It’s not just students who take part in summer reading at The Ellis School! Each year, Lower, Middle, and Upper School faculty are given reading assignments to deepen their understanding of student life and educational trends.
Ellis Upper School students constructed the first-ever student designed installation at the Senator John Heinz History Center as part of Green City Remix, a project of Green Building Alliance (GBA). Green City Remix is a unique partnership with the Senator John Heinz History Center that brought together seven high schools from the Pittsburgh area to examine environmental history and activism this past spring. Ellis students partnered with Quaker Valley High School and were tasked with designing an exhibit that portrayed Pittsburgh’s environmental Smoke Control campaign in the 1940s and 1950s, but reinvented and remixed with a 21st century spin.
Kim Mechling keeps the Lower School on the forefront of innovation in her role as the Lower School Technology Integration Coordinator. Whether she’s searching for new math-based apps for students in grade 4, or teaching students in grade 1 how to create iMovie reflections on recent required reading—Mrs. Mechling's dedication to her students and their success is infectious.
The Class of 1966 graduated during a particularly tumultuous time in American history. A burgeoning Civil Rights Movement and rapidly changing gender roles affected politics as well as popular culture. The Beatles’ “Rubber Soul” went to the top of the music charts; New York City transit workers went on strike for twelve days, shutting down the subway system; and President Johnson announced that the United States would stay in South Vietnam until the communist aggression ended. It was an era of scientific and social revolution.
BBC journalist and broadcaster Martha KEARNEY visited the Ellis campus on November 3, 2016. The main presenter of BBC Radio 4's lunchtime news program The World at One, Kearney was in Pittsburgh to work on a piece about the 2016 presidential election. She was particularly interested in exploring the region’s diverse constituencies, “I wanted to see how the presidential race was playing out in western Pennsylvania. It was very interesting to go to a Hillary Clinton rally in Pittsburgh, but then to visit smaller towns where a number of people were supporting Donald Trump.”
Natasha Kossovsky, Class of 2018, has been awarded the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) scholarship by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Natasha will study Korean in South Korea this summer, and is one of only 600 students selected for this highly competitive scholarship across the United States.
The Ellis School honored the Class of 2017 at Commencement on June 8, 2017. Ellis families, faculty, trustees, and friends watched with pride as the class processed through the courtyard, in the traditional white hats, before receiving their diplomas from Head of School Robin Newham. A passionate and diverse group brimming with personality, compassion, and ambition, the Class of 2017 included thirty students.
The Ellis School said goodbye and good luck to five incredible members of the Ellis community as they retired at the end of the 2016-2017 school year. Liz SUCCOP Altman ’70, Cathy Callahan, Andrea Christian-Michaels, Beth Leu, and Robin Newham represented all three divisions and the business side of the School at their retirement. These creative and capable women taught French and Spanish, assisted students with their reading, writing and organizing, taught students HOW to read, write, and organize, kept alumnae connected to the School, and steered Ellis into the next 100 years of preparing, empowering, and inspiring each and every girl through an excellent education in an all-girls environment. Combined, these exceptional individuals have dedicated over 130 years of service to Ellis.
The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts was decked out in shades of Ellis green and white on Thursday, May 25 for beloved Head of School Robin Newham’s retirement party. The soiree was thrown in honor of Mrs. Newham’s 36 years of service and dedication to the School and in celebration of her well-deserved “big break” and transition into her next starring role as full-time grandma.
Upper School students partnered with local clients, the Humane Animal Rescue and the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, for their final community-based project in the elective, Introduction to Engineering Design. The course exposed students to major concepts encountered in university engineering classes and developed students’ problem-solving and research skills in the face of real-world challenges and clients.
At the Upper School Closing and Awards Assembly on Tuesday, June 6, The Ellis School granted members of the senior class with individual awards honoring their outstanding academic achievements, sportsmanship, and service to the community. Ellis congratulates each of these members from the Class of 2017 on their commitment to excellence.
The Ellis School honored grade 8 students at the 2017 Middle School Closing Assembly on Tuesday, June 6. Awardees from the Class of 2021 have shown a commitment to the highest ideals of scholarship, sportsmanship, and service throughout their time in the Middle School in specific subject areas.
Five members of the Class of 2018 and one member of the Class of 2019 received Book Prizes and Underclassmen Awards at the Upper School Closing Assembly on Tuesday, June 6. Students who show exceptional promise and character in academics, arts, community service, and extracurricular activities are considered for underclassmen awards. Book Prizes are awarded by each college’s alumni association and Underclassmen Awards are voted on and selected by Ellis faculty.
Ellis alumna Elizabeth “Lizzie” SHACKNEY ’13 delivered the student commencement speech at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut on Sunday, May 28. Shackney graduated with a B.S. in Government, was Chair of the Wesleyan Student Life Committee, the 2017 Wesleyan Student Assembly Class Representative, and a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
Award-winning multidisciplinary artist Vanessa German will be the featured speaker at The Ellis School’s 2017 Commencement Ceremony on Thursday, June 8 at 7:00 p.m. in the Ellis Courtyard. The School’s graduating Class of 2017 includes thirty students and is a passionate and diverse class brimming with personality, compassion, and ambition.
For their annual service learning project, grade 4 students at The Ellis School raised $2,000 for the March of Dimes to support their mission to prevent premature births and birth defects. Students learned about the important work funded by March of Dimes through their Fourth Grade Teacher, Patrick Fagersten, who has a daughter who was born premature and benefitted directly from March of Dimes research.
This spring, the National Geographic Kids Giant Traveling Map visited The Ellis School for two weeks of hands-on learning and interdisciplinary activities for students in kindergarten to grade 12, no passport required. The giant vinyl map of Europe stretched 26 by 26 feet, weighed over 100 lbs, and took up half of the basketball court in Joy’s Gym, creating a totally immersive and unforgettable global education experience for students and faculty.
Ellis Latin students in grades 8 to 12 competed at the 66th annual Pennsylvania Junior Classical League (PAJCL) convention at Penn State University May 19-May 21. The Pennsylvania Junior Classical League, an organization for junior and senior high school students enrolled in Classical Courses, was "formed to promote the study of Latin and Greek and to impart an understanding of the debt which our own culture owes to that of Classical antiquity.” This year’s theme was “Omnis ars naturae imitatio est.” or “ All art is but an imitation of nature.”
On Wednesday, May 17, The Ellis School was very proud to present a third Pow(h)er Hour: An Evening with Dr. Lisa Damour. A psychologist, bestselling author, columnist, and regular contributor to CBS News, Lisa Damour, Ph.D. specializes in education and child development. She also directs the Laurel School’s Center for Research on Girls and maintains a private psychotherapy practice in Ohio.
Congratulations to six Middle and Upper School students who took top awards at the state level Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science (PJAS) Competition at Penn State University, May 14–16, 2017. PJAS is a statewide organization designed to stimulate and promote interest in science and mathematics among junior and senior high school students through the development of research projects and investigations.
Congratulations to Abby Hong, Class of 2019, and Audrey Lyda, Class of 2021, for qualifying for the 2017 USRowing Youth National Championship! This past weekend, Abby and Audrey traveled to East Fork State Park in Ohio to compete in the double 2000m race on Harsha Lake. Their finish in finals earned them a spot to compete at the national competition in Sarasota, Florida June 9-10.
Seventeen Ellis Spanish students in grades 8 to 12 competed in the National Spanish Examinations (NSE) and earned top awards. The NSE are online, standardized assessments given by over 4,000 teachers across the United States to measure language expertise. The test recognizes student achievements and promotes continued language proficiency in Spanish.
Upper School students pledged to Stand Against Racism in support of the signature YWCA campaign which raises awareness about the impact of racism and builds community among those who work for racial justice. This year’s theme “Women of Color Leading Change” focused on the ways institutional and structural racism uniquely impacts the lives of girls of color.
Ashley Priore, Class of 2018, traveled to London, England this spring as part of the Upper School International Exchange Program between The Ellis School and Queen’s College London. Through the program, Ellis students and their families agree to host an international student in the fall before the student travels to London in the spring.
Following final exams in mid-May, the Upper School puts a pause on traditional academic courses like math, science, and history and transitions into mini-courses for the final weeks of the school year. Mini-courses are required, active classes that provide an experiential learning initiative to students. During mini-courses, students have designated time to to complete individual projects, travel, and explore potential passions in classes that are designed to be interdisciplinary and community-based.
To supplement their in-depth studies on nuclear power in the Integrated Studies course, Voice & Vision, grade 9 students visited the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station in Monaca, PA this spring. In Voice & Vision, students investigate real-world problems, in this case nuclear power, and consider local and global implications and solutions. As students delved into the topic, they considered whether or not nuclear power is the best answer to the growing need for energy and the growing concern about global warming.
Eighteen Middle and Upper School students earned medals in the 2017 National Latin Exam (NLE). The NLE covers grammar, reading comprehension, Roman culture, history, geography, mythology, and etymology. Sponsored by the American Classical League and the National Junior Classical League, the test seeks to provide every student of Latin the opportunity to experience a sense of personal accomplishment and success in the study of the language and culture.
Seventeen Upper School students were inducted into three National Honor Societies for languages on Tuesday, April 25. To qualify for induction, students must maintain an A- average through at least two years of the language, be in good academic standing in other courses, and demonstrate an enthusiasm for the language.
Ellis student Maya Winter, Class of 2022, was awarded the Carnegie Museum of Natural History Special Award for her Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science (PJAS) project, “Observing the Synchronous Responses of Horses to Rhythm Changes in Music.” Her entry also awarded her first place in the PJAS Junior High Zoology category, the Director’s Award in Zoology, and the Duquesne University Excellence in Scientific Pursuit Award.
The Ellis School hosted the 2017 Fine Arts Festival, Make It!, on Sunday, April 30 in celebration of the School’s fine arts program. An unforgettable day for the Ellis community, the biennial festival offered hands-on workshops, student art, musical performances, make-and-take activities, food trucks, and plenty of family fun.
The Ellis School inducted six outstanding student scholars into the Cum Laude Society on Wednesday, April 19. Courtney Dionne Baldwin, Class of 2017; Matilda "Tillie" Carolyn LaBranche, Class of 2017; Taylor Robinson, Class of 2017; Madeleine Pei-Chen “Pei Pei” Barth-Wu, Class of 2018; Leela Sofia Canuelas-Puri, Class of 2018; and Natasha Alexandra Kossovsky, Class of 2018 were recognized and celebrated for their academic excellence and achievements at the assembly.
Ellis senior, Taylor Robinson, has been awarded a 2017 Stamps Scholarship at the University of Pittsburgh for her outstanding academic record, leadership potential, and commitment to educational excellence. The scholarship is awarded in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh and the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation which partners with colleges across the nation to award exceptional students with the once-in-a-lifetime scholarship.
Ellis senior Miranda Jones, Class of 2017, signed her letter of intent to play NCAA Division III Lacrosse at Albright College on Thursday, April 20. A fierce competitor and teammate, Miranda has played lacrosse at Ellis since the sixth grade, and has spent the last four years as a defender on the varsity team.
The Ellis School is pleased to celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of 2017. This talented group of 30 young women has been accepted to 83 distinguished colleges and universities that are reflective of their unique talents and aspirations. These admissions are as diverse as our students themselves, representing 11 different states plus the District of Columbia. The students intend to study art, engineering, humanities, and the sciences—among many other majors.
Children’s literature author, Sally Hobart Alexander, visited grade 3 students at Ellis to supplement their literature and history studies on Helen Keller and Laura Bridgman. Prior to her visit, students read Child of the Silent Night by Edith Fisher Hunter and Helen Keller by Lorena Hickok to learn about the inspirational women and the struggles visual and hearing impaired people face.
On Wednesday, April 19, The Ellis School was proud to present a second Pow(h)er Hour: Reimagining the Independent School Library. Hosted by Ellis parent and Dean of Libraries at Carnegie Mellon University, Keith Webster, the one-hour talk focused on 21st-century libraries, new-age learning spaces and how they impact learning.
New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Auxier visited The Ellis School to host a writing workshop for Middle School students as part of a collaboration between the Ellis English department and the Children’s Literature program at the University of Pittsburgh. A self-described “author of strange stories for strange children,” Auxier is best known for his children’s books Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes and The Night Gardener.
Grade 11 students at The Ellis School are required to take the Integrated Studies course, Global Leadership by Design, to enhance their global knowledge and cultural awareness. Through a combination of theory and experiential learning, the course deepens students’ understanding of globalization and international relations through lectures, case studies, and collaborative work that focuses on leadership development. Students apply critical communication, team building, activism, conflict resolution, and leadership skills as they identify and study past and present global challenges.
There was a new and unexpected addition to the afternoon car line at The Ellis School as a Self-Driving Uber pulled in and parked itself in the front visitor space. But the Uber wasn’t here to return students from a field trip or to pick them up for an away game, it was here to drop off three female Uber employees for a roundtable discussion at Ellis on Uber’s rapidly-evolving transportation services.
Students from The Ellis School took second place in the latest Fairchild Challenge at Phipps Conservatory, “Environmental News.” The writing challenge prompted students to select a current environmental event and write an opinion piece on it. Grade 6 students, Emma Gardner, Rowan Cain, Parisha Wilojanapa and T’Ana Moore wrote their entry on “The Decline of Bees and the Issues Corresponding to their Deaths” based on the NPR piece “U.S. Puts Bumblebee On The Endangered Species List For 1st Time.”
On Thursday, March 16, The Ellis School was proud to present the first Pow(h)er Hour: An Introduction to Maker Education at Ellis. The inaugural one-hour talk was hosted by Director of Educational Technology, Tim Howard, and focused on maker education and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) programming across divisions at Ellis.
In honor of Women’s History Month, the students in grade 2 performed their 2017 class play on influential women throughout history. The Journey of Empowerment followed the triumphs and trials of historic females who paved the way for women’s rights and acceptance over the last century. Students sang songs about standing tall, being determined, and standing up for what you believe in, as they took on the roles of 20+ inspirational women—from Emily Dickinson, to Katherine Johnson, to Eleanor Roosevelt.
Middle School students tested their literacy skills as they competed in the first ever Battle of the Books competition at The Ellis School. The Battle of the Books is a voluntary team trivia contest centered around three books each student reads outside of class in advance of the competition. Students are then quizzed on details big and small to test their comprehension and retention from each of the three selections.
The Ellis School welcomed Sofia Alejandra Roldan Centron, an exchange student from Paraguay, to the Upper School while she visited Pittsburgh on her summer vacation. A niece of a Middle School Ellis parent, Sofia had been to Pittsburgh once before, but had no educational experience in America prior to her time at Ellis.
Ellis students visited the Oculus Research Office based in Pittsburgh to learn more about the rapidly evolving state of virtual reality. The Oakland office serves as an innovation and research hub for the company which manufactures and specializes in virtual reality hardware and software products.
Engineering Design students in grades 11 and 12 won first place for their “Hair Up!” entry in the regional Student Design Competition sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Human Engineering Research Lab (HERL) as an extension of their Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program. Competing against a dozen local high schools, students applied their engineering design skills to research and create a prototype that solved a real-world problem.
The Ellis School welcomed eight international female STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) professionals in partnership with the Global Pittsburgh International Leaders Program. Global Pittsburgh contacted Ellis to host the cohort due to our robust reputation in the Pittsburgh area and excellent STEM programs across grade levels.
During the month of February, The Ellis School celebrated Black History Month by promoting inclusion, embracing diversity, and applauding the achievements of African Americans. Ellis faculty worked with Ciera Young, Coordinator of Equity and Inclusion, to provide learning and engagement opportunities for Ellis students across all three divisions throughout the month.
Science, technology, medicine, and music? Seniors, Katie Brandegee and Pallavi Muluk are fusing together their creative passions and intellectual pursuits into their final senior project. Katie and Pallavi are partnering with the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System at their H.J. Heinz Campus in Aspinwall to organize a variety show for veterans, employees, family, and friends.
Ellis student Stephanie Somlo, Class of 2022, placed tenth overall out of more than one hundred students at the MATHCOUNTS competition at the A.W. Beattie Career Center on Saturday, February 11. Stephanie and the Ellis team went head-to-head against local schools to test their mathematical, probability, and problem-solving skills.
Ellis students in grade 1 went above and beyond expectations as they raised $1,800 for the Kids Campaign to End Hunger benefiting the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, totaling 9,000 meals for those in need. Students completed extra chores, knocked on neighbor’s doors, donated from their piggy banks, solicited family and friends, and even challenged grandma to a round of cards to raise each and every dollar to help local families battle hunger.
Leila Adelstein, Class of 2024, has been chosen as a top ten winner in the Fall 2016 Creative Communication Essay Contest. Leila's essay Waterfall was selected from thousands of student-written essay entries from across the United States and Canada.
Ellis students flexed their creative, intellectual, and physical muscles on Wednesday as they took part in the annual Ellis Middle School Olympiad. The Olympiad brings together grades 5 through 8 for an event-packed day full of fun, friendly competition and teamwork. For a full day, students participate in a rotation of challenges and tests that vary from trivia to design as they strive to take home the gold medal and bragging rights as Olympiad champions.
Twelve Ellis students were awarded either first or second place at the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science (PJAS) Regional Competition held on Saturday, February 4, 2017 at Duquesne University. Several students won additional special awards of merit as well. Students in grades 7 to 12 have worked tirelessly on their presentations since the fall, spending time outside of the classroom to develop, research, and analyze their original ideas prior to the competition.
There was magic in the Ellis auditorium last weekend as Upper School students hit the stage for the winter musical, Pippin. The colorful and comedic performance packed the auditorium Friday and Saturday and ended to a roaring applause from students, parents, friends, and the Ellis community.
She is about 3 feet tall. She wears glasses. She is wearing green from head to toe. No, she is not a kindergarten student, she is a robot. The new Ellis Choitek Mark II Robot to be exact!
Director of Educational Technology, Tim Howard, introduced the new Ellis robot to Upper School computer science classes last week with the help of creator and founder, John Choi. Choi is a Computer Science and Arts student from Carnegie Mellon University who founded Choitek in 2016 to support education and to advance mobile robotics in classrooms around the country.
The Middle School computer lab was transformed into an arcade last week as grade 6 students debuted and tested their very own computer games and controllers. Since November, students have been using Scratch, a visual programming language developed by MIT Media Lab, to design and code original arcade games.
The Ellis Data Jam Team visited UPMC Enterprises in Bakery Square and IBM in Squirrel Hill on Wednesday, January 24 to learn about the careers of data analytics professionals. Students heard how data fuels strategies and programs, and how UPMC and IBM integrates technology and innovation into their long-term vision.
Taylor Robinson, Class of 2017, has been interested in science for as long as she can remember. From playing with rocks to competing in local science fairs since the sixth grade, Taylor has always had a passion for science, an interest in public health, and a fascination in the correlation between the two.
A class of anatomy students from The Ellis School watched live as surgeons performed an open-heart surgery on Wednesday, January 18 at Allegheny General Hospital (AGH). The class of juniors and seniors sat in a viewing area above the operating room and peered through a glass window to watch the AGH team in action as they performed an LVAD (Left Ventricular Assistive Device) procedure.
The Ellis School continues to have strong success at the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards winning a total of 98 awards among 68 different students! Girls in grades 7-12 are encouraged to submit their artwork to the awards which is the nation’s longest-running and most prestigious arts recognition program.
Congratulations to the STEAM Powered Girls for an amazing 2016–2017 FIRST LEGO League (FLL) season! The girls headed to the Western PA FLL Grand Championships at La Roche College this past weekend where they competed against local middle school teams in the final event of the year.
Hand-picked from thousands of applicants, Lauren Jasper, Class of 2019 has been accepted into the 10th annual Disney Dreamers Academy. The Disney Dreamers Academy is a four-day event in March at Walt Disney World in Orlando that gives high school students the chance to get a jump-start on making their dreams come true.