A Newsletter by and for Everyone at The School at Columbia University, Vol. IV, No. 18, 1/22/10

Monday, January 25
Deadline to sign up for the Talent Show!
Look for the sign-up sheets going home in backpacks today.

Tuesday, January 26
4:15pm - Boys Varsity Basketball VS. Fieldston

Wednesday, January 27
8:30am - KC Welcome Wednesday
4:00pm - Boys 5th Basketball VS. Rodeph Shalom
4:00pm - Girls Varsity Basketball VS. Brearley
5:30pm - Kaleidoscope Diversity Meeting
Please join KALEIDOSCOPE, the parents diversity committee, for our first meeting of 2010 in the 3rd floor science room, 305A. Head of School, Annette Raphel, will talk about The School's premise of excellence and equity in education, discuss her thinking about diversity at The School, and answer parents' questions. This will be a great opportunity to hear Annette's thinking on this topic and also to communicate what matters to us. Please think ahead about questions you want to ask Annette and bring them to the meeting already written down, if possible. Please spread the word and invite new families to join us. Childcare is available. Sign up at the After-School office starting next week. For questions contact Lysa Vanible: montez1@verizon.net or Kathy Leichter: kathy@mintleafproductions.com.

Thursday, January 28
11:45am an 1:00pm – Grade 5 to the American Museum of Natural History
4:00pm - Boys Varsity Basketball VS. St. David's
4:00pm - Girls JV Basketball VS. Nightingale
4:15pm - Girls Varsity Basketball VS. Fieldston

Friday, January 29
8:30am - KA Family Fun Friday
6:00pm - Middle Division Dance
Please bring a donation for SEEDS for HAITI, an emergency initiative to prevent famine in Haiti launched by Bassin Zim Education and Development Fund – a group in which our own Middle Division librarian Nadine Renazile is a long-standing member.

Mark your calendars for the All-School Science Inquiry Expo - Saturday, February 6, from 1-4, preceded by lunch!

Join The School's community of learners and scientists from Columbia, Barnard, Rutgers, and other research labs at our first-ever celebration of scientific inquiry and unbridled curioristy. Under the leadership of parent Dana Pe'er and through the organizational efforts of The School's science faculty, over 30 hands-on workshops will fill The School, featuring thought-provoking activities including:
- Turning the real world into a virtual reality game
- Making comets
- Exploring your family genetics
- Finding out whether hurricanes can happen in NYC
- Testing yourself to see if stress makes you more creative
- Learning CPR so you can be a real lifesaver
- Seeing some truly shocking fish!

Schedule of events
12 – 1
Free Lunch: What better way to work up an appetite for discovery? A Parent Association bake sale will supply additional goodies.

1 – 1:30
Welcoming Comments and Presentation of Prizes for Students' Excellent Science Inquiries: Martin Chalfie, Chair, Biological Sciences, Columbia University and 2008 recipient of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry will share a few amusing reflections on what sparked his interest in science. Feniosky Peña-Mora, Dean of the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, will then present prizes for excellent science inquiries to The School students.

1:30 – 4
Hands-on workshops for families: From astrophysics and biomedicine to thin-film semiconductors and virtual reality, children will be able to play with experts - and, we hope, leave inspired to make their mark in 21st century science.

Chew on This!

For many years I enjoyed my work as a mathematics education consultant during the summer months. I would fly into a city somewhere in the United States, meet a team of people drawn from the nearly six dozen of us who did this kind of work, and spend the week offering an intensive course of mathematics and math teaching to hundreds of local teachers eager to improve their practice and gain new skills and strategies.

Each night, whether I was somewhere in Texas or in South Carolina, California or Illinois, after a long day of work, the team would look for somewhere to go to eat dinner and to think about how our day went and what we would do to be better teachers on the following day. When we asked the local teachers where we should eat, we were often surprised that they would mention restaurant chains. We noticed, too, when we would run into the local mall to get some last-minute supplies, that most of the restaurants looked just the same as the ones we had left behind in our communities, even though the teaching team had come from many different home cities.

It was not a stunning epiphany that the United States was becoming more homogeneous in its eating habits, but a slow realization. Even though each place that we taught had its own culture, its own challenges, and its own educational objectives, the food that was fueling the teachers in our groups and the students that they taught was frighteningly similar.

We have been fortunate to host many authors at The School. On Tuesday, Charles Wilson who co-authored Chew On This came to talk with Grade 8 as part of the work they are doing in science. I was asked to sit on a panel to respond to Schlosser and Wilson’s book. It made me think about my own eating habits and those of your children. I have both new understanding of how big companies like McDonald’s and Burger King are, and how their size and power have influenced what all Americans are eating.

Here are some tidbits that I gleaned from this exceptionally well-researched (and, to fast food chains, clearly controversial) book:

• In 2006 American spent more than $142,000,000,000 (that’s billion!) on fast food, much of it marketed to children
• Children see advertisements for junk food approximately every five minutes as they watch television (and the average child watches 25 hours a week!)
• During childhood you learn to develop tastes for food you will later like and the more experiences children have with fast food, the more they will crave it later on
• More than 40% of the children in New York City schools are overweight
• Drinking too much soda as a child can lead to calcium loss as an adult, since soda often replaces milk, and can also lead to tooth decay, and small-sized sodas have gone from 8 ounces to 12 ounces in many fast food restaurants
• A 32oz. Coke has 310 calories and almost 30 teaspoons of sugar
• The optimal amount of ‘trans fat’ that a person should have is 0 and since 2006 it is required that you know how much trans fat is in the packaged foods you eat
• The typical American drinks 52 gallons of soda a year (557 twelve ounce cans!)

Now New York posts calories next to items that are on fast food menus so there is less excuse not to know what you are eating. (I was shocked to discover that cole slaw at KFC had the same number of calories as mac ‘n cheese!) We teach nutrition as part of our Wellness and Life Skills curriculum. We note, with much appreciation, the number of healthy lunches we see many parents pack for their children. We do not allow soda or candy or Lunchables in school. We provide an exceptional high quality fruit snack for everybody in The School once a day. We have no snack or soda machines in school (unlike 43% of elementary schools). We provide fresh cut fruit and oatmeal, as well as smaller portions of carbohydrates at breakfast.

The book says that few people actually plan to go to a fast food place for a meal. The decision is usually impulsive - you are passing one and you suddenly decide that you would like to stop and eat there. I pass a Kentucky Fried Chicken and a McDonald’s on the way home and I live just seven blocks from school!

Fast food is easy. It is not very expensive. But it is not healthy. (Did you know that Chicken McNuggets have more fat per ounce than hamburgers….chicken isn’t always healthier than beef!) There are frightening statistics about the way that fast food restaurants get you to buy, about the way that they raise and prepare their food, about the wages and working conditions for people who wait on you or cook for you, and how eating fast food and consuming soda actually creates extra fat cells in your body. Just reading the book made me cook a healthy dinner and made me realize the choices I have when it comes to meal times. Grade 8 parents: let me know what impact it has at home!

Till next time, Annette

Helping Haiti

Parent Meika Mustrangi reports: Our school community came together to collect funds for the people in Haiti after the devastating earthquake that hit their capital on Jan 12.

Under the collaborative leadership of the Student Government, school administration, and parents, we organized a three-day collection effort in the span of one morning to send what funds we could to an emergency relief organization right away.

At the donation table, adults shared personal stories of sadness as well as inspiring stories of giving. Student Government representatives showed their passion and resourcefulness as they promoted the cause in person as well as through print and video. Kids in every division, Primary through Middle, made sure to stop by and donate their own money - over $1200 was collected by Thursday at noon.

We will continue to update you on our efforts to help the disaster victims. For now, let the ribbons with the colors of the Haitian flag speak for our hope for the people in Haiti. If you can donate time to our continuing efforts, contact parent Meika Mustrangi at meika2008@gmail.com.

Lions' Prowess Powers
Impressive Efforts, Historic Wins

Coach Doug Le Blanc writes: The Girls JV team has fought hard and really improved over the past weeks, resulting in their first win of the season! The team defeated St. Hilda’s 8-7. It was a complete team effort with Shannon Durugordon, Breeana Williams, Jenny Enriquez and Katheryn Savegnago each scoring two points apiece. Next they went on the road to face an experienced Grace Church team. They fought hard but lost 18-10 with Shannon Durugordon leading all scorers with 10 points. They returned home confident to play Marymount. The first quarter was close with the lions leading 8-4 at halftime. In the second half the girls defeated Marymount 22-14. Katheryn Savegnago led all scorers with 14 points.

The JV Boys continued their winning ways with an intense game at Grace Church. The game was not decided until the final seconds as the lions emerged with a 23-21 win. Darius Strong and Mademba Coumare lead all scorers with 9 and 10 points respectively. In their next game the boys made history against St. David’s. The boys were scrappy in their first ever defeat of St. David’s 29-24. Nico Vanible led all scorers with 11 points.

The Varsity Girls travelled to the Bronx to play Riverdale. The girls played flawlessly as they defeated Riverdale 19-10. Gabby Celentano led all scorers with 12 points. The lions returned home to face Grace Church. It was an intense game that had 15 lead changes. They fought valiantly but lost in the final seconds 28-27. Maimouna Diagne lead all scorers with 12 points including her first 3 pointer!

The Varsity Boys played two tough games this week. They started off with St. Bernard’s - a school they have never beat. They battled back and forth throughout the game and with a vocal home crowd the lions prevailed 38-35. Chris Andrews led the lions with 28 points! Next, they played Grace Church. The boys dominated with a complete team effort as they defeated Grace Church 34-21. Salahdeen Herring led all scorers with 14 points.