Spring has Sprung!

APRIL ’16 NEWSLETTER

 

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

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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

FIRST DAY OF SPRING

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?

SPRING CLEANING

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.

 

DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME (Spring forward!)

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.

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

Spring Break

March 14th – 18th: Spring Break!

February is here!

February ‘ 16 Newsletter

UNDERWRITTEN HISTORY

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.

NOTEABLE BLACK HISTORICAL FIGURES YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE HEARD OF

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

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W.E.B DUBOIS

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).

 

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JANE BOLIN

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.

 

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HENRY LOUIS GATES JR.

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.

 

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ELLA BAKER

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.”

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

VALENTINUS THE MARTYR
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.

A DAY FOR LOVE
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.

 

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

 

 

Happy 2016!

January ‘ 16 Newsletter

happy-new-year-2016

New Year customs date back to ancient times.

MAKE SOME NOISE

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.

EAT LUCKY FOOD

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.

GIVE A GIFT

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.

 

PUT YOUR BEST FOOT FORWARD

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.

EXITING YEAR AHEAD

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.

 

LEAP DAY

leap-year

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.

 

THE OLD FARMER’S ALMANAC FROM ALMANAC.COM

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.

UPCOMING EVENTS

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
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FIELD TRIPS

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

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.

 

FUN FACTS ABOUT THE FIRST THANKSGIVING

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.