On May 15, Browning’s Upper School students received a presentation from Alan Lee’s Chinese Kung-Fu Wu- Su Association, a martial arts school based in New York City. The association showcased their different abilities and strengths and discussed their methods in relation to the Boxer Rebellion, which served as a fitting conclusion to a year-long discussion of the 2014-15 common book, “Boxers and Saints” by Gene Luen Yang.
Kung-Fu Wu-Su is a martial art dating back thousands of years. According to their website, "The Chinese Kung-Fu, Wu-Su Association has been a beacon of traditional martial arts in New York City for over 45 years. [Their] founder, Grandmaster Alan Lee, was one of the first to teach this knowledge openly to all, regardless of race. The school he founded continues to pioneer the instruction of a once obscure art."
The group presented to the boys breathing techniques, breaking bricks, one-on-one fighting, and concluded with a “brawl,” in which all of the members incorporated all the demonstrations into this final piece.
Middle School teacher and coach Dan Ragsdale, who has been a student of the group for years, introduced them to the boys at the assembly. Mr. Ragsdale also demonstrated his own skills when he amazed the students by slicing a brick in half with his bare hands! Reflecting on the success of the assembly, Mr. Ragsdale said, "The entertainment value of a martial arts demonstration, featuring hand-to-hand fighting and weapons, is an easy sell at a boys school. The accompanying emphasis on mental discipline as the cornerstone of physical and personal development was hopefully a powerful, if less flashy, takeaway for the students.” View photos.
In May, fourth grade boys, accompanied by Lower School music teacher Lucy Warner, entertained the Browning community with familiar melodies adapted from Lerner and Loewe’s “Camelot” for their witty production, “King John and the Abbot of Canterbury.” Besides a king and abbot, the talented cast featured Browning boys in the roles of hosts, noblemen, advisors, Russian, Spanish and Swedish scholars, regents, a court herald and a shepherd.
Head of Lower School Laurie Gruhn and Headmaster Clement congratulated the boys on their fine performances, thanking the cast’s parents, fourth grade teachers Bill Cantwell and Meg Epstein, and Ms. Warner and Glenn Walker for their part in its success. View photos.
The Parents Association’s Spring Benefit 2015 honored Browning Board of Trustees President Jim Chanos P’07, ’09, ’11, who is stepping down from the Board after 17 years of service, including 15 as President. “Zoo in the Sky,” which took place at the Central Park Zoo on May 15, kicked off with a welcome by PA President Ken Metz and a “thank-you” video featuring Browning boys and other community members. Mr. Metz said, “Thank you to the over 440 parents, faculty and staff who came out to honor Jim Chanos at this benefit. Your support helped make the benefit a success, and the money raised will have a significant school-wide impact.” Click here to view more details as well as photos and a video.
On Tuesday, May 19, the Grytte staff had the opportunity to visit the CNN offices in the Time Warner Center. Browning alumnus Lex Haris '88, executive editor of CNNMoney and 2015 Recipient of Browning's Class of 1938 Alumnus Achievement Award, arranged the tour in coordination with Grytte Advisor Jeremy Katz '04 and Director of Alumni Affairs Laura Lanigan. The boys were able to watch a live filming, visit a control room and enjoy an intimate round table discussion with Mr. Haris and his colleague, Patrick Gillespie, an economy and markets reporter. Mr. Gillespie said the students "all asked very thoughtful questions and were very well-spoken." Even Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide, passed by and said hello to the group. One of the youngest Grytte boys remarked, "It was a great experience to hear from people that have been in our shoes before. They had amazing advice and insight on working at a company such as CNN." Please click here to view the photos.
Watching the Pre-primary play, “The Day the Crayons Quit,” was as much fun as opening a new box of fresh, never-before-used crayons! The boys’ colorful production, presented during a morning assembly on May 14, was based on the book by Drew Daywalt whose favorite crayon color, by the way, is black. The audience soon learned that these young crayon characters are tired and not getting along at all. For instance, blue needs a break from coloring the ocean in all those coloring books, while orange and yellow each think they are the real color of the sun.
Although each crayon color presents an argument for why he is the best, by the play’s conclusion, each realizes that no page in a coloring book is truly complete without all the hues working in harmony. As the song they sang says, “It’s great to work together...Shake hands today!”
Likewise, no stage production is successful without the help and cooperation of many; the play program noted, “Special thanks to our parents for helping us learn our lines, Ms. Warner for teaching us our fabulous song, Mr. Walker for his help with technology, and Ms. Zeuner for helping to coordinate practice space in the gym.” View photos.
With the spring sports season drawing to a close, Browning celebrated its athletes on May 11. In his welcome to the Form I-VI boys, Head of Upper School Jim Reynolds remarked that he was impressed with the boys’ ability to balance academic and athletic endeavors, which contributes immensely to the spirit of the School. Before turning over the program to Athletic Director Andrew West ’92, Mr. Reynolds said, “My hat is off to you all."
Coach West noted how diligently the athletics department works to get all the boys involved and offer something that appeals to everyone. He remarked on the extraordinary involvement by boys of all ages this year, with 100% participation from Form III boys. He concluded that if they keep these numbers up, the Panthers will have even greater success down the road.
This spring, varsity baseball won the 2015 regular season NYCAL championship and will represent the NYCAL in the NYSAIS Post-season State Tournament. The varsity tennis team members defended their title as league champions, winning their fifth straight NYCAL League Tournament. The varsity track team finished second in the league.
During the awards ceremony, Coach West announced that Alec M. ’15, Anthony C. ’16 and Liam K. ’16 were selected as NYCAL All League Baseball Players, Del S. ’16 had been selected as a NYCAL All League Tennis Player, and Alejandro O. ’16 had been selected as a NYCAL All League Golf Player. Alec and Del also received the highest ranking of all players in the league from all the coaches in the league, making them the NYCAL League’s MVPs in baseball and tennis, respectively – the highest honor a player can get!
Click here to watch a slide show produced by Director of Communications Design Jeremy Katz ’04 of action shots from the season. Photographers Sandy Pelz ’71 and Christine Bramble took these wonderful photos and spend many afternoons cheering on the Panthers.
View additional photos and season details from the coaches for Varsity Baseball, Varsity Tennis, Varsity Track, Varsity Golf and Form I/II Baseball. Congratulations to all the players on a great spring season!
Science Department Chair Sam Keany reports that the Lower School Science Exhibition on May 13 was an excellent example of collaboration among many members and departments of the School. On display were projects focused on such fascinating subjects as bubbles, hermit crabs, scissors, cabbage water, jump roping, dissection of squids, owl pellets and the ever-popular frog, to name just a few. The boys are always eager to explain in exacting detail what they have achieved, as proud parents listen carefully and capture the moment with cell phone cameras. Classroom teachers, siblings and older Browning boys are also eager to view the culmination of the Lower School boys’ work. Teachers and boys are thankful for support from the library staff and technology department, as well as the maintenance and cafeteria staff, all of whom contribute to a morning of scientific discovery and sharing of knowledge.
Mr. Keany said, “I continue to be impressed with the scientific creativity of some of our youngest boys. These experiments show most boys that arrangements seldom work out exactly as planned, that modifications are frequently necessary, and that there are surprising things to learn from even simple experiments.”
Head of Lower School Laurie Gruhn added, “The Lower School Science Exhibition is an amazing annual event that exemplifies how well our youngest boys have mastered careful and thoughtful problem-solving, along with the process of the scientific method. They have learned valuable lessons of following through, from hypothesis to conclusion, utilizing iPads and in some cases, live critters! The boys learned to plan creatively, think logically, articulate clearly and accept responsibility for their work.” View photos.