[October 3, 2019] - Science teachers are using the Argument-Driven Inquiry (ADI) instructional approach in their curriculum this year. ADI gives students opportunities to figure out how things work or why things happen, rather than be passive learners. Students guide the experiments and come up with the procedures.
During an ADI lab in Physics, students launched marbles using a small catapult while they determined which variables affect the hang time of a launched projectile. Students decided, as scientists, to use various marbles with different masses, change the launch angle, and alter the initial velocity of their catapult to see how each change affected the projectile hang time.
In a Biochemistry ADI stoichiometry lab, students determined an equation for the decomposition of sodium bicarbonate and then, in an argument session with classmates, defended their equation as correct based on weight and composition.
[October 1, 2019] -- October is a particularly busy month for college visitors to the C/A campus.
Melissa Bevacqua, Director of Admissions at George Mason University, recently met with three C/A seniors.
Mr. Clarke, C/A's Director of College Counseling, has arranged more than 50 visits from college representatives this fall.
Juniors and seniors are invited to sign up to attend meetings with colleges that are of interest to them.
[September 27, 2019] -- Students in Ms. Shipman's English 11 Class formed advertising firms to promote the Colonies.
They produced commercials, radio jingles, tourism websites, and brochures/posters for their "clients" to evaluate.
After presentations to their classmates, students responded to questions from the group about their target demographic and stylistic/content choices.
[September 18, 2019] -- Ms. Litvak, C/A's Art teacher, notes that High School students have already started work on their portfolio pieces.
They will have a ready-to-go portfolio as they apply to colleges and when they visit Portfolio Day, an event that provides the opportunity to meet different art colleges representatives.
[September 25, 2019] -- This week students in Ms. Wondra's 6/7 US History classes presented their Native American museum exhibits to one another.
Each student picked a tribe to research and looked at how the tribe used resources in their environment prior to European contact. They then created exhibits to share with their classmates.
[September 27, 2019] --Frederick is our Lower School Caring Cougar of the Month for September!
When a student performs a positive behavior that goes beyond expectations, a teacher will give them a Golden Cougar Paw print to hang up on the “Caring Cougar” bulletin board. The names of students who have Cougar Paw prints are put in a basket at the end of every month. The student whose name is drawn becomes the Student of the Month, receives a certificate and has their picture taken with the Cougar.
Congratulations to Frederick for starting off the school year with a positive attitude and positive behaviors!
[September 23, 2019] -- Students in Mr. Furman's Math 7 classes played math games to review integer additions and subtractions.
He described the activity as a "number line tug of war."
[September 25, 2019] - The annual play is a C/A tradition. This year, student actors will perform William Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors in the spring.
Try-outs are being held this week, on September 25th and 26th, under the direction of Bill Vander Clute and Jackie McLoughlin.
[September 20, 2019] - C/A students meet in clubs every Friday afternoon, grouped by areas of interest.
Clubs offer an opportunity for students to explore a personal interest, sharpen their talents in a field of expertise, or participate in a sport.
Students in the Podcasting Club with Ms. Shipman are producing a C/A podcast.
They have already interviewed C/A coaches and sports stars and are editing the interviews, working on designing logos and recording supplemental material.
Stay tuned for the first episode!
[August 7, 2019] - Kevin White has joined the C/A faculty as an educational technologist, serving students and faculty.
Mr. White has spent more than 20 years in STEM education. Half of his experience was spent teaching pre-service or in-service STEM teachers while at the University of Texas at Arlington and the Illinois Institute of Technology. The remaining nine years were spent as a classroom teacher in K-12 STEM classrooms (K-6 STEM Teacher, Middle School Science/Math Teacher, and High School Engineering and Math Teacher).
He has fond childhood memories spending countless hours marveling at the colorful geometric shapes he could generate on the screen of his 1982 Adam Coleco. Nowadays, he finds the same enjoyment helping his kids create similar “works of art” with their Python- programmed robots or in Quill using their Oculus Rift S Virtual Reality system.
Mr. White is an avid radio-controlled model enthusiast who recently started 3D printing his own aircraft. When he’s not tinkering in his family’s little maker space he enjoys traveling with his family.
[July 15, 2019] -- Eli Clarke joins the Commonwealth Academy community as the new Director of College Counseling. A native of California, Mr. Clarke has worked within admission and college counseling for 27 years. Most recently, he was the Director of College Counseling at Gonzaga College High School for 18 years.
Mr. Clarke has previous experience at C/A, having completed an internship in 2004 under the mentorship of Rod Baber. He also worked with Steve Maczynski when they both were part-time college consultants for our school.
“I am thrilled to be back within the Commonwealth community,” Eli Clarke said “I have seen so many successful C/A graduates lead extraordinary lives. It will be an honor to work with everyone to achieve each student’s individual goals."
Eli Clarke earned an MSW from The Catholic University of America and a BA in Communications from Loyola University New Orleans.
[June 7, 2019] - The weather couldn't have been more perfect as our school community joined together to honor and celebrate our Middle School graduates at The George Washington Masonic National Memorial.
Each student was asked to stand while a teacher or administrator honored them for their unique qualities and accomplishments during their time at Commonwealth.
Members of this future Class of 2023 are well-equipped for the challenges of high school and beyond!
Check C/A's Facebook page for additional photos and slideshows.
[June 7, 2019] - Congratulations to the 12 members of the Commonwealth Academy Class of 2019!
Commencement exercises were held at The George Washington Masonic National Memorial.
Max Leopold (C/A Class of 2020) played the processional and Talia Jackson sang "America the Beautiful."
Clara Helms and Stephen Peterson reflected on their years at Commonwealth, addressing their classmates, faculty, and families.
Faculty members provided a reflection on each member of the Class of 2019.
Congratulations to Alex Hansen who was presented with the Trip & Chris Howell Service Award for his commitment to building community, generosity, and acts of service!
[June 10, 2019] - This fall, C/A will welcome back 94 percent of our faculty!
Before teachers departed for the summer, Acting Head of School Matt Johns, honored faculty members who have reached special milestones in their years of service to Commonwealth Academy.
15 Years: Mr. Josh Gwilliam has worked at C/A for 15 years. As Director of Admissions, he's the first to meet and greet prospective parents and students, the central point of contact for C/A alumni and, the last person (as carpool manager) to bid farewell to students at the end of the school year.
7 Years: The following faculty members were honored for seven years of service to C/A: Ms. Rose-Marie Parker, Ms. Rebecca Nitopi, and Mr. Santiago Seré.
5 Years: Faculty members who have been a part of our school community for five years include Mr. Daniel Furman, Mr. Leonard Gjoni, Ms. Susan James, Dr. Amy Littlefield, and Mr. Geoff Stanton.
Every senior at C/A is required to complete a 40-hour internship at a local business, government office, or nonprofit, after completion of their final exams.
Once the internships are over, they give presentations to their classmates and juniors, sharing highlights of their internships, their successes, challenges they confronted, and takeaways that may help next year's seniors.
Great job, Class of 2019!
Seniors and juniors danced the night away at C/A's 2019 Prom, held at The University Club of Washington, DC.
Prom attendees who've attended C/A since Lower School posed for a special photo with Mr. Sere. He remembers each of them when they were young kids!
C/A held its annual Parent Appreciation Breakfast today to pay tribute to the many parent volunteers who provide support and services to our school community. The impressive list of school, student, faculty and parent activities that are supported by our parents can be viewed HERE.
Acting Head of School Matt Johns delivered special thank yous to the CAPA co-presidents this year, Melany Hansen and Lorraine Hightower.
At the breakfast, Commonwealth Academy's Parent Association (CAPA) elected officers for the 2019-2020 School Year. Congratulations to all the parents who have agreed to serve in a leadership capacity for the upcoming school year! Click HERE to view the roster of leaders and their contact information.
Each year in the spring, Commonwealth Academy hosts an Athletic Banquet to honor the student-athletes and coaches of our sports teams.
Students, parents, family members, and faculty enjoy a dinner together and join in recognizing each team's Most Valuable Player, Most Improved Player and winner of the Coach's Award.
It's a fun evening that provides an opportunity to celebrate our school community!
Click HERE to view photos of the evening.
C/A'S first Day of Service on April 18th was a great success! Students volunteered at nine different charities in the DC Metro area.
Teachers and leaders at the various charities report that our students shared lots of smiles and positive comments.
Students participated in a variety of service opportunities, including visiting a nursing home, serving lunch and playing educational games with children, assisting with projects at an organization that assists people with intellectual disabilities, working on bikes for shipment to overseas organizations and cleaning up parks.
Charity Connect assisted C/A in organizing the day, selecting each location, coordinating events, working with the charities to plan a meaningful day and collecting and sharing feedback.
It was Standing Room Only at C/A's annual theater production on May 3, 2019.
This year's play, The Scheme of the Driftless Shifter, was a play about a group of people putting on a play. The show was rife with bumbling actors, missed entrances, missed cues, and backstage crew members who wanted to be on stage.
Mr. Bill Vander Clute, C/A's Drama and Middle School English teacher, wrote and directed the play.
The show's cast consisted of Middle and High School students, as did the technical crew and stage manager. In addition to Mr. Vander Clute, other teachers assisting with the production included Ms. Jackie McLoughlin, Ms. Ksenya Litvak, Ms. Sarah Wondra and Mr. Daniel Furman.
C/A faculty members "attend class" too!
Recently, two teachers shared their professional development findings and learning experiences with their colleagues.
Ms. Chamberlain presented her research on "Building an Executive Function - Friendly Foreign Language Experience" and Mr. Weimar shared practical strategies for fostering kindness in children.
C/A was honored today to hear a powerful presentation by Ms. Halina (Litman) Yasharoff Peabody, a survivor of the Holocaust.
Ms. Peabody held the attention of students in every grade level as she spoke of her traumatic experiences as a child during WWII.
Halina was nine years old when the Nazis carried out their first Aktion against Jewish civilians in her town. She said that her mother's bravery throughout the terrifying events and years that followed served her and her sister's survival.
"War is a horrible thing and my prayer is that we will one day stop having wars. I hope that you will be good to each other and always work together," she told C/A's student body.
Thank you to the JCRC of Greater Washington and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum for their assistance in arranging Ms. Peabody's visit.
Family members joined the Lower School at the annual Interactive Museum to celebrate our students' hard work and learn about the past and modern-day heroes students chose for their project.
Individual photos of our students dressed for their presentations can be viewed on our website by clicking HERE.
Through out the 2nd quarter, students in 6th, 7th and 8th grades spent many hours defining a problem they had identified and then researching, building and testing their product solution.
Their hard work paid off as family members, teachers and students enjoyed touring the 2019 Innovation Fair. Students were excited to describe a wide variety of innovations in the areas of environmental science, aerospace engineering, and entrepreneurship.
To view a slideshow of photos from this year's Fair, visit our website and click HERE.
Thank you to Alexandria City Poet Laureate Wendi Kaplan and 13 of Nazareth, a local poet, for offering their suggestions on creating poetry at C/A's Poetry Slam.
Our students were proud to present their poems to the two published poets, along with their classmates, parents, teachers and others in attendance.
Kudos to High School English teachers, Mr. Owens and Ms. Shipman, for organizing this special event.
Our students' creativity seems to be unlimited!
Middle School students in Ms. Furton's Design class are creating their own tiny home village.
They researched tiny homes and villages being built in the US and abroad. Students then designed a village map and 3D-printed parts of the interiors and exteriors of their tiny homes.
Students in World History 2 and Humanities 10 History, with Dr. Littlefield, are studying the rise of Nazi Germany.
Students participated in a new activity called Silent Conversations as they reviewed the Nuremberg Laws that redefined the meaning of citizenship in Germany and specifically targeted Jews and others as being outside of the universe of obligation (specifically how the nation perceived members of the German nation).
Students were divided into three groups and were given five minutes to read the law and write comments, ask questions and respond to each other without talking. They then rotated to the next station, where they read the next law and comments by the previous group, adding their own.
After analyzing all three stations, students shared as a class their observations about the laws and the activity.
"Students reported that the activity allowed them to fully express their ideas and get feedback from others in a unique and meaningful way," Dr. Littlefield reported.
After an extensive national search process, the Commonwealth Academy Board of Trustees is pleased to announce its decision to appoint Anabelle Morgan as the Head of School at Commonwealth Academy, beginning in July 2019.
Anabelle Morgan is a recognized educator with more than 25 years of experience, having served as a teacher and administrator at public and private schools in the DC area for most of her career. She is currently Head of Middle School for Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, Maryland, where she oversees a faculty and staff of 40 and a student body of 240 students.
To read the press release, click HERE.
Ms. Morgan's first letter to C/A's families is posted HERE.
After reading the Nigerian novel, "Things Fall Apart," students in Ms. Shipman's Humanities 10 English class shared their final projects.
Some students wrote and presented satirical plays in the Igbo tribe tradition.
Others created board games with 3D printed pieces and rules based on the novel by Chinua Achebe.
This year, C/A is presenting Integrity Awards to those students who embody our Code of Conduct and are standouts in the classroom and engaged in our school community. Students are nominated for this award by their teachers.
Congratulations to the High School students -- Sage (9th grade), Chloe (10th), Chris (11th) and Noelle (12th) -- who were presented with C/A Integrity Award for the 2nd Quarter.
Middle School students who earned the C/A Integrity Award are Charlotte (6th grade), Eva (7th) and Kristi (8th).
Philip Best, Ph.D., a noted neuroscientist, visited C/A this week to share information about the brain.
He presented interesting lessons (with props!) to students in High School Biology, Biochemistry, Anatomy & Physiology, and Psychology classes.
He also talked to Lower School about the function and powers of the brain and offered students an opportunity to touch pig and sheep brains. Students were fascinated!
Dr. Best is a visiting professor in the Psychology & Neuroscience Graduate Program at U.Va. He was on the Nobel Laureate team in 2014 that discovered place cells.
C/A students and faculty were encouraged by Vishavjit Singh @sikhtoons to consider identity, race and defining one's narrative during last week's Assemblies.
How do we view ourselves? What assumptions do we make regarding appearances, cultures or races? What are our superpowers?
Thanks, Mr. Singh, for using the power of art to #empowerthechild!
C/A's J-Term offers our high school students a concentrated period of enrichment (two weeks, every January) through project-based learning.
The student-centered learning nature of J-Term projects puts significant emphasis on creativity and higher order analytical thinking. Through self-discovery, students gain perspectives and knowledge
Students selected from a wide variety of exciting areas of inquiry and learning, wherein they studied specific topics in depth. 2019 topics included: Hamilton, Renewable Energy, Forensics, Aventuras con Alebrijes, Podcasting, Yearbook, Rube Goldberg, Humanities 10, First Aid, Mindfulness, Immigration, El Turista, Speech & Debate, Aerodynamics, Basketball, and Senior Seminar.
View photos from this year's J-Term HERE.
C/A is one of six high schools invited to participate in the 2019 Alexandria All City High School Art Exhibition. This is the second year Commonwealth Academy will participate, under the guidance of Ms. Ksenya Litvak, C/A Art teacher.
This year eight artworks from C/A's Portfolio Preparation Art Class will be submitted. C/A student artists to be honored are Phoebe G., Sergey H., Nelson T., Mena S., Evie A., Eliza B., Lucy S., and Merrill H.
The exhibit will run from Friday, February 1st through Friday, February 22nd at The Gallery @ Convergence, 1801 N. Quaker Lane, Alexandria, VA 22302. The Gallery Hours are Fridays, 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.or by appointment (phone 703.998.6260).
The student artists will be honored at an Artists Reception on Friday, February 22, 2019, 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. at The Gallery.
Valentine's Day is February 14 and many in the C/A school community are starting to shop for gifts.
If you shop online at Amazon.com, sign up for AmazonSmile and select Commonwealth Academy as the organization you would like to support.
When you begin shopping, #StartWithaSmile, and Amazon will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to Commonwealth Academy. AmazonSmile is the same Amazon you know -- same products, same prices, same service. Bookmark this LINK to begin.
Students in the Advanced Art Class are preparing their portfolios for entry into a National Art Contest.
Check out their talents!
Middle School students from C/A's Student Council and Spirit Committee recently attended the fifth annual Diversity Conference at St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School.
This year the conference was centered around empowering our students to be beautifully unique and to embrace their values and differences.
Attendees participated in interactive activities, peer-led workshops, and discussions on how to challenge themselves to examine who they are, why it is important, and the impact they can have on the world by just being who they are.
C/A's delegation will share what they learned and experienced with their peers in Middle School.
Xavier, a Middle School student at C/A, was awarded a bronze certificate and cash award for his essay entry in the "For Love of Country" essay and poetry contest.
The contest was sponsored by the Alexandria Library and the For Love of Country Foundation. Xavier posed with local dignitaries at the recent "Love of Country" celebration.
Congratulations, Xavier! C/A is proud of your accomplishment!
This past summer, Robert H. Bork, III (C/A Class of 2016) served as an intern to Sen. Charles Grassley, Chair of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, before heading to University College, Oxford, where he took courses on the European Union and Comparative Public Policy and Law.
Robert received As in both courses from Oxford dons and gives thanks to his C/A teachers who "taught me to write and debate."
Robert is a third-year Politics, Philosophy and Law major at the University of Virginia. He is Treasurer of the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society and VP of the Burke Society.
During an on-campus team-building activity earlier this month, High School students and faculty created 50 different tiles that would eventually be combined to hang as artwork in the C/A lobby.
"The assignment was to coordinate your individual tile design with those that would hang immediately to the left and the right of your tile," Ms. Litvak, C/A's art teacher, explained.
The completed masterpiece now hangs in the front entryway, impressing our guests and visitors.
Can you read the message embedded in the tiles?
This school year C/A implemented a new cell phone policy in Middle and High School.
Students lock their cell phones in #Yondr pouches when they arrive at school and retrieve them at the end of the school day.
So far, it's working well. Faculty and parents are positive about the change. There are fewer distractions in the classroom and students are talking with one another during break and lunch, rather than staring at their screens.
[Everyone is impressed by how quickly students memorized their Yondr pouch number!]