September 7, 2018
September 21, 2018
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Dear Parents:

We’ve officially finished our first complete N-12th grade week of school! Our first week had just four days for N-8th grade, last week after Labor Day we had just four days for everyone, but this week we finally had a full plate. Next week, though, please note that there is no school on Friday, September 21—the first of our three Faculty Workshop Days during the year (the others are October 19 and February 15).

One of the exciting parts of this week was listening in on faculty conversations Tuesday afternoon as part of our Self-Study work for Re-Accreditation. Teachers across divisions and departments are assessing and discussing scope and sequence of curricula, methods of evaluation, and other parts of our academic program. The exchange of ideas and perspectives is wonderful—and everyone shares the same goal: continuous improvement to enhance student learning.

As this article Improving Relationships Within the Schoolhouse by Roland Barth, the founder of the Principals’ Center at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, states, schools (and hence students) thrive when we create a school culture with the following four elements:

  • Educators talking with one another about practice.
  • Educators sharing their craft knowledge.
  • Educators observing one another while they are engaged in practice.
  • Educators rooting for one another’s success.

We look forward in the weeks and months ahead to continuing to facilitate as much of this as possible.

Have a wonderful weekend!



Middle States Re-Accreditation Self-Study Update

As you know, a five-member team from the Middle States Association will be visiting our campus November 13-16 to assess our self-study, which we will submit to them by October 12. In the meantime, we will be working feverishly to produce the 100+ page self-study document in which we evaluate all parts of our school and incorporate the constructive feedback we received from various constituencies, including parents, on our surveys in May.

Below are the key sections of the self-study document along with the chair of each sub-committee. Chairs will be involving others in the weeks ahead. We are enormously grateful for their leadership!

  • Profile of Graduates – Nancy Thatcher
  • Foundation Documents – Kari Loya
  • School Profile: Community – Linda Stamper-Keularts
  • School Profile: School Info: Alma Castro-Nieves
  • School Profile: Student Performance – Dawn Grey/Denise Blanchette
  • Standard I: Mission – Stewart Shelley
  • Standard 2: Governance – John Harper
  • Standard 3: School Improvement – Cesar Guerra
  • Standard 4: Finance – Sue Gibbons
  • Standard 5: Facilities – Felix Lima
  • Standard 6: School Organization – Sue Gibbons/Annaly Guerra
  • Standard 7: Health and Safety – Clarissa Cooper
  • Standard 8: Educational Program – Dawn Grey/Denise Blanchette
  • Standard 9: Assessment and Evidence – Dawn Grey/Denise Blanchette
  • Standard 10: Student Services – Daisy Pelovitz/Olga Hutchins
  • Standard 11: Student Life and Activities – Kathleen Graham/Nancy Thatcher
  • Standard 12: Info Resources – Ryan Franks/Wanda Bishop


Quick Announcements


PE Snack Bar

The Athletic Department after school Snack Bar has reopened! From 3:00-3:15 students can purchase ice pops, Italian Ice, drinks and snacks. The PE Snack Bar is located at the end of the Administration Building, across from the Early Learning Center. Small bills are appreciated.


Bed, Breakfast & Broadway!


Monday, September 17th

3:30 pm – 5:30 pm

GHCDS Pavilion

Grades 7-12

A wacky cast of actors is rehearsing for its big community theatre production of “You Only Die Twice.” Marge Cunningham, the author of this “spell-binding murder mystery,” runs the Enchanting Dreams Bed-and-Breakfast, which doubles as the community theatre. When she receives word that a top Broadway producer is coming to town to hopefully “discover” some fresh acting talent, she notifies the cast, and they go into high gear to perfect the show before opening night. They decide to stay in character and run their lines as much as possible before the performance. But it’s not easy. Fred Atkins plays the cat burglar who can never quite make it through the window without getting his panty hose caught. And then there’s Sally Hendrickson who can transform herself into a butler-chasing bimbo with lightning speed. In the meantime, a vacationing couple appears about a possible vacancy at the bed and breakfast. The local actors assume the visiting couple is the producer and his wife, but in reality the man is an overwrought air traffic controller who desperately needs a break before he has a breakdown! “Helping” the situation is the bed-and-breakfast handyman who can’t keep anything straight, including important phone messages. The cast may be small-time, but they have one big dream: to go to Broadway! Let the mayhem begin!


Click here to BRAG about your student!


¡Gracias! Merci! Thank You!

Photo Left to right: Jason Henry, Kisha Christian, Kate Baker, Yolanda Bryan

Many Thanks to Neighborhood Pharmacy!  

This year, Neighborhood Pharmacy included GHCDS in their annual gifts of school supplies, which included a new first aid kits for US Physics and MS Science. This was especially meaningful because Kate Baker taught Neighborhood Pharmacy owner/pharmacist Kisha Christian at St. Joseph High School. Also joining the group was Yolanda Bryan, mother of alumna Aliyah Bryan (GHCDS ‘15). Aliyah spent part of her summer interning in the U.S. House of Representatives.


Around Campus


Parent Information Afternoon: Grades 5 to 8 Thursday, Sept. 20 from 3:30 to 6:00

Parents will meet in the pavilion from 3:30 to 3:45, after which they will proceed to their children’s homerooms or advisories, where they will follow a modified schedule. Thanks to Mrs. Franks for organizing refreshments!

After School Activities

Thanks to Teachers and a few very special parents for offering After School Activities.  Thanks also to some of our Upper School Students for helping out by offering Chess and by assisting in other activities.

Middle School Drama began this week, while most After School Activities will begin the week of September 24th.  Chess will begin the week of October 9th because chess teachers, David Conhoff and Nayan Bansal will be competing in Georgia – the country, not the state.  How cool is that!

This week students received confirmation slips.  Payment can be made at the front desk before activities begin.

When activities begin during the week of September 24th,  students should report to the playground after school.  At 3:15, Mrs. Guzman and Ms. Beach will dismiss students to their activities. At 4:00 parents should pick their children up at the location of the activity.  If parents do not pick children up at 4:00, they will be sent to After School Care

Monday – Maker Space with Mr. Chapman: Location: Lower School Computer Lab

                4H with Ms. Coles and Mrs. Gruber: Location: Middle School Science Room

               Running with Mrs. Lambert: Location: Upper Field

               Steel Pan with Mr. Belgrave takes place at lunch: Location: Chorus Room

                Lower School Theater Club with Ms. Bishop: Location: her classroom or the Pavilion

Tuesday Stock Market Game with Mrs. Bass and her assistant, Malik John: Location:  Lower School Computer Lab

                Chess with David Conhoff, Nayan Bansal, and Isaiah Stevens: Location: outside the Lower School Spanish Room BEGINS WEEK OF OCTOBER 9

               Basketball with Lori Giordano: Location: slab

                Advanced Fairy House Making with Ms. Banwaree and the National Art Honor Society: 

                Location: Upper School Art Room – meet teacher outside Ms. Canning’s Office

Wednesday No Body To Murder with Ms. Blanchette and Roxy Wallace: Location:  Pavilion

                  Please note that this activity runs to 4:30 BEGINS WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 10

                  Christmas Crafts with Ms. Cooper and Ms. Nieves: Location: Lower School Art Room

                  Steel Pan with Mr. Belgrave takes place at lunch: Location: Chorus Room

Thursday Fairy House Making with Ms. Hutchins: Location: Ms. Hutchins’ classroom

                 Destination Imagination:  Ms. Sundaram and Ms. Richards: Location:  Ms. Sundaram’s room

                 Lower School Theater Club with Ms. Bishop: Location her classroom or the Pavilion

                 Kickball with Mrs. Crisler and special guest coaches (Mr. Mirocha, Ms. Archambault, and

                     Mr. Cullinan) Location: the slab

Friday       Lego Club with Ms. Shelley: Location: Lower School Art Room

                  Math Counts with Ms. Dykstra: Location:  Ms. Dykstra’s classroom

                   No Body To Murder with Ms. Blanchette and Roxy Wallace: Location:  Pavilion

                   Please note that this activity runs to 4:30

Professional Development

Strategies and Structures

Connecting Assessment and Instruction.  Kinder to 8th grade Language Arts teachers participated in an all day workshop on Saturday with Lisa Reilly, a Heinemann consultant who works with Jennifer Serravallo, author of many books about reading.  Ms. Reilly is a humanities coach with the Wilton School District in Connecticut. This workshop focused on the strategies and structures outlined in The Reading Strategies Book.   The workshop focused on assessments and tools to match goals to readers, explicit strategies to provide feedback to improve reading, and four types of conferences.  


Friday Gathering

At September 7th Friday Gathering, Ms. Blanchette spoke about the core values of Respect, Integrity, and Citizenship.  How specifically do we show respect and appreciation for the work Mr.Rivera and Mr. Villar do every day to make our campus beautiful and to make things work.  Integrity means doing the right thing even when no one is watching. When we see a garbage pail turned over, do we leave it or do we say, “Hey, let’s pick this up?”  Core values must be expressed through every day actions. We were delighted to have Mr. Tobias and the new head of Scouting in the Virgin Islands, Ms. Kuras, speak to students about scouting on St. Croix.  Ms. Kuras has just moved to St. Croix, and she is very excited to announce that starting in February, Scouting will be open to girls! Mr. Tobias and Ms. Kuras will join us at the upcoming Parent Information Afternoons to talk to interested parents and students.  


Middle School Assembly

Middle School students who earned Honor Roll, Dean’s List, and Headmaster’s List were recognized in an Awards Assembly on Friday afternoon.  Before the assembly, they helped Mrs. Mahoney and Mrs. Mares deliver costume bins to the stage. Many hands makes light work. Ms. Blanchette spoke a bit about the Edge Effect – the science that connects diversity (in humans and nature) with creativity, seventh graders were recognized (they had received certificates last June, while eighth graders  were presented with certificates, as they grades had not been calculated before the 2017-2018 school came to an end. Then Ms. Adams, the Middle School Council sponsor, led a lively game of human bingo, which encouraged everyone to learn a little bit about each other.


Miss Sonja at GHCDS!

We are fortunate to have Ms. Sonja Dickerson-Faust of Point Dance Academy teaching dance with us this year! This month 1st grade is enjoying dance lessons in PE classes. They look forward to sharing some of what they’ve learned  in the Friday Gathering on September 28th.


GHCDS observes 9-11 with the playing of the bugle call “Taps” and a moment of silence.

Boy Scout Troop 7227 with US flag: Malik John (grade 9), with VI flag: Douglas L. Capdeville II (grade 11) Trumpet player left: Brice Richards (grade 9) Trumpet player right: Shana Sargeant (grade 9)


Also on September 11th, high school students in Mr. Fletcher’s Government class analyzed a case study on the debate over federalizing airport security in the wake of the events of 9/11. They learned how political leaders were able to gauge public opinion on the issue, and why Republicans eventually gave in on the airport security bill that was eventually signed into law by President Bush. They then compared before and after changes in passenger and airline staff screenings, as well as the creation of the TSA.

Parents’ Association

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