Bon Appétit and Buen Provecho

Boys in the seventh grade study the French or Spanish language as part of their curriculum.  Earlier this month, seventh graders had the opportunity to apply what they have learned in broader contexts.

The boys studying French this year visited Benoît, a contemporary French bistro, to enjoy a special lunch.  While the boys feasted on delicious food, they also practiced speaking French in this unique setting.  Accompanied by Madame Boyer-Robert and Madame de Haugoubart, the boys enjoyed sharing a meal together and expanding their knowledge of French cuisine.

On the same day, St. Bernard's seventh grade Spanish class enjoyed paella and tapas at La Nacional - Spanish Benevolent Society, one of the oldest Spanish-American cultural institutions in the United States.  Before the boys dove into their meals, the president of La Nacional, Robert Sanfíz, gave a brief talk on the history of the once vibrant Spanish community on 14th Street, also known as “Little Spain."  Señor Rodiño, Mr. Lee, and the boys all had a great time.

Mothers of Junior Old Boys Gathering
by Kate Fiscus, Director of Old Boys

On Tuesday, April 25, St. Bernard’s Mothers of Junior Old Boys met at The River Club for cocktails and conversation.  Over sixty mothers attended to listen to guest speaker Alice Schwarz, mother of Liam ’09 and Quinn ’15, discuss “Art and Observation.”  Alice has over thirty-three years of experience working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is a master of gallery-based teaching.  Alice treated attendees to a brief history of art education and divided the room into three groups for an interactive exercise which involved analyzing the painting Esther Boardman by Ralph Earl.  By taking a few minutes to look closely at the image, Alice taught us how to interpret the objects in the painting and understand the narrative.  The experience was enlightening.  Thank you to Alice and all St. Bernard’s mothers for braving the rain and wind and making last night’s event so enjoyable.

Space Station St. B's

St. B’s held its annual Family Benefit and Silent Auction on Friday, April 21, and it was a space-tacular celebration as families and teachers traveled together to Space Station St. B’s.  By the time everyone arrived, the school had magically transformed into a space-themed wonderland with something for everyone.  Parents and teachers orbited the Lunar Lounge and Silent Auction, veering off at times to visit Neptune and Jupiter for some delicious food.  Along the way they found friends and were happy to catch up and spend time together.  The boys and their siblings were over the moon with excitement about the games on two floors, friends everywhere they looked, prizes to be won, and endless fun to be had.  With over 1,000 guests, the celebration was truly out of this world!

An event of this scale would not be possible without the generosity of many people.  First and foremost, many thanks to the Parents Association and to the Benefit co-chairs, Abigail B., Lauren D., and Haya Z., and to the Silent Auction co-chairs, Eugenie G., Ferebee T., Kathy T., and Sara Z.  Their months of dedication are greatly appreciated.  Special thanks to the Benefit Volunteer co-chairs, Gillian R., Catherine S., and Kiane V., who made sure that there were plenty of volunteers throughout the building at all times.  Thanks to the many parent volunteers who helped set up and who helped throughout the night.  Many thanks to Chef Wells and her team, and to St. B’s maintenance department.  Special thanks to PA Officers, Chiara E., Reemah S., Kristin P., and Annie Z.

St. B’s is lucky to have such a supportive and generous community.  It was a joy to celebrate together!

Kindergarten Visits Ancient Egypt

Kindergarten boys took a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to explore the collection of ancient Egyptian art.  Their teachers created customized tours which highlighted objects and themes they had studied in the classroom.  When the boys first stepped into the Egyptian galleries, they paused to look at a map in which they quickly identified the Nile River and reminded their teachers that it runs from the south to the north into the Mediterranean Sea.  As they moved through the galleries, their teachers pointed out examples of cartouches, oval engravings or drawings containing Egyptian hieroglyphs.  Many of the boys were able to identify specific characters by name because they had spent time drawing them at school.

As they made their way toward the Temple of Dendur, Kindergarten teachers and boys discussed the process of embalming, preparing for burial, and the afterlife journey.  Together they identified objects used throughout the process, including canopic jars, and taught parent chaperones that the entire embalming process took seventy days on average.  The boys were quite excited when, at last, they found a room full of real mummies!  They carefully examined each one, making sure to point out every detail to each other.  They noticed the Eyes of Horus (a symbol of protection) on almost all of the enclosures.

Another highlight was finding “William” the hippo.  Made from faience, a ceramic material made of ground quartz, this sculpted hippopotamus was familiar to the boys because they had read the book William and His Friends before visiting the museum.  When the boys looked closely at the sculpture, they found outlines of river plants painted onto the skin.

On the walk back to school, the boys carried on their conversations from the museum.  Some counted the number of cartouches they had seen while others discussed how easy or difficult it would be to knock down a pyramid.  The boys seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed seeing a subject they had been studying come to life at the museum.

Authors Discuss the Civil War and Civil Rights with Sixth Graders

To complement their study of American history, boys in Mr. Landesman’s sixth grade class had the chance to learn from two historical authors this week.  Topics ranged from the Civil War to the Civil Rights movement, and the boys were well-prepared with plenty of questions for both authors.  John Strausbaugh, author of City of Sedition: The History of New York City during the Civil War, visited St. B’s on Tuesday, April 18.  Christopher Crowe, author of Getting Away with Murder: The True Story of the Emmett Till Case, skyped with the sixth graders on Thursday, April 20.

Mr. Strausbaugh discussed the important role that New York City played in creating the conditions that caused the Civil War.  He described New York City’s deep ties to the South, earning the city the title of the most southern city in the North.  To explain this connection, Mr. Strausbaugh highlighted how important cotton was to the American industry in the early 1800s.  In 1860 cotton made up 60% of the United States exports and was 40% of New York’s economy.  New York banks loaned money to cotton plantations.  New York companies shipped cotton out to the rest of the world and imported goods to be sold within the United States.  The Customs House, which made money from taxes and tariffs, was also located in New York.

Mr. Strausbaugh pointed out that another connection between New York and the Civil War was the city’s unique relationship with Abraham Lincoln.  Relatively unknown at the time, Abraham Lincoln was invited to speak at Cooper Union in February of 1860.  This speech was printed in full by Horace Greeley, founder and editor of the New-York Tribune.  While New York State voted for Lincoln, the majority of people in New York City and Brooklyn did not because of their ties to the South.  Mr. Strausbaugh elaborated on the intricacies of New York City’s involvement and influence during the Civil War and enjoyed answering thoughtful questions from the boys.

Mr. Crowe’s book focuses on a moment in American history nearly 100 years later in 1955, when the kidnapping and murder of Emmett Till became an important catalyst for the Civil Rights movement.  St. B’s boys read two chapters from Mr. Crowe’s book, which focused on the event and the trial.  Mr. Crowe, who lives in Utah, skyped with the boys to answer questions the boys had after reading these selections.  Through their questions and answers, Mr. Crowe and the boys discussed how racially charged this moment was and how this case, along with other events, became an impetus for the Civil Rights Movement.

When discussing the trial, the boys tried to understand why the jurors ignored evidence.  Mr. Crowe’s book explores the mindset of the judge, who tried his best to make the trial fair.  The judge and the prosecutor fought hard for a guilty verdict, but in the end the opinions of the jurors prevailed.  In conversation with the boys, Mr. Crowe shared insights about the tactics used by lawyers on both sides, and he shared details from his two conversations with Emmett Till’s mother before she passed away in 2003.

In both conversations, St. B’s boys were engaged and interested in talking directly with these authors.  We extend our gratitude to Mr. Crowe and Mr. Strausbaugh for taking the time to talk about these important moments in American history with our boys. To learn more about the books mentioned, please click on the links below.

City of Sedition: The History of New York City during the Civil War

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