[September 13th, 2021] -- C/A Welcomes the Following Colleges & Universities (Week of Sept. 13th-17th)
[September 1, 2021] -- On Tuesday, August 31st, Dr. George McCloskey from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine presented the latest research and best practices on how to best help students improve their use of executive functions and executive skills in the classroom to all C/A faculty and staff. Dr. McCloskey spoke on the power of positivity, the management structure of the brain's frontal lobe connection with self-regulation, and provided teachers with a variety of helpful reminders and classroom strategies.
For over 25 years, Dr. McCloskey dedicated his life to "practical, direct service work in multiple settings, pre-service teaching at the graduate and undergraduate levels, teaching for continuing education and in-service purposes including presentations numbering in the hundreds for state, regional, and national and international professional associations, research and test development in both university and corporate settings, and administration and supervision in clinical, university, and business settings" (https://www.georgemccloskeyphd.com/).
C/A will be offering six different after-school enrichment options from Monday to Thursday during the first semester of the 2021-2022 school year. Sign-up & find out more information here!
[May 24, 2021] -- Commonwealth Academy has earned No Place for Hate® designation for the second consecutive year.
"We are honored by this designation, grateful for our continued partnership with the Anti-Defamation League, and proud of our school community for the commitment to making the world a better place," said Anabelle C. Morgan, Head of School.
No Place for Hate® is a self-directed program intended to help school stakeholders take the lead on supporting a school climate where all students can thrive. To earn the designation, a school must complete a list of community-building activities that clearly define expectations in behavior.
"I offer a special thank you to our committee members, who helped to put the NPH lessons and visions into place," said Susan James, Director of Student Life.
[May 24, 2021] -- Members of Commonwealth Academy's Class of 2021 have been accepted to 93 colleges, universities, and trade schools. Their scholarship awards total $4.3 million.
Click HERE to view the list of colleges offering acceptance to C/A's seniors.
"All of us at Commonwealth Academy are so proud that, once again, our graduates have reached great heights with their academic goals. As an educator, I am certain that our new alumni will positively empower their next educational home," said Eli Clarke, C/A Director of College Counseling.
[March 12, 2021] -- Anabelle C. Morgan, Head of School, has informed parents that C/A would be returning to full-time, in-person instruction and operations for the 2021-2022 School Year.
"In addition to delivering C/A's academic program, starting on September 8, 2021, we will do everything we can to safely return to the many trips and activities that define our school and will communicate details as soon as they become available," she said in her letter.
[January 8, 2021] -- Registration for the 2021 C/A Summer Program is now underway! C/A is offering several camps and for-credit classes in June and July. Register before Monday, February 1, 2021, and receive the early bird discount!
The age range varies by camp from rising 4th-grade to rising 11th-grade students. C/A is offering an Adventure Camp, Camp Cougar, Basketball Camp, and Esports Camps.
For-credit courses to be offered include Algebra I or II, Geometry, Biology, Personal Finance, and Spanish 2.
Course and camp descriptions, as well as registration links, can be found on the Summer Program website at https://ca-camps.org/.
Fees are posted on the website and payment plans are available. Take advantage of the early sign-up discount by registering before Monday, February 1st!
If you have any questions please reach out to Paul Harrington, C/A's Director of Athletics and Auxiliary Programs at email@example.com.
Visit https://ca-camps.org/ today!
[January 21, 2021] -- The numbers are tallied, and we can proudly announce that C/A's first Virtual Day of Service to our communities was a great success!
C/A students, faculty, and families spent Tuesday, January 19, 2021, cleaning outdoor spaces in need of sprucing up, volunteering on behalf of nonprofit organizations, and performing other acts of service of their choosing. In all, the C/A community:
Cleaned up trash in 48 different parks, playgrounds, waterways, and other outdoor areas
Made 40 (and counting) fleece blankets for Comfort Cases
Made and delivered more than 1,400 food items (two car loads!) to Martha's Table
Individually supported an additional 26 different organizations or projects, including Accokeek First Church of Good Food Bank, AFAC, Alexandria City Animal Shelter, Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, Bennington Meals on Wheels, Central Unit Mission, Family Ministry Center, Food For Others, Goodwill, Salvation Army, Montgomery County Humane Society, Project Lucy, Shepherds Table, Special Olympics, John S. Mulholland Foundation, Tornado Talk, and Zonniverse.org (Beluga Bits)
Packed and prepared kits for the National Guard and Military Workers in the District and homeless individuals in their neighborhood
Wrote thank-you letters to police who protected the nation's capital and Capitol building
"It was truly a remarkable day! We celebrate and thank all of our families and faculty who contributed to a very successful C/A Day of Service," said Anabelle C. Morgan, Head of School.
[December 10, 2020] -- Students and faculty are dressing according to themes each day this week to show their school spirit.
So far, the community has enjoyed Hat Day, Flannel/Plaid Day, Dress as Your Favorite Winter Tradition Day, Ugly Sweater Day, and Winter in Hawaii Day. The week will end with Cozy PJ Day.
[December 2, 2020] -- C/A teachers received a nice treat this week when a student thank-you note graced the faculty workroom.
The sentiments that were expressed include:
- "I am thankful I can get a better education because of all of you. I also am able to feel better about myself, the way I learn, the people around me, and the environment."
- "I feel more comfortable here and I feel less stressed while working."
- "Thank you for being amazing teachers!"
[November 18, 2020] -- Commonwealth Academy has qualified to display the ALX Promise shield that indicates its commitment to high safety standards.
“Student and faculty safety is a top priority at Commonwealth Academy,” said Anabelle C. Morgan. “We are proud to display the ALX Promise Shield to demonstrate our commitment to protecting our community during COVID-19.”
C/A completed all requirements in August 2020 so that the proper safety measures were in place when learning resumed on campus in October.
The ALX Promise program was developed by the Alexandria Health Department and Visit Alexandria to provide consumers with a means to identify businesses and organizations that go above and beyond the minimum rules required by law.
The ALX Promise Shield represents that a business or organization:
- implements all proper cleaning and sanitizing procedures
- practices physical distancing within its place of operation
- requires employees to wear protective gear and expects customers to wear face coverings
- participated in training with an Alexandria Health Department Environmental Specialist on state requirements to reopen and trained all employees on the safety measures needed
- submitted a completed checklist, training record, and pledge commitment to ensure the safety of employees and staff
- agrees to follow all future applicable health guidance as Alexandria enters new phases of reopening
[October 22, 2020] -- This week, C/A welcomed back to campus all students and faculty. Under the hybrid instruction plan, Lower School is on campus every school day and Middle and High School are each in the building two days a week (plus alternate Wednesdays).
"Our campus is now alive again in the best possible way, and everyone should be very proud of the outstanding work they have done to quickly adapt to the new on-campus protocols. Our new hybrid model and campus layout have provided enough space for our students to safely walk around and go about their day, be in the classroom, outside, or in the hallways. Here’s to a great new beginning!" said Anabelle Morgan, C/A's Head of School.
Strict health and safety protocols are in place and student compliance has been impressive. Even the youngest students know now to wear their masks when in the building, to get their temperatures checked and immediately wash their hands upon arrival, to keep social distance with colleagues and teachers in classrooms and hallways, to use hand sanitizer frequently, and to wipe their desks and chair after every class.
Masks stay on for P.E., but can be removed when class (or lunch) moves outside for a period and students remain ten feet apart.
[September 29, 2020] -- C/A is shifting to a hybrid in-person instruction model. The first day of in-person instruction on campus will officially be Monday, October 19th.
All Lower School students will return to campus five days a week. All Middle School students will be on campus for in-person learning on Mondays and Tuesdays and all High School students will be on campus Thursdays and Fridays. Middle and High School will alternate being on campus on Wednesdays.
"I am thrilled to know that we will soon have the opportunity to see our students in person. It will be a joyful moment for our entire school community!" said Ms. Anabelle C. Morgan, C/A's Head of School.
She announced the upcoming shift in a communication to parents and faculty on September 29th.
"In an effort to provide our students with the most robust educational experience possible in a hybrid environment, we are reinventing and redesigning our physical space and infrastructure. This will permit us to host whole class sections in person, while strictly adhering to the required health and safety guidelines," Ms. Morgan wrote.
[September 18, 2020] -- Many members of the C/A Class of 2021 safely took the ACT's on campus this week.
"With our safety protocols in place and a phenomenal group of young people ready to carry them out with great responsibility, we were able to provide our students with the opportunity to take this important exam on their home campus," said Anabelle C. Morgan, C/A's Head of School.
C/A expects to be able to serve as a testing location for the October ACT's as well.
[May 20, 2020] -- Commonwealth Academy has earned No Place for Hate® designation for the 2019-2020 school year.
"We are honored by this designation, grateful for our partnership with the Anti-Defamation League, and proud of our school community for the commitment to making the world a better place," said Anabelle C. Morgan, Head of School.
No Place for Hate® is a self-directed program intended to help school stakeholders take the lead on supporting a school climate where all students can thrive. To earn the designation, a school must complete a list of community-building activities that clearly define expectations in behavior.
"We congratulate our partner schools for joining with the ADL to promote diversity and inclusion. By building relationships of trust and combating bias and bullying, we can help stop the escalation of hate, within our schools and throughout our communities," Ms. Morgan added.
This year's No Place for Hate® annual celebration is taking place virtually. To view the Washington Region's 2019-2020 school year virtual ceremony, click HERE.
[September 21, 2020] -- This week C/A begins a schedule of "real world" opportunities for our students to socialize and build relationships with their classmates this school year.
Students and faculty will meet in-person in Advisory Pods to participate in games, have conversations, and enjoy the time outside (and away from screens!).
All participants will adhere to health and safety protocols, which are explained in this video.
"We can't wait to welcome everyone back!" said Anabelle C. Morgan, C/A's Head of School.
[September 4, 2020] -- Commonwealth Academy believes that respect, honor, trust, and active engagement are fundamental to the learning process. In support of that belief, the first week of school focused on team building. The goal was for classmates and faculty to foster trust in each other and reinforce a caring and responsive learning environment where every student can thrive.
Students in Honors Government and Government classes created virtual lockers as a get-to-know-you activity.
Lower School students shared “All About Me” drawings to build community.
Middle School History students developed classroom contracts to respect one another and promote healthy discussion.
[August 17, 2020] -- All C/A faculty have returned this week for virtual Faculty Orientation sessions and professional development.
The week started with a slideshow of photos submitted by faculty to illustrate how they spent their summers -- a great way to re-connect after weeks of being apart. Home gardens were a popular activity, as were camping and fishing trips, hiking, and spending time with children and pets.
Other sessions to date have focused on Health & Safety Procedures; Technology; Academic Support & Advisory; Student Action Plans; Support and Executive Function; and the Crisis Management Manual.
Faculty also participated in three hours of Anti-Defamation League Virtual Professional Development on "Facilitating Difficult Conversations."
A highlight to look forward to will be the Drive-through Welcome Back Parade that faculty will participate in this Friday morning at 9:00 a.m. Families will drive past the school so students and teachers can wave to one another and MS and HS students can receive their Student Planners.
[July 29, 2020] -- Commonwealth Academy empowers our students to thrive and discover their path to excellence with small class sizes and differentiated instruction. In a caring and responsive environment, our students gain the self-confidence to achieve academically, recognize their strengths, and pursue their passions. Following are two recent examples.
Nelson, a C/A senior, is pursuing his interest in meteorology this summer to great success. His article on the 2011 Smithville MS EF-5 tornado was published on tornadotalk.com. The lengthy and thorough article incorporates research Nelson conducted for a project he began last summer.
Much to Nelson's surprise, his work was mentioned a few days later during one of his favorite weather podcasts - - "Weather Brain” -- which led to his being interviewed on a @Weatherbrains podcast live stream.
His interview can be viewed HERE on YouTube. Nelson speaks from about 1:23:20 to 1:37.25, and has another brief appearance around 1:54:20.
Hazel, C/A's Class of 2020, is a published author. Her story, "Café Isolation," appears in the Oberlin College Away Journal which features stories about travel. Hazel wrote the article for an online class she took at Oberlin College the spring of her senior year at Commonwealth Academy.
[August 10, 2020] --Commonwealth Academy will open the 2020-2021 school Year virtually, with the first day of school being Wednesday, August 26th.
"At this time, the data and science presented by local health experts and departments do not support safe in-person reopening. In that light, and true to our commitment to always prioritize the health, safety, and care of all in our community, we have... made the decision to open school virtually on August 26th," Ms. Anabelle C. Morgan, Head of School, communicated to C/A parents.
C/A will continue with the virtual program our school launched so successfully last March, with the following added enhancements:
- New digital delivery of our Executive Functioning tools (daily planner, grade report sheets, student self-evaluations, teacher evaluations) accessible to all students, teachers, and parents
- Revised Student Action Plans to include clearer goals for each child
- Enhanced Executive Function scale that includes more nuance and actionable outcomes
- Increased opportunities for social connection to take place during lunch and other parts of the day, regardless of operating format (lunch groups, clubs)
- Strengthening of our Advisory program: new daily advisory meetings in MS and HS; skills teaching and learning; and portfolio development
- New and re-imagined student leadership opportunities in a virtual setting, including but not limited to our “Bigs and Littles” program, student council, spirit committees, and student ambassador program
- Live/synchronous instruction/support five days a week in all divisions (MS and HS will hold electives and additional academic support on Wednesdays)
- Access to additional electives (student choice)
- Student access to academic support periods four days per week
- PE/counseling sessions, as well as tools and support instruction/videos for students on the following topics: physical activity exercises; healthy habits; sleeping habits; and more
- Creation of parent support workshops during and after school hours and a parent support resources website
In addition, Commonwealth Academy is developing a schedule for students to, in very small cohorts, come to campus from time to time for safe, outdoor, socially-distant activities aimed at bolstering community building and social connection.
"Your child's education, health, and safety are of the utmost importance to us, and we are honored and privileged to be working with you," Ms. Morgan said. "Thank you for your support and for entrusting your children to us."
[June 12, 2020] -- Commonwealth Academy will offer two virtual for-credit courses and six virtual enrichment camps this summer. The enrollment deadline has been extended until Thursday, June 18, 2020, and registration is open to the public, as well as C/A students.
The summer offerings will run for a few hours each day. Students can sign up for some structured learning or engage in enrichment and the opportunity to be social through our Google Meets virtual platform.
"We've had to cancel our out-door summer camps, but have lined up several learning and enrichment opportunities throughout a six-week period," said Paul Harrington, C/A's Director of Athletics and Auxiliary Programs. "Taking a for-credit class or two over the summer will free up space in a student's schedule during the school year for other academic classes or electives that might be of interest to them."
He encouraged parents to register by Thursday, June 18, 2020, as camps have minimum enrollments and capacity limits to consider.
For-Credit Courses will follow the Virginia Department of Education Standards of Learning and be presented virtually through Google Classroom. These courses are Algebra II and Personal Finance.
The Enrichment Camps include Esports League of Legends and Rocket League camps, Art, and Space Exploration.
[May 23, 2020] -- Anabelle C. Morgan, Head of School at Commonwealth Academy, is one of the experts interviewed for a CNN Health segment on "How to Help Children with ADHD Thrive in a Virtual Schoolhouse."
Ms.Morgan was interviewed by CNN reporter, Kristen Rogers. She discussed the added responsibilities parents face working from home while their children are engaged in virtual learning, offered tips for pulling students back from distractions, advised mixing stimulating activities into the daily routine, and suggested how best to deal with the frustrations and roadblocks that are sure to arise.
[May 14, 2020] -- Commonwealth Academy's college prep activities remain in full swing.
Eli Clarke, C/A's Director of College Counseling, recently hosted a senior parent night online to offer tips and resources for a successful transition to college. Jennifer Stevens, Assistant Director of Counseling Services at Loyola University Maryland, provided insight on how support services are provided in a college setting. C/A parents shared helpful perspectives on their own transition which added to a fun and informative evening.
This week, seniors are participating in online "Transition to College" sessions in lieu of C/A's traditional "real world" internships. Guest speakers are sharing advice and information and responding to questions about residential life, accessing support services, money management, civic engagement, careers/internships, and other topics relevant to college life.
Justin Wilson, Mayor of the City of Alexandria, emphasized the importance of civic engagement and the challenges confronting city government in today's environment
Jenny George, C/A Class of 2012, talked about her experiences after Commonwealth, what challenges she encountered in college, how C/A helped her in college, and how the pandemic has shifted her classes and work while in grad school. She answered questions about connecting with professors, roommates, experiences managing course load, whether she felt ready for the workload, and her experiences of the social elements of college.
[April 10, 2020] --"What are some lessons learned from our COVID-19 experience so far? One is that students with ADHD, executive function challenges, and anxiety can thrive in a virtual 'schoolhouse,'” writes Anabelle C. Morgan, C/A's Head of School.
Ms. Morgan's article, published today on the EducationNext blog, summarized the steps and strategies CA employed when moving to an online education platform. Her conclusion: "These amazing students are proof positive that with compassion, thorough and responsive planning, thoughtful community engagement, and genuine care for all, what too many see as a deficit is, in fact, a great strength."
The EdNext blog, sponsored by the Harvard Kennedy School Program on Education Policy & Governance, "aims to provide lively commentary on education news and research to bring evidence to bear on current education policy debates."
Read Ms. Morgan's article HERE. Many thanks to the faculty, students, and parents who are contributing to the success of #CAgoesvirtual!
[March 25, 2020] -- Commonwealth transitioned to virtual learning a week ago, and our teachers in every Division and every subject area "kickin" it -- new school!
Faculty continue to empower students in their online classes each day, utilizing innovative educational tools, structured classroom management, creative lesson planning, adapting as the situation demands, and continuing with differentiated instruction.
In Middle School Math, Mr. Furman is loosening up on his regular requirements. "Sometimes all you need for virtual learning is a Sharpie! Normally, I ONLY allow pencil, but this seems like a good time to allow exceptions."
In Physical Science, 8th-grade students are using @PhETsims to conduct virtual investigations into the properties of waves. "Virtual simulators are a great way to promote inquiry-based learning while working from home," said Mr. Herring.
Today 9th-grade World History 1 students presented their Google Maps on the spread of Islam virtually. "Awesome work!" said Dr. Littlefield.
Students in Humanities 11 took charge of teaching a chapter of Slaughterhouse Five to their peers. "I was impressed by their (virtual) discussion! They used Google forms and Google slides to make it easy to follow along!" Ms. Shipman said.
In World History 2 class, "Great structured plan today, wonderful Q&A, and the kind of tech integration that keeps 10th- graders engaged. Well done, Dr. Litlefield. She even toggled through 4 chat rooms", said Matt Johns, Assistance Head of School.
Our Lower School is equally impressive. "Great planning and classroom management today by Ms. Ellery. I'm so proud of her and the entire Lower School team. They are simply wonderful," Mr. Johns noted.
Students in Ms. Parker's virtual Science Class constructed storyboards of organisms, population, community, and habitats.
[March 19, 2020] - Our building may be closed, but instruction has not ceased and our Admissions Office is busy!
"Virtual learning is underway at Commonwealth, with students meeting online in their classes each school day," said Josh Gwilliam, Director of Admissions. "I am fielding phone calls and emails from parents interested in the wonderful program and curriculum that Commonwealth Academy offers to diverse learners -- whether in-person or online.
Until Mr. Gwilliam is able to showcase Commonwealth Academy in person, he is video conferencing with interested parents and students and providing other helpful information for applicants to learn more about C/A!.
Call 703.548.6912 to leave a message for Mr. Gwilliam or email him.
It's J-Term, a time when students can serve as teachers!
[January 30, 2020] --Students in the Honors English and Government 12 J-Term block designed and taught Science, English, History, and Civics lessons to CA Middle School students today.
The first week of J-Term, the High School students spent time learning basic classroom management strategies and approaches to lesson planning. They also discussed their own educational experiences along with current issues and trends in education. C/A's Middle School teachers, Ms. Wondra, Ms. Davis, Mr. Herring, and Mr. Kendler were all wonderful facilitators and collaborators throughout the process.
There was a wide range of topics selected for the student-taught classes. Kyle and Acalia guided students through a lab exploring gravity and motion. Hazel and Chris created a lesson about Revolutionary War spies and coded messages. Ewan and Zoe had students take on the role of legislators in order to design and pass a bill. Evie and Eliza designed a lesson around famous artists and their varying styles.
Informal feedback indicates that C/A's Middle School students welcomed the student-teachers and their enthusiasm for the lessons!
[January 16, 2020] -- Students in Mr. Vander Clute's English 6-7 classes are working on animated Google Slide presentations that tell the story of the Olympians' attempt to overthrow Zeus.
They are to use only dialogue and animation to tell the story.
This project is part of the students' study of the novel The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan.
[January 21, 2020] --C/A's High School January-Term started today, offering students a concentrated period of enrichment through project-based learning. Scheduled shortly after Winter Break each year, J-Term provides students with a unique, exciting way to end the 1st Quarter.
Students select three topics from a wide variety of exciting areas of inquiry and learning, wherein they study specific topics in depth. This year's topics include Rube Goldberg, Latino Street Art, Chemistry of Food, Matilda, Aerodynamics, The Math of Games, Honors Government, Humanities, Senior Seminar, Forensics, and Basketball.
To start the "Math & Games" block, students looked at big data and how it can be useful.
C/A students excel in the classroom, on the ice, on the stage, and in other venues.
Just recently, Powell raised $5,000 as a hockey goalie to fight cancer for October Saves. He ranked 3rd in VA, 9th in the US in terms of funds raised!
Chloe was the caterpillar in The British Players' Alice in Wonderland production.
Mary will act in Frozen, Jr. at Aldersgate Church Community Theater later this month.
Ben and Susie, C/A 2017 grads, dropped by C/A to visit during their college breaks.
Both are doing well.
Susie is attending Miami University of Ohio and Ben is at Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA.
Ben has also been engaged in public speaking for an autism organization.
Zach Florin is the new Director of Development and Institutional Advancement at Commonwealth Academy. Mr. Florin brings to C/A extensive experience in education, independent school development and advancement, and business development.
Zach earned a degree in Psychology from Kenyon College. He started his professional career as an academic researcher in the biological and social sciences at Brown University and at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. He spent several years teaching at independent schools in both the US and in Europe.
Zach also co-founded and served as the Managing Partner for a multi-state educational services company, and he worked as a business development executive.
Finally, Zach served as a Director of Leadership Giving at Moses Brown School in Providence, Rhode Island. In this role, he managed a portfolio of donors across the country, was a key member of the annual giving team and worked on Moses Brown's largest fundraising campaign in the school's 200+ year history.
"Zach’s keen understanding of the independent school world, experience in development, and entrepreneurial spirit make him a wonderful addition to our team," said Ms. Anabelle C. Morgan, C/A"s Head of School.
[November 2019] -- Juliet Landeck, C/A Class of 2015, was inducted into The University of Mary Washington's chapter of Delta Alpha Pi International Honor Society, for her academic achievement and advocacy on behalf of persons with disabilities. (C/A teacher, Jane Furey, is her proud mom!)
[October 25, 2019] -- Middle School Design students have been working on a variety of 3D projects within the class and to support work in their other classes.
- Those in Ms. Davis' English class created or 3D-printed objects for the dioramas they constructed to illustrate themes from the novel "Holes" by Louis Sachar
- The entire Design class created and printed U.S. Civil war soldiers and equipment in preparation for Ms. Wondra's History 6/7 lessons next quarter
- Finally, students considered how they might use a 3D printed caliper to measure and scale real objects for 3D printing.
[October 23, 2019] -- The entire school gathered together for a No Place for Hate Assembly as part of C/A's process to become an Anti-Defamation League certified No Place for Hate school.
In this assembly, students and faculty signed a pledge to reject the cruelty of hatred and intolerance and affirm the values of kindness, empathy, and respect.
"It is significant that we scheduled our No Place for Hate assembly on National Unity Day, during National Bullying Prevention Month," Head of School Anabelle Morgan said in her remarks. "Everyone deserves respect, to be safe and to feel safe, and to be treated with kindness.
"When we sign the No Place for Hate pledge, we are promising to bring our best selves to school each day, to care for one another, and to give everyone the most positive of intents. Words matter. Actions matter. We will hold one another to these high standards."
[October 17, 2019] -- This week is Spirit Week at C/A. Students may dress in that day's theme.
Character Day and Pajama Day have proven to be particularly popular.
On Friday, we'll end the week with our Faculty/Student Soccer Game -- a winning event no matter which team claims the victory!
[October 15, 2019] -- C/A's Math 6 students are using Doodle Notes to explore exponents.
"These notes are designed to help students engage both hemispheres of the brain to maximize focus, learning, and retention during note-taking," said Mr. Herring, Middle School Math/Science teacher. "They are also just fun!"
[October 16, 2019] -- Members of the C/A Class of 2020 toured George Mason University as part of the school's college counseling process.
Mr. Eli Clarke, director of college counseling, arranged the visit. "Our students were engaged and asked many questions about academics, athletics, student activities, and dorm life. They were particularly impressed with the robot that offers a food delivery service across campus!"
C/A students don't have to visit every college that interests them as they proceed through their college application process. This school year, college representatives from more than 50 colleges and universities have visited our school to meet with interested juniors and seniors.
[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!]