Elementary School

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.

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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).

Celebrating the Chinese New Year and Carnival!

By | Elementary School, High School, International Understanding, Middle School | No Comments

This week, international understanding was front and center as Riverstone students celebrated two international holidays: Chinese New Year and Carnival.

To kick off the Year of the Monkey, High School students learned from their Chinese peers how to write their names in Mandarin, and Middle School students cooked an authentic Chinese feast for lunch.  Our Preschool students set the stage for the Elementary School festivities by making a giant dragon and parading through the hallways and classrooms. Later in the day, Chinese students from Northwest Nazarene University shared stories, games, and music in an Elementary School assembly.

On Tuesday, the festivities continued when our International Committee hosted a lunch time celebration of Carnival in the Elementary School. They shared decadent treats that would traditionally be offered in Brazil, talked about traditions and listened to Brazilian music. Additionally, the committee provided teachers with materials to decorate masks to take home. The committee also created a beautiful display that demonstrates the many ways that Carnival is celebrated around the world. 

Please stop in the Elementary School atrium this week and check out the Carnival and Chinese New Year displays. Photos are posted on Riverstone’s Facebook page and Instagram. 

Outdoor Education Winter Activities Kick-Off

By | Elementary School, Outdoor Education | No Comments

Riverstone Outdoor Education Winter Activities are in full swing! Our students step out of their comfort zones with opportunities to offer and receive assistance from classmates, which helps knit our community together in sometimes subtle, but significant ways. Likewise, teachers and parent volunteers help ensure that students know they are supported even when the going gets tough. Furthermore, the most important outcome from these activities are the attitudes towards outdoor recreation that take root during these long, cold months fostering an appreciation for shared outdoor experiences and for our natural environment.

For example, our Elementary students are getting valuable practice layering for the cold and managing personal equipment while also improving balance, endurance, and coordination through swimming lessons with our younger students in Preschool; ice skating at Ice World with PreKindergarten, Kindergarten and Grade 1; nordic lessons for Grades 2 and 3; and a 5-day McCall Outdoor Science trip for our fifth graders.

Grade 4 classes participate in SnowSchool on the slopes of Shafer Butte. The following is a post and pictures shared on the fourth grade classroom blogs by our teachersMs. Fitzharris and Ms. Smackey:

We began the winter session of our Outdoor Program with a layer of fresh snow on the slopes of Shafer Butte. Outdoor Education Director, Mr. Brock, had visited our students earlier this week to discuss the importance of layering during outdoor adventures. Much of what the students learn during these trips in fourth grade will serve them well when they spend several consecutive days and nights outside in the wintery mountains as Middle and High School students.

The fourth grade broke up into three groups to learn how to strap on snowshoes in order to navigate the terrain without getting stuck in the drifts of snow. Each group was led by a member of the Bogus Basin SnowSchool staff. These field instructors took their respective groups off into the woods to learn about hydrology –  the branch of science concerned with the properties of the earth’s water, especially its movement in relation to land.

The students conducted experiments to discover the powerful insulating effect of a snowpack as well as to explore the significance of the Boise River watershed on which life depends. The team accompanied by Ms. Smackey hypothesized the temperature at the bottom and top of a snow pit they dug using collapsable shovels, viewed snowflakes under a giant hand lens, and tried to determine which animal had left fresh tracks in the snow. They also cruised down slopes on their bellies like otters and were even given the chance to enjoy the inside of a five-person igloo! Each team worked independently, then met back at the Cross Country Lodge for lunch. The gorgeous weather and blue skies made for a terrific day of learning about winter ecology while enjoying the best of our Idaho winter.

Exploring Magnetism and Electricity with Micron

By | Academic Excellence, IB | No Comments

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!

 

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!

Giving Thanks

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

Riverstone students, faculty and staff enjoyed giving thanks in all classrooms and student activities last week.

On Monday, the Middle and High School students and teachers met with their advisory groups to discuss who and what they’re thankful for followed by a hilarious round of one-word guessing games and charades. A few of the thank-you notes that students wrote are posted to the Middle School bulletin board if you have a chance to stop by and want to read through them.

Our Preschoolers made pumpkin donuts and learned how to skin apples for apple pie with the generous help of parents. The students thought a lot about what being thankful means and related it to their current Unit of Inquiry on “Sharing the Planet.”

Students in Grade 3 are currently focusing on “How the World Works” and thought about why we eat turkey on Thanksgiving and what else we could be eating. In Mrs. Wallace’s class, students made turkey hats and paper turkeys to celebrate the holiday together while also writing persuasive essays about what other foods you might want to eat on Thanksgiving instead of turkey. And Mrs. Stewart’s 3rd graders wrote about the Thanksgiving tradition of eating turkey from the perspective of a turkey.

In Ms. Ramirez’s Grade 8 Spanish class, students wrote what and who they were thankful for in Spanish and then celebrated together with a Mexican-themed Thanksgiving feast.

Pre-K students created thankful turkeys and wrote a dual-language English/Spanish book called “Turkey, Turkey What Do You See?” / “Pavo, Pavo ¿Que ves tu?” to embolden the lessons they’re currently learning about “How We Express Ourselves”.

And our Grade 1 students used an interactive computer program to learn about the Pilgrims’ journey on the Mayflower, tying back to their current Unit of Inquiry about historical experiences and their influence on the actions of the Separatist Pilgrims and the Wampanoags in the early 1600s.

We hope the entire Riverstone community had a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving holiday. Check out some pictures from the events mentioned above and feel free to follow us on Facebook for daily posts about what we’re doing!

Exploring the Circulatory System

By | Academic Excellence, Elementary School | No Comments

The current Unit of Inquiry in Grade 2 focuses on how healthy life choices facilitate the optimal functions of the human body’s systems and organs. Students are learning about the function of various systems and organs, the interdependence of all bodily systems and the choices we make in order to keep our bodies healthy and strong. The following was reposted from Mr. Burton’s blog:

“Yesterday morning we learned about our circulatory system by examining pig hearts. We learned how the heart functions, how it is connected to other systems in the body, and that it is our responsibility to keep our hearts healthy.

Dr. Cooper and her family brought in several pig hearts so the students could examine their structures, hold them, and dissect them! In addition, we watched several short videos explaining how blood flows through the heart, we listened to our own heartbeats through a stethoscope, and detected our own radial and carotid pulse.

We also had an older sibling join us in order to assist his family and help his little sister.

Thank you to Dr. Cooper for this wonderful hands-on experience. The students enjoyed it and asked lots of great questions.”

Rake Up Boise 2015

By | Community & Service, Elementary School, High School, Leadership by Example, Middle School | No Comments

For 17 years, Riverstone has organized a Rake Up Boise team to rake and winterize yards for senior and disabled neighbors who cannot do the work themselves.

This year, we had over 30 students, teachers, administrators, parents and friends come out to fill 90 bags of leaves from homes in Southeast Boise. With the kind donations from DK Donuts and the HumanBean, the team got an early start on Saturday, November 14.

Thanks to the High School’s Social Change Leadership student group who organized this year’s team.

Taking part in the largest volunteer event in Idaho is very gratifying and a wonderful opportunity to connect personally with our neighbors.

Please check out the photos of Team Riverstone at Rake Up Boise!

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!

Sincerely,
Bob

 

Riverstone’s Halloween Parade

By | Community & Service, Leadership by Example | No Comments

Last Friday, we hosted our annual Halloween Parade for the Elementary School. A long-standing tradition, our Preschool students start off the Parade by winding through the school hallways and picking up students in the next grade. Once all the students from Preschool through Grade 5 have joined, the Parade then makes it way over the Middle School and High School Quad area for the older students to cheer them on.

An exciting event for students of all ages, it’s great to see how much our community celebrates each other during the parade. Emboldening our emphasis on leadership by example and community, the Halloween Parade inspires camaraderie and companionship throughout all grade levels. Here are a couple student and teacher quotes about this year’s parade as well as a few photos of the amazing costumes.

“The whole event is a great community builder because we get the whole school together during the parade. Unfortunately, the fun has to stop at 3:30 when we all go home. I can’t wait until next year!” -Gabby M (Grade 5)

“The day that our little ones were waiting for finally arrived! We enjoyed  seeing Riverstone  full of parents and kids dressed up in different costumes like witches, Darth Vader, the Cat in the Hat, dinosaurs, paper bag puppets, dolls, mermaids, superheroes, and all sorts of interesting characters.” -Mrs. Stilinovich and Señora Vallejos (Pre-Kindergarten teachers)

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