Tandem Friends is committed to working together to build a society that is truly just for ALL people. In letters to both the entire Tandem Friends community and to our Upper School students this week, Head of School Whitney Thompson, Diversity Director Gordon Fields, and Upper School Director Peter Gaines shared powerful words of commitment and challenge to us all to help dismantle the system of racism that has our country in its grip and prevents all people from being treated as dignified human beings. They also provided many useful resources for our community to use to educate, enlighten and inspire us all to action that will let our lives speak.
Whitney shared, "We cannot undo racism without white people listening to and believing the experiences of people of color and we cannot make positive change in our country and community if white people hang back and expect people of color to do all the work." Peter shared, "I am saying loudly to my students of color and your families that I stand with you and want to be doing everything I can to help you feel supported by our School community. I am saying to my white students and your families that the injustices we are seeing are our problem as white people. We need to stand up strong to do whatever healing and fixing we can." Gordon shared that 'reflecting that this struggle for civil rights began long before the 1960s gives a look to our present moment when there is still so much work to be done.'
Read the full text of their letters and check out the many important resources they shared below.
This 50th Friday, we take a look back at Tandem graduations. While we will celebrate our Class of 2020 in some ways online tomorrow, we hope to be able to honor them with an on-campus ritual in August that will include many of Tandem's beloved traditions that make our graduations so memorable - the surprise entrance by the graduates, hearing each student's voice, the ritual of gratitude, the heartfelt remarks about each student, and more. Check out some memories of previous graduation celebrations and entrances, and share a favorite memory or photo (especially of an entrance as we couldn't share all of them).
Upper School student awards were presented online during an event on Tuesday, May 26. Tandem's Upper School awards recognize student achievement in every academic department, as well as in qualities such as leadership, service, compassion, sportsmanship and more. The Upper School faculty meets to decide unanimously on each selection. Congratulations to this year's list of award winners - check out the complete list here.
This week for 50th Fridays, we're celebrating two of Tandem's special days. Fun spring traditions at Tandem abound, including Spring Day and Senior Prank Day. We certainly missed enjoying them this year and we can't wait to enjoy them together again next year.
The Tandem Friends Mother’s Day Music Festival began in the late 80’s as an official school-run event, held each Mother's Day weekend. By the mid '90’s, it had become a completely student-organized, student-run event, unique every year. It's been held out front, on the quad, in the Community Hall, in a myriad of configurations with additional offerings from food trucks to dad-grilled burgers to tie-dyed t's to baby goat petting zoos - but with two constants - great local music and free admission for mothers. We missed this year’s event and wanted to honor both the students working hard to bring it to life this year and the many students over the years who took on MDMF with passion and determination. To them, to our music teachers, and to the countless (including some well-known) musicians who shared their talents each May...thank you for the music!
In 50th Fridays this week, we are celebrating the amazing teachers in Tandem's past. In 1970, Tandem began with 22 students and a handful of visionary teachers. Today our faculty of 36 stewards the education of 220 students as they grow together in tandem. While we couldn't include pictures of everyone in this video, we hope you'll see some faces you remember.
Tandem sophomores wowed the community for two evenings this week as they presented their Sophomore Seminar research projects online. Students spent second semester researching and writing a 15+ page academic paper on a subject of their choosing. The list of fascinating chosen topics ran the gamut from rap music to hyperbaric oxygen therapy (see full list here) and these students really knew their material. After completing their papers, which included detailed footnotes and bibliographies, each created and shared a short video summarizing their topic and inviting viewers to come question them during their presentations. Sophomores were divided into four half-hour long presentation groups and online guests could join the Google Hangout for any desired topic to ask questions. The sophomores provided some really interesting insights into their topics; it was an impressive evening that showed their academic maturity over the course of the semester. Well done, sophomores!
Junior Leah Gunnoe has been accepted into the Virginia Earth Systems Science Scholars academy through NASA. Leah took the five-month long NASA college course called Virginia Earth Systems and Science Scholars and was just notified that she was accepted into the summer academy as a result of her excellent work in the course. Ordinarily this academy is held at NASA Langley, but due to current unusual circumstances it will be online this year. Additionally, Leah was very excited to find out that the guest speaker will be Dr. Christin Darnden, a NASA mathematician who aided Catherine Johnson in calculating the 'go-no go' for the Apollo 11 NASA mission (from the Hidden Figures story). Well done, Leah!
It's an academic rite of passage at Tandem Friends, the Senior Project, a year-long mastery project that includes a lengthy journal, a research paper and a presentation. The Class of 2020 got to add a new element of excitement to their projects when they became the first class ever to share their projects with the community via an online format.
On April 29's Senior Project Night, seniors headed online in four half-hour sessions, and guests could choose between sessions to watch. Each senior, introduced by their faculty project advisor, presented for fifteen minutes (some simply spoke and some shared presentation slides as they spoke) and then answered questions from those in attendance.
Tandem School opened in September of 1970 with 22 students in 9th and 10th grades situated in a brick house near Pantops. In 1972, Tandem and its 67 students (now in grades 9-12) moved to the current location at the former Hillcrest Farm after the property, which the school had been hoping to lease and then buy, was purchased for Tandem by an anonymous donor.
Our Class of 2020 ventured into uncharted territory this week when they took their Senior Project presentations online. The online format provided for 15-minute presentations (followed by a short Q&A) with starts every half hour. Four to five students presented during each of four half-hour segments, and those 'attending' chose between the presentations offered, or could pop in and out to a variety. The event began with an introduction and "Virtual Lobby" to help folks find their way to the various sessions.
Seniors presented on a variety of topics (see full list here). Some spoke the entire time, others shared the screen with a presentation they had created. Sessions were well attended and often included grandparents, friends and other family from afar who were able to attend the online version. It was an amazing evening of successes for these seniors, who had the normal schedule and presentation methods upended by the move to online learning. For most, it was hardly a blip on the radar; they recalibrated and moved easily to this new normal. Check out this great video from Senior Project Committee Chair Barbara Studholme that talks about the process and honors the work the seniors have done. See a slideshow of photos (well, screenshots actually) from the evening here. Well done, Class of 2020!
We’re very proud of Tandem Friends senior Meridith Frazee, the Tandem Friends School nominee for The Emily Couric Leadership Scholarship Award, who was recently awarded a $10,000 scholarship from The Emily Couric Leadership Forum. The ten local leadership award finalists (one senior young woman from each local high school) have been honored online and in the press and the final winners announced. All finalists received a $10,000 college scholarship and one nominee received the $50,000 top award.
Meridith was honored for her commitment to and leadership around many topics, including environmental issues. Here’s what the Leadership Forum’s website shares about her: “Meridith Frazee is a poet with a love of language almost equal to her love of the outdoors. She’s also captain of the track team, where she was a 5-time winner of All-Conference track honors. As student body president, she loved serving with Tandem’s first all-female team of student officers. Meridith’s devotion to nature has made her a committed environmentalist, whose passion led to a revival of the school’s defunct Earth Club. In senior year, she helped lobby state lawmakers about conservation measures. Knocking on doors in support of a congressional candidate strengthened Meridith’s interest in politics and in the power of listening and making connections in order to solve problems. As to what lies ahead, she writes, “I will strive to be thoughtful and humble, cultivate my curiosity, and practice courage in whatever field I enter.” Here is a link to a series of videos honoring Meridith and the other finalists and shared by The Emily Couric Leadership Forum (Meridith's is at the bottom right of the webpage). Congratulations, Meridith!
Meridith is deciding between college choices of Sewanee, Kenyon and the University of Virginia for the fall.
Laura Allen recently became the newest member of the Tandem Community. She is our new Director of Philanthropy and will be leading our Annual Fund campaign and individual fundraising efforts. Laura comes to us with over a decade of fundraising experience, having worked in philanthropy at Cornell University, the World Wildlife Fund and at her alma mater, Pitzer College. She is also a Quaker school alum, having graduated from Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., which she attended from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Most recently, Laura worked for Generation180, where her efforts focused on the shift to renewable energy, including helping schools to go solar and promoting the transition from diesel to electric school buses.
Laura and her family chose to settle in Charlottesville, after comparing towns and cities across the country. C’ville won the competition with its open-minded and educated residents, its manageable size, excellent amenities and access to nature. When not at her desk, you can find Laura volunteering for climate change issues, or enjoying the great outdoors. She looks forward to the opportunity to get to know the community and hopes to support Tandem’s efforts to become environmental champions.
Tandem's Students Moving Against Climate Change (SMACC) group (formerly known as Tandem Earth) has created a terrific website you can check out at cvillesmacc.org. 8th grader Charlie Kalnite shares. "The website showcases our main project this year, which is reviewing local restaurants based on their environmental impact. So far, most of the restaurants we have reviewed have been close to Tandem (5th Street Station area, etc.) but the site will be continually updated with new reviews. The website also includes information from our other project this year, Conservation Lobby Day, so make sure to check that out as well."
Tandem 5th graders have been studying birds, both in science class and in art. Science teacher Cindy Cartwright led the students on a virtual visit to campus bluebird boxes (5th graders track bluebird house activity through the year) as well as checking in with their fish tank and tulip planting project (t fish will be moving to Cindy's with campus closed and the tulips have mostly been eaten). In the bluebird house check there were 3 nests and 5 bluebird eggs. There was a nest near the basketball courts, a nest with a hidden egg in a painted box near field house and soccer field. and 4 eggs in a nest near the garden. In 5th grade art, teacher Julia Sapir has the students learning about and drawing birds found in Virginia. Check out the beautiful works by Maya Schlesinger and Hayes Buppert.
College Counselor Catherine Gillespie hasn't missed a beat moving college counseling online. She describes her work with sophomores this week: "I met with the sophomores on Monday (giving Patty a break to grade sophomore seminars and having a chance to run my first online class!). I had them thinking about and answering questions like, "What makes you curious?", "What do you like to learn about when you can learn on your own?" and "What kinds of activities do you enjoy so much, they make you lose track of time?" We talked about how paying attention to these kinds of things can help give them insight into what types of things they may want to study in college and what they may need out of their college experience. Then, I take their answers and start trying to find colleges that might be good matches. Over Spring Break, they will each get an email from me with a short list of suggestions they may enjoy exploring. This part of the work is incredibly fun for me - a way to begin to know the sophomores and a first shot at getting them excited about some of the great options out there!"
Tandem is proud to announce that Middle School PE teacher and volleyball coach Avis Fields has been named a 2020 recipient of a Golden Apple Award for excellence in teaching. Avis has been at Tandem for four years and brings enthusiasm, compassion and excellence to her work teaching Middle Schoolers and coaching volleyball players of all ages. The student who nominated her said that: "Avis is a great teacher because she really pushes me out of my comfort zone to do better. She is always looking out for me to make sure I'm doing the best I can and she helps me both academically and socially."
Golden Apple Awards are presented each year by sponsor Richard L. Nunley (Better Living Building Supply and Cabinetry) to honor outstanding teachers in our community's schools. The awards are presented to teachers from both public and private schools (VAIS members) in Albemarle County and the city of Charlottesville. One winner is selected from each school, based upon nominations. In addition to receiving a Golden Apple, each recipient also earns a grant of $500, which can be used for classroom materials or to support professional development. Golden Apple Award recipients will be honored in an online ceremony on May 21. Congratulations, Avis!
5th grade math teacher Cindy Cartwright shared some first week online learning insights and screenshots - it's nice to see and hear how they are working together online. She shared that there were a few too many decimal points all over the screen, but other than that the lesson went well.
5th grade music students, under the guidance of teacher and musician Cameron Pampus, are recording their own beats and compositions using SoundTrap online. While the assignment instructions might seem complicated to some of us, these 5th graders know their technology and have created some pretty cool recordings already. They create a file, import a beat, and then can collaborate with a partner (or not) to addd a bass line, other instruments, vocals, effects, and more. Pretty amazing! Check out some audio clips below as they work their way towards creating songs together:
As 6th graders continue to work on their musical Willy Wonka together online, running lines and working on individual songs, they are also adding in some fun 'Wonka' activities. Teacher Lydia Horan this week assigned them a fun project - to create a new Wonka candy recipe, make it at home, and share the recipe with their classmates online. Here's a delicious example from Christiana Crisler - a recipe she calls Wonka's Popping Chocolate - turned into a brief video instruction. Yummy! Thanks for sharing! And watch for a Daily Progress article this weekend about how Lydia and the 6th graders are managing to rehearse a musical online.
Tandem Friends has successfully transitioned to online learning amid the COVID-19 - related school closures. Tandem had already begun implementing its transition to online learning prior to the Governor’s decision to close school campuses because we believed that it was in the best interest of the greater community to institute social distancing by proactively and quickly transitioning to a virtual classroom model. As a Chromebook-based smaller independent school that only educates adolescents, providing distance education was something Tandem Friends was well positioned to put in place. March 13 and 16 were used as prep days for our amazing and dedicated faculty and staff to refine online versions of their curricula and test our online teaching technology and protocols. Parents and students were sent detailed communications explaining how the first “transition” week would proceed. On Tuesday, March 17, Tandem Friends School began online school: the first week was very successful - a true testament to our creative and dedicated faculty.
Students and faculty are learning together online each day from 9am to 2pm, maintaining an adjusted version of our regular schedule, with more flexibility built into Fridays. All of our courses are being taught online, not just History and Math but also Drama, Visual Art, and Jazz Band. Here are a couple of pictures of our teachers and students working from home together.
As a school that has community at its heart, we are focusing on keeping students and teachers connected during this difficult time, maintaining our commitment to provide to all of our students a purposeful educational experience based on a spirit of inquiry and collaboration. We’re also providing our families with a number of resources (like these) to help them during this time.
Tandem's community remains strong and focused on continued learning and the connections that define who we are. We are so proud of the way our students, teachers, staff and parents have worked together to make the transition to online learning so successful.
Check out these photos of students and teachers working together from home.
Check out a TV news piece about Tandem's online learning here.
Senior Composition students completed their work on Ken Kesey's classic novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Based on their own insights into a particular book character, students created collages representing that character's life or journey, then virtually presented them to one another online. Each presentation included both an image of the completed collage and a writeup explaining each element of the collage and what it represents. Despite the fact that students and teacher Tucker Winter had to switch the project to online midstream, the class went really well! Students mastered both the material and the technology to complete their projects, capture then digitally, and upload them for the class. Now they are moving on to Catcher in the Rye.
On Thursday, March 12th, 8th-12th graders participated in our annual Teach-in Day, organized by our Friends Council and Diversity Council (Upper School student groups that facilitate the Quaker life of our school and student diversity programming, respectively). On Teach-in Day, regular classes are halted and students join together for special workshops and activities around a particular topic. This year's Teach-in Day focused on mental health issues and healing. Student planners sought out community members help lead workshops to either deepen their understanding of these complex problems or talk about actions students can take to make change and facilitate healing in themselves and others. It was an educational and empowering day, with adult-led workshops as follows:
Carolyn Schuyler of Wildrock talked about nature and mental health
Susie Bruce (Tandem parent) of UVA's Gordie Center talked about bystander intervention
Darlene Green, an Art Therapist with Hospice of the Piedmont, talked about grief and art therapy
Gordon Fields, Tandem's Director of Diversity, talked about diversity and mental health
Bridget Baylin (Tandem parent), a wellness professional, talked about the benefits of ayurveda and taught a yoga workshop
Student leaders offered mental wellness-themed afternoon activities that included yoga, sidewalk chalk, a nature walk, outdoor games on the field, and an open art studio. It was a great day that helped students talk about and learn to manage mental health issues and anxiety.
Tandem's Middle School Debate Team competes in events through the Charlottesville Debate League. At an event last weekend, team members Mattea Gaines, Naia Downs-Reeve and Rachel Branch competed (there are more members on the team itself) and performed well in the Original Oratory category. Their topic was, "What would you uninvent if you could rid the world of one thing?" Naia and Mattea were among the four finalists by debate's end and 8th grader Mattea wound up winning first place with her chosen topic of the Barbie doll, which focused on issues of body positivity and ideals of beauty. Well done, Mattea and fellow debaters!
A Tandem team of Upper Schoolers - seniors Nathan Stevenson and Josh Warren and juniors Ford Scott and Nate Winter - competed in the 2020 Enactus High School Case Competition held at UVA's McIntire School on February 28. Their assignment was to come up with a product pitch that would speak to this question - "Voice Wars: What is next for Google’s voice technology?" After analyzing the industry and choosing a domain, each team had to develop a recommendation and presentation that could be a brand new product, a modification of existing products, or a combination, then make recommendations about how it could be 'monetized' and how it could differ from the competition. Tandem's team of entrepreneurs created a product called Google Fusion which would serve as a central connection for all things Google, like Google home, Google security, gaming, etc. all while allowing for subscription streaming services. Their concept and presentation were impressive and they finished in third. Of special note - all of the judges (execs from sponsor C & F Bank) said they would actually buy the Tandem team's products. Well done, young businessmen!
Our varsity girls basketball team headed to the DAC tournament finals on Saturday, February 22 at Highland School, playing Randolph Macon Academy for the championship title (the girls ended the regular DAC season in first place as well, so were already regular season champs with a record of 11-6). The girls played a great tourney finals game, coming out ahead by a score of 52-37. After the game, All-Conference honors were plentiful for the Badgers, with Alana Carter-Johnston winning conference Player of the Year, Coach Kerry Shelton earning Coach of the Year, Stella Lane on first team, Elyse Jabalee-Farrell on second team, and Hallie Spencer and Elaine Xie earning honorable mention. Way to go, Badgers! We'll be waiting for the new championship banner to show up in the gym - you earned it with your wonderful season of play.
Our Speaker Series on January 31 featured Tandem co-founder John Howard, who came to regale the community with his thoughts on and stories of Tandem's early years. He brought along Tandem alum Nathalie Heyward (TFS '76), who shared her own experiences of Tandem in the '70s. Howard said that he and co-founder Duncan Alling faced many obstacles as they opened co-ed, integrated Tandem School in 1970. The school's progressive, college prep mission with mottoes of Kindness and Wisdom and Freedom with Responsibility met with local skepticism. Those opinions began to change in 1973 when six of the seniors in the first graduating class were admitted to UVA. John spoke about the importance of kindness, of strengthening yourself so that you can help others, of leaving Tandem with what you have learned and going out to change the world. He both inspired and challenged today's Tandem students to embrace and stay true to those guiding philosophies. Nathalie spoke with humor about the Tandem she experienced after being at a more strict school, and shared some great stories of student life here. Both of them answered many student questions with honesty and humor. What a gift it was for our community to hear from them today!
Two talented Tandem runners trekked to Richmond for the VISAA State Indoor Track Meet on February 15 at St. Christopher's. Unlike other sports where state competitions are separated by size of school, indoor track lumps all private schools together regardless of size into one group. Junior Mason Love ran the 3200 meter (a few feet short of 2 miles) in 9:44.39, finishing second in the state. Lilly Bower made her first state appearance as a 9th grader running the 500 meter (equivalent of running 1 lap and a straightaway on an outdoor track). She ran it in 1:27.04, finishing 12th in the state. Way to go, Badgers!!
Tandem's Science Olympiad teams labored hard at the Charlottesville Regional Tournament on February 15, putting in several hours of hard work by participating in 19 events of competitive science. Tandem's Division B (middle school) team competed against 23 other teams representing a total of 11 other schools while Tandem's two Division C (high school) teams competed against 22 other teams representing 13 other schools. This represented a significant increase in the number of high schools attending the Charlottesville Regional Tournament and the competition was fierce. Due to the increase in competitors, only the top 50% of schools could qualify for the state competition (6 Division B schools and 7 Division C schools).
Tandem's efforts were rewarded at the awards ceremony with medals in several events for Division C (details below):
Division C medals:
- Ping-Pong Parachute: 3rd place medal (Dylan Peifer & Patrick Jabalee-Farrell)
- Anatomy & Physiology: 5th place medal (Daisy Schult & Sophie Farr)
- Astronomy: 5th place medal (Ethan Barnes & Jimmy Zheng)
- Boomilever: 5th place medal (Nathan Stevenson & Josh Warren)
- Forensics: 3rd place medal (Leah Gunnoe & Sophie Stevenson)
- Ornithology: 2nd place medal (Ethan Barnes & Jimmy Zheng )
- Ping-Pong Parachute: 1st place medal (Sophie Stevenson & Xu Xu)
However, based on the preliminary results Tandem will sadly notearn an invitation to the state tournament. To determine whether a school earned a qualifying spot, the best teamscore earned by the school was compared to the best team score earned by each other school to create a ranked list (out of 12 for Division B and out of 14 for Division C). Tandem earned a rank of 12/12 in Division B (ranks 1-6 qualify for the state tournament in Division B) and 8/14 in Division C (ranks 1-7 qualify for the state tournament in Division C).
Sophie Stevenson, Ethan Barnes, and Jimmy Zheng each earned medals in two out of the three events they competed in. Tandem showed dominating performance in the Division C Ping-Pong Parachute event, taking 1st and 3rd place. Well done, Tandem scientists and team mentors Alex Siragy and Christine Putnam!!
Tandem's young scientists and engineers head to the regional Science Olympiad tournament on Saturday, February 15. Tandem is represented by one middle school (Division B) team and two high school (Division C) teams. The tournament is being held at Charlottesville High School and the Tandem teams' homeroom is the cafeteria. The tournament (click here for program details) keeps most events closed to the public, but some are open to spectators and Tandem students will be presenting their devices publicly as follows - please go and support them:
Boomilever (Jon-Michael) - 9:10 am
Mousetrap Vehicle (Solly, Josie) - 9:10 am
Ping-Pong Parachute (Emi, Jon-Michael) - 10:15 am
Elastic Launch Glider (Linwood) - 1:50 pm
Mission Possible (Solly) - 4:00 pm
Ping-Pong Parachute (Sophie S, Xu, Dylan) - 9:10 am
Division C, Team C15, Coach Alex: Jimmy Zheng, Ethan Barnes, Sophie Farr, Leah Gunnoe, Daisy Schult, Ford Scott, Sophie Stevenson, Xu Xu, Jack Chen, Jonathan Scholl, Beth Anne Simpson, Nathan Stevenson, Josh Warren, Adam Zhang, Elyse Jabalee-Farrel
Division C, Team C14, Coach Alex: Max Frazee, Patrick Jabalee-Farrell, Cora McKown, Dylan Peifer
Teams that do well in this regional round of Science Olympiad proceed to the next, higher round of competition.
On our February 12 Mosaic Day, each grade spent their time a little differently. Mosaic Days typically focus on alternative learning with the theme of Quaker values and service learning and this was another full day of learning for the whole community.
In addition to attending some of their regular academic classes, in the Middle School the 5th and 6th graders enjoyed a morning visit from Diana Connolly of the International Rescue Committee, who discussed their work with refugee families. 7th and 8th graders watched a film about the1963 Children's March in Birmingham, held a Meeting for Worship and enjoyed some game time in the gym. After lunch, all Middle Schoolers attended a powerful and informative Immigration Panel, with community guests (parent Amita Sudhir, parent Tim Bullock, parent Gulli Usmonova, and 8th grader Jenk Lancheros with her mother Jessica Nino) who came to share about their own personal immigration stories. 5th and 6th graders came prepared with a long list of questions and every panelist answered every inquiry. It was a powerful and moving experience for all who attended. Late afternoon brought science - with 5th graders presenting their layers of the earth projects (posters, PowerPoints and models that depicted the density, texture and depth of the Earth's layers) while 7th and 8th graders held an engineering competition, building supports that were load tested for strength.
In the Upper School, 9th graders performed service work for the Habitat for Humanity Store. 10th graders worked on research, continued a budget project, then headed to the Downtown Mall for lunch and visits to art exhibits at the Jefferson School (Americans who Tell the Truth) and the Artspace. Juniors watched a film on Civil Rights organizer Baward Rustin, held a Meeting for Worship and then worked on school service projects. Seniors started with the video Border Crossings, then heard from parent Eddie Summers, an immigration lawyer who spoke about immigration law, current trends and how to be an ally to immigrants. Seniors then focused on upcoming projects. Check out some Mosaic Day photos.
Our 8th graders had a science lesson that they’ll never forget when Landon Harris, an experienced fire and rescue worker and proud Tandem parent of 8th grader Abigayle Harris, came to talk to them about the principles of physics and demonstrate how to operate the “jaws of life” rescue tool. After some discussion of the physics behind the amazing lifesaving device that is comprised of ram, cutter and wedge tools all in one, Landon took the students outside, donned his protective gear, and handed out safety goggles and hardhats to students who would assist in the ‘jaws of life’ demo. Local Shull’s Wrecker and Repair generously hauled over a wrecked car for the demo (then hauled it back afterwards), and some lucky 8th graders actually got to apply the tools to a real car, learning how first responders use the ‘jaws of life’ to physically break into a vehicle to remove accident victims. Each class (there are two science sections) got to help break out two windows and one side of the car’s roof. It was thrilling! One 8th grade participant shared, “First you break the glass, then you open the window more or peel off the roof and use the ram to push the dashboard off of the victim. It was very interesting to see how the jaws of life are used to save lives. Destroying a car was pretty fun, too.” Many, many thanks to Landon Harris, the Chesterfield County fire department and Schull’s for this impactful, hands-on lesson and for the vital, life-saving work that you do. Thanks to Edwina Herring for the great photos and details.
A large Tandem Friends delegation left on Thursday morning to attend the Model United Nations Conference being held February 6-9 in Baltimore, MD. Hosted by Johns Hopkins University and held at the Baltimore Convention Center, the event attracts high school students from all over the region. Students participate in mock international relations by serving on 31 different committees and playing the part of whatever diplomatic role they are given. With not much time to prepare, each school's delegation must research specific areas of interest to their diplomatic positions to prepare reports and arguments to present at the Model UN committee meetings, councils and courts. According to their website, "Delegates will often find that easy solutions can be elusive and will come to appreciate that only difficult compromises and extensive diplomacy will engender progress." In addition to the stressful work of world peace, students get to enjoy other activitities with delegates from other schools, including a dance, dinners, and a culture show. The keynote speaker is Eliot Cohen, Dean of the Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).
This year’s Tandem delegates, chaperoned by teachers Melissa Winder, Susan Brodie and Alex Siragy, include freshman Max Frazee; sophomores Harper Tidwell and Caroline Baylin; juniors Sophie Farr, Sophie Stevenson, Anna Kalnite, Rosalind Werner-Winslow, Leah Gunnoe, Olivia Bowers, Suraya Whynott, Austin Chinn, Granger Brown, Julian Macalister, Nate Winter, Kemp Reisky, Daisy Schult, and Julia Davis; and seniors Elise Van der Loo, Lauren Shotwell, Mei Ling Tharp, Phiala Deal, Olivia Bullock, Kate Hynes, and Lewis Summers.
Tandem students are working on the following committees at this gathering:
Special Political and Decolonization
The Legal Committee
Historic United States Senate, 1918
World Health Organization
International Monetary Fund
ITU & UNESCO
State of Israel - Yom Kippur War of 1973
Spanish Constitutional Crisis of 2017
Guerra Sucia de Argentina (1976)
World Intellectual Property Organization
Futuristic General Assembly: Development Goals (2029)
They work through four full sessions - one session on the first evening, two on the second day, and a final session on the last day. We can't wait to hear more about their trip.
Tandem senior Elise Van Der Loo recently had the opportunity to attend Legislative Advocacy Day at the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond on January 29. She attended with Tandem Friends alum Hannah Firdyiwek (TFS '08) and a small delegation of local women. Hannah currently works as the Prevention Services Coordinator at the Shelter for Help in Emergency (SHE), a local nonprofit that works with victims of domestic/intimate partner violence and their families. As the Prevention Services Coordinator, Hannah's work focuses primarily on encouraging healthy relationships, increasing protective factors, and promoting positive youth development with youth in the area. Hannah has presented some healthy relationship programming to Tandem teens the past two years, which sparked Elise's interest in her work and Legislative Advocacy Day.
The purpose of the Advocacy Day trip was to gain an understanding of the legislative process, advocate for policies they feel strongly about, and potentially assist in the enactment of new bills over the coming year. The group spoke to Rob Bell and legislative aides from the offices of Creigh Deeds, Matthew Farris, and Sally Hudson, mainly talking about House Bill 1015, which is asking for 5 million dollars to expand prevention programs regarding domestic abuse and sexual assault. They also got to participate in a Sexual & Domestic Violence Advocates gathering in the Capitol House Gallery. What an educational experience!
Tandem senior Meridith Frazee has just been announced as first-place winner in the high school Poetry category of the 33rd Annual Writer's Eye competition. Her poem, entitled woodcutand based on "Misty Spring" by Torii Kotondo, was selected over many other entries from students in grades 9-12. Meridith is a dedicated writer who, last semester, took an independent poetry study/writing class. Another Tandem Friends community member, current parent Jenny Koster, won first place in the University/Adult Poetry category for her poem Lineage, based on Maria Varela’s “Handing Spinning, Village of Los Ojos, NM, 1985”. View the art pieces that inspired their writings here. Congratulations to both talented Tandem poets! Writer’s Eye, hosted by UVA's Fralin Art Museum,is an annual literary competition for local and regional writers of all ages who create original poetry and prose based on visual works of art chosen by the museum (eight pieces were chosen this year). Using visual art as inspiration for the creation of original poetry and prose, interested writers and student groups can participate in interactive tours from September to November to inspire their writing (3500 participants this year). This year's entries (there were 1296 total entries from all around the region) were judged by novelist Micheline Aharonian Marcom and poet Gregory Orr, and winners (1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in each category), including Meridith and Jenny, will be honored on March 15 in a ceremony at UVA. All winning written pieces are published in an annual Writer's Eye anthology; free copies available at The Fralin. Tandem Friends students in most grades participate in The Writer's Eye every year and we frequently field honored entries.
On Tuesday, January 28, several Tandem eighth graders (Charlie Kalnite, Solly Goluboff-Schragger, Kaia Caduff, Maisie Whiting, Josie Fischman, Rachel Branch and Emi Murphy), led by senior Meridith Frazee and teachers Christine Putnam and Anne Deane, went to Conservation Lobby Day in Richmond. They were representing SMAACC or The Students Making Action Against Climate Change, which is the rebranded Tandem Earth group. They talked to their delegates and senators and presented to them about our changing climate. Topics ranged from plastic in the ocean to transportation to net-metering. They also went into the capitol and watched both the Senate and the House deliberate and vote on bills. SMAACC is going to continue to track bills and lobby for these issues.
Four Tandem Friends students, led by History teacher and Friends Council mentor Jason Farr, boarded a bus to Newtown, PA to attend the annual Quaker Youth Leadership Conference, hosted by The George School January 30 through February 1. Tandem's student delegation includes seniors Meridith Frazee, and Nathan Stevenson; junior Sophie Farr; and, sophomore Sophie Passino. This year's theme, "Spirit-led Activism: Embracing the Tension," will ask participants to consider queries such as: "How can we productively use our privilege to better the world around us? How can self-reflection help focus our action against social injustice? How can compassion help inspire activism? How can I be most effective at addressing racial injustice? In what ways can tension be a starting place for conversation? How can leaning into discomfort help me gain perspective on other people's experiences?" Parcitipants will sleep and dine at The George School, which will also host student workshops, keynote speaker Daniel Hunter, meetings for worship, a talent show, and visits to Philadelphia sites such as the historic Arch Street Meeting House, the National Constitution Center, Reading Terminal Market, Friends Center, and a presentation and sessions with American Friends Service Committee on “Decolonizing the Future” and “Talking to the Media.” They also led a workshop on “Competing with Kindness,” or how Friends schools can balance competitive academics and athletics with our commitment to equality and inclusion. Tandem teacher/chaperone Farr shared that, "for all the cynicism and strife in the world, it was inspiring to see these future leaders envisioning a better tomorrow."
Tandem students always return from QYLC fueled with ideas and information that will help inspire and guide our community.
We have a winner! The two-part Tandem edition of the Scripps National Spelling Bee competition was held during Speaker Series on January 24 and during community time on January 28. The community was happy to welcome back former Latin teacher Brett Brunner, who served as this year's bee moderator (as he has done for many years). Middle School students - there were over thirty who entered - competed to win the Tandem title, then will go on to compete locally against other area school winners. It took two rounds of competition, but 7th grader Graham Holub came out the victor, with 7th grader Izzy Goodbar the runner up. Words such as jodhpurs, guanine, diaphoresis, and Lascaux did not phase our competitiors, who battled it out until the very end. Congratulations, spelling champs!
A win in this local school round moves the winner forward to state and possibly national competition in this 93rd annual Scripps National Spelling Bee. The next round of the bee, the regional one, is hosted by The Daily Progress and will be held on Saturday, March 7 (watch for details). In this bee, winners of the bees held at area middle schools will compete for the chance to go to the state tournament. Good luck, Graham!
In the January 10 Speaker Series, eight recent alums came to share their wisdom about college with our juniors and seniors. They spoke eloquently about how and why they chose their schools, and gave great advice about how to settle in and find friends, and how to organize your time. They answered many student and faculty questions about what worked for them at Tandem and what's working for them in college. We love this annual event as it brings back beloved alums to share their insights and advice about their college selection process and college life. They always provide authentic and heartfelt input. Many thanks to Zeke Weiss (TFS '18, Guilford College), Elie Bashkow (TFS '18, UVA after gap year), Eli Ratzlaff (TFS '16, UVA), Emma Johnson (TFS '19, Kenyon College), Tori Carter-Johnston (TFS '18, Howard University), Kate Dean McKinney (TFS '17, William & Mary), Latrell Winkey (TFS '18, VCU), and Fisher Brodie (TFS '18, Alfred University after gap year) for sharing their time today. This annual Speaker Series is always a favorite.
On January 16, Tandem observed one of several Mosaic Days built into our annual schedule, and each grade spent their time a little differently. Mosaic Days typically focus on alternative learning with the theme of Quaker values and service learning and this one was no different. It was a full day of learning for the whole community.
On this January Mosaic Day, Middle Schoolers together participated in the National Geographic Geography Bee, with 8th grader Charlie Kalnite coming out victorious and ready to represent Tandem at the next levels (first taking an online test to determine if he will advance to state-level competition). Later, Middle Schoolers worked on some unique academic collaborations. For example, 5th graders learned about molas, a traditional textile art made by the Kuna people of Panama. In a joint art-Spanish class taught in both English and Spanish, the students created their own molas out of colored paper. While traditional molas depict geometric designs, the students' artwork featured animals and colorful Kuna-inspired designs. 7th and 8th grade students performed some service work that included singing at a local rehab facility, writing cards to Children's Hospital, prepping for Conservation Lobby Day, and more. Middle Schoolers ended the day with films that shared a theme of racism.
9th graders watched a powerful film about World War I to further their studies on the topic, then enjoyed some mindfulness activities. Sophomores had the UVA Dreamers speakers come to talk with them, watched a film about Charlottesville's Vinegar Hill neighborhood, and spent the afternoon in an interactive budgeting activity. Juniors also heard from the UVA Dreamers, then began work on a Tandem history and archives project focused on our upcoming 50th anniversary. Seniors focused their day on the topic of immigration/ICE, including hearing the story of local Guatemalan asylum seeker Maria, whose church minister has spoken to students at Tandem before. Maria also taught students how to make rellenos de plátano and doblados, made from masa, vegetables and chicken.
Tandem's annual Upper School One Act Play extravaganza will be held January 24-26, featuring student actors in grades 8-12, with one play that features a faculty/staff cast of actors. There is something for everyone - the four plays presented will be:
Candid by Michael Scanlan; directed by Rosalind Werner-Winslow (TFS '21)
13 Ways to Screw Up Your College Interview by Ian McWethy; directed by Mary Lyman Bias (TFS '02); assistant directed by Abri Roberts-Kedes (TFS '20)
Variations on the Death of Trotsky by David Ives; directed by Lewis Summers (TFS '20)
Father Knows Best: A New Housekeeper (A Radio Play) by Ed James; directed by Perry Medlin (faculty play)
Tandem students are directing or assistant directing three of the plays and an alum is directing one of them as well. Perry Medlin serves as producer for all of the shows, with help from a student stage manager. Performances are Friday and Saturday, January 24 and 25 at 7pm and Sunday, January 26 at 2pm. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors.
The second annual Tandem Speaks! event will take place on Friday, March 13 at Piedmont Virginia Community College. This year's featured speaker is John Hunter, a former Tandem parent, a celebrated educator, author and creator of the renowned World Peace Game, which teaches players the work of peace, compromise and collaboration. Here is a link to his popular TEDTalk describing the process. Tickets go on sale online January 31 and will be $35 per person in advance/$40 at the door. Benefactor tickets for $125 will include a pre-event cocktail party with drinks and appetizers. Sponsorship opportunities available. Contact Lauren Coyner for details.
The Middle School held its annual National Geographic Geography Bee on January 16. Each year, thousands of schools in America (the bee is for students in grades 4-8) participate to select a school winner who has the chance to go further and represent their school in the state - and maybe - the national bee. Tandem's competition was tough, but 8th grader Charlie Kalnite persevered to earn the title of champion. 8th grader Jon-Michael Benedict came in second, with 7th grader Maggie Winter in third place. History teacher Tom Spivey served as bee moderator.
Charlie moves forward in the bee competition by taking an online National Geographic test between now and February 7 to see if he qualifies to compete in the state tournament. Virginia's state bee will be held on March 27; the winner of the state bee moves on to the national championship.