Setting the Standard for Excellence in Distance Learning

We believe that deep thinking and meaningful, engaging learning can happen at a distance.

At Rowland Hall, relationships matter, and the strong relationships we develop throughout the year—combined with the amazing flexibility and creativity of our teachers and students—have helped us implement distance-learning programs that support all of our students’ learning and well-being.

Our divisional distance-learning plans are designed to encourage students’ voices and keep them engaged, learning, and growing. At the same time, the plans provide frequent and meaningful opportunities for connection and community. We use familiar and predictable structures to meet the needs of our learners. Each school day, students engage with their teachers and embark on a variety of learning activities, just as they would during a normal school day. Students are encouraged to read, write, and share ideas; explore, create, experiment, and explain; and move and play. 

We hope that all students and families take full advantage of the distance-learning opportunities our educators are creating. Even if they're not physically on campus, it's our belief that our students can experience the extraordinary learning and joyful sense of community that define Rowland Hall.

Divisional Overviews

Rowland Hall's distance learning is rooted in our five values. By staying true to our values, we ensure that students remain excited about learning, have stability in regards to their education, and feel prepared for their next year of school

VALUES:

THINK DEEPLY
LEARN FOR LIFE
WELCOME EVERYONE
LIVE WITH PURPOSE
RELATIONSHIPS MATTER

Distance-Learning Stories

Crustacean Legislation: Fourth Graders Petition Utah to Make Brine Shrimp a State Symbol

Introduction by Marianne Love, Fourth-Grade Teacher

Fourth grade at Rowland Hall is all about Utah. As we studied both brine shrimp and the legislative process this year, we thought, What better time than distance learning to combine the two?!

After learning how bills become laws, students took it upon themselves to petition our state government to make the brine shrimp the official crustacean of Utah. Who would ever think a landlocked state could possibly have a state crustacean? Students used their persuasive-writing skills to craft letters to our governor and state legislators. Below, Dean Filippone’s letter is one shining example of what a dedicated Rowland Hall fourth grader can create.


May 6, 2020

Dear Governor Herbert, State Representatives, and State Senators:

I am a student at Rowland Hall in fourth grade and I am writing to you because I love the state of Utah. I only have one suggestion to make Utah even better: we can become the only landlocked state in the United States of America that has a state crustacean. The crustacean l nominate is the brine shrimp.

Brine shrimp are like people of Utah in that we are both persistent and don’t give up.

Dean with his letter to state lawmakers.

   Dean with his letter to state lawmakers.

There are many cool facts about brine shrimp that remind me about Utah and the great people in it. For example, did you know that a brine shrimp is barely the size of a pencil eraser, yet because there are so many in the Great Salt Lake, their combined weight is more than 13,000 elephants? It reminds me of Utah because we are all very small in the face of the world, but when we work together we can do even the hardest things.

Another reason that brine shrimp should be the Utah state crustacean is because they’ve been around for over 600,000 years! Brine shrimp are part of this great state’s history, and should be acknowledged as a state crustacean!

Brine shrimp are like people of Utah in that we are both persistent and don’t give up. In fact, brine shrimp can survive at 221 Fahrenheit for two hours and still live. The cysts can even survive for 25 years without food! Utahns have survived a lot of persecution; not to mention challenges with the weather and having to form communities in the high mountains and mountain deserts. Brine shrimp and the people of Utah are tough!

Brine shrimp are very rare. Do you know that only Utah and California have brine shrimp in the United States?

It would be an honor to be the first landlocked state to have a state crustacean! Currently, there are only six states that have a state crustacean. They are: Oregon, Maryland, Texas, Maine, Alabama, and Louisiana. All of these six states are on the water. Unlike these states, Utah is landlocked so we would be unique as the first landlocked state to ever have a state crustacean. 

The final reason l hope you will consider is that brine shrimp are very rare. Do you know that only Utah and California have brine shrimp in the United States? It would be special to have them as our crustacean. These are dark days with COVID-19 so we should celebrate all nature and other things to make us feel better.

Thank you for your consideration, and l hope to hear from you soon.

Sincerely,
Dean


Top image: Teacher Marianne Love wades in the Great Salt Lake during a fourth-grade field trip to Antelope Island in May 2018.

student voices

Debate Season Ends with Seniors’ Top-15 Finish at Virtual TOC, More National Qualifiers Than Any Other School, and a State Title

In the words of Rowland Hall debate coach Mike Shackelford, debate finds a way.

COVID-19 led school campuses across the country to shutter about a month before the April 17–20 Tournament of Champions (TOC), debate’s most prestigious national competition. But like so many annual events, TOC went virtual for the first time, pitting the country’s best young debaters against each other—Zoom style.

Seniors Steven Doctorman and Adrian Gushin (pictured above) finished 14th nationally in policy debate—a praiseworthy end to their careers considering it’s a feat to even qualify for the TOC. Adrian was also recognized as the tournament's 10th-best speaker—a special accomplishment for the senior, his coach said. Watch their final round below.

Steven and Adrian were naturally disappointed when the in-person TOC was cancelled, Mike explained, but they weren’t intimidated by the ensuing challenges. The duo was fortunate enough to have the time and resources to upgrade their technology, research new arguments, and practice online debate for weeks leading up to the TOC.

Trying to convince a judge or channel ethos was a difficult task over Zoom... It was fantastic to lead the charge for innovating new forms of argumentation.—Senior Steven Doctorman

“Online debate is twice as draining because it's still the same intensity, but with far more screen time,” Mike said, summarizing his team’s sentiments. 

Plus, debate is an inherently social activity, Steven explained, from “sneaking conversations in the hallway” to the competition itself. “Trying to convince a judge or channel ethos was a difficult task over Zoom because we weren’t physically in the room with them,” he said. Still, online debate may be a larger feature for future tournaments—Mike suspects the TOC will be a model for fall competitions—“so it was fantastic to lead the charge for innovating new forms of argumentation or strategies,” Steven said.

The duo’s adaptability and hard work paid off with a top-15 finish, which is approximately where they've ranked all year, Mike said. “They lost on a 2–1 decision in their last round, so it was a nail-biter the whole time, but they are in a good space in how they finished their careers. Some inspirational moments, some frustrating times, countless academic arguments...In the end it was a ‘regular’ debate tournament!”

Steven echoed his coach’s positivity. “The TOC, whether online or in person, serves as the culmination of four years of dedication and hard work, so it’s fantastic to see our hard work finally pay off,” the senior said. “Our final debate was one of the best of my career and was ultimately a satisfying end despite the loss. We couldn’t have done it without Mikee’s fantastic coaching and consistent support from our team throughout the season.”

Going digital didn’t dull Winged Lion team spirit: throughout the TOC, several teammates encouraged Steven and Adrian by watching their rounds and giving them feedback, Mike added. “It was a rallying point for the program.”

Indeed, going digital didn’t dull team spirit: throughout the TOC, several teammates encouraged Steven and Adrian by watching their rounds and giving them feedback, Mike added. “It was a rallying point for the program.”

Pre-TOC triumphs also contributed to yet another successful debate season. For one, juniors Sophie Dau and Auden Bown took home the state title in policy debate for the 3A classification, the only group to finish their state tournament prior to COVID-19 closures. And at the national qualifying tournament, senior Zoey Sheinberg and sophomore Emery Bahna qualified in public forum debate, and sophomores Samantha Lehman and George Drakos qualified in policy debate. Plus, earlier this year, the already decorated Mike won Speech Educator of the Year for Utah.

The 3A state tournament, the national qualifying tournament, and the TOC represent the trifecta of the postseason, according to Mike. “It was incredible to have consistent excellence from different students,” the proud coach said. Whether fall competitions happen in person or online, we know that excellence will endure under the expert guidance of coach Mikee.

Debate

The Rowland Hall Roots & Shoots club meets Jane Goodall.

By Samantha Paisley, Class of 2021 

In October 2019, the Rowland Hall Roots & Shoots club had an incredible opportunity when, through the connections made by biology teacher Rob Wilson, they were invited to a lecture given by Dr. Jane Goodall at the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law. Samantha Paisley, co-president of the club, and four other members attended this event and met Dr. Goodall. Below, Samantha reflects on the experience and shares how Dr. Goodall inspired her.

We were all so excited for the opportunity to listen to Dr. Jane Goodall. I took notes, trying to capture every bit of knowledge that was being absorbed by the room. Every time I looked around, the audience was captivated, fixated, listening. We learned about her childhood and her lifelong love for animals. We learned that as a young woman she had followed her passions and, once she had saved enough money to get on a boat in England, she went straight to Tanzania. 

Dr. Goodall’s research redefined what it means to be human.

As I write this reflection on Mother’s Day, I am looking back at Jane’s origin story and am in awe of the amount of support she got from her mother, Margaret Joseph. Her mother was the one who got her her first animal book when she was little, and her mother encouraged her to hop on a boat with very few plans. It was also her mother who saw Jane’s love for animals. Margaret knew what Jane was capable of, and she did whatever she could to help her daughter follow her dreams. Mind you, this was in the 1960s. And Margaret was onto something, as Dr. Goodall’s research redefined what it means to be human.

After the lecture, our club was led out the back entrance of the room, down a very long hallway, down some stairs, and finally ushered into a waiting room with other small groups. The Rowland Hall Roots & Shoots club was then escorted into a brightly lit conference room. At once, Dr. Goodall walked into the room. The first thing she said was, “Bahh please, you must turn these lights off. There is no need for ceiling lights when we have beautiful natural daylight!” That's all I needed to hear. After that one sentence, I was satisfied. I was standing less than 10 feet away from Dr. Goodall, and she had captivated the room by walking in and noticing that the lights didn't need to be on in the middle of that day. I have never met anyone with such influence. I guess if someone is an icon it doesn't really matter what they do. Nevertheless, I couldn't have been more humbled to meet such a well-known woman who cared more about the lights and conserving energy than she did about fame and popularity.

She sat down right next to me and asked us what we were doing with our club. I told her my co-president Elena Barker and I had designed our chapter of the Roots & Shoots club as an educational platform to teach lower schoolers the importance of the environment. I told her about the learning games we played with the kids at the Sunnyvale Neighborhood Center’s aftercare program. 

I know Dr. Goodall wouldn’t stop even if the entire world were shut down. Therefore, during this time I have not stopped being conscious of my carbon footprint and I try to minimize how much plastic I use on a daily basis. I have also continued to brainstorm ideas for next year, which will hopefully be the best year the Rowland Hall branch of the Roots & Shoots club has ever seen.

She thought this was good but something told me it wasn't good enough. To put Dr. Goodall’s influence into perspective, at the age of 86, she travels almost every day, all around the world, spreading her message. She must be exhausted, but activism and the education of the youth of the world are most important to her. It's incredible that after she gives a talk, she then takes the time to sit down with a few high schoolers to discuss how to best educate little kids on the importance of protecting the environment. The conversation didn’t feel rushed or artificial either. I sensed she genuinely cared.

Elena and I took her motivation to heart. We needed to be doing more, but it needed to be meaningful. So we decided to continue with our theme of education, with a goal to connect our community, just like Dr. Goodall had connected the world. In addition to the Lower School kids, we set our sights on influencing a tougher crowd—sixth graders. We joined the sixth grade on a snowshoe hike to learn about the watershed, the trees, and the animals in the Wasatch. We had plans to play interactive games similar to the ones we created with Sunnyvale. We were also planning a trail cleanup and maintenance day with them this spring. Unfortunately, everything was canceled due to COVID-19. But I know Dr. Goodall wouldn’t stop even if the entire world were shut down. Therefore, during this time I have not stopped being conscious of my carbon footprint and I try to minimize how much plastic I use on a daily basis. I have also continued to brainstorm ideas for next year, which will hopefully be the best year the Rowland Hall branch of the Roots & Shoots club has ever seen.


Top photo, from left: Rob Wilson, Grace Smith, Katie Kern, Dr. Goodall, Samantha Paisley, and Heidi Paisley.

Ethical Education

Refresh page when toggling 'compose' mode on and off to edit.

Recommended Image Size: 1440px wide by 600px tall
(this text will not display with 'compose' mode off or on live site)