Kyla Manja ’21 & Christian Manja ’22 earned full scholarships to Berklee’s Summer Global String Program. As part of the program, they studied under the direction of David Wallace, chair of Berklee’s String Department, while they explored in-depth a wide variety of string styles, including folk, jazz, bluegrass, classical, old-time, and Celtic. Please enjoy their final performance below.
The newest issue of the Moravian Academy Journal has officially hit mailboxes!
As we tried to package these last few months into a 54-page Journal, we realized there are simply too many exciting happenings to highlight. So, we decided to dedicate this issue to Empathy and use that as our lens to focus on everything from happenings around campus to alumni working for the U.S. Department of Justice (see page 24).
In this issue, you’ll read about of the Lehigh Valley’s first student-led sustainability symposium hosted by our Upper Schoolers on page 21. Then you’ll read about how Andrea Caldwell Berndt ‘71S used empathy to save lives in “Teamwork: The Secret to Succeeding as A 30-Year Army Nurse” on page 22. Finally, we highly encourage you to read “The Power of Story: Celebrating Ten Years Of Inspiring Students Through Storytelling” by Upper School English teacher Dr. Catherine Moore on page 2-3.
We hope you enjoy reading the articles and looking at the pictures as much as we did in creating this issue. Enjoy!
In what traditionally feels like the kick off to the holiday season at Moravian Academy, our students and faculty presented the community with a beautiful Middle and Upper School Vespers Service on Thursday evening. The service featured impressive musical and vocal performances as well as scripture readings that helped us herald in the season.
Musical highlights included “O Holy Night” performed by the combined Middle & Upper School Choirs and accompanied by Isha Mohapatra and Kyla Manja on violin, Mya Ettle and Sophie Lee on cello; the Moravian Academy Ringers; a violin solo performed by Krysta Nichols; and the “Morning Star” performances featuring fifth-grade soloists: Faust Capobianco, Aveer Chadha, Peyton Falzone, Emma Grandin, Alanna Henderson, Daniyal Jali, Kyara Maeding, and Sophie Wandall.
A very special thank you to Mr. Rob Riker, Mr. Nate Diehl, Mr. Ben Wallace, Mrs. Lou Carol Fix, and the entire music department for the incredible job they did preparing our students and orchestrating the many logistics required to bring this memorable service to fruition.
Photo Credit: Tom Amico | Amico Studios
Watch the Service:
(Download the video by clicking here.)
Occasionally, snow and ice storms make it necessary to close school for the day or a portion thereof. School closings are broadcast over all local radio stations beginning at about 6:30 a.m. When storms are forecast, it is prudent to check the website (www.moravianacademy.org) or local radio or TV stations.
Radio and TV Stations:
WFMZ TV Channel 69
WODE – 99.9/FM
WEST-AM – 1400
PVI-TV Ch. 6 ABC
WNEP TV Channel 16
CAU-TV Channel 10 NBC
Moravian Academy uses Honeywell Instant Alert rapid messaging system to communicate, school closings, delayed openings, and early dismissals. Alerts will get sent to parents via email, home telephones, and cell phones, depending on the preferences selected. All families are automatically entered into the alert system by the office, however, if you would like to change your alert preferences or check your contact information, go to https://instantalert.honeywell.com.
When a public school district reports an early dismissal, they will notify Moravian Academy. If your child’s plan is to ride the bus home on an early dismissal day, he/she will be dismissed to their bus at the public district closing time. For students that ride Moravian Academy hired buses, most buses will follow the Moravian Academy closing time. For those on the Stroudsburg/Pocono and New Jersey buses, we will notify parents via text or Instant Alert as to time of departure. Teachers and security staff make sure children get to the buses safely as each district arrives to pick up students. Note: Honeywell Alert will not contact families about each public district, therefore please be prepared to learn your district’s closure times from your specific public district. Lower and Middle School Extended Care will remain open until 6:00 p.m., though we recommend picking up your child as soon as possible.
Thank you to everyone who joined us for the International Festival for All Families last Friday night. The rain couldn’t keep our community from celebrating our diversity through delicious food, fun entertainment, and thought-provoking programming put together by the dedicated members of the Global Awareness Committee of the Parents’ Association.
The night kicked off with storytelling, African drumming, and Henna, with plenty of time for interested parties to enjoy all three. Henna was a huge hit thanks to stick-on stencils that made the art form a bit easier to achieve while still producing beautiful flowers, butterflies, and scrolling patterns. Many of the Upper School students attended the showing of the Ted Talk: “The Danger of a Single Story” and participated in a discussion following the film.
Before the long line formed at the food tables, the younger students paraded through Festival giggling and laughing dressed in clothing from the countries they chose to represent. And as usual, the food did not disappoint, and no one went home hungry.
A very special thank you to the families that provided the many excellent dishes for us to share.
We’d like to thank Tom Amico for getting team shots of all our fall sports this year. Please feel free to download any of the photos.
Although it was cold and wet on the morning of Country Fair, we had a great turn out for the 5K race. Sam Carter ’22 won the men’s race while Krysta Nichols ’21 was our female winner. Great job!
The fair was officially opened by our Lower School Boy Scout Troop, who recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
Due to the likeliness of very cold fingers, the Lower School string ensemble and orchestra concert moved indoors to the Walter Hall Gym where friends and family where serenaded with Suzuki and fiddle tunes. After the concert, everyone moved outside to the main stage where kindergarten through fourth-grade Spanish Immersion students sang “De Colores.”
The fair culminated with Dave McPhearson, parent of Emmy ’29 and Jules ’31, winning the pie baking contest for the second year in a row.
Thank you to all our volunteers and attendees who helped celebrate the 50th Country Fair!
(Photo Credit: Tom Amico, Amey Owen & Stephanie Vasta)
At today’s All School Opening Chapel, Head of School Jeff Zemsky shared the following meditation on perseverance. At the conclusion of Chapel, all students and faculty gathered around the flagpole in front of the CE Building for our traditional flag-raising ceremony- led this year by senior Joe Z. ’19 and first-grader Mia S. ’30.
Let’s begin this year with some questions, shall we? And let’s step over the factual kind – the who, the what, the when – let’s start with the big, meaty questions that take up a lot of space – the why and the how? Here’s one: how do you prepare for the unknown? When you know that you don’t know what’s going to happen, how do get ready? Are you preparing to survive or are you preparing to thrive? Are you planning on “doing your best” or are you preparing to persevere and make your best even better?
Let’s think about a metaphor. When a gardener puts a seed in the ground, it does not look like much. The gardener may have researched this particular seed and the flowers and fruits it might produce, but the gardener does not know what will happen. All the gardener knows is what has worked in the past, and sometimes all the gardener knows is what did not work in the past. But still, the gardener selects some strategies: where to put the seed, when to plant, what to plant alongside it. The gardener studies what conditions a seed needs to grow into a successful, beautiful, and thriving plant.
Let’s think about you, when faced with the unknown, how do you prepare? Do you try to look ahead by asking an older brother or sister what 4th grade is like or asking a friend what the teacher is like? Do you look on the internet for information or secrets from others who have read this book or taken this course before? Or… or do you prepare by searching your past for similar experiences, by thinking about what worked for you last time? Do you seek to know yourself? In reality, we do both of these, but if you only had ten minutes: which is more important, knowing your future or understanding your past?
I read a book this summer that helped me find an answer to this question. Some of you know this book, too: Ghost, by Jason Reynolds. It’s about running. Who else chose this as a summer reading book? The story is about Castle Crenshaw, aka Ghost, a middle school student who experienced a very traumatic event as a young boy. This event shaped how Ghost lives his life; he’s become defensive and fearful of the world around him in his inner-city neighborhood, where he lives with his mother with barely enough money to make ends meet. Ghost is obsessed with eating sunflower seeds. He eats a pack every day, putting the whole shells in his mouth and separating them from the seeds inside with his teeth. Ghost makes one big mistake after another. It’s startling how many times Ghost, in big moments, make a wrong decision – he lies, he cuts school, he steals. When the track coach sees how fast Ghost is, the coach convinces him to try running on his elite track team. Ghost knows nothing about track but the coach sees something in him that Ghost does not quite see or does not understand in himself. The coach tells him he can be special if he starts making changes to his life.
As books do, this one made me think about my own past. For about 15 years of my life, I loved to run. I was not fast, but it made me feel great to go for a 3-5 mile run after school or when I needed a break, when I needed a quiet place. One day about five years ago I hurt my knee while I was running, it swelled up so much I could not walk. My injury was not traumatic, it was not a crisis, like Ghost’s, but it was definitely a setback. The doctor told me I would most likely need surgery as he drained the fluid from my knee with what he called two “Hollywood-sized needles.” I got over the frustration and I started exercising and healing and continuing. I was surviving.
But I was not thriving. After I stopped running, I started using a fitness machine that would put less stress on my knee. I stopped hiking big mountains in fear that I would be stuck hours away from help. I avoided activities, like soccer, that I knew might hurt. This summer I’ve stopped avoiding that risk, the unknown, and instead, I have been preparing myself for them. I have been running again, outside on trails. In July I set a personal goal and climbed the tallest mountain in New Mexico, which is a rocky, 5-hour hike to 13,000 feet and back, something I last did 18 years ago. Am I just being resilient and courageous in the face of my own fears? No, that’s not it. I’m doing things differently than I did before. I wear a compression sleeve on my knee. I go slower. I take smarter breaks: shorter, more frequent, and I keep moving. I stretch. I didn’t used to do that. If I had not experienced that setback I would not have learned these strategies. I’m really glad to be running again.
I think about Ghost, who had experienced a real crisis. When the book starts, he is surviving – it’s difficult and he faces a lot of challenges in life, but he is surviving. He knows how to go to school, to shield himself from things that hurt the most, to make a few friends, to trust his mother. He is not thriving, though. I won’t spoil the end in hopes that many more of you will read this wonderful book, but I will share with you what the author, Jason Reynolds, said when he was asked in an interview about why the crisis is important to the story. This is what the author said: “Trauma is real. And Ghost already knows how to run. He’s running from his past, his family, and trauma. Boys in the inner city already know how to play these sports, they know how to run. The trick is to learn the discipline of track, to learn how to breathe through the pain. My hope with Ghost is to figure out how to steer the narrative—of how to run from and run to the things in our lives.”
Then the journalist asked the author, “Ghost eats a lot of sunflower seeds. Like track and running, are the seeds and the art of eating them a metaphor for Ghost and his story?” Mr. Reynolds said this: “Of course! Everything is intentional. Ghosts says, ‘I’ve learned to crack a shell open.’ Ghost and his affinity for seeds represent the discipline and concentration needed to eat a sunflower seed. The reward is not in the actual eating, but in the process—the process of being able to do something right. It’s a feeling of completion and it’s all happening in his mouth. No one else sees this. He already possesses this skill set.”
What is this skill set? I think it’s the knowledge of how to turn a setback or a crisis into a revelation, a new power, a running strategy to use next time. This is the skill of perseverance. That is a word many people know but don’t think about too much. I invite you to consider it deeply. Perseverance is embracing the knowledge that overcoming setbacks, even failures, is the path to success. If you are not experiencing any failures, or if you are but are not learning new skills from your mistakes, you are probably surviving but not quite yet thriving.
And where do you find perseverance? It’s inside that sunflower shell, inside that seed, inside Ghost, inside you. It’s already in us. I want you to find it and then give it attention, bring it to the surface where you can use it to do new things. This takes time, perhaps years of experiences spread out over many years. This is why you are in school, though, and particularly why you are in this school: because we believe that it is our mission to grow your potential through a journey of mind, body, and spirit that lasts from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood
I see first graders and seniors and think about the journey between you. It’s not about any one book, one project, one exam, one course, one year. It is about the accumulation of experiences, and your ability to understand yourself as a learner. It is about having setbacks and learning from them, and ultimately it’s about your ability to show, not just talk about, but to show how you persevere, what you are curious about, why you use empathy, and what you create.
These are the mission skills of Moravian Academy: curiosity, creativity, empathy, and perseverance. The faculty and I, with the help of the Board of Trustees, have chosen to highlight these starting in 2018 because learning these skills brings our mission of mind, body, and spirit to the work you do every day. They make that mission real. And today you heard that these amazing skills are already inside you.
The mission skills are also an answer to the question we started with. How do you prepare for the unknown? If you seek to know your future, you may or may not be right, time will tell. If, however, you seek to understand your past, well, then you will find within yourself the seeds of your own strength: the perseverance and the Mission Skills you will use to overcome whatever you may face in your future, to help you thrive wherever God has planted you.
Dear Moravian Academy Students, Families, Faculty, and Staff,
The start to this school year feels like a particularly exciting and momentous one. After more than 20 back-to-school seasons as an educator, I still get those waves of excitement as anticipation grows at this time of year. It’s all part of seeing the promise and the potential that lie ahead. Welcome back to school!
Every year Moravian Academy launches initiatives to invest in the school experience and improve the outcomes for all students. This year’s initiatives have developed out of a new strategic vision that aligns our annual, incremental improvements to a consistent vision from the Board of Trustees about what Moravian Academy and our students need to prepare for and thrive in a dynamically changing world.
A Culture of Curiosity
Our community’s commitment to Moravian’s traditions and legacy is exceptional, and I know you care deeply about the steps we take to secure, to strengthen, and ultimately to distinguish the future for all Moravian students. The faculty and many students and parents have already contributed to this strategic vision and, starting this fall, we want all of you to learn about and be a part of this process. You will have several opportunities to learn about Moravian Academy’s vision, which we call A CULTURE of CURIOSITY, and its four focus areas: the mission skills, personal learning, collaboration, and sustaining connections.
For students and faculty, you will be participating in assemblies and discussions over the next several weeks as we go deeper inside the culture of curiosity vision.
For parents, we are planning several discussion sessions for you to learn about and engage in this multi-year process of strengthening and improving our school. The first opportunity just for parents will be the Parents Association meeting on September 13.
You can read the headlines about this year’s new initiatives below.
I am excited about this moment in our school’s history, and am particularly inspired by Moravian’s dedicated students and creative educators. You bring our school to life and I am eager to see you at the Back to School Picnic on Sunday, August 26th and in these classrooms and hallways in just over a week.
Head of School
The CULTURE of CURIOSITY: New for 2018
More Personal Reading Instruction
Reading is the gateway into the culture of curiosity and to lifelong learning. Children take multiple paths to reading and especially to becoming expert interpreters, creators, and synthesizers of ideas through texts. The Lower School faculty recognize the importance of personal learning in reading instruction and are implementing an individualized and systemic approach to reading instruction. It starts with benchmarking and setting growth goals and leads to Lucy Calkins’ readers and writers workshop model, a research-informed and school-tested approach from Columbia University Teachers College. The new reading specialist, Mrs. Shea Andriko, and the pilot team of teachers in the Lower School will share more about this in the weeks ahead.
Over their four years in high school, students should become the executive directors of their own learning, but how do they get started? A new program for ninth grade students helps prepare them by combining a human-centered approach to personal learning with digital technologies for researching and synthesizing information. The Freshman Interdisciplinary Research Experience (F.I.R.E.) is a new, joint effort of the science, history, and English departments to help prepare students for the Comenius Program in Upper School and to hone their research skills for the rest of high school and beyond.
We are pleased to expand the student support department at Moravian this fall by adding a dedicated counselor in the Lower and Middle Schools and increasing the school psychologist’s time at the Upper School. We know each child’s learning is influenced by a wide range of personal factors and student support professionals help the School integrate cognitive, social, and emotional instruction to be most effective for students. Dr. Elizabeth Zhe, school psychologist, is opening an office at the Upper School and is looking forward to being more available for all students in grades 9-12. In the Lower and Middle Schools, Mrs. Carissa Casey begins her work as a counselor and learning support team leader, who will work directly with students as well as support and coordinate personal strategies with teachers, families, and the rest of the department
The culture of curiosity vision focuses on how we prepare students with the timeless personal skills needed to thrive in the face of change and uncertainty. As generations of Moravian students have learned from our school’s mission, success depends on developing the sound habits of mind, body, and spirit. We call these the mission skills and the faculty and I have selected four discrete skills that we know students can develop over time and that are critical for success: curiosity, perseverance, empathy, and creativity. Starting this year, you will see faculty highlighting these mission skills in the curriculum and weaving them into the school experience.
We want our students to see themselves in a lifelong network with the larger Moravian Academy community, which is an essential part of sustaining the learning and the benefits of being a Moravian student. We are launching a new online platform powered by Graduaway this year called MoravianConnect,which offers Upper School students, parents, and alumni a trusted, dedicated space to connect with others inside the Moravian community of lifelong learners. We plan for professionals to help open doors to current students, who in turn will build and expand their personal learning networks with other Moravian Academy community members. After a soft launch with alumni in the spring, MoravianConnect is already home to over 250 members and we are excited to open it officially to more people in the months ahead.
Moravian understands both the necessities and complexities of providing a safe learning environment for all students in today’s world. This is why we have engaged an expert safety and security consultant, 911 Consulting, familiar with several independent schools in our network, who has audited the school’s facilities, protocols, and practices. This summer we’ve begun enhancements which include, installing new hardware on doors, updating security protocols that secure access to our campus, and increasing professional counseling for students. The security consultant will also provide ongoing training to staff. We will also hold community information sessions for you to learn about these ongoing security enhancements and updates. Mrs. Ann Mindler, Assistant Head of School, is overseeing this important multiyear effort.
The success of the vision requires examining how we teach the mission skills in a consistent fashion across all grade levels. We’ve chosen to partner with Developmental Designs to provide ongoing professional development with our faculty. The “DD” program is founded on research-informed and school-tested practices about cognitive, social, and emotional learning. These proven techniques for group facilitation and personal instruction will help the faculty and the school to better meet the needs of each student.
What are you curious about? Join us on an epic learning adventure!
Students at the Upper School celebrated Holi, also known as the “festival of colors,” and Indian Cultural Night by enjoying Indian food, “playing Holi” (splashing each other with bright colored powders), dancing Bollywood, and decorating their hands with henna art!
(Photo Credit: PJ Scarperi ’20, Lindsay Woodruff, Kalli Miller ’19)
Moravian Academy’s very own alumnus Jacob Wetzel ’12 and current fifth-grader Colin Moore received their first nationally released film credits as Production Designer and Actor respectively in “Getting Grace.”
Shot in the Lehigh Valley, “Getting Grace” is about a young girl who is funny, sarcastic, caring, and unfortunately, knows she is dying. While Grace tries to ensure her life after death, she also tries to find someone to take care of her mother, who is not handling the news well, after she is gone.
This movie will make you laugh, it will make you cry, but mostly “it will remind all who see it that life need not be lived long to be lived fully!”
The movie is currently at the Promenade and AMC 16 in Allentown. #mapride