No visitor to Burke can miss our centrally located and prominent library. An important part of our communal Atrium space, it is always full of students working at the tables or on the computers, taking advantage of the quiet atmosphere as well as the services of our experienced library director. Although many students today are reading with Kindles, Nooks and iPads, the library continues to play a central role. School libraries have always been about more than than finding books. Strong library programs help students discover how to find answers using multiple, reliable sources. Learning how to undertake comprehensive and accurate research remains an indispensable skill, particularly in this era of Google and Wikipedia. Now more than ever we need our students to know how to weave credible sources into a well-written thesis. Burke faculty work with our dynamic library director to teach effective research methods and everyone in the building makes use of our library databases and websites in addition to the print materials. And, of course, there is still no substitute for that serendipitous encounter with a book on display. No matter the technology, reading for pleasure is one of the best ways to improve academic achievement and bolster critical thinking skills. Keeping the library front and center here at Burke reinforces how much we value both literature and literacy! –– Andrew Slater
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“I tell my daughter she has to behave like a guest” begins “Private Schools and Diversity,” a very compelling blog post that recently popped up in Burke’s Twitter feed. Written by Frank Ligtvoet, the adoptive father of two African-American children who attend independent schools in New York City, it reminds us that diversity is not just about numbers, it’s about experience. Burke’s mission explicitly states that we “bring together students who are different from one another in many ways.” We strive to meet this goal in the Admissions process with whom we invite to join our community, in the classroom with what history, literature and art we choose to teach, and in the school’s social life with our emphasis on inclusion. We are also ever mindful that all students must have an equal chance of being successful, regardless of background, circumstance or resources. Our advisory system, learning support and progressive teaching philosophy mean that we know students well enough to give them what they need to thrive. Anyone who spends time in our building can see that our students, faculty and staff reflect the population of DC. What is not readily visible is how a student of color, a gay student, or a student on financial aid experiences Burke. We are always working to prevent any child at Burke from feeling Ligtvoet’s “double consciousness of belonging and not belonging.” Based on my interactions with and observations of students, I truly believe that most of our kids feel like they belong at Burke. –– Andrew Slater, Head of School
The clamorous sounds and flurry of activity from lunch have dissipated as people have gone to class, leaving only those students who are on free periods. The largest group of these consists of seniors who have congregated around two of the rectangular tables, while only one person, Ian B, occupies the senior lounge. It’s fifth period, and the atrium is a very subdued place. While the table group is engaged in loud conversation, Ian seems rather bored, forced to occupy himself with games on his phone. The monotony is broken briefly by Phil, who skips mischievously over to the window separating the atrium from the quiet room, and peers sneakily but awkwardly in at its occupants. Jacob enters the scene and engages Ian in a brief conversation about their senior seminar classes. He then comes over to me and expresses that he is “extremely bored right now.” Perhaps this boredom is typical of students free at this time, as when Olay saw me taking notes for Journalism, he said: “I wish I was in that class,” suggesting that he too was bored. It seems that coming off the excitement of lunch, students are much more prone to boredom and sluggishness.
It is unsurprising that Starbucks would fall victim to nautical mishap: its name derives from a character in Moby Dick. From Monday, November 12th, at 8 AM, until Thursday the 15th, at 11:30 AM, the Starbucks Coffee in Van Ness, a regular haunt of Burke students and teachers alike, was closed for “plumbing issues.” A water pipe elsewhere in the building collapsed, leading to a failure of the various plumbing installations in the building. The fallout from this incident was rumored to be disastrous. The floor drains, supposedly, began to regurgitate dirty water, and Starbucks’ district manager, Lauren Esveld, would not speak in detail about the conditions in the restrooms. It will suffice to say that it was “gross.”
This calamitous event was not only gross, but inconvenient. The closure led to the loss of an estimated $10,000, and countless customers were left disgruntled and groggy. Lauren, the manager, said that they were mostly understanding, and happy to receive the free coffee that diligent employees gave out during the day. Although there was free coffee, it might have turned to ashes in some people’s mouths because it was not a Pumpkin Spice Latte, the most popular item on the menu.
Throughout the closure, customers would peer in the windows anxiously while shadowy figures moved around within, perhaps preparing to reopen, or perhaps doing something more nefarious; it was impossible to tell. The only part of Starbucks where you could see clearly what was going on was the pastry cabinet, where gloved and ungloved hands (disembodied) would reach in and adjust the pastries.
Chris Jones, a self-styled “Starbucks-aholic,” describes how difficult it is to be deprived of Starbucks. He once spent an entire year, as a New Year’s resolution, eschewing Starbucks. As soon as a year passed, Chris immediately slipped back into his Starbucks habit. Melanie Brill, a student, performed a small, joyous dance maneuver (Beyoncé inspired) when she saw that Starbucks had returned to business. Clearly, overpriced coffee deprivation is more challenging than you would expect. Any hot beverage enthusiast will assure you that coffee at 7-11 is simply not as good.
The closure is not without its benefits. One passerby admitted that they smoked fewer cigarettes because of the closure. By both addicts and dilettantes, the re-opening of Starbucks was heralded with delight.
In 1995 Reggie Wills, Burke Dir. of Equity & Inclusion, was teaching in a local elementary school. One of his 5th grade students was Nathan Fleming. This January, nearly 20 years later, Nathan somehow found Burke.Word, saw an article about Reggie that had been written a year earlier in 2011, and took the time to write a comment about Reggie on the blog. Regrettably, I overlooked Nathan’s comment, and didn’t see it and post it to the site until today.
Here’s what Nathan had to say:
Reginald Wills is by far the greatest teacher I have ever had. It is truly noble for a man of his capability to dedicate his life to teaching others and promoting principles of equality and justice. If you ever read this Mr. Wills, please know that you forever changed my life, and I’m sure the lives of countless others.
Pride can come in many forms, earned and unearned. But, Nathan’s comment is a reminder about the nature of lasting pride, the kind of pride that actually produces an almost physical reaction in your heart or catches your breath or tingles your skin. And that pride is not just about words you hear, or a score you might get, or an award you earn, but is about the acts one does that live on in the lives of others who have been changed for the better. Nathan’s comment, the work that Reggie has done/is doing – and the work that Burke (and other schools) does in the lives of people in the building and outside of it is something to be proud of.
PS – Reggie is among the humblest of men… so, I’m probably in a heap of trouble w/ him about now…
The Capitals beat the NY Rangers last night to deadlock their Eastern Conference Series at 3 a-piece. Ho-hum.
The Nats dropped one to the Pirates, but still stand a-top the National League Eastern Division…. zzzzz.
The real buzz among the DC sports cognoscenti from Capitol Hill to Capitol Heights is the continuing march of the Middle School Softball Girl Bengals to the PVAC Championship Finals with a breath-taking playoff win over a very strong Covenant Life team.
With storm clouds threatening, and the game see-sawing back and forth, these Tigers pitched and hit their way to the final. Kate S. and Catherine W. continued their solid performance off the mound this season, by holding down a powerful CovLife lineup that defeated Burke in the Finals last year.
All 10 Burkies contributed at the plate and on the basepaths. Albert Pujols may be struggling at the plate, but Sofia and Aya stayed hot at the dish with key drives during the game. And Catherine, helping her own cause turned in what proved to be a game-winning triple toward the end of the game, driving in the go-ahead runs. But for your humble scribe, the play that should be on Sports Center rotation today was the game-saving, championship-earning, all-star, last-second, breath-taking, running-catch by rookie Natanya S. of a frozen rope fading liner that would have put CovLife back on top in the last inning!! Last, but certainly not least, Esme won a spontaneously given Good Sportsperson Gatorade from Covenant Life for helping one of their teammates after a collision at First.
The Championship match is at home this coming Monday against Sandy Spring. Come on out to the old ball yard, there may be a few seats left, and see the team that everyone in DC is talking about!!
A special thanks goes out to the Coaches: JD, Shala, Sam and Adam K. for an exciting, great season!
Thanks to photo-journalist and dad, Jeff Taylor for the action photo. Thanks also to veteran sports reporter and conga player Danny Weiss for the reportage.
["50 More Years of Trotsky!!"]
Burke’s good friends and partners at The No Rules Theatre Company are up to their not-so-old theatrical sleight of hand with a new and thought-provoking re-telling of the Peter Pan story.
Peter Pan: The Boy Who Hated Mothers magically weaves together the joy and pain of childhood, the meaning of kinship, the weight of love and loss, the power of imagination and dreams, and the promise and curse of the ticking clock – almost as if Dickens, Freud and Edward Gorey had helped ghostwrite. The incredible cast brings these timeless themes to life – so much so, that they stay with you long after you leave the theater.
Great reviews are pouring in from the Washington Post, Maryland Theater Guide, DC Theater Scene, Metro Weekly, etc. The play also just received a Helen Hayes Recommendation! If Helen says so, you and your family gotta go see it!.
Congrats to the entire NRTC team, including our very own Cory Frank, former Burke Theater Dir., and Joshua Morgan, who directed last summer’s The Davids.
As you contemplate your upcoming holiday journey – especially when you encounter the traffic, crowds, delays and other festive trials – you may want to keep the following simple story in your mind and heart — and have a warm and great Thanksgiving!
I am rather certain there are no cats of Burke, and I haven’t seen any birds of Burke, but I know a few of the dogs of Burke. Two of those great friends of the school came out to cheer on the Middle School Boys and Girls Soccer teams in their games at Field earlier this month.
Lenny, and his driver 7th grade teacher Susan Hearn were in attendance, as was MS Girls Soccer mascot and band-dog Jackie who is catered to by Coach and Band leader John Howard and most any musician that happens by the Band Room.
Sometimes, as you approach a beginning, it’s appropriate to start at the end. The Class of 2011 “graduated” last June. We tend to think of a graduation as an abrupt and final step, distinct from what came before or what comes after. But is that right?
The word “graduated” can mean – divided into intervals or to change gradually. An “interval” is the time or space between two moments or states.
Through this lens graduation is less of an event than an interval connecting one important part of your life to another. Like the mortarboards suspended in time in the picture above, graduation is a waypoint where things are momentarily at rest, a time of equilibrium and introspection where, in the blink of eye we can scan back and forward to the fleeting images of all the classes, stories, laughter, tears, games and songs that came before and to the journey that lies ahead.
It’s not so different with these last few moments before the first day of school begins. With the warmth of summer at our backs, who knows what stories new sixth graders may write for themselves this year, or what plans the rising seniors will craft for themselves and their time after graduation, or the potential that awaits all the other students and families as the 2011-2012 school year opens.
With last year in the rear view mirror and the new year on the horizon, take advantage of this quiet interval to watch the performance of Joe Pug’s Hymn 101 by Kevin Messinger and Nora Schlang at last summer’s graduation. Performed in a sanctuary, the song appropriately is a prayer to the actions and hopes that trailed the graduates as they walked in and those that awaited them as they left. Or, in other words, as Kevin says in his introduction, the song’s about “movin’ around… and finding yourself…”
Thanks to Mike and Amanda Messinger for the video (Amanda makes a cameo vocal appearance!).
More graduation pics at BurkePix – click here!
if you missed in, you missed one of the biggest events in BURKE history. More posts to come i’m sure, but here’s what the community had to say about David:
Our seniors take a tour down memory lane with Landslide first performed at their 8th grade Coming Up celebration. First time they played Spain this unplugged.