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Learning Continues

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Our Campus is Temporarily Closed, But Our Learning Continues

Rowland Hall launched its distance-learning program on March 17 and delivered curriculum remotely through the end of the 2019–2020 school year due to COVID-19. Though on-campus classes and activities were cancelled, our teachers and students stayed connected via digital tools such as Canvas, Zoom, and Google's G Suite. We thank our entire community for their partnership as we continued to learn and grow together.

Please use the below pages to stay informed and connected—we'll be updating them regularly.

1

Distance-Learning Plan: An Overview

2

COVID-19 Updates from Our School

3

Prospective Families: Connect with Us

Tech Support

Email support@rowlandhall.org with your name, phone number, and a description of your problem. Our Technology team will respond as soon as possible

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

Anna Jiricko playing basketball at school and at home.

By Anna Jiricko, Class of 2021

As a person who prefers control and stability in any situation, unfamiliar events can be unnerving and frustrating for me.

Initially, when the students at Rowland Hall’s Upper School heard that school was likely to be closed, people talked of the great freedom that they would have to hang out with friends, go to parks, and do whatever they wanted. On March 12, an email was sent out to the student body declaring the closure of the school until April 14 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The next day kids came to school in a panic, with sanitary wipes in hand and angst in their thoughts. Within a short period, it seemed like the joy of school closing turned into fear and reluctance as students packed up lockers and said goodbye to friends, not knowing when they would return.

After hearing these stories, I realized the outreach that has developed as a result of the virus, and it motivated me to not only acknowledge and help those who have suffered as a result of this virus, but also positively influence the people around me by showing gratitude for the good things this event has brought me.

As students sit at home developing independence while working on school projects, people around the world lose their jobs, incomes, family members, and lives. In a time where people could easily succumb to fear, citizens are standing up to make masks, give donations, and provide any help they can. A New York Times article headline published on April 6, 2020, suggests “Today, We are All Covid-19 Doctors,” showing the unity and endless unrestrained support coming from the community in this time of crisis.

After hearing these stories, I realized the outreach that has developed as a result of the virus, and it motivated me to not only acknowledge and help those who have suffered as a result of this virus, but also positively influence the people around me by showing gratitude for the good things this event has brought me.

Throughout this month of quarantine I have sat patiently at the table waiting for my college-aged brother to finish his turn so I can finally beat him at a game of cards. I have started a show that I watch with my family almost every night. As a result of not being able to eat out, I have cooked new recipes, including vegan cinnamon rolls, French macaroons, and vegetarian potstickers. I have been able to pursue the sport I love by playing basketball almost every day. I have gone on bike rides with my family, drafting at 25 miles per hour behind them as if I were in the Tour de France. I have gone on walks, runs, and hikes, exploring new areas of my neighborhood and city. I have been able to do my school work independently, getting ahead in all of my classes and leaving my afternoons free for indulging in my chosen activity. I have realized the benefits of a shorter school day, and I see the potential change that this virus could bring on our society.

This gratitude has spread to some of my other classmates, including a fellow junior, Ke’ea Ramirez. She has expressed that one reason quarantine has been good for her life is because she is now able to “reconnect with people that [she] hasn’t talked to in a while through social media” and bond with them through a confusing time. She has also been enjoying a lot of hiking throughout the budding mountains, indulging in new tales while reading through countless books, and bonding with her parents and younger sister. This newly discovered time has allowed people to reflect on their lives and what they enjoy to make each day a more meaningful experience.

The virus not only gave me a chance to do the things I love to do, but the grinding halt of society also benefits the environment. Without people traveling and driving as much, Euronews describes that “pollution levels have plummeted across Europe since the pandemic,” showing positive changes for the climate. In the winter, while recreating up in the mountains, I would overlook the valley noticing the tallest building blanketed by haze. Now, I overlook a valley with a crisp silhouette of snow-capped mountains and a deserted city. This new beautiful view brings me peace every day in a world that is currently consumed by chaos. 

I am not saying that this virus is the best thing that has happened to me, but I challenge you to find one thing, one simple thing, that you have benefited from as a result of this hardship. I acknowledge that around the globe people are losing jobs and family members, and students can’t participate in athletics or hang out with friends, but think for one moment how much better your day would be if you found something to enjoy.

Distance Learning

You Belong at Rowland Hall