School News

School News
LS Assembly Covers Birthdays, Books and Current Events

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.

2014 Alumni Soccer Game

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.

Alumni Association Kicks Off New School Year With First Meeting

The first Alumni Council meeting of 2014-15 was held in the Wilson Room on Monday, September 15, with a total of 25 alumni guests in attendance. The meeting began with an introduction of Director of Institutional Advancement Jim Simon, who started working at Browning in July. Following Mr. Simon's presentation, Alumni Association President Michael Beys '89 appointed 25 members to the 2014-15 Alumni Council, including all 23 members from the previous year and two new members. The group was congratulated on a record year of alumni participation in the Annual Fund; the Alumni Council once again reached 100% participation in this fundraising effort. Following the meeting, Mr. Simon and Director of Alumni Affairs Laura Lanigan toured the alumni throughout the new areas of the School, showing off the central staircase and recent classroom renovations, including the new art studios and science labs. The next Alumni Council meeting will be held on Monday, November 10, and all alumni (regardless of whether or not one serves on the Alumni Council) are invited and encouraged to participate. The Alumni Association is looking forward to another great year! View group photo.

Form VI Boys Take on Challenges During Class Retreat

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.

2014-15 School Year Officially Opens

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.

Athletes Attend Pre-Season Camp

Athletic Director Andrew West '92 and two Browning boys offer the following reports on exciting experiences at pre-season camp for two Panther teams:

After a long and restful summer, the Browning boys set out to Camp Mah-Kee-Nak to get a head start on training and put the teams in a better position to start the season. This was the first year that the cross country team joined us, and I have to say, it was a huge success. We had a record number of boys attend this summer, topping out at 34 soccer players and 10 cross country runners. Although all the boys trained, practiced hard and gave it their all, the one thing I found most impressive was the camaraderie and wonderful attitudes of all the boys. The senior members of both teams took it upon themselves to make the camp all-inclusive and not treat any of the younger boys any differently than they treated each other. It was a breath of fresh air and one that made me very proud to have these boys represent us moving into the school year. The camp director described it best when he said, "You guys are the best group we have all summer, and we look forward to you coming back anytime. I hope you feel like this is your home!” His response is all due to the respectfulness and the maturity of our crew! View photos and our boys' reports.

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.

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