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Student Council 2015-2016 at Open House

Congratulations to the Fourth and Fifth Grade students appointed to the Lower School Student Council! This is the second year of Student Council in Love Hall, and students are eager to fulfill leadership roles. Throughout the year, members will sharpen their leadership skills by working with a partner classroom of younger students, putting on an assembly, and assisting with school-wide endeavors such as Admissions Open House. In fact, the Council’s first official duty was to welcome prospective parents to yesterday’s Open House. Eighteen Council members participated as greeters while visitors streamed into the building, and then most of the students were committed to other areas as well, such as Chorus, P.E., Science, and Band. The remaining students spent the rest of their time stationed in the hallways, speaking with parents and answering questions. Visitors enjoyed obtaining the perspectives of student leaders on Lower School goings-on. One parent remarked with a laugh, “The polite young man we just spoke to in the hallway asked me if we needed help navigating our way around. When we told him we didn’t know where we were heading, he asked, ‘Would you like a suggestion? My favorite class is Design Thinking, and I think you’d love to see it.’ So, we’re heading that way!”

Thank you to Student Council for the Saturday participation and to the admissions team for including the students!

2015-2016 Lower School Student Council: Fourth graders Grayson G., Lizzie, Andrew, Grayson C., Kate M., Willem, Campbell H., Laura, Layla, Lucas, and Sydney; Fifth graders Olivia Mc., Campbell D., Kate L., Riley, Hewlett, Katherine, Caroline, Olivia Mo., Abby, Sabrina, and James.

Ready to welcome prospective parents to Love Hall!

Ready to welcome prospective parents to Love Hall!

IMG_3211 IMG_3212

Right this way to the Hamilton Room, please...

Right this way to the Hamilton Room, please…


Top 5 Friday: Records, animals, smiley faces, and more

Well, it’s not Friday anymore, but I promise I have a good reason for not finishing my Top 5 post finished two days ago! After school on Friday, I zoomed to the airport to fly out to meet my niece for the first time. We’ve been bonding ever since, and even though she’s wailing in the photo below, I like to think she’s crying tears of joy at meeting her favorite aunt.

Let’s get to five of the many great things that happened in Love Hall last week:

5. Record-breaking swimming success: The culmination of the swimming units for Third, Fourth, and Fifth Graders in P.E. is one of the most exciting times of the year. At the Third Grade meet, the excitement was worth the slight hearing loss due to the constant cheers (screams). Two Pre-First classes made the trek to Turner to watch their buddies participate in relays and individual events. We saw history made! McKinley Bandy and Nyvette Gray’s student, Cate, broke the record for the Girls 25 Yard Butterfly. The record had been in place since 1985! Way to go, Cate!


Can you hear the cheers/screams echoing? Third Graders have so much spirit!

Cate, our Third Grade record breaker

4. Wildcats, horses, and chickens: I learned a lot about Westminster by reading this blog post by Pre-First teachers Kimberly Rimmer and Jennifer Griffith. Assistant Headmaster Scoot Dimon visited with students to share the history of our school, how we became the Wildcats, why we enjoy Coke products, and lots of information about the rich family history of Westminster. Also, First Grade teacher Andrea Haan visited with the students to tell them all about Cluck Hall!

3. GOAL: A great highlight of the week was the launching of GOAL groups. So much time, careful thought, and detailed planning went into creating the groups of students receiving small group instruction. We’ve had two meetings so far, and the students in my group have shown compassion for each other, self-reflection skills, a genuine interest in the materials we’ll use throughout our sessions, and a sense of humor. If you have questions about your child’s GOAL group, email your child’s homeroom teachers.

2. Chalk time: If you’ve walked through Carpool A and the garden, you’ve noticed the chalk drawings decorating the area. Members of the Kindness Club spent Tuesday afternoon adorning the concrete with happy messages and pictures so that the first thing people see when they arrive at Love Hall is love! Some of the First Graders created a game in which one can step only on the smiley faces on the stairs, avoiding the frowny faces.

KC chalk game 10-6-15

A new game: Step only on the smiley faces! Avoid the frowny ones!

KC chalk 10-6-15

Happy chalk drawing!


When the message is encouragement and love, we’re not sticklers for correct spelling

1. An honor for one of Westminster’s finest: Did you see the announcement in the Weekly Parent Update about the one and only Nancy Beane? Mrs. Beane, Westminster’s wonderful Associate Director of College Counseling, recently was named president-elect of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). Here’s another article about this exciting announcement.

Happy long weekend! Teachers and staff will be at school on Tuesday, and students will return on Wednesday. Enjoy the extra time together!

Tuesday’s Parent Coffee & Conversation: Supporting all learners

During Tuesday morning’s Parent Coffee & Conversation (sponsored by PAWS in the Lower School), Dr. Carol Matheson and I will talk about student support at Westminster. How do we work together to support all learners? Dr. Matheson will share a lot of information you’ll want to hear. I will share the methods I use for reaching out to students, how students initiate visits me, some of the most frequent topics students want to discuss, and more. There will be a Q&A session at the end. See you in the Hamilton Room at 8:00, Tuesday October 6!

Camp Kanuga: Mountain Trail Outdoor School

What’s the fastest way to bond with dozens of Fifth Graders? Spend three days with them in the rainy wilderness of Hendersonville, NC! From Monday morning through Wednesday afternoon, the Fifth Grade students, teachers, and a few additional faculty members slept, ate, canoed, hiked, played, learned, and laughed at Camp Kanuga’s Mountain Trail Outdoor School. The constant drizzle didn’t dampen the kids’ spirits, and the adults were proud of the positive attitudes displayed even when shoes (and all other clothing items) were soaked. The MTOS staff members were incredibly kind and patient 100% of the time, mealtimes were enjoyable, facilities were great, and the kids seemed to truly enjoy the company of their classmates. Below are a few images from our wet and wild adventure!

Curriculum night video

If you missed PF-2nd Grade Curriculum Night (like I did!), here’s the 3-minute video parents watched during their SEL/Guidance and Bible Values rotation, 45 seconds of bloopers included. No one’s perfect, right? Enjoy!

Come and visit room 57!

Parents, when you’re visiting Love Hall, please stop by room 57 to say hello! Over the summer, I moved to be closer to the front office, the lunchroom, and the infirmary. I love hosting students in my room for lunch, but our time always goes so quickly! Now that I’m closer to the Hamilton Room, less time will be spent traveling in the hallways during the initial journey and during trips back to the line for more delicious food.

Ms Strother new room

I hope you’ll stop by when you’re in Love Hall! My door is always open… except for the day I took this picture…

My #1 priority as the school counselor in Love Hall is to help every student feel safe, supported, and loved at school. I believe it is of the utmost importance that all children — and adults — walk into school feeling like they belong. People should be welcomed by name. (Cheers had it right!) So that everyone spending time in Love Hall feels welcome in my room, I’m on a mission to visit every class and ask the students to write their names on a leaf that will be added to the cardboard tree on the wall. I’m tracking down special area teachers and other staff members, too. On the first day of school, two classes completed this task and accompanied me to my room to tape the leaf on the wall. They enjoyed seeing my new space, and I’m excited that they’ll know where to find me when they need me. I’m looking forward to watching the green leaves grow!

office tree Aug 2015

When you visit my office, you’ll see my tree of names! The name of every student and faculty/staff member in Love Hall will be on a leaf. Stop by and see the progress!

Let the 2015-2016 school year begin!

Welcome to the 2015-2016 school year! In Love Hall, we are READY. We’re ready for your children, first-day nervousness/excitement, summer stories of travel and Tooth Fairy visits and family adventures, friendship changes and expansions, and so much more. Bring on the Wildcats!

I can’t let the year begin, though, without sharing about our busy, engaging week of faculty forum. How lucky Westminster teachers are! Last Tuesday, the entire faculty spread out and visited 11 leading organizations in Atlanta. I spent an unforgettable and moving morning at the Center for Civil and Human Rights. We returned to campus to dine and converse with colleagues who had toured different places; we made connections between our experiences and what we’ll teach in our classrooms. There is no doubt that the experience of Westminster students throughout the year will be enhanced by the impactful experiences we had that day.

CCHR pic 2

Center for Civil and Human Rights

CCHR pic 1

Center for Civil and Human Rights

On Wednesday, our professional development workshop options included an opportunity to paint outside on studio panels made from recycled materials. Faculty and staff from all three divisions gathered to use the new materials and provide feedback to the art teachers. Our feedback? Very, very positive! Hopefully students will enjoy an outdoor painting studio on the Pre-First playground this year!

faculty painting picstitch Aug 2015

Students will LOVE this outdoor painting studio


Three divisions combine for paintingstravaganza

After feeling a sense of adventure throughout last week’s workshops, meeting new students in grades 1-5 last Friday, seeing many parents at orientation meetings, delighting in today’s breakfast-that-morphs-into-lunch courtesy of PAWS, and shopping for spirit wear at the bookstore… we are READY.

I look forward to blogging about the school counseling program in Love Hall, happenings around campus, and the inspiring things your children say and do. Thank you for the honor of serving your children as their school counselor. Let’s make it the best school year yet!

Changes: Moving into the Teen Years

Update: Due to an unforeseen conflict, the “Changes: Growing into the Teen Years” presentation about adolescent development has been postponed to Thursday, May 7 from 2:00-3:00

This Thursday, April 30, all Fifth Grade students will participate in the “Changes: Moving into the Teen Years” program. Nurse Keri Caldwell and I will speak to the girls; a physician who is a Westminster parent will speak to the boys. Information shared with both classrooms will come largely from the Procter & Gamble “Always Changing” program. We will answer questions related to topics covered in the Fifth Grade curriculum. If students have questions beyond the scope of the program, they will be encouraged to talk to parents and other trusted adults at another time. Although seeking information from friends is encouraged when the topic is homework or Field Day, that is not the practice we encourage when it comes to the topic of puberty. Well-intentioned friends providing misinformation leads to confusion…. and being a preteen is confusing enough!

Also, students will be instructed not to discuss the information they receive in the vicinity of younger siblings. It is a privilege to reach the milestone of the “puberty talk,” and it’s not the task of the Fifth Graders to educate younger children.

Thank you to parents who attended last night’s preview session. If anyone has questions before or after Thursday’s presentation, I am available by phone or email. Also, parents interested in checking out books on puberty in our professional library should contact Mr. Martin or Mrs. Cushing or stop by GWL.

Top 5 Friday: India, smoothies, and a 5K

What a great week in Love Hall! Here are four things that made your children and their teachers smile and one that we’re looking forward to!

5. India Day: Second Graders celebrated the culmination of their studies on India today with food, music, dance, trivia questions, and crafts. Students rotated through the four classrooms, learning non-stop from parents and grandparents who volunteered to share about their culture. Teachers and some students dressed in traditional Indian attire. It was such a fun morning!

India Day!

India Day!

India Day April 2015

celebrating India Day with a candle craft


4. Fun with Food and FLIK: During Tuesday morning’s Town Hall meeting for parents, Westminster’s Director of Dining Services, Terrence Dromm, and Executive Chef Eric Centeno shared with attendees a wealth of information about the lunches they create for the school. The chicken parmesan on Monday’s menu? Hormone-free, hand-breaded chicken. The tomato sauce? Made from scratch. The brussels sprouts your child hopefully tried recently? A request from a student. FLIK does a ton of programming with the students; if your child tried the black beans available during the celebration of the black bean, he or she received a sticker and a recipe card. Also, FLIK’s wonderful intern, Ms. Busby, worked with Student Council members to educate students about food waste and how to reduce it in our Hamilton Room.

An added bonus at the Town Hall meeting — attendees were treated to a tasty and healthy smoothie made right before our eyes! Thank you, Chef Eric. Also, don’t forget to check out upcoming menus online!

Chef Eric and Mr. McKnight

Chef Eric and Mr. McKnight delight attendees with smoothies all around!


3. Be Responsible: On Thursday morning, Mrs. Plunkett and Ms. Jagger’s Fifth Grade classes taught the rest of the school all about responsibility. The audience enjoyed the older students’ take on well-known fables such as “The Ant and the Grasshopper” and “The Little Red Hen.” Mr. Chalmers and Mrs. Doster lent their expertise to the classes throughout rehearsals and during the assembly. Great job, everyone!

Be Responsible!

Be Responsible!


2. A Sublime way to start the day: He’s so humble that he won’t want recognition for his contributions to the happiness of the Love Hall faculty & staff, so I won’t reveal the name of the male Science teacher who brought Sublime Donuts to school this morning. He also wouldn’t want to receive any thanks for the bagels he provides on some Fridays. And he definitely wouldn’t want praise for the pancakes he’s cooked on a griddle in the faculty lounge. So, let’s leave it as a simple thank you to one of the teachers who cares for not only your children but also his co-workers.

Sublime Donuts? Yes please!

Sublime Donuts? Yes please!


1. Girls rule! Tomorrow morning at Georgia Tech, approximately 20 female Wildcats will run their hearts out in the Girls on the Run 5K. If you’re not familiar with GOTR, take a few minutes and check out their website. Parent coaches, Becky McKnight, and other adult leaders have been teaching a wonderful curriculum and running with the girls for the past few months. Rain or shine, they’ll be running tomorrow! Best of luck, girls!

Have a wonderful, safe weekend!

Dress code reminders

A few dress code reminders for families as spring is all around us — and kids are growing! The full dress code is on page 26 of the Lower School Handbook on the Wildcat Web.

  • ALL students: Shirts and blouses may not have any writing or pictures, the only exception being approved Westminster or college logos and names. Shirt manufacturing company logos without writing are allowed.
  • ALL students: Gym sweatpants and athletic shorts are not acceptable school attire.
  • ALL students: The length of shorts or skirts should be at least as long as the point where the student’s fingertips touch the upper leg when the arms hang fully extended to the side of the body.
  • GIRLS: Shirts should be fashioned for girls and tucked in when appropriate. Tank tops and spaghetti straps are not acceptable school attire. The length of the top should be sufficient to prevent the midriff from showing when the arms are raised.
  • BOYS: For all boys, athletic shirts and shirts with writing or large logos are not acceptable school attire. Third through Fifth Grade boys must wear collared shirts; shirttails must be tucked in. Collared shirts with a small manufacturer’s logo are acceptable. For Pre-First through Second Grade boys, shirts with a small manufacturer’s logo are acceptable.