The Bay School Blog

The Bay School of San Francisco

Greek Tragedy

It’s one thing to read a Greek tragedy to learn what defines the genre but it’s a completely different thing to understand it from the inside out. This week, Bay’s Drama 1B students were asked by teacher Mary Ann Rodgers (herself a professional actor and theater director) to collaboratively adapt the form. Each student had to bring in a story that they wanted to adapt into a Greek tragedy, and then as an entire class of 10-12 students, they had to write a play incorporating all of the elements of a Greek tragedy. One class took the approach of grouping together, as if in a writer’s room, to create their story, while the other class shared documents, each reviewing and adding to each draft.

After the stories were adapted, acting roles were assigned, and the play was directed and rehearsed by the entire class. Every step of the process was a collaborative effort and one the most challenging things was creating a story where the “tragedy” happened off stage. Since the act of killing was traditionally forbidden to be seen by the audience in a Greek tragedy, the class had to get creative with how the characters died off stage and how it was incorporated into the scenes.  The classes performed their pieces for other members of the Bay community and, afterward, answered audience members’ questions about their experience.

Alumni Profile: Cole Stevens ’12

When one graduates from college, the options of what to do next are seemingly endless. Some apply to jobs, some apply to graduate school, and others travel the world like Bay alum, Cole Stevens ‘12. Cole stopped by Bay recently to say “hello” to some of his favorite staffulty members and share art pieces of his impressive portfolio before heading off to travel the world for the next three months…although that could be extended as the return ticket has yet to be  purchased!

Cole, a recent graduate of Colby College where he majored in geo-science and studio art, brought several pieces of his work to Bay, including intaglio prints, relief prints, magazine covers, and paintings. He shared with us some of the methods that he uses for making linoleum prints, one of his favorite mediums. He calls the process, “problem-solving with design” as it takes him 20-30 drafts of cutting the block before he develops a design idea and is ready to print.

Literally hours after Cole’s visit to Bay, he boarded an airplane to start his next adventure: traveling around the world. His first planned stop is Thailand where he will take on a three-week volunteer position as an elementary school English teacher in the Maenam Village of Ko Samui. After that, he’ll continue to explore Thailand before heading to Bhutan. From there, he will take part in a mountaineering program in Ecuador, hike the Salkantay Trek in Lima, Peru and then meet up with his family in Bolivia before heading back to the States for the holiday break. In the spring, he plans to head out again to go hike the Appalachian Trail.

Alumni are an important and valued part of the Bay community and we love hearing about the diversity of paths they take after graduation and how their curiosity about the world and desire to make an impact on it continues. After traveling, Cole has promised to come to Morning Meeting to share with the community what he has learned from his global wanderings.

Programming Robots

Bay 9th-graders jumped into the school year learning by doing. Conceptual Physics–a required course for all 9th graders– begins with an introduction to computer programming and robotics.  

Students started the term writing programs to make a virtual turtle trace patterns on their computer screen.

At first, they did this a using drag-and-drop programming language called Blocks but quickly advanced to writing programs in the text-based programming language Python.  Thanks to software developed over the summer by Katie Partington ’17, Michael Hardy ’17, and Bay physics teacher Richard Piccioni, the students were able to use those same Python programs to make a very real Parallax S3 robot trace patterns on the floor.  Below are photos and videos of students testing out their programming of the robots by drawing the programmed item (shapes or letters) on large pieces of paper.

The motion of these robots is unusually precise, much more so than your typical store-bought programmable robot. In fact, the motions are precise enough for students to use their robots as quantitative tools to discover some of the basic truths of kinematics (motion). In the weeks to come, students will work with the robots, along with more conventional objects like rolling ball bearings, bouncing balls and dropper poppers, to help them understand the concepts of force, energy, momentum and heat.

Good Stewards of Time

By Andy Shaw, Dean of Curriculum and Innovation

“We are good stewards of time,” was one of Father Malcolm Manson’s most oft-used sentences in those early days of The Bay School. Our founding head of school used this sentence to mean that we are intentional about how we use time – the most valuable currency in schools, and arguably, in this fast-paced age in which we live. While we don’t use Father Malcolm’s wording as publicly as we used to, the principle of being good stewards of time continues to sit at the core of our philosophies about education.

To Father Malcolm, and to those of us at school, being good stewards of time is partly about showing respect for students and families by being intentional and restrained in how we ask students to use their time outside of school. It’s the reason we have a homework policy our teachers abide by, one which calls for quality over quantity in homework and for meaningful tasks rather than busywork, and which specifies what amount of time is appropriate for an assignment at a given grade level. This policy allows us to assign valuable application and skill practice work at home, while also making sure our students have time for socializing, dinner with family, and exploration of their own hobbies and passions. This notion of respect through stewardship of time also drives our commitment to the flex/free block — all students have a period in the schedule where they can do homework and relax — as well as the scheduling of our exceptional College Counseling and Test Prep courses for juniors, which occur during the school day, rather than before school, after school, or on weekends.  We believe that life for adolescents does not, and should not revolve completely around school; we have built our school to live up to that belief.

Regardless of what is written on a website or a viewbook, one can see what a school really values by looking at the way the institution allocates minutes. This is stewardship of time, writ large. Bay’s dedication of time to Morning Meeting and Tutorial, for example, speaks volumes about our commitment to strong community and individualized work between students and teachers, respectively. Our long-block classes and four-classes-per-term configuration demonstrate our certainty that students learn well when they can focus on fewer subjects, encountering topics in engaging, hands-on ways. And our allocation of a full week every year to Intersession provides evidence of our school’s belief that intensive, immersion-based learning, be it through exploration in the field or through pouring oneself into a project for days at a time in the lab, is a powerful way to learn and grow. Our values are written in our calendar and our schedule.

As readers may know, the staffulty at Bay is in the process of reworking our school’s schedule. While this process has not concluded and while implementation would still be years away, excitement among staffulty is high because the designs we are now refining are, to quote the students, “so Bay.”  We’re staying true to our principles and to the values that make this school special, and aligning our days, minutes, and hours in new ways to be better stewards of time, to continue putting our students and our values at the forefront of everything we do.

Using Precepts to Guide Decision Making

This week at Morning Meeting, one of Bay’s founding staffulty members, Mr. Broudy (Humanities and Electronic Music), discusses his consideration of two precepts…
  • We value the importance of boundaries; we take only what is given
  • We value the earth our home; we don’t pollute, we recycle, and we are careful conscious consumers.
…as he makes a big decision while on his Australian honeymoon vacation this summer.
Watch his morning meeting video here!

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