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)
- Digital Citizenship Curriculum (Grades 5 - 8)
- Middle School Electives (Grades 6-8)
- Life Values (Grades 6-8)
The spacious Academy library located at the heart of our school building warmly invites our students to cultivate their inherent curiosity and develop into life-long learners and lovers of reading. Over time, students become conversant with the library’s holdings and resources and are supported in independent library use and information literacy skills. During our students' earliest years they discern parts of a book, distinguish between fiction and non-fiction, engage in author studies, and select "just-right" books to borrow and enjoy from our rich secular and Judaic holdings. Middle elementary age students conduct searches on our OPALS system, navigate the Dewey Decimal System, and develop basic elements of research skills. Early childhood students through fourth graders come for a regularly scheduled library period, and they are welcome to visit and use the library during any part of the day.
In grades 1-4 students participate in library rotations in small groups engaging in intriguing workshops. Students work in small groups with a facilitator passionate about the topic. In first and second grades the three workshops are: general library skills, Fairytale Engineering, and Hudson River Exploration. In Grade 3 the workshops include: general library skills, MakerSpace Engineering, and non-fiction research. Grade 4 library time is dedicated to very small group exploration within a Capstone Research project.
Thursdays are magical days at SAR. That’s when students in grades 1-3 participate in Enrichment Clusters.
Enrichment Clusters afford every child an opportunity to participate in an Enrichment slot over the course of the year. Offered to students in Grades 1-3, this initiative reflects our deep commitment to enabling each student to discover and take pride in the gifts and talents with which she or he is endowed and in our commitment to championing a broader conception of giftedness. This is our seventh year of this successful program, which engages various members of our faculty as well as SAR parents and grandparents. Our program is based on the Schoolwide Enrichment Model created by Dr. Joseph Renzulli, Director of The National Research Center on the Gifted & Talented. In this model, Enrichment Clusters disseminate enrichment pedagogy to every student and are founded on the belief that everyone has the potential to demonstrate gifted behavior. Our Enrichment Cluster Program also aligns with Multiple Intelligence Theory, and our many varied Enrichment Clusters address the diverse abilities and strengths children possess. Our students have the opportunity to explore an area of interest, talent, or passion in depth, while in a small group with other students and a facilitator who also share this interest. The challenging learning pursued is grounded in the creation of a product, performance, or service for an authentic audience, ultimately teaching our students how to share their gifts with the world.
Cluster topics change from year to year and semester to semester, and are as varied as the greater SAR community itself. Previous offerings include: Mechanical Animation, Color Science Lab, Electricity City, Cre8tive Thinking Forum, The Science of Toys, Medical Discovery Lab, Reading For Construction, Patterns In Nature Studio, Birds' Eye Adventure, and more.
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.