Assembly and a special birthday

During Friday’s assembly, we celebrated the birthday one of our long-time teachers, Natasha Jahrsdoerfer. The gift and card presentation illustrated some of the many things that are special about North Branch. Natasha was given a basket of notes and cards from alumni. The basket was presented by one of Natasha’s former kindergarten students, who is also the daughter of Toni, our Junior Two teacher! Natasha also got cards from parents, current students, and board members. Then she was serenaded by the whole school:

We were also celebrating the 100th day of school! Natasha’s class made special hats with 100 stickers and Krista’s class brought in their collections of 100 things.

Collections included lego, hair bands, beans, corn and more

Michael’s native earth pottery elective showed us their final creations (more pictures to come later).  They built a pit kiln for this and dug up clay from a riverbank in our woods! This elective was made possible by a grant from The Lego Group.

Michael and the native earth elective show the finished items

Katrien’s middle school group has been memorizing The Constitution. After explaining to the younger students that it was like a “set of instructions” for our country, the older students shared it with the assembly:

One more video of the Juniors reciting their haikus to come!

NBS Students, Teacher, and School Honored at Writer's Eye Ceremony

On Sunday, March 20, the winners of the 24th annual Writer’s Eye contest were honored in an awards ceremony held in Campbell Hall at UVa.  NBS students Juniors Arlo Bloom and Nathan Vance, and Senior Eleanor Hawkes all received recognition for their award-winning entries, as did NBS Middle School teacher Katrien Vance.  Arlo earned an Honorable Mention in the 3rd – 5th grade Prose category; Nathan earned 3rd place in the same category, and Eleanor earned 2nd place.  Katrien earned 2nd place in the adult Poetry category.  Families, teachers, and the writers themselves gathered to hear the first-place winning pieces.  North Branch was recognized as one of only 4 area schools with multiple winners in this year’s contest.

Writer's Eye Winners from North Branch School

NBS Students, Teacher, and School Honored at Writer’s Eye Ceremony

On Sunday, March 20, the winners of the 24th annual Writer’s Eye contest were honored in an awards ceremony held in Campbell Hall at UVa.  NBS students Juniors Arlo Bloom and Nathan Vance, and Senior Eleanor Hawkes all received recognition for their award-winning entries, as did NBS Middle School teacher Katrien Vance.  Arlo earned an Honorable Mention in the 3rd – 5th grade Prose category; Nathan earned 3rd place in the same category, and Eleanor earned 2nd place.  Katrien earned 2nd place in the adult Poetry category.  Families, teachers, and the writers themselves gathered to hear the first-place winning pieces.  North Branch was recognized as one of only 4 area schools with multiple winners in this year’s contest.

Writer's Eye Winners from North Branch School

Guess the song…

from Friday’s assembly. Wait for the dramatic finish!

NBS Middle School Students Win Honors in Writing, Science

Recently, NBS Middle Schoolers have been honored with several local and state awards.

7th grader Audrey Wood won the Level II (7th and 8th grade) 1st place award for all of Virginia in the “Letters about Literature” Contest sponsored by the Library of Congress.  Her letter will go on to national judging this spring.  Audrey wrote to J.M. Barrie about the impact Peter Pan has had on her family’s life.  She was asked to read her award-winning letter at the Opening Ceremony for the Virginia Festival of the Book this past week.  Here is a link to pictures of that event:  http://www.vabook.org/index.html/.

8th graders Tess Kendrick and Lawson Johnson earned 1st place in their divisions in the Piedmont Regional Science Fair, held on March 15 at JPJ.  Their projects now have the potential to go on to national judging in Washington, DC; the state will winnow the 300 state winners down to 30.  Lawson’s project also earned the Air Force Award at the Science Fair.

Tess researched silkworm growth; Lawson tested glider flight

7th graders Audrey Wood and Dalton Tipler and 8th graders Ben Chambers and Louise Ferrall all earned Honorable Mention at the Piedmont Regional Science Fair.

We are very proud of our students and of their teachers Maggie Buchanan, Jebb Cuthbert, and Katrien Vance, who helped guide them to these honors.

Sing Autumn to May

Friday’s assembly, held in the Big Room amidst the science fair displays, was full of songs and music. There were so many videos I decided to put them in order from youngest students to oldest. The Primary students sang “Autumn to May” by Peter, Paul and Mary.

The Juniors sang a great round about love!

The Seniors also shared a round, this time it was Kumbaya with recorders.

Finally, Oscar’s middle school Spanish students sang “Que Bonito” by Dan Zanes.

A visit to see Wintergreen's maple syrup experiment

On Tuesday, March 8th, both Primary and Junior classes went up to Wintergreen Resort to see the sugar maple trees. The Wintergreen Nature Foundation has been experimenting with collecting maple syrup. Virginia has sugar maples along ridge lines and at higher elevations. This maple syrup experiment is on a small scale – last year, they made half a gallon (and collected the sap with snowshoes and a sled due to the big snowfall). This year, quite a few trees had collection bags, taps or tubes on them. The students were treated to a slide show, during which they learned about the different grades of maple syrup, the boiling process, how the Native Americans were the first to make maple syrup, and other interesting facts. It takes forty (!) gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. The sugar content of the sap is what determines the grade of the syrup. Early sap tends to produce lighter grades of syrup, and the late spring sap produces the darker grades. The darker grades (B & C) are used for candy, extracts and baking.

The clear sap turns into maple syrup at 218 degrees

The students got to try sap, syrup and maple sugar samples

We also got to hike and see the maple trees. There were two hikes – on both we got to see the trees and lots of rushing water (Wintergreen got almost four inches of rain over the weekend). Students were able to check out the taps, fill up some collection buckets, and see a piping system set up to collect sap from many trees at once.

 

Sap collection

 

The students got to try the sap straight from the tree

 

 

A visit to see Wintergreen’s maple syrup experiment

On Tuesday, March 8th, both Primary and Junior classes went up to Wintergreen Resort to see the sugar maple trees. The Wintergreen Nature Foundation has been experimenting with collecting maple syrup. Virginia has sugar maples along ridge lines and at higher elevations. This maple syrup experiment is on a small scale – last year, they made half a gallon (and collected the sap with snowshoes and a sled due to the big snowfall). This year, quite a few trees had collection bags, taps or tubes on them. The students were treated to a slide show, during which they learned about the different grades of maple syrup, the boiling process, how the Native Americans were the first to make maple syrup, and other interesting facts. It takes forty (!) gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. The sugar content of the sap is what determines the grade of the syrup. Early sap tends to produce lighter grades of syrup, and the late spring sap produces the darker grades. The darker grades (B & C) are used for candy, extracts and baking.

The clear sap turns into maple syrup at 218 degrees

The students got to try sap, syrup and maple sugar samples

We also got to hike and see the maple trees. There were two hikes – on both we got to see the trees and lots of rushing water (Wintergreen got almost four inches of rain over the weekend). Students were able to check out the taps, fill up some collection buckets, and see a piping system set up to collect sap from many trees at once.

 

Sap collection

 

The students got to try the sap straight from the tree

 

 

Did you know that George Washington Carver invented 325 different uses for leftover peanuts? Neither did I.

The rest of Friday’s assembly was very busy. We started off with a lovely gift. Melissa Hutchinson of the Wintergreen Nature Foundation came by school today to present science equipment from our teachers’ Wish Lists. This program is administered by the Wintergreen Nature Foundation and funded through a grant from the Nelson County Community Fund. Many thanks to everyone involved with these organizations. Our students and teachers will put these items to good use!

We received balances, test tube holders and other supplies!

Next, Natasha’s Primary II class shared their reports on famous African Americans. Each student showed their report cover and said a few words about why they chose the person they did. Subjects ranged from Faith Ringgold to Michael Jackson to Pele. One student did his report on George Washington Carver, which is where I learned the unusual peanut fact. More here.

Some of Natasha's students showing their report covers

Katrien led the Middle School and Senior Chorus in a rousing song about the Presidents:

Next, Charlotte congratulated Audrey Wood for her award-winning letter in the Letters About Literature contest. Audrey’s letter to J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan, won first place in the state-wide Level II Category (middle school). Here is Audrey’s letter:

Dear J.M. Barrie,

I believe that magic is important. It gets you through boring moments and helps you during sad times. Magic isn’t just superpowers or unnatural happenings; it’s happiness, wonder, love and imagination. Every little petal, leaf, and pebble is like a little miracle exploding with magic. Children can see the magic better because we don’t have as many responsibilities and hard choices to make. Some people lose touch with the magic in their lives as they get older. Peter Pan reminds people of the magic in their lives.

Before I was born, my Mimi and JimJim read Peter Pan to my older sister, Gwynne. It quickly became her favorite; whenever she spent the night, they would read it and play games. Gwynne was always Wendy, Mimi was Peter, and JimJim would play Captain Hook. When I was teeny tiny, Mimi would carry me around, telling Gwynne I was Tinker Bell. These games continued even after my little brother Jack was a toddler. After we stopped playing these games, Gwynne and I would go to Sherando Lake (another Mimi and JimJim tradition) and make contests out of who could find the most magical spots. Under tree roots, the little island, and tree trunks chewed by beavers were among our favorites. We almost expected little fairy people to peep out at us. Every year our parents and Mimi and JimJim give us Christmas tree ornaments. Out of all the ornaments, half are Peter Pan related and about a third of my personal ones are fairies. Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like if Gwynne didn’t like Peter Pan. My actual life wouldn’t be much different and I wouldn’t look that different, but I wouldn’t view my life the same way. I would be a completely different person; I don’t think I’d really be myself. Reading Peter Pan when I was little is a part of what makes me, me. Peter Pan taught my family to find the magic and adventure in life. Sometimes seeing the magic in life is almost as easy as swallowing candy and sometimes it’s much more difficult.

Magic is hard to describe. When it happens you know right way though. It makes you wonder why people fight and hate. Sometimes it makes you feel like you can do anything but sometimes it’s like you’re frozen; when you hike in the woods and see a colony of ants walking along, each one carrying a leaf way bigger than the ant itself you feel so big and empowered or when you look at the stars at night and it’s cold you get this magical humbling feeling. You just melt. It’s my favorite feeling. I have no doubt that out of all the books, poems, plays, and speeches I have ever read or listened to, yours made the biggest impact on me AND my family.

Your friend,

Audrey Wood

Charlotte and Audrey

Last, Oscar’s Middle School Spanish class gave a presentation on the weather in different countries. They held up their posters, talked about the weather, including minimum/maximum temperatures, annual rainfall and more. A Spanish question-and-answer period followed, with the presenters answering such questions as “What is your country?” or “What is the maximum rainfall in your country?” Good practice for everyone!

Oscar and the Middle School Spanish students