June 19, 2020

Senior Commencement
On Friday, June 12, the Class of 2020 celebrated Commencement with their nearest and dearest on the lawn in front of Hopelands. Making the most of our extensive campus, each student was allocated a “pod” of chairs located more than six feet from their nearest neighbors so all participants could relax and enjoy the festivities while still practicing social distancing.

A memorable as well as unique occasion, the event was live streamed for extended family, friends, and faculty and a jumbo screen projected the event for optimal viewing.

The Commencement Ceremony was live streamed on the School website and social media platforms, as well as being shown on a big screen at Hopelands.

Each student was able to come to the stage to receive their diploma and hear adulations written about them by their advisor. The heartfelt sentiments resonated with students and families after months of separation and distance learning. The families were pleased to be able to maintain a majority of the traditions of commencement, including the Rose Ceremony, where students present roses to parents and faculty/staff who they wish to honor.

This year, they wrote notes on Rose Cards that were shared with the honorees. The day finished with a video created by the students and a parade through the campus where faculty and staff, complete with decorated cars and signs, lined the parking lot, and saluted the Class of 2020 for a final recessional through the grounds some have called home for as long as 15 years.  #RHCDSeniors

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2020 Honor Society Nominations:
Rocky Hill Country Day School Lifer Awards
Elsa B.
Pascale B.
Maxwell L.

Rocky Hill Country Day School               Dumas Family
Alumni Athletic Award                            World Language Award
Kobe P.                                                        Rebecca A.

Class of 2020 Valedictorian, Sam W.

Henry and Peggy Sharpe English Award
Sam. W

Gregor/Coes Award in Mathematics
Benjamin P.

Dr. Richard R. MacMahon Science Award
Elsa B.


Roberta Wintersteen Knight ’61
History and Social Sciences Award        Valedictorian
Rebecca A.                                                  Sam W.

Flynn Award
for Sportsmanship                                     Howland Music Award
Maxwell L., Emma S.                               Neha B.

M. Dorothy Young Award                        William W. Mauran Bowl
Nick M., Kobe P.                                        Isabella R.

Community Service Award                     Lillian Boynton Hale Art
Neha B.                                                       Olivia M.

2020 Commencement Planning Committee:
Martha Cunningham, Beth DeGerlia, Todd de Wardener, Susan Fonseca, Michael Lawson, Diane Rich, Elena Rich

Lower School and Middle School Parades
Last week, Lower School and Middle School students, families, and friends respectively participated in their very own parades through campus and past the portico. On what proved to be two moving and memorable occasions, students and their teachers alike enjoyed an opportunity to connect, celebrate, and reflect upon an unusual, yet love-filled academic year. See you all in the fall!

Lower School Parade Gallery

Middle School Parade Gallery

Lower School Moving-Up Ceremony
Over 40 people logged in to be a part of the 5th Grade’s special day! Each student wrote and read a “Here’s To” to one of their classmates, while Abby M. ’27 was the recipient of the Lower School Joan Osowa Citizenship Award.

Lower School Moving-Up Day Parade

“I am so happy we had the opportunity to recognize and celebrate our students for all they accomplished and all they brought to our Lower School community this year….even from a distance! To each of you, I offer a great big thank you for all the ways you made us smile. I’d also like to offer my heartfelt thanks to all the grown-ups who set the stage.

I wish everyone the best as you head into summer and look forward to you“moving up” in our Lower School. To our 5th Grade friends, you’ve made your mark in our Lower School and you’re ready for the adventures that lie ahead. For those of you moving on, remember, our door and our hearts will always be open, and you will always have roots at RHCD. Happy Summer!  —  Patricia Pontarelli, Head of Lower School

Middle School Moving-Up Video

In case you missed it, check-out the Middle School Moving-Up Ceremony video! Expect cheers, thrills, and amazing memories as our talented Middle School students make the big move into the Upper School.

“The Middle School wants to applaud our students and faculty for the work they did this spring through distance learning. We are a community of learners, and the commitment of the students to continue to engage each day and make the most of our time together was inspiring.  As we head into summer vacation, the faculty and administration will be refining their strategies for distance and blended learning through a variety of professional development opportunities, even as we anxiously anticipate our return to campus and being together with our students.  The Middle School wishes all a safe and wonderful summer vacation.”  —  Mike Jedrey, Head of Middle School
Seniors Celebration Video
In recognition of a very special group of graduating Seniors, sit back, relax, and enjoy a comprehensive reflection on over a decade of memories and friendships.

Introducing Hack For Global Good 2020: FOOD
We are excited to announce that HGG 2020 is going virtual this November! Returning for it’s third year, RHCD’s statewide social impact hackathon will address this following question:

How does FOOD affect people, production, and policy? 

The event will also include a design sprint to engage even more amazing partners, mentors, and students across Rhode Island.
This year high school teams will explore challenges in the Food space as they relate to the PEOPLE affected by food and/or who work with food (farmers, agricultural technologists, vendors and food pantries, growers) to achieve the overall goal of zero-hunger, PRODUCTION of food (vertical farming, hydroponic techniques, robotics, GMO, seed saving/genetic ownership, innovative farming techniques, clean food) with the overall goal of zero-waste, and POLICY around sustainable food systems, food access, and equity.
Lucia C. ’21 assumes the mantle of 2020 HGG Chair of Student Leadership Team!
Guiding this unique statewide experience RHCD’s Innovator-in-Residence, Ailsa Petrie; Director of Innovation, Meg Stowe; and Global Impact Advisor/Director of Communications, Susan Fonseca.
Here is a list of impact partners joining us this November:

Summer by the Bay: Register for Summer Camp! 
June 29 marks the beginning of another season of summer camp options at RHCD! We are excited to offer an array of camps this summer that meet the state-mandated guidelines for social distancing. This year’s offerings include our traditional day camps for ages 6-9, camps that focus on the outdoors, kayaking, woodworking, crafts, computer camps, and sports.

Also *new* this summer is our Family Maker Series with Stephanie Cruff:
Space in the RHCD camps is quickly filling up.  Please visit the summer camp website to learn more and register. 

RHCD in the Press
It’s been a busy couple of weeks at Rocky Hill Country Day, and the press has been following our every movement! Here is what the media has been saying about everything RHCD:

Share Positive Thoughts!
Good news about the Rocky Hill Country Day distance learning experience is that it is bringing new families to our School! Thank you for continuing to share your RHCD stories with friends, family and neighbors. Word-of -mouth is our best advertising and it is working.  The Admissions Department appreciates your help and your personal referrals. Keep it up!

Free Mindfulness Practice led by Dr. Chris Willard
We are delighted to have Dr. Christopher Willard leading us in a mindfulness practice on June 20, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. Let’s gather on Zoom (click for event link) as parents, administrators, educators, and community leaders for a shared guided practice!  While we are postponing our in-person conference, we look forward to gathering virtually for a 30-minute collective moment of centering and reflection. Register here.

Meeting ID: 824 8360 2622
Password: breathe

Honor Societies Nominations
Congratulations to the following students who have been nominated as members of the French Honor Society and Hispanic Honor Society:

Hispanic Honor Society

Elsa B. ’20

French Honor Society

Nicholas M. ’20

Emma S. ’20

Zachary W. ’20

Kobe P. ’20

Pascale B. ’20

Cortlandt M. ’20

Christoff B. ’20

Beatrice B. ’22

Ava G-R. ’21

Molly P. ’22

Stefania A. ’21

Congratulations also to the teachers who helped these students to develop their passion for French and Spanish over their years in Upper School: Elena Rich, Charlotte Buecheler, Hannah Hudson, Maria Abregu, and Thomas Farrell.

About the Societies: The Société Honoraire de Français, sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF), and the Sociedad Honoraria, sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP), are honor societies for high school students enrolled in French and Spanish classes. Students who achieve high standards academically and are engaged in the promotion of the language and culture are nominated for society membership, which allows them to participate in events and apply for scholarships.

The Senior Project 2020 Reboot
“When COVID-19 disrupted our lives, it did not upend a program or crush the ideals of our Seniors; it provided an unequaled opportunity for an exceptional group of individuals to exercise their personal agency and exploit the self-directed model we offered them. Some continued with remote internships, many uncovered new passions and discovered hidden talents, while others engaged in mini-apprenticeships and designed, created, and built. The competencies, especially “navigator” and “communicator” were at the forefront, as were their levels of innovation and self-awareness. We were so impressed by the scope and depth of their learning achieved in just two weeks.” — Bel Snyman, Senior Project Coordinator

On June 10th, the Class of 2020 presented an online showcase that included live presentations, videos, websites, and blogs. Below is an event program, as well as ways to access and enjoy the projects.

Project Samples:
Cole L.
Rocky Hill Fishing 101
Neha B. Quarantine Cookbook (read: Issuu)
Willa G. The Making of an Album
Nick M. : The Importance of Gun Safety Laws and How Congressman Cicilline Has Fought For Their Improvement
Cortlandt M. : Marketing Conservation with The Ocean Agency 
Olivia M. A Documentary of Farming in Rhode Island (watch: YouTube)
Rebecca A. The Library Diaries: The Remote Tales of an Intern at the Providence Athenaeum
Elsa Block : “Through the Seasons” at Rocky Hill Country Day: A 14-Year Journey (Video and animation; “The Circle Game” by Joni Mitchell)
Pascale B. : Branding and Marketing: DiCollective (link: website)
Ada R. : Life’s What You Bake It: Vegan Baking and Cooking (link: website)

Click here to view all projects.

Supporting Disadvantaged Groups in STEM Classrooms

Over the past couple of weeks, each of Anna Slaybaugh’s Math classes conducted a mini-PBL addressing the driving question, “How do we best support disadvantaged groups in STEM classrooms?” Students researched and analyzed statistics, learning how statistics don’t always “paint the correct picture” and that we need to look for context.

The PBL began with students reading articles about the importance of diversity and then undertook discussions about how to foster that environment in math classes. Next, they watched a video from Dr. Bettina Love and talked about disadvantaged groups and what causes unnecessary struggles in math classes. Students then performed preliminary research about various disadvantaged groups in STEM classes and careers, talking about the importance of statistics, the context that goes with them, and how can we analyze statistics in order to get the full picture. Research included how misleading statistics can still be true, and how they are presented does not always give a clear picture. They also analyzed data from the Pew Research Center.

The groups conducted weekly meetings to talk about actionable solutions to things that we can do at Rocky Hill as well as globally. Students talked about how we cannot compare the status of education and inclusion across the country with what they experience at Rocky Hill Country Day. They also discussed how aspects of RHCD can create a safe learning environment for some groups and thoughts on what we as a community could do better.

“STEM is extremely important in education, even if these students don’t move onto STEM careers. In an ever-changing, increasingly complex world, it’s more important than ever that our youth are prepared to bring knowledge and skills to solve problems, make sense of information, and know how to gather and evaluate evidence to make decisions. These are the kinds of skills that students develop in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. We must make sure that, no matter where children live, what learning differences they may have, or if they are a part of a disadvantaged group, they have access to quality learning environments.  —  Anna Slaybaugh, Math Teacher

Click to view all of the final projects.

The American Revolution: Digital Explorations of Historic Landmarks 
While respecting the importance of the directives, the Fourth Grade didn’t let “Stay-at-Home” orders to keep them from visiting, and building, some of our country’s important American Revolution landmarks. Students were challenged to answer the driving question:
“How can we use research and Minecraft to help people unable to travel due to COVID-19 stay at home orders see and learn about important American Revolution landmarks?”

Beyond having fun, the students’ learning objectives included uncovering the historical importance of landmarks by researching and replicating them using Minecraft, incorporating research into Minecraft landmarks, and developing a public product to be shared.

The project included several “must-haves” and the use of at least two online resources. Info required in the Minecraft landmark focused on answering the following questions:

  • Where is it?
  • Why is it important?
  • What occurred there and when?
  • Who was there?
  • When was the landmark important?
  • What is it today?

“Fourth graders spent two weeks researching, writing, designing, building, and sharing. The results were fun and impressive.”  —  Charlie Laurent, Lower School Teacher

Sharing Lessons from “TED”
Borrowing from the famous slogan, “ideas worth spreading” Bel Snyman’s Sophomore English class ended their year by focusing once again on the power of their authentic voices. The students examined how and why they connected personally to an issue and explored various tools to communicate their ideas and make their listeners care. Instead of delivering a talk in the lecture hall, the sophomores demonstrated ingenuity and adaptability in their selected medium of communication: prerecorded video or audio, and live presentation in an online meeting. Their stories and ideas conveyed a strong sense of self, as well as an ethical imperative to make a difference in the world.

Click images to watch the videos (opens in new tab)
“How Can We Use Social Media to Improve Our Body Image” by Cassandra R. ’22
“How AI Can Make Us Better” by Tom X. ’22
“Media Consumption” by Julian G. ’22
“On Ageism” by Thomas F. ’22

Art Foundation Capstone
Art Foundations is the prerequisite studio course for all incoming students at Rocky Hill Country Day Upper School. The course includes a quarter of drawing and painting, ceramics and sculpture, alternative media such as collage, and a final “capstone” quarter. Every year the cohort of students is challenged with an overarching theme. Each student works on a focused, independent project with materials of their choosing that tackles the theme in a specific way and demonstrates their unique artistic voice. This year, distance learning prompted an adapted version of this year-end project.
This year, the Capstone happened virtually and the efforts of the students are showcased on Art Foundations Capstone 2020 Google Site Please check out our students’ amazing work!

Portfolio Drawing & Painting
Over the course of the semester, Portfolio Drawing & Painting students developed a series of works based on an investigation or visual theme. The students spent a great deal of time brainstorming and reflecting on topics that were important to them. Both inquiry and research drove the student’s artwork, and their work developed through experimentation, revision, and reflection. Please visit to see what each student worked so hard to create.

(Remote) Medley from Hamilton 
When picking repertoire for the spring choral concert, Hamilton was an obvious choice. It is well-known and popular among the students, of an appropriately challenging difficulty, and it was composed and performed by artists from a range of community backgrounds.
A major consideration was to pick pieces that celebrated African-American ingenuity and highlighted the influence of Black art on American society. These considerations became more prevalent after the switch to distance learning.

Hamilton’s message was especially poignant and it was the piece the chorus was most familiar with, therefore it would be the easiest piece to transition to distance learning. The students were incredibly engaged and responsive throughout the entire process. It was this attitude that made the virtual chorus a resounding success. Despite the spring choral concert being cancelled along with much of the end of the year festivities, this project is something the chorus students can look back on with pride.

“I told them at the beginning of distance learning that the greatest challenges can be the greatest opportunities in disguise,” explains music teacher James Himmelmann, “and they all made the most of this opportunity. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Students that participated in the virtual chorus: Rebecca A. ’20, Christoff B. ’20, Neha B. ’20, Elsa B. ’20, Lucia C. ’21, Lizzy D. ’22, Willa G. ’20, Isabel G. ’23, Jayci I. ’23, Paige J. ’22, Ben P ’20, Ada R. ’20, Cassandra R. ’22, Bella R ’20, Deidre S. ’23, Emma S. ’20, Bridget V. ’21, Sam W. ’20, Zack W. ’20

Opening the Doors of Perception
Keeping focus on the School’s musical might, the RHCD band, Jam Time! came to campus last week to record their interpretation of The Doors’ classic hit, People Are Strange. Take it away lads! Featuring Gregory T. ’21, Chase S. ’21, Max. L ’20, and music teacher, James Himmelmann.

Fictional Immigrant Narratives
As the culmination of their final unit of the year, junior English students wrote short stories on the theme of immigration. The project required students to combine historical research and imagination, bringing to life one individual experience of leaving one’s old home to make a new one. Although this was not a constraint, students were further encouraged to examine their own lineages, whether documented family origins or adopted cultural traditions. The juniors rose to the occasion and produced several collections of short stories, one per class. Everything, from each collection’s title to its visual identity, was created by the class, with editorial assistance from their teachers Charlotte Buecheler and Belinda Snyman. Below are some excerpts from the project.

A soft morning light filtered through the trees, the stillness punctuated by the songs of morning birds. Everything belonged to Prince Charles: in the secluded forest, the rocks, the trees, and most importantly to the crown, the hunt. No one else was allowed to set foot in the Prince’s Land, even the men brought along to help load the quarry onto large wooden carts.  — Caelan L. ’21
We waited beyond the crowd mobbing to be the first to pull their luggage off the boat. We were in no rush to reach our destination. Louie cracked open our stale trunk and pulled out the instructive letter, from our father, from under the top layer of clothing. “Macoun Street and 23rd, Macoun and 23rd.” he repeated.  —  Jacob S. ’21
I placed the slip of paper, along with the money, on the desk before me. I was lucky to know English well, having spoken it some in Ireland, but when the man started asking my question, it was nearly impossible to understand. —  Sinead B. ’21

They boarded a boat that was a little too lavish for the area, and Azra pretended not to notice that the crew was armed. She wasn’t nervous; she just figured that it’d be best not to mention it. —  Troy J. ’20

From an unfamiliar voice, I heard my name. It felt strange hearing my name called out in a way I’d never heard before, with a different pronunciation and order. As I turned my head, I saw no familiar faces, just two people waving at me. —  Yiran C. ’21
I would be leaving everything behind; my family, my job as a police officer, a house my wife, Sofia and I had worked so hard to purchase, at the young age of 29. Most importantly, I would have to leave my wife but only for a short while. Although it was a hard decision to make, I really had no other choice. The moment my life was in serious danger, I knew I would have to leave Colombia as soon as possible. —  David G. ’21
The coordinator takes us to our dorm and we’ve been told that we will receive a tour and an entrance ceremony to join the school. Lying down on my bed, I close my eyes but nothing happens, it’s tough for me to sleep. —  Yuhuan L. ’21
As the small chime of the front doorbell rang and the smell of morning baked bread surrounded me, I would place the small amounts of money I had onto the front counter. The coins would click-clack onto the glass counter top. —  Valentina S. ’21

100 Mile Challenge
We want to keep our Mariner Family on the move this summer, so the Athletics Department is throwing down a 100 Mile Challenge! Whether you walk, run, or hike, we want to see how many Mariners can log 100 miles over the next two months.

If you already are an avid runner or walker, or you want to set some fitness goals for yourself over the summer (Fall Athletes, I’m looking at you!) – this will be a way for our community to motivate, inspire, and challenge each other – with a prize at the end for all those students and staff who make it!

To participate:

1. Download Runkeeper on your device and create an account. If you have a fitness tracker like Fitbit or an Apple Watch, you can pair it with your account – if you don’t you just need to bring the device with Runkeeper on it during your miles. Each person participating needs their own account unless you plan to do ALL your miles together with the same partner (possibility for a family or young siblings!)

2. Search for RHCD Mariners as a friend. We will accept your friend request and then invite you to join the 100 Mariner Miles group, which will begin on June 15th.

3. Once you have joined the group, your progress towards our 100 mile goal will automatically update.

4. In order to log your miles into the Challenge group, you’ll need to categorize your activity as a “run” – so before heading out on that walk, hike, or jog, make sure to start the Runkeeper app OR your fitness device that you’ve paired with the app (and stop it when you’ve finished!) Random daily steps will not sync into the Challenge, only those steps that you take during your dedicated activity time that are categorized as a RUN.  So even if you plan to walk or hike – categorize it as a Run for it to count towards our challenge.

That’s all for now folks!
eCurrents is getting a makeover this summer. We’ll return with RHCD school news and more in September! Wishing our Mariner family a wonderful break.