"The Voice of the Turtle is Heard in Our Land"

March 17, 2016

Throughout the morning in my office, I have been hearing strains of music on Fifth Avenue wafting over from the St. Patrick’s Day parade. The balmy weather and the eager anticipation of the 38 boys and their coaches leaving soon on the annual Browning sports training trip to Florida mark the end of winter. At this time of year I think of the verses from the “Song of Solomon” as a predictor of spring: “The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.”

The "turtle" in this case is not Browning’s own Tommy the Turtle, denizen of the Lower School Science Lab, but rather the cooing turtle doves, harbingers of spring. My own local harbinger is the Bartlett pear tree I look at outside my window on 62nd Street, with buds about to pop.

Of course, as a native of Buffalo I know that up ahead April is the cruelest month; nevertheless, I do feel a sense of the turn of seasons. Let me look back on winter at Browning and capture some of our highlights. From Lower School Head Laurie Gruhn, Middle School Head Chris Dunham and Upper School Head Jim Reynolds, I am appreciative of their examples of achievements. I also deeply appreciate their leadership; we have been a cohesive team of four for the past 10 years.

Ms. Kingsdale's Pre-primary boys observe a ball python in science class.

In the Lower School, in addition to our resident turtle, we had a visit from a snake handler (not charmer!) who brought five specimens, including a corn snake, ball python, Kenyan sand boa (now an adoptee affectionately named Sandy) and two rat snakes. And we could not be prouder of our boys’ success at the New York State Chess Championships, held last weekend in Saratoga Springs. For a small school, what a big showing!

We use New York City well. Pre-primary boys continued their study of penguins in Central Park; they have also started programming in Computer Class. First grade is gearing up for LEGO robot world championships. As part of their study of the history of New York and Black History Month, the second grade boys traveled to Harlem to visit the Apollo Theater. Third graders culminated their study of the Pilgrims with a play, and fourth graders pursued their knowledge of Vikings at the Discovery Times Square exhibit.

The third graders perform a play about the pilgrims' story of coming to the New World.

In the Middle School a capstone experience was Math-Science Night on February 10. Exhibiting in the Lower Gym, Cafeteria, the Chemistry Lab and Kingson Biology Lab, our boys displayed deep knowledge of their projects and conciseness in their presentations. Bravo!

Middle School winter athletics had a strong season, and the collective win-loss ratio of all Middle School basketball teams was 27 wins to 15 losses. Our basketball teams benefited from supplemental coaching made possible through the Parents Association, in addition to that of our own Browning coaches. Squash at the Harmonie Club yielded a record numbers of players and competitors.

Browning fifth graders participate in a regional programming hackathon at Riverdale Country School.

Browning’s technology department hosted the exciting Harvard CS50 hackathon. In the Upper School, the boys also participated in a computer hackathon series as part of the Agile Youth Challenge competition. The Upper School Math Team participated in the Interschool Math Bowl, hosted by Brearley in February. The Form IV Frost Valley trip with Brearley, Chapin, Nightingale, Spence and Collegiate was a powerful experience for all, and our Form VI peer leaders received kudos from the leaders of the other participating schools. Powerful assemblies included the Multicultural Club’s presentation on micro-aggressions to commemorate the work of Martin Luther King, which followed up on the work of Bryan Stevenson and his Common Book, “Just Mercy.” Past parent David Keyko (Christopher Keyko '15), Valerie Jacobs and alumnus Samora Legros '03 also spoke at an assembly on a similar topic. Browning’s Mock Trial Team competed and won against Global Learning Collaborative HS, placing them in the top 32 schools from the NYC region, out of over 100 when the season began.

Lower School parents and boys view week-long Art Show in Lower Gym.

As we head into Spring Break, the 2016 Art Show this week has been enjoyed by the entire Browning community.

So with sounds of turtles ringing in our ears, we are all ready for two weeks of spring vacation. I want to thank all of the faculty and staff, boys and their parents, for a very stimulating and productive winter term.