Secondary Principal's Letter
Dear Pinewood Families:
During this Halloween week, as we were greeting, many of you helped shoot baskets in the hoop on top of Mr. Jenkins’ head, as we announced that "Pinewood helps students achieve their goals." We also wore neon super sun-blocking glasses that helped us spread Pinewood’s vision. And, you saw us dressed as two famous characters: Mario and Luigi, sharing our joy of the American tradition of Halloween as we build relationships with our students and parents.
The reason for these dress-up days isn't just because of Halloween, which is an increasingly popular holiday year after year in America and many other parts of the world. The reason is twofold: first, learning is fun, and starting our day off with a smile, and even a challenge (as in throwing balls into a basket which is harder than it looks - it took me 18 times before I got one in) makes a difference. Second, each of us is unique and individual. In choosing to wear a Halloween costume to school we are becoming another character, maybe an animal, or a famous fantasy book character, or something else. We are brave enough to show our individual characters throughout the year, but also we reserve a day to become someone or something else of our choosing.
Pinewood is full of choices. I'm in awe of all the different offerings Pinewood has for our Secondary students, and the challenges that this presents to students. Someone once told me, "The more variety you have, the harder it is to choose." I remember this clearly. For example, when I lived in rural Japan for three years, surrounded by rice fields and only two supermarkets, I remember going to the store for the first time. I had only three cold cereals to choose from but a lot of onigiri (varieties of rice wrapped in seaweed with an element of surprise in the middle, which later became one of my favorite snacks). It was easy to choose a cold cereal, but choosing an onigiri was a chore. I wanted to try all of them! Pinewood has an 'onigiri of options' in which students have a variety of choices, and we help them choose wisely for the personalized paths they follow.
This month we focused on Breast Cancer Awareness Month, or rather "Pinktober." October is the month around the world in which we raise awareness, and oftentimes funds, for this particular cause. In Advisory groups, students learned how to detect breast cancer, heard stories of students of their age who were diagnosed with breast cancer, and raised awareness of cancer. Five CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service) students and several volunteers spent many hours tying pink ribbons for students, faculty, and staff to wear during the month. The students also helped deliver pink balloons to the whole school to make the campaign visible not just in school but also at home.
We also held Pinewood Health Mental Awareness Week, which resulted in students speaking about the importance of taking care of themselves and each other. Ms. Anastasia Panidou. Pinewood’s School Psychologist, said this about the week, "During Mental Health Awareness Week, IB1 Psychology students were informed about mental health and shared this information with secondary students to prompt them to share a story that they have experienced or have heard. Importance was given to support students after class hours if they face difficulties. Through viewing two videos, and the information shared by the IB Psychology students, their peers were exposed to a range of mental health disorders and their development. During the week, Secondary School students shared beautiful and confidential experiences openly with sensitivity and care."
Host Country Studies Coordinator and Art through the Ages teacher, Mrs. Amalia Spiliakou, took Grade 4 and Grade 7 on a memorable field trip. Experiential education is a core component of learning at Pinewood; therefore, it is essential to know the history and archaeology that makes Thessaloniki, and its surroundings, so important. This field trip visited the Archaeological Park in Leivithra. Mrs. Amalia Spiliakou had this to say about the trip:
“Our 2nd HCS trip took place on the 9th of October. Elementary Grade 4 students, along with Grade 7 Art through the Ages I students, visited Leivithra, an Archaeological Park on the lower slopes of Mount Olympus.
“Three experienced Archaeologists and one Fine Arts Restorer welcomed us and introduced us to the wonderful world of Leivithra. They stressed with us the importance of the Mycenaean house and tombs discovered in the area, and how a “humble” discovery like that, changed scholars’ view of the Mycenaean world.
“Walking around and getting inside an 8th century reconstructed elliptical house was a stunning experience for our students. Greek people built apsidal and oval buildings since the depths of time. What our students found amazing is how elliptical buildings were constructed and used in Greece until the recent years, to support the architectural needs of rural communities.
“Finally, our students participated in an Educational Program titled “Mount Olympus and the Mycenaean World” and with the help of our gracious Hosts, they were able to reconstruct a miniature apsidal Mycenean House of their own.
“This was the first time Pinewood visited the Archaeological Park of Leivithra … it was definitely worth our effort.”
Mr. Walter Jenkins, Pinewood’s Librarian, was the photographer for the trip. Please visit Pinewood’s Facebook for pictures and an amazing drone video of the day. Special thanks to the Drone Club for their efforts on this project.
A21 Walk for Freedom
On October 20, More than 44 members of the Pinewood community, from students to alumni, ex-students, friends, and parents, participated in the 5th international Walk for Freedom, a silent protest that aims to raise awareness among the public about the plague of human trafficking.
True to the spirit of Pinewood Core Values, and in a unique act of solidarity for the victims of modern slavery, our students proved that they are becoming caring citizens of the world, people with a deep sense of empathy, integrity, and respect for each other. Above all, they felt that they can actually make a difference in today’s world.
Please note that Pinewood was the only school present. Special thanks to Dr. Apostolos Rofaelas for organizing the event, and to Mr. Walter Jenkins for the beautiful drone video (found on Pinewood’s Facebook page).
October also saw the first of two MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) sessions. These are adaptive online tests that measure skills in Math, Science, Language Use, and Reading. The next test will be in the Spring. This is a nice way to see how your child is progressing.
The PSAT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) was given to Grade 10 students. This test is practice for the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test), which is one criterion used for admission by colleges and universities.
Professional Development Day
On October 25, the Secondary School at Pinewood was fortunate to have Mrs. Christine Lytras as our guest speaker, presenting on Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC). As a Secondary School, we focus on writing at many levels: research papers, writing citations, narratives, expository essays, scientific lab reports, and communicating processes learned in Math through writing. Writing also helps in students' reflections, which are critical in digesting what was taught. The outcome of the PD resulted in five different interdisciplinary units formed by teachers.
Oxi Day Celebration
Thank you to the World Language Department, Social Science Department, and Arts Department for assisting our Secondary students in contributing to the Oxi Day assembly. We were delighted to see the creativity and variety of projects and presentations exhibited by our students. Thank you to those of you who were able to attend.
Middle School Student Council
Congratulations to the following students who were elected by their peers to be class leaders and to help inspire others in organizing events and helping charitable causes:
Special thanks to Kyriaki Kostanaki, Amanda Cole, and Harvey Cole for being Middle School Student Council Advisors this year.
This week restorative justice and positive discipline behavior programs in the Secondary School have begun. Instead of traditional detentions that are usually a temporary fix to correcting behavioral issues, the Secondary School is focusing on re-establishing and building relationships. These programs concentrate on teaching and learning that build resilience, trust, empathy, and understanding. For more information about restorative justice, please read this article: https://www.edutopia.org/article/how-restorative-justice-helps-students-learn.
In October, I was fortunate to attend the NESA (Near East South Asia Council of Overseas Schools) Leadership Conference in Athens for five days. During this time, I met leaders from schools around the globe, exchanging ideas, knowledge, and strategies used with students. It was an excellent professional development opportunity. I am delighted to have been part of an exceptional learning opportunity. I look forward to sharing what I learned with my colleagues.
It has been a wonderful month, and I am blessed every day to be here in Greece and at Pinewood. As I close this letter and reflect on our values at Pinewood (creativity; curiosity; caring), I'm reminded of one of my favorite quotes by Albert Einstein who said, "I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious."
May we continue to be curious as we enter the month of November, and may we seek for the "onigiri of options" that makes Pinewood so unique.
See you on the steps (as a Pinewood parent once told me),
Dr. Angela (Angie) Broeckel