2.10.17

What a spectacular week of learning at GHCDS! Many of our upper school students, chaperoned by Mr. Fletcher and Ms. Guerra, heard Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor on Wednesday during her visit to St. Croix. Justice Sotomayor described her challenging upbringing in the Bronx, including the death of her alcoholic father when she was a child, and her own diabetes, which has forced her to take insulin every day of her life since she was seven years old. She stressed the importance of working hard and valuing education. She then shared the transformative experience of applying to Harvard, feeling totally out of place during the first hour of her one-day visit, and running back home. “It was the first and last time in my life that I ran from anything,” she declared. Sotomayor walked...
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2.3.17

Dear Parents: As GHCDS celebrates Black History Month on campus, including what I know was a wonderful assembly today, we shared our various heroes as part of a course on social justice this week at the Klingenstein Fellowship here in New York City. Some of the well-known names included Thurgood Marshall, Justin Trudeau (the prime minister of Canada), Malcolm X, the Little Rock Nine students, Reveta Bowers (first African-American headmistress of an independent school in the U.S.), and many others. It’s so important that we as a School help our students identify heroes and role models who champion causes greater than themselves. Some of the other highlights this week included:  Science Fair presentations in the Middle School. More case studies on everything from academic integrity and...
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1.27.17

Dear Parents: As GHCDS celebrates the Week of Inspirational Math on campus, I’ve been delighted to spend time with 19 talented counterparts from around the world who are helping to shape the next generation of leaders! On Sunday I will complete the first week of my two-week, fully-funded Klingenstein Fellowship here at Columbia University in New York. I am honored to be here representing GHCDS, St. Croix, and the greater Caribbean region. Some of the highlights so far have included: Rich discussions of real-life case studies, which the head of school fellows, including myself, prepared last month based on a challenge we’ve faced in our own school. These cases have involved everything from transgender issues to faculty misconduct. Case studies are wonderful teaching tools. Reading and...
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1.20.17

Dear Parents: I was delighted that many of you could join us this morning for the christening of Tom Elicker’s cat sculpture in honor of our late nurse, Ms. Tina Tobias. This morning’s outdoor gathering showcased the “Best Of” Good Hope Country Day School: Meaningful words from Ms. Blanchette about the contributions of Ms. Tobias to our School community Harmonious singing from our students, led by Ms. Hotter Exceptional art by Mr. Elicker (the casting was completed at a foundry in Philadelphia) to celebrate and inspire Beautiful, albeit nippy, St. Croix weather! Hats off also goes to Mr. Lima, Elvis, and Daniel of our maintenance team for preparing such a beautiful space. I hope you have a chance to swing by the space soon. As we continue to strengthen our School, professional...
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1.13.17

Dear Parents: Happy 2017! We hope you had a wonderful break and are re-charged and ready for an exciting second semester ahead. One of the highlights for me over the break was seeing the activity up at our swimming pool. On a Tuesday morning at 6am, the lanes were filled with students and young alumni perfecting their strokes and pushing their conditioning. It was a treat to see such critical mass of disciplined athletes working with each other and their coaches to improve. Later over the break, several college teams joined their ranks, including the women’s team from Harvard. It was an excellent opportunity for our young athletes to interact with competitive scholar athletes at the next level. All of this culminated with the Sea Swim on Sunday, which was a celebration among the...
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12.22.16

Dear Parents: We made it! Our sprint of holiday performances, exams, and other activities packed between Thanksgiving and Winter Break has ended. Before we send everyone off for well-deserved quality downtime with friends and family, I wanted to share a few key messages. First, one of the many activities in the last week was festive door decorating. I praised one particular teacher yesterday for her classroom’s door, which could have passed for an entry to FAO Schwarz. “Oh, I didn’t do anything. It was all my students…” she humbly replied. But how wrong she is! She created the environment in which her students felt comfortable working together, unleashing their creativity.  Still today many people think that great teaching means that the dynamic teacher is front and center. The...
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12.16.16

Dear Parents: First and foremost, I wanted to thank our crack team of Kindergarten advisors from Ms. LaHaye’s and Ms. Gregor’s classroom for coming into my office this week to discuss our recent excavation to begin mitigating flooding in the library (see photos). They informed me of the frogs and tadpoles they had released behind the library prior to the excavation. I reassured them that we had carefully relocated the frogs and tadpoles to a safe area on the western edge of our campus. They asked excellent questions, took good notes, and showed great empathy and curiosity during the meeting. A brief explanation of the origin of this meeting, provided by Ms. LaHaye, is below. Second, I had a nice conversation this morning with Ms. Shirley Campbell from Pittsburg who has been leading...
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12.9.16

Dear Parents: I am pleased to share with you the GHCDS 2015-16 annual report (click here), which recognizes last year’s contributions to our development efforts, including capital gifts, annual fund gifts, and donations to our February Black & Gold Gala. We are delighted to have a growing number of trustees, faculty, parents, alumni, and friends helping us in these ways to provide a world-class education. A special thank you goes to our Advancement Office team of Linda Stamper-Keularts and Kiomie Pedrini for producing this publication, which showcases some of the “Best Of” Good Hope Country Day School. Please feel free to contact them directly about our development efforts overall. In a similar vein, thanks to a significant capital contribution, we have begun work to eliminate...
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12.2.16

Dear Parents: With a school as large as ours, with 60 faculty members, 350 students, 700 parents, and over 2,000 alumni, it is inevitable that our community may at any given time be experiencing triumph… and sorrow. The last few weeks reminded us of this. While our athletes, stage performers, and scholars have showcased their talents on and off-campus, we also lost an exceptional young man from the Class of 2016, Asa O’Neal (who appeared with Ms. Grey on the cover of last year’s annual report), due to illness. Many of our faculty members, upper school students, and graduates will be celebrating Asa’s life on Friday at the Victorious Believers church. We have scrambled to provide substitute coverage for our classes, but wanted to be sure to allow everyone whose life was touched by Asa...
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11.22.16

Dear Parents: With this shortened week due to the Thanksgiving Weekend, we are sending out an abridged Weekly News. Many celebrations (see photos below) took place today around campus with one common theme: gratitude. On that note, we wish all of you a relaxing holiday weekend with your families and friends and hope you will have time to reflect on how fortunate we all are simply to be alive. We are blessed with opportunity and possibility. Thank you in the meantime for the time, talents, and treasures that you have contributed to our School to make it stronger for our students. We look forward to seeing you next Monday. Kind regards, Have a wonderful weekend, Kind regards, Kari Around Campus   Key Dates November 23-27: No School: Thanksgiving Vacation   This Week in Sports Hi...
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11.18.16

Dear Parents: I hope many of you had the opportunity this week to see the 4th-6th grade show, “The Wizard, the Witch, the Fairy, the Squirrel, and the Soft, Fuzzy Slippers of Doom.” As the title suggests, you’ll be entertained! The upper school drama productions, which have been amazing, often receive top billing. I have seen drama productions at numerous schools in the States, and our shows, including the recent performance of “When Bullfrogs Sing Opera,” are on par with any of them. Our talented team, led by Kiomie Pedrini (producer), Michael Armendariz (Director), Joey Barnwell (Technical), and Cathy Mares (Costumes), has made the shows largely student-led, where both front-of-house and back-stage operations are spearheaded by our students and provide an awesome learning...
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11.11.16

Dear Parents: Happy Veteran’s Day.  We successfully navigated through Halloween and are now gearing up for our next set of holidays, including Thanksgiving break around the corner. The biggest victory, however, was probably successfully navigating through the historic 2016 U.S. presidential election. This year’s campaign raised strong emotions from many different voices in our country. It also presented a challenge for educators to talk about the campaign with students without letting their own biases influence the discussion. It is absolutely critical for us at GHCDS, a school with incredibly rich diversity, to foster an environment where our students feel comfortable sharing and articulating their different views of the world so that we can learn from each other. We may not always...
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11.4.16

Dear Parents: We’ve reached November! Although our Halloween Trunk ‘o Treat was rained out Monday evening, we had many Halloween celebrations earlier in the day. I was honored to participate as a judge in the upper school’s pumpkin carving and costume contests. What awesome creativity from our students! See the great photos below. Thanks to the many parents who participated in the day’s activities. Our upper and middle school parents enjoyed their parent-teacher conferences on Tuesday. I was impressed that our upper school teachers at 14 tables of between two and four people in the library could host simultaneous conversations without letting the volume ever go much beyond whispers. A perfect model for our upper school study halls! I was also impressed by the leadership of our middle...
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10.28.16

Dear Parents: At every all-faculty meeting this year (first Tuesday of the month), every Faculty Workshop Day, and every parent information session, I have begun my presentation by referring to our Mission Statement: Cultivate reflective, creative, compassionate students who are critical thinkers prepared to excel in college and empowered to better their island and the world. At last Friday’s Faculty Workshop Day, I also for the first time referred to our Core Values: It is critical that these two organizational pillars guide all our efforts going forward and serve as overall frameworks for helping our students reach their potential. We have now displayed the Mission Statement and Core Values in every classroom and will use these tools in many constructive conversations ahead—just as...
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10.21.16

Dear Parents: We hope everyone enjoyed the day off today – and the official end of the first Quarter of our 2016-17 school year! Congratulations! This was Faculty Workshop Day #2 of the year (the others will be Friday, February 17 and Friday, April 7). We enjoyed an action-packed day reviewing science curriculum standards in grades K-8, discussing the best use of advisory and assembly time for the upper school, receiving hands-on tech training from our stellar tech team, and much, much more. These days are invaluable for faculty to hone their skills, connect with colleagues in meaningful ways, and engage in robust discussions about their subject and the craft of teaching. Coach Amy, Coach Dunton, and their volleyball squads organized a fantastic camp for kids in the gym and raised...
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