The Class of 2015 Graduates
Parents, relatives, and friends joined Sierra Canyon's trustees, administration, faculty, and staff for the seventh graduation ceremony in school history, for the Class of 2015!
During the ceremony, History and World Languages Instructor Tom Fennell presented a faculty tribute to the seniors, quoting from Charles Dickens' "Tale of Two Cities," and suggesting that it was neither the best of times or the worst of times, but 'these are your times, and it's up to each of you to make them the best of your times."
The Valedictorian address was delivered by Morgan Anker '15 who noted the close sense of community which defines the Class of 2015. For her, Anker said, "being part of this class helped me find a voice in this community, and the confidence to express my own voice."
Zachary Singer '15 presented the Salutatorian remarks and shared his thoughts and impressions of each classmate.
The Senior Class Choir performed an original song by Emma Stern '15, and six seniors were recognized for individual excellence and were the recipients of the five graduation awards. The Founders Award—for the most gifted female and male scholar-athletes—was awarded to Brock Bell '15 and Kennedy Burke '15. The Renaissance Award—for the outstanding artist in both visual and performing arts—was awarded to Mabel Lawrence '15. The Trustees Prize—for the quintessential Sierra Canyon student—was awarded to Alexi Chacon '15. The Head of School Award—for the student who embodies the core value of excellence—was awarded to Morgan Anker '15. The International Excellence Award—the international student who embodies the core value of excellence while fully engaging themselves in the Sierra Canyon community—the recipient was Alan Yang '15.
In his closing remarks Sierra Canyon's head of school, Jim Skrumbis reflected on a commencement speech he heard in 1991 which suggested the next forty year period would be full of profound change comparable to the industrial revolution. "I believe we are in that period of change, thanks to advances in technology," Skrumbis said, noting, "The graduating class of 2015 is prepared to face these changes and opportunities because they have a creative and entrepreneurial spirit, problem solving skills, and the imagination and ability to deal with change."
Following the awarding of diplomas, the graduated seniors processed out of the ceremony to meet family and friends at the reception. Click here to watch yesterday's 12th Grade Commencement in its entirety.
Click here to view and/or download photos from the Commencement on the school's SmugMug account.
Congratulations to the Class of 2015!
Friday, May 29, 2015 3:01:00 PM
French Students Dominate National Exam
On Saturday, May 16, 2015, twenty-seven Sierra Canyon Upper School students received awards for their excellence in comprehension of the French language at the Southern California regional ceremony held at Polytechnic High School in Pasadena. The Sierra Canyon students were part of nearly 100,000 students nationwide in grades 8-12 who participated in the 2015 National French Exam, Le Grand Concours, which consists of 70 multiple-choice questions (level 01-2) and 60 questions (level 3-5) which test grammar, syntax, audio, and reading comprehension, and francophone culture.
At the ceremony in Pasadena, Madame Antonia Rigaud, vice-cultural attaché of the General Consulate of France, greeted the award winners on behalf of the French government. Congratulating the students on their achievement, Rigaud said, “I am extremely impressed with these students and proud of their commitment towards the French language, they are learning a language and becoming part of a community of 250 million speakers of French.”
Madame Ines du Cos de La Hitte, chair of Sierra Canyon’s World Languages, and the lead French teacher noted that French and francophone language and culture are alive and well at Sierra Canyon. “Thanks to your dedication in the study of the French language, my students never cease to amaze me, and I am extremely proud of their accomplishment.” She believes their success is a testimony of their hard work and perseverance. The number of award winners is unprecedented at Sierra Canyon, and Madame believes very strongly in their long-term studies and fluency through verbal and written exercises, field trips, videos, and certainly not least, taking le Grand Concours. “They show eagerness, insatiable passion about learning, and willingness to discover and experiment with French Bravo! Felicitations!”
Wednesday, May 27, 2015 1:53:00 PM
Making A Splash and Breaking School Records
Sophomore Deanne Umbay (’17) won the state title in the Girls’ 200m Individual medley and the 100m Backstroke race during this year’s California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Southern Section Swimming & Diving Championships – Division III held on May 13, 2015 at the Riverside City College Aquatics Complex in Pasadena. Umbay, whose times improved with each race, is just the latest Trailblazer to win State titles in a remarkable year of athletic championships at Sierra Canyon.
The 2015 swim team also had great individual results, rewriting the Sierra Canyon’s record book by breaking eighteen of twenty-five records this year. “The team showed marked improvement all season, and the times recorded during the finals reflect their commitment and hard work,” said Matt Biondi, Sierra Canyon’s swim coach.
Other individual swimmers include Nate Biondi (’17) who placed 4th in the 100m freestyle and 9th in the 200m freestyle, Alex Feldman (’18) who placed 10th in the 200m Individual medley and 5th in the 500m Individual medley, Gazelle Umbay (’18) who placed 10th in the 500m freestyle and 12th in the 100m fly. The Sierra Canyon girls 200 medley relay team initially qualified 36th and improved to 23rd in the final round. Coach Biondi was very pleased with the improvement noting it’s a great accomplishment to move up significantly in the finals competition. Members of the relay team include Peyton Shafer (’16), Deanne Umbay (’17), Gazelle Umbay (’18), and Safia Iman (’18).
In league competition, the Girls finished third of five teams, and the Boys finished fourth of seven teams. At the State Tournament, the Girls team finished 15th out of fifty schools and the Boys team finished 19th out of forty-two schools. Coach Biondi said the team is looking to build on this year’s successes by recording even faster times and rewriting the Sierra Canyon record book…again!
Friday, May 22, 2015 11:36:00 AM
Kindergarten Students Buy Jeep for Elephants
When Jan Schlossberg saw an ad in a magazine about how to rescue turtles she never imagined it would result in her leading efforts to buy a jeep for an Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.
Yet, as Sierra Canyon's lead Kindergarten teacher, Schlossberg is always looking for new service project ideas for her students. “I’ve participated in dog and cat rescue programs,” Schlossberg said, “but the ad for turtle rescues made me curious about other opportunities for our students to help animals, especially those which are threatened.”
When Jan found a way to help circus elephants, she knew it was the right fit for her students. The idea was an immediate success with the three Kindergarten classes. The children weren’t just interested, they were ecstatic. “Imagine thirty-six excited kids, each wanting to learn everything about the elephants in Tennessee, their names, what they do, where they sleep, what they eat, it was just a delight to see their enthusiasm,” Schlossberg said.
Jan and the other Kindergarten teachers then discussed what type of service project they could organize which would create awareness and raise funds to support the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, TN (http://www.elephants.com/).
Since every Sierra Canyon student from Early Kindergarten through Twelfth grade participates in some type of service project each year, the idea fit into the class-wide project for younger students, like the Kindergartners. Service projects, part of Sierra Canyon’s curriculum, instill in children the importance of caring and helping others.
Partnering with Paula Corley, the Lower School’s dynamic Art Director, the kindergarten students created a handprint with grey paint, which was then allowed to dry and when decorated and turned 180 degrees, an adorable picture of an elephant appeared. “Every child created their own elephant, decorating the trunk, ears, and legs,” Corley said, adding, “We created an entire herd of elephants!” The artwork was then scanned and used to make greeting cards on recycled paper.
When Mick Horwitz, one of Sierra Canyon School’s founders, heard about the project, he asked Schlossberg if he could get involved, and has become one of the project’s biggest promoters. Horwitz joined the Kindergartners on their visit to the seventh grade class to share what they learned about elephants. In return, the seventh graders agreed to help assemble organize the cards in packs of five to be sold for $10.
The thirty-six handprint elephants were also transferred to fabric and then assembled into a large quilt for a baby elephant. Both the cards and quilt were enormous hits among the students and teachers. “We really didn’t imagine the quilt would be so stunning,” Schlossberg said. When parents came to pick-up their children and saw the quilt, some enquired about purchasing one as a keepsake. Instead, Schlossberg was able to redirect their enthusiasm to learning about the cards.
The cards have been a huge hit with families and sales have nearly reached $2,000. For Schlossberg and the Kindergartners, it’s more than they ever hoped to achieve, but is gratifying to know they are helping the elephants.
For the Tennessee Elephant sanctuary, it means a new jeep can be purchased to help their efforts to care for the elephants,” Schlossberg said. “In my conversations with their staff, the vehicle will make it possible to visit the elephants with food and medicine when away from the main compound.”
While the initial printing of cards has sold out, more have been ordered, in case anyone is interested in supporting the project. Please contact Jan Schlossberg (firstname.lastname@example.org) to place an order and help the Kindergartners help the elephants.
A graduate of UCLA with a Masters in Gifted Studies, Schlossberg has taught Kindergarten at Sierra Canyon for the past twenty-one years. She says this year’s service project has been one of the most unique and gratifying. “The children understand they can’t change the world, but they can impact the life of one person or even one elephant, and make the world a better place,” Schlossberg said.
The children constantly express an enthusiasm and interest which is very noble and Schlossberg has watched how they love watching the videos from the sanctuary. “They have enjoyed every part of this project. They’ve adopted this experience and will remember it for the rest of their lives.”
Tuesday, May 19, 2015 8:18:00 AM
Best Selling Children’s Author Visits Sierra Canyon School
Fifth and Sixth Graders had the rare opportunity to meet one of their favorite authors when Stuart Gibbs joined them for a discussion and book signing on Wednesday, May 13, 2015.
Gibbs, who lives in Los Angeles, is the author of the popular series Spy School and Fun Jungle which are geared for children ages 8-12. “I enjoy meeting with students and letting them learn about the books and characters,” Gibbs said. “At this age, most children are interested in writing, even considering it as a career, so it’s important to give them a window into how books are created."
Fifth grade classes read Gibb’s books as part of their curriculum, using language art skills to develop projects exploring mysteries, especially those in the books. Teachers found the books to be extremely engaging for students. “When we introduced Stuart’s book, Spy School, to the fifth grade last year, they fell in love!” said Molly Gunny, the curriculum project lead.
Special events where authors and guest speakers engage with students allow Sierra Canyon to provide a dynamic learning environment for students, and they can meet people who potentially provide inspiration to explore new interests and talents. During the assembly, Gibbs, a New York Times bestselling author, presented the background and basis for each of his six books. He then answered questions for over an hour from the students, before signing copies of his books which the students brought with them to the event.
“There are many different ways to write, and the process of becoming is different for everyone,” Gibbs said, adding, “I think kids who want to write need to find the right path for themselves, know there will be rejection along the way, but not to let it prevent them from achieving their dreams.”
Gunny and other Lower School teachers have found the Gibbs collection changed the way students feel about reading and books. “The current 5th graders have all read Spy School and some are continuing on their love and excitement with Spy Camp, and will no doubt start their summers reading Evil Spy School,” Gunny said, referencing the three books in Gibb’s Spy School series, adding, “We have never before heard so many students and parents tell us that they have never loved reading until now. We have a group of 150 students and adults that have been inspired by Gibb’s work.”
For more information about Stuart Gibbs, visit http://stuartgibbs.com
Thursday, May 14, 2015 9:19:00 AM