To Space and Back Again

Kindergarten boys had an out-of-this-world experience on their recent trips to the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History.  Their teachers timed it perfectly.  The boys arrived at the museum and stepped into a glass elevator, which took them directly to the Dark Universe space show.  The show’s narrator, Neil deGrasse Tyson, guided the boys through galaxies while describing the mystery of dark matter and how space exploration has changed over the past one hundred years.  The boys were swept through star-filled skies into distant universes.  As they left the show, one boy exclaimed, “I feel like I’m not on earth!”

After the show boys explored several exhibits in the planetarium.  Highlights included touching a real asteroid and figuring out how much boys would weigh on the moon and different planets.  This was the perfect trip to complement the boys’ studies in the classroom which has focused on outer space the past few weeks.  Many thanks to the teachers and parent chaperones for transporting the kindergarten boys to another universe.

Grade Eight Bake Sales

by James D.

With exams over and applications in, the eighth grade decided that this was a sweet time to hold a bake sale.  Judging by the boxes and boxes of treats at our first bake sale, we think it was a success.  As a grade, we raised $800, which isn’t really "muffin," considering that a baker’s dozen of moms helped to bake.  Innovative marketing techniques, including posters featuring Grandma St. Clair’s molasses cookies and Mr. Clement’s favorite chocolate chip cookies, helped to whip up sales.  Our first sale of the day came from the Pax L., who bought his brother’s confetti cookies, and from there we were raking in the dough.  Some fan favorites were:  Owen’s chocolate Emoji cupcakes, Cameron’s oatmeal cookies, and Ms. R.’s famous fudge.

Our school has a rich history of traditions, so I went around the school to learn about some bake sale history.  It turns out that one year a group of kids loaded up a cart and went around the school.  This was so successful that it could never be attempted again.  Mr. Schwartz wistfully remarked, “There are never enough Rice Krispies Treats,” which I wholly agree with.  The bake sale committee has been notified and will quickly rectify this situation.

The true purpose of the eighth grade bake sales is to raise funds for our class gift.  Eighth grade gifts have varied from the globe in the Middle School Room to the cushions in the King-Wood Theater.  The eighth grade will vote on the gift after we hold our second bake sale after Spring Holiday.  So please, as a public service, please, buy a cookie.

Eighth Grade Video Project Winner
by Ms. Williams

In a friendly competition, St. B’s eighth grade boys were challenged to see who could produce the most effective commercial for some of the charities that St. Bernard’s supports.  Peter J., John R., and Will M. stole the show with their commercial advertising Project Cicero, an annual non-profit book drive designed to supplement libraries in under-resourced New York City public schools.  The commercial tells a story through the eyes of an underprivileged boy who doesn’t have the means to purchase books and experience the joy of reading.  The boy’s life is forever changed when his peers decide to organize a book drive for Project Cicero.

Please remember to drop off your gently-used books in the lobby tomorrow and Wednesday to show your support for Project Cicero.

Liz Repking Speaks to Parents and Boys About Cyber Safety

Cyber safety expert, Liz Repking, visited St. Bernard’s School last month to speak with parents and students.  She began her visit by speaking at a Parents Association meeting and then spoke with two groups of students:  boys from grades V-VII and boys from grades VIII-IX.  Ms. Repking intentionally covered similar topics in all three sessions with the hope of creating a foundation for productive conversations between parents and sons about cyber safety.

Ms. Repking spoke with parents about the challenges of raising children in a hyper digital age.  She helped parents improve their cyber confidence by describing specific websites and apps that teenagers tend to use and explained which ones offer privacy settings.  She also highlighted the importance of providing an escape route for their children.  She believes children need to know that there is a path to safety if they find themselves in unsafe situations.  Too often children meet with online predators because they are afraid of getting in trouble.  Ms. Repking stressed the importance of offering a “golden ticket” or “get out of jail free card” to help children avoid dangerous situations.

She offered advice about creating safe usernames, making sure their sons are on private networks, and ensuring that their sons actually know their social contacts.  She stressed the importance of creating a healthy digital road map for their families and suggested they include their children when planning.  Her family designated tech-free zones and has set aside tech-free time, which has been great for them.

Ms. Repking’s talks with St. B’s boys were similar to her talk with parents, but the structure was more of a discussion where she asked the boys questions and encouraged comments.  She began both talks by discussing digital citizenship and the privileges and responsibilities associated with it.  She explained how people could become anyone they wanted to be online, which sometimes makes it difficult to identify online predators.  They discussed that a social network is a collection of friends, not a tally of random followers.  Ms. Repking also introduced the concept of the “golden ticket” where boys could make an agreement with their parents for one free pass, encouraging boys to make safe decisions rather than decisions based on the fear of getting in trouble.

When talking about social media, Ms. Repking reminded boys that what they post online stays there forever, even after they think it has been deleted.  She encouraged the boys to pause before they post and to think about “what would happen if…”  She reminded boys that their posts affect their reputations, and they will not have a chance to defend what has been posted.  Additionally, she explained how their online reputations could affect their futures.  She encouraged boys in fifth, sixth, and seventh grades to be “Upstanders” by doing something nice to a person who is being targeted or bullied.  Her discussion with the eighth and ninth graders expanded to include sexting and how their online reputations could affect college admissions.

Ms. Repking covered a remarkable amount of material through these sessions and built strong foundations for many conversations to continue.  St. Bernard’s extends gratitude to Ms. Repking for teaching our community and for facilitating discussions about these important issues.  The school also extends special thanks to the Parents Association for arranging Ms. Repking’s visit.

Third Graders Research Influential Black Leaders

In honor of Black History Month, St. Bernard’s third graders have been learning about influential black leaders throughout American history.  Please enjoy several selections below written by boys from Mrs. FitzGerald’s class.

Frederick Douglass was born on February 14, 1817.  He was a slave and then became known as a leader against slavery.  Growing up he did not live with his mother.  He lived with his grandparents from the age of one week old and learned how to read and write.

When Frederick was eight, he was sent to the main plantation.  When he was eighteen, he ran away.  He changed his name from Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey to Frederick Augustus Douglass so slave catchers couldn’t find him.  He met Anna along the way and married her.  They had four children.  He went to England for two years.  He came back with papers and told people he was a free black man.  He believed that all black men should be free.  When Abraham Lincoln was elected president, the Civil War began.  He went to the White House to ask Lincoln if black men could join the army.  Lincoln said, “yes.”  Later on Douglass had two more requests.  He wanted black men in the army to get the same pay as white men and the same medical treatment.

After the war was over he was a hero, even though he wasn’t in the army…Douglass continued to fight to end slavery.  He was inspired by freedom to be abolitionist and a leader in civil rights.

By Maxi B.

Carter G. Woodson was the founder of Black History Month.  He was born on December 19, 1875, in New Canton, Virginia…His father could not read or write.  He said, “It is never too late to learn.”

His father was a runaway slave.  His mother was a slave.  When he was eighteen his two sisters wanted to go to Douglass High School.  Carter wanted to go, too.  When he went to meet the principal, his reason to go there was, “It is never too late to learn.”  The principal admitted him…when he graduated eighteen months later, he surprised everyone.  Next he went to college.  After a few months, he took the job of principal at Douglass High School.  He repeated to his students what his father had told him, “It is never too late to learn.”

On August 31, 1903, a letter came to Carter.  It asked him to teach children in a Philippine school.  Carter accepted…when he went there, he realized there was a problem.  The children there were not learning, so he taught the children a song.  “Time to shake the apple tree.”  But there were no apples in the Philippines!  He changed the words to, “Time to shake the Bombay tree.”  Carter went back to America, but before he left, he taught the children about black American’s history.  He claimed, “We’re teaching ourselves about ourselves.”

By Jack B.

Mary Church Terrell was a leader of equality.  She was born an only child on September 23, 1863, in Memphis, Tennessee.  Her father, who was born a slave, was named Robert Church and her mother was Louisa Church.  Her father wanted Mary to have the best of everything.

When she was a teenager her mother and father sent her alone to Ohio for high school.  She moved to Ohio because her parents wanted her to have a good education.  After that, she graduated from Oberlin College at the top of her class.  Then she studied music and writing in Europe.

She moved back to Washington, D.C., where she married Robert Heberton Terrell.  She was asked to serve on the Washington, D.C., school board.  She believed that all women had a right to vote and that all children should get an education.  She joined the National Association of Colored Women and became the first president, fighting for women’s rights.  She later joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and worked for the rights of all Americans and for freedom.  In 1920 the law changed and women could vote in the North.  She worked to help end segregation.

By Charlie R.

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