Always Learning Newsletter - Spring 2017

Greetings from the Head of School:

Dear Friends,

    Springtime is jam packed with year-end activities at Epiphany.  For months now, our various classes and clubs have been working on projects which are now finished and ready to be shared. Read below, for example, about the Science Fair, Generation Citizen, Project Natural, and the Poetry Slam.  Spring is also a good time for field trips, like our recent visit to the Islamic Cultural Center, as well as hosting our annual Board of Overseers Luncheon.  Spring is when we have our annual gala, which this year was a huge success, and spring is when we hit the road for the Walk for Hunger.  In addition, spring seems to be a time when a lot of volunteers are ready to come to help out.  This last month alone, we have hosted groups from BMC HealthNet, Bain Capital, and Groton School.  Thank you all so much for all your help!

In the midst of all this seasonal joy, however, we have one feature in this month’s edition of Always Learning that highlights not a recent development but something twenty years in the making: Betsy Madsen’s career at Epiphany.  Since the very beginning of our school, Betsy has been a stalwart champion of these wonderful children.  She has worn many hats, and as a key member of Epiphany’s Gardening team, Betsy has helped develop a program that just won the Grand Prize in the Green Up New England Challenge.  Congratulations, Betsy!  God bless you! You are an Epiphany star, and your loyal support has made a HUGE difference.

Finally, as we approach the end of the fiscal year, we need you more than ever to reach our fundraising goals. We are so very close but need one last push to put us over the top!  Your generous contribution will insure that our school can continue to provide the full service programming, student centered academics and abiding support that make Epiphany what we are. If you haven’t given already, there is still time to before June 30th and if you have given and are able to make an additional gift, please know that it would be a game changer for us! Here is the link if giving online is easier and thank you! 

Your Grateful Head of School,

                        The Rev. John H. Finley IV

Partner Spotlight: Boston HealthNet

As we wrap up this school year, we would like to highlight our wonderful new partnership with the Boston Medical Center HealthNet Plan. BMC HealthNet is a non-profit managed care organization committed to providing the highest quality healthcare coverage to underserved populations. As Annual Fund supporters, Gala sponsors, and volunteers, BMC HealthNet has become a crucial partner in our work. Thank you! 


Volunteer’s Profile:
Betsy Madsen

Betsy Madsen has been part of the Epiphany community since the very beginning! Her role has changed over the years, from a lead teacher to a tutor to her current role as a volunteer. She has been essential to our growth as a school and has been a key leader in many initiatives throughout our history.

One of her current projects is the Cooking and Gardening Club that she leads along with Teaching Fellow, Ashleigh Inglis, Chef Sue, and Lead Teacher, Will Brown. She assists the team by leading the club activities, planning the dinners the club cooks monthly for the whole school, and planning the curriculum for coming years. She is proud to see the students become leaders in the club and take ownership of what they plant and cook. In addition to the Cooking and Gardening club, Mrs. Madsen also teaches the Fabrics elective to three 5th graders. They now know how to use the sewing machine! 

    Being part of the community brings her a lot of joy, and we are so happy to have her with us to celebrate 20 years of Epiphany. 

Learning is Cool: Curriculum Highlights

●    Science Fair

After six weeks of experimentation and analysis, the 7th and 8th graders presented their final science projects at the annual Science Fair on Thursday, April 12. We were all impressed with the variety of topics they chose and their meticulous findings, and it was very hard for the judges to pick the winner. Here are some of the questions the students tried to answer: 

  • Do teachers' political views affect those of their students?
  • How does Red Bull affect the heart rate of daphnia (water fleas)?
  • How do multitasking abilities between boys and girls compare to each other? 
  • Does playing games reduce people's pain tolerance?
  • Do people eat more when they are talking, waiting, or performing a task?
  • Do people who play string instruments have longer fingers on their left hand than their right?
  • Can social media make you lonely?
  • Do bilingual students perform better on vocabulary tests?
  • Does age affect how well people use their other senses while being blindfolded?

Each student was rated based on the research, their posters and presentation. The winner of this year’s science fair is [drum roll please]….Tnyah Baptiste! She addressed the question: How does Red Bull affect the heart rate of daphnia? Sadly, none of the water fleas survived the experiment and Tnyah’s hypothesis was inconclusive, but she was able to explain the factors of the experiment brilliantly and articulated clearly what steps she would take if she were to do it again. She was thinking like a true scientist! 

●    Trip to the Islamic Cultural Center in Roxbury

On Friday, May 26th our seventh grade students visited the wonderful Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (at Roxbury Crossing) to contextualize what they are learning about the Five Pillars of Islam. It was a great time to explore Muslim religion and culture as Ramadan began on the same day as our trip. Earlier in the year, our students visited a Hindu Temple in Holbrooke in the fall and also hosted a Buddhist scholar here this winter. 

 ●    Social Justice meets Math

Teaching Fellows, Troy Harvey and Aidid Brayboy ‘07, assigned their 8th grade students a final project on social justice and math. The presentation took place on Thursday, June 1st and was open to the entire school. The students picked topics varying from government spending to household expenses in different cities. They researched their topics, then created graphs of the data they collected and analyzed the information. The 8th graders did a great job applying math to real life situations.

●    History Fair

The 5th and 8th graders presented their history projects to the school on Friday, June 2. The 5th graders worked on the history and background of different countries such as Canada, Cape Verde, Colombia, Jamaica and Thailand. That afternoon, the assembly room became a patchwork quilt filled with different cultures. 

At the same time, the 8th graders were presenting their projects in the hallways. Their projects varied from Boston Busing, Women around the World, and the Media Outlets. As always, we were impressed by the amount of research, thought and hard work that went behind each presentation. We feel very confident that our 8th graders will become agents of change in high school and in life! 

Epiphany News

  •  Epiphany wins Green Up New England Challenge! 


After entering the Green Up New England Challenge competition, presented jointly by the Boston Bruins, Walmart, and Project Green Schools, Epiphany was nominated the GRAND PRIZE WINNER! We are extremely proud of our new Cooking and Gardening club, and we cannot wait for the Gardening curriculum to expand at the new building, involving both students and their families. 

  • Generation Citizens Elective Goes to the Statehouse

Generation Citizens is an elective offered to students as part of the Epiphany Arts Program. A program active in schools across America, Generation Citizens teaches “action civics” in which students learn hands-on how to participate in democracy. This semester, our students elected to examine racial discrimination in education and media. 

On Friday, May 19 the group went to the State House for Civics Day to present their project. Civics Day is the semi-annual culminating event of each Generation Citizen semester. Each school brings 5 student representatives on a field trip for a day of speeches by civic leaders, project presentations to judges, lunch activities, and a class awards ceremony. 

Generation Citizens gave Epiphany students an opportunity to discuss and think critically on some of the most difficult topics facing our world today and to find creative ways to take action. We are extremely proud of their work and dedication! 

  • The Annual Poetry Slam was a Success! 

The Poetry Slam is a special event at Epiphany. Every year students face their fears and stand up in front of the entire Epiphany community to share some of their deepest stories.  This year’s themes were “groundbreaking” and “standing up for social justice.” We love seeing the students’ creativity fill the room. It is an inspiring event, and the winners of this years Poetry Slam are….Rosily Tavares, Tavar Turner and Kate Cabrera!
We are proud of all of the students who participated in the Poetry Slam. They all put an enormous amount of work into their poems, and it takes a lot of courage to perform such personal work for the whole school. 


●    Epiphany Project Natural 

Lead Teacher Jackie Brice ‘05 and Teaching Fellow Samantha Rodriguez launched Epiphany Project Natural in March. This club encourages boys and girls with curly hair to embrace their natural beauty, become empowered to care for their hair themselves, and to increase their self-esteem. They have been reaching out to different companies for product donations and trying the different products on different hair types to learn what works best for each person. Their Instagram is full of beautiful Epiphany students and teachers showing off their spectacular hair! 
On May 19, Whitney White, the hair and lifestyle vlogger, came to Epiphany to talk to the club about her journey and best practices for natural hair. She is an inspiration to all of us, and we are very grateful for her! 

  • Breaking Ground was a huge success! 

Thank you all for coming to our annual Spring Gala: Breaking Ground! The event was a huge success, and we owe it all to you! The Gala officially launched our 20th anniversary year, and we hope you will join us for future celebrations in the coming year!

  • Step Into Art! 

Epiphany sixth graders participated in our annual partnership with Step Into Art, a rich, immersive experience focused on portraits from the Harvard Art Museums.  Students began by visiting the museums to view and discuss expressive paintings by Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh and Jackson Pollock. These paintings served as the inspiration for students’ own creations. The sixth graders then wrote stories based on the museum works, painted their own self-portraits expressing their life experiences, and voiced personal reflections on the creative process in artist statements. All of this hard work was showcased on Saturday, May 13 at the Gutman Library at Harvard.

Epiphany students worked hard to prepare for the exhibition, and each had a unique vision to share. One student, Joshua B., explained, “My painting is about me and my mom in the car because that’s the best thing I do in the morning – drive to school with my mom.  We get to talk, we share laughs and smiles, and we get to pray….”  He compared his painting to Picasso’s Mother and Child, a work that was a focal point of the program.  “My painting is similar,” he added, “because in both paintings you see a mother and child conquering the world.”  

Step Into Art founder, Abby Rischin, highlights the benefit of bringing Epiphany students to the Harvard museums for this immersive learning experience. “This collaborative program not only offers students meaningful cultural access and positive opportunities for self-expression but also helps nurture their aspirations for the future.

  • 5th grade Epiphany goes to see Annie

Thanks to the Marilyn Rodman Theatre for Kids program, our 5th graders were able to watch the classic musical Annie on Tuesday, May 16 at the Wang Theatre in downtown Boston. The students also got to meet the cast before the show and take a picture with them. Their excitement and joy was through the roof!

  • Walk for Hunger

Ms. Aybar led a group of students at the annual Walk for Hunger. Team Epiphany walked 10 miles and together raised $140 for Project Bread. All the students showed perseverance, determination and commitment throughout the walk. They didn’t give up...not even Jovan who walked in slippers all ten miles!

  • Epiphany Runs on Volunteers! 

We truly believe that our school functions better because of our volunteers! On May 18, May 19 and May 20, three different groups came to volunteer at Epiphany. A group of 13 from Bain Capital, including Governor Patrick, helped us with our spring cleaning of various common areas in the school, including the Assembly Hall Library, the cafeteria, and the faculty room. BMC HealthNet came on Friday, May 19 to help Chef Sue prepare lunch for the school.

Finally, on Saturday, May 20, students, graduates, and parents from Groton School pulled up their sleeves to weed the front of the parking lot and put in new plants. Everyone’s work made such a difference, and the school looks and feels so much better to all of us! We love having volunteers as part of our community!  

●    Annual Board of Overseers Luncheon

On May 18th, we hosted the annual Board of Overseers luncheon. This year’s theme was “Stepping Up: Social Justice at Epiphany.” Overseers, thank you for coming to the Annual Meeting. (And a special thanks to Tess Atkinson, Chair of the Overseers, who planned the whole day.) 
We are blessed to have such supportive and committed leaders!

●    Final Art Showcase

As the school year comes to an end, Mr. Deleveaux and the rest of the Arts Elective Teachers produced two outstanding final shows! All grades used only a black box setting and simple props such as chairs and bins and left the rest to the audience's imagination.

On Wednesday May 31th, the 5th and 6th graders presented the vignettes they wrote on topics such as bullying, violence and friendship. They also showcased their electives; Capoeira, dance, and displayed their pieces of art.

On Thursday June 1st, the 7th and 8th graders showcased their vignettes. Their topics were very similar to the 5th and 6th graders. Color Guard closed the final show with their beautiful choreography. 

What a great way to end the school year! We cannot wait to celebrate everyone’s creativity next year! 

Upcoming Events

Graduation is June 17th at 10:00am! Please join us as we say goodbye to another 8th grade class!