Eighth Grade Trip to Ecuador

by Madame de Haugoubart

On May 30, 2017, thirty-nine eighth graders, Madame de Haugoubart, Mrs. Reitzas, Mr. Rodiño, Mr. St. Clair, and Ms. Williams took off for Ecuador.  They spent one week in that beautiful South American country, observing nature, hiking, taking in a new culture, and having a lot of fun.  They hiked up Mt. Fuya Fuya and around Lago Cuicocha, a magnificent crater lake, spent time in Intag in the pristine cloud forest, visited a school in San Pablo del Lago, danced in the village of Azama, bargained at the Otavalo Indian market, crafted their own Andean flutes, straddled the Equator line, saw birds of prey up close in Condor Park, and bathed in the sacred Indian waterfall in Peguche.  Good humor and camaraderie characterized the trip.  We celebrated two birthdays in style.  It was a perfect way to end the boys’ eighth grade year at St. Bernard’s.  Happy graduation to all!

Faculty Farewell

On June 8, 2017, the St. Bernard’s community gathered to say farewell to four incredible faculty members who are retiring this year, Michael Falcone, Rochelle Cohen-Levine, Mary FitzGerald, and Robert Miness.  It was a heartfelt celebration that included families currently attending the school and many families returning after a few, or many, years.  Nearly 400 people visited that evening to say farewell and wish them well.
Many guests asked what was next for each of these four teachers.  St. Bernard’s third graders have kindly offered some retirement tips to help their teachers through this transition:
Relax, read books, and take more naps.
I think you should ride your bike in Central Park.
Perhaps you would like to learn a new language or to play a musical instrument.
Get as many dogs as you can.
You could travel around the world and see things you’ve always wanted to see.
You should try the things that you wanted to do besides teaching.
Play video games.
Don’t get overweight.
Explore, but not too much.
You should do things that make you happy, like skiing, making snowmen, and having snowball fights.
Go to every museum you can find.
Spend money gradually.
Try to eat vegetables once every day.
Writing a book about your teaching experiences would be a best seller.
Take a trip.
And most important of all RELAX!!
You should spend a lot of time with your children and have a wonderful time with them.
Get a country house. They may be expensive, but they are extremely nice.
Avoid nine-year-old boys!
Play bridge, a lot of bridge.
Play fun games with your grandchildren.
Go to dance recitals.
Write books and illustrate them, too.
Play music so you forget about the dreadful recorder.
You should sleep in on the weekdays.
Never stop learning.
Remember that you have a class that loves you.
I think you should visit me at St. Bernard’s.
We wish Michael Falcone, Rochelle Cohen-Levine, Mary FitzGerald, and Robert Miness all the best and thank them for their many years of service!

Fourth Graders Learn About Ramadan

Boys in the fourth grade enjoyed a special presentation about Ramadan during this holy month.  Ammad’s mother, Haya, visited the boys in IV Davis to teach them about the holiday.  She explained that this year the holy month lasts from May 26 through June 24.  Muslims around the world commemorate this time by fasting from dusk until dawn the entire month.  Ramadan fasting in New York lasts from sunrise at approximately 3:40 a.m. through sunset around 8:25 p.m.  It is one of the longest in the world.

The boys learned that Ramadan pays homage to the moment when the prophet Muhammad received his first prophecy.  Many of his teachings are honored and remembered during this time.  Ramadan reminds people of the importance of sharing and taking care of the poor.  It also highlights that all people are all equal.  When people fast, their hunger is all the same.  A sense of community is also celebrated during this time.

In addition to fasting, people gather at their mosques, or masjids, during Ramadan to pray.  After sunset Muslims enjoy gathering for iftar, the evening meal when they break their fast together.  Members of the community donate food so that everyone can enjoy a delicious meal.  They follow the example of their prophet and break their fasts with dates.  They continue to feast on special Ramadan dishes, such as samosas and mawa jalebi, late into the night.  Ramadan is a celebratory time.  The streets are lit up with decorative lights, shops are open late, restaurants remain open through the early hours of the morning, and children play outside.  Eid al-Fitr, the festival of breaking of the fast, marks the end of Ramadan with final prayers and gatherings.

After the presentation, which included many questions from the boys, the class tasted some traditional bread with jam and rice pudding.  Many boys enjoyed two portions, and all of the boys enjoyed learning about Ramadan.

Ramadan mubarak to our Muslim families and friends!  Special thanks to Haya Z. for teaching the fourth graders about Ramadan.

It may have been a rainout, but it still was a milestone! 2017 Marks the 110th Anniversary of Sports Day

by Janine St. Germain, St. Bernard’s Archivist

With rain firmly planted in the forecast and the grassy fields far too soggy for scores of running feet, Sports Day this year had a rain out.  However, the 110th anniversary of the event made its mark regardless, particularly in the foyer of the school, where a Sports Day exhibition was mounted, including film footage from Sports Day in 1928.

Sports Day is one of the longest standing traditions here at school.  Francis H. Tabor, who served as co-headmaster during St. Bernard’s earliest years, was also superintendent of The Boys’ Club here in New York City at the time.  His work at the Boys’ Club certainly may have inspired him to create the games played during Sports Day here at St. Bernard’s School.

In the early days, Sports Day was held on the estate of Colonel Franklin Brown, in Dobbs Ferry, and on this day, both academic and athletic awards were presented.  Headmaster Jenkins presided over a wide variety of foot races – some with the students, but also others with the mothers, fathers, and even chauffeurs during the earliest years of this event.  Even the potato sack races had their own particular look, with boys strung up to their chins in burlap sacks.

The archives holds an impressive assortment of photographs documenting Sports Day, including relay races, the distribution of awards given that day, as well as images of mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers all enjoying the drama of this long-standing annual event.

Examining Our Atmosphere

For the third year in a row, Mr. Parsons invited fifth graders to join him on a Sunday in May to launch a weather balloon into the stratosphere.  Five boys, one brave father, and Louis, the science intern visiting from Winchester, all joined Mr. Parsons for the adventure.
The expedition began with a drive to Gap, Pennsylvania, where the balloon was launched.  Everyone worked together to prepare the package that was attached to the weather balloon, which included a video recorder and equipment that would gather data.  Fifth graders have been studying weather and climate this year and were eager to collect data which could be used to answer specific questions they had formulated throughout the year:  Will water boil in the stratosphere?  How does air pressure affect wind speed?  How does altitude affect temperature?
After the balloon took off, the boys started tracking its location.  Amazingly, the weather balloon stayed aloft for over six hours.  It reached an altitude of 32,031 meters and traveled 90 kilometers per hour at its fastest speed.  Most importantly, the equipment gathered an immense amount of data about temperature, air pressure, wind speed, UV strength, sound pressure, altitude, the longitude and latitude locations, and the balloon speed.  The boys couldn’t wait to take this information back to the lab.
The weather balloon finally landed in Martinsville, New Jersey.  It was quite a dramatic landing.  It got stuck in a power line and had to be rescued by the local fire department.  Happily the video and scientific data were unharmed.
Many thanks to Mr. Parsons, Louis Goulding, and parent chaperone David H.

Please click here to see the footage from the weather balloon launch.

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