US Blazer Buzz 25 Nov

This week's highlight: Proteins and Enzymes

Have you ever wondered why a cut on your skin bubbles when you treat it with hydrogen peroxide? The ninth graders answered this very question as they engaged in an inquiry lab experience to wrap up their unit study of proteins and enzymes. They began by observing the fizzing reaction that occurs when hydrogen peroxide is poured on raw chicken liver. From there, they asked questions and reviewed what they knew about enzymes to generate experiments that would shed light on the characteristics of the liver enzyme, catalase, that interacts with the hydrogen peroxide.

Students designed controlled experiments that investigated the effects of temperature, surface area, and pH on liver enzyme activity. They also explored the activity of catalase in various plant tissues. Students were then tasked with writing a lab report in the style of a scientific paper to describe the experiment, its results, and their interpretation of their data.

US Blazer Buzz 18 Nov

This week's highlight: Food For Thought

Basketball. Food. Performance. Is there a better way to spend a crisp fall evening? Following the home openers for both the girls and boys basketball teams on November 15, the class of 2015 hosted Food for Thought, an evening of student creative writing accompanied by a three course pasta dinner prepared and served by the students.

Leading up to the event, kids in grades 8-12 were invited to submit creative works — poetry, essays, short stories, music, films — connected to the theme of eating and the many ways in which food nourishes and enriches our lives. At the same time, the Civic Action students were setting a menu, gathering recipes, and figuring out how to transform the Lodge into a swanky supper club. Armed with two freshly prepared salads, pounds of pasta, made from scratch pesto, and two slow cookers filled to the brim with red gravy (that's what Grandma Esposito would have called it) the students welcomed in over fifty hungry friends, family, and basketball fans for a late evening feast. Students read their funny, touching, and at times creepy works over the course of the evening, and the performances were topped off with an original song offering by Reilly Milburn. In the end, an audience vote awarded Milburn's tearjerking ode to cheesecake the top honors for the evening, giving second place Clare Robinson's memoir about her childhood obsession with eating straight sugar — at any cost.

The proceeds from the evening will go to No Kid Hungry, an organization committed to putting a stop to child hunger in America by connecting families with the resources they need to provide their children with enough nutritious food, every day, to thrive.

US Blazer Buzz 11 Nov

This week's highlight: Intermezzo 2013:  Social Entrepreneurship

Intermezzo is the upper school's biannual journey into highly concentrated collaborative projects. This fall, the theme was Social Entrepreneurship: Shark Tank Style. On Thursday morning, students gathered in the Lodge while faculty introduced them to the concept of social entrepreneurship through videos like the Skoll Foundation's Social Entrepreneurship:  Pioneering Social Change and RSA Animate's Outrospection. Then, the competition began. Round 1:  Student were randomly grouped into trios to generate ideas about problems and opportunities in the Lake Norman area. The groups had 30 seconds to "pitch" their issue to the student body; topics ranged from water shortages to cyber-bullying, teen body image to socioeconomic rifts in our community. After hearing the 19 proposals, students voted via cell phones to eliminate five of the issues and redistribute the students. Round 2:  The fourteen remaining teams used elements of "design thinking" to generate as many possible solutions to their problem/opportunity as possible, filling Woods Hall with post-it notes and rich ideas. Eventually, each team had to fast-pitch its best proposed solution to the group. After another vote, five more teams were eliminated. This time, students on eliminated teams had to "pitch" themselves to the remaining teams. After one more round of planning, presenting, and elimination, the field was narrowed to five finalists. The final teams, made up of 12-13 students each, had all day Friday to create a business plan, develop a Kickstarter-esque video pitch, and prepare a final, seven-minute presentation to persuade the student body to invest its $10 per student capital in its initiative. Friday afternoon, the Lodge was bouncing with energy and ideas as students made their final pitches. In the end, Operation #iThink gained the most student support, and this spring, its team members will lead the upper school student body and partner with area schools to create an online movement to change the tone of social media and help eliminate cyberbullying. Kudos to all of our students for their tremendous ideas, dedication, and poise. As Ashoka founder Bill Drayton once said, "Nothing is as powerful as a good idea in the hands of a great entrepreneur,"  and our students are well on their way to becoming the next generation of powerful change agents!

US Blazer Buzz 4 Nov

This week's highlight: Spirit Week

The entire Woodlawn School community celebrated "The Spirit of Inclusivity" in mid-October during the annual fall spirit week. The celebrations began on Monday when each class donned a chosen "class color" for "Stay True to Your School" Day. In the afternoon, classes paused as all students, faculty, and staff participated in traditional Woodlawn Day activities:  Gardening, Civil War-era baseball, hiking, history lessons from Mr. Bowman, and - of course - square dancing in the Barn. The week continued with "Express Yourself" Day, "Put Bullying to Bed" Day, and "Fight for What's Right" Day. Crazy patterns, pajamas, and superheroes of all sorts took over campus for the week as momentum built towards Homecoming. On Friday, everyone counted as the whole school wore the names of Woodlawn proudly in matching 2013 Woodlawn shirts. After a K-12 cookout on the Woods Hall patio, the classes lined up around the quad for the Homecoming parade. The day ended with a campus-wide scavenger hunt, the exclamation point on a week of inclusivity, acceptance, and fun. As day turned into night, the upper school students traded in their spirit gear for semi-formal attire for the annual Homecoming Dance. This year's Dia de los Muertos theme gave "spirit week" a whole new twist!

US Blazer Buzz 28 Oct

This week's highlight: Author Wiley Cash

European Studies students spent an afternoon in the Lodge with author Wiley Cash, whose recent first novel, A Land More Kind Than Home, is both a New York Times best seller and the current Davidson Reads book.

The upper school students prepared for Mr. Cash's visit by dissecting a passage from his book — a Southern thriller about a small town in North Carolina — and a few managed to read the entire book before his visit. Mr. Cash spoke about his background growing up in Gastonia, its impact on his writing and his inspiration for his first novel. The book revolves around a young autistic boy who is smothered during a church healing service. According to Mr. Cash, the novel's three narrators all represent his experience of growing up in North Carolina.

The students were interested to hear more about the life of a professional writer, which at this point in his career involves quite a bit of travel. Mr. Cash spoke about the seven-year process that ended in the publication of this book and stressed the importance of writing about what you know. We were all thrilled to welcome such an inspiring and humorous artist to campus.