May 1, 2020

Celebrating Seniors Month
May is Seniors Month. The mighty Class of 2020 is a tight-knit clan of amazing people with a huge variety of talents, achievements, and quirks. As we launch a series of special events meant to lift and celebrate these wonderful students, starting with the Salute to Seniors social media campaign, we hope that they will feel more loved and supported than ever. Nothing can replace the old plans, but this smart, creative, and connected class will have plenty to reminisce about in the future. We hope some of these events will spark joy and help them make memories.

The RHCD Class of 2020 word cloud shows the impressive array of colleges our Seniors were accepted to this year. Click to expand in a new tab.

Kicking-off a series of digital and physical celebrations, each day until May 21 we will be saluting our Seniors with a personal post on the School’s social media channels.

Check-out the first of the series on Instagram and Facebook 

Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce Business of the Week
Rocky Hill Country Day was recently invited to be the Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce’s Business of the Week. Head of School, Diane Rich, was the special guest on the most recent edition of the Chamber’s podcast, streamed on WADK Newport, where she spoke about our culture and explained how we have transitioned to distance learning. Listen to the conversation here. Note: the segment begins at 2 minutes 5 seconds.

Virtual Admissions Office is Open!
Do you know anyone who might be interested in Rocky Hill Country Day School for their child? The Virtual Admissions Office is open with a whole new Admissions Welcome page on our website, waiting to welcome prospective families and to share the RHCD experience. Check it out and please send interested friends, family, and neighbors our way! Learn more in the Virtual Admissions video, hosted by Director of Admissions, Jan Cooney.

Pages at Portico
Greetings from the library! We have been hearing from students, teachers, and family members that many of us miss paper books. To address our community’s request and to offer the gift of literature to everyone at this challenging time, we have started a program called Pages at Portico.

Pages at Portico is a curbside pick-up program that allows RHCD community members to browse books in our online library catalog, request books via a Google form, and pick up the requested books at the RHCD portico on Tuesdays between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Full instructions for how to participate in the program can be found on the RHCD Library Website. You can also watch this video tutorial on how to navigate the site.

We look forward to seeing many of you on Tuesday, May 5th for the Pages at Portico launch!

Virtual PTL
We will be hosting virtual PTL meet-ups by division every other week. So, grab a cup of coffee and join us for some online conversation and camaraderie! There is no set agenda, but divisional faculty will be on the call for you to ask questions or offer feedback about distance learning. This is also a place to talk about how things are going, share ideas, and support one another. We will record each meet-up and post it in Veracross for one week, after which it will be deleted. We look forward to seeing you!

Lower School: Mondays at 4 p.m. 5/4, 5/18, 6/1
Join Google Hangouts Meet:
Join By Phone: +1 339-368-6719 (PIN: 645288936)

Middle School: Wednesdays at 4 p.m. 5/6, 5/20, 6/3
Join Google Hangouts Meet:
Join By Phone:+1 402-724-0112 (PIN: 814656829)

Upper School: Thursdays at 4 p.m. 5/7, 5/21, 6/4
Join Google Hangouts Meet:
Join By Phone:+1 304-981-5431 (PIN: 827683797)

Back to the Hill
Given the current circumstances and limitations due to COVID-19, Alumni Reunion is rescheduled for Saturday, September 26th in conjunction with Homecoming Weekend.

Hack Education Summit
On April 30th, Neha B. ’20 and Willa G. ’20 participated as panelists in Hack Education, a powerful dive into education and the experience of distance learning through the lens of the most important stakeholders: the students of Rhode Island.

Hosted by Venture Cafe in Providence, the 12-person student panel was moderated by RHCD Director of Innovation, Meg Stowe and Fab Newport founder, Steve Heath. Neha and Willa were joined by peers from Hope High School, The Met High School, Classical High School, and Lincoln High School, with many of the students having met as a result of Hack for Global Good.

Leaders from around the state, including the Rhode Island Office of Innovation and Spartina Consulting joined the engaging conversation, with participants leaving feeling both empowered and inspired.

Speaking after the event, Neha reflected that, “communication and empathy are key for equitable education,” adding that she wants to see more, “self-created and more motivated learning” opportunities for students.

RHCD will continue to be engaged in the work of advancing the conversation around education, building and testing new models, and elevating student voices.

Selfless Service Award
Alex L. ’24 has been honored as one of the statewide recipients of the 8th Grade Gandhi Award for Compassion and Selfless Service. The recognition is based on demonstration of kindness to others, participation in volunteer efforts, and is sponsored by the URI Center for Nonviolence & Peace Studies at the University of Rhode Island. Congratulations, Alex! ?

Check-out the online conversation on Facebook!

In times of crisis, there are always individuals who, in their line of work, step beyond expectation for the greater good of society. The #RHCDHeroes project acknowledges the champions of the RHCD community combating the COVID-19 pandemic on the front line.

In the first of a series of interviews, we spoke with Kate Corvese Noelte ’05, Deputy Division Director at the Division of State and Local Readiness, CDC; Scott Johnson, parent of Paige ’22, and Lieutenant Ladder 2 Firefighter, City of Pawtucket; Michael Beland, M.D., parent of Reid ’23 and Elise ’25, Director of Ultrasound at Rhode Island Hospital, and Professor at Brown University; and Sarah Pontarelli ’07, critical care paramedic with LifePACT Pediatric and Adult Critical Care Transport at Hasbro Children’s Hospital and Rhode Island Hospital.

Rocky Hill Country Day: What inspired you to join the CDC?

Kate Corvese Noelte: The idea of focusing on health at the population level, instead of at the individual level, was very appealing to me.

In my (biased!) opinion, CDC, as “the nation’s health protection agency,” is the absolute best place to do that. The science-based, data-driven nature of our work, in addition to the mission that my division, the Division of State and Local Readiness, has to support state and local public health systems in preparing for and responding to public health emergencies, are important motivators in my day-to-day work (especially when those days end up being pretty long!).

RHCD: Our faculty focus on teaching 8 student competencies. Which one of these skills have you had to use most frequently in your work over the recent months?

Michael Beland: I can think of daily examples where all of the student competencies were critical to my day-to-day interactions and decisions. If I had to pick one in this challenging time it would be Navigator. With such rapidly changing guidelines, we have needed nimbleness to care for patients in new ways, sometimes with limited resources. We have adapted by leveraging technology to develop tools like virtual waiting rooms and telemedicine. As a co-owner and board member of Rhode Island Medical Imaging, I also feel a great responsibility to our amazing employees and their families. Knowing we will overcome these challenges, I have been focused on finding ways to get our employees back to work while providing a safe environment for them and our patients.

Scott Johnson: As an officer, I am expected to come up with a plan of action to deal with many different types of emergencies. Critical thinking is a major part of my job, along with communicating. I must be able to communicate the tactics used to mitigate a problem. I am also expected to train new men, so communication plays a big part in my daily activities.

RHCD: Once we get through the coming weeks, what can we expect to see on the far side?

Sarah Pontarelli: I believe there will be greater exposure to the needs of our health care system now that people know what is possible. That awareness will hopefully maximize preparedness, availability of resources, and our confidence to respond quickly. Relationships will be stronger overall, as well.  The level of trust, collaboration, and sheer dependence on each other will have played a powerful role in getting us to a place of stability and wellbeing.

Know a hero within the RHCD community? Let us know! Email your nomination to

Mi vecindario
As part of their Neighborhood Project PBL, Middle School Spanish students have been reconstructing their own neighborhoods through a creative medium of their choosing. From Minecraft to 3D cardboard modelling, the students demonstrated an extraordinary breadth of artistic abilities! ?

The Missing Piece:
A Parent’s Perspective on ‘Story Time with Mrs. G.
by Melissa Edelmann
Sometimes you can’t name what is missing until you find it. When COVID-19 shut everything down, I thought our kids were adjusting well and had the support they needed. I mean, what could be missing?

It turns out what was missing was a piece of the social-emotional support, love, and connection to Rocky Hill Country Day that is so woven into a typical school day. And then here it was in virtual form – story time with Mrs. G. And trust me – this is not just any story time.

A screen capture from one of RHCD librarian, Wendy Gustavel’s Story Time with Mrs. G. videos.

Night after night, a small but growing group of lower schoolers sign in – wrapping up their day freshly bathed and in pajamas or curled up on a sofa. Their faces bounce as they hold phones to join, siblings pop in and out, and you hear the hum of life in the background. And Mrs. G. welcomes them in, brings them together, and shares with them nothing short of the perfect story for them that day. They share, they laugh, they ask questions, and the kids tell their stories just as she tells hers. It’s magical, personal, and just for them.

It’s that missing piece.

Watch Story Time with Mrs. G here.

Meiosis Modelling
Global Issues – Biology Concepts students have been using household items to model stages of meiosis, a cell division process where a single cell divides twice to produce four cells containing half the original amount of genetic information.

Anaphase 1 model, designed by Hannah B. ’23

“Tactile and visual learning is such a big piece for science,” explains Upper School Science teacher and Science Department Chair, Pamela Matson.

The activity asked students to find anything in their house, yards, garages, etc., that could represent chromosomes, with other household items demonstrating what is happening with them and the cell nucleus during each specific phase.

The next stage was synchronous where students explained their individual representations, while their peers reviewed the representation for accuracy in consideration of the explanation.

8th Grade Gandhi Essay Finalist
Congratulations to Juliana H. ’24, who was chosen as one of this year’s finalists in the Tenth Annual Rhode Island 8th Grade Gandhi Essay Contest. Each year the URI Center for Nonviolence & Peace Studies hosts the state-wide contest, with the purpose of celebrating the life teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and to encourage Rhode Island students to think critically about, personally connect with, and to become nonviolent peacemakers in their schools and communities.

This year, there were over one hundred submissions from schools all over the state, so Juliana should be very proud of her accomplishment! A virtual awards ceremony will take place at 5 p.m. this evening when the first, second, and third place winners will be announced.

Putting it in Perspective
Art Foundations students have been experimenting with a variety of materials while distance learning. Developing new photography skills while applying principles of design was one of the highlights. Enjoy this gallery of perspective shots and lens experiments!

Last week, Rachel Armentano’s 7th grade Art class connected with architect Ben Willis of Union Studio in Providence.

Facilitated by RHCD Director of Innovation, Meg Stowe and DesignXRI, Ben spoke to the students about his career in architecture and discussed the impact of urban planning. He also gave feedback to the students about the food truck and cityscape projects they are working on. 

Jam Time!
Those familiar with the lunchtime jam sessions held in the music department will be pleased to hear that the band is still going strong and making new grooves. Upper School language teacher, Matt Gnolfo, recorded this hangouts session featuring guitarist and band leader, Greg T. ’21, Chase S. ’21, on saxophone, and pianist extraordinaire, James Himmelmann, who is supporting Upper School performing arts during Emily Serotta’s maternity leave. Take it away, fellas!

Got your own digital band? Making a solo career in the garage?? Send us your videos!

Statewide Recognition
Congratulations to
Ameir G. ’22, and Parker M. ’21 for being listed in the 2020 Providence Journal All-States: Independents list. A prestigious, highly sought honor, All-States recognizes the very best in young, sporting talent. Here is what the state’s leading sports writers had to say about these Mariner superstars. 

The product of Providence established himself as one of the best guards in the state regardless of league this winter. Gomes scored 416 points this season and earned first-team All-SENE and All-New England honors.

“The monster in the middle was a dominant force for the Mariners. The 6-foot-8 center from Portsmouth scored 397 points and had 312 rebounds this season, earning first-team All-SENE and All-New England honors.”

RHCD Alumni Rallying for Rhode Island
RHCD alumni from across the years have been doing incredible work in supporting the local community during this period of social distancing. These are just some of those inspirational stories.

Paul Zarrella ’87 and his wife, Kayla, have offered one of their rental properties in Wakefield to a frontline health care worker, free of charge. Full story on 10 WJAR.

Jill Papa ’05 has been sewing cloth masks for healthcare works in NYC.

Owner of the Yes! Gallery gift boutique in Wickford Village, Julie Beebe ’93, has partnered with Jake Fahrenholtz ’96, owner of Fresh Mode Screen Printing, to launch a limited run of nifty, Rhody apparel to help raise money for the North Kingstown Food Pantry.

RHCD parent Hillary Ramos, owner of The Cookie Countess and mom to Jon ’27 is usually very busy this time of year with Easter orders, but COVID-19 has the company shifting gears to temporarily change their 3-D printers from creating cookie cutters to face shield headbands. Full story on WPRI 12. 

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