By Campbell Lake
Administrators provided a glimpse into the future of North Cross education to the Parent’s Association on March 31.
Twenty-two mothers of upper school students congregated in Fishburn Auditorium to witness the announcements regarding potential programs and concepts that could be added to the curriculum. Speakers including college counselor Julie Aavatsmark, Upper School Director Mark Thompson and Headmaster Dr. Christian Proctor spoke of prospective advancements in their field of expertise.
Throughout all of the new ideas, there was a unified concept of engagement and unique opportunities in and out if the classrooms. Some of the programs that the administration is enthusiastic about include the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT), graphic design, economics courses and STEM-D (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Design) programs that they hope will enhance the inter-connectivity between the classroom and the outside world.
Thompson discussed the need to have balance in student lives – between highintensity college prep life and sheer happiness. This STEM-D program, a concept that many schools are adopting to improve interdisciplinary education, will most likely be modeled by the ever-growing Global Studies program to display its benefits in connectivity between classroom curriculum and other disciplines.
“Mr. Thompson explained how the upper school is trying to introduce classes that will be engaging and creative,” said North Cross mother Karen Pruitt, an attendee of the meeting, “it’s all about having the opportunity there and then taking advantage of it.”
The future Economic and Business electives were a big hit amongst the parents in the audience, which was another concept supporting North Cross’ newfound commitment to creating a connected world for its students to thrive academically and prepare for their lives to come.
“I’m really looking forward for the students to have numerous opportunities and to be actively and highly in everything they do at North Cross School,” said Thompson of his aspiration for the school’s bright future, “we can continue improving on our strengths and have students participate more in extracurricular activities.”
Thompson appreciated the attentive audience that day, and the audience equally contributed their own thoughts and ideas through questions and feedback.
“Of course you have your core classes,” said Pruitt, “but you should go beyond and expand [outside the classroom] and try to get more out of education than what the book teaches you.”
Aavatsmark, found the new programs as supplement for college applications.
“I think all of these new hopeful things that we’re going to do would be helpful in the college admissions progress for the students who do these programs because anything that students can do that’s sort of outside the norm of math, science, English social studies and foreign language, [all of which] you need to do, it makes them a better candidate,” Aavatsmark said. “[They would also be] better students because they’ve had different experiences.”
By Philip Schueler
North Cross's relationship with Chinese schools, which could reshape the campus according to administrators, has grown ever since Headmaster Dr. Christian J. Proctor took office – mostly due to a rapidly expanding summer program.
This friendship has taken another big step after Proctor visited China again this past week.
Proctor travelled around China, recruited students, negotiated contracts and met with prospective educational partners, both old and new. In search of new revenue streams, Proctor visited China last December to expand connections with Chinese schools.
On his most recent visit, Proctor continued to search for a school in China where Virginian students can study abroad, in reciprocity for all the Chinese students coming to Roanoke. In fact, he found a summer program co-sponsored by UCLA near Shanghai that would welcome as many as 10 students for the price of a round-trip flight. (For more information, see Robert Robillard.)
Proctor travelled to a variety of cities and locations in China.
"It was a good visit. I went to many places; I flew from Shanghai to Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia. I visited with a man who wants to start a school there; he's got some beautiful property outside the city that's a little more rural, a hundred acres of land that he wants to start a school on, which is right across a valley from a golf course and a ski resort. It's a more traditional American boarding school model, being out in a rural area," Proctor said. "Then from Hohhot I flew to Dalian, and Dalian is a beautiful city, sort of like a Chinese version of San Francisco, a lot of bays and hills. I met with a man there who also is thinking about starting a school, and also would like to invest in schools in the United States."
Proctor said that one of his biggest goals for the Chinese program is the ability to offer North Cross students opportunities and experiences, which can set them apart from others when applying for college.
"Ultimately I would love to have a very smooth ability to transition a student from here to China and back, so that my student can go and take his or her classes in China and then return. And they could be gone for a semester, and not have to struggle academically to catch up," Proctor said. "I think that's my biggest goal, so we can have students apply to college and have an experience that's different from the experiences of other students."
Proctor has found two schools, which are willing to partner with North Cross, one in Shanghai and the other in Suzhou.
"I went back to Shanghai, to a school called Xinhe, and that's the school in Shanghai we'd like to partner with. Xinhe is in downtown Shanghai, in a very nice location. From there I went to Suzhou, and visited the Suzhou Foreign Language School, and talked about a potential summer program there for our students. In fact, he indicated he'd be willing to host our students for about 10 days in Suzhou, which is a beautiful city for no cost. All our students would have to pay is the airfare, so I think it's a very reasonable way to visit China and for Global Studies students to get their Global Studies trip in," Proctor said. "This could happen as early as July this summer. Mr. Robillard is going to nail down all the details on that."
If a contract is signed with a partner school, North Cross will be responsible for managing a school program with an American curriculum at a private school in China. North Cross would be paid for its services, and students would be able to study and stay in China for a semester, without their academic curriculum being severely disrupted.
"The Xinhe school would be one of our first partners, and when I was in Suzhou I met with some folks from a school in Yiwu who I met with before, and if we can get a contract signed, those would be the schools that would be starting over there in September," Proctor said. "It is a realistic possibility, but the thing I've learned in negotiating with foreign countries is nothing is guaranteed until you get the contract signed; I'm optimistic, but I wouldn't be surprised if nothing works out."
Proctor also visited the families of Simon Chen ('17) and Peter Wang ('19) in Yangzhou. Proctor interviewed several Chinese students who hope to attend North Cross next year, and met with families who plan to send their children to the Chinese Summer Program.
While Proctor enjoyed his trip, he said he does not anticipate traveling back to China for several months, but Robillard may travel to the Xinhe school in May to develop relationships, recruit more students and explore the educational system there.
“I love exchanges of ideas, students and teaching,” Robillard said. “Hosting Chinese students has enhanced our school, and we can grow even more by going there. Cultivating the relationships with Chinese schools can certainly transform North Cross.”
By Meagan Pruitt
The musical, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” provides a chance for new actors and managers to make their debut in the theatre this Friday.
Although she acted in “Honk” and “Guys and Dolls” in 6th and 7th grade, this is Bailey Sanders’ (‘16) first time participating in the theatre as stage manager.
“It’s really different to see from the perspective of behind the scenes instead of acting,” Sanders said.
In early December, it was clear to Sanders that she wanted to be on crew, but it wasn’t until Andrew Miller, chorus teacher and musical director, talked to her about how the musical needed a stage manager, that the idea began to take root. After learning what the position consists of, Sanders found the job interesting and fun.
As an first-honor role student, the biggest challenge for her is balancing academics and the long hours of play practice. However, Sanders is looking forward to Friday and Saturday nights’ showings, which are open to all, and Friday’s showing for grades 6-12.
“I am really looking forward to being able to see all the dances actually happen with all the costumes and makeup in front of an audience,” Sanders said, “because they’re looking really good right now.”
Not only does Sanders love performing for musicals, but watching them as well, whether it’s school oriented or something fun to watch with family.
“I love seeing how all the work that they put in over months has come together to make a big masterpiece that always seems to flow nicely,” Sanders said.
However, Sanders is not the only new member of the musical this year. Margaret Lawrence (‘17), who has been absent from the theatre since 4th grade, has returned as the leading female role, Rosemary. She found it easy to return because Sanders was going to be the new stage manager and many of her friends were joining, such as Jane Ward (‘16).
“I think it’s fun to sing at the top of your lungs, even if you’re bad,” Lawrence said. “I think it’s a way to not care what anybody else thinks.”
Not only does she love to sing on and off the stage, but performing as well.
“You can just do whatever you want,” she said. “I like performing with all my friends, and being able to express yourself.”
The biggest struggle with being the lead role for Lawrence is juggling play practice, sports and academics. Because she is so involved in the school, she finds that she misses equal amounts of soccer and play practices.
During the musical, her character, Rosemary, flirts with Finch, who is played by Tristan Johnson-Hodges (‘16).
Since 5th grade, Johnson-Hodges has been performing in the musicals, and is this year’s leading male role. He has found it hard to play his character this year because he does not relate to him. While he is more of a shy, pleasant person, his character is goofy and aloof, according to Johnson-Hodges.
“I’m slightly shy, so it just kind of helps me get over it, and it helps me perform,” he said. “Plus I’m into music, so it kind of helps me with that area as well as broadening my stage abilities.”
By Philip Schueler
Students in Richard Cook's A.P. U.S. History class were treated to a special visit by former North Cross student and current UVa third-year Daniel Wendell, who delivered a guest lecture about the administration of John F. Kennedy and the era of the 1960s.
Wendell spent almost 14 years as a student of North Cross and said he was incredibly nostalgic during his visit. When asked about how the school helped prepare him for college, Wendell said the school allowed him to develop personal relationships with his teachers and mentors who continue to support him today.
"It truly was teachers like Mr. Cook, Señor Douglas and many more that gave me some of the tools I use to excel in the classroom," Wendell said.
"The extremely small nature of North Cross and the personal relationships each student makes with the teachers help give students the communication skills necessary to go to office hours and create relationships with professors and teaching assistants."
Wendell has known Cook since he was his student at North Cross five years ago, when his interest in government and political science began. Wendell said that the reason he attended UVa was the human relationships and opportunities it provided.
"In short, the people and the opportunities. I have been able to continue spending time with people who I have grown up with at North Cross along with make more lifelong relationships," Wendell said. "UVA has some of the brightest students, which I am reminded of when trying to beat the curve on exams."
While at UVa, Wendell has been exposed to experienced and respected professors such as Larry Sabato, who wrote the book The Kennedy Half Century.
"Sabato is a renowned political analyst and historian who appears on CNN and other forms of media almost weekly," Wendell said. "I am lucky enough to find myself in a small class co-taught by Larry Sabato and Kenneth Stroupe. Professor Sabato's intense nature and passion for the subject make for a great class."
Cook enjoyed seeing Wendell again after so many years and marveled at his perseverance and strength, both in the classroom and out.
"Daniel has made a remarkable comeback from some serious personal issues - last Friday was the first time I have seen Daniel in an academic setting since he left North Cross - not an easy thing to return to your high school and put on a performance to students not that much younger then you, but he did well," Cook said. "I think the fact that he is a Junior at UVa speaks highly of a remarkable turn around both personally and academically."