Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Extracurricular Activities

                                                                                                                                    September 25, 2017

Dear LoMA Family,

LoMA’s Mission Statement opens by saying, “LoMA cares about the academic, social and artistic development of its community of learners.” Extracurricular Activities are a huge part of this mission. Our teams, performing groups, volunteer clubs and community-based partners are all focused on helping our students build healthy relationships, working meaningfully on things they value and having fun together.
In order to find out whether all of this really helps our students, I studied them for my dissertation. To earn my Doctorate in Philosophy, I wrote a 300 page book that researched how social capital affects high school graduation rates. Social capital refers to the valuable relationships that people have that help them get what they want. For students this may include tutoring from a caring teacher to help pass a test, counseling services from a social worker to help with anger management, or college advising that could lead to scholarships. My thesis, which seems pretty obvious, was that schools where students report having rich, caring relationships with their peers and school staff have higher graduation rates. Of course, this proved to be true. The more interesting finding showed that the single biggest contributor to positive social capital was the level of student participation in extracurricular activities. My statistical analysis of every high school in the city showed that the more students participated in extracurricular activities, the more likely they were to feel connected to their peers and staff, create safer school, graduate and go to college.
As a part of the study, I interviewed about two dozen LoMA graduates about social capital and their experiences at LoMA. Nearly all of them told inspiring stories about how staff and friends had guided, supported, and inspired them. What was most interesting was how they reported that they formed their most meaningful school-based relationships through extracurricular activities, and that the more intense the activity, the more intense the relationship. For instance, LoMATE, mentoring and internship showed up again and again as huge sources of social capital as these activities required so much time, effort and team problem solving. Only three students felt that they were graduating without having formed significant relationships. These were also the three who had done the least in participating in extracurricular activities. They regretted that they had not put more effort into extracurriculars as they felt ostracized from the LoMA family.
This Wednesday, our 7th and 8th period classes will host our annual carousel of extracurricular activities so that advisors and community partners can visit classes to explain their programs. Students will remain in their 7th period classes through DEAR. Students will turn in their selection forms the next day to their advisors and begin attending on the following week. They do not need wait for approval. We require every student to participate in at least two afternoons of activities every week. We believe that doing so will make it more likely that our students will make friends, graduate, attend college and enjoy school, and now you have the evidence to prove it.

Get involved,


John Wenk







Dear LoMA, 
Here are some current LoMA students’ experiences with Extracurriculars to help prepare you for Thursday’s carousel. 
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Finally being a senior, I understand managing time is extremely important.  I learned this skill through my previous years in extracurriculars, especially in LoMA Cares and Stage Tech.  They both helped me learn to organize my time in order to still do well in school.  While it was definitely stressful, I learned leadership skills, time management skills, and even made some new friends. 
*** 
For the past four years I’ve been in Student Council.  It has been a great opportunity to meet people from other grades and make a change in the school.  We work together with the amazing Ms. L to create dances, pot lucks, and fundraisers.  Not to mention, it looks AMAZING for colleges! 
*** 
LoMATE is the extracurricular where we do the play and musical.  At first you get really nervous since you don’t want to mess up and fail.  But after you join, you start to feel welcome.  In LoMATE, we make a lot of friends and the relationships always last long.  LoMATE is always my safe space to be myself.  Performing is really not that bad.  We perform the play in the Black Box, and for the musical, we get to perform in the auditorium.  We never get too nervous because we always support each other. 
*** 
Being a varsity athlete with PSAL is really about dedication because in a sport like wrestling, you really have to be sharp minded and commit yourself to knowing the moves and strategies.  Mostly though, it’s about not giving up, because if you give up on yourself during a match, it’s basically an automatic loss, and you’re letting your whole team down.  My personality has changed because of it, I have a new approach to life.  I have more critical thinking, I’m more strategic, and it’s made me a smarter and better (not to mention stronger) person. 
*** 
Playing PSAL sports is long hours, tiring, and stressful, but it gives you good time management, and gives you something to look forward to—being a part of a team.  It’s nice to have supportive people, even though personalities clash a lot.  When that happens, we have to try to work it out or at least make sure to leave it off the court and out of the match.  Even though I don’t always want to go, I love being a varsity athlete, because it’s varsity! 
*** 
Playing a varsity sport is great, but man you gotta make sure you keep your grades up.  If that’s not something you can do, you’re better off in intramurals so you don’t let your team down.  Intramurals are great because everyone is super supportive, and there is less pressure and more fun (even though we obviously try to win). 
*** 
Getting credit for outside extracurriculars is great because I don’t have to see all the same people I see during the week.  Sometimes I need a break from school and school people.  It opened doors for me, like scholarships for later on and work experience.  It also gives me a chance to talk about real life things that I can’t talk about in school and have an opinion on things in the world.  I have some real long conversations with these people I wouldn’t have met otherwise, and networking experience.  

-Shaka 


September 28                          7th and 8th period    Carousel of Extracurricular Activities
September 28              6:00     Parents’ Association
Septmber 29                           Extracurricular Activities forms due in to advisory
October 2                                Extracurricular Activities begin
October 9                                Columbus Day - no school

Friday, September 8, 2017

Welcome back

                                                                                                                                                September 11, 2017

Dear LoMA Family,
                                                                                                                                                           
One of the nice things about working in schools is that it is so seasonal. Unlike most traditional jobs, there are routines that mark our time together: summer vacation, the first day of classes, the three week-long vacations, prom, and graduation. On top of that, LoMA has many rituals that bring us closer together in celebration: five major shows a year, our Thanksgiving Feast, LoMAPalooza, four New York Theater Workshop plays and a half dozen other annual trips, and the extracurricular carousel which will take place three weeks from now. I find these routines and rituals to be powerful ways to break up the hard work that we do as we appreciate how unique our school’s culture of caring is. LoMA students work hard, but they also get more opportunities to play and celebrate together than any other school I know.

The start of the year offers the most hopeful and promising ritual of the year. Now is the time when you can reinvent yourself in your own best image. This is especially true for freshmen and fresh teachers, but to a lesser degree for everyone, the first days of school give you an opportunity to make new friends, achieve academically and grow artistically.

For the most part, your teachers will get to know you through your behavior in class and the work that you do. Virtually all students work to make a good impression during this early “honeymoon” period by completing all of their work, taking notes, attending tutoring and listening attentively in class. The challenge is how long you can go on projecting your best. When the work gets more difficult, the lessons get less interesting and the distractions more compelling, will you continue to do your best? The mark of a good student is not how smart he or she is; it is only concerted, continuous effort over the entire year that makes a student excel.

This is also a good time to reevaluate friendships. Consider if the friends you currently have make you the person you want to be. Do you want to do well in your classes, explore your talents, and laugh with people and not at them? The best way to get there is with a group of truly supportive friendships, and now is the easiest time of the year to form them. Real friendships are not found precast; they are formed in the forge of challenges met. That is why LoMATE, our sports teams, and volunteer groups form so many tight friendships at LoMA. It is scary and risky to create new friendships and limit old ones, but it is the way that we find the support to grow into who we are.

Ultimately, the start of the school year is daunting for us all –students, teachers and even the principal. Whatever grade you are in, there are new challenges and new people, but, most importantly, new opportunities. No one can give you academic achievement, artistic success, or caring friendships, but LoMA’s routines and rituals can guide you there if you’ll put in the effort.

Work hard,

September 21 and 22                          Rosh Hashanah - no school
September 28                                      Parents’ Association Meeting
September 28              1:40-3:00        Extracurricular Activities Carrousel
John Wenk






Dear LoMA, 
Every week, we publish a student response to Dr. Wenk’s newsletter called Shaka.  If you’re ever interested in writing the student entry, please let Mr. Ravdin know.  This week’s entry is a compilation of the thoughts of a current Senior, a current Freshman, a current veteran teacher, and a new teacher, respectively.  Enjoy! 
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When I started 11th grade I already knew how hard it was going to be. Everyone told me what to expect, but I just thought that they were extending the truth and making it seem worse than what it actually was. Man, I was very wrong to think that. After finishing the hardest year, in my opinion, I'm quite relieved. I'm actually writing this on the first day of school and after actually realizing that I'm a senior, I'm ready to face whatever this school year is preparing for me. 
*** 
I didn’t sleep at all last night.  I slept all summer long, sometimes 15 hours a day.  But last night, I didn’t sleep at all.  I don’t even know why.  I wasn’t really nervous-I moved schools before and so that isn’t new, and I don’t hate school, but I don’t like it either.  I think I just think of all the things that can happen and the question marks kept me awake last night. 
*** 
It’s weird to be sitting at home the night before the first day of school because in some ways it is always the same but also always different.  The overall craziness and moderately controlled chaos will rule the halls, I’ll be directing new students to classrooms and going over the syllabus that has more or less remained the same for years, and at 3:00 I’ll feel like I ran a marathon, just like last year and the year before.  At the same, though, kids that I knew from last year have grown up, new colleagues are in the halls and old ones have departed, and students I’ve grown so fond of will have graduated.  Things I’m used to seeing will just be memories.  It’ll be the same, but different. 
*** 
As I gear up for my first day, I must admit that I’m probably feeling some of the same emotions as our incoming freshman students! A mix of excitement and nerves have certainly taken over, as I prepare for my first year with the awesome LoMA community. I’m looking forward to meeting all of my students as well as the rest of the staff who I may not have had a chance to meet this summer, while also feeling anxious as I think about what I have in store for my first year. I am hoping for a flawless first day, however I’m sure quite a bit of getting lost and forgetting names is in the stars for tomorrow. With this feeling of anticipation that myself, the incoming freshman, and probably many other members of our LoMA family are feeling, I am also filled with optimism and confidence, and feel more than certain that a productive and positive year is ahead of us all. 
-Shaka 


Friday, June 9, 2017

End of year survey



I’d like to thank Mr. Ravdin and all of the Shaka writers this year. I think they have really added some perspective and thoughtfulness to the newsletters this year. It’s been a pleasure to share my writing duties with them. Now, I’d like to turn the last newsletter of the year over to you so that you can share the things you’ve accomplished this year. Please fill out the following survey thoughtfully and with detailed evidence. The more you write, the more we can learn and improve things. Study hard for your finals and Regents, and then, let’s all look forward to having a fun-filled vacation.

Work hard,

John Wenk

1.     What was your favorite LoMA experience this year? __________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

2.     What did you like best about your extracurricular activities this year?_______________ _____________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

3.     If you could change one thing about your experiences this year, what would it be?_____ _____________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

4.     What was the best trip or performance you went on or saw? Why – be specific? ____________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

5.     What is something that you put a lot of effort into this year? ____________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

6.     What do you plan to work towards next year? _______________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________




7.     What are two major lessons you learned about yourself or life this year?

1.____________________________________________________________________________
    ____________________________________________________________________________________

2.____________________________________________________________________________
   ____________________________________________________________________________________


8.     What books did you read in DEAR and at home this year? _____________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

9.     What is something you would like to improve about LoMA? ____________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________


10.  Are we challenging you too much or not enough? Explain why and which classes. Give examples. _____

__________________________________________________________________________________________


June 12           6:00                 Senior Showcase
June 12                                   Last Day of classes
June 13-27                              Regents’ Week
June 20                                   Prom
June 22                                    LoMAPalooza
June 27           11:00               Graduation
June 28                                   Last Day of School!
__________________________________________________________________________________________

Friday, June 2, 2017

End of the year's growth

LoMA Cares
 
                                                                    
                                                                                                                                    June 5, 2017
Dear LoMA Family,

            This has been a wonderful year of growth for our LoMA family. Most of our students have excelled academically, athletically, and artistically. Our teachers have been learning and trying new things, and our Parents’ Association (PA) has been more active than ever. Here are some of my highlights:
·       The Whitney Biennial was an amazing experience for our arts majors and led to some great press about our school as it became a satellite location for America’s most prestigious art show. Being a part of this Whitney Family Day gave our students the chance to shine and was very well attended.
  • Seward Park Boys’ Basketball, Boys’ Volleyball and Girls’ Softball won their respective divisions this past year. They were all successful in the playoffs and advanced to play multiple rounds. The Girls’ Volleyball, Girls’ Tennis, Table Tennis, Wrestling, Girls’ Basketball, Handball, and Boys’ Badminton also all made the playoffs where they advanced multiple rounds. They will celebrate their success at the PSAL Sports’ Awards Dinner. LoMA’s own basketball team is 10-3 so far this year, their best season in years.
·       We have had three excellent shows so far this year: Almost, Maine was charming; the Talent Show was spirited; and Grease was a blast. We still have two big shows coming up – the Majors’ Show and Senior Gala. Our music majors recorded their songs at Brooklyn Recording Studio and drama majors performed at Pearl Theater.
·       I have lost track of how many trips we have taken this year, but the highlights were to the Constitution Center in Philadelphia, The Cloisters, four trips to NYTW, two concerts by St. Luke’s Orchestra, and the Senior Trip.
·       Over 80% of The Class of 2017 will be graduating on-time in four years. Students from that class will be attending Brandeis University, Morehouse, Cal Arts and the SUNYs at Albany and Geneseo. Based on the numbers of students passing their classes, over 80% of the next three classes should graduate on time as well.
·       Our community partners have done wonderful work with our students. Edgies hosted a fabulous Talent Show, Step Up took our girls to professional workplaces, ScriptEd students got to take part in hackathons, and Henry Street provided SAT classes for our juniors.
·       Our school has been quite safe. We did not have a single fight in school and there were very few thefts. Our students are learning how to take better care of one another.
·       Our teachers have been learning to be better teachers as well. They have been attending professional development and college classes to learn how to do more projects in the classrooms, find more creative ways to cover the material and elicit more critical thinking from their students.
·       Our PA organized the purchase and sales of the great-looking LoMA sweatshirts I’m seeing every day.
When I see how much is going on in our little school, I’m so proud of our family.
Keep up the good work,
June 6              6:00                 Majors Show
June 7              4:00                 PSAL Sports’ Awards dinner
June 8                                      Chancellor’s Day – no school
June 12            6:00                 Senior Showcase
June 12                                    Last Day of classes
June 13-27                              Regents’ Week
June 27            11:00               Graduation
June 28                                    Last Day of School!
 
John Wenk






Dear LoMA,
            This week’s Shaka entry is from a graduating Senior and a Junior, respectively, reflecting on the growth that they have shown over their years here and the growth they hope to continue to show going forward.  Enjoy.
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When I was asked to write this response I had a bit of an internal existential crisis. 

 It’s not easy taking note of how you’ve changed whether over the span of four years or even two months.

I can however, say that within this time span I’ve gone from angry to very grumpy to mildly less grumpy and finally not exactly mildly grumpy but not exactly NOT mildly grumpy.

Happy would be a bit of an overstatement.

Naturally my nature is that of a deathly shy introverted hermit who prefers the company of her bookshelf rather than that of those around her sometimes…

Okay, MOST times.

So how have I changed, you ask?

Well, it’s still a work in progress but I'm learning to swallow that shyness and be a little more confident in myself. My mentality has become that of a person who has finally realized that what some people think of me won’t matter two or six years down the road.

I've opened myself up more, made a pretty neat group of good friends, plus the most spectacular best friends a girl could ever have. 

I’ve also adopted more of a go-with-the-flow attitude and have become less panicky. Some of my compadres even seem to be in agreement that I’m now more Daria than Wicked Witch of the West. 


I hope to keep changing, and maybe one day ditch the doom and gloom cloud all together. The sarcasm and deadpan humor though, well, that’ll be sticking around for quite a while.

*                                  *                                  *

As this school year is coming to an end, I noticed a few things about myself.  I noticed that I have grown as a person and in terms of specific skills.  Instead of being this shy person I used to be, I became more involved in school activities, like participating in the school musical Grease, playing a sport, or even participating in more simple things like Game Night and the dances.  All activities led me to meet more people, actually get to know teachers better, and just be more sociable in general.  I wouldn’t say I went through tremendous growth this year, but I do feel like I grew a little more into the person I am becoming.  As for Senior year, I hope everything gets better and easier, because this year was very difficult.  I hope to continue to grow as a student, an athlete, an artist, and as a person.

Grow into who you’ll be; a little more each day.


Shaka