Torn Apart

February 24, 2014 by Bill Ivey

I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Usually, at the end of a show, especially on Opening Night, the cast either cheers and wanders off stage after the bows or simply wanders off stage. But as Meg Reilly, the music director, and Josh Carnes, the drummer, went into the exit music, these kids clearly did not want to leave, and it only took a few moments for the first one to turn to the girl standing next to her and wrap her in a long, warm hug which spread like, well, AIDS in the early 1990s, to choose a show-appropriate metaphor. Only, of course, on a much, much more positive note.

Before the show, Kim Mancuso, the stage director of the play, had gathered us all together on stage for an Opening Night ritual that marked and acknowledged the importance of each and every possible relationship among us in pulling off this incredibly complex and powerful show. When Tom Geha, the lighting technician, and I returned to the tech table, he said, “You know, you probably don’t even think about it because you see them every day, but I was looking around and it really hits you how young they are.” Rent is an ambitious show for people of any age, but it is an exceptional challenge for teenagers and pre-teens (three cast members were seventh graders) to immerse themselves for three months in the world of New York City’s East Village in the early 1990s, when many of the starving young artists were HIV-positive and/or had come down with full-blown AIDS. In that context, it was perhaps even more of a challenge for these kids to put themselves out there on stage for all to see.

Filed Under: LGBT Support, Beautifully different, diversity, Performing Arts, performing, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School

Quite a Way to Go

October 28, 2013 by Bill Ivey

"That Rock Band," a parent said, shaking his head. Clearly searching for words, he added, "Wow." It was not an uncommon reaction, and when I emailed my usual post-concert congratulations to the group, I told them about the moment and noted, "Yes, you performed that well; you literally left people speechless." It's true, from the first notes pounded out on the piano as they slammed through "Yoü and I" by Lady Gaga, through the last, sweet harmonies held over a cymbal roll and an echoing piano chord as they ended "Just the Way You Are" by Bruno Mars et al, they were amazing, all of them: Bonnie, Charlotte, Heather, Jin, Joy, Joyce, McKim, Molly, Natalie, Olivia, and Susan. And when I pointed out that the vocalists wrote all the harmonies themselves, the speechless factor among audience members rose even higher.

This is just our first performance, just a few weeks into the year. While six members of last year's group returned and one moved up from the middle school band, four were brand new, and one of those was a complete beginner to her instrument. Yet, they came together so thoroughly and so rapidly that we chose and began working on our next two songs even before the first performance, something we have only rarely been able to do in the past.

Filed Under: gender, find your voice, girls' education, Lady Gaga, Rock Band, Performing Arts, girls' school, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School

Not Long Enough

May 28, 2013 by Bill Ivey

Spearth Day was born of a series of compromises, but has become one of the key dates in the waning weeks of our school year. Many years ago, the students asked for a special day to celebrate the mailman who played such an important role in their lives (today's students, for whom email is old-fashioned and texting is routine, would probably find this odd). We called it "M and M Day" for "Mail Man Day," and besides presenting him with a card and gifts when he finally showed, we played an all-school game of Capture the Flag and found other ways to celebrate. Over time, M and M Day evolved and became more organized - for one thing, the tradition of the talent show was begun. Meanwhile, earlier in the spring, Earth Day remained a day off for service - cleaning up local parks and rivers, clearing trails, and so on. The two days were eventually combined into one, and the name "Spearth Day" comes from "Spring-Earth Day." We spend the morning doing various service projects on- and off-campus, have the Talent Show after lunch, follow that with games and booths organized by classes and clubs, dedicate the yearbook and pass out copies, and end with a barbecue. This year, for a special treat, there will be a dance performance by the Senior IB dancers.

Filed Under: Spearth Day, Teaching, Alumnae, School Happenings, On Education, Bill Ivey, Celebrating Holidays, Beautifully different, On Parenting, community, In the Classroom, Performing Arts, performing, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Graduation, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School

Songs in the Key of Life

March 18, 2013 by Bill Ivey

(title taken from the title of Stevie Wonder's masterwork album, released in 1976)

Filed Under: Teaching, School Happenings, gender, Bill Ivey, 141 Reasons, Beautifully different, finding your voice, diversity, Rock Band, All Girls Education, Feminism, Performing Arts, performing, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Jose Vilson

Temporary Home

March 06, 2013 by Bill Ivey

Earlier today, I moved the beanbags out of our classroom in the back of the library and into the Mac Lab. With Upper School exams taking place in the library, the sounds of happy, engaged 7th graders immersed in writing original plays were probably going to be less welcome than usual, so we were taking up a temporary home for the rest of the finals period. When I walked into class later in the day, the beanbags had been arranged in a tight oval between the rows of computers and everyone was curled up or sprawled out, backpacks and books and pencil cases and water bottles strewn wherever they had happened to land. "You all look so comfortable, " I said. "Do we need to do an impromptu Morning Reading?" "Yes!" they all chorused, and I tiptoed through the library, past Ms. Nuno's students bent over the exams, and grabbed my coffee-stained copy of "Ingathering" by Zenna Henderson so we could read further into the story "Wilderness." I found a spot in the oval, opened the book, and began to read.

Filed Under: On Education, In the Classroom, Performing Arts, Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School

Seeing the Trees Within the Forest

February 26, 2013 by Bill Ivey

Sometimes, you can't see the trees for the forest. Especially when your eyes are deliberately closed.

Filed Under: Middle School, Teaching, gender, The Girls School Advantage, On Education, Bill Ivey, diversity, All Girls Education, Feminism, Performing Arts, Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School, Women in media, Oscars, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Jose Vilson

Resolution

January 03, 2013 by Bill Ivey

Annual discussions of whether making New Year's resolutions serves any purpose, and if so how best to make them, are by now as much a part of New Year's traditions as the resolutions themselves. But for those of us who teach, the chance to make mid-course adjustments is often irresistible. That tug may be especially strong in a year when many teachers report a more subdued holiday season than usual with the events of Sandy Hook so fresh in our minds.

Filed Under: Teaching, 2013, On Education, Celebrating Holidays, community, In the Classroom, sandy hook, Performing Arts, new year, Education

Moving Mountains

November 16, 2012 by Bill Ivey

For January 1, 2000, my mom and stepdad helped our family assemble a time capsule which we would open exactly 20 years later. Among other things, we were asked to respond to a list of questions about our favourite things. For my favourite sports team, after some thought, I put the SBS varsity basketball team. My son's sports career had not yet begun, and after years of running the scoreboard for home games, I felt a deep connection to the program.

Filed Under: gender, athletics, In the Classroom, Performing Arts, Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School

In Community

November 13, 2012 by Bill Ivey

All knowledge is held in community. - Peter Sellars

Filed Under: Teaching, Alumnae, All-Girls, The Girls School Advantage, On Education, Bill Ivey, Beautifully different, Girls Schools, community, arts, All Girls Education, Boarding School, Performing Arts, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Education

From Calgary And Back: A Letter of Thanks From PB

November 09, 2012 by Guest Faculty Bloggers

The Owl has finally landed, and our three excellent speakers are back in the fold. In preparation for the competition in Calgary, our work actually began in July: Caroline Lord and Mary Pura enrolled in Debate Camp and spent the week writing, polishing, and rehearsing. Jane Logan spent a month acting in New York City and New Haven. They return to us with rave reviews, very high marks, and several awards. I am still receiving emails from other coaches about these three. They loved their performances, and they loved the way they represented SBS in Canada.

Filed Under: Teaching, School Happenings, community, Performing Arts, The Faculty Perspective, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Debate and Public Speaking, Education