Category Archives: IB

Riverstone Breaks Ground on Phase 1 of New Middle & High School Building

By | Academic Excellence, Elementary School, High School, IB, Middle School | No Comments

Riverstone International School is expanding!

With an eye to the future, Riverstone International School has broken ground on Phase 1 of a new Middle and High School on their campus in southeast Boise and will be opening a new residential program this fall.

Phase 1 features a 6,962 square foot building that will include two music classrooms, a recording studio, two science classrooms with laboratories (one wet and one dry), a general classroom, restrooms, and two offices.

This new building was designed by Erstad Architects and will connect to a larger, Middle and High School building to be constructed at a future date. The overall design compliments the striking, light-filled Elementary School that Erstad Architects designed in 2009. PETRA, Inc. is the general contractor for the project with an anticipated completion of December 2016.

According to Bob Carignan, Head of School, “Upgrading our Middle and High School facilities to reflect the innovative education we offer at Riverstone is part of our 2014-2019 Strategic Plan. Our goal is to create a distinctive learning environment that fosters inquiry-based learning, encourages engaging discussions between students and teachers, and builds a strong community.”

The school is opening a residential facility in downtown Boise in the fall of 2016 with a long-term goal of housing 32 domestic and international residential high school students. Improving the school’s academic facilities is necessary to meet both the educational needs of students and future growth of the school.

Phase 1 of the new Middle and High School replaces the original modular buildings that were purchased in 1997 when the school first opened as the independent Hidden Springs Community School in Hidden Springs. The modulars were moved and installed at the school’s campus at 5521 Warm Springs Avenue when the school relocated to its current 14-acre site in 2000. The school bid a fond farewell to the modulars in late May.


Riverstone International is a private, independent school with 325 students from preschool through high school. Recently recognized by The Washington Post as “Idaho’s Most Challenging High School,” Riverstone is the only school in Idaho, and one of 17 in the nation, authorized to provide the three International Baccalaureate programmes. About 20% of the families receive tuition assistance. Riverstone International School inspires courageous journeys of academic and personal growth to enable students to lead purposeful lives.

We will waive the $75 application fee for families who start their applications* for the 2016-17 academic year prior to August 15. Please inquire at the button below. We will send instructions and the appropriate code via email.

*Day students only; not applicable for residential students.

Inquire here

Photo includes  Andy Johnson (RIS Middle & High School Director), Andy Erstad (Erstad Architects), Katrina Kulm (Erstad Architects), Mark Liebich (RIS Chairman Board of Trustees), Bob Carignan (RIS Head of School), Rachel Pusch (RIS Director of Enrollment Management), Jerry Frank (PETRA, Inc), and Melinda Quick (RIS Class of 2009).

Riverstone International School Awarded Idaho’s Most Challenging High School

By | Academic Excellence, College Placement, High School, IB | No Comments


Riverstone International School has topped The Washington Post‘s list of Idaho’s Most Challenging High Schools!

According to reporter Jay Mathews, “The index score is the number of college-level tests given at a school in the previous calendar year divided by the number of graduates that year.”

As an International Baccalaureate World School that enrolls every student in the prestigious IB Diploma Programme, graduates sit for six college-level tests. In addition to a month-long battery of exams covering six subject areas, students must complete an independent research paper of approximately 4,000 words and 150 hours of Creativity, Action and Service. Additionally, students are required to complete a course in Theory of Knowledge, a hallmark of an IB education.

On a national level, Riverstone appears at #125 out of the approximately 22,000 schools in the United States that were evaluated.


Don’t Fail Idaho: How Riverstone Stacks Up

By | Academic Excellence, College Placement, IB | No Comments

Bob by the Rock 2015The following is the introduction to Bob Carignan’s March 3, 2016 newsletter to the Riverstone community. To read previous Riverstone newsletters, you may link to our archives here. We invite you to subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.

Dear Riverstone Community,

I would like to talk about the report completed by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, “Don’t Fail Idaho,” that has received a great deal of coverage in the media of late. I have been asked by many parents as to how Riverstone is doing in comparison to the trends in this report and national benchmarks. I apologize if this is longer than normal, but urge you to read on.

The skills identified in the report that employers are seeking mirrors the skills that Riverstone teaches our students: “performing with integrity, contributing to a team, acquiring knowledge, solving problems, and being able to communicate effectively.” You can see our students putting these skills into action every day:

  • Our very youngest students speak publicly about their work during their Primary Years Programme open houses
  • Our grade 5 students research and address real-life issues throughout their 8 week Exhibition
  • Our Middle Years and Diploma Programme students research and form opinions on topics that are relevant to the real world
  • Starting in Middle School, our students have to problem solve and cooperate to set up tents, carry group gear, and prepare meals for their outdoor trips
  • Our students work side by side with classmates from around the world and from different backgrounds; real international and socio-economic diversity

College Preparedness
According to the report, only 20% of high school seniors in Idaho are prepared for college. In the highest ranking public schools in Boise, less than 50% of seniors are prepared. Using the same measure, 100% of the Class of 2015 were prepared for college.

At Riverstone, every student is required to take four years of mathematics and all of our students are on track to have the option to study calculus in their junior year. Nationally, less than 20% of students take calculus, even less in Idaho.

One hundred percent of our students who attend Riverstone from grade eight on will study a year each of biology, chemistry and physics; nationally only 30% students earn credits in all three sciences. Our students then specialize in one science for an additional two years during the Diploma Programme, obtaining a total of five years of High School science prior to college.

Second Language
In the last major study fewer than 20% of all K-12 students nationally and under 12% of Idaho students studied a foreign language. At Riverstone, every student from Pre-Kindergarten forward study a second language, with many of our students achieving non-native fluency by graduation.

In line with current brain research, 100% of Riverstone students from preschool – grade 12 take art and music as a core class taught by dedicated specialists. Only 57% of US high schools require art credits to graduate and over two-thirds of those schools only require one credit.

Reading, Writing, and Research
Nationally, less than 25% of grade 12 students write proficiently. At Riverstone, we just mailed our seniors’  4000 word (14-16 page) Extended Essays to be read by evaluators around the world. My advisee’s research question was, “To what extent did the rise of antitrust law in the United States shape future efforts by the federal government to expand regulation over the national economy.” That’s only one. You can see the topics for the Class of 2015 in our “Meet the Seniors” brochure from last year. They are equally impressive.

The International Baccaulareate Programmes are only a part of our success. At Riverstone, we go beyond, by investing in small classes so that our inquiry-based approach to teaching and applying skills is always hands-on and integrated into our Five Pillars.

Why Riverstone?
What is it that made my family invest in a Riverstone education for our children? Quite simply, my wife and I (a former options trader) wanted to give our children the best probability of gaining the best set of skills possible – exactly those mentioned in the report.

By looking at the above numbers, coupled with our college acceptance success, I’d make that trade over and over again.

Call for anything,

Bob Carigan
Head of School

Exploring Magnetism and Electricity with Micron

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Earlier this week, employees from Micron Technology visited our Grade 3 classrooms to teach students about magnetism and electricity in relation to their current Unit of Inquiry, “How the World Works.”

Using hands-on activities, our third graders explored how people use investigations, tools, evidence, and knowledge to learn and explain how magnetism and electricity work. Students rotated through four stations: 1) Static Electricity, 2) Magnets, 3) Circuits, and 4) Lemon Batteries. The class was able to experiment with materials such as volt meters, D-cells, bulbs, motors, magnets, lemons, balloons, pie plates and even a Barbie doll in order to explore the properties of magnetic materials and how various components interact to create electricity.

Following the visit from Micron, students drew electric circuits and discussed the challenges of manufacturing an invention using these drawings. This led everyone to learn more about schematic drawings. Using the first draft of their electric circuits, they edited their drawings into more professional ones and found it easier to share their creations with one another.

Both third grade teachers, Mrs. Wallace and Ms. Stewart, were thrilled to use the topic of electricity to develop critical thinking skills and warned parents not to be surprised if their student asks for electric components or a Van De Graaff generator to play with at home! The classrooms will be moving forward to focus on experimenting with insulators, conductors, and reading a bit about Michael Faraday, whose discoveries in the 1700s helped pave the way for the invention of the electric motor.

Thank you to the Micron volunteers for sharing their love of science with our students!


Annual Riverstone Alumni Bash

By | Alumni, IB | No Comments

We were thrilled to see so many alumni back home for the holidays and hear all about their latest adventures. Included below are a few photos from the party and some awesome updates from alumni we “overheard.” Thank you to everyone who attended and to all of the alumni who have stopped by the campus to say hello!

Julia F (2010) is now working at Boise State University as Operations Assistant for Women’s Basketball and as the Administrative Assistant for both Women’s and Men’s Basketball.

Charlie U (2009) recently returned from a trip to Chile where he worked with internationally renowned painter Tony Foster.

Becca Q (2011) caught up with fellow classmates and told us all about her new position with the Evanston Public School system in Illinois developing educational programs and assisting with budget development.

Alex P (2014) recently declared Economics as his major at Pomona College.

Ellery C (2014) is playing volleyball as a sophomore at Lewis and Clark University while studying International Affairs.

Hannah Mae S (2009) encouraged her fellow alums to come and check out the newly renovated Discovery Center where she works as the Volunteer Program Director and assists with various marketing initiatives.

Erik M (2005) enjoyed answering his peers’ questions about his current job testing out video games in Portland.

From the Class of 2012: Jon F and Jackson C will graduate this spring with degrees in Economics from Duke University and Wesleyan University, respectively; Davis G will also graduate this spring from Arizona State University with a degree in Electrical Engineering.

Karoline W (2015) is loving her freshman year at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and is hoping to major in International Relations or Global Studies.

Launching Our Residential Program

By | Academic Excellence, High School, IB, International Understanding, Middle School | No Comments

Exciting news from Head of School, Bob Carignan, was originally shared on November 19, 2015:   

Dear Riverstone Families, Faculty, Staff, and Friends,

As we near the Thanksgiving holiday and end of our 2015 Annual Fund campaign, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude for the time, energy, and dedication of the Riverstone community. Since the school was founded in 1997, there have been countless people and organizations who have helped us steadily grow and improve the education we provide. We continue to reflect and refine who we are as an organization and how we best meet the needs of our students. Just as we strive to inspire our students’ journeys, we too have our own journey as an institution.

I am delighted to share news of the next big steps in our school’s journey.

Earlier this week, the Board of Trustees authorized the administrative team to begin taking the necessary steps to build Phase 1 of a new Middle and High School building with a goal of breaking ground during 2016. Phase 1 will replace our current modulars that are nearly 20 years old and have reached a point of diminishing returns on maintenance expenses. Although plans are still being developed, the footprint for Phase 1 will cover approximately the area where the modulars currently exist. In the future, when Phase 2 of the Middle and High School has been completed, the architecture for the entire structure will complement the Elementary School building.

Committing to the construction of this new building is consistent with our 2014-2019 Strategic Plan with respect to facilities, academic excellence, and managing enrollment. As you may recall, we prioritized the use of permanent building space for instructional purposes and in fact have limited the number of classes being taught in the modulars this year. Both students and teachers will benefit from the improved learning environment of this new building. We also anticipate benefits in terms of greater retention and recruitment of students and faculty.

The early success of our endowment campaign, Navigating Forward, has enabled us to pursue building Phase 1 of the new Middle and High School. In fact, the financial assets of our endowment fund have enabled the Trustees to pursue this opportunity to build Phase 1 without additional fundraising efforts such as a capital campaign. As with any endowment, the principal remains intact and will continue to grow with additional contributions. There will be more information about our endowment campaign in the near future, but please know that we are very grateful to everyone who has contributed to the endowment campaign thus far.

Secondly, we are transitioning our model for hosting international students. We have partnered with a developer to design and lease a new residential community in downtown Boise opening in the fall of 2016. Currently, our international students live with host families, predominantly relying upon our school community to open their homes to our students. We have many students and families for whom this has been a wonderful experience. However, you may have noticed by the repeated requests in our newsletter that finding host families for the number of international students who would like to study at Riverstone has been a challenge that has become increasingly more difficult each year. We have in fact, had to turn away students who would be an excellent fit for our school because we could not find host families.

Our residential community also expands our ability to enroll students from other parts of Idaho and even throughout the United States. Although sometimes we take this for granted, an International Baccalaureate World School with small classes, strong teacher relationships, and outdoor education in a friendly, safe city like Boise is a very unique educational opportunity. By providing a residential option for both international and domestic students, we can positively manage our enrollment, build diversity, and expand the global perspective that we strive to develop in all of our students. We will continue to offer families the opportunity to host students who attend Riverstone on a cultural exchange, typically one year or less.

Our approach to both our new construction and residential program will be mindful and thoughtful, with a clear eye towards ensuring that we maintain the values that Riverstone International School holds dear. Our goal has always been to improve the educational experience of our students through the five pillars and ensure financial sustainability of the school; these next steps in our school’s journey are exciting and hold great promise for our community.

I look forward to sharing more as details unfold.


Bob Carignan
Head of School

Preschoolers Become Authors and Illustrators

By | Academic Excellence, Elementary School, IB | No Comments

The following is a post and pictures shared by Preschool teacher, Ms. Sterling, on their classroom blog. Their Unit of Inquiry focuses on understanding the three R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), how to minimize waste, and how to share their learning with the rest of the school.

Our efforts to creatively reuse materials led us to new frontiers in the library. Prior to Thanksgiving, our school Librarian, Mrs. Tabb, read a story about a cardboard box that was recycled into the very book we were reading! She suggested we consider making our own book, reusing (rather than recycling) materials from around campus. Hmmm, we could do that!

To support our efforts, Mrs. Tabb gathered leftover cardboard pieces for the book cover and trimmed used library posters into pages. The Preschool team went to work this week to write and illustrate a story we titled Taking Care of Our Planet. The story was written during a recent morning circle as the team responded to questions about concepts we’d been learning in this Unit of Inquiry. During free play, our artists-in-residence created the illustrations. In a cooperative team effort, we then constructed the book with Mrs. Tabb during Monday afternoon’s library time. Today we put finishing touches on the back cover – signing names and adding important details about all the authors.

Not only did we find a way to share our knowledge and accomplish our goal to reuse materials in a creative way, the team was educated on book parts and purposes. They also learned all sorts of book related vocabulary in the process. The kids were thrilled to learn they were authors and illustrators. I think they were equally delighted, if not slightly challenged, to decide on two facts about themselves to include in the author information on the back cover. Our creation will be on display during Friday’s Open House. Come ready to read!

Your Gifts Make Riverstone a Better Place

By | Academic Excellence, Annual Fund, Elementary School, High School, IB, Middle School | No Comments

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.

Hi All,

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!



Grade 5 visits Boise State Public Radio

By | Academic Excellence, Elementary School, IB | No Comments

The 5th grade recently visited Boise State Public Radio as part of their unit of inquiry: how media reshapes the way individuals, societies, and cultures perceive and understand the world. We’d love to share the following summary of the students’ visit, written by Grade 5 student Alexander, as well as share some photos from the visit:

Yesterday, we visited BSPR, or Boise State Public Radio.  Radio broadcasts are a form of media, and we are in our media Unit of Inquiry.  Before our visit, we learned that the radio station is an active workplace, so we had to be at our best.  Once we arrived, we met with Scott Graf, the station news director, alongside Marcel Pacatte, a longtime journalist and professor at Boise St. University.  We were split into two groups, one to tour the working station with Mr. Graf, and the other to discuss the important journalism concept of audience with Mr. Pacatte.  During the discussion, Mr. Pacatte shared an article from the Washington Post with us and talked about how information is shared across the nation.  We looked at one specific article about immigrants who came to Ellis Island and tried to think what audience it was directed toward.

On the tour of the station, we got to see the newsroom, where the reporters meet to plan what stories they’re going to share on the radio that day.  We also learned about cool microphones: a shotgun microphone and a “heart” microphone.  They’re named that way because of the shape that they capture the sound.  We then visited the tech center, and learned about the importance of sound proof walls to keep all the beeping inside.  Sometimes, they have to travel up mountains on snow mobiles to fix the radio transmitters in the winter!  Finally, we saw a recording room where they were actually doing a live interview on the air!  We wrapped up with many questions for our hosts.  I learned radio is dependent on a lot of technology, and that it’s an effective form of media for sharing news and entertainment.  Our visit to BSPR was amazing!

Annual Fund Kick-Off!

By | Annual Fund, IB, Leadership by Example | No Comments

Last week we held the kick off for the 2015 Annual Fund, centered around the theme of “Riverstone: A Gateway to the World.” The campaign runs from Monday, October 19 through Friday, November 20. Over the next five weeks, our goal is to raise $200,000 with 100% support from our Board of Trustees, parents and staff, as well as see an increase in alumni participation.

Riverstone parents Kipp and Deborah Martell are this year’s Annual Fund Chairpersons and have worked tirelessly to organize the campaign and create a theme that speaks to the essence of Riverstone and our community. In the first newsletter sent out earlier this week, the Martells discuss the school’s impact on their children and within their family: “Riverstone is a gateway to the world: bringing an international based education and experience to them and a place that broadens our children’s horizon beyond Boise. It prepares them to be a part of the global stage – to participate in it, contribute to it, influence it. Our children have developed a deeper global perspective and understanding so they are more compassionate and aware. Not only do they have an excellent well-rounded base of education, but they have cultivated a world perspective they will take with them confidently through life. And it was nurtured here in Boise, Idaho.”

We hope you feel as strongly as the Martells do about Riverstone. With a short five week campaign, we have tried to make it as easy as possible to participate. All Annual Fund gifts are tax-deductible and may be matched by participating companies. We will be sending out a newsletter every Tuesday during the campaign to share progress and information.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to Kathleen Gilton.

Ways you can participate:

  • Return your donor envelope with your donation.
  • Make a gift of stock and contact Kevin Richmond, Business Director.
  • Many employers sponsor corporate matching gift programs and will match charitable contributions that their employees make, truly maximizing your gift to the Annual Fund. Please obtain your company’s matching gift form and send it to Kevin Richmond, Business Director, with your gift.

Thank you for your generosity!

RIS Annual Fund 2015 IMG_7594