May 15, 2020

Distance Learning Page is Live!
Welcome to Rocky Hill Country Day School’s online campus! At Rocky Hill Country Day, we are nimble and responsive. This agility allows us to pivot and develop new and effective educational experiences for our students when the need arises. With that in mind, we are excited to present what distance learning means to us at RHCD, and how it feels to be part of it. A huge thank you to our community who supported the creation of the page by submitting videos for the montage. You are all superstars. Visit the page here.

RHCD Days of Caring – May 29 and 30
On May 29-30 we will host two special days of caring. Join us as we celebrate our community and raise funds for the Rocky Hill Fund which provides immediate support for the School and our students, and The Mariner Relief Fund which will be used to respond to needs such as financial assistance for families facing COVID-19 related hardships, summer professional development for distance learning, and re-opening readiness needs. In addition, three generous donors have offered $12,500 in matching funds!

RHCD Seniors Campaign Continues!
Last weekend, teams of RHCD faculty and staff paraded through Rhode Island dropping off congratulations lawn signs and lots of love to our amazing seniors. And there’s more! Keep checking Instagram and Facebook though May 21 to catch the rest of the individual shout-out series. #RHCDSeniors

Lower School Dance Challenge Video – Coming Soon!
You might have heard about the Lower School Family Dance Challenge, a fun initiative inspiring LS families to put on their own dancing shoes! Participating families (thank you!) have selected a dance and created a video of them dancing. The individual recordings are currently being compiled into the 2020 Lower School Family Dance Challenge video, coming in the next edition of eCurrents! Until then, there’s always this…

Genius Hour
Last week, Lower School teacher, Charlie Laurent participated in an online panel about independent research projects, commonly referred to as Genius Hour. During the day-long virtual summit, hosted by author/educator AJ Juliani, Mr. Laurent collaborated with other educators and experts to explore new and innovative methods for developing projects that could be used during distance learning.

This I Believe

Eleventh Grade English recently completed their This I Believe audio essay on feminism. Students could take any perspective they wanted after studying the history of women’s rights movements in the US through a case study from the Harvard Business School. A selection of those recordings can be found below.

Abby T. ’21

Dante G. ’21

Jasper S. ’21

Stefania A. ’21

The second installment in a series of interviews with individuals in the RHCD community who, in their line of work, step beyond expectation for the greater good of society. In this edition, we spoke with three RHCD parents fighting COVID-19 from within the medical profession:

Crystal Bettencourt, RN
South Coast Behavioral Health and Roger Williams Hospital

Hank Wu, MD
Chief of Cardiology at Providence VA Medical Center, and Medical Director at Miriam Hospital’s Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Program

Erin Hogan, MD
Medical Director of Credentials CNE and Medical Staff, and Physician Advisor for Care Management at Kent Hospital, and Clinical Assistant Professor at Warren Alpert Medical School, Brown University.

Rocky Hill Country Day: What inspired you to become a nurse?

Crystal Bettencourt, RN: I was inspired to become a nurse during my senior year in high school. I spent one day each week volunteering at a nursing home. During this time, I became especially fond of the elderly. Becoming a nurse is one of the most selfless professions one can take. I have always enjoyed caring for others, especially the elderly.

RHCD: As a person on the front line, what do you see as our top priorities as a nation? 

Hank Wu, MD: I believe our priority is to build infrastructure to fight this disease for the long haul. This will involve the government funding the research and establishing guidelines where people can resume their work and daily routine in a safe manner and the safety equipment needed so our healthcare system shall never be overwhelmed again.

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?

Erin Hogan, MD: Physicians always need to be good communicators, and good communication has been an especially critical skill in this trying time. However, the most important development has been the innovation. People have created ventilator splitters in the event there is a shortage of ventilators, making face shields on 3-D printers, and developing plexi-glass boxes to reduce aerosolization of particles during procedures. There has been an explosion of medical devices that have been developed to save lives and to reduce the risk of infection.

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

Hall Pass: College Counselling During COVID

Working with Sarah McGinty, author of The College Application Essay (College Board, 2015), RHCD Director of College Counseling, Tara Dowling, recently contributed an insightful piece to EXPLO titled Hall Pass: College Counseling During COVID. Enjoy this excellent read on the EXPLO website. 

Cover art from the first edition of Maus (Pantheon Books, New York City, 1991)

The Holocaust: Conversations with Family
Distance learning has provided a wealth of opportunities to access new sources, generate conversation, and deepen relationships. While reading Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel, Maus, where the author interviews his father about his experiences as a Holocaust survivor, Belinda Snyman’s Sophomore English students recorded informal conversations with a member of their family to share their experiences in learning about the tragedy. Now more than 75 years old, these stories are important to record. Many are fading, or non-existent within the memories of our loved ones. Here are just some of those reflections.

“Talking with my dad, I felt the weight of the Holocaust and the effect that it has had generations down the line. Truly, nothing in human history has compared to its evils, and so it is important that we keep this great human failure in our minds for years to come, so as to avoid it ever happening again. It reminds us not to be a bystander and to stand up for righteousness in the face of power and cruelty.”
Julian G. ’22

“Speaking with my grandparents about the Holocaust was an incredible experience for me since we usually do not have in-depth serious conversations. My grandparents were born right after WWII ended, so when they were growing up, people were trying to put the events of the war behind them. I found out that they did not learn about the Holocaust much in school, but rather through the personal experiences of people they know.”
Molly P. ’22

“Through talking with my dad, I was able to grasp just how important remembering the Holocaust is for every generation. My dad’s love of books and movies has not only given him a comprehensive view of all dimensions, but allowed him to feel connected to such an important part of his family‘s history.”
Lily K. ’22

“It was fascinating to talk with my dad about someone he knew who grew up in Germany during the Holocaust. The most interesting part of this process for me was listening to him talk about this man’s home, and the decorations he had that displayed a Germany that was unfamiliar to me. He also saw pieces of German history and culture that existed before Nazism.”
Lizzie H. ’22

You can listen to Lizze’s full interview here.

ACE Mindprint Initiative
Although COVID-19 prevented the full implementation of the ACE Mindprint Initiative with the 8th Grade this spring, the ACE group is pleased to be able to offer a limited experience. Families have been participating in the initiative via parent-led online testing, followed by a meeting to discuss the results and strategies with ACE Director, Holly Cotta.

Mindprint was part of Director of Innovation, Meg Stowe’s E2 initiative this past fall with Learn Launch. The ACE faculty partnered with the 8th-grade teachers to utilize this assessment with 8th-grade students. The initiative was originally scheduled to begin immediately after March break.

What is Mindprint? Mindprint is an assessment tool that enables parents, educators, students, and clinicians to understand how an individual student learns so that they can be given the optimal support to succeed. Teachers can use advice generate by the platform to discuss results with students, helping them appreciate the assets they’ve been given.  With this assessment, students can learn to self-advocate for their own success by making a plan to build on their strengths, while also addressing any weaknesses.

Household Chemistry
What’s really in that bottle of hair conditioner? How about a tube of toothpaste, or a pack of gum? What exactly is FD&C Red 40? Over the past week, Dr. Katy Basu’s Upper School Introductory Chemistry students conducted research on the major ingredients in various household products.

Students considered the ingredients’ structures and chemical properties, such as melting point, density, and solubility. They also investigated some of the health and environmental hazards of those substances. The project tied very nicely into their recent work studying how the structure of a compound can be used to explain how easily it will dissolve in a solvent like water or hexane. 

Virtual Alpacas
Yes, you read that correctly! Exploring the world in ever creative fashions, the third grade recently enjoyed a virtual field trip to Matunuck Alpaca Farm. What a unique (and fun) way to #ThinkOutside!

Come Together: Brown Bag Stay-at-Home Project
Rachel Armentano’s 7th Grade Art class recently completed the “Come Together” Brown Bag Stay-at-Home City Scenes project. Students designed and created scenes of city streets where businesses are closed, open for limited hours, hospitals are highlighted, food trucks are found, and positive messages abound.

The project development component included a debate about the use of food trucks with the issue of COVID-19, and a Google Meet feedback session with a Providence-based architect via DesignxRI.

The exhibition is on display in the front windows of two local locations- Clementines Ice Cream and Nook Coffee House, both located in East Greenwich. Look carefully for Hearts for Healthcare workers, Chalk the Walk, and windows with teddy bear and rainbow scavenger hunts.

Amanda Hovey Featured in National Art Show
Lower School teacher, Amanda Hovey, has had a piece of her artwork featured in The Galleries of the Providence Art Club‘s National Open Juried Exhibition. Traditionally a mounted, in-gallery showcase, this year the exhibition has been conducted digitally. A huge accomplishment, this annual occasion includes contributions from leading artists from across the nation.

2020 Winter Athletic Awards Ceremony
The annual Winter Athletic Awards Ceremony has gone digital for 2020! Join the fun at 6 p.m. this evening (Friday, May 14) to celebrate our winter teams and athletes on the RHCD YouTube Channel! Expect lots of surprises and celebrity appearances on deck for a fun-filled evening!

Meet the 23 Year-Old Entrepreneur with the Million Dollar Business: The Giovanni Carlos Armonies-Assalone Story

Giovanni Carlos Armonies-Assalone (L) and his business partner, Connor Goss with the product that made them a millionaires dollar business.

RHCD alumn, Giovanni Carlos Armonies-Assalone ’15, is one half of a two-person team that designed a stick-on wallet for the back of smartphones. The pair built a $1.2 million business named Cardly in-between classes at Northeastern University, before selling it in January of this year.

We spoke with this breathtaking young entrepreneur ahead of graduating from Northeastern to find out what’s next, as well as discovering the foundations for his success that were laid at Rocky Hill Country Day.

Rocky Hill Country Day: Giovanni, you just sold a million dollar business. Can you talk about the product, and how it feels to be an accomplished entrepreneur when you’re still in your early twenties?
Giovanni Carlos Armonies-Assalone: I met my business partner Connor Gross in my freshman year of international business class. We hit it off and within a week had started brainstorming product ideas. We landed on adhesive phone credit card holders since lots of our friends had them, but they were all promo ones. They were putting Lyft branded phone pockets on their 60$ phone case, so we figured they might be willing to pay for one that was well designed. 

The partners quickly scaled, growing from organic sales in the cafeteria, to a distribution agreement with Amazon.

We both put in a few hundred dollars and within a couple weeks we were walking through the cafeteria selling them to students. From there, we built a website and put them on Amazon. Once we got them online, that’s where we saw all of the growth.

It’s a bit strange to sit back and reflect on the process. There wasn’t really any singular point where we realized how much we had grown the company. We simply focused on what was successful and stopped doing anything that wasn’t. It was a combination of working hard and getting lucky. 

RHCD: Tell us about your experiences at Northeastern. What role did the institution have on developing Cardly?

The partners developed and sold their product between classes at Northeastern University, Boston.

GCA-A: I give a lot of credit to Northeastern in both allowing us to focus on the project and helping to provide resources to make sure we were successful. Northeastern puts a lot of emphasis on their co-op program, and during my third year they allowed us to focus on Cardly full time for six months. It was during that time we scaled from doing 1,000 orders per month to over 10,000 orders per month. 

RHCD: Taking things back to East Greenwich. What core skills did you learn at RHCD that you continue to utilize in your work and your university studies?
GCA-A: Critical thinking. While school provides value in learning facts, equations, and history etc., the biggest take away for me has been in how I go about solving problems. Additionally, Rocky Hill always encouraged me to pursue my interests and side projects. I explored my interest in finance with the investment club, made Twitter bots, learned Photoshop, and built robots to compete in statewide competitions, all outside of the classroom, but with the help of awesome faculty members.    

RHCD: What are your fondest memories of Rocky Hill Country Day School?
GCA-A: It’s definitely the people. I was surprised, especially coming in as a transfer student in my junior year, by how welcoming everyone was. The faculty was amazing and always willing to listen to my random ideas and projects. I’m still close friends with many of my classmates, not only from my grade, but in the years above and below me. While I was never the best athlete on the soccer or lacrosse field, I looked forward to getting on the field everyday after classes. 

On that note, I’m happy to connect with anyone on Linkedin or email or on any other platforms. I’m always interested in discussing projects and brainstorming. 

Congratulations Alumni Class Officers and Speaker!
The Alumni Office announced the class officers and class speaker voting results today! Congratulations to President Elsa B., Vice President Pascale B., Treasurer Nick M., Secretary Rebecca A., and Class Speaker Christoff B.!

Virtual Alumni Happy Hour
Last but by very no means least, we are wrapping this edition of eCurrents with a little alumni cheer! Our inaugural Virtual Alumni Happy Hour on Thursday night was a big success. Approximately 20 alumni spanning 1973 to 2012 from all over the country (RI, MA, NJ, FL, WI, and CA), as well as Mexico, hopped on the call to chat, reminisce, hear updates from Head of School, Diane Rich, and even play a little Rocky Hill trivia (for example… do you know how many buildings are on campus or who the first Head was?)

Thank you to Trixie Webber Dumas ’81, Sam Dumas ’79 and family for coming up with the fun questions and to Lauren Friedman Koblick ’02 for spearheading the event and the photos. All agreed there should be another one soon: stay tuned!

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