Middle School

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

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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. 

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!

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)

DC Adventures & Reflections

By | Academic Excellence, IB, Middle School, Student Travel | No Comments

The following is an excerpt from a note to parents from Andy Johnson, our Director of Secondary Education and one of three trip chaperones with our rising Gr 8 class in Washington, D.C.:

Hi everyone,

Today was a day packed with information, ideas, and some things that are almost too big to think about.

We started at the United States Holocaust Museum and Memorial.

This museum limits admittance to 2,000 people per day. Tickets are usually gone by 11.00-12.00 everyday. I was in line at 8.30 and I was waaaaay back. They begin handing out tickets at 10.00. We did get in at 10.45.

For me…the USHMM is the one “must do” in DC. The museum and memorial gives an incredibly sensitive, yet powerful and unambiguous look at anti-semitism and the metamorphosis of the Nazi state’s (and its allies’) response to what they called the “Jewish Questions” while presenting stories of resistance and courage. Ask your kids what they remember – in some short talks that I had with kids, they remembered courage and resistance while being affected by the scale of the Holocaust.

We spent nearly three hours in the museum and memorial. This, I think, is a Riverstone record. The kids really engaged. They read, questioned, listened and thought. I’m not sure they were all ready to go even after three hours.

Afterwards we trundled down to eat lunch in the view of the Jefferson Memorial in the Tidal Pool. After the memorial we went back up to the Mall to see the Natural History Museum (eleven kids, Kendra and I) and three kids went with Tom back to the American History Museum.

We all visited the National Air and Space Museum. There are always tons of people here and today was no different, but it seemed more manageable. I really enjoyed the WWI and WWII aircraft. I also liked getting to see some UAVs (drones) up close. A few of us spent some time looking at and talking about these aircraft that we hear so much about.

After a long day, we came back to G-town and walked down the hill to M Street where we had fantastic burgers and fries at Good Stuff Eatery. We ran into one of our school families there as well. I want to thank Heather for getting us all milkshakes for dessert! The kids (and Tom, Kendra and I) were very grateful. They were delicious.

Tommorrow we are off to see a display of 5th Grade art (including those from Riverstone) at the Department of Education, Ford’s Theater, some more art and, in the evening, in Arlington.

Your kids are amazing. Sweet, funny and super inquisitive. Thank you for sending them with us.

Andy

Middle School Celebrates Diversity

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Riverstone’s Grade 6-8 held their first Diversity Celebration on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 28 and 29. Middle School Director, Alex Ide, organized the celebration and provided the following recap.

We had two great keynote speakers! The Honorable Judge Gutierrez has spent time to promote various diversity, education and leadership causes within the judiciary, the legal profession, and the larger community in Boise. He is a member of the Diversity Section of the State Bar; a past board member of the the National Job Corps Association; and a board member of the Idaho Latino Scholarship Foundation. Our students were graced with stories of his upbringing, and were privileged to hear his words of advice for the future. Dr. Janet Kaufman has integrated diversity work into her college courses, in High School, and in Middle School. She has led diversity trainings for a range of organizations. Mostly, she enjoys facilitating conversation that helps people of any age discover new ways of thinking about themselves and others. Dr. Kaufman introduced our students to activities that helped them to consider how we make the world a place where everyone has a voice, feels safe, and gets to contribute.

Over the two days, students rotated through the following sessions:

  • Celebration of Diversity Though Art (finished product below)
  • Perspectives: Ethical and Moral Dilemma Role Play
  • Human Rights and Diversity: LGBT Topics
  • Acceptance Through Tolerance and Repsect
  • Insider vs. Outsider: A Mini Theory of Knowledge Lesson
Students were surveyed before and after the event. After the event, the students rated themselves in the following manner:
  • I am more comfortable about who I am as an individual and what my values are 91%
  • I feel more compassionate and empathetic towards others 93%
  • I feel more empowered to speak up to support my peers when issues arise 93%
  • I have increased my knowledge and awareness of issues of diversity 97%
 Special thanks to Judge Gutierrez, Dr. Kaufman, our Middle School Staff, Sarah C, Olivia D, and the International Parent Committee for helping to make these celebration days a success!

 

Anatomy & Physiology

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The following blog entry was written by Middle School Science Teacher, John Pedersen:

Having taught the current Grade 8 students since sixth grade, I have seen them mature and grow academically. Many of these students have expressed the desire to pursue a medical degree so this year, I have placed an emphasis on topics associated with the medical field as we have progressed through the Grade 8 curriculum.

After completing our taxonomy unit and discovering how the anatomies of different species differs, the students were interested in the similarities and differences between humans and other species. As it turns out, the fetal pig’s organs, organ systems, and tissues are very similar to those of a human, as are its external features such as birthmarks, hair, and skin. Together, we decided to explore the anatomy and physiology of a fetal pig and compare it to a human’s anatomy. These similarities are what allow students to dissect a fetal pig following the protocol of an actual human autopsy.

During an autopsy, the body is examined with the utmost care and professionalism. The forensic pathologist carefully records all of the minute details of his or her examination of the body’s external and internal structures for clues to what could have caused the person’s death. Upon completion of the autopsy, students place all organs and connective tissue back into the body cavity and suture the Y incision closed using a curved suture needle and thread—much as a forensic pathologist would close a human subject. They then discard the specimen in accordance with our laboratory waste disposal procedures. This lab not only ties in the completion of our taxonomy unit but is also a precursor to our upcoming forensics unit.

I have been very impressed with the care, attention to detail, and genuine interest in scientific discovery that the students have demonstrated. This has been a great learning experience for all.

Sports Unites Us

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Grade Seven’s final piece of literature for the semester was Michael William’s “Now Is the Time for Running.” It is the story of two brothers who flee the massacre of their small village in Zimbabwe for the “safety” of South Africa. Soccer is a way the boys are connected to their vanished home, each other and the people they meet during their journey to safety. There are many scenes and vignettes in the book that describe how they use their homemade soccer ball to play the game they love with the people they meet.

Kids love soccer. They play it on manicured fields, debris strewn lots in cities, open dirt patches and, as in Ben Stiller’s “Mitty” at the top of the world in the Hindu Kush. Unfortunately, not every kid owns a soccer ball. Like kids everywhere, our Grade Seven students discovered what it is like to work together to make a ball for the game they love.

Their ball was made from 100+ Winco shopping bags and duct tape (thanks Ben!). They played happily with the ball for an hour – just like kids across the developing world. Sport, particularly soccer, does unite us.

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