Let’s Fall Back into School!

Hello September!


Hopefully, everybody is transitioning to the new school year. We have tried to sprinkle the first couple of weeks with a lot of fun activities so that there’s a little bit of summer still left for all of our students. We’ve had a bounce house on the premises, snow cones for all of our students, and we even got to wear our PJs this past Friday while we enjoyed some delicious pancakes. And to celebrate the beginning of the new month, we’ll be catching a movie matinee! So while we are hard at getting back into the swing of accelerated learning, we haven’t forgotten to let loose a little too.

Labor Day

September is a great month to focus on the benefits of hard work as the 5th of the month marks over 100 years of Labor Day observances. Always falling on the first Monday in September, Labor happy-labor-day-with-hand-holding-a-wrench_23-2147566699Day is dedicated to honoring the contributions of American workers. We observe the holiday in order to recognize the social and economic achievement ours laborers have made over the years and all the ways that they have contributed to the “strength, prosperity, and well-being” of our country.
Labor Day was first introduced in New York state legislature between 1885 and 1886, but the first Labor Day observance to become a law was passed by the Oregon state government in 1887. That year saw four more states (Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York) adopt the legislation, and before 1890, three more states followed suit. The holiday proved a popular idea, and by 1894, 23 states now had holidays honoring American workers. On June 28th, 1894, Congress passed legislation declaring Labor Day a national holiday.
While we know the order in which the states adopted the holiday, there are some questions surrounding who first introduced the idea of Labor Day. Two similarly named champions of American labor have both been credited with first having the idea—Matthew Maguire, machinist, and Peter McGuire, carpenter. At the end of the 19th century, Peter was working as the general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and was also a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor. Some records quote Peter as first suggesting we have a holiday that honors, in his words, those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”
Recent research, however, suggests that Matthew Maguire might have been the progenitor of Labor Day and not Peter McGuire. Records show that he may have proposed it as far back as 1882 while serving as the secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York, the first state to consider legislating the observance. We know for certain that the Central Labor Union did adopt a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to make arrangements for a subsequent demonstration, even though we don’t know for certain who made the proposal.
Indeed, the first Labor Day, before any of the legislation was passed, was held on September 5th, 1882 in New York City under the guidance of the Central Labor Union. The day went so well that the CLU held another Labor Day celebration the following year on the same day, and in 1884, they decided to set aside the first Monday of September for the holiday. The organization urged similar groups to celebrate the “workingman’s holiday” on that date as well, and their campaign was successful. Labor organizations latched onto the idea, and in 1885 many of America’s largest industrial centers were celebrating Labor Day.
The first proposal for the holiday included a street parade that would exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” and would be followed by a festival for the “recreation” and “amusement” of workers and their families. Later, prominent men and women began to deliver speeches during the festivities, so that the holiday can better acknowledge the civic and economic significance of the holiday. Because of difficulties holding such large displays and massive parades in industrial centers, the manner with which we celebrate has had to change. Speeches are still given yearly, and the Labor Day addresses by leading union officials, industrialists, educators, clerics and government officials are often covered by major media outlets. What hasn’t changed is the spirit of the holiday. No matter how we’ve celebrated over the years, the holiday has always been held in order to honor the American worker.

First Day of Autumn

September also holds another important day, this one in observance of the natural world. On September 22nd, we’ll experience the Fall Equinox also known as the first day of fall.
Equinox denotes the day on which night and day are nearly exactly the same length all across hand-drawn-autumn-tree-background_23-2147520267the globe. On that day, the sun is out for 12 hours; the moon, likewise. The word equinox, in fact, comes from Latin and roughly translates to “equal night.” Of course, while that is the idea behind the equinox, night and day aren’t exactly equal in reality. During the equinox, the sun shines directly on the equator, and the length of day and night is close to being equal but never exactly.
There are many holidays and customs surrounding the Fall Equinox, just as there are with the Spring Equinox.
In Ancient Greece, the day is associated with the goddess Persephone. Fall is the season in which Persephone returns to the underworld to be with her husband Hades, the god of the underworld and a figure commonly associated with death. During this time, the Ancient Greeks held rituals for protection and security, and they would reflect upon the successes and failures of the past months.
Native Australians have, for quite some time, been proficient in reading the seasons and have had good understanding of Astronomy. The September Equinox, which in Australia actually occurs in their spring, have often played an important role in Aboriginal Australian culture. They celebrate the equinox as a time of rebirth and renewal. In order to track the changing of the seasons, they set up numerous stone arrangements, and though researchers can’t say for certain how these stones were used, it is widely believed that they were used to track star positioning.
China celebrates the Moon Festival during this time, celebrating the abundance of the summer harvests. One of the most important foods during this period is the appropriately named “mooncake” which contains lotus, sesame seeds, a duck egg or dried fruit. As with the Ancient Greeks, the Fall equinox is associated with the afterlife in Japan. During the equinox, Japanese Buddhists observe Higan which lasts for a week. Higan translates to “the other shore,” and practicing Buddhists honor those spirits who have reached Nirvana. This week gives them a time to set aside to remember those who have passed by visiting, cleaning, and decorating their graves.
As always, the changing of the seasons gives just about everyone a chance to pause and reflect on the passing of time. No matter how we go about it, it’s good to use these astrological events as a means of reflecting on the world around us, whether that’s honoring the food we’ve produced, the work we’ve done, the people we’ve lost, or the good that’s still to come.


The school year is still young, Pinnacle Prep School, but we are laying the foundation for all that is still to come. Yes, we have had plenty of opportunities to have fun these past couple of weeks, but let’s use that energy to keep us motivated on having the best school year possible.

Welcome Back!

Welcome to the 2016-17 school year, Pinnacle Prep School!

Hopefully, your summer has left you rejuvenated and energized for what promises to be an exciting school year.

When you return and once again walk through these familiar halls, you may now notice flags from a variety of nations, pictures of sights from all across the world, and road signs directing you to various historical locales. Don’t be alarmed! You are right where you belong. This year, Pinnacle Prep will be themed around our interconnected world. All students, in addition to honing their fundamentals in English, math, social studies, and science, will work through diverse and globally-oriented curriculums.
Every year, advances in technology and shifts in cultural and social landscapes shrink our world, so to speak, bringing disparate parts of the world closer than ever thought possible, and while that frightens some, the flag-icon-set_1063-23prospect excites us here at Pinnacle Prep. We have always sought to provide our students with a culturally rich and diverse education, one that’ll prepare our students to be active participants in our big small world. As such, we will spend this year developing global-minded students, comfortable in our ever-changing world. We’ll explore a variety of cultures, learn about an abounding and dense world history, and think about the role we’ll play in shaping this massive green and blue ball of clay.
As a culturally diverse school, we believe it is our responsibility to better understand the world around us. We know that it isn’t static and unchanging, and we know that what happens elsewhere can have a profound effect on the home front. To this end, we have planned exciting lessons, projects, and trips that will help our students grapple with world issues, and our teachers are looking forward to bringing this globalized education to life.
Of course, the world stage is particularly relevant as we begin our 2016-17 school year given that August 21st, the day before school starts, marks the final day of the Rio Olympics. This year’s Olympics, as always, boasts a great deal of interesting storylines—from an inspiring team of refugees that haabstract-shapes-rio-2016-background_23-2147559708s even caught the eye of Pope Francis, to the many questions surrounding Brazil’s capability of (and responsibilities in) hosting the games. Not to mention, the many captivating, multifaceted, and often heart-warming stories that accompany just about every athlete who has made it to this stage in their career.
The Olympics have a way of calling attention to not just the current relationships between nations but the history of those dynamics as well. As NPR recently pointed out (http://www.npr.org/sections/thetorch/2016/08/05/488507996/how-the-olympic-medal-tables-explains-the-world), the Olympics tell a fascinating and insightful story about world history, to the point that you can even locate the two world wars, which saw the cancellation of the games during the years they were waged, that so dominated global politics.
Furthermore, the 1936 summer Olympics in Berlin famously became a signifier for the rise of fascism in Germany and the global conflict soon to ensue.  The Germans, newly revived after World War I (after which they didn’t participate in the next 3 Olympic games), sought to use the games as an exhibit of Nazi propaganda, showcasing what their leadership suggested was a “superior race of men.” Germany even went so far as to try and prohibit Jewish and black people from participating in the games, but when the other nations threatened to boycott, Germany relented. Medal wise, the host country performed very well. The Germans took home more than 30 more total medals than the US, which finished in second, in addition to taking home the most gold medals as well, suggesting that this was a German nation on the rise. However, the 1936 games also gave us Jesse Owens, a black American, who won 4 gold medals and outperformed all individual athletes at that year’s games. As that year’s Olympics demonstrated, the world was already drifting into the conflict that would eventually explode into one of its most disastrous wars.
Likewise, the Olympics became a stage for the US and the Soviet Union to exercise their conflict with one another during the heights of the Cold War. The US boycotted the 1980 games hosted in Moscow because the USSR refused to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Then President Jimmy Carter called the Soviets’ invasion of Afghanistan an attempt to subjugate and steal from an independent Islamic state and also placed a trade embargo on the nation. The Soviet Union returned the favor by boycotting the Los Angeles Olympic Games held in 1984, claiming that they did not want to participate in the games because they viewed the games as a political ploy by their western rivals.  During both Olympics, with their primary rivals absent, the two host nations dominated the medal counts once they were tallied at the respective closing ceremonies.
Once again, this year’s Olympics has become its own microcosm of global politics, reenacted with all the drama of sport. Amid renewed tensions between Russia and the United Nations, due to the former’s military involvement in the Crimea region of Ukraine, more than 100 Russian athletes have been barred from this year’s games for violating the substance abuse policy. On top of that, this year’s host nation, Brazil, is mired in its own controversy. With a recently ousted president and the arrival of the Zika virus, many questions arose in regards to the nation’s capability to host these games; furthermore, these games have continued to call into question the Olympic committee’s responsibility when choosing a host nation.
With the Olympics drawing so many nations, both large and small, to one stadium, it becomes easy to see the good and bad in our world dynamics. Globalization brings with it all the burdens of how to best manage our world’s resources and its people, whatever their class distinction may be. The last few summer and winter Olympics have seen the host nations destroy land and dislocate impoverished populations in order to build the facilities required to host an event of this magnitude. Images of young, poor Brazilian children watching the torch lighting in tattered clothes from vacant buildings have proliferated as the games began. Similar images arose when China decimated whole villages for the Beijing Olympics and likewise in Sochi, Russia. These images call to mind all the burdens of global poverty, not just the ones highlighted by the Olympics. As our world expands and grows closer together, it becomes easy to justify the poor management and utilization of its resources and the displacement of its less politically and economically viable populations, and preparation for the Olympic Games has become its own metaphor for global commerce by way of mass corruption and exploitation.
mardiniBut a globalized world doesn’t have to be an exploitative one! The Olympics also have a way of putting humanity on display. Athletes like Yusra Mardini are indicative of the kind of human narratives that make the games compelling when they come around. Mardini competes on the newly created refugee team, and while she once used her swimming abilities to help pull a boat of Syrian refugees to safety, she is now chasing medals while the whole world watches. These are the kinds of stories that remind us of human tenacity and capability. Mardini, and the other members of her refugee team, are not considered serious medal contenders in this year’s games, but their presence and their drive inspires all those able to watch and even their fellow competitors.
They also drawing attention to a plight that might otherwise go ignored. After being announced as a member of the first-ever Olympic refugee team, Mardini told the press, “I want everyone to think refugees are normal people who had their homelands and lost them not because they wanted to run away and be refugees, but because they have dreams in their lives and they had to go.” Throughout the games, she has talked of one day bringing her story home, back to Syria, when it is safe to do so. She dreams that her experience will provide hope for her fellow Syrians who might now feel hopeless. “Everything is about trying to get a new and better life,” she says, “and by entering the stadium we are encouraging everyone to pursue their dreams.”
Of course, the global community has to first take notice. While it is fun to get excited about our nation’s competitors and the medals they earn, the Olympics are best watched as a display of global humanity, full of diverse stories and people. It is under this light that Pinnacle Prep School wants to pursue this year’s theme. We want to look around the world and see opportunities for learning, enrichment, and betterment. There’s no better way to broaden your knowledge than to step outside of your borders and start taking notes.
We hope you are ready to embark on this global trek with us, students. Grab your maps, open your minds, and get ready to see what’s happening all around you!
Welcome Summer



Pinnacle Prep School

June Newsletter


“Live as if you will die tomorrow. Learn as if you will live forever.” -Ghandi

And so, Pinnacle Prep School, we have arrived at the end of the 2015-16 school year. June 2nd marks the last class day before summer break begins, though it is likely that many of us have had summer on our mind well before that day. Nevertheless, we hope that every student is going into the summer having left everything on the field, so to speak. That is to say, every year, we strive to give our best effort in all we do, and reflecting back, Pinnacle Prep School can say it has had quite a school year. Certainly, we have completed a great deal of challenging work but have also had quite a bit of fun as well. Whatever memories we have formed during this year are likely to shape the years to come. Let’s go into summer with our heads held high and the sun in our eyes, eagerly anticipating when we’ll next get to walk through those school doors but knowing also that we are always learning, even when school isn’t in session.

My Year at Pinnacle Prep School

You wanna know how my year at Pinnacle Prep School went? Well, let me tell you. It was great! This was was first impression when I heard the name of this school… :-0 I mean really, I am not kidding. The first word of the name is Pinnacle. A Pinnacle is a high, pointed piece of rock. The word made me even more desperate to join this school. Before I came to this school, I imagined myself being here and accomplishing my goals. The teachers, the environment, the students, and the education especially has me devoted to this school.

Somehow, someway, Pinnacle Prep School is advanced compared to the others. Almost every student here works hard to accomplish his or her goals. Unlike the other schools, this school has every student set to study a grade or two ahead of where they’d normally be, depending on the skills of each individual. When a student needs remedial instruction, the teacher helps him or her out in any possible way. Students who work harder than others and show their talent are individually challenged.

Now, by all these details you may think this school is all about working and not having any fun. That’s not true. Pinnacle Prep School provides fun and influential fieldtrips for students such as: camping trips, zoo visits, Main event, UNT Planetarium visit, Legoland, and much more. Pinnacle Prep School has held many parties for the students and teachers to enjoy also.

This school year has been very memorable, and I can never forget all the fun I had here. I feel like I am one of a kind. I feel like a high, determined pinnacle myself. A pinnacle who went to Pinnacle Prep School.

-Alsa Khan

Field Trips

At Pinnacle Prep School, a private school widely acknowledged as the best private school ever, the staff took students to two excellent field trips. The fifth graders and up went camping overnight, and everyone in the school went on a day trip to the Sharkarosa Wildlife Ranch.


At Sharkarosa, you can eat dinner with live bears, ride in a tractor while hybrid zebras follow you, watch wallabys and kangaroos hop around, and much more!

“It was one of the best field trips I’ve ever experienced,” says Ayaan Chaudhry, a sixth grade student who enjoyed the trip thoroughly. Even the teachers enjoyed this fascinating ranch. Two of my personal favorite things at Sharkarosa were seeing the lemurs and looking for a very important camel called “Thirsty.” But I also enjoyed seeing Sharky the horse. Sharky the horse was the first animal to step foot in Sharkarosa, which is why Sharkarosa is named after him.

Overnight Camping for the Upper Kidslandscape-full-camping-tents-background_23-2147543173

At the camp, the students went hiking, played by the lake, flew kites, set up tents and slept in them. They played sports in an open plain of grass and told stories at night while munching on s’mores. It was the best field trip I’ve ever been to. I was paired up with several other students, Humza Zaidi, Aqeel Jaffery, Kazim Hussain, and Rayaan Anwar to sleep in a tent with. One of my favorite parts was at night in the tents. We played a prank on other kids, and brought sticks into our tent to defend ourselves if the other kids tried to prank us. We made our own little group and set positions. Kazim and I were scouts, so we would stay awake, waiting for a prank, and we woke the others up if we found a disturbance.”

At the campsite, the students were also instructed to make a source of entertainment for the staff and parents at night such as songs, skits, jokes, and more.

•Mehdi Kizilbash

NBA Finalsbasketball-court-ball-vector_23-2147492437

Every June, two of the NBA’s best basketball teams face off for the championship trophy in a best-of-seven series. However, the first set of NBA Finals games were held actually held in April and featured the Minneapolis Lakers (now located in Los Angeles) versus the Syracuse Nationals (now known as the Philadelphia 76ers). The Lakers won that contest 4 games to 2 and went on to win 4 of the first 5 NBA Finals. NBA seasons didn’t start ending in June until the 1980s as scheduling changes were made by the league.

Scheduling hasn’t been the only change that the NBA Finals have undergone. The championship trophy has also seen a few name changes over the year. In 1950, the trophy went simply the NBA Finals Trophy, but in 1964, it got a new name, the Walter A. Brown Trophy. It was named to honor Walter Brown, the original owner of the Boston Celtics. Brown played a key role in merging the now-defunct Basketball Association of America and the National Basketball League in order to create the NBA we know today. The 76ers were the first to win the Walter A. Brown Trophy by beating the Chicago Stags, a team that no longer exists.

During this period, 1950-1977, the championship trophy was passed around each year when a new team won, much like how the Stanley Cup is used in the NHL. In 1977, however, the Brown trophy was given a redesign, and the league decided to make a new trophy for each team that won the NBA Finals from then onward.

You now know the trophy by a different name. In 1984, the NBA renamed the trophy yet again to the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy, named after the NBA commissioner 1975 to 1983. The Celtics were the first to win the O’Brien Trophy when they bested the Lakers in game 7 of a heated series. Nowadays, the trophy is made out of 14 pounds of silver, with 24 karat gold overlay, and stands 2 feet tall. Typically, the series MVP will hoist the trophy high into the air as the arena goes wild, celebrating the accomplishment. 14 pounds most not mean anything to an athlete at the top of the world.

-Mr. Enfield

Closing Sentiment

Pinnacle Prep School, may your summer be half as fruitful as the school year has been. We’ve all learned and grown quite a bit this year, students and faculty alike, and we hope you look back on this time and find plenty of fond memories to share. Remember, though, that even over the break, even when we graduate, even when we get older and earn degrees and find jobs… remember that we never stop learning. Keep searching the world around you for new information, Pinnacle Prep School. We look forward to seeing you back here in the fall and hearing all about it.

April Showers Bring May Flowers!

May 2016 Newsletter

Finally, May is here! Only one month remains, Pinnacle Prep students. Let’s all do our best to achieve all our goals and promises made in the start. May is a month of sorrow and joy. There are many important celebrations that take place in this month including Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, and Armed Forces Day.

mothers-day-card-with-flowers-on-wood-background_23-2147509375Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a holiday celebrated annually as a tribute to all mothers and motherhood. It is celebrated on various dates in many parts of the world. Although the origins of the holiday dates back the ancient Greeks and Romans, the modern celebration of Mother’s Day in the United States began in the early 20th century.
It was first celebrated in 1908 in Grafton, West Virginia when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother Ann Reeves Jarvis who, in turn, many years earlier had founded Mother’s Day Work Clubs in five cities. Anna Jarvis began a campaign to make the Mother’s Day a national holiday, and she succeeded in 1914 when the U.S. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May “Mother’s Day.” Many people give gifts, cards, flowers, candy, a meal in a restaurant, or other treats to their mother as well as mother figures like grandmothers, great-grandmothers, stepmothers, and foster mothers. This is a great way to show your mother love and appreciation for what she has done.

soldier-with-american-flag-background_23-2147506816Memorial Day

“A true soldier fights not because he hates what’s in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” -G.K. Chesterton.
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. Over two dozen cities and towns claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. Regardless of the exact date or location of its origins, one thing is clear: Memorial Day was carried out of the Civil War and was based on a desire to honor our dead. It was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. Armed Forces Day is similar to Memorial Day, except it honors those who are currently serving the country. It is for those who want to sacrifice their lives for their country and protect it, even if it means to die.
-Alsa Khan

Cursed Child

“It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.”
We all have something to look forward to this summer, once school is over. We’ll finally be getting the eighth book in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
Harry Potter is one of the most well-known books in history.  J.K. Rowling was inspired to write it on a train. She wrote seven books, and on July 31st, Harry’s birthday and her own, she will be releasing the newest book and play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Before the summary came out, fans from all over the world speculated that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was about Harry’s childhood, the secrets from before the Dursleys took him in. Other fans claim the story is more about Albus since Rowling focused the mostly on Albus at the end of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows.
On the Cursed Child website, one may preorder the book, and there is a countdown until the first performance on the website. The cover shows a small boy, perhaps Harry or Albus, in a bird’s nest.
As of today, fans are still waiting until the clock strikes midnight, when it is officially July 31st. When the countdown clock hits zero on days, hours, minutes, and seconds. When the final book of Harry Potter comes out.
-Safia Yunus

Bake Sale

dessertAt Pinnacle Prep School, an extremely accelerated and extremely fun private school, Safia Yunus set up a Bake Sale, and all of the money went to an orphanage in Africa. Our reporter, Mehdi Kizilbash, was on site to interview Safia about the sale.
What inspired you to create such a commandingly difficult Bake Sale?
I had just baked some cookies, and went outside to sell them at a park, when I saw a homeless person, and decided to do something about the troubles of the needy people in the world.
Who works in this sale?
Almost everyone in the school.  Some members of my class are also doing extra work such as Mehdi Kizilbash and Humza Zaidi, who work with dealing with the money and accounting that goes to an orphanage in Africa.  We’ve already collected $440, and it’s only the third day!
Thank you parents and children for your support!  We appreciate it!
•Mehdi Kizilbash

Teacher Interview

Name: Gonzalo Gonzalez
Occupation: Science Teacher
At Pinnacle Prep School, the new science teacher, Mr. Gonzalo Gonzalez is liked by students and teachers alike.  “He’s really fun, and he’s the only teacher I know who gives candy and an experiment the first day.  Best. Teacher. Ever. Period,” says Mehdi Kizilbash, a student in his class.  “He’s awesome and almost every day, he let’s us watch fun science videos. He also brought a set of real, natural gemstones and let us make stuff with them,” says another student, Humza Zaidi. Once again, we had our intrepid reporter to get the scoop on the new science teacher.
Mr. Gonzalez was at first a professor at a college, then became a physics scientist.  He has worked with many electronic materials such as lasers, and now he has decided on teaching at Pinnacle Prep School.
Thank you Mr. Gonzalez!
•Mehdi Kizilbash

Standardized Testing

During the third week of May, our upper students will be taking the Stanford 10 achievement test to assess the progress they’ve made over the year.
Established in 1926, the Stanford test has undergone ten major changes to create the version we’ll be taking to close out the year. Its biggest revisions came in 1940 when 80 percent of the test was changed to meet the needs of students at the time, and in the 1960s, the test went from its subjective grading system, in which teachers determined the score, to the now almost completely objectively graded system. The test covers a variety of subjects including reading comprehension, language, math, social and physical sciences, and spelling.
Standardized testing, the Stanford 10 included, has been a hot button issue in America, especially following the No Child Left Behind Act which was passed in 2001, but the trend dates all the way back to imperial China. During the Sui Dynasty, in 605, the examinations were implemented as a means of determining who was promoted in government. Each examination covered the Six Arts, the basis of education in ancient Chinese society. Based on Confucian philosophy, the Six Arts included Rites (knowledge of rituals), Music, Archery, Charioteering (horsemanship), Calligraphy (writing), and Mathematics. As society changed, certain arts were favored over others, some were dropped and re-added later, and new ones, like painting, were added.
The tests remained in use during the Tang Dynasty, which quickly succeeded the Sui in 618, but on a much smaller scale. The emperor Wu Zetian (624-705) is credited for expanding the exams quite extensively during his reign, but scholars still debate how much impact his use of the testing system had.
It’s during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) that use of examinations became a prominent means of determining merit and assessing academic and institutional ability. The exams expanded as the Chinese government switched from a less military-aristocratic system, where power was concentrated between wealthy military officials, to a more bureaucratic system. In the Song Dynasty, pretty much the only way to public office was through one of the Civil Service exams, believing that this produced the most-qualified workers. The exams fluctuated in and out of popularity throughout subsequent dynasties and were eventually done away with entirely in 1905.
By comparison, standardized testing in American education dates back to the 1800s. At first, standardized tests were used primarily to test the newly immigrated so that they can be granted citizenship—a practice still held to this day.
In 1959, Everett Lindquist created the American College Testing exam, more commonly known as ACT, to test high school students as they transitioned to college. Debate about how the federal government should handle national education standards continued to boil with each election cycle, and in 1965, as a part of Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” congress passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The bill regulated how funding for public schooling is dispersed and is the farthest reaching legislation on national education ever passed. Furthermore, congress re-writes and re-enacts the bill after every 5 years, and with each new version of the legislation, standardized testing plays a different role in how funding is handled.
Perhaps the most notable reauthorization of the bill came in 2001. That year, Bush reauthorized the bill under the name, “No Child Left Behind.”  The bill mandated that any school that received federal funding had to test its students annually. Underperforming schools had to meet certain stipulations in order to improve the school, and if the school failed to meet testing standards after five years, then the school would need to be completely restructured. Though the bill passed pretty decisively in both the House and the Senate, it has been heavily criticized since its passing, and in 2015, President Obama replaced the bill with the Every Student Succeeds Act which made states primarily responsible for how schools are assessed and funded.
ESSA did not do away with standardized testing but, rather, modified how and how often they were administered. Standardized testing is likely to remain in the American education system for a while longer. Throughout the year, we’ve been preparing not just for these sorts of tests but for a well-rounded education. Pinnacle Preppers will go into May’s tests ready to ace them and move onto bigger, better tasks.
-Mr. Enfield

Closing Sentiments

It’s been an excellent school year, Pinnacle Prep School. We, students and faculty alike, have all grown in a number of positive ways. I’m sure we can all attest to that, and next year, we look to improve upon all the solid work we’ve done. Finish strong, Pinnacle Preppers! Give yourself something to recoup from this summer!
Spring has Sprung!



There’s only two months left in the school year, Pinnacle Prep Student’s. Let’s make them count. Now is the time to put forth our best effort so that we can finish the year strong and carry the momentum into the 2016-17 school year. April, a month known for its cleansing rains, provides us with a great opportunity to shake off any dust from the months prior and start fresh for the final stretch.

A Classic April Fool’s Day Hoax

April also starts us off with a day to get a little goofy. Many companies and networks even manage to have a little fun on April Fool’s Day. Google pulls a prank on its users just about every year, including last year when they announced PacMan view for Google Maps which would allow people to play PacMan through renderings of real streets.

April Fools DayHowever, before Google was announcing something wacky every April 1st, a British news program managed to convince its viewers that spaghetti grew on trees.

Panorama is the world’s longest running televised current affairs program. The show first launched on the British Broadcasting Channel in 1953, and even today it still retains a peak time slot on BBC One.

Highly regarded as it was, Panorama still decided to have a little fun with its viewers. On April 1st, 1957 the program announced that a mild winter had rid Switzerland of its dreaded spaghetti weevil problem. Thanks to the species’ near-extinction, Swiss farmers could finally begin harvesting the spaghetti crops. In order to sell the hoax, the announcement was paired with footage of farmers removing long strands of spaghetti from “spaghetti trees.”

The announcement garnered huge ratings. Viewers were captivated by this seemingly absurd natural occurrence. An estimated eight million saw the broadcast, and hundreds more even called the network, seeking advice for how they, too, could grow their own spaghetti crop. BBC representatives replied, tongue-firmly-in-cheek, “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.” But not just the public was fooled by Panorama’s story. The BBC director-general at the time even admitted that he opened up his encyclopedia to see if that was how we really got spaghetti after hearing the story.

Panorama cameraman Charles de Jaeger was the mastermind who created the whole idea. He claimed the plot came from remembering how his teachers in Austria used to tease students by telling them that they’d believe spaghetti grew on trees. With a budget of 100 euros, de Jaeger got to put his teachers’ old joke to the test. Respected broadcaster Richard Dimbleby lent his voiceover to the story and gave it the credence it needed to work. Dimbleby knew that his authority would make or break the joke, and so he tackled the broadcast with enthusiasm.
CNN would later call the broadcast “the biggest hoax that any reputable news establishment ever pulled.” This year, Pinnacle Prep School will have April Fool’s Day off, so if you want to try a prank of this scale, you’ll have to pull it on your family or wait for 2017.

Earth Day

While April’s first day may revolve around pranks and goofing around, the month is also home to Earth Day. Every April 22nd commemorates national and global efforts in environmental protection.

celebrate-earth-dayThe first Earth Day was held on April 22nd, 1970. On that day, 2,000 universities, 10,000 primary and secondary schools, and hundreds of communities participated in the event. The Environmental Protection Agency describes it as an event which “brought 20 million Americans out into the spring sunshine for peaceful demonstrations in favor of environmental reform.” Both Republicans and Democrats supported the holiday’s creation, but many were surprised by just how successful it was. As such, historians often credit the event for launching the modern environmentalist movement.

That year also saw the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, a book also heavily cited as the beginning of environmentalism. Carson initially released the book in a serialized form via the New Yorker before the collected essays became a national best seller later that year. The book took its name from Carson’s musing that fewer and fewer species of birds would be singing each spring unless the nation did something about pesticide, and her mission riveted and revolutionized an American public disillusioned by the Vietnam War. Skeptics criticized her book of basing its claims shallow science, but audiences flocked to her cause regardless. Environmentalism was off and running in the United States.

In the shadow of the first Earth Day and Silent Spring, the US would pass the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. Those landmark legislations were some of the first and most influential of the US’ environmental laws. The Clean Air Act, in particular, is one of the most comprehensive air quality laws in the world.
Earth Day would eventually go global twenty years later, spreading to 141 different countries. Its organizers claim that 1 billion people now participate in the environmentalist holiday. This makes it the “largest civic observance in the world.”

Environmentalism has been prominent in recent news thanks to a conference in Paris held just last year. At that conference, scientists gathered to limit the global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius. Over the course of two weeks, the conference negotiated a series of regulations and policies that would eventually be the Paris Climate Deal. Symbolizing Earth Day’s importance to the movement, 55 of the world’s highest greenhouse gas producers would need to sign the deal between this year’s Earth Day and next in order to make it legally binding.

Jazz Appreciation Month

You probably already knew that April housed both April Fool’s Day and Earth Day, but you might not be aware that the whole month is also Jazz Appreciation Month (appropriately acronymed JAM). In 2002, John Edward Hasse, PhD., curator of the Smithsonian, created the event to “honor the history and heritage of Jazz,” one of the first distinctly American art forms.

This month’s featured musician is Benny Carter, a black musician, composer, and bandleader. Known as “The King,” Carter is remembered for the strides he made in both music and social justice. He began playing at a time when venues barred certain musicians from playing because of their race. By the 1940s, Carter broke barriers by being one of the first black musicians accepted into Hollywood. He arranged and composed music for major motion pictures—even though jazz wasn’t commonly scoring films during the ‘40s.

In addition to writing music, Carter helped negotiate the merging of unions for white and black musicians in Los Angeles. His negotiations increased the number of job opportunities for musicians of color who were often blocked from bands and venues because they were denied the proper credentials. And his efforts didn’t stop at music. In 1945, Carter fought a legal battle that would eventually grant African Americans the right to buy homes in certain neighborhoods where they had once been restricted.

Though not often written about, Carter maintains a great deal of relevancy today. As such, the Smithsonian has chosen to bring his career to the limelight during the month of JAM. The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra will honor Carter with a concert this April in which the group will explore his vast discography, highlighting his innovations in saxophone, trumpet, and composition.

Pinnacle Prep can learn a lot from Carter and from jazz in general. Carter, and many other black jazz players in the early twentieth century, rose above their station and created one of the most influential genres in the era of modern music. Many forms of jazz revolve around improvisation and experimentation with many elements of a given song written on the fly between the interplay of just a few musicians. Life is often compared to jazz given that both are at prone to many twists and turns, and while the comparison may be a little stale now, it maintains some level of truth. Like the members of a jazz quartet, Pinnacle Prep students are learning to be comfortable in the ever-changing song that is life. As a result, they will be the innovators of the future, using their solos to send the song in new, enthralling directions.

Upcoming Events


April 1 – No School
April 15th – Heritage Village
April 22nd – No School
April 27/28 – Day Camping K-4th
April 29-30 – Camping Upper School

Spring is here!

March ‘ 16 Newsletter

“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.”
– Pablo Neruda


This year the vernal equinox, otherwise known as “the first day of spring,” falls on March 20th. We get our word equinox from Latin words which mean “equal night.” On this day, the earth’s tilt, relative to the sun, is exactly zero. This means that the Earth’s axis is pointing neither toward nor away from the sun, and that the sun rises exactly in the east and sets exactly in the west.

First day of SpringThe vernal equinox, traditionally, is a sign that Spring has come and is most often associated with renewal and new beginnings. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the vernal equinox plays an important role in determining when to celebrate Jewish Passover and the Christian holiday, Easter. Many Christian cultures decorate chicken eggs during this time. You might know them as “Easter eggs.” These eggs, in accordance with the season, represent rebirth and fertility.

Ancient Chinese cultures also brought out the eggs on the equinox. Like the Easter eggs, these eggs stood as a symbol of fertility. The tradition called for people to balance eggs on the day of the March equinox. Doing so, the people garnered good luck and prosperity. This custom eventually gave way to urban folklore. Many believe that the vernal equinox is the only day on which an egg can balance perfectly on its end. This, of course, is not the case. An egg can balance on its end, no matter what day it is.

Iranians don’t just celebrate the beginning of a new season but also the beginning of a new year. For 3000 years, Iran has used the vernal equinox to mark its New Year or No-Ruz, as they call it. Preparations for the holiday begin 12 days prior to the equinox—these preparations include buying new clothes and thoroughly tidying up the house. Wheat and lentils, representing new growth, are also grown in a flat dish, just a few days before the holiday. Meanwhile, Japanese cultures honor their ancestors on both the fall and spring equinoxes. The practice is called Higan and has been a national holiday in Japan since the mid-nineteenth century. Higan roughly translates to “other shore” and refers to the period in which spirits cross the river of existence and reach Nirvana, otherwise known as leaving the world of suffering for the world of enlightenment.

While these cultures celebrate the beginning of spring in very different ways, the ideas of rebirth and fertility often appear in all of them. Perhaps, this is because, in the Northern Hemisphere, our flowers begin to bloom, ladybugs land on our shoulders, and the familiar chirping of birds can once again be heard outside our windows. The dreariness of winter is shed for the warmth of spring, and it feels like life can thrive again. Or, in the words of E. E. Cummings, “Spring is like a perhaps hand … changing everything carefully.” Observe the world around you—specifically the plants and animals. In what ways do you notice spring is on its way? How will you celebrate?


With all the emphasis on rebirth during the spring season, it’s no wonder that it became a chance for family’s to get their house in order. With the early warm weather this year, you may have already received your spring chores.
Many trace the beginning of the practice to the Jewish tradition of thoroughly cleaning their homes before Passover. Passover commemorates the Israelites escape from captivity in Egypt and is followed by a seven day observance known as the “Days of the Unleavened Bread.” During this time, those of Jewish faith are not permitted to eat or drink anything that has been fermented with yeast and are instructed to remove even the smallest remnants of leavened food product from their home. Thus, a thorough “spring cleaning” became necessary to anyone who observed Passover to the letter.

spring cleaningThe Persian New Year, also known as Iranian No-Ruz, may also be the source of “spring cleaning.” While getting ready for the holiday, Iranians engage in the practice of khooneh tekouni which, literally, translates to “shaking the house.” Everything in the house, all the way from the curtains to the carpets to the furniture, is meticulously cleaned. The Persian New Year dates 3,000 years back and is rooted in Zoroastrian religious practices, though it has become widely celebrated by many diverse ethnic communities.

Whatever the origin, spring is always a good time for a fresh start. Pinnacle Prep students, now is a good time to do a little “spring cleaning” on ourselves so that we can finish the year strong and well.



This year Daylight Savings falls on Sunday, March 13th at 2:00A.M. Don’t forget to set your clock ahead one hour before going to bed that night!

Daylight SavingsThe idea was first proposed by a New Zealander named George Hudson in 1898 but was never implemented nation-wide until World War I. Germany was the first to use DST on May 1, 1916 in an effort to conserve fuel for the war effort. The rest of Europe soon followed suit. The United Sates did not adopt the change until World War II when President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted the practice, calling it, “war time.” DST, in America, has been debated ever since, and its role and implementation has undergone several changes since FDR first set it in motion. Defenders of the practice cite that DST reduces energy consumption by lessening the need for lighting and heating during certain periods, though this effect has been disputed over the decades.



Spring Break

March 14th – 18th: Spring Break!

February is here!

February ‘ 16 Newsletter


In 1915, historian Carter G. Woodson and the prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded a group which would eventually become the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. This group was dedicated to researching and promoting the achievements of black people that largely went ignored at the time. Woodson and his peers created a “National Negro History Week” in 1926. The week fell on the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Fredrick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln. Events, lectures, and local celebrations were held across the country to celebrate the history of black people. This week would eventually grow into the Black History Month we know today, officially changing 1976 under the President Gerald Ford.


Any one of these might make a good biography, students!



The first ever black man to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard, W.E.B. DuBois wasn’t just one of the smartest black men of his time but one of the greatest intellectuals of the early twentieth century. DuBois wrote several monumental books and essays that criticized the racism of the day. His writing took on subjects like the Jim Crow Laws, lynching, and political discrimination, and his books, The Souls of Black Folks and Black Reconstruction in America, remain relevant to this day. DuBois was also a key contributor to the founding of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).




While you may have heard the name Thurgood Marshall, the first black man to ever serve on the Supreme Court, you likely aren’t as familiar with Jane Bolin. In 1932, Bolin became the first black woman to serve as a judge in the United States. Prior to that, she was blazing trails every which way. She was also the first black woman to earn a law degree from Yale and the first to pass the New York State bar exam. As judge, Bolin would end segregation in child placement facilities and help put a stop to racial bias in the assignment of probation officers. In addition to her work in government, Bolin was also instrumental in the creation of a racially integrated treatment facility for delinquent boys.




Following in the footsteps of DuBois, Henry Louis Gates Jr. became a prominent historian and public intellectual in the 1980s. Like DuBois, Gates tackled America’s racial divide without trepidation. His most prominent work, The Signifying Monkey, extended the practice of literary criticism to African-American books, particularly the concept of “signifying” in which scholars examine the multiple meanings a word might have in a given text. Gates received national attention in 2009 when he was arrested for trying to get into his Cambridge home after a neighbor reported a possible break-in. The incident prompted President Obama to invite the writer to the White House so that two of them could share a drink together.




Working mostly behind the scenes, Ella Baker was a social activist and a key part of the black Civil Rights movement for five decades. She worked closely with many of the movement’s more recognizable names such as Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, and W.E.B. DuBois. She even mentored Rosa Park who famously refused to give up her seat on December 1st, 1955. Beginning in the 1930s, Baker worked diligently for the rights of black people up until her death in 1986. She was comfortable with her role toiling in the background, believing that charismatic leaders were only a small facet in the advancement of her people. In an interview, she said, “You didn’t see me on television… The kind of role that I tried to play was to pick up pieces or put together pieces out of which I hoped organization might come. My theory is, strong people don’t need strong leaders.”


February, in addition to being Black History Month, also houses Valentine’s Day on February 14th. This year the holiday falls on a Sunday.

Before it became a holiday on which students exchanged colorful cards and couples exchanged chocolates and flowers, Valentine’s Day was a liturgical celebration for Christian saints named Valentinus who had been martyred. One such story tells of Saint Valentine of Rome who, in one telling, was imprisoned for performing Christian ceremonies for Roman soldiers. While imprisoned, Valentine purportedly healed the daughter of his jailer. One account claims that he wrote her a letter signed, “Your Valentine,” prior to his execution.

Valentine’s Day did not become associated with romance until the High Middle Ages. George Chaucer, of Canterbury Tales fame, and his contemporaries were the first to associate the day with love. In fact, the first written link between Valentine’s Day and romantic love came when Chaucer wrote the poem “Parlement of Foules.” The poem contains the lines, “For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.” Chaucer wrote the poem to honor the first anniversary of King Richard the II and Anne of Bohemia. Paper Valentine’s Day cards did not become an established tradition until 1797 thanks to a British publication titled, The Young Man’s Valentine Writer. The practice gained traction in the 19th century and were eventually being mass-produced in England as well as the US after 1847.


Lego Land, February 2nd
Open House, 9am-10:30am, February 5th
No school, February 15th



Happy 2016!

January ‘ 16 Newsletter


New Year customs date back to ancient times.


To frighten demons away ancient Thailand fired their guns.  China uses firecracker to ward off the forces of darkness. Today, the Swiss beat drums, and North Americans sound sirens and party horns to bid the old year farewell.


Many New Year’s traditions surround food. In the southern US, black-eyed peas and cabbage bring good fortune and prosperity. In Swiss homes, whipped cream is dropped on the floor, this symbolizes richness in the New Year.


New Year’s Day was once a time to swap presents.  In Rome, gifts of gilded nuts or coins marked the beginning of the New Year.  In Scotland, items like coal, silverware or even shortbread are exchanged for good luck.



In Scotland, first-footing is an important custom of the celebration of Hogmanay, or New Year’s Eve Day. First-footing is a practice that the first foot to cross a threshold after midnight will predict the next year’s fortune.
This practice holds that the first foot to cross a threshold after midnight will predict the next year’s fortune.


happy-new-year-2016-imagesAs time passes we see changes all around us, and some of these changes were once only science fiction.

  • During this year we may see China begin the longest undersea tunnel in the world.  It will Stretch under the Yellow Sea from Dalian to Yantai, but many say this is too dangerous because it passes over two major earthquake fault lines.
  • Rio de Janeiro will host the Olympic Games and will become the first South American city to host the event.
  • If you are into long travel vacations you may want to watch the Russian space group, Energiya, who will partner with US firm Orbital Technologies to launch the world’s first space hotel.  This hotel will host spectacular views of Earth and include celebrity chef menus.  With the capability of housing up to seven people the hotel may function as a possible emergency refuge for astronauts from the International Space Station.
  • The Juno probe that was launched in 2011 will finally arrive on Jupiter in July.
  • British researcher have discovered a special compound produced by the algae living in coral protected the algae and the coral from the sun’s UV rays. Using this special compound researchers created biosynthetic sunscreen for human use. This compound has been converted into a tablet form and should provide sun protection for the whole body. Testing should be done by the end of the year and may provide protection for the fair skinned by the end of the year.
  • The 58th United States Presidential election will be held on Tuesday, November 8th.
  • March will provide us with a total solar eclipse and a penumbral lunar eclipse, while September will provide an annular solar eclipse and a penumbral lunar eclipse. Make sure you watch the sky for these eye catching events.




Why do we have Leap Years? The answer is simple. If we didn’t add that one day we would create a misalignment with our calendar and the Earth’s revolutions around the Sun. The ancient Roman calendar added an extra month every few years to account for this shift but Julius Caesar implemented a new calendar. In 45 BCE the Julian calendar added an extra day every 4 years. According to the original Julian calendar, Leap Day was February 24, and February was the last month of the year. The Chinese celebrate leap year every third year where they add an extra month into the calendar.

Leap Year Day has many traditions and folklore associated with it. One of the oldest and most popular traditions is that women propose to their boyfriends, and the man cannot turn her down without compensating the woman.



Winter will be much warmer and drier than normal, with below-normal snowfall. The coldest periods will be in early and late December, late January, and early February, while the snowiest periods across the north will occur in late December, early and late January, and mid- and late February.

April and May will be warmer and drier than normal, with drought a major concern.

Summer will be slightly rainier than normal, with near-normal temperatures. The hottest periods will be in early and late June, early July, and late August.

September and October will be warmer than normal, with near-normal rainfall in the north. Hurricanes in early and mid-September may help to ease the drought.


Jan. 5th Roller skating for 3rd and 4th grade
Jan. 7th Barns and Noble K-1st
Jan. 8th Pajama day
Jan. 12 Roller skating for upper level
Jan. 15th – 19th no school

Hello November!


November ‘ 15 Newsletter


Great adventures await our students!

The visit to the pumpkin patch and the zoo were big hits. We had a school full of junior firefighters after our visit to the fire station. They all looked ready for work in their fire-fighter hats.

The upper level students recently went roller skating and fun was had by all. A second trip will be made on November 10 with the lower level students. Let’s see who skates the best.


Competitions are a great way show the great talent we have at our school. We believe every child has a vast wealth of talent and showing that talent is a great way to boost confidence.We will be participating in several math competitions and our first contest kicks off next week followed by Math Olympiads on November 18.

English and Art competitions start soon, too. Our first essay contest of the year begins December 1st and our teachers have all the details. Encourage your child to get involved!

The Republic of Texas Art Contest begins in December. We need all our art students to get involved.

QUOTE OF THE MONTH: “Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.”

Parent Paired Reading

Parent Paired ReadingPaired Reading is a technique that pairs a skilled reader, the parent, and the child who is learning, reading a book together.

Parents who have undertaken Paired Reading begin to notice their child’s reading improve which builds self-esteem.

Try discussing the book: What do you think will happen in the story? What do you think will happen next? How does the character feel? How does your child feel about what is happening? These are all examples of how you can engage your child in reading and help with comprehension at the same time.



The Plymouth Pilgrims were the first to celebrate the Thanksgiving. The Wampatgfanoag Indians were the people who taught the Pilgrims how to cultivate the land.

The Pilgrim leader, Governor William Bradford, had organized the first Thanksgiving feast in 1621. He invited the neighboring Wampanoag Indians to the feast. The first Thanksgiving celebration lasted three days. The pilgrims didn’t use forks; they ate with spoons, knives, and their fingers.

Sarah Josepha Hale, an American magazine editor, persuaded Abraham Lincoln to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday. She is also the author of the popular nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”.

Abraham Lincoln issued a ‘Thanksgiving Proclamation’ on third October 1863 and officially set aside the last Thursday of November as the national day for Thanksgiving.

Since 1947, the National Turkey Federation has presented a live turkey and two dressed turkeys to the President. The President does not eat the live turkey. He “pardons” it and allows it to live out its days on a historical farm. The heaviest turkey ever raised was 86 pounds, about the size of a large dog. Turkey has more protein than chicken or beef. Male turkeys gobble. Hens do not. They make a clucking noise. Commercially raised turkeys cannot fly.