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.

 

 

 

 

 

Hello November!!!

November Newsletter

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
– Nelson Mandela
INTRODUCTION

October continued our success from September. As we enter November, students should be fully accustomed to the academic and behavioral standards expected at Pinnacle. November also marks the third full month back—how time flies! As temperatures drop to merciful measurements, students can expect to get out and about a bit more on school field trips.

Let’s make this a successful month for academic achievement!

CALENDAR ITEMS

Turkey Feast: November 17th
Thanksgiving Break: November 21st – November 25th
Progress Reports: December 2nd

NOVEMBER EVENTS

November means several things: seasonal changes, Thanksgiving, entrance into the holiday season. Below are three different events taking place during the month, from a nationally recognized holiday to a not-so-well-known month-long celebration of one of America’s highest “culinary” achievements.

VETERANS DAY

Celebrated on November 11th, Veterans Day commemorates all veterans who have served in the United States Armed Forces. Veterans Day original replaced Armistice Day. Armistice Day was first recognized by President Woodrow Wilson on November 11th, 1919 to memorialize the one year anniversary of the end of World War I on “the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.” In 1926, President Calvin Coolidge made the holiday official, stating that it would be “a day dedicated to the cause of world peace.”

Of course, World War I did not see an end to global military hostilities. Less than 15 years after its official inception in 1926, World War II broke out. This led Raymond Weeks, a veteran who served in World War II, to suggest a holiday that celebrated all veterans. On June 1st 1945, Congress officially transformed Armistice Day into Veterans Day.

November 11th is still celebrated as Armistice Day (or Remembrance Day) in a variety of nations to commemorate the end of hostilities in Europe.

NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH

November is also home to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The NaNoWriMo organization fosters creativity by tasking writers of all ages and skill levels to write a 50,000 word novel between November 1st and November 30th. The goal of this activity is summed up by NaNoWriMo’s Mission Statement:

“National Novel Writing Month believes in the transformational power of creativity. We provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new world—on and off the page.”

Students should be encouraged to participate in this activity. Writing itself can be a therapeutic activity as well as an aid in expanding creative capacities. I believe that creativity is essential to critical thinking in general. After all, it takes a lot of brain power to organize a novel’s intricate parts: plot, character, setting, logic, and so on. NaNoWriMo offers a judgment free space for people to practice writing… and perhaps even produce a publishable piece of fiction!

Visit the official website to learn more: http://nanowrimo.org/

PEANUT BUTTER LOVERS MONTH!

Beyond being home to Thanksgiving and Veterans Day, November is also recognized as Peanut Butter Lovers Month. This lesser known celebration was instituted by the Southern Peanut Growers and began as Peanut Butter Lovers Day on November 4th, 1990. November 4th is important in peanut lore because it marks the day that Dr. John Harvey Kellogg applied for his peanut butter patent in 1895. The day became a month-long celebration in 1995, the centennial of peanut butter’s conception.
If you love peanut butter you now have an excuse to gorge yourself!

PARENTING LESSON

“At age 13, I went to my dad to complain about a situation (changing defensive positions) where I didn’t think I was being treated fairly by a coach. My dad listened very closely to the whole story and then looked at me and told me something that stuck with me for the rest of my life… He simply smiled and said, “Work harder,” and walked away. Lesson learned. Stop whining and get to work. Instead of rescuing, excusing and enabling our kids by blaming others and fighting battles for them, or going immediately to the AD, principal, and school board to demand the coach be fire… think about teaching our kids the simple wisdom of taking responsibility for their own situation.”

– Proactive coaching
TEACHERS’ CORNER – WHAT’S HAPPENING AT PINNACLE?

As we enter November, teachers toil away creating engaging activities and assignments for students. Provided below is a summary of what each teacher is currently doing in class and what they each plan to accomplish during the month of November:
Ms. Jaya’s Class

During the months of September and October, Fourth and Fifth Graders have completed “Multiplication with Greater Numbers.” We are now working on simplifying, comparing, and ordering Fractions. Later we will start adding and subtracting Fractions.

The Sixth and Seventh Graders worked on simplifying Expressions, Fractions, and Integers. We are now working on Integers with Negative Exponents. Upon completion, we will be starting equations and Inequalities.

We will continue to have a Pop Quiz and a test every week.
Ms. Kennedy’s Class

Our Pre-Kindergartners are really taking ownership of the alphabet letter names and sounds. We will keep up the good work, while beginning to blend sounds and hopefully starting to decode words. We are taking on 5 sight words: is, his, for, on, and at. Please make flashcards at home and use them to practice. Besides decoding and sight words, opposites and rhyming words will be introduced.

Finger strength is growing with writing and coloring as well as tearing paper with our 3 pincher fingers and using PLAY-DOH. Feel free to do the same at home.

In Math, solid shapes are a focus as is counting to 50. We have just introduced counting by 10 so the students are more familiar with transition numbers. Please practice these at home.

Finally: READ, READ, READ. Almost all of the students now sit for our 20 minutes of reading. Please read to them at home 20 minutes daily. Re-reading favorite books is an awesome way to improve memory and word familiarity.
Ms. Anu’s Class

Fifth and Sixth Graders: We are currently working on Integers and will start with Number Theory and Fractions which includes Greatest Common Factor and Least Common Multiple. Students are working on area and volume and will soon begin graphing linear equations.

Seventh and Eighth Graders: The Pre-Algebra class is working on relations and functions. We will be starting with slopes of lines, equation of line in slope intercept form and graphing inequalities, and system of equations. The Geometry Class is working on properties of transformations and will be starting with properties of circles.
Mr. Gonzalez’s Class

Last month, my first two science classes completed ionic compounds including an introduction to acids and bases. They began working on covalently bonded compounds. We covered the structure and naming of simple carbon chains. We moved on to biological and artificial polymers, including carbohydrates, proteins, and plastics. Students prepared presentations for the “Pick a Polymer Project” (try saying that three times fast). Each student chose a polymer he/she considered interesting and gave a written and verbal presentation. Topics included cellulose, spider silk, PVC plastic, Teflon, and Kevlar.

We concluded the chemistry section of the course with a study of the properties of metal alloys and ceramics, two classes of materials essential to modern civilization.

We are now three weeks into the physics section of the course. We have covered Newton’s first, second, and third laws. We completed a simulation lab about the transfer of momentum in collisions. We are now studying work and energy.
Ms. Laura’s Class

Autumn is our top priority with learning concepts: from leaves changing color because of trees and plants going dormant, to the different ways seeds blossom from sprout to vine or tree. The result is either a pumpkin or an apple, with beautiful blossoms of a bright yellow flower or pink and white flowers. One of our activities was finding a surprise star in the middle of a cut apple. Painting with this beauty of nature was a delight to all the children. Clocks will be pushed back for Daylight Savings, and the children all have an interesting take on this fact. Math is a bit of a challenge with adding and subtracting. A majority of the class is working with two digit numbers.
Ms. Abedi’s Class

Upper Class: Students have spent several lessons learning about a range of persuasive devices that they have successfully implemented in their writing. For this, students have been allowed to select a topic of their choice and persuade the reader that it is a significant issue. A range of topics were written about from littering, giving money to charity to selecting the right type of soccer shoe. Furthermore, students also used persuasive devices to engage in a role play in which they participated in a debate. This was an incredibly productive activity which allowed all students to enhance their speaking and listening skills. This made it very difficult to select the winners. In the end, the award was given to Humza Zaidi and Kendall Flythe. In reading class, we have finished the first book in The Hunger Games trilogy and are now beginning the second one. Students are about to begin some script writing for this which will ultimately lead to a whole school performance.

Lower Class: Students have been engrossed in writing their autobiographies. The autobiographies were exceptional and presented in assembly to the rest of the school. Students have also been learning about Fables with Mr. Andrew. In reading class, we have been continuing with The Boy in Stripped Pajamas. At the moment, students are working in groups to create a PowerPoint about a character from the novel. These presentations will be shown once we have completed the book. Recently, students have been involved in the creation of a learning log. These are used to encourage creativity when completing home learning tasks. A home learning task will be given on a Friday and will be due on the following Thursday. As students work through their books, they will be made available for you all to review.
Ms. Jessica’s Class

In Second Grade Math, we are continuing our unit on graphs. We have studied bar, circle, and line graphs. We still review multiplication facts and place value by playing games and working in our A Beka books.

In Language Arts, we have finished several writing assignments. Look for them on the Bulletin Board. We continue to work on spelling every week. Grammar lessons include syllables and contractions.

In Fourth Grade Language Arts, we have just finished A Wrinkle in Time. Look for the final project and several other writing assignments on the Bulletin Board. We are starting our new book this week. In writing, we are working on putting our ideas in order and using paragraphs.
Ms. Renee’s Class

Reading/Writing: In our writing workshop class, we will cover all fundamental principles of writing. Our ultimate goal is to gain the ability to write a complete draft and make revisions. We are also reading modern and contemporary literature. These readings provide critical thinking and vocabulary boosters. We are finishing up with descriptive writing this week and will start on persuasive writing next week.

Third and Fourth Grad Science: In our Science class, we call ourselves scientists. We enjoy observing, questioning research, drawing conclusions, and experimenting. We use our laboratory journals to track our progress and daily activities. So far we have covered studying Science, the engineering process, plant structures and planets. Currently, we are learning about the properties of matter and will start learning about energy sources next week.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

The above quotation captures much about the essence of Pinnacle’s goals. Instead of merely achieving the minimum required as exemplified by public schooling, we ask our students for more: “to think intensively and think critically.” Students must strive to think outside of the box, to think about the world in a critical way. When students hone their abilities to think critically and thoughtfully, they become independent learners. In other words, they are able to learn for themselves without the guidance of a teacher. In fact, learning becomes an intrinsically enjoyable activity.

Critical thinking taught at school can and should be applied to the real world. Furthermore, “character” is emphasized at Pinnacle as illustrated by our strict etiquette and behavioral standards.

While our learning standards may be accelerated, this does not mean that underperforming students will be “left behind.” Those students in need of more attention will receive it until they reach their full potential. Pinnacle views all of its students as important assets; Pinnacle students, and students in general, are our future. As such, it is contingent upon us to sharpen the minds and characters of those who will lead us in coming years.

Welcome Golden October

October Newsletterautumn-background-set-design-elements_1085-423

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.
– John Dewey

INTRODUCTION

September marked an excellent beginning to the school year; the first full month nears an end. As the month ends, we enter Fall and October rears its beautiful, multicolored head. October will mark the second month of the term at Pinnacle, so students should be accustomed to the rules and regulations of the school by this point.

Calendar Note

No School: October 7th and October 10th
Report Cards: October 21st

WORLD PROJECT

This year the school is focusing on the idea of global interconnectedness. The world we inhabit becomes increasingly interwoven each day. For example, events in the United States affect what happens in Turkey and vice versa. As such, it is critical for students to understand and comprehend the complexity of a world defined by globalization.
So far, upper-level students have chosen countries to focus on over the next several weeks. Each week a report is due relating to an aspect of their chosen country. Students then present their written work in front of the school. A wide range of nations were chosen by students for this ongoing project, so we have gotten to hear about Iran’s culture from Ali Ravjani and the economy of Armenia from Mehdi Kizilbash (among many others!).
As the year proceeds, students will gain a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the interrelatedness of the globe in general and the elements of their chosen nation for study in particular.

OCTOBER

For many, October is synonymous with a shift in foliage coloration and Halloween. While Halloween is a perennial holiday celebrated with zest by many in the United States, I will focus on a wholly different holiday here.
Columbus Day – October 10thhappy-columbus-day-background_23-2147567358
Columbus Day celebrates the “discovery” of the New World by Christopher Columbus on October 12, 1492. The holiday is officially observed on the second Tuesday of October. The Knights of Columbus originally petitioned for Columbus Day to become an official holiday in 1882, though it was not until 1937 that President Roosevelt proclaimed it a holiday. President Nixon mandated Columbus Day a statutory holiday in 1971.
The holiday can be viewed as a celebration of global connectedness, an “expansion” of the globe from a distinctly European point of view. Yet the holiday itself raises many questions: What of those people already living in (what would later become) the Americas before Columbus’ arrival? Why do so many uncritically accept that Columbus “discovered” America? What exactly is the definition of “discover”? These sorts of questions can be directly applied to current events, especially those events filtered through a predominantly Western lens. Global interconnectivity, while having many positive features, also requires us to think of the ways that those in power distort and create history. It is imperative for us to account for such power dynamics when discussing globalization.

TEACHERS’ CORNER – WHAT’S HAPPENING AT PINNACLE?

Teachers and students have accomplished a great deal so far, gliding along at an accelerated pace. Below are details from each class regarding past and current coursework:

MRS. LAURA: LOWER-LEVEL MATH & LANGUAGE ARTS

Our Kindergarteners and First graders are learning sentence structure. Capital at the beginning and punctuation at the end of the sentence. We are starting the day learning about how many days there are in a week and how many days in a month. We end circle time with states and capitals while working on our awesome Lone Star state and working toward the West Coast.
Math for our group is working on 1-100 and using number lines in adding. Some of our students are moving on to double digit adding as well as next ascending number and previous value number. We have also started basic word problems; “in all” has been included as a key word to signal adding in basic word problems.
For spelling we are working with sight words and our more advanced students are working on double vowel usage.
Reading in different levels in number of words per book, sight words and comprehension. There are different stories from basic cause and effect to chapter books. Introduced computer book reading with questions at the end to understand comprehension.
I would appreciate that you ask questions the next time you read with the kids, both at the beginning and the end of the story. This enables them to remain engaged with the story.

MISS JESSICA: LOWER-LEVEL MATH & LANGUAGE ARTS

In 2nd grade math, we are reviewing our multiplication tables, place value, and rounding. We have had so much fun playing multiplication bingo and races, place value shuffleboard, and building numbers. We also practice these skills in our math journal and math workbooks.
In 2nd grade Language Arts, we have been discussing characters, plots, problems/solutions, and summaries. Also, we have reviewed grammar basics such as capitalization, punctuation, syllables, and nouns. We have also reviewed adjectives; they really enjoyed creating their Name poems.
In 4th grade Language Arts, we have jumped into our novel A Wrinkle in Time. We are learning about characters, predictions, and vocabulary. Your student has a packet in his or her binder related to the novel where they answer discussion questions as well as in their journal. We have also been reviewing nouns that represent a person, place, or thing. In our workbooks, we are reviewing sentences and fragments.
In pre-k Language Arts, we have started a “making words” unit.  This is a great way for the students to learn letter patterns and sight words. We are reviewing rhyming words and have daily entries in our journals. We also have before, during, and after questions relating to our daily read alouds.

PRESCHOOL

Your preschoolers are enjoying learning the alphabet, vowels, days, months, and weather conditions of the season through songs, games, and repeat practice.  Currently we are working to count and recognize numbers to 30. Through books and practice we are decoding short vowel words and identifying sight words. Manners and sharing are a focus during playtimes, as are large and small motor activities.
Reading to your preschoolers and having them speak in complete sentences at home will have a huge impact in the classroom.

MISS MELISSA

Morning Math Class has been working like a boss in the 1st grade! We have been leaning about place value, comparing numbers, telling time, and the value of money. We are soaring through the basics of addition and subtraction. We have some great things in store! I have a wonderful group that is eager to learn and be engaged in our lessons. Primarily, we are striving to be the masters of multiplication!
Morning Pre-K class is a lively group who are attentive in learning their vowels. Go on and ask them about the power of the vowels! They can show you with their five magic fingers and will say, “I got you!” We are learning the sound of all letters of the alphabet. We have placed special emphasis on the letters A-G. We are working hard and learning The 100 Most Frequently Used Words chart. All of the children are accelerating! They should be reading in no time! We are also practicing counting up to thirty. This group makes me smile at the funny, adorable things they say! What a great thing is a young mind!
2nd Grade Reading group students are competing to be the best readers! They are all getting better and better each day! I love encouraging reading and making the story come alive! With our imaginations at work, we have read several chapters of Oliver Twist. We are just past the part of the book when Oliver has been sought out as the kid who was falsely accused of stealing and is set before a judge. I look forward to building a connection with your child and giving them a passion for reading!

MRS. ANU

7th-8th Grade

The Pre-Algebra class is currently learning about multi-step equations and inequalities, GCF and LCM for monomials, and he Rules of Exponents. The Geometry class is currently focusing on the Two Column Proof for Congruence of the Triangle as well as Relationships within Triangles.

5th-6th Grade

Students are working on decimals (complex multiplication and division). Geometric figures are also being studied: points, lines, planes, circles, and congruent figures.

MR. GONZALEZ

1st class: General Science
We have started with an introduction to chemistry. In week 1, we identified the different classes of substances: elements, compounds and mixtures. We learned that chemistry is the rearrangement of atoms to form new molecules, and the difference between a chemical and physical change. We saw how to use the periodic table to find basic structure of the different kinds of atoms. We looked at the properties and defining qualities of different groups of elements in the periodic table: metals (alkali, alkali earth, and transition), and nonmetals (metalloids, halogens, and noble gases), and learned the differences in their atoms that give rise to their characteristic properties.
In week 2, we went into more detail about how electrons are organized around the atomic nucleus and how atoms of different elements become bonded to each other. We learned how to name compounds and determine their formulas and weights. We learned to read and balance equations for simple chemical reactions.
In week 3, we introduced four kinds of chemical reaction and demonstrated a reaction with the “elephant’s toothpaste” decomposition of hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen, and the double replacement reaction of silver nitrate and sodium chloride to make silver chloride and sodium nitrate. We introduced covalent bonding and compared covalent compounds like sugar to the ionic compounds we have been working with. We also introduced the idea of solutions and solubility.
Second Class
We covered the same material as class 1, but in somewhat more depth and with the addition of quantitative chemistry, i.e., determining how much product can be obtained from a given quantity of reactants.
Third Class
This is general science for a younger group. In the first week we covered the cell and its organelles. The second week was an overview of tissues and organ systems such as respiratory and digestive systems. A microscope with excellent slides was used for illustration. In addition to individual viewing by students, we are able to project microscope images for class discussion. The third week covered the classification of animals into kingdom, phyla, class, order, family, genus and species, with many examples.

MR. ANDREW

Writing
The upper-level writing course is off to a swift start. Each week students are introduced to a set of SAT vocabulary words. On Wednesdays, students spend the class responding to an SAT writing prompt; with a little work, they should be able to master the writing portion of the SAT.
Students completed a personal narrative about their summer vacation during the first week of class and a Character Imitation during the second. We are currently working on thesis formation, essay structure, and expository writing.
Alongside writing and vocabulary are brief discussions of grammar issues. Logical fallacies are introduced, as learning about logical fallacies is essential when it comes to countering poorly constructed and often tricky arguments; knowing about logical fallacies also allows students to avoid using them in their own writing.
Reading
We began this course by reading and composing a Fable. After that, we read Horace Miner’s “Body Ritual Among the Nacerima” as a way to see how language can distort reality.
We are currently working our way through The Hunger Games. Several thematic elements of the novel have been discussed, primarily its dystopian elements and its likeness to reality television. On a closer level of textual analysis, we discussed naming and connotation in the novel. Students are currently working on an artistic project as well as composing a first-person dystopian short story of their own. In the coming weeks we will shift focus and begin using textual evidence to support claims about the novel.

MRS. JAYA

4th and 5th graders have completed Place Value, Estimation, Addition and Subtraction with and without Estimation and Properties of Addition. They are now working on Larger Sums and Differences. On completion, we will be moving on to Properties of Multiplication and 2 & 3-digit Multiplication.
6th and 7th graders worked on Decimal System and Operation with Whole Numbers. They are now working on Geometric Figures, Angle Measurements, Perpendicular and Angle Bisectors, Area and Circumference of Circles, which is nearing completion. We will be starting our next unit on Fractions and continue to work on it.
Every week we will have a Test or Pop Quiz.

MRS. ABEDI

Reading & Writing 7th-8th GradeWe started the term by writing about “Our Summer Vacation.” This has been a great opportunity for me to get to know them and for pupils to share their experiences with one another. At the moment, pupils are writing a creative piece of narrative entitled “The Unexpected.” Students are engrossed in the world of The Hunger Games this term. So if they can’t stop reading, you’ll know why.

Reading & Writing 5th- 6th Grade

Pupils have started a uni called “Me, Myself and I” which focuses on the different types of writing styles. So far we have examined diary writing and sensory descriptions. Pupils have also been learning about the Holocaust in relation to our first novel of the year, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

CLOSING THOUGHT

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“All I know is that I know nothing.” –Socrates
The above quotation from Socrates seems paradoxical. How can one know anything if one knows nothing? Furthermore, how does this quotation relate to education? Socrates is of course being hyperbolic in his sentiment. He knows something, of course; however, in the grand scheme of things he knows very little.
Though this quotation has many different interpretations, it is worth gleaning a general message from it relative to education: Self-awareness of our own ignorance—no matter the subject, whether it be writing or mathematics or science—is a key factor in the first steps toward authentic learning. We must, in a way, admit our own ignorance. Viewing oneself as perfect or “good enough” is a pathway toward failure and intellectual stagnation.
How does this relate to the students at Pinnacle Prep? Every student enters the classroom believing they know more than they do; this is universal. I did and I still do, speaking as a student of life.  This is perhaps the basis for the etymology of the word “sophomore” (“wise fool”). We all think we know more than we actually do because our often ignorance prevents us from imagining the unknown.
Ultimately, Socrates’ quotation should be read with optimism. Reminding ourselves—teachers and students—each day that we know less than we think provides the conditions necessary for the possibility of learning. It creates a vibrant world full of potential.
A brief example: Ancient Greek scholars performed writing tasks called progymnasmata. In these tasks, students were directed to write in a specific form (a fable, for instance). Writing the fable one time was not sufficient. The fable would be re-written until the fable neared perfection, or at least until it was deemed acceptable. This is a goal of writing, learning, and teaching: to take what is merely acceptable and to transform it into something remarkable. If students can see that they know nothing—or at least know less than they imagine—then they can obviously imagine a world in which they know more. This can indeed be difficult because writing well is much like acquiring spoken language; we all know that we can speak, we just can’t pinpoint when we mastered (if such a thing can be done!) language. There was no single Eureka! moment because the process of language acquisition moves at a very slow pace. Similarly, developing writing skills can be slow. It is difficult to feel or know improvement until a student reflects back on the weeks of work.
This goes for every subject, too. Want to know how well you’ve progressed in math? Compare your work today with your work a few months ago. The moment of realization may render one speechless!
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.

Closing

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

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“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.

funny-animals-collection_23-2147505702Sharkarosa

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

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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!

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
freebie_bunting

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