The following is a letter from Bob Carignan, Head of School, from last week’s newsletter touching upon how the Riverstone community’s generous gifts and donations help to make our school a better place. Thank you everyone for your continued support and participation during this year’s Annual Fund.
As we near the final week of the Annual Fund, I’d like to highlight why these five weeks of fundraising and our annual Auction are so important. All gifts from both of these two important fundraisers go directly to our programs and allow us to say “yes” to making Riverstone a better place for all of our students.
Thanks to your generosity at last year’s Auction during the Fund A Need portion of the evening, we were able to enhance our current science curriculum and implement new Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs – a direct connection to the initiatives outlined in the Strategic Plan. We have used the funds to improve our science labs, purchase equipment, and provide training for our teachers.
Last summer, three Elementary School staff members — James Hamilton-Vail, Jennifer Smackey and Tina Morgan — attended a STEM-based Project Lead the Way training. Ms. Smackey and Mrs. Morgan then trained other members of our staff to implement the program in Grade 2 and Grade 5. This inquiry-based program, which we are integrating into our Units of Inquiry, is tested and proven to be very effective in getting students excited about STEM.
Check out the short video and photo at the end of this letter highlighting Grade 5 and how they have integrated their unit of inquiry on media with robotics. We will share photos of the other science improvements in the near future.
We also now have an after-school “white hat hacking” club which offers a complicated and advanced level view of computer coding. Thanks to parent Dejan Nenov for making this possible for our students!
We also received a matching grant from the Edward E. Ford Foundation for $50,000 last year. As with any granting organization, they looked very closely at our 2014 Annual Fund participation. Their grant enabled us to purchase robotics equipment and computers necessary to introduce the robotics program that we are implementing in the Gr 9 Design Technology course. Our students are enjoying robotics so much that we have two robotics teams that are preparing for competition. We have been trying to raise matching funds outside of our parent community and are still in the process of doing so with a deadline of December 31, 2015. If you have any suggestions for potential organizations or individuals who would be interested in supporting STEM-education at Riverstone, please let me know.
Finally, thanks to the Parents’ Association for planning a pre-holiday stress-reducer, “A Taste of Riverstone.” I hope to see you there!