Summer Surfers Take to the Waves

Term_Surfing_WW_7822 A highlight of Summer Term has been the Wellness Surfing elective. Along Mecox Beach, students have gained an appreciation of the power of the Atlantic Ocean. Instructors Matt and Orson Frisbie have been teaching the students fundamentals like paddling techniques, reading the waves, and water safety. Surfing, which offers a robust cardiovascular workout and strength-building exercise, is also credited with reducing stress and raising endorphins.

That’s certainly been the case for Brazilian student Norma Sousa, who says she loved being out on the water and enjoyed the time spent with other students. Norma enrolled in surfing with her twin brother because they rarely get the opportunity to visit the beach when at home. After six weeks of lessons, she says her surfing skills have improved significantly, and she looks forward to practicing them in the future.

Studying Marine Life in Long Island

IMG_1436 One of Summer Term’s most popular courses has been Innovation Lab @Ross’s Marine Science. The class focuses on the study of marine life, with the added benefit of using the rich shoreline of Long Island’s East End as a living classroom. “One of the best things about this course is that we spend as much time outside of class as we do in class, using the local resources to learn about marine life,” said instructor Hameer Deo.

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In the classroom, Hameer taught students the functional differences between the bodies of land and marine animals by guiding them through dissections of amphibians and mammals. Their studies helped the students understand why frogs have webbed feet and slimy skin, among other anatomical characteristics. The students also took research field trips to locations like Sagg Swamp Nature Preserve, Elizabeth A. Morton Wildlife Refuge, and several local beaches, where they observed dolphins, blue whales, and orcas.

For the final project of the term, each student built a website to raise awareness about endangered marine species. The websites detailed the lives and habitats of each animal, the threats to the species’ survival, and how the public could help to assist in their recovery.

Prepping for the TOEFL with Mami Takeda

TakedaMamiCROP2 For many international students pursuing a college education in an English-speaking country, one of the most significant steps in their admissions process is taking the TOEFL test, which measures how well non-native English speakers can use and understand the English language. TOEFL test scores are accepted by more than 10,000 colleges and universities, as well as governments, exchange programs, and scholarship funders around the world. Mami Takeda, Ross School’s coordinator for the English for Speakers of Other Languages program, has taught English to non-native speakers in the United States, Japan, Spain, and the Philippines. Here are some of her suggestions for those preparing to take the TOEFL.

In your experience, what aspect of the TOEFL concerns students most? What students worry about most is the time restriction, especially in speaking and writing sections, in which they have limited time to prepare their answers. For example, the speaking section allows test takers 15 seconds to put their ideas together and then only 45 seconds to speak.

What strategies do you recommend for preparing for the writing and speaking sections? To tackle both of these sections, students should work on organizing their ideas quickly by using an outline template. They should also practice, practice, practice with a timer to become comfortable with the time limit.

How soon before the test date do you recommend students begin a concerted study effort? Students should begin practicing with mock tests at least a year before their test date, but it’s important that they begin improving their overall language skills as early as possible. There are institutions that teach test-taking "tricks," and often students think that's enough preparation, but it is not. Their true abilities, especially accuracy and fluency in language use, will be shown clearly in speaking and writing. Starting test preparations without the sufficient English skills and knowledge will not help much.

Can you provide any test day tips to help nervous students? Practice! Preparing early, practicing many times before the test day, and becoming familiar with the testing process will help students to become more confident. Students should also remember that this is just a test—they can take it again! Start your TOEFL journey early, so there’s enough time to prepare, practice, and retake if necessary.

ETS, the organization that administers the TOEFL test, offers a collection of study materials both free and for purchase. For more information, visit www.ets.org/toefl.

Experiencing Culture Through Culinary Arts

Summer_Term_Culinary_2042 The scents of Latin cooking filled the halls of the Senior Building this week, as Chef Julie Jacobs led students through a recipe for enchiladas in the Culinary Arts elective course. In preparation, the students have been making components like corn tortillas all week long. Earlier in the week, they whipped up a red sauce infused with ancho chilies, a green tomatillo salsa, and a traditional pico de gallo. The class is frequently enhanced by the students’ geographical diversity. For example, when the class made guacamole, a Mexican student’s family method served as their guide.

The students made two varieties of enchiladas: one with red chile sauce and shredded chicken, and a second, vegetarian version filled with beans, squash, and corn and topped with tomatillo salsa. The combination of beans, squash, and corn is known as “the three sisters” because the vegetables are both native to the Americas and often planted together because they aid each other’s growth.

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Cousins Marlene Haas and Johanna Ludvik-Haas joined the course because they love to cook at home in their native Austria. Marlene said some of her favorite things to cook are traditional dishes like schnitzel (a thin, breaded, and pan-fried veal cutlet), but she looks forward to recreating some of the dishes they prepare in class for her family when she returns home.

If you’d like to try your hand at making the students’ corn tortillas, try the recipe below:

Corn Tortillas Yield: 12 6-inch tortillas Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 2 minutes

Ingredients: 2 cups masa harina corn flour 1/2 tsp sea salt 1-1/2 to 2 cups hot water

Mix salt into the masa harina corn flour. Slowly pour the water into the dough to get a good consistency. The dough should be firm and springy when touched, not dry or sticky. Let rest for about an hour, covered with a damp towel.

Preheat a griddle or flat surface. Divide the dough into 2-inch balls. Press dough between two pieces of waxed paper, or flatten in a tortilla press, into 6-inch circles. Place flattened dough on a hot griddle or flat surface and cook until the top of the tortilla starts to look cooked, about 1 minute. Flip to the other side and heat for another minute.

Recipe courtesy of Bob’s Red Mill.

Visual Arts Students Learn Patience is Key

Summer_Term_Visual_1952 Summer Term @Ross students are working with acrylic paint this week in their Art elective. In an effort to cultivate in the students a sense of patience necessary when working with paint, instructor Chaz Hollinger gave the students four days to create two paintings. Whereas it can be tempting for students to rush through their painting, giving them a longer lead time helped them to be familiar with fundamental processes like creating depth in a piece by layering paint.

The overall goal of the class is to give students a better understanding of the process of working with different art media, as well as teach fundamental knowledge and skills like color theory, creating depth, and working with geometric shapes.

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In prior weeks, the students have spent time exploring perspective drawing and landscapes. “In landscapes, there’s an end goal to be reached,” Chaz said. “But in abstract paintings like these, part of the lesson is learning when to push through difficulties and when to set down your brush.” Chaz says he’s impressed by the diligence this group has shown, as well as the progress they’ve made.

“Art doesn’t happen overnight,” Chaz said. “Even in my own work, I’ve come to realize that patience is key.”

Students Complete Summer Term's First Session

Camp_Week_3_TB IMG_2699 This week marks the end of Summer Term’s first session, in which a number of international students enjoyed the opportunity to engage with peers in classes and weekend activities and learn new skills. The first three weeks of Summer Term were full of new experiences for the teens.

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Shortly after the session began, Summer Term student celebrated America’s Independence Day by gathering for an introductory pool party at one of the Ross boarding houses. After an all-American cookout, the students paid a visit to Sag Harbor, where they spent time exploring the town’s shops, walked along the shore, and indulged in frozen yogurt from Buddha Berry.

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During the term, students looking to improve their English spent their mornings taking an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) class, where they practiced speaking, comprehension, writing, and research skills. Afternoons were spent enjoying a selection of other courses, including Surfing, Culinary Arts, University Prep, and Innovation Lab @Ross.

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Outside of class, the students pitted their skills against each other in the bowling lanes, visited a local water park, and enjoyed a day trip to New York City. They even partook in 7-11's Free Slurpee Day, mixing flavors to create their own concoctions.

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All in all, it was a fun and informative three weeks; everyone is looking forward to the start of Session Two next week!

Improving the Game at Ross Summer Tennis Academy

DSC_1850crop1 One of Ross School’s major draws is its robust tennis program, the first in the New York area to pair high-performance tennis training with a rigorous academic program. Even with summer vacation in full effect, tennis center students are committed to improving their games.

“Whereas during the academic year, we have the same players for an extended time, the players for the summer Tennis Academy often vary week to week,” said Holly Li, Tennis Center Manager. The population may be different during the summer, but the goal remains the same: to help players become better competitors. In three summer programs geared toward players in grades 1–12, the Tennis Center offers the athletes on-court training, as well as conditioning and access to state-of-the-art diagnostic tools.

“The summer program is a wonderful introduction to Ross School Tennis Academy. It gives players a chance to experience the strength of the program and to get to know the pros. This is also a beautiful place to spend the summer,” Holly said. “We’ve had students spend the summer here and then choose to stay with the program for the academic year.”

Throughout the summer, the Tennis Center hosts eight tournaments, all sanctioned by the United States Tennis Association (USTA). These tournaments are open to all USTA members, and they attract some of the best players between Long Island and New York City, giving the students many competitors against whom to test their skills on the court.

Although it primarily serves the Ross School and Summer Camp @Ross communities, the Ross Tennis Center also offers a number of public programs, including private lessons, game arranging, and adult clinics. “Many people don’t realize that the Tennis Center is not just open to students and campers,” said Vinicius Carmo, director of Tennis @Ross. “This is an active facility with a lot of community offerings. We hope that public will come and take advantage of all that we have to offer.”

Learning More Than Language in ESOL

IMG_2705 This year, Summer Term @Ross students hail from 10 countries around the world, and many of them are spending the first half of their day participating in the school’s comprehensive English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course. The class pairs language exercises with cultural lessons to prepare students for a holistic understanding of American life.

Despite the abbreviated timeframe of the summer course, ESOL Coordinator Mami Takeda says the class is working toward the same goal as academic-year students: improving their linguistic and academic skills to become independent learners. “For some students, we are helping them to begin their journey of learning English and establishing good habits—all while having a lot of fun!”

Cosima von Baumbach, a rising 10th grader from Germany, studied English for four years before enrolling in Summer Term @Ross. She says the ESOL coursework has enhanced her understanding of the language. “Classes at home focus on grammar and writing, but there’s not a lot of speaking. We spend a lot more time here practicing speaking and processing. The teachers here focus on our weaknesses and help to improve our fluency,” she says.

Living in the boarding community has also helped Cosima to improve her language skills and exposed her to new cultural traditions. In a home that hosts students from seven different countries, English is the only common mode of communication. “It would be difficult to get along here without learning English,” she admits. “You need it to meet friends and communicate.”

Summer Term coursework can also provide a solid foundation for students preparing to attend Ross in the fall. “In a way, they get a head start because they are given similar types of work to what we give during the school year, which focuses not only on language acquisition, but also on critical thinking, organizing, creative writing, public speaking, and most importantly, analytical/synthesizing skills,” Mami explains. “Some students take time to get used to different teaching styles, but come fall, Summer Term students will be fully ready to take on Ross learning.”

Becoming a Maker in Innovation Lab @Ross

IMG_2661 The space that hosts Innovation Lab @Ross is filled with movement: some students are huddled at tables sketching on large poster boards; another is cutting out pieces from a large sheath of corrugated cardboard. On a large screen, a video of a robot moving through a maze plays silently. The students are deeply engaged in a collaborative design challenge. In groups of four, they are designing and building obstacle courses that they will program Makeblock mBots—robots equipped with line-following and ultrasonic sensors—to navigate.

This project is one of several design activities that students in the Innovation Lab course will complete during the six-week program. These assignments are meant to expose students to new and emerging technologies and to teach them creative problem-solving skills. During the first half of their day, students work on activities like the Marshmallow Challenge (building tall towers out of marshmallows and raw spaghetti) or 20 Circles, a test in which students are given a defined timeframe to fill in 20 blank circles any way they choose. Such activities help students to discern and overcome self-imposed creative barriers.

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The bulk of students’ time, however, is spent working with different technologies. So far, they’ve designed virtual reality experiences, practiced 3D modeling, and learned to program robots with Arduinos. Before the session’s end, they will also explore artificial intelligence and web design. Students spend their afternoon specializing in a preferred technology, exploring it further through an independent project. One student is currently learning a computer programming language with the intention of developing a video game, and another is building a board game, complete with 3D-printed game pieces.

“Students are often afraid of being wrong, and it takes them some time to adjust to an environment where there is no right answer and they are expected to just explore,” says Innovation Lab @Ross Director Dr. Greg Wilson. “Innovation Lab is an educational playground.”

Visiting Artist and Guest Instructor Captures the Beauty of Ross Campus

IMG_0514header Ross School is excited for the return to campus of Jim Gingerich, a local artist with a deep connection to the school community. This summer he will resume a post he held in 2009 and 2011 as a visiting artist and guest instructor.

For the past 30 years, the Bridgehampton-based artist’s oil paintings and pastels have been displayed in group and solo exhibitions throughout the country. His work has been displayed in the public collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Yale University Art Gallery, Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Arkansas Arts Center, and many others. His private collectors include actor Robert DeNiro, country singer Jimmy Buffett, and director Rob Marshall. In 2008, Jim was a featured artist in Ross School’s annual seventh grade exhibition, which that year was titled Narratives: Real and Imagined.

Throughout the summer, Jim will be developing a series of paintings capturing the beauty of Ross School’s campus, beginning with the iconic Nike Statue. He looks forward to documenting additional interior and exterior scenes. The resulting collection will be displayed on campus at the end of the season. Additionally, Jim will be imparting his expertise to summer students taking art classes.

Welcome to Summer Term 2017!

Camp_Week_2_TB_2070This weekend, 34 students from around the world arrived in East Hampton for the 2017 season of Summer Term @Ross. The students, who hail from Germany, Russia, France, Brazil, Vietnam, India, China, and Japan, as well as the United States, will spend the next six weeks pairing intensive academic coursework with fun and interactive electives. Among the course offerings this year are Marine Science, Mandarin Chinese, English for Speakers of Other Languages, Standardized Test Preparation, and Innovation Lab @Ross. The new students were welcomed warmly to their new houses, where they bonded with their new roommates and explored the community. After their first day of classes, the students in the boys’ boarding house watched a beautiful sunset from Bridgehampton’s The Bridge golf club. Students in the girls’ boarding house attended the final day of Southampton’s North Sea Fire Department Carnival, which ended in a spectacular fireworks display.

The students spent Independence Day together having a cookout and pool party, where there was plenty of fun and laughter. Later, the group met up for a few more hours of fun exploring the village of Sag Harbor.

Around the World One Forkful at a Time

28479043205_7a3095447d_zSummer Term @Ross students craving the comforts of home are finding them in Chef Julie Jacob’s Culinary Arts elective course. The teens, who hail from all over the world, are learning to create a variety of international delicacies in class. 28479043545_c2beca5201_k

In previous weeks, students prepared tortillas from scratch, pico de gallo, and guacamole; hand-rolled sushi; and the Brazilian candy brigadeiro. Last week, the group focused on baking, learning to prepare two desserts. First they baked sugar cookies and used homemade royal icing to decorate them; then they prepared a chocolate cake topped with raspberry buttercream frosting.

Ross News convinced Chef Julie to share some of the students’ recipes. See below if you would like to recreate the class’s culinary artistry.

Amazon Chocolate Cake Yield: 18 cupcakes or two 9-inch cakes

Ingredients: 1½ cups all-purpose unbleached flour ⅓ cup cocoa powder 1 tsp. baking soda 1¼ cups sugar ½ tsp. salt 1 cup cold water ½ cup plus 1 Tbsp. soy oil 1½ tsp. vanilla extract 1 Tbsp. white vinegar

Directions: 1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt until well combined. 2. In a small bowl, mix together the water, oil, vanilla, and vinegar. 3. Whisk together the wet and dry ingredients. 4. Pour batter through a strainer back into the liquids bowl, breaking up any lumps and pressing them through the strainer. 5. Pour batter into an oiled cupcake tin (fitted with paper liners) or 9-inch cake pans. 6. Gently knock the pan against a counter to pop any remaining air bubbles. 7. Bake at 350 degrees for 15–20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. 8. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before removing cake from pan. 9. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or frost with favorite icing.

Adapted from Margaret Fox, Café Beaujolais, Mendecino, California.

Raspberry Buttercream Frosting 1 cup fresh raspberries 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened 2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted ½ tsp. vanilla extract Pinch of salt 2 Tbsp. milk or heavy cream

Directions: 1. Purée raspberries in a food processor until well processed. 2. Pour purée through fine mesh sieve to separate out the seeds. 3. Heat in a saucepan over medium heat until reduced by half. Chill reduction completely. 4. In a medium bowl, use a mixer to beat the softened butter and raspberry purée until smooth. 5. Add the confectioner’s sugar, vanilla extract, and salt, and beat the mixture at low speed just until combined. 6. Increase the mixer to medium speed and beat until smooth. 7. Add milk or heavy cream and beat until light and fluffy. 8. Use the finished icing to frost your cake or cupcakes.

Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine.

Q&A with Lisa Rattray: College Prep @Ross

Lisa Rattray 2 Lisa Rattray has been helping students at Ross prepare for college testing and the postsecondary application process since 1999, and has been a testing specialist for more than 25 years. In her role as College Prep teacher, she works with both Ross juniors and Summer Term @Ross students to ready them for SAT and ACT tests. School News recently talked with Lisa about how she is helping students open doors to top-tier colleges and universities.

How is College Prep @Ross helping students excel? Eleventh graders at Ross take the College Prep class twice per week, and we also offer intensive study for rising juniors and seniors during Summer Term @Ross (the 2016 term begins July 5). The main goal is to prepare students to take either the SAT or ACT; these test scores are still very important to colleges and universities when evaluating potential students.

How does the College Prep course proceed? Students can choose to take the SAT or the ACT. Individuals exhibit different strengths on different tests, so it’s important to assess which instrument will be most beneficial for a student’s college application process. We then work to improve their test-taking skills to give them an edge as they embark on their educational career. Ultimately, we want the best results to help get the students into their schools of choice.

We focus on mathematics, grammar, reading, and writing mechanics, and students take weekly diagnostic exams—real SAT or ACT tests—to put their skills to the test and chart their progress throughout the course. I also teach them specific test-taking techniques, such as pacing and where they should focus their time.

The methods work. For example, on average, my Summer Term students improve their SAT scores by 300 points and ACT scores by 5 or 6 points over four weeks.

How do the students respond to the class? During both the academic year and Summer Term, I see marked improvement within the first weeks. In addition to building the appropriate skill set, the course also builds their confidence. There is a psychological aspect to these tests. It can be scary, because there is a lot riding on the results. One of the benefits to monitoring the students’ improvement with the weekly practice exams is that it fuels that confidence. They see their scores going up, and they get a boost.

My way of teaching is to make it fun, and I’m really good with anxious test takers. I start out by telling the students that this is not about their intelligence level, it’s about learning how to take the test and apply their skills. Through our interaction and practice exams, the test itself becomes so familiar. It helps demystify the process, and they are ready to succeed when the big day arrives.

How does the Summer Term course differ from the academic-year classes? Ultimately, we cover the same content to help the students succeed. The beauty of Summer Term is that they have more time to focus on mastering the tests and can gain a competitive edge going into their junior and senior years.

Summer Term is organized into two sessions. The first runs from July 5 through July 29, and students attend five days per week. In the second, August 1 through 26, students study with me three days per week.

I’m always impressed with the dedication the students bring to the classroom, especially when their friends are enjoying the time off from school. They come with an understanding that this course is important to their future, and again, the results they achieve remain a motivating factor.

But there is also a fun aspect to Summer Term College Prep. I have students from all over the world, both day and boarding, and the intensive time in the classroom carries over after school. They typically form deep and lasting connections.

You mentioned the results. How to do you track this progress? The improved test scores on both the practice and actual exams is hard proof that the course works. There are very few people who have been doing this as long as I have, and it’s rare, if ever, that a student does not see a significant improvement in scores and confidence. I have many repeat families who have sent several children to me over the years based on those results.

There are some that say colleges and universities are deemphasizing the importance of the SAT and ACT. What’s your take? The college application process is extremely competitive, and the tests matter more than ever. In general, colleges and universities have specific scores that students must achieve to even be considered. So, if a school requires the SAT or ACT, students really need that high score. It may not be the score that ultimately gets them in, but it can certainly keep them out.

Rankings, such as position in the annual report from US News & World Report, are very important to colleges, and a student population with high test scores helps boost their profile.

What’s next for College Prep @Ross? I’ll continue to work with the juniors through the end of the year. Both the SAT and ACT will be given several times before Summer Term begins, so we are focusing on preparing for the actual exams; that includes the new SAT that will debut in March. Educators say that the new test better reflects the kind of reading and math students will encounter in college and their future work lives.

Also, we are currently enrolling students in the Summer Term @Ross College Prep course. For more information and to apply, visit www.ross.org/summerterm.

Summer Term @ Ross Students Visit New York City

ST5 With Summer Term @Ross drawing to a close on August 7, students made the most of their last weekend with friends by visiting New York City and an amusement park, as well as relaxing at home and the beach.

The fun began on Friday with a trip to Splish Splash water park in Riverhead. Together, the students braved water rides including Dr. Von Dark’s Tunnel of Terror, which included a 40-ft drop; Hollywood Stunt Rider, an action-packed raft ride with dips, twists, and drops in total darkness; and Dragon’s Den, a huge water tube slide.

“It was a great day, and particularly wonderful to watch several students, who are usually a bit shy, really come out of their shells and have so much fun with their classmates,” said Tiffany Best, Summer Term @Ross teacher, activity coordinator, and house parent.

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On Saturday morning, the group boarded a bus headed for midtown Manhattan; it would be the first time many of the students experienced New York City. They arrived in the famous Times Square and went to see the Tony Award–winning Broadway musical Matilda. The group enjoyed the play about a strong young girl who takes her destiny into her own hands. At points in the performance, the character Matilda speaks Russian, much to the delight of several international Ross students.

After the play, the students walked to the acclaimed City Kitchen for lunch, a restaurant experience that “brings New York’s most desired and hyped food concepts to the bull’s-eye of NYC.” The menu is a diverse mix of international cuisine and American classics, as well as tasty specialty sweets, ice cream, and donuts.

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For one of the teenagers who lived in a Ross boarding house this summer and worked at Summer Camp @Ross as a counselor, the NYC trip was a final outing with his new friends before heading home to prepare for the school year. Their goodbyes were evidence of the close bond between housemates and schoolmates. One parent said the experience helped her child “blossom” and build confidence, and it was gratifying to see the difference the weeks had made.

Sunday, the students split their time between Atlantic Beach in Amagansett and swimming and lounging poolside at a boarding home.

For their final off-campus activity together, students and house parents will take a cruise around Manhattan on the Spirit of New York. The boat will get very close to the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, making for an impactful and memorable experience.

Summer Term @Ross: Math, Shakespeare, Fish, and Fun

DSC_8840 Summer Term @Ross students have been busy with studies in the classroom and the field, visits to New York City and the beach, and fun at home relaxing with new friends. Session 2 began with a scavenger hunt across the Ross School campus in East Hampton. ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) students fanned out in teams to find items related to the School’s history and culture. Teams earned points based on the difficulty of the tasks, which included finding Summer Term @Ross coordinator D’Ashley Wilson and bringing her to class, tracking down a Ross globe stress ball, and locating Ross slippers for the entire team (Asian-style slippers are part of the standard Ross uniform, and are worn inside all buildings during the school year).

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The Level 1 ESOL class is currently reading Eros and Psyche; Level 2 is reading graphic memoir Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City by Guy Delisle and focusing on the themes of ancestry and heritage in their class discussions; and Level 3 is planning for next week’s performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream by rewriting assigned lines from the play to be modern and “ESOL friendly.”

Elsewhere on campus, the Advanced Algebra and Precalculus class discussed probability, including permutations, combinations, and binomial probability, and then moved on to exponential functions and logarithms. Students are using newly installed SMART Boards to explore these topics and solve real-world applications.

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Over in College Prep, the first session is drawing to a close, and students have worked hard to improve their scores on the SAT and ACT. Tiffany Best, the instructor helping students improve their vocabulary and comprehension, said she really enjoyed teaching this portion of this class: “They are a very positive and brilliant group of scholars. Some, especially the international students, would often tell me how they saw many of the new vocabulary words on the actual test.”

The Marine Science students have been out in the field studying the East End’s coastal ecosystems and marine life with instructor Dr. Jack Szczepanski. So far, their adventures have included following the local surfers to spot stingrays, and a behind-the-scenes tour of the tanks and habitats at the Long Island Aquarium with its cofounder, Joe Yaiullo.

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Off campus, students spent their weekend exploring East Hampton, shopping at the Tanger Outlets and taking in a soccer match between the NYC FC and Orlando SC at Yankee Stadium. At home, schoolmates gathered for a pool party, laughter, dancing, and delicious barbeque. This weekend, they will take in the sights of Manhattan and attend the Broadway show Matilda.

“The experiences during Summer Term on and off campus have a tremendous positive impact on our students. I love hearing from them about how they are enjoying their teachers, friends, and adventures,” D’Ashley said.

Summer Term @Ross: Marine Science with Jack Szczepanski

DSC_8971 Summer Term @Ross Marine Science students have been busy researching the East End’s coastal ecosystems and marine life with instructor Dr. Jack Szczepanski. During the first week, Jack introduced them to the inhabitants in the lab at Ross, including cuttlefish and red-eared slider turtles (rescues from local waters), and discussed the wild sea life found in Long Island’s oceans and bays.

Jack, who brings extensive experience leading oceanography and ecological studies, says the class is heavily focused on getting “hands on” with marine science, both in the lab and in the field. For example, students dissected a dogfish last week to get a closer look at a shark’s anatomy.

They also keep informed about current happenings in the waters, near and far. The students recently watched Jaws as well as news footage of a great white shark attack on pro surfer Mick Fanning, and then discussed shark behavior and being safe in the water.

Jack is also introducing the class to topics of especially local interest, including efforts to restore Long Island’s bays and fisheries. He is currently working with Stony Brook University scientists on the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Project, and recently helped plant eelgrass and start up an oyster bay.

Out in the field, the class has explored Fresh Pond in the nearby town of Amagansett, and gone “behind the scenes” at the Long Island Aquarium with the aquarium’s cofounder, Joe Yaiullo. “It was great to have this kind of access to see the many different species of marine life, as well as how the experts care for and cultivate the habitats,” Jack said.

The trips are an opportunity for the class to observe diverse marine environments and communities and learn how weather can impact them. “After our recent rains, we may see different life-forms when we return to Fresh Pond,” Jack said.

The students are also relating the experiences to their own lives. One student realized that he had been swimming with cuttlefish on a vacation in Croatia. Others are talking with Jack about how to start their own marine tanks at home.

Next up, the class will tag along with the surfers at Sagg Main ocean beach to spot stingrays. They’ll also visit Clam Island, where they are likely to see the huge ospreys (fish-eating raptors) that often nest in nearby sanctuaries; and the East Hampton Town Shellfish Hatchery.

Summer Term @Ross Mandarin Immersion with Rubo Fu

DSC_9240 Rubo Fu recently joined Summer Term @Ross as the Mandarin Immersion teacher. In this post, she talks with School News about the course and her first impressions of Ross School.

Tell us about the summer term Mandarin course. Mandarin Immersion is ideal for students who have little knowledge about the Chinese language. Chinese can be overwhelming at first, because it uses a completely different alphabet. The summer course material is designed to help our students become effective communicators in Mandarin.

Class started with an introduction to “pinyin,” which is the alphabetic system of the Chinese language. Then, we moved on to how to make self-introductions in Chinese; students learned how to tell other people their names and how to ask people for their names. We’ll wrap up the week discussing words related to nationalities and simple professions.

What brought you to Ross School? My husband, Chris Angell, is the new Head of Ross Upper School, and we were thrilled to join the community in June. I am so impressed with the School’s efforts to promote students’ creative thinking through hands-on learning, and I feel so fortunate that teaching at Summer Term is the start of my time at Ross.

Summer Term @Ross has a special energy. What’s your first impression? I’ve noticed a couple of interesting things about Ross in my first weeks. First, I appreciate the beautiful artworks throughout the campus. For example, inside my classroom in the High School building, there are sculptures of historic figures including Julius Caesar and Napoleon. My Mandarin students proudly shared how much they knew about these figures during our breaks, and it turned into a great learning opportunity for our class.

I also appreciate the life on campus. The other day, music was playing in the Ross Café during lunch, and the students would get up on their feet and do a group dance. It was great for the students to recollect energy and get ready for afternoon activities, and it was a lot of fun to watch.

Overall, it’s been a wonderful beginning for me at Ross, and I look forward to getting to know the students and extended community better this summer.

Summer Term @Ross Students Find Adventure, Lasting Friendships

DSC_8953 Strolling around the campus between classes during Summer Term @Ross, one can hear students laughing over a shared memory, telling new friends about their native countries, or discussing what they are learning in class. It’s a warm backdrop to an educational experience that students say they will never forget.

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Jenny, a student from Russia, is spending her second summer at Ross School. She said she returned because the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) courses are unlike others she has taken. She noted that it was “serious” instruction and she had the opportunity to expand her knowledge of grammar and study Shakespeare. She also mentioned that sharing the classroom experience this summer and last has led to enduring friendships with students from all over the world.

Her schoolmates agree that meeting new friends is the best part, and they also point to other perks. Kirill enjoys relaxing at the pool at his boarding house, playing sports, and swapping stories. He too is a returning student. Last year his primary course was Advanced ESOL; this year, he is taking Advanced Algebra. He says the opportunity to speak English with many international students is important to maintaining fluency in the language.

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The balance between academics and the fun Ross provides is also a welcome part of Summer Term. Lisa from Ukraine says one of her favorite activities is surfing; it’s just one of the many fun sports available to students because of the School’s close proximity to beautiful ocean beaches. Others mention the trips to New York City as a pivotal part of their summer, from discovering that their command of the English language came in handy when they needed directions, to exploring the High Line on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Other planned outings include fun at a professional soccer match and nearby water park, and a visit to the theater district in Times Square to take in a Broadway show.

On campus, the variety of courses is also appreciated. Electives such as Film and Culinary Arts are taught by experts and served up in a professional yet fun environment. There are plenty of opportunities to focus on physical fitness, and students enjoy unwinding in Wellness class before heading home or to dinner. Miyu from Japan said she enjoyed her Movement class and eating healthy meals because those activities have not always been a priority for her.

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A few students having lunch together in the Ross Café said that the classmates are close because they had similar fears about the unknown before they came to Ross. And while they quickly got over those fears, the feeling of “being in the same boat” remains a comfort.

Summer Term @Ross Coordinator D’Ashley Wilson said the depth of the friendships was readily apparent when the students from the first term’s session gathered to say goodbye to classmates leaving for home or other destinations. “It was incredible. Every single student was present, sharing fond moments right up until the end,” she recalled.

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The relationship with instructors is also a very important part of the students’ success at Ross. Several students agreed that they learned to believe in themselves as a result of their teachers helping to boost their confidence and caring about their progress and well-being.

Over the next few weeks, there will be plenty of valuable experiences for Summer Term students to absorb on campus, in the boarding houses, and out on adventures. It’s clear that most will recall their time at Ross as an important time of growth and learning, with lifelong friendships forged along the way.

 

Summer Term @Ross Session 2 Begins

ST1 On Monday, July 20, students in the second session of Summer Term @Ross began their studies in English, mathematics, marine science, Mandarin, Wellness, and more. Like this year’s first three-week session, this session hosts a diverse group of students hailing from countries in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

In the first days, students who also attended session 1 were happy to share their experiences, tips, and memories with newly arrived schoolmates. Many also took tests to assess their best fit in the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses. In the beginner course, instructor Kristine Hart will lead the class in reading Eros and Psyche and looking at taboos, elements of folktales, and how playwrights depend on dramatic conventions. Teacher Lance Sun’s intermediate ESOL students will study a graphic novel as well as prepare presentations about their family histories. In advanced ESOL, with teacher Vincent Barbato, students will continue reading Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

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New courses for Session 2 include Mandarin Immersion with teacher Rubo Fu, and Marine Science with teacher Jack Szczepanski. As one may expect, students in the language class began with the basics, first determining their names in Chinese and learning that the significance of a given name in China typically reflects the parents’ hopes for their child. Over in the science lab, students are “diving into” their studies of coastal ecologies as well as exploring the diverse environments on the East End of Long Island.

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Other Summer Term courses include College Prep, Mathematics, Media Studies, Culinary Arts, Visual Arts, Wellness, Tennis, and Music. In between classes, students make new friends, enjoy amazing food at the Ross Café, and relax by spending time at East Hampton’s beautiful ocean beaches, embarking on local adventures, and taking in the sights and sounds of Manhattan.

Summer Term ESOL Presentations Showcase Talent, Studies

DSC_8456 To mark the end of the first session of Summer Term @Ross, students in the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes presented what they learned through dramatic interpretations of classical English literature, Greek mythology, and a graphic novel.

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The Level 1 ESOL class kicked off the fun in the high school library, presenting a play about Pandora’s box and the origin of evil. In full costume, the actors portrayed characters from Greek history and mythology, including Clio, Hesiod, Prometheus, Epimetheus, Zeus, Hephaestus, Pandora, Aphrodite, Athena, and Hera. Their command of the English language and understanding of the difficult prose came through in their delightful acting.

“I am so proud of my students for doing such an incredible job writing their own lines, creating their own costumes and props, and performing! Their hard work, diligence, and overall effort should receive another big round of applause,” said teacher Kristine Hart.

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Next up were students from Lance Sun’s intermediate class, who presented about the conflict in the Middle East and the graphic novel Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City. Each student prepared a slide on a topic related to their studies, including Israeli and Palestinian perspectives of the conflict and the history and geography of the holy city. They also explained the significance of the graphic novel as a learning tool, and created and animated their own comic strips.

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The level 3 ESOL students delivered selected monologues from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, and Julius Caesar. Before acting out their chosen scene, the students first explained the emotions experienced by their characters; for example, we learned that Lady Capulet experienced joy and anxiety upon contemplating Juliet meeting Paris, a potential husband. The acting was superb, and really conveyed the depth of the plays’ feelings.

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“What the students were able to accomplish in just a short amount of time speaks to the level of commitment to their studies,” said D’Ashley Wilson, Summer Term @Ross coordinator. The audience agreed. Many also commented on the notable close bonds between the students, who were attentive and supportive of one another during the presentations. The classmates clearly had fun working together on their projects.