Only at SAR are school assemblies held “on the steps.” Joyous and solemn occasions alike start off with the entire school gathered together not in an auditorium or gym, but “on the steps.” That’s where, for example, we sing hallel and light the Chanukah candles. And it’s where everyone gathers on the last day of school to join Rabbi Krauss in a rousing “count down” to summer.
Of course, some special events take place away from school. To make learning come alive, students often take field trips. While third graders are learning about the rainforest, for example, they visit the Bronx Zoo. Likewise the 4th grade goes to Museum Village and Phillipsburg Manor as part of their study of colonial America.
Sometimes, we even spend the night!
Fifth graders take an overnight trip to Greenkill Outdoor Education Center, where they learn first-hand about nature and the environment.
Our sixth graders travel to Camp Monroe for two days of nature, tefillah, and character building.
Seventh graders go to Boston and Rhode Island, where they visit the Touro Synagogue and historical sights like the Freedom Trail and Faneuil Hall.
On a four-day shabbaton to Ottawa, Ontario, eighth graders enjoy sightseeing, winter sports and a ruach-filled Shabbat. On a second trip, they visit Washington, D.C. for a tour of the Capitol, museums and monuments.
And then there are other special programs like Chesed Week. For Parsha Va’yeira, SAR students are welcomed into a life-size tent by teachers dressed as Sarah and Abraham. Inside the tent each grade completes its own chesed project.
On Veterans Day, we honor veterans from the SAR community with a school-wide tribute and a “Wall of Honor.” Veterans speak to different grades, and kindergartners present veterans with hand-made gifts at a special reception.
For Yom Ha’Shoah, we gather on the steps to honor those who lost their lives in the Holocaust. Speakers visit individual grades to tell their stories. And throughout the day, we all stand in silence as the names of SAR family members who perished in the Holocaust are read over the loud speaker.
Yom Ha’Zikaron begins with hallel on the steps. Middle school students create a special program to honor those who lost their lives defending the state of Israel. And when a “siren” blares, students stand in silence.
On Yom Ha’Atzmaut, students start off on the steps for a communal hallel, and then run out to the field for music, dancing and ruach. Students enjoy a Color War or other fun activities. In the evening, Academy and High School students gather together with their families for a communal barbecue and more singing and dancing.
- Enrichment Clusters (Grades 1 - 3)
- Brown Bag Seminars (Grade 1-5)
- Enrichment Action Labs (Grade 5)
- Digital Citizenship Curriculum (Grades 5 - 8)
- Middle School Electives (Grades 6-8)
- Life Values (Grades 6-8)
(Grades 1 - 3)
Wednesdays are magical days at SAR. That’s when students in grades 1-4 participate in Enrichment Clusters. During weekly sessions, students explore an interest, pursue a passion or develop a new talent – all under the guidance of a teacher or community member.
Cluster topics change from year to year and semester to semester, and are as varied as the greater SAR community itself. Previous offerings include: Rocks, Minerals, and Gems; Gamechanger: Card Game Design Studio; Big Shot Alliance: Engineer Your Own Digital Camera; Snap, Crackle, Pop! Kitchen Chemistry Lab; Gears! Gears! Gears!; Lights in Action; Top Secret: Say it with Sign; Code Kids: Robotics and Video Game Programming; They Said It, We Act it Troupe; Window to the Wild: Connecting Kids with Wonder; Design Detectives: Adventures In Architecture; and What if Picasso had an iPad? Using Apps that “Real” Artists Use.
Brown Bag Seminars
Once every six weeks, students can also enjoy another enrichment experience: the Brown Bag Seminar. During lunch, students meet with professionals and dedicated hobbyists, who introduce the children to exciting ideas in new and unconventional fields.
Previous offerings include:
- The Magic of Magic and the Mind – the scientific and psychological principles used in the performance of magic tricks
- Traveling Worm Show -- a hands-on workshop exploring the essentials of indoor composting
- Biotechnology: Making Scientific Discoveries and Improving Life -- medical discoveries and the role doctors play in those inventions
- On and Off the Field: Sports Coaching- a play by play look at what coaches do behind the scenes to build teamwork and help mold Olympic-sized mensches
Enrichment Action Labs
In fifth grade, enrichment activities are “enriched” and are re-designed to help develop good sportsmanship, character and leadership. In addition, a physical component is added since 5th graders have a longer school day.
Students choose from a diverse array of offerings and are encouraged to develop their own interests, strengths, and passions. Students also create a product or service that is presented to an authentic audience. For example, some students create and run a Special Olympics at a special needs school; others perform their original “clowning” acts at a local nursing home.
Digital Citizenship Curriculum
(Grades 5 - 8)
Today’s students have access to the world through technology in ways we never could have imagined even ten years ago. As such, we believe students must learn how to use the internet safely, appropriately, and respectfully. Students thus participate in four sessions using a curriculum developed based on the Common Sense Media curriculum. These sessions are outlined below:
Building an Online Identity & Your Digital Footprint
- The importance of building a positive online reputation
- The endurance of a person’s digital footprint and how that may affect one’s future
Stepping Up & Preventing Cyberbullying
- Strategies for being an “upstander” (as opposed to a bystander)
- Cyberbullying resources on how to take action
- Developing empathy for the victim
Respecting Boundaries & Intellectual Property
- Students’ rights as creators
- What constitutes “fair use” of others’ creative work
- The importance of using images from Google Search Tools that allow reuse
Protecting Online Security & Privacy
- How to protect yourself from identity theft, phishing, and scams
- Common threats to electronic security and equipment
- How to protect sensitive information
Middle School Electives
Middle School students select an elective each semester so that they can explore their own interests. Popular offerings, which change from semester to semester, include: basketball clinic, debate team, first aid and CPR, cooking club, math and science enrichment activities, “Running with the Rabbi,” improv, zumba, and knitting.
Eighth grade students can also choose to participate in “Names Not Numbers,” which takes the lessons of the Holocaust beyond the classroom. In this elective, students conduct research through Web Quests and video-interviews, and they learn documentary film tools. Throughout the project, the students take field trips, work with local journalists and collaborate with a professional filmmaker as they create an original documentary about Holocaust survivors.
Once a week, boys and girls meet in separate groups for Life Values classes. There they learn personal and social values as well as the life skills required in middle school and beyond. The primary focus of the class is on communication and the development of healthy interpersonal relationships. Topics include peer pressure, stress management, bullying, conflict resolution, and an appreciation of diversity. In addition, significant attention is given to the Torah perspective on various issues.
The course also addresses intimacy, puberty, and anatomy/physiology in a way that’s developmentally appropriate and in accordance with traditional Jewish values. This course provides a safe learning environment where students can discuss questions and issues of importance to them, and they can develop healthy perspectives on these vital matters.