Charge Ahead--A Private School Blog
At Chapin School, our youngest students from Explorers Three through Second Grade are developing their phonemic awareness skills with two complementary research-based programs, Heggerty Phonemic Awareness and Fundations. The two programs work well together because each provides important foundational skills in literacy development. Fundations provides a strong phonics approach which contributes greatly to fluency, vocabulary development, and the applications of strategies for understanding text. Heggerty provides a strong and systematic approach to phonemic (sounds of letters) awareness. The daily Heggerty auditory practice promotes proficiency in the sounds (phonemes) of letters and spoken language. With Heggerty, students work with manipulating sounds & sounds in words. Together, they are a complete program for phonemic awareness and phonics.
Denee Dill, Chapin’s Reading Specialist and Director of Academics, is passionate about teaching reading at all levels, including professional development for her colleagues.
She says, “Making time for collaboration with each grade level team and having embedded professional development is a great way for teachers to share best practices. I am thrilled to bring this structured literacy approach to the growing readers in early grades. Having a solid foundation in phonemic awareness and phonics practices is a terrific predictor of how well children will learn to read during the first years of school instruction.”
Walking through halls where our youngest students learn, a casual observer sees students and teachers making roller coasters or chopping motions with their arms and hands. Teachers support students to make a mind-body connection, helping them to internalize these literacy practices. The use of sound and movement is part of their structured, multisensory literacy instruction.
If you would like more information on the Heggerty and Fundations programs, please click the links below.
Chapin's Superstars Charge Ahead
After weeks of after-school and weekend preparation, practice, and competition, Chapin School Princeton's academic teams are having great success in their competitions against other schools across the state and nation. This extension of Chapin's rigorous academic focus outside of the classrooms and into the real world helps students prepare in different, but equally important, ways for whatever the future might hold.
Chapin’s Quiz Bowl teams, including Chapin's nationally-ranked A Team, competed against several teams ranked in the top 100 in the country. Both teams did very well, never giving up and charging ahead. Our teams have at least three competitions in the next month and our A Team has already qualified for nationals.
On February 5th, Chapin's Science Olympiad team competed against 49 teams in the High Desert Invitational. They had great results.
5th Place Botany (Gavin and Adham)
6th place Food Science (Varun and Bryan)
7th place Mission Possible (Shriya and Sam)
9th place Mousetrap Vehicle (Gavin and Adham)
Chapin's Math Leauge team had their first competition last week and many students qualified for the Math Leauge State Championship! Good job to all who participated and congratulations to the following students who qualified for the State Championship:
Myra Tomer - 9th place in 4th-grade division
Esha Srinivasan - 15th place in the 4th-grade division
Claire Liang - 18th place in the 5th-grade division
Tarini Jalagam - 24th place in the 5th-grade division
Xinxin Yang - 8th place in the 6th-grade division
Narayan Venkatesh - 7th place in the 6th-grade division
Avery Collins - 10th place in the 6th-grade division
Chapin School Princeton parent and Princeton University Lecturer in the Department of Molecular Biology, Dr. Jodi Schottenfeld-Roames visited Chapin's third-grade science classes.
Chapin third graders are currently studying the human skeletal system. They dissected Owl pellets to see what kinds of bones we could find inside. The bones are usually from rodents such as mice, moles, voles, shrews, etc. After dissection, Dr. Schottenfeld-Roames helped the students use a microscope projected on the screen to see which bones looked similar to bones in the human body. It turns out that the ribs, scapula, pelvis, and several other bones have similar look and functions in rodent skeletons.
The Libertyville Science Olympiad Tournament was held on Saturday, January 22, 2022. Chapin School Princeton students competed against 43 other schools throughout the country in 19 events. The top five finishers in each event earned awards.
We are happy to announce the winners of our school teams:
4th place: Josephine Holler and Angela Du
Bridge (Build event)
3rd place: Diya Thackalapatti and Reya Thackalapatti
2nd place: Bryan Zhao and Reya Thackalapatti
Storm the Castle (Build event)
5th place: Varun Venkataraman and Bryan Zhao
Results for the Build event "Mousetrap Vehicle" are still pending.
The winners from the Boyceville Invitational (December 4, 2022, in which 122 schools competed) are:
5th place: Josephine Holler and Angela Du
4th place: Gavin Daniell and Adham Elgammal
Congrats to everyone involved!!
"We prepare students for the world and for a future that they will create.
At Chapin, our students learn. They learn how to ask questions. They learn how to experiment. They learn how to learn."
It’s hard to imagine a better example of a student who has learned to ask questions and is ready to help create the future than Chapin 7th grader Bryan Zhao.
Before attending Chapin, Bryan attended public schools which, he felt, did not teach Asian American history in enough depth, if at all.
As he told WPIX 11: “It just felt very weird being excluded like we weren’t part of US history and that was completely wrong.”
Bryan was a vital part of a campaign to change the public school curriculum, even testifying before the New Jersey State Legislature.
At Chapin School Princeton, we teach students to process information, think critically, and, as we said before, ask questions. Our goal is not to tell a student what to believe. We guide them through the process of thinking critically about the world around them in order to make their own conclusions and form their own beliefs. This prepares them to become advocates for themselves, and most importantly, the ideals in which they believe.
Bryan wanted to make a change. As he illustrates wonderfully, Chapin students can advocate for those beliefs with intelligence, respect, and clarity.
Charge Ahead, Bryan!
As we begin Winter Break at Chapin, we celebrate by showcasing the artistic work of our students.
Last week, Chapin’s Science Olympiad team participated in the Boyceville Invitational and then took part in the awards ceremony via Youtube. Our students participated in 19 events, competing virtually on Chapin’s campus.
Competing against 100 schools, Chapin’s Science Olympiad participated through mixed-format--some were test-taking events, others were build and test, and others were laboratory competitions.
The fifteen Chapin team members did a great job in preparation for this competition. Two of these teams brought home medals:
Mousetrap Vehicle finished in 4th place (Gavin Daniell and Adham Elgammal)
Anatomy and Physiology finished in 5th place (Josephine Holler and Angela Du)
Congrats, Chapin Charger Science Olympiad team!
Chapin Chat with Chapin Graduate Tatiana Swain
Hi Tatiana: It's good to speak to you again! Can you give a little information about what you've been up to and accomplished since you've left Chapin?
So great to speak with you as well! Although, it feels like I was at Chapin just yesterday attending the family BBQs and participating in the Cake Walk.
Since Chapin, I graduated and went to high school at The Hun School of Princeton and got involved in activities like The Black Student Union, of which I was president, in addition to the athletics and vigorous coursework that Hun provides its students. I graduated from Hun in 2016 and decided to attend Howard University's Cathy Hughes School of Communications in Washington, D.C.
While at Howard University, I pursued a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Afro-American studies. I wanted to delve into the journalism field, so I joined several clubs. I was an ambassador for the NBCUniversal Adopt-A-Team Professional Development Program, Howard's National Communication Association—Lambda Pi Eta. And in 2018, I won an award for the White House Correspondent's Association Scholarship (WHCA) for work I had produced and reported on while in school.
Throughout my collegiate years, I also had several internships, including an NBCUniversal Corporate Diversity & Inclusion Fellow in Universal City, CA, and in 2019 I was an ABC Good Morning America Production Intern in Manhattan.
After graduating, I became a University of Pennsylvania CAMRA Mellon Fellow in a program that focuses on multimodal research. I am now in my second year of that program. While working in research, I Hun invited for three months as a Video Production teacher. From that experience, I started working as a Freelance Guest Greeter at Fox News National Channel, working to bring political, inclusive, and diverse guests to the shows.
Presently, I am working at CBS19 WCAV-TV News in Charlottesville, VA as a Producer and Writer showcasing and writing scripts for local, national, and international news stories. Each day, I also go on air and do national and local health stories in a series called "Health Watch."
My ultimate goal is to run and teach a production department by creating a positive and informative presence within the media-driven world.
When did you realize you wanted to work in news/media?
In 2012 I left Chapin and headed to The Hun School of Princeton. Hun was a great school that exposed me to a lot of my interests, including journalism. Hun asked me to do promotion work for the school's admission department. From then on, I realized I had an affinity for being in front of the camera and talking to people from diverse backgrounds.
Around my junior year, I realized that I might want to continue my love for communications in college. That was later confirmed when my college counselor told me I should consider communications as a major.
Curious about what the communications field held, I decided on journalism—coupled with my desire to go to a Historically Black College or University (HBCU), I decided on Howard University's Cathy Hughes School of Communications. I choose D.C. because it is a city that has a plethora of opportunities in the journalism realm due to the political atmosphere.
From then on, with each journalistic experience, I fell in love with this field of study again and again.
How did Chapin prepare you for your career and help give you the ability to choose a career that would be best for you?
The preparation from Chapin that stands out most to me is the community aspect that the school fosters. A big part of the professional world includes the ability to communicate and create relationships. Chapin does this purposefully with its combination of individual and collective collaboration showcased through its academics, extra-curricular activities, and built-in staff and student interactions.
For example, I remember having an advisory group at Chapin. It included students from all grades and teachers who made up the advisory leaders. Each time we gathered together, we would talk about our day, how school and life were going, and help each other out whenever we could. Advisory gave us a strong support system that gave us the confidence to succeed individually and collectively.
In short, it's the support system and holistic way of learning that continuously gives me the social skills and confidence to succeed today.
Do you have any favorite memories of Chapin?
There is not an exclusive memory that comes to mind. I remember it as a collection of little moments.
I remember Mr. Johnson greeting us and shaking our hands before heading into school.
I remember being Saturn in the fourth grade during our astronomy course.
I remember running a mile and getting a high five from Mr. Fuller after beating all the boys' running times.
I remember Mrs. Moore handing out lollipops to the 8th-grade "seniors" after school.
And I remember hanging out with my friends and playing tag around the statue during recess.
It's the relationships from Chapin that, for me, hold the most value and nostalgia. And I know it is the same experience for all students who will and have passed through Chapin's doors.
What advice would you give a current Chapin student as they go through Chapin and then onto their post-Chapin academic life?
The best advice I can give Chapin students is to take a moment to think about their future. They don't necessarily need to have it planned out all the way but think about where they may want to be in the next two-to-five years.
In journalism, we have this saying called "following the lead." Following the lead means you go wherever the story takes you, even it is the original assignment. That's sort of what life is, a multitude of paths you could take towards your future. Don't be afraid to trust your instincts and go where life is leading you. Things have a way of working out. Now that doesn't mean you get to float around aimlessly. You have to have intention as you put in the work, go the extra mile, and make the necessary connections to reach success. Just remember that you get to make your own story….so start putting your pen to paper and write it.
Thank you so much, Tatiana! Good luck with everything!
Before Thanksgiving break, Chapin’s Robotics and Quiz Bowl teams continued to have great success in competitions.
Chapin's Robotics Team
The Robotics team, whose members are fifth graders, competed in a virtual competition from Chapin. They worked well together, and it was evident they were enthusiastic and serious participants. For their first competition, they performed remarkably well and now plan to take their experience and build on it. A big thank you to Patrick Wade, who is guiding our budding robotics team.
Members of the 5th Grade Robotics Team
Chapin's Quiz Bowl Team
Our A and B Quiz Bowl teams participated in a virtual competition that included teams from across the country. When the evening was over, and the points were totaled, Team A made up of Varun Venkataran (8th grade), Rehan Bhargara (8th grade), Bryan Zhao (7th grade), and Jude Leger (6th grade), finished second and based on their overall score, qualified for nationals. Throughout the day, both teams showed incredible stamina, along with Chapin's five virtues. Mark Meyers is once again leading a group of students who feed off of his enthusiasm and positive attitude.
Chapin Quiz Bowl Teams:
Team A - Varun Venkataraman - Captain #11 scorer
Rehan Bhargava #17 scorer
Bryan Zhao #14 scorer
Jude Leger # 6 scorer
Team B - Ziya Sangha #26 scorer
Lucy Melchior #23 scorer
Brayden Collins #16 scorer
Phinneas Dunne #9 scorer
Fourth graders are using paper airplanes to learn about the scientific method and variables. In pairs, students researched airplane designs, tested a variety of models, and chose a final model to test. Each pair launched their airplane and measured its distance. They did this multiple times, adding paper clip “passengers” through the process to determine the impact of weight on flight distance. What was their conclusion? Did it match their hypothesis? Ask a fourth grader!
Chapin School Princeton’s faculty, Explorers Through Grade 8) spent today strengthening their understanding and knowledge of differentiated instruction. Beth Rayl, of We Grow Teachers (wegrowteachers.com) facilitated the day-long workshop, and the driving question of the day was “How do we ensure all students are growing to their full potential every year?”.
And what could be a more essential question for Chapin? As we strive to prepare students with skills for lifelong learning. Our teachers are ready to strengthen Chapin students’ flexibility of thought and ability to adapt, as they build the confidence to handle new environments in secondary school, college, and beyond.
As the air turns cooler and the leaves start to fall, Chapin School Princeton’s Pre-K Explorers walk with their teachers around campus to explore the foliage, and whatever else they may discover!
A huge Chapin Charger congrats to Narayan Venkatesh who won first place in the Under-1900 USCF rating section at the Eastern Chess Congress (@AmericanChess) held this weekend at Princeton, NJ. The tournament had around 480 attendees, including 58 in Narayan's rating category. Narayan had 4 wins and 1 draw, putting him at the top of this category with two other players.
Way to charge ahead (with great deliberation and thought) Narayan!
Chapin Charges Ahead into the Humanities
Chapin Chat with Mark Lederer, Director of Curriculum Development
Chapin School Princeton has launched an initiative to immerse students in a curriculum that prepares them for the multifaceted landscape awaiting them. Our humanities curriculum, in conjunction with our STEAM program, has always been very strong, preparing students with the skills and knowledge they need to be prepared for success at the best secondary schools in the country. As part of a two-year curriculum review process, Chapin will adopt a new vision of teaching and learning in the humanities. We spoke to Chapin’s Director of Curriculum, Mark Lederer, and he shared his insights into this vision.
Can you talk a little bit about the curriculum review process?
Chapin has had a curriculum review process for a number of years. Each year a select number of subject areas go over the existing curriculum from Explorers through eighth grade to determine what adjustments need to be made with the possibility of a total make-over if the review committee deems that appropriate. This includes looking at the scope and sequence across the grades for skills, processes, and concepts to be introduced, developed, and mastered, the flow of the units within each grade level, the materials used, and the types of assessments and projects employed. Two years ago the school decided to choose a single methodology for writing the portion of the curriculum that details the lesson goals, activities, assignments, projects, and assessments. A committee of faculty and administrators chose Understanding by Design as the methodology the school would use.
What is Understanding by Design?
Understanding by Design is a form of keeping the end in mind when designing the curriculum. It is a way of establishing the big picture to make sure you are focused on where you want the educational journey to end. As you might imagine, this helps keep a teacher focused on what is important. From there, the teacher designs the activities and lessons that lead to that end goal.
What are essential questions?
Essential questions are a great way of framing those overarching goals. Typically, they are a critical part of the Understanding by Design methodology. You can have an essential question for a unit and then have smaller goals for the lessons that comprise that unit. Effective essential questions set up the big picture, are open-ended, and thought-provoking. If properly used and worded, they create opportunities for students to actively engage with their learning.
How do these concepts help students learn?
The nature of an essential question sets up a thought exploration until the student arrives at an effective answer (but not necessarily the only answer). In another setting, it might be that the students all arrive at the same answer, but the path taken to get there looks very different. In either case, the student has to arrive in a way that makes sense to them and a way that they can validate that they have gotten an appropriate answer.
Why move towards a Humanities class, as opposed to the more traditional split between Language Art/English and Social Studies/History?
There are a number of schools at the middle school level that have decided to take this approach, including ones that Chapin visited and reviewed in Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New York City. Its main goals are to foster interdisciplinary instruction and thinking. This has great value in broadening the perspective of students and helps to prevent our thought process from becoming “siloed.” An example of this would be bringing the reading and literary analysis typically used in a Language Arts class to read a historical document more deeply, whether it be an important document like the Declaration of Independence, a newspaper report, or a historian’s account. Similarly, using cause and effect, or setting a piece of literature in its historical context, can help a reader understand that literature and its impact. Cross-subject area teaching also creates a synergy that goes beyond just borrowing tools and concepts from the other discipline that can be hard to measure, but you can still see it in students’ work and thinking.
Do you have experience with a cross-curricular approach?
Many years ago, I had the good fortune to work in a school that was committed to a Thinking Through Writing program. This convinced me of the importance of writing across the curriculum as a learning tool and the value of emphasizing metacognition (“thinking about one’s own thinking”) in that process. As a cross-disciplinary study, Humanities is well suited to pursue both of these objectives. Finally, by focusing on the big picture or topics a good humanities course keeps students centered on what’s important and de-emphasizes recall of discrete factual content or concepts that are limited to one reading or topic. This approach allows the teacher and students to step aside from a strictly linear approach to their studies — encouraging flexibility of thought. This further allows teachers to be more responsive to current needs, events, or what’s even happening in the students’ lives as it reduces the pressure to deliver this specific set of facts, plot lines, and so on in favor of pursuing an overall theme.
What reading initiatives are taking place in the lower grades at Chapin?
Chapin is investing a substantial portion of its professional development in enhancing its reading program. One area of concentration is to improve students’ working memory, which goes beyond the memorization of sight words, letters sounds, and letter combinations. It uses executive functions to develop memory strategies and systems. Denée Dill, our Director of Academics, will be leading this effort across all grades by using dedicated professional development opportunities to provide time to practice and reflect on new strategies.
We hear the phrase critical thinking a lot. What does that mean at Chapin?
There are many types of thinking - analytical, holistic, qualitative, quantitative, and so on. All of these will help Chapin students in their future educational experiences. For example, understanding how to do something and why you do something is far more empowering than recalling a specific process. If you understand how something is done, then you can more easily adapt to a slightly or even radically different context while still drawing on your abilities and knowledge. In another way, if you are used to taking both the content and skills you use in one class and applying them in another, you will have more tools to succeed and understand in any subject as opposed to being self-limited by the tools that are only typically used in a subject.
Can you give some examples?
As someone who took a lot of science and history courses, I had other methods and knowledge to bring to those courses that my classmates didn’t have or wouldn’t have thought to use. The objectivity stressed in science can be very helpful in getting a clearer picture of history. Similarly, knowing that ideas evolve over time and that the historical and social context influences the development of those ideas can help you understand how a scientific endeavor might be unknowingly hampered or influenced by that. Knowing that would allow the scientist to possibly transcend that and find a new paradigm.
And how does all of this help students charge ahead and prepare for their academic future?
Understanding By Design, Essential Questions and cross-disciplinary studies like Humanities nurture flexibility of thinking and higher-level thinking which in turn equips a student to tackle all of their educational challenges.
As Chapin continues to emphasize rigorous academics and preparation for secondary school, we still find a space for teachers and students to explore and develop their enthusiasms. Our Discovery selections are once-a-cycle classes that focus on topics such as graphic design, virtual stock market, Quiz Bowl, musical theater, knitting, and many others. This mixture of fun and learning helps open up different pathways for students as they can see the work they are doing in their core classes can be applied in settings they can’t yet imagine.
It’s truly a way for them to charge ahead into whatever the future holds for them.
It’s been a long time! In the past few days, Chapin Charger Athletics had games and meets on-campus for the first time in a very long time. The beautiful weather allowed our scholar-athletes to charge ahead and compete with enthusiasm and skill. There’s no advantage like home-field advantage.
It’s a Chapin Tradition. Every year, Chapin’s student leaders—the 8th grade—gather together and leave their literal mark, a thumbprint surrounding the Chapin C with their name underneath.
The thumbprint marks the beginning of their final year at Chapin, which is the culmination of all the hard work they put in to prepare to be successful at the most prestigious high schools in the country. It also symbolizes the bond between all of our students—past, current, and future—and the Chapin community. As they charge ahead into the future, they always will have the foundations Chapin helped them build.
Meet Mrs. Lahiri
As we gear up for the 2021-22 school year, let’s hear from our new Assistant Head of School, Mythili Lahiri. Mrs. Lahiri holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Columbia University. She joins us after many years of service at Rutgers Preparatory School, where she held several roles including Dean of International Students, Director of Global Education Programs, Associate Director of the Innovation Center, and classroom teacher. Over the summer, she has immersed herself in all things Chapin to gear up for the academic year ahead.
Here is her conversation with Jeff Barnosky, Director of Strategic Initiatives.
What excited you about coming to Chapin?
I knew when I walked out the door after I spent a day at Chapin in March that this was a community of which I wanted to be a part. The energy within the halls is palpable. The students are clearly so happy to be here, and there is a feeling of joyous learning in all the classrooms. The culture of teamwork and support amongst the faculty is so apparent, and it is clear every member of the faculty highly values being part of the community.
Assistant Head of School is a new role at Chapin. How is it different from previous roles? What impact do you think it will make?
Historically, Chapin has had Lower School and Upper School Division Heads, each responsible for their respective divisions. This new role presents a great opportunity to impact the journey of a Chapin student from grade 1 to 8. We have a chance to really look at the curriculum and ensure that each year lays a solid foundation for what comes next. We will look to ensure seamless transitions as students move from grade to grade leading to cohesion and continuity across grades. We want to create an educational experience that places Chapin graduates in a strong position as they move on to secondary school.
What is your vision for Chapin’s future?
Chapin’s future is bright. We are ready to truly meet each student where they are and to push them to their full potential. Chapin stands in a unique position with small class sizes, energetic and innovative faculty, and robust facilities and resources to be able to provide a truly differentiated experience for students so that they are supported when needed and enriched whenever appropriate. I look forward to working with the faculty to focus on this effort so our Chapin graduates move on to high school poised for success and ready to tackle the challenges ahead.
Before we sign off, can you share something about your family or hobbies?
Sure. My husband and I are parents of 3 adult kids who are all in college. We are big tennis fans, and until the pandemic happened, we would attend the US Open every year. One of my favorite things to do! I started doing puzzles during the pandemic and found it to be very relaxing. I get into a zone and don’t want to stop until it’s done. Now that I’m an empty nester, I see a lot of puzzles in my future.
It was great to spend some time and chat with Mrs. Lahiri. She is excited to have joined our community and is ready to continue Chapin’s mission to provide a richly textured education that inspires academic achievement and builds strength of character. Together, Chapin School Princeton is ready to charge ahead!
Chapin's Quiz Bowl team had a stunning showing at Nationals, going 4-4 in competition against the top teams in the nation. The journey isn't over yet. We still have one final tournament from our year-long monthly tournament in which Chapin A is once again playing for the top spot in our region. We also have four players, Shrihith, Varun, Arjun, and William who have qualified to represent the school on the New Jersey Quiz Bowl All-Star Team. Charge Ahead, Chapin Chargers!
Chapin School Princeton students “STEAM” ahead with their study of science, combining classroom work with hands-on creating and making in the Design Lab. It's the type of scientific study you can only find at Chapin School Princeton, one of the best private schools in New Jersey.
8th-grade students celebrated the end of their physics unit by creating carnival-style games. Students analyzed their games to see how the laws of physics applied to the game.
7th-grade designed and built structures using principles of earthquake-resistant building design. Students tested their designs on a shake table.
What defines a community? What are the roles people have in a community? These are just some of the questions Chapin School Princeton second graders explored in their study of three types of communities: rural, suburban, and urban. Working in collaborative groups to plan what should be in a community, students planned, designed, and built their community models using recyclable materials. This hands-on-learning truly helps them understand how STEM is used across multiple aspects of daily life. When the models were built, students wrote a script for a day in the life of their community and, in the ultimate step, program a DASH robot to navigate the model replica of their community. As students at the best private school in the Princeton area, Chapin students use hands-on learning, STEM, and collaborative work to better understand the larger global community. They are ready to charge ahead into an ever-changing future.
Chapin School Princeton graduate Cici Yang ’21 was a guest columnist on NJ.com (and associated print newspapers) this morning. She compares the experience of seeing (and hearing of course) Brood X cicadas in Princeton with the cicadas in her native Beijing. Not only is the topic of the article interesting, it’s extremely thoughtful and well-written. Clearly, Cici is prepared for great writing success! Charge Ahead, Cici!
Our 8th graders are talking to us about their time at Chapin, reflecting on all of the great times they've had here. Clearly, they are prepared, in every way, to tackle the challenges of the most prestigious secondary schools in the country, and whatever challenges the future holds.
Charge ahead, Chargers!
Chapin School Princeton Show Choir Presents Hopes and Dreams, A Musical Revue.
It's here and it's truly amazing considering all of the obstacles of this year. Great job, Show Choir! https://vimeo.com/553432891