September 2016

Message From Michèle: A New Chapter at MCS

Blog Type:  From the Directors Date Posted:  Friday, September 16, 2016 Byline:  By Michèle Solá, Director

Dear MCS Community,

The work and the fun have started again. We begin a new chapter in Manhattan Country School history, celebrating our 50th anniversary with a sense of hope and promise that our mission has as much relevance as ever. Nurturing a community dedicated to diversity, social justice, progressive education and sustainability is a collective undertaking and from this point forward more families will help it thrive in a new home.

In 1966, MCS opened amid vivid television images of the civil rights struggles. In 2016, the backdrop remains a constant reminder of how much work is yet to be done. Much has transpired in between. Racial justice, gender equity and environmental stewardship have been the subject of great debates. Our sliding-scale tuition system and the philanthropic support it requires to sustain economic diversity are both part of our identity and systemic challenges year after year. Our students, having learned to listen carefully to one another and to ask challenging questions, emerge with a strong sense of identity and determination to make the world better. Our alumni tell the story of the impact of an MCS education long after graduation. They are competent, confident and active in so many ways.

Racial justice, lasting resolutions to conflicts without violence and access to good education remain elusive in any comprehensive sense. Education models like MCS prepare citizens for our democracy that are thoughtful, creative and principled. Models like MCS, whose history includes five decades of developing, revising and testing curriculum and pedagogy aligned with a progressive mission, are rare. Models that can point to replication and adaptation of this work in both public and private schools in communities both local and global are even more so.

Reinventing MCS and the celebration of having reached a milestone make for an engaging year. I look forward to watching children grow, and a community come together.

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Food Fosters Strong Community Connections at the Farm

Blog Type:  Dispatches From the Farm Date Posted:  Friday, September 23, 2016 Byline:  By John McDaniel, Farm Director

Students pressing apples at the MCS FarmAt the Manhattan Country School Farm, strong connections are made through food. The kitchen is the heart of our community. The products that are grown, raised and harvested in our garden, barn, greenhouse, orchard and sap house reach us all through the hands that prepare meals and by eating and celebrating each meal, family style, in the farmhouse dining room.

At the MCS Farm, we work to restore the soil that gives us our bounty and through this work we nurture our human connections. We broaden these basic relationships by sharing our work at the Farm with our larger MCS community on West 85th Street. Cattle and pigs, raised by MCS students, supply beef and pork for school lunches. Extra produce from our gardens also find their way to lunch plates. This week, the seventh- and eighth-grade students of Norte homeroom picked bushels of McIntosh apples at a nearby orchard. Cider was pressed, apples were eaten by hand and several bushels were loaded on Friday’s Farm bus to be enjoyed by the entire school next week.

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Seventh- and Eighth-Graders Hone Cooking Skills at the Farm

Blog Type:  Dispatches From the Farm Date Posted:  Friday, September 30, 2016 Byline:  By John McDaniel, Farm Director

7th & 8th Graders at the Farm The kitchen at the Manhattan Country School Farm is central to our farm-based education program. Without meals, cooked from scratch by our students, all other work and play couldn’t happen. Without the well-balanced menu that is created and prepared throughout the day, our Farm community would be running on empty.

From their very first trip in the 7-8s, our students are involved in all stages of food preparation. Learning the proper use of kitchen tools, performing the math necessary to double or quadruple recipes, exploring food sciences and working cooperatively are just a few of many lessons learned. The work in the Farm kitchen is revisited and practiced during each Farm trip, culminating in a graduation meal prepared by each student. Working in partnership, and on their own, pairs of students create a meal using ingredients grown and raised on the MCS farm.

This week, students in Seventh- and Eighth-Grade Sur cooked for the Farm community. Dishes included chicken and broccoli stir fry, chili and cornbread, and honey-glazed chicken with sides of salted malt potatoes and pesto green beans. They researched the recipes, assembled the raw ingredients and timed the preparation to meet the schedule of dinner. Each meal was met with applause from classmates as they enjoyed each other's company and the hard work of friends.

7th & 8th Graders at the Farm

 

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Exploring Ecosystems on the Bronx River

Blog Type:  Curriculum Spotlight Date Posted:  Friday, September 30, 2016 Byline:  By Alaina Daniels, Upper School Science Teacher, and Flannery Denny, Math Specialist

7th & 8th Graders at Rocking the Boat Seventh- and Eighth-Grade Norte engaged in a hands-on examination of the Bronx River with Rocking the Boat this week. While working together to row wooden Whitehall 14s,  students spied schools of fish, colonies of mussels and barnacles, and great blue herons. In addition, they examined several environmental restoration projects including oyster colonies and eel mops. Students and teachers also donned waders to seine for fish and crabs before identifying their catch using a dichotomous key.

This field study allowed students to examine the complex interactions between members of this estuarine environment in their natural habitat and discuss how species diversity promotes resilient ecosystems. Students also explored the influence of anthropogenic impacts on the environment, including the dredging of the river, the draining of the marshes and the restoration work currently underway. The annual Rocking the Boat trip ties into our students' ongoing study of ecosystems and fosters exploration and team-building.

Rocking the Boat was founded by MCS alumnus Adam Green '87.  In addition to hosting school groups and offering apprenticeships for high school students in boat building, environmental education and sailing, the organization hosts free community rowing and sailing days on the Bronx River between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

 

7th & 8th Graders at Rocking the Boat 7th & 8th Graders at Rocking the Boat 7th & 8th Graders at Rocking the Boat

 

 

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