Dr. Margo Isabel on Outdoor Learning

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” –Albert Einstein

Have you ever seen a child squat down to look at an earthy patch in the backyard, or on a nature trail? Have you noticed how a child takes a stick, pokes the earth, moves the leaves, turns over a rock or pulls the bark off a rotting log? Then, suddenly a butterfly flits nearby, and up jumps the child to dash after it, following it till it lands on a nearby bush. Uncovering a rock leads a child to explore, question and learn. Similarly, watching the child’s behavior can uncover a wealth of ideas for teachers as they look for ways to guide their students’ learning, curiosity, creativity and problem solving abilities.

A primary focus of the Early Childhood experience at Wakefield School is to support and foster learning by taking advantage of the natural world found here on our beautiful campus. Opening the classroom door to the outside garden that the children tend, taking a walk in the woods on our new nature trail, bringing nature inside to the Learning Lab  to study and explore – all are ways that nature and the outside world guide the early childhood experience.

Selected units of inquiry and exploration:

Life Cycles – Animals and plants (butterflies, frogs, corn, pumpkins)

Conservation – recycling and composting

Gardening – watching plants as they grow


Learning Lab:

* Bring nature to the classroom – classify, dissect, label, question, explore.

* Introduce  key science processing skills – observe, collect, predict, measure, analyze.

* Create, construct and problem solve – blocks, legos, cardboard, sand, water.

Physically and philosophically, the outdoors is an important place of learning for our Early Childhood Center. Putting the easel on the patio to draw what they see, sitting on the stone wall with a journal in hand, or quietly listening to a story under a tree, our wise little owls are immersed in their outdoor world.

News Round-Up For May 21

Upper School elects new Student Government Association officers

Congratulations to the 2015-2016 Wakefield School Student Government Officers recently elected: President – Corryn Siegel; Vice President – Kelsey Winick; and Secretary/Treasurer – Meghan Walther.

The class officers election will be held in the fall for 9th – 12 grades.

Wakefield’s shooting team takes first at state meet

The Wakefield shooting team took first place at the Virginia AIM State Trap Tournament in Lynchburg in May. The varsity team is Calvin Milligan, Tim Hinchman, Patrick Dominick, and Tristan Bapst.

The Junior Varsity team of Sam Seo, Henry Ohrstrom, Mackie Rich, and Bobby Milligan took second place for JV. Peter Ohrstrom is also on the JV team.

Calvin Milligan won for highest single round score of 23/25. Tristan Bapst won for highest combined score of 84/100 clay targets.The team’s coaches are Brian Vella, Jon Shafer and Randy Dominick.

Wakefield senior signs with Richard Bland College

Wakefield senior Isaiah Sharp signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Richard Bland College of William & Mary. Sharp, who was named the DAC’s Player of the Year, averaged 22 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists per game while at Wakefield for his senior year. Read the whole article here!

Wakefield music teacher Brian Settles plays at the Apollo

Wakefield Band Director Brian Settles played at the historic Apollo in Harlem on Saturday, May 9.

According to Wakefield Art Department Chair Chris Mulligan, “This place is legendary for many reasons, but it is the birthplace of jazz music, where all of the greats, including now our own Brian Settles, gather if they ‘make it.’ There’s an historic photo of all the jazz legends gathered in front of it, and it includes all the everyday names of that trade, including BB King who just died. We are indeed fortunate to have Brian teaching in our music program in the MS and US. He is one of the original teachers from the founding of the MS Music Program.”

In addition to teaching at Wakefield, Settles is a highly sought after saxophonist and composer from Washington, DC. He has studied at the prestigious Duke Ellington School of the Arts, The New School University and most recently at Howard University. Settles has performed and recorded with groups led by Gil Scott – Heron, Reggie Workman, Jason Moran, Tomas Fujiwara, Tom Abbs and has played alongside such jazz greats as Stanley Turrentine, Shirley Horn and Milt Hinton.

Wakefield’s Winick accepted to Women Leadership program

Junior Kelsey Winick was accepted into the 10th Congressional District Young Women Leadership Program, which provides young women currently enrolled in middle school and high school with the opportunity to meet and interact with women who hold leadership roles and have built successful careers in government, business, medicine, media relations, and other professions.

Participants can engage with their peers and special guests in candid, roundtable discussions while sharing insights, advice, and stories. Participants will also learn about career opportunities in various fields, the legislative process, develop their leadership skills, identify their strengths, and practice effective communication with others to inspire their educational and career goals.

Wakefield Theatre gets great reviews, Cappies nominations

Wakefield’s spring production of Harvey earned great reviews from Cappies critics who attended the play. Read reviews here!

Also, two actors from the spring production were nominated for Cappies Awards.

Josh Mohney was nominated for Lead Actor in a Play and Byron Bushara for Comic Actor in a Play. The awards will be given in a gala at the Kennedy Center on June 7.

Each category has five nominees from the National Capital Region, which includes more than 50 schools in the Northern Virginia area. The Cappies, “Critics and Awards Program,” is a program through which high school theatre and journalism students are trained as critics, attend shows at other schools, write reviews, and publish those reviews in local newspapers. At the end of the year, the student critics vote for awards that are presented at a formal Cappies Gala.

National Latin Exam Awards

The following students earned recognition for their performance on the National Latin Exam.

Introduction to Latin: Zeena Joseph, Allie Adrian, Claire Thompson, Brennan Renz, Gabby Handford, Maura Thompson, and Brianna Handford.

Latin I: Kayla Dowell earned a silver medal, maxima cum laude; and Chloe Osborn earned a silver medal, maxima cum laude.

Latin II: Christopher Wagner, magna cum laude; Nikhil Giyanani, cum laude; and Charles McElroy, cum laude.

Latin III: Andrew Sparks, cum laude.

National Spanish Exam Awards

The following students earned recognition for their performance on the National Spanish Exam.

Spanish 1: Thomas Mossburg, Bronze medal; and Paul Deya, Bronze medal. Honorable mentions to Madeline Koch and Brayden Bapst.

Spanish 4: Daniel Andres de Recarte

Spanish 1: Cory Kleinman, Silver medal.

Spanish 2: Peter Ohrstrom, Myra Richardson, and Shelby Trible, all Honorable Mention.

Spanish 3: Kate Granruth, Silver medal; Doria Gilberg, Bronze medal; Anya Parks and Jason Mabry, Honorable Mention.

AP Spanish: Juliana Parra, Bronze medal.

Sophomore Diebus wins golf state championship

Sophomore Evan Diebus shot a 73 at The Manor Golf Club in Farmville to bring home Wakefield’s first ever State Championship.

Diebus finished tied with senior Elizabeth Bose who also shot a 73. For some perspective, Bose is heading to Virginia Tech next year on a golf scholarship.

Service awards go to Middle and Upper School students

6th – Josh Carey

7th – Gabby Handford

8th – Maddie Koch

9th – Murray Re

10th – Dylan Winick

11th – Kelsey Winick

12th – Juan Lizarraga

A Wakefield Tradition: First Graders and Seniors

One of the great traditions at Wakefield takes place at the first assembly and last assembly of each school year.

At the beginning of the year, the new class of seniors addresses the new class of first graders, then takes the littlest class by the hands and leads them to their classroom.

At the end of the year, at the seniors’ last Wakefield assembly ever, the first graders take them by the hand and lead them to our senior garden. The realization that their time at Wakefield (as students, at least) is nearing its end gradually comes over them.

This is just one of the many unique Wakefield traditions that have marked their time, however long, at the school, and one that they will be sure to take with them on their next journey.

Meet Our Headmaster For The Day!

Wakefield School sixth grader Chandler Brown is serving as our Headmaster for the Day! He will enjoy breakfast with Mr. Colón, greet students in the carpool lane, help run the All-School Assembly, have a relaxing lunch, and attend meetings.

Here are some fun facts about Chandler!



Birthday: January 6

Chandler has been attending Wakefield since pre-kindergarten. His brother, Blake, is in eighth grade and has been attending Wakefield since first grade.

He is most excited about being Headmaster for the day so he can attend meetings and know what happens behind the scenes at Wakefield.

His favorite subject is math. His favorite food is cheese pizza.

He plays flag football, lacrosse, and soccer, but he likes playing basketball the most.

His favorite sports team is the Baltimore Ravens.

His favorite thing about Wakefield is the exciting activities that happen in the Middle School. His favorite day of the year is Field Day – though he is an Athenian.

He can always be found singing whatever is on the radio and participates in Wakefield’s chorus.

His dream travel trip is to Dubai because of a project he did on the city.

News Round Up For May 15

Wakefield community hosts visitors from Xuzhou

From May 6-11, 11 students from Wakefield’s partner school in Xuzhou, China visited Wakefield.

We welcomed Wang Jihang, Dai Yu Tian, Mingiu Chen, Liu Huansha, Liu Ziyi, Yuwei Yao, Elan Wang, Lin Yeuhang, Meng Xin Wang, Li Xinyu, and Maio Jiamiao. Wakefield students Henry Holtslander, Kelsey Winick, Eloise Colón, Grace Seaborn, Jillian Wise, Peter Ohrstrom, Henry Ohrstrom, Dori Jo Redabaugh, Shelby Sipes, and Brianna Hutchison served as hosts.

Students toured Wakefield’s campus and met their host families when they arrived to Wakefield on Wednesday, May 6.

During their time here, the students shared their culture with all levels of the school. Some taught a Chinese morning greeting to 2nd graders; others taught calligraphy to both 5th grade students and Upper Schoolers. They also had the opportunity to attend a soccer game or tennis match before going home with their host families for a second night.

The students also got to enjoy and learn about Wakefield’s culture. They met with Brian Oliver to discuss the college admissions process; attended the 3rd grade play; visited the ECC Discovery Room; and shadowed Wakefield students through classes and lunch.

On the weekend, the students spent time with their host families in a typical family weekend day before returning home.

Preschool through second grade learns about IM4U

Anti-bullying advocate Jim Mayer, known for decades as the famous bass player for Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band, visited Wakefield School and performed for preschoolers through second graders.

Mayer is an award winning children’s musician and performer who is leading the movement to change the impact of child bullying through his IM4U Campaign. He sang his songs Lonely Broccoli, Funky As A Diaper, and IM4U, and he brought puppets to teach the students about bullying, inclusion, and kindness.

The IM4U program is a unique music-based social-emotional learning system for the early childhood years. It unites educators, parents, and children to develop positive human principles. The IM4U Teaching Program reaches out to the youngest learners. This program lays a foundation in early years that prepares children to deal with the challenges of the global community.

One Love Foundation brings discussion to Upper School

Two representatives from the One Love Foundation visited campus last week to speak with all of Wakefield’s Upper School.

One Love is the Yeardley Reynolds Love Foundation, which was created in 2010 to honor the memory of Yeardley Love, a UVA senior who was beaten to death by her ex-boyfriend just weeks short of graduation. The Foundation is more popularly known as One Love, with “One” representing the number that Yeardley wore on her jersey during her high school and college lacrosse career. After her death, Yeardley’s family and friends were surprised to learn the statistics – that 1 in 3 women in this country will be in a violent relationship during her lifetime – and grew increasingly aware that young people in particular did not seem to realize that they, as a group, were at greatest risk.  Today, One Love’s goal is to end relationship violence by engaging young people in a movement for change.

Executive director Katie Hood spoke with the 9th and 10th graders about Leadership. Katie and program coordinator Zoe Skinner spoke to the 11th and 12th graders before students viewed the foundation’s film “Escalation.” Small facilitated discussions were held after the viewing. The event happened thanks to Wakefield’s Women in Leadership Group and the Mars Foundation.

Middle School learns about wolves and phenology

Would you like to track wolves or wolverines across the Rocky Mountains? This week Wakefield’s Middle School students learned of the experiences of Dr. Cristina Eisenberg, an ecologist and lead scientist at the Earthwatch Institute. In addition to studying the habits and effects of “keystone predators,” such as wolves and wolverines, she has written several books, including The Wolf’s Tooth and The Carnivore Way, and is the nonfiction editor for the journal, The Whitefish Review. The students had the opportunity to ask Dr. Eisenberg questions about her work and to learn of the value of making careful observations of changes in nature and sharing those observations through writing. As she wrote in The Wolf’s Tooth, “Humans have long feared what we can’t understand. Part of my work as a scientist involves trying to understand wildness.” Through telling stories, she shares the insights of science.

This term the MS students have themselves practiced observing and trying to understand nature in a collaboration between the MS science and composition programs. Given a square meter of land to study over a six-week period, the students kept detailed journal entries to record their observations. They practiced responding in quantitative, qualitative, and artistic ways to the changes they noticed in nature. As a result, all three MS grades learned more about phenology, or the study of natural cyclic changes.

Our many thanks to Mrs. Maryanne Sparks, who as a Wakefield parent and Master Gardener, also helped to guide the students with her extensive knowledge of this region’s environment. — By Wakefield Teacher Katie Enders

Five Wakefield students to attend Governor’s Schools

Five Wakefield School students will be attending 2015 Virginia Summer Residential Governor’s Schools in the subjects of agriculture, life sciences and medicine, performing arts, and humanities.

The Governor’s School is a highly prestigious program that provides a selected number of the state’s top rising juniors and seniors with intensive learning experiences in the arts, sciences, humanities and foreign languages.

Elisabeth Arnold of Centreville will attend the Humanities Program, which this year is organized around the theme of “the margins.” This year, in light of a seemingly fractured world, divided by things religious extremism, political dualism, wealth and poverty, and disease and health, the courses will inquire about human responses to extreme, or marginal, situations. All of the following courses examine, in some manner, the human response to extremity.

Byron Bushara of Warrenton will attend the Performing Arts program in the Theater division. The school aims to create a college experience that emphasizes free expression and intellectual curiosity, while stimulating the creative process. Course examples include Audition Prep, Playwriting Foundations, and Broadway Singers Boot Camp.

Evelina Edens of Middleburg will attend the program in the specification of Visual Art. The school aims to create a college experience that emphasizes free expression and intellectual curiosity, while stimulating the creative process. Examples of courses are 2-D, Jewelry Making, and Ceramics.

Anthony Del Rosso of Warrenton will attend the Mathematics, Science, and Technology program. This year’s theme for the school is a quote from Marie Curie: “Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.” The courses will challenge each student to learn a substantial amount about a particular area in mathematics, science, and/or technology while at the same time examining the ever-increasing interdisciplinary nature of modern science, mathematics, and engineering. In addition to hands-on laboratory and multimedia-based instruction in content areas outlined by courses, students will be exposed to a series of interdisciplinary questions pertaining to the nature of science, the design of scientific experiments, the respective roles of logic and mathematics in science, and public-policy aspects of science and technology.

Connor Mulvey of Warrenton will attend the Agricultural program, which provides academically rigorous educational enhancement for future scientists and leaders. Students interact with and learn directly from internationally known teachers, scientists, and researchers from Virginia Tech, a leading research university. Concentration is placed on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) integration within the five National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) initiatives: childhood obesity, climate change, food safety, global food security and hunger, and sustainable energy. This mission will be accomplished through rigorous courses and activities that provide hands-on, cutting-edge, scientific, and academic information.

News Round Up for May 4

Wakefield handbells play at the WISH Festival

WISH fest photoWakefield School’s handbell choir visited The Potomac School on April 27 for the 25th annual Washington Independent Schools Handbell Festival. Nationally recognized guest conductor Dr. William Payn directed the participating students from Wakefield, Browne Academy, Holton-Arms School, Landon School, The Potomac School, and Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart. From among these six schools there were 11 handbell ensembles and more than 200 students participating. The Festival concluded with a performance for the public. The offering of instruction in the art of English Handbell Ringing and the inclusion of handbell ensembles in performing arts programs in schools is uncommon, and these schools represent the most active programs in the Metro-DC/MD/VA region in this challenging art form.

Upper Schoolers attend X-STEM Symposium

xstemUpper School students traveled to Washington, D.C, to attend the X-STEM Symposium, a unique conference for kids where some of the nation’s most respected professionals in science and engineering speak to middle through high school students in a “TED-style” format. The event featured multiple presentation sessions covering a wide array of subject areas including space exploration, paleontology, bio-inspired robotics, marine biology, mathematics of origami, eco-friendly vehicle innovation and more. Students had the opportunity to sit in on multiple presentations and hands-on workshops. Attendees were: James Wroe, Ben Weimer, Eryn Peters, Madeleine Wallach, Allison Swede, Meghan Stehly, Tim Boyer, Dylan Winick, Mackie Rich, and Matthew Reid.

Partner school to visit Wakefield

From May 6-11, 11 students and two faculty members from our partner school in Xuzhou, China will visit Wakefield. They’ll be on campus and in some classes for Thursday and Friday, spend Saturday with host families, and depart Monday morning.

National French contest awards

All three French One students earned an award in this year’s National French contest.

Audrey Brown will be receiving a gold medal. She received a 5th Chapter Rank, 5th National Rank, and placed in the 95th percentile.

Noah Hale will be receiving a gold medal. He received a 5th Chapter Rank, 5th National Rank, and placed in the 95th percentile.

Sara Rheintgen will be receiving a bronze medal. She received a 14th Chapter Rank, 14th National Rank, and placed in the 75th percentile.

New courses offered

Wakefield is offering several new courses for its students in the 2015-2016 school year.

Foundations of Engineering will explore the many creatively demanding and rewarding fields to pursue within the engineering discipline and will clarify the technical attributes and requirements of each specialized engineering field. It will focus on developing problem-solving and communication skills that are so critical to success both in the classroom and in the real world of engineering practice.

AP World History focuses on developing students’ abilities to think conceptually about world history from approximately 8000 BCE to the present and apply historical thinking skills. Five themes of equal importance — focusing on the environment, cultures, state-building, economic systems, and social structures — provide areas of historical inquiry for investigation across different periods and regions.

Geopolitics is the branch of geography that tries to explain the relationships between geographical realities and international affairs. The course begins with the premise that even the smallest of events that may happen in the most isolated region of our earth could possibly have widespread global effects. To truly understand the cause and effect of the event, knowledge of our world’s geography (both physical and cultural) and its history, is essential.

Global Ethics & Local Action’s purpose is to introduce students to the concept of Global Ethics and the practice of Reflective Leadership while simultaneously exploring the deep interrelationship between both. Students will explore key issues of reflective choice for self and community, cross- cultural ethics and the emergence of global ethics regarding community building and sustainability. We will also actively explore the Ethics of Care and how this model promotes leadership development, especially the development of women. This course is an advanced social science class that will require students to participate in a practicum on a bi-weekly basis during school hours. Our community partner for the 2015/16 school year is “A Place to Be,” a private, non-profit in Middleburg that services and adults and children with a range of disabilities.

Comedy/Improv Workshop presents a systematic approach to developing skills and confidence in appearing before an audience, whether on stage or at the podium. The course explores practical presentation skills that develop thinking and reacting with fluidity, concentration, and confidence. In an accessible enjoyable workshop curriculum, students are introduced to a variety of techniques including sketch comedy, improv, and physical theatre skills.

Chorus – Popular Music Vocals is an introductory level course is designed for students interested in studying music drawn from the popular music traditions. Students will develop vocal skills and learn techniques to sing various types of popular music. An eclectic repertoire of pop, a cappella jazz, indie rock and world music is on the charts for exploration, and students will be encouraged to participate in a variety of performance opportunities throughout the year, both on and off campus.

Middle School’s new class will be World Geography. 

Clark signs letter of intent for Richard Bland 

Wakefield senior Deandre Clark signed his letter of intent to play basketball at Richard Bland of William and Mary this week.

Richard Bland College in Petersburg was established in 1960 by the General Assembly of Virginia as a branch college of The College of William and Mary. The College was named for the Virginia statesman and champion of public rights, Richard Bland.

Wakefield announces exciting new hires

Two new teachers will join Wakefield’s faculty for the 2015-2016 school year.

Peter Findler will be teaching Upper School history; James Post will be the Middle School Teaching Fellow for the 2015-2016 year.

Findler is joining Wakefield from Washington Latin Public Charter School, where he also teaches history and serves as co-chair of the Upper School History Department. He earned his bachelor of arts in history from Ithaca College in 2006 and his secondary social studies certification from Ursinus College.

“Peter Findler has worked most recently in a charter school in Washington, D.C. His colleagues praised his ability to motivate students and make them love history,” said Headmaster David Colón.

Findler said he wanted to teach at Wakefield for a number of reasons, but primarily because of the school’s commitment to citizen education.

“I believe that part of my role as a teacher is to encourage active and ethical citizenship. This promotes my students’ well being but also the health of the nation and world,” he said. “It’s much more possible to do this in a small school where teachers have small class sizes and the students are truly known.”

Findler is also a leader and co-creator of the Peers Educating Peers international learning program, an initiative of the Qatar Foundation International. The goals are to foster peer education through project-based learning through work in four cities: DC, Boston, Paris, and Doha.

James Post is the Middle School Teaching Fellow for 2015-2016. The position, created through a grant, aims to give new teachers an opportunity to gain experience in the classroom as well as develop skills in extracurricular activities such as athletics and the arts.

Post earned his bachelors in history and political science from Dickinson College in 2014. He has been working as a fifth grade assistant teacher at Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal in Richmond.

“James Post comes highly recommended from a number of great schools,” said Colón. “He himself went to an independent school and brings a strong understanding of how schools like ours change people’s lives.”

Post said he is looking forward to what he can bring to Wakefield.

“I am excited to join the Wakefield family and to become a part of this engaging and committed community. I hope to bring a passion for literature, writing, and exploration of the world in order to help Wakefield middle school students engage the world around them,” he said. “I also am looking forward to coaching soccer and being involved in many extracurriculars. Here is to a great year!”