This special Spring Break edition of A Week in the Life features the spring musical, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” Middle School vs. Faculty basketball action, preschoolers and their seventh grade buddies getting their Zumba on, and second grade’s Skype chat with astronaut Nick Hague. Hague is Dangeso M’s. uncle and answered student questions from Russia, where he’s training for his mission to the International Space Station in September.
By Clare J. ’18
Photos by Calvin B.’18 and Mrs. Woodbridge
Model United Nations at LCDS is an integral part of the school’s culture. We all know that every year, for 10 days, a handful of seniors will depart, leaving classes feeling sparse and practices missing a few players. This year, 10 students, joined by Head of Upper School Jenny Gabriel and Director of Global Programs Heather Woodbridge, traveled to the Netherlands and Belgium for the 2018 THIMUN Conference.
The Hague International Model United Nations (THIMUN) Conference boasts attendance of more than 3,200 students from 200 schools across the globe. Students from Afghanistan, Ireland, Egypt, the United States and elsewhere join together for a five-day conference in which they discuss topics from nuclear disarmament on a global scale to measures to assist Syrian refugees. Most assemblies hold around 150 delegations, all made up of students who have spent months preparing to represent their country’s policy.
This year, LCDS students represented the Kingdom of Bahrain, a small archipelago off the coast of Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf. With a 94 percent literacy rate and a high number of employed and educated women, Bahrain is somewhat progressive compared to other Middle Eastern countries. Their official policies when on social issues, such as LGBT and women’s rights, are more in line with those of the U.S. than those of neighboring Saudi Arabia. As the only post-oil economy in the Gulf, Bahrain has a unique economic situation. Their private sector continues to expand, unlike Middle Eastern states that continue to solely rely on revenue from gas and oil production and purification.
Changing from our Western mindset to that of a Middle Eastern country came with its challenges, but our months of class prepared us well to do so. For example, Bahrain’s policy on assisting Syrian refugees leans toward monetary assistance rather than offering asylum. Rather than jumping to our instinct of signing resolutions offering asylum to refugees, we had to carefully consider the position of our delegation and act on it, no matter how reluctant we were to do so.
In the weeks leading up to our departure, the class buzzed with thoughts of what the conference would be like. We wondered if we would be prepared, if our resolutions would get passed, and most of all what it would really be like.
The day before the conference officially began, our class decided to take a quick tour of the World Forum. We walked through the grand hallways and found where each of our assemblies would be meeting. Soon enough our group crossed paths with another delegation from London. Within mere seconds of introductions, our teams had merged and looked like one large group that had known each other for years.
On Monday, the first day of the conference, I met a 17-year-old from Cairo. We exchanged names, ages and where we were from. As soon as I told her I was from the U.S., I was inundated with questions about my life in Pennsylvania. She asked about the election, what Amish people are like, and if I had ever seen a protest. We talked about our day to day lives, both of us amazed at the other’s stories. At the end of our first conversation, she said something to me that will not be soon forgotten.
“Isn’t it great that we live such different lives, but it feels like we’re just two old friends?”
It wasn’t only me who bonded with another student at the conference. Approach any one of the students that took part in the trip, I’m sure that each one would tell you about a unique friendship they formed.
THIMUN was unlike any other experience I’ve had. After bonding with not only our class but students from other schools and countries, I can say with confidence that any future MUNers will feel the same.
This edition of A Week in the Life presents memorable moments of the young new year. Highlights include the Forensics class delving into the messy world of (fake) blood spatter; the Cougarbots Yellow team taking third place in the Robot Ruckus First LEGO scrimmage, eighth-graders reimagining fairy tales for the stage, and the unparalleled joy of recess.
In addition to the usual day-in-the-life series of photos, this edition features Middle School overnight trips, as well as the Montreal and Quebec City voyage. Meanwhile back here at home, the head of school played a little impromptu squash on our newly opened courts. Finally, we present the striking photographs of German international student Max K. ’19. They are images of the school as you’ve never seen it.
In early November, Country Day hosted Fiona Kennedy, the first teacher to visit LCDS as part of our new faculty exchange with Kelvinside Academy in Scotland. “Fiona was the perfect first teacher for the faculty exchange,” said Director of Global Programs Heather Woodbridge. “She’s so instantly warm and open and the kids just loved her. By the end of the week her classes were ending with hugs and group photos. That’s just her.”
Most of Kennedy’s time was spent introducing variations of handball to students of all ages. “Fiona would have fit it well regardless, but being a PE teacher really allowed her to reach all three divisions and experience as broad a classroom experience as you can get,” Woodbridge said.
The PE teacher and handball coach spoke to Cougar News with a thick Scottish brogue, and told a story you’d never believe if it weren’t true:
When Fiona Kennedy couldn’t get two tickets to the 2012 London Olympics, she was disappointed, but had another idea.
The Olympics set aside a certain number of tickets for schools, so while she couldn’t score two for herself, she was able to get 40 for her and a group of students. The only events that hadn’t sold out were basketball and handball, so that’s what they saw.
“I thought the kids would be excited about basketball and not care much about handball because it wasn’t something they were familiar with. But it was the other way around. They loved handball. Loved it.”
The entire trip back from London to Glasgow, her kids were relentless in asking her if the school could start a handball team. Somewhere in the middle of England, she said sure.
“I just thought why not give it a go,” Kennedy told the BBC in 2014.
“And within six weeks we’d entered the Scottish championships, where we came third.”
In the five years since launching the program, Kelvinside’s handball team has won 15 national titles and its players make up a third of the roster for the Scottish national handball squad.
With the team’s ascendency, Kennedy traded her coaching position for a managerial one where she oversees the program as a whole. Finding a new head coach for a team BBC Sport dubbed “a talent factory” was as effortless as it was auspicious. Kennedy’s replacement is Sarah Carrick, whose other gig is playing handball for the British national team.
All of this takes some of the sting out of Kennedy not being able to get those two Olympics tickets for herself back in 2012.
Kennedy’s visit was part of larger faculty exchange program. Last Spring, Learning Specialist Jill Englert kicked off the exchange when she spent a week teaching at Kelvinside and staying as a guest in Kennedy’s home. Englert returned the favor when Kennedy arrived stateside, setting aside time for a full Pennsylvania Dutch experience.