School News

School News
Prize Day and Graduation 2014

Prize Day and graduation 2014 offered a time for reflection and repose, as the Browning community gathered for both events at Christ Church, as is tradition. These photos offer coverage of the smiles and pride felt by the boys, their families and faculty.

Headmaster Steve Clement, President of the Board of Trustees Jim Chanos and Upper School Head Jim Reynolds presented diplomas to each member of the Class of 2014 on June 11.

Guest speaker at graduation was Vishaan Chakrabarti, a partner at SHoP Architects and an associate professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation. Mr. Chakrabarti was a Browning parent from 2007 to 2010. Members of the faculty may well recall his inspiring speech to them in 2010 concerning the future of cities.

Mr. Chakrabarti earned a master’s degree in architecture from the University of California at Berkeley, as well as a master’s in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; he holds dual bachelor’s degrees in art history and engineering from Cornell University. From 2002 to 2005, while serving as the director of the Manhattan Office for the New York Department of City Planning, Mr. Chakrabarti successfully gained approvals for major rezonings and also directed the city’s design response to the reconstruction of Lower Manhattan in the wake of 9/11, the expansion of Columbia University into Manhattanville and the makeover of Lincoln Center. View photos.

2014 Senior Project Presentations

Form VI boys proudly presented their senior projects on June 9. The metropolitan community benefited from the varied nature of these projects, with the boys volunteering their time at the Future Leaders Institute, S.N.A.C.K., the Metropolitan Museum of Art, City Squash, Oliver Scholars and Riverside Park Conservancy, among numerous other organizations. The seniors provided advice and words of wisdom to their younger peers who will be planning their own projects before too long.

Director of Middle and Upper School Admission Janet Lien oversaw the senior projects. Introductions and remarks were made by Ms. Lien, who advised Form V boys that what they were about to hear involved a three-week community service project but that, ideally, community service would become part of the fabric of their lives all year long.

After the final presentation, Head of Upper School Jim Reynolds thanked the boys for their diligence, noting that each of the organizations they worked with benefited from their efforts. He mentioned that although the types of organizations ran the gamut from arts and culture, to politics, entertainment and healthcare, each one appreciated the hours the boys devoted. Conversely, the boys reported that they, too, benefited in various ways. One boy who shadowed doctors specializing in oncology said he will never take another day for granted and that he vows to take care of his own health. Another made a point of reaching out to fellow interns and building friendships with them.

Mr. Reynolds thanked both Ms. Lien for overseeing the senior projects and the faculty advisors for their roles in the program’s success. Headmaster Clement was also pleased with the boys’ efforts and thanked Mr. Walker for ensuring that the technical aspects of the presentation ran smoothly. View photos.

Let’s Sing: A Lively Theme for Lower School Closing!

Lower School Closing took place on June 6 at Christ Church, as is tradition. In the blink of an eye, it seems the Browning boys have grown in many ways since those first days of early September. The fourth grade boys, in particular, showed their maturity by standing at the podium, poised and proud, to recount their favorite Browning memories and thank those who attributed to their success, especially their parents and teachers.

Head of Lower School Laurie Gruhn and Headmaster Clement, along with family, friends and faculty, were pleased to see the boys in action, speaking, singing and saying farewell to another school year. Ms. Gruhn welcomed the community and spoke about the boys’ accomplishments and demonstrations of “grit” exemplifying the School’s motto.

The theme of this year’s closing was “Let’s Sing!” and the selections included both French and Spanish melodies, from “Alouette” to “Oye Como Va” and many more. Under the direction of Lower School music teacher Lucy Warner, who provided accompaniment as well as choreography, the boys sang and were joined by the Lower School “Strings of Spring” Orchestra. Organist Steven Pilkington and pianist Rob Taube provided the processional, finale and recessional. The colorful program cover art was accomplished by a member of the fourth grade.

During the farewell section of the program, Headmaster Clement thanked Ms. Warner as well as Lower School music instructors Gemma Baehr, Lucie Gelinas, Anik Oulianine, Michael Serman ’06 and Jay Tilton. He spoke of the incredible number of different languages spoken by families of the Lower School boys whom he surveyed regarding what they hear from parents, grandparents and siblings.

Congratulations to the fourth grade boys who were welcomed to Middle School at Browning by Head of Middle School Chris Dunham, and best wishes to one and all for a wonderful summer! View photos.

Third Grade Boys Visit NY Public Library’s Main Branch

Third grade boys enjoyed a June outing to the New York Public Library’s Schwarzman Building where they received a tour of this majestic Beaux-Arts building, explored the special exhibit, “The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter” and had the chance to check out books and DVDs at the Children’s Center. Head Librarian Sarah Murphy, who arranged for this fascinating field trip, was accompanied by third grade teachers Caitlin Coleman and Susan Kehoe. Ms. Murphy explained that the trip is an important one. “We are fortunate to live in a city with one of the biggest and best public library systems in the world, and it’s important that our students take advantage of the myriad resources NYPL offers for all residents.  Many of the boys regularly visit their local branches, but a tour of the research facilities at the Schwarzman is awe inspiring and special.” 

A highlight of the boys’ guided tour was viewing (and touching!) the remains of the original stones from the Old Croton Aqueduct Distributing Reservoir that form part of the foundation of the library built on the Reservoir’s former site. The boys also delighted in seeing the many artifacts that are part of the special exhibit curated by children’s book historian Leonard S. Marcus.

They stepped into the Great Green Room of Margaret Wise Brown’s “Goodnight Moon,” slipped through Alice in Wonderland’s Rabbit Hole and petted a fur wall devoted to Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are.” Mr. Marcus was given access to the library’s vast collection of artifacts, from which he gathered 250 items, including the copy of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” that belonged to Alice Liddell, the girl for whom Lewis Carroll wrote the book; the original parrot-head umbrella and doll owned by P.L. Travers, creator of “Mary Poppins,” and James Daugherty’s original art for “Andy and the Lion,” a story inspired by the statues of Patience and Fortitude, the marble lions that guard the library’s entrance; the Browning boys and their teachers posed for a photo with one before embarking on their library tour. Also included in the exhibit is an ivy-covered wall from “The Secret Garden” with a ledge carved out for sitting, as well as the original stuffed bear and other animals that inspired the characters in “Winnie-the-Pooh.”

Ms. Murphy is pleased to note that the boys also had plenty of time to browse the shelves, and most left with at least one item. “Many were using library cards for the first time,” she said, “but it certainly won’t be the last!” View photos.

 Third Graders Expand Study of Insects and Spiders

With clear blue skies above and the warmth of the sun on their shoulders, the third grade boys, along with Ms. Coleman, Mr. Katz '04, Ms. Kehoe and Ms. Seto, took a field excursion to Black Rock Forest to coincide with their unit on insects and spiders. Having previously visited the forest on a fall trip in second grade, the boys were excited to explore again and experience the forest in a different season.

Ms. Seto reports: The day began with a refreshing hike, where the students spent time learning about sunfish territories, traversing rocky creeks, sharing observations, dodging millipedes, spotting late spring flowers, and enjoying a beautiful vista on a rock outcropping. A Pileated Woodpecker was even spotted flying away from the group! In a shady area of the forest, the students conducted surveys for invertebrates in one-square-meter plots. Students searched for critters in the leaf litter, in decomposing logs, in the soil, and in a diversity of spider webs. Each new species was greeted with excitement, curiosity and respect. Among other taxa, the students observed millipedes, salamanders, caterpillars, beetles, harvestmen, and numerous spiders, including a wolf spider carrying her egg sac. The students treated their live specimens with care during magnified observations in jars and Petri dishes, and respectfully returned all their study subjects back to their natural habitat.

From beginning to end, the third grade students were immersed in the world of insects, spiders and all their relatives, bringing lively observations and true curiosity to Black Rock Forest. View photos.

Education Director of Black Rock Forest Consortium Visits Browning

Dr. Jeff Kidder, Education Director of the Black Rock Forest Consortium, spent the day at Browning on May 29. Science Department Chair Sam Keany reports: “Dr. Kidder introduced the boys in grades two and three to water invertebrates and led discussions about a host of their fascinating adaptations. Later in the day, he met with members of the science, art and math departments to discuss future collaborative classes and projects centered on forest organisms and products.”

Mr. Keany is vice president of the Black Rock Forest Consortium now entering its 25th year; the organization constitutes 27 member schools, colleges and scientific institutions. View photos.

An Assembly of Music and Laughter

Middle and Upper School boys gathered for a May 30 Assembly in the Lower Gym where they were entertained by several musical groups, musicians and the Improv Club. Head of Upper School Jim Reynolds served as MC and, at the conclusion of the event, asked all the performers to take to the stage for a final bow and round of applause.

Music Department Head David Pretigiacomo noted that the Ovation Orchestra performed Bastille’s “Pompeii,” “Hungarian Dance” and ”Pictures at an Exhibition,” while two of the boys played rock on guitar and drums with Mark Dane of the Jazz Ensemble Club. Another boy played “C Jam Blues” on the piano, and the Upper School Chorus sang “Find the Cost of Freedom.”

Upper and Middle School math teacher Matt Bratnick, an improv performer, explained that the Improv Club presented theater games and scene work to help individuals “come out of their shells” and acted spontaneously (improvising without scripts) to make their audience laugh. Special focus in scene work focused on the “game” of the scene, the single funny idea that is played and heightened throughout. View photos.

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