission At The School at Columbia University, we work with a dynamic and diverse community drawn equally from the families of University employees and from the local community. We dedicate ourselves to fostering in our students personal resourcefulness and integrity, a sense of social responsibility, and a lifelong appreciation of learning through an innovative, socially and emotionally supportive, and academically challenging program. Our pedagogical and curricular philosophies embrace multicultural perspectives, which challenge educators and learners to examine their preconceived notions of race, gender, ethnicity, class, ability, religion, and sexual orientation. We adhere to a common code of civility among all constituents. We tailor our instruction so that the needs of the individual students are met. A committed faculty and administration strive to create a school that will stand as a model for what K-8 education can be, and serve as a genuine and enduring partnership between Columbia and its neighbors.