Known and Valued at YCDS

By Mrs. Kari Miller, Head of Lower School

“Known and valued…”  two small words which hold powerful meaning within the walls of York Country Day School. This amazing phrase from the YCDS mission statement is the essence of our school. As humans, we need to feel that we belong and that we are known. It is through that feeling of belonging that we grow. When you walk through the doors of our school, you feel the positive energy created by a community of people who feel safe, supported, and encouraged to be the best versions of themselves.

What does known and valued look like on a daily basis? At YCDS, it takes on many forms. A few examples include:

  • Adults and children are greeted by name in the hallways, as they enter classrooms, and in the cafeteria. Every person’s name is known, and if someone forgets, we teach children how to ask someone their name politely and respectfully. Students learn that your name is the most important word to you, and we honor and respect others when we say it.
  • During daily class meetings in the Lower School, at the start or close of the day, children share what is happening in their lives, the good and the bad, so the community is available to celebrate and support. Children and adults alike share with one another which emphasizes the importance of everyone in the community.
  • We TALK with one another about our lives during lunch, recess, morning meeting, and while we wait outside in the hallways. We ask questions to learn about each other. On a daily basis I hear things like “How is your hip-hop class coming along? Or When is your next wrestling match?”
  • Passions are celebrated and incorporated into our school lives. This can be in the form of teachers using individual students’ passions to contribute to a class lessons or someone bringing in a creation from home to contribute to a class project. Teachers tap into students’ passions which increases engagement in the learning process.

Being known and valued at York Country Day School means being known for your academic, social and emotional growth. The faculty assess, review, and adjust to meet the academic needs of each and every student, taking that student where they are right now, and moving them to their own individual next step. This is accomplished in small groups or individually, as well as in larger group settings, when students are learning from and with one another.  

Our students are known and valued which allows them to engage as compassionate, bold, and active citizens as they identify a purpose outside of themselves, for the common good, and generate the call to better the world.” Being known and valued means that all within our community are honored and respected, so we go out into the larger York community to make a difference.  

Math Enrichment Challenges Lower School Students to Apply Classroom Lessons to the Real World

By: Mrs. Kristina Jones

York Country Day School launched a math enrichment program in the Lower School in 2015 to meet the needs of students. Through project-based learning and real-world applications, students are challenged to expand their understanding of particular concepts.


To enrich their understanding of perimeter, our third-graders recently sketched a farm and determined where to place fences to properly allocate spaces for various animals. They needed to determine how much space each animal required and then the cost of the fencing necessary. In another project, the students were asked to furnish a house. They spent time shopping to furnish their new abode by rounding numbers and estimating costs to make sure they stayed within budget.

Our second grade class explored squares and square roots, a topic usually reserved for middle school students in pre-algebra. Students used a simple grid to explain the concept, so that they could understand that 4² can also be represented by a 4-by-4 square on the grid. Then, they can see that 4² equals 16 blocks on the grid. The students worked in pairs to match square cut-outs of the same dimensions that were labeled with both sides of the equations, for example, 4² and 16.


The exercises completed in enrichment go beyond basic mastery of skills to expand one’s own learning.  Students solve problems in both conventional and innovative ways to increase their problem-solving skills, while explaining their thinking and reasoning. These experiences are taught through direct instruction and guided practice each week to reinforce concepts.

Advanced Biology Students Get STEAMy About Photosynthesis

By: Mr. Matthew Trump

The curriculum of the Advanced Biology class offered to 11th and 12th grade students at YCDS is modeled after a freshman college Biology course. The level of detail of biological concepts covered in the course, such as the chemistry of photosynthesis, is sometimes mind-numbing, especially for those not totally enthralled with biochemistry. Traditional collegiate-style lecture with a slide deck can make the study of the organic chemistry of photosynthesis one of those topics that students memorize for an exam and then quickly let slip from their pre-frontal lobes. To inspire and nurture the innovative and creative spirit of students as they pursue their intellectual promise, the study of photosynthesis this semester took a sharp left into STEAM-town. Students were introduced to Ozobots.

unnamed (1)These admittedly cute little robots do two things rather well. First, using light sensors, they follow a solid black line drawn with markers. Second, they detect codes inserted into the line using dashes of red, blue, and green. Based on the drawn code, the bots perform a variety of tasks. These include things such as: turning a certain direction at the next line intersection, speeding up or slowing down, pausing for a certain amount of time, or turning backward and “moonwalking” down the line.

Students were tasked with modeling the biochemical processes of photosynthesis using the Ozobots. Breaking into groups, the students quickly set to task exploring the functionality of the robots. They discovered how long the speed bursts last, how sharp of a turn they can accomplish, and the fact that the bots light up green when sensing a green dash or line (something one group in particular utilized to demonstrate the wavelengths of visible light that are reflected and transmitted by chloroplasts). Students used the robots to represent items such as electrons, glucose molecules, and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate. After two class periods of researching the science, experimenting with the technology, drawing the code, and calculating the coordination of the bots, they presented their final products.  


It was amazing to see the creativity of the students, as all three groups took different approaches toward incorporating the Ozobots into the presentations. As a faculty member of a STEAM school, I couldn’t have been more proud of their approach. Specifically as their Biology teacher, I am certain the biochemistry of photosynthesis will be something that gets transferred from the short-term working memory of the pre-frontal lobe through the hippocampus to long-term memory…even if that long-term memory is focused on the cute-factor of those robots.

Tenth Graders Bonded Over Escape Games Live and Bowling

By: Ms. Paige Hoke

On Friday, the 10th grade class had the opportunity to work on team and relationship building outside of the classroom setting. With several new students, it was a great opportunity for the 10th grade to come together and form stronger bonds.  


We started the day at “Escape Games Live,” where students had to work in small groups to solve puzzles and clues in order to “escape” a room (in case you’re wondering, they weren’t really locked in). The four rooms were themed as 1970s, a 1950s detective precinct, Sherlock Holmes’ office, and a Western-style showdown. While Mr. Trump and I did not participate in the activities, we were able to hear the students working inside their rooms. It was wonderful to hear them working together to solve problems, as well as laughing and having fun. As we were walking to the bus afterward, they enthusiastically discussed events that happened in the rooms, compared experiences, realized clues they missed, and shared their successes.


After two rounds of escaping, we traveled to Laser Alleys, where they bowled and participated in laser tag. The 10th grade class has some really talented bowlers! Strikes were cheered and high-fived, and gutter balls commiserated by all.


The day provided many opportunities for classmates to work together, play together, and socialize outside of the often busy school setting.  As a new 10th grade advisor, I enjoyed getting to know the entire class outside of the academic setting.

The Veritas Coming This Spring!

By Ella White ’18, Founder of The Veritas

The Veritas is York Country Day School’s student-run literary magazine, dedicated to showcasing student writing and art. People take from what they know–what they can dream–to make art and in this way, they are taking from the truth and making something new.

“Veritas” is York Country Day School’s motto, the Latin word for truth. There was varying debate in the Veritas team about the name. At first, we thought to make our name something STEAM-oriented. Then, it was greyhound-this, or maybe greyhound-that. Several anagrams were made from the word “arts.” When we finally narrowed it down to something veritas-related, there was a series of long debates about the differences between the Veritas, the Veritas Magazine, Veritas, and Veritas Magazine.

We decided, ultimately, that we were The Veritas. We wanted to share the truth. There are many parts of the truth, and many personal truths, but there is only one overbearing, ambiguous truth, and it speaks in all art. We hope that the Veritas will convey an experience for our readers. We hope that art of every kind can help our audience to see their truths and the truths of others.

A literary magazine offers a space for students to showcase their work, and everything that our school has helped them accomplish. Our students make art every day, whether it is in classes or scribbles in their secret diaries, but the art never makes it far beyond those spaces. Once in awhile, students share their work with their parents, and their work makes it to the fridges. Or they submit it to few and far between competitions, and once in awhile a student gets a small ounce of recognition.

Perhaps there aren’t so many students writing bad poems in their secret diaries. I hope to be a writer, and I myself often forget to write. But when there’s a deadline, or something to strive for, I sit and I write.

As we grow beyond the classrooms and walls of Country Day, we take what we’ve learned here and begin to find a space for ourselves in the broader world.  The Veritas gives us a launching pad and a collective voice. Something that we are making with our own hands for ourselves that we can send out into the world. And that is the truth.

The Veritas will be distributed to Middle and Upper School students in April 2017.

Upper School Students Begin Service-Learning Projects

By: Mr. Scott Gyenes

What is Service-Learning? As the coordinator of service-learning for the Upper School, that is a question I am often asked. In general, service-learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection. This enriches the learning experience, teaches civic responsibility, and strengthens students’ academic skills.

The critical difference between service-learning and community service/volunteering is its reciprocal emphasis on students both learning about and addressing real needs in the community. Course materials such as lectures, readings, discussions, and reflection activities supplement the student service. In turn, the service experience is brought back to the classroom to enhance the academic dialogue and student comprehension. Students work on real problems that make academic learning relevant while simultaneously enhancing their social skills, analytical ability, civic and ethical responsibility, self-efficacy, and career development

At its core, service-learning supports all aspects of the York Country Day School mission, similar to our academic curriculum. Service-learning “nurtures the innovative and creative spirit of students as they pursue their intellectual promise,” which is taken directly from the YCDS mission statement. Student are able to combine their personal passions and academic skills to improve their community and world.

Furthermore, student service-learning projects not only benefit the student, but also just as importantly, benefit their community (whether that is the local, school, national or even international community). Thus, “the community helps students ignite their intellectual, social, and civic passions.”

By engaging in their community, “our students are known and valued which allows them to engage as compassionate, bold, and active citizens as they identify a purpose outside of themselves, for the common good, and generate the call to better the world.”

Some examples of current Service Learning Projects are:

Ella White is working with the YORK REFLECTIONS. This organization was created to record and present the history of York race relations with the goal of creating the definitive history of the 1969 York Race Riots and York City race relations in general. Ella is working with the Oral History Coordinator to do academic research and compiling the interviews.

Jessica Babcock, Quenelle McKim, and Chanel Quashie are in the process of creating a student-run tutoring organization at YCDS. This will be an ongoing organization that will allow for peer-led academic support among all grade levels.

Jacob Azriel, Jagr Krtanjek and Sean Evans are creating videos to teach the international community about 3D design and programming robots. These videos are being posted on YouTube via the schools’ FTC YouTube page.

Benja Tatafasa is working with a York Heritage Rail Trail beautification program by examining the problem of trash left along the Rail Trail. He is implementing the placement of trash cans along the route to alleviate this ecological problem.

I am working with a Stacey Fillipone and her group of VidCast students to help LifePath Christian Ministries to plan and create video documentaries of their staff, clients, and programs. These videos will be uploaded to their website to support and help better promote their programs and mission. The following students will be part of the VidCast team: Abigail Miller, Yuki Xu, Jagr Kratanjek, and Michelle Guo