Weekly Update With Arnie 2021-2022 - December, 2021

Friday, December 3, 2021

 

It is wonderful to be around the school this week with signs, symbols, and celebrations of Hanukkah everywhere you turn.   The special programs that we've been having from even our youngest little babies all the way through 12th graders have been magnificent, and our teachers have done a wonderful job preparing the kids. We've been so pleased to start welcoming back parents for some of these special presentations. 

 

Hanukkah is special in so many ways; not only for its beautiful rituals, but also for the narrative that continues to excite and animate. As you probably recall, the story centers on the conquest of the Greeks of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem over 2100 years ago.  A small band of very dedicated Jews – the Maccabees - recaptured the Holy Temple, only to discover that the Greeks had defiled the spaces in ways that were grotesque not only to them, but probably even to us these many centuries later. 

 

It was the efforts of the Maccabees to reclaim the space to make it holy again, to re-dedicate it, that we remember each year around this time.  (Indeed, the word ‘Hanukkah’ means ‘dedication’).  As part of this process of returning the Temple to its original holiness, a very small amount of oil was discovered; oil that should have lasted just one day was instead able to light the lamps of the Holy Temple for eight days. 

 

From this, we discover here that the commitment of a group of individuals who are dedicated to practicing their faith, of claiming their sacred heritage is a powerful force. Thus, we commemorate the holiday not only because the Maccabees were aided by a miracle, but because they can also be a model for generations to come.  We learn from them the Jewish big idea that commitment, perseverance, and working together with others, with a shared goal of ‘raising up the light’  can achieve remarkable results.

 

We're also very blessed to live as Jews in a country that was founded on the idea of religious freedom. Outside of Israel, nowhere else in our history have Jews been so free to practice our faith and our traditions as they have beer here in the U.S.. Thus, when we light the candles and perform the mitzvah of publicizing the miracle by placing menorahs in the windows for others to see, we do that with great joy and great pride. Not only as a reflection of our Jewish identity, but from our identity as Americans, as well.

 

There is a prayer that is inserted into our daily silent prayer during the eight days of Hanukkah, in which we thank God for having ‘delivered the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few, the impure into the hands of the pure’.  As modern Jews we are grateful for the miracles that helped redeem us many centuries ago. I'm grateful for the opportunity to practice tradition today and to pass these beautiful traditions down to our children in the hopes that they will continue that chain for many generations to come.

 

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Hanukkah!

 


Previous Messages

 

Friday, November 19, 2021

Thanksgiving break marks an important juncture in schools everywhere. A late November break usually represents significant progress that has been made in academics, the development of strong social connections and especially this year, a feeling that the community and the school have reached an important milestone in confronting a global pandemic. It is for just that last reason that I write to you today. 

 

Most of you are probably aware that we have had a few cases of COVID in our Lower School, none of which we believe originated from contact with others in the school. Nevertheless, we have responded with our established protocols, working in conjunction with the school nurse and our public health and epidemiological contacts at the Southern Nevada Health District in order to go into a quarantine mode with a few of our students. We are grateful to the families and the staff who have worked so diligently to make sure that we haven't missed a beat in terms of the education of these children.  We are proud of the response that we have taken to these very few cases that we have encountered.

 

Yet we now confront a period in which many of us will be traveling and likely gathering with others in enclosed spaces. Our goal as always, is to ensure that everyone has a feeling of safety entering (and re-entering) the school, for us to maintain our excellent program.  We know that this coming week, many of us will be around friends and loved ones in ways that perhaps have been unavailable to us for something like over twenty months. Thus, I want to reinforce our commitment to not having COVID spread in our school, and we need your help in order to accomplish that. We ask you to be extra vigilant to the degree you can over this holiday break. 

 

We're so pleased that our staff is entirely vaccinated, and that increasingly our young people are as well. We are hopeful that you, the families of our community, will take extra care of this holiday break to make sure that you and your loved ones are safe and that the children come back to school healthy and without COVID infection.  

 

We're very blessed in this community that we share a common goal, and even though we may have differences of opinion on a particular protocol, everyone one of us agrees that we all want our children to get an excellent education and to be healthy and safe.  I'm confident that our families will continue to be the outstanding partners that they have been for the last twenty-plus months, ensuring that our school, and its excellent program can continue, unabated. 

 

In the meantime, my best wishes to you and yours for a happy and healthy Thanksgiving and looking forward to having us all together immediately following the holiday.

 

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Friday, November 12, 2021

 

While I've been pleased to report - and hope to continue to report – on the excellence of the academic program here at the Adelson School,  I wanted to spend a few moments reflecting on something I find quite remarkable here - the quality of the ‘specials’, or the co-curricular and extracurricular program here at the school. 

 

There was a time not that long ago, when people used the term ‘a well rounded education’ with pride and purpose.  Due to a variety of factors, that sentiment (or at least that phrase) seems to have fallen a little bit out of favor, and frequently, educators find themselves pressed to defend what had historically been understood as a distinguishing feature of quality liberal arts education.  

 

Here at Adelson we subscribe to the notion that children should have exposure and the ability to explore areas not strictly limited to the core academics of a school. We can provide the opportunity to enable younger children to find their voice, and to take the necessary steps to develop their interests and passion. 

 

We recognize that they need the moments to deeply engage with music and song with art, and expression with movement and physical education. These are centerpieces of what makes for quality education, whether from the youngest children or all the way through adolescence and beyond. 

 

Thus, it's with great pride and pleasure that I note that our youngest students are given opportunities to be able to engage fully with wonderful music and art and PE here at Adelson, and that this carries through the elementary, the middle and into the high school as well. We see examples of this displayed in the hallways. We hear this in our Shabbat programs, out on the tennis courts, or in the upcoming special programs that Lower School students will share with their parents around Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. 

 

I wanted to give a few examples of the successful expression of this with the older kids. But I want to make sure that readers of this column understand that excellence in co-curricular and extracurricular programs doesn’t start when children turn 12 or 13 years old. Rather, it is in many ways the culmination of a program that begins when a young person is just learning how to walk or even before. The excellence and success of our students at all levels is a reflection of the foundation that has been laid early on, often starting in the home, and reaching realization in school. We're so proud of so much that our children do. 

 

Let me share a few recent achievements.

 

Sports

Athletic Director Kurt McGinnins guides and encourages all of our student athletes to success.

Middle School

Volleyball: We had two of our three volleyball teams make the playoffs! This was a first for us.

Cross Country: Our 7th and 8th-grade boys cross country team finished 2nd at the league championship meet. We had a 5th-grade girl, Ema Puckett, finish 3rd overall!

Swim: Adelson Lions have had two swim meets this season. There was a new school record set in the 100 Medley Relay by the team of Adriana Aizenstat, Sivan Barshishat, Yali Maman and Sara White. The 5/6 girls team of Yali Maman, Caitlyn Groff, Sivan Barshishat and Sara White broke the school record in the 200 Freestyle relay. The following swimmers hit the qualifying standard to swim in the Championship meet: Yali Maman, Sivan Barshishat, Noah Bell, Armineh McTarian, Judah Silverberg, Ethan Cohen, Jacob Ruben, Jacob Kahn, Caitlyn Groff, Laela Bell, Adriana Aizenstat, Violet Schwerdtfeger, Eliza Anenberg, Yael Izkhakov, Kyle Reid, Oree Gal, Sara White, Jolisa Kung, Shelby Kaplan Gloth, Mackenzie George, Julian Rahim, John Hill Benjaamin Feinstein, Alex Surov, Braden Mulkey, Gabriella Zargari, Ryan Silva and Alexa Garin.




High School

Tennis: Our boys tennis team was the 4 seed for regionals. They won their first match and were the first Adelson tennis team to advance in the playoffs. Sophomore Adan Tarquino advanced to become the Southern Nevada Regional champion, and then a week later won the NIAA 3A State Championship. 

Cross Country: Jack Kim will be going to the state cross country championships after qualifying at regionals recently. (His teammate, Michael Cohen, missed qualifying by only one second - an amazing achievement.)

Volleyball: Our girls volleyball team finished 4th in the league and just missed out on regionals due to a tie-breaker. That’s the highest we have finished in league play.



Academic Co-Curricular Competitions

 

DECA

Brian Hemsworth reports on our DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) program. Already in the first quarter of the school year, Adelson’s DECA has received several state and national recognitions. Most recently, we are excited to share that Judah Hafter and Jack Kim submitted their Business Plan for Adelson Auto Care to the Nevada DECA Helana Lagos Business Plan Challenge and are finalists! 

 

The Arts

Music

David Phillipus leads our over thirty-member school band in all musical performances and events, both on campus and around the community, including our Homecoming pep rally last month and our Veterans Day program yesterday.

Theater

Larry Dashslager’s upper school theater group is planning performances of ‘A Midsummer's Night Dream’, a student-run production of a great Broadway show, She Loves Me, in February, and then a spring musical, as well. Lisa Berg just cast the lower school production of The Lion King for our 3rd-5th grade theater group.

Art

Finally, the artwork displayed everywhere in the building – from the preschool through the high school - is remarkable.  If for no other reason, I want parents back in the building so they can see the wonderful work our children and young scholars are producing under the guidance of Lower School art teacher, Debbie Levy, and Upper School art teacher, Rhy Robinson.

Co-curricular and extracurricular enrichments not only help children see that the world needs the gifts that they bring, but also that engaging with art, music and movement is essential to the human experience. Arts and sports challenge us with different points of view, compel us to empathize with “others,” and give us the opportunity to reflect on ourselves and the human condition. 

Further, these examples represent successes in a program that values the development of each child’s voice and passion, one that will give them gifts of a lifetime, cultivated by their families and their remarkable teachers and community.




 

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Friday, November 5, 2021

This coming Thursday, November 11 is Veterans Day and first thing that morning, the entire school will gather around the flagpoles at the front of the school for a brief program, culminating in the lowering of the flags.  It is one of the few days we are able to commemorate, as a school community together, and it is totally fitting when one considers the values of the school, the vision of our founder and the holiday itself.

Veterans Day (originally known as Armistice Day) is a federal holiday in the US, observed annually on November 11, for honoring military veterans. It coincides with other holidays such as Armistice Day and Remembrance Day that are celebrated in other countries to mark the anniversary of the end of World War I. Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. At the urging of major U.S. veteran organizations, Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.  Veterans Day is distinct from Memorial Day in that Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day honors those who had died while in military service.

When we gather together next week, the school will effectively ‘vote with its feet’, standing together to demonstrate who we are and what we stand for.  In this tumultuous time, when even school curriculum – both formal and informal –has become another ‘hot button’ issue, I like to think that this simple ceremony says a good deal of who we are at the Adelson School.

I recall a recent parent meeting asked about the charged topic of how the school handles topics of ‘identity’

I was able to refer to the fact that our school proudly continues the tradition every morning of having students and staff rise to say the pledge of allegiance, followed by the singing of hatikvah every morning (a practice dropped long ago by most schools in the country), and that this was a direct reflection of the commitment and vision of the founders of the school.

We are blessed to be part of a school that proudly recognizes that our work rests on the rich heritage passed down to us, and that those ideals can form the base upon which we educate our children.  It’s no accident that the pop anthem that suggests that in order to stay ‘Forever Young’, one should have a ‘firm foundation when the winds of changes shift’ is based on a Talmudic passage (Brachot 17a) that Dylan was likely introduced to in Hebrew school. 

Likewise, when we talk about our country’s ideals, of those who have made, and continue to make sacrifices for our country, and ground that upon a tradition of honor and dignity, we are taking the discourse around ‘who we are’ to its proper level – giving students a sense of purpose built on a great tradition.



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