Month: December 2016

December 2016 Newsletter
December 2016 Newsletter

December Newsletter

“And investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

– Benjamin Franklin

INTRODUCTION

A full term at Pinnacle is about to come to a close! This term has been a major success for students. Beyond formal classwork, students have embarked on a journey around the globe with the World Studies project. This project was designed to make students ponder the increasingly interconnected nature of our globe, to, in essence, understand that what happens in one nation necessarily affects the rest of the world in one way or another.

Students also recently wrote and filmed skits. Both students and teachers put a lot of effort into transforming written words into quality video presentations. Please be sure to check out the videos on Pinnacle Prep’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCII-uVmDYVIhtrXMvXLwFPA

The skit project allowed students to write, act, and hone their collaborative skills. A special thanks to Saad Zulqarnain for a fantastic job filming and editing the videos. Kudos!
We hope this project is just the beginning of a long line of creative, collaborative projects!

CALENDER ITEMS

Progress Reports: December 2nd

Parent-Teach Meetings: December 16th

Winter Pajama Party: December 20th

Winter Break: December 21st – January 3rd

 

  THE INTERCONNECTIVITY OF DISCIPLINES

 First, an admission: I am terrible at math. I trace this back to my schooling, particularly during elementary years. An unreceptive and rather crude 2nd grade teacher may have been to blame for the beginning of my mathematical downfall. After that year, I was never quite savvy when it came to math. In essence, I do not believe myself to be naturally bad at math—I wasn’t born destined to be confused by calculus. Instead, I more or less missed out on learning basic skills during my formative years that would prove to be crucial for higher-order mathematical thinking.

Why this anecdote? It is certainly not a matter of self-pity. (I’m not that bad at math.) My point here is to illustrate how 1) Failing to learn the basics early on can alter one’s ability to perform later as well as leave one not only deficient, but disdainful of a certain subject and 2) More importantly, my mathematical ignorance prevented me from pursuing a career in the sciences. I absolutely adore science! However, without a solid grasp of math, science—chemistry, physics, and so on—becomes essentially impossible to do at higher levels.

In a nutshell: The two subjects are inextricably related. One cannot do science without math, especially in college.

Let’s take this further. Many students often think of academic subjects as isolated from one another. Math, science, reading, history, writing. All separate. This is a longstanding fallacy. Students often say things like “What’s the point of writing? I’m going to be an engineer!” Alas, even an engineer needs to know how to write and write well. College students are expected to write essays, even engineering students. Furthermore, to get a scientific essay published, a scholar must be able to use rhetorical tools learned in writing courses. Beyond that, an engineering student must also be a good reader in order to perform quality research.

 

THE POINT: ALL SUBJECTS ARE INTERCONNECTED.

 Students will be producing designs for a proposed city. Science and math are obviously involved when designing a city. Yet a great design scheme on its own has little practical impact. This is where writing enters the equation; students (and real life engineers) must not only design a city, but use their writing skills to persuade audiences that their design is the best. This requires good writing, persuasive skills, and rhetorical strategies. Beyond that, however, is the crucial element often missing from straightforward STEM education: Art. Not only must a design be mathematically and scientifically feasible, but it also must be aesthetically pleasing. Being proficient in all subjects is essential.

Astrophysicist and science communicator Carl Sagan popularized science with his many books as well as the television show Cosmos. He wasn’t only a great scientist; he was a great writer who was able to translate difficult ideas using simplified language for non-experts.

Mark Zuckerberg isn’t only a skilled computer scientist, but, I argue, a skilled artist as well. Facebook was not created by using cold hard computer science, but by combining computer science with writing and presentation.

Math means nothing, though, without taking into account the context of its existence. Math is nothing but a parlor trick without showing its practical applications in the real world, and real world applications can only be expressed through language: persuasive, commanding language. Furthermore, math without a connection to a preexisting discipline—chemistry, for example—isn’t all that useful.

Writing is enhanced by understanding content beyond itself. We often think of writing as an act of creativity unrelated to other disciplines. However, knowledge from other academic subjects can open up new topics to write about.

All academic disciplines are interconnected. A well-rounded individual should have a competency in each in order to be successful in our evolving economy.

 

CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS

 Christmas is a celebration of Jesus Christ’s birthday. Traditionally, it is observed on December 25th, though a variety of theories exist concerning why this date in particular was chosen. Below I will discuss some fundamental Christmas traditions.

 

A BRIEF HISTORICAL NOTE

Christmas as celebrated by Christians today was not common before the mid-19th century. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is often cited as an inspirational moment in establishing Christmas traditions, though other developments during the 19th century also normalized Christmas traditions.

 

THE CHRISTMAS TREE

The Christmas tree finds its origins in 16th century Germany. It was not adopted as a practice in England until the mid-19th century. Many theories have been proposed concerning the meaning of the Christmas tree. Evergreen trees have been used in many cultures as a symbol of eternal life—Egypt and China, for example, use the evergreen as such a symbol.

The Christmas tree is often traced to possible pre-Christian roots. Vikings and Saxons worshipped trees, for example. Therefore, the Christmas tree itself may have been appropriated by Christians from non-Christian cultures.
Wikipedia offers an extensive history of the Christmas tree around the world and its historical significance: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_tree

 

SANTA CLAUS

He goes by many names: Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle. But who is Santa Claus? The answer: he is a mixture of existing figures with a very long, storied history.

The modern image of a rotund Santa Claus wearing red and white garb is a relatively new invention. This image can be traced to the 1860s in America. Cartoonist Thomas Nast illustrated such an image for Harper’s Magazine in 1863. Poet George P. Webster, in a collection of Nast’s drawings, wrote that Santa’s home was “near the North Pole, in the ice and snow,” hence giving Santa his traditional “home.” L. Frank Baum further popularized the contemporary version of Santa in The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (1902).

As with the Christmas tree, there are many theories about the origins of Santa Claus during centuries past.

 

INCLEMENT WEATHER PROCEDURES

As winter draws near, we want to take time to remind our parents that we will be monitoring inclement weather situations. In the event of inclement weather, if Lewisville school district is closed then Pinnacle Prep School will be closed as well.

If school is cancelled or delayed due to a weather-related event, parents and staff members will be notified via Remind 101 on or before 7:00 am the morning of closure.

The administrator will determine school cancellations or delays based on the safety of all students and staff.

Thank you in advance for your patience in the event of a winter weather situation.