Ross Upper School
Ross eighth-graders transformed themselves into playwrights with the help of Stony Brook Southampton’s Young Artists and Writers Project (YAWP). Through this program, they have discovered their own authentic voices and viewpoints while learning the intricacies of producing a play. The students wrote one-act plays for two actors about issues relevant and appropriate to their age group.
Sponsored by the university’s MFA in Writing and Literature Program, YAWP sends professional writers and writing teachers into high schools and middle schools across Long Island with a variety of programs, which conclude with special projects and presentations. Over seven weeks, the teaching artists instructed Ross students on the art of writing a short play, introducing them to the elements of dramatic writing through various exercises that helped them develop ideas, characters, themes, and dialogue. They also learned about various aspects of producing a play, including set design, directing, and wardrobe.
On April 9, eighth-graders Isabelle Rowe, Leila Murphy, Lucia Robinson and Rory Gallaher presented their plays to classmates, teachers, and parents in the Senior Building Lecture Hall. The plays ranged from dramatic subjects, like a son coming to terms with the fact that his mother is dying, to comedic ones, like when two people are stuck in a room and one of them is less than sane. Meanwhile, a panel of experts at YAWP selected the works of Sami Habib, Amanda Mintz, and Caitlin Aripotch that were performed at Stony Brook Southampton on April 12 and 13. Sami’s play explores a budding friendship as two performers, who rarely have to do with each other at school, talk about the challenge of performing while waiting off-stage. Amanda’s play takes a fun turn when a girl embarks on a quest to find a vampire to be her boyfriend. Lastly, Caitlin’s play focuses on two friends on a sleepover who should be doing homework, but instead end up in a fight. They reveal grudges and resentments, but eventually become better friends.
On April 5, Gabrielle Ment, Riko Kawahara, and Samuel Kramer presented their Senior Projects exploring the art of circus performance, the world of filmmaking, and the adventures of falconry, respectively, to the Pre-N to grade 5 students at Ross Lower School. Everyone assembled in the fieldhouse first for a performance by Gabrielle, whose graceful aerial hoop act with poses that included hanging by her feet, her hips, and one arm, was made comedic when she dressed in a “strong man” costume and “blundered” through her routine. Afterward, everyone filed into the Barn Building and split into groups, rotating among the remaining Senior Projects. In the Multi-Purpose Room, students watched a special screening of Riko’s short animation, “Tony and Bella’s Adventure,” which teaches children the alphabet. Next door, in the Art Room, students carefully observed Atlas, the wild red-tailed hawk that Sam caught and trained to assist him in hunting. Sharing their Senior Projects with the Lower School student body not only empowers Ross 12th-graders as educators but also inspires the younger students with visions of what they have to look forward to in their coming years at Ross.
Ross Lower School
On April 8, third-graders walked a section of the Long Pond Greenbelt in Sag Harbor, imagining themselves as hunters and gatherers of long ago. The hike was an introduction to the Early Human unit. “We’re looking at humans and what they did to survive,” explained teacher Shannon Timoney. Led on the outing by science teacher Stacy Myers, the students were asked to think about where early humans would have settled and what they would have made their homes out of. They considered how the elements figured into finding shelter, such as needing protection from the sun and access to water. “They’re also thinking about whether they were hunters or gatherers and if there are predators and prey,” said Shannon. The Early Human unit is also the focus for a group of teachers who have been taking a yearlong systems thinking course taught by Ross School Founding Mentor Ralph Abraham. Essentially, course participants (comprising a large proportion of the Ross faculty) are exploring how systems thinking (studying the ways various elements of a system interact with and affect each other) is exemplified within Ross’s Spiral Curriculum. Faculty taking the course have been tasked with creating a virtual systems model based on the subjects and grade levels they teach. Teachers for grades three, four, and five opted to generate a computer model of the spring migration patterns of early humans. Next year’s class may be combining the kinesthetic learning gained on their field trip with a sophisticated virtual modeling of the same kinds of concepts.