On Wednesday, September 17, Forms V and VI, accompanied by College Guidance Counselor Sanford Pelz, Head of Upper School James Reynolds, Dean of Faculty Michael Ingrisani and history teacher Stephen Jasikoff boarded a coach bus for the School's annual College Trip. Mr. Reynolds reports as follows: After leaving the curb on East 62nd Street at 7:40 a.m., the group traveled to Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., for an information session, tour and lunch. While at F&M, Browning students and faculty were able to catch up with Ani Akpan '14 during the dining hall meal. The next stop on the trip was Gettysburg College, where the boys heard from admission sessions, toured the campus and ate dinner. Farouk Oni '13 dropped by the dining hall to say hello to all and was greeted warmly by members of Form V, many of whom remember his contribution to their Browning experience as a Peer Leader of their Form III class.
Day two took us to the beautiful campuses of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and the University of Richmond for admission sessions, tours and meals. At Richmond the students were very pleased to catch up with Aaron Parisier '14 and Anthony Builder '13.
Our final day on Friday, September 19, included visits to Johns Hopkins University and Loyola University Maryland, both in Baltimore. Kyle Johnson '13, a junior and mechanical engineering major at Hopkins, joined us for lunch. Our last campus visit was paid to Loyola where the boys toured the campus before boarding the bus to return to Browning.
As intended and choreographed by Mr. Pelz, the trip exposed the forms to small liberal arts colleges, large research universities, and schools in between. The students represented Browning admirably and made the trip a pleasure for all. View photos.
Again this year, the fifth grade boys enjoyed a class trip to Mystic Seaport, Mystic, Conn. This historical port, once a whaling community, has been painstakingly preserved. Accompanied by Messrs. Lisciandrello, Ragsdale and Dunham, the boys also visited the Mystic Aquarium and the Mashantucket Pequot Museum. Mr. Dunham noted, "The boys were incredibly invested in learning and made their teachers proud with their thoughtful questions and curiosity." View photos.
Last week the boys in Grade 6 and Form I enjoyed a Middle School Assembly consisting of a team-building challenge in Central Park. The boys worked together in small groups to successfully complete nine challenges hosted by their teachers. Teachers devised their own unique challenges for the boys, including a rap game, tag, speed charades, “Squares are Fun,” simile challenge, Ping, “Heads Up,” “Human Knot” and the possible uses for a napkin. By participating in physical contests, as well as ones requiring more cerebral problem-solving skills, the boys tested their patience, leadership and team spirit, celebrating with a well-deserved donut treat at the games’ conclusion. View photos.
The September 18 Lower School Assembly provided an opportunity for Assistant Headmaster/Lower School Head Laurie Gruhn to introduce none other than the Panther mascot and a new birthday tradition. As always, the Panther plays a starring role in giving a handshake or high five to Browning boys celebrating birthdays. When September celebrants were recognized that morning, they chose to come forward or not, with shyness setting in for the youngest boys. Regardless, Ms. Gruhn announced each boy’s name, his birthday date, and presented him with a gift. This year the boys received a badge to adhere to a backpack, etc., in lieu of the pencils given last year.
Ms. Gruhn asked the boys to volunteer what they have been reading lately. She requested that they state the author’s name as well. One boy, who had read the entire series of “Magic Tree House” books by Mary Pope Osborne, explained that while he didn’t like the first one, he loved the last one, as it was “full of adventures.”
Another highlight of the morning was hearing from three Grade Four boys who each provided a synopsis of a current event. Perhaps they were partly inspired by Head of Upper School Jim Reynolds’ advice during Opening Assembly on September 8 when he said, “You are the future of this country and the leaders of tomorrow. Become engaged in the world around you.”
The first news item discussed by the fourth graders concerned an accomplishment many Browning boys might relate to based on their own experience with 3-D printers in technology class. Local Motors, a Phoenix, Arizona-based company, recently introduced the electric Strati car, built from a 3-D printer onsite at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago. The name of the car means “layers” in Italian, giving a nod to the fact that most 3-D printers work by repeatedly layering and building up material to achieve the final product.
The second item highlighted news that California intends to ban disposable plastic bags. In fact, the state is the first to recently pass a bill banning these bags. If signed into law, grocery and retail stores will be prohibited from providing single-use plastic bags and required to charge at least 10 cents for paper bags, compostable bags and reusable plastic bags. The Browning School’s Green Team has been involved with a similar initiative by New York City Council members.
The final current event discussed at the assembly was Microsoft’s expansion of its video game empire. Microsoft recently paid $2.5 billion for Mojang, the company behind the immensely popular building-block video game Minecraft.
Lower School boys can look forward to many more informative assemblies, including Ms. Warner’s discussion of the ever-popular Composer of the Month. Stay tuned! View photos.
On Tuesday, September 16, the 24th Annual Alumni Soccer Game was held on Randall's Island. As is tradition, a team made up of alumni and faculty took on the varsity team. The varsity team emerged victorious with a final score of 3-1. Alumni ranging from the classes of 1992-2009 attended, with a particularly strong showing from the Class of 2008. Special thanks to faculty members Dan Ragsdale and Jeff Lisciandrello who played in the game, and also to Christine Bramble, Jeremy Katz '04 and Jim Simon who attended. The Alumni Association wishes the varsity team a wonderful season. Go Panthers! View photos.
On the first Friday of the school year, College Guidance Counselor Sanford Pelz and Upper School Head James Reynolds accompanied Form VI boys on a retreat to the Sal J. Prezioso Mountain Lakes Park in northern Westchester County for a day of activities, including low- and high-ropes challenges. Mr. Reynolds reports: "The weather was gorgeous, and the boys were enthusiastic and fully engaged with both the activities and each other. Under the guidance of facilitators from the Mountain Workshop, the ropes challenges gave the boys the opportunity to operate in teams as well as to challenge themselves individually. The class worked cohesively on the low-ropes courses and fully supported each member as he pushed himself to try to complete the high-ropes elements."
Mr. Reynolds added, "It was a perfect start for what we all hope will be a very successful year for the Class of 2015. The boys demonstrated all of the qualities that have made this class standouts already: courage, ambition, empathy and 'grytte'. " View photos.
As is tradition, Browning boys in Grade One through Form VI, along with the entire school community, assembled in Christ Church for Opening Assembly on September 8. The stroll to the church under blue skies and sunshine provided a great opportunity to greet old friends and make new ones.
Headmaster Clement greeted the community and extended a particular welcome to new boys and faculty. He gave particular thanks to the “amazing” construction crew and the maintenance staff for their incredible hard work in readying the building for the first day of school after a summer of extensive construction and renovation. Headmaster Clement noted that the work has been completed, “with all the pieces falling into place but for a few.” He thanked the faculty for “being good sports and showing their ‘grytte.’ ” He read Browning’s mission and diversity statements, then introduced music teachers David Prestigiacomo and Lucy Warner. Mr. Prestigiacomo asked the fourth grade boys to come forward and help lead the singing of the school song. Remarks from the student government president followed; he asked that Browning boys "take leadership roles" in the coming year.
Mr. Clement noted that throughout the summer, he counted on the division heads Laurie Gruhn (Lower School) Chris Dunham (Middle School) and Jim Reynolds (Upper School), to help him prepare for the new year. Each offered welcoming remarks. Ms. Gruhn quoted former Headmaster Charles W. Cook ’38 who felt his own success was due to the personal interest his Browning teachers took in him. “There is a unique spirit that sets Browning apart from other schools,” he once said. Ms. Gruhn concluded by advising the boys to “reach for the stars!”
Mr. Dunham spoke of the extensive additions and renovations to the School over the past three years, from the new lobby, library, dining hall and central stairway, to the expansion of the Lower Gym and numerous other improvements. He noted that while the building itself is new in so many ways, Browning’s mission remains the same: to be the best that we can be. To that end, Mr. Dunham said, "While it is just fantastic to have such a state of the art, crisp, attractive 'new' Browning building, it is the 'old' Browning School that matters the most. Have a terrific new year in our new building, but keep it old school!"
Mr. Reynolds commented on the numerous events that occurred over the summer, both in the U.S. and around the world, from the tragedy in Missouri to the jubilation at the U.S. Open. “You are the future of this country and the leaders of tomorrow,” he told the boys. “Become engaged in the world around you, set the bar high, and thank you for your contributions to Browning. Go, Panthers!”
Headmaster Clement then asked all Form VI boys to come forward, state their name and tell how many years they have been at Browning. “This class created its own new tradition,” he said with pride. “Each of them received a citizenship award last year, something that has never happened in my years as Headmaster and perhaps never before that. How impressive!” He read the criteria for recognition with a citizenship award and asked the boys to tell how the award applies to them as individuals and what they “bring to the table.” Their responses covered the gamut; some examples follow: “I like to make others happy; I hope to make their lives and mine better at the same time.” “Compassion and passion.” “Passion and perseverance.” “Being a good listener and taking what others say into consideration.” “Solidarity.” “Integrity.” “A safe school environment in which we learn together.” Much to everyone’s amusement, one boy replied that he brings “a boatload of charm!”
The assembly concluded with a guest appearance by the Panther mascot. Sporting a tennis racquet and jersey, the panther pranced down the aisle to the chanting of the boys and teasing from Headmaster Clement who thanked him for taking time away from the U.S. Open. He noted that the tennis team and all the School’s sports teams enjoyed great seasons last year. Soccer players recently attended pre-season camp, and for the first time ever, were joined by the cross country team.
So as the school song says, “Welcome to Browning!” Here’s to the start of a great new year! View photos.