• March

    Essential Skill: Leadership and Community Building

    Dustin Meltzer '05
    Kimball Union students are immersed in an academic and residential setting that values a set of nine essential skills. Together, these represent the hard and soft skills requisite for a 21st Century leader. We recently presented background on Global Awareness, Personal Growth and Development, Critical Thinking, Communication, and Health and Wellness. A couple of weeks ago, we explored the next essential skill, Leadership and Community Building.

    “A number of years ago we added ‘leadership’ to our mission statement,” remarked Academic Dean Michael Porrazzo while introducing Leadership and Community Building. “We are now committed to creativity, mastery, responsibility, and leadership. This addition has been transformative to our community. . . When you lead, you are helping build community, and when you play a role in building community, you are leading positive change.” Leadership and Community Building, like our other essential skills, is divided into several sub-competencies:

    Through course work, social programs, and extra-curricular activities, KUA graduates have learned to:

              · Engage with and contribute to their community
              · Identify a need and articulate a vision
              · Motivate and organize a group to effect change
              · Recognize, reflect, and act upon their roles in the community

    “More than anything else, it means being active,” remarks Alex ’18. “No matter how small your community is, you can make a difference. When we raised money for the Broadway Cares charity, we raised over $4000. That’s nearly the same amount that the charity gives to the HIV/HIC Center right here in Lebanon. Even the smallest step can make a big difference.” Alex continues, “Every all school meeting we have two wonderful all-school presidents who use the platform to motivate people. Whether it’s reminding us not to take cups from the dining hall or encouraging us to be the best students we can be, it’s a great example of how being a leader can motivate people. No effort is too small, and being aware of that is very important.”

    Thank you, Mr. Porrazzo and Alex, for your thoughtful remarks on Leadership and Community Building, and stay tuned for more news on Essential Skills.
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  • Essential Skill: Health and Wellness

    Dustin Meltzer '05
    Kimball Union students are immersed in an academic and residential setting that values a set of nine essential skills. Together, these represent the hard and soft skills requisite for a 21st Century leader. We recently presented background on Global Awareness, Personal Growth and Development, Critical Thinking, and Communication. Last month, we explored the next essential skill, Health and Wellness.

    “I’m happy to share with you all the next set of essential skills that we, as a community, would like to spend some focus on,” said Latin teacher, Ms. Alstrom, before presenting each of the sub-competencies of Health and Wellness.

    Through course work, social programs, and extra-curricular activities, KUA graduates have learned to:

             · Choose healthy practices
             · Maintain physical, emotional, social, and spiritual balance
             · Navigate social influences
             · Build only positive relationships
             · Advocate for self and others

    “Influence comes in many forms . . . The goal is to navigate the positive pressures and the negative pressures and amongst it, find yourself,” explained Alstrom. She continued, “Our ability to grow these essential skills in health and wellness rely heavily on our environment, as well as the general health, happiness, safety and success of our community.”

    “It’s all very important,” says Frannie ’18. “KUA lays a really good foundation to know who you are, what you want, and to take that and realize that if a situation doesn’t fit, you know when to put your foot down.” When asked where she sees positive relationships in our community, Frannie answers, “Between teachers and students – I’m really close with some of them and I’m comfortable asking for help and advice while keeping boundaries. In addition to having 2 parents at home, I have twenty plus here.”

    Additionally, Frannie firmly believes in the accepting nature of the KUA community, “If anyone were to say something mean or inappropriate, it would immediately be jumped on by any group, whether theatre people, sports, or any other. Everyone finds great ways to express themselves here and can find their people.” She continues, “I went on the K-term to the Dominican Republic my freshman year and we were surprised that everyone got along. There were people from all walks of life at KUA; every grade, smaller best friend groups, but by the end of the trip, none of that mattered - we were all really close. When we got back it meant extra people to say hi to in the hall and have lunch with. It’s the best time I’ve ever had on a trip.”

    Frannie leaves us with a couple final thoughts on Health and Wellness; “You can’t take care of others or do well in school if you’re not taking care of your own body first. It’s important to find yourself to know anything – from where you want to go to college or who you want to date. Choose wisely.”

    Thank you, Ms. Alstrom and Frannie, for your thoughtful remarks on Health and Wellness, and stay tuned for more Essential Skils.
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  • Noah'17 - Cullman Scholar in Vietnam

    Dustin Meltzer '05
    Through the generosity of the Cullman Family and the Cullman Scholarship program, students have the opportunity to travel around the world on independent learning endeavors.
    Noah ’17’s trip began in the Mo Duc Village, Vietnam, where, “Working with local craftsmen, we constructed simple, sturdy structures called Compassion Homes,” he explains. “The family I was working with consisted of a grandmother whose children left for the city in hopes of securing better pay. Left with a toddler, a pregnant daughter, a young girl, and a mentally disabled teenager, this grandmother remarkably kept things afloat.” 
    “Each workday began with a bike ride to the worksite. Past stunning vistas I soaked in the lush green rice paddies dotted with hunched workers, and the encompassing mountains, etched with so much history“, Noah recalls. By the end of their time in the village, Noah’s group had built the bulk of a new home, culminating in an emotional key ceremony where they presented the keys to the home’s new owners.
    From Mo Duc, Noah spent time sightseeing in Vietnam. He explains, “We also visited other cities, such as authentic Quang Ngai and ancient Hoi An, as well as the Mai Lai Massacre commemoration site. Our last stops on the trip were Halong Bay, a Unesco World Heritage Site, as well as Hanoi, famous for its French heritage and lively old quarter.” 
    Noah remarks, “By the end of my thirty days of travel, I realize I have grown as an individual, and have truly rediscovered myself. I can attribute this all to Vietnam, a country teeming with beauty and rich history, as well as to the Cullman Family, which made this dream a reality.” Thank you Noah for sharing your experience.
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  • February

    Communication as an Essential Skill

    Kimball Union students are immersed in an academic and residential setting that values a set of nine essential skills. Together, these represent the hard and soft skills requisite for a 21st Century leader. We recently presented background on Global AwarenessPersonal Growth and Development, and Critical Thinking. In January, the school explored our next essential skill, Communication.

“Today I am honored to present on the essential skill of Communication,” said English Department Chair Jenny Blue. Communication, like our other essential skills, is divided into several sub-competencies: 

    Through course work, social programs, and extra-curricular activities, KUA graduates have learned to:
                Select an appropriate medium for self-expression.
                Compose persuasive, analytical, descriptive, personal, and creative pieces.
                Express themselves compassionately and truthfully.
                Create and curate a digital presence.
    “By gaining experience here at KUA with different media, you will be able to not only choose what you are going to say but how you are going to say it,” remarked Blue. “You will speak out against racism, homophobia, antisemitism, xenophobia, and sexism. Through your courageous communication you will defend the path to truth . . . You will be as proud of your virtual identity as you are of your physical presence. The internet is your frontier and you will be a pioneer who is well prepared to meet the challenges of mass communication’s open road.”
    The broad value of KUA’s Essential Skills is immediately apparent to Stephanie ’17 - “KUA students are well rounded and able to use the skills they’ve acquired to become successful adults both in and out of their career.” Particularly interested in the digital presence sub-competency, she continued “Right now it means being responsible on social media and using it to communicate without having to get involved with the negative aspects.” Overall, Stephanie highly values Communication as a skill, going on to remark, “I think it is the single most important thing in developing as a person, being able to bounce ideas off of other people in order to accept yourself.”

    Thank you, Ms. Blue and Stephanie for your thoughtful remarks on Communication and stay tuned for news on our next Essential Skill: Wellness.
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  • January

    KUA KIVA Club Invests

    “The KUA KIVA club has been here for years, and I’ve been involved since my freshman year,” says co-club leader Jessie ’17, from Hong Kong. She explains, “KIVA is a micro-lending system. There’s people that need money who will create a project on the KIVA website. We will lend them money and once they finish the project, they pay us back interest-free."
    The KUA Chapter of KIVA raises money throughout the year through various fundraising campaigns. “We sold candy-grams around the holidays to raise money for our lending account.  Then as a group we will pick people to lend money to through KIVA” explains Jessie.  
    When asked why this type of work is more appealing than simply raising money and donating to people in need, Jessie said, “I really like the idea that we have money and can lend it to help people who are looking to grow a business, go to school, or feed their family in a sustainable way. It’s a cycle . . . after they pay us back we can then use that money to help another person.”
    The club has a protocol they follow to decide which projects to fund. She continued, “We mostly pick projects where the borrowers already have half of the budget for the entire project. We want to pick the ones that we know will work so that we will be paid back.” The group recently loaned money to seed a small store. Their loan allowed the business owners to purchase CD’s to sell. Jessie and co-club leader, Zulal ’17, presented at All School Meeting, and showed examples of 20 other projects that KUA’s KIVA club funded. Their loans varied between $25 and $100.
    Since 2009, the KIVA club has raised $3,211, and invested $6,050 in loans to fund 60 individual projects in 28 countries. 97% of their loans have been paid back in full. They are currently looking to invest an additional $2,343.  
    Keep an eye out for upcoming KIVA fundraisers and stay tuned for more news from the Hilltop.
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  • Rev. Nyle Fort Speaks on Martin Luther King Jr.

    In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and as part of a year-long speaker series designed to introduce a variety of voices to our community, the school hosted renowned social justice activist Rev. Nyle Fort last Tuesday. A passionate speaker who beautifully wove Dr. King’s words together with a message of love and solidarity, Mr. Fort addressed the community at All School Meeting in Flickinger Arts Center.
    “Nyle related Martin Luther King Jr. Day to his own experiences. He talked a lot about how, in his opinion, we reduce the holiday to ‘I have a dream’ when in reality, Dr. King was very controversial and was more than just that speech” recalls Molly ’17. “I think that People appreciated the fact that he encouraged disagreement. He said you are entitled to your own opinions but you can’t choose your own facts.”
    The common thread that connects Nyle Fort to this year’s speaker series was apparent throughout the community. Trevor ’18 commented, “Much like Kip Bordelon, he [Fort] tried to voice his concerns about discrimination, not to those who don’t already know about it, but to those who think that racism is dead in America.” Molly remarked, “He reinforced a lot of what we’ve been talking about this year and for me, I’m going to the women’s march this weekend in Montpelier, I will definitely be thinking about Dr. King.”
    When asked the impact of this year’s speaker series, Trevor comments, “My outlook has changed. I was raised in a predominantly African American neighborhood and while discrimination was always at my front door, my family believed that racism wasn’t really a problem. It’s only been at KUA that I have been exposed to really good speakers who can show me specifically how racism and discrimination are problems in the United States.” 
    Perhaps the most inspiring message Mr. Fort promoted was to embrace our individual identities, but to also look through those identities to find a common ground; a “solidarity that will allow us to remake the world.”  Thanks to Nyle Fort, for his thoughtful address and stay tuned for more news from our 2016-17 speaker series.
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  • Liz '17 - Cullman Scholar in the Dominican Republic

    “I travelled to the Dominican Republic for two weeks with Rustic Pathways on a service-learning marine biology trip.” says Liz ’17, of her Cullman Scholarship trip. Through the generosity of the Cullman Family and the Cullman Scholarship program, students have the opportunity to travel around the world on independent learning endeavors. “My group arrived at Santo Domingo airport late at night and travelled east to the coastal town of Bayahibe. We worked with the local organization FUNDEMAR. We split up into three groups and helped them with various tasks both in and out of the water. . . I helped FUNDEMAR make buoys to prevent boats from harming coral, traps to protect coral from harmful fire worms, and collected trash data from different locations to help FUNDEMAR create a report to send to the Dominican Government for better trash services.”
    From the home base in Bayahibe, Liz toured the coast in search of dolphins and manatees, attended an early morning turtle walk on Isle Iona, played dominos and practiced Spanish with locals, and zip lined through the forest. When the service work continued, Liz’s group of fourteen helped “lead a day camp through an organization called Corezon o Corezon for some local kids. The goal was to teach these children about the importance of the marine life around them while also having fun,” Liz recalls. 
    Looking back on the trip as a whole, Liz recalls, “The level of dedication and passion of the members of FUNDEMAR is truly a rare thing and I am lucky to have worked with such wonderful people. My experience in the Dominican Republic is one that I’ll never forget. I strongly encourage all sophomores and juniors to apply for the Cullman Scholarship.” 
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  • Society of Skeptics Discuss: The American Flag

    During the second trimester, Kimball Union’s Society of Skeptics, a group discussion organized by faculty members Dan Weintraub and Michael Porrazzo met in the Coffin Meeting Room. That night’s topic: What about Donald Trump’s Tweet? Should citizens lose their citizenship or be arrested for burning the American flag? "One side argued that burning the flag should be protected by the first amendment because it’s symbolic speech. The other side was that burning the flag was disrespectful and could insight public disturbance,” recalls Ben Y ’17.
    Opinions throughout the evening varied as different perspectives were shared. “Honestly, it was really hard for me to give any input because I just know the basics.  Coming from China, an environment where the media is run by the government, I haven’t really learned anything negative about my government,” remembers Ben Y. Max ’18, from Germany, brought another international perspective; “My opinion throughout was that it should be allowed and it is a high level of demonstrating. It is one level higher than going out on the street with signs asking for change.”
    As the discussion continued, the conversation became more philosophical. Ben K. ’17 explained, “Because of our (US) history of gaining independence, our national flag means more to us than it does for other countries. So people get offended when we burn it. On the other hand, many minority groups feel oppressed by the US government... We talked about the freedom of expression and how people interpret it differently. Many people are offended when people burn the flag as a symbolic gesture for problems that they see the US government creating.”
    Ben Y. explains, “If you begin to take a little bit of the first amendment away, more could easily follow,” going on to say, “This is a unique situation because in the US the flag is a lot more symbolic than in other countries. . . I think it should be legal but if you cause public disturbance and unrest, you should be arrested for public disturbance. But physically burning the flag should be protected.”
    Owen ‘18 is in agreement; “By the end of it, while I still thought flag burning should be legal, I was less sure of it. I saw examples of when the first amendment did not apply. Perjury is an example of free speech that is illegal, and for good reason.”
    Donald Trump and Flag Burning aside, one thing is for certain; The Society of Skeptics is one evening not to miss. But don’t take my word for it:
    “It was my first Society of Skeptics meeting and I will definitely go to future ones. I very much enjoyed it.” –Owen
    “I would recommend it to anyone. It is very interesting and there are nice people there. You learn a lot. Everyone has respect for others, everyone is listening and thinking, everyone has their own opinion.” –Max
    Stay tuned for our next Society of Skeptics update.
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  • Problem Solving by Engineering

    As the first trimester on the Hilltop came to an end, Mr. Roemer’s Engineering: Digital Electronics, Robotics, and Microcontrollers Class was tasked with a fascinating final project. “Students were to solve a problem of personal interest by designing and creating a solution that utilized an Arduino controlled system,” says Roemer, going on to explain for the layman that “an Arduino is a ‘minicomputer’ that students program to complete certain actions. They had to design a ‘system’ or project that used one of these mini computers to control how their project functioned.” Meeting regularly in KUA’s Maker Space and STEM lab, projects drew from experiences and material learned over the entire first trimester of this year-long course and were to improve quality of life by accomplishing a specific task-oriented goal with, of course, a solid footing in scientific inquiry. 
    Projects goals ranged from creating “an Arduino stirrer that allows me to stir my hot chocolate from up to 25 feet away” says Asher ’17, to Cory ‘18’s goal of creating an Arduino fire alarm. “The goal was to detect infrared light and make LEDs and an alarm turn on when the sensor reads a specific value.” Others set out to create a calculator, cell phone, barometer, LED equalizer, and even an instrument to play string quartets. While varying levels of success were achieved, many students gained knowledge of computer coding, engineering, and design that they will take with them to college and beyond. “I learned that there are many ways to do one thing,” says Trent ’17.
    With the second trimester under way, Mr. Roemer’s class has moved on to Part 2 of the course: 3D Modeling and Computer Aided Design where students will learn drafting, design, 3D modeling through CAD software, and manufacturing. Roemer states, “My goal for this course is to have students walk out with skills and knowledge that they can apply in their daily lives and give them a leg up in college." Thank you, Mr. Roemer, for sharing your project and stay tuned for more news from the Maker space!
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  • Cat '17, Cullman Scholar in Cambodia

    Through the Cullman Scholarship Program and the generosity of the Cullman family, select juniors and seniors are awarded grants to travel throughout the world on independent learning programs. Any rising junior or senior is eligible to apply for one of the scholarships. Recently, the community heard from Cat ’17 about her experience.
    “This summer I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Cambodia to learn about the country’s rich history and teach at three different schools that are part of an organization called Buddhism for Social Development Action.” Of her time in the capital city, Cat recalls, “Phenom Pehm is an impoverished yet lively city, the streets are filled with motor bikes, cars, and tuk tuks travelling on any side of the road at whichever speed they please. I visited the royal palace where I learned about the current political dilemma at hand; the new king is a practicing monk and as a part of his practice, he must be celibate. However, because he is the king, he must produce and heir to the throne. So the question at hand is whether he should remain true to his faith or true to the structure of Cambodian politics.” 
    From Phenom Pehm, Cat travelled to the village of Kampong Cham, where she spent most of her time, “I worked at three different schools that are part of a Buddhist organization that strives to empower children through means of education.” The Rice Field School, a cooking school that prepared its students to work in the local restaurant appropriately named, Smile; The Happy Happy Center, a daycare for small children that Cat describes as, “a chaotic free-for-all filled with giggles, hugs, and games,” where “the main goal was to teach the children how to wash their hands”; and finally, the MKK school “a mixture between a dancing school and a daycare” where Cat’s group “mixed cement in order to rebuild the school’s bathroom.”
    Of her trip, Cat recalls, “I can’t even begin to explain it but it was just something so powerful, that was so beyond me, and I just felt this overwhelming sense of what I guess you could call enlightenment.” “A typical Cambodian phrase that was used in even the most senseless of times comes to mind when I think about my experience; Same, same, but different. Even though I’m still the same girl, who goes to the same school, and does the same things that I did before my trip, I see things with a new pair of eyes. Everything is same, same, but different. I would like to thank the Cullman family for giving me this opportunity and I would encourage every sophomore and junior to apply for a Cullman Scholarship because it is the gateway to a life-changing opportunity.”
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  • Critical Thinking as an Essential Skill

    All Kimball Union students are immersed in an academic and residential setting that values a set of nine essential skills. Together, these represent the hard and soft skills requisite for a 21st Century leader. We recently presented background on Global Awareness and Personal Growth and Development. In December, the school explored another essential skill, Critical Thinking.
    Assistant Head of School David Weidman introduced Critical Thinking by diving right into the sub-competencies that make up this essential skill. They are as follows: 
    Through course work, social programs, and extra-curricular activities, KUA graduates have learned to:
              Ask Relevant Questions.
              Research Effectively.
              Analyze Evidence and Data for Patterns and Anomalies.
              Evaluate Evidence and Data for Bias, Relevance, and Reliability.
              Synthesize Evidence and Data.
              Verify and Defend Conclusions.
    Assistant Librarian Christine Clisura endorses Critical Thinking by remarking, “With the proliferation of fake news stories spreading around on Facebook and Twitter, and especially considering the enormous role it will continue to play in politics, this is perhaps the most important Essential Skill.” Freshman and Sophomore English teacher, Lauren Kelly comments in the same vein, “If trends continue in regards to communication and socialization, the aim of this skill is to forearm students with the skills necessary to filter what they say and hear, and navigate the global information market.”
    Thank you, Christine, David, and Lauren, for sharing the importance of Critical Thinking. Stay tuned in coming months for more Essential Skill updates.
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< 2017


Kimball Union Academy  |  Meriden, New Hampshire 03770   p: 603-469-2000  |   f: 603-469-2040  |   info@kua.org
Founded in 1813, Kimball Union Academy is one of the oldest private boarding high schools in New Hampshire and the country. KUA offers the best of the traditional New England Boarding School experience to a diverse group of day and boarding students from across the country and around the world. Located in Meriden, New Hampshire in the heart of the Upper Valley, Kimball Union is minutes from Dartmouth College and has direct access to Boston and New York. Terms of Use and Privacy Policy