Spanish-Language Immersion Field Trip to New York City

On Friday, February 15, 2019 Chatham High School students in Spanish IV and V were granted the opportunity to attend a Spanish-language immersion field trip to New York City. Upper level Spanish students took a bus to the Repertorio Español, a Hispanic-American theatre, to see “La Canción.” We arrived early and were able to sit in the first two rows of the theatre. The two hour long performance in Spanish contained musical genres from Rap to tropical tunes like Salsa, Merengue, and Bachata. Madeline Powers said, “I loved being so close to the stage and hearing the diverse Spanish accents and variety of music genres. The singing and dancing was incredible. The actors really put a lot of heart into their roles, and it is very memorable.”

Following the show, students enjoyed authentic Cuban cuisine at Havana Central restaurant. Our wait staff spoke Spanish and encouraged students to step outside of their comfort zones. Our lunch included empanadas mixtas, arroz con pollo, sándwich clásico cubano, sándwich cubano de pavo ahumado, patatas dulces fritas, and churros con caramelo y chocolate. “It was exciting to be able to order and speak in Spanish at the restaurant. The food was very unique and it was nice to be able to try new things from another culture,” said Jenna Skype. Cora-lena Aladin-Williams added that, “the restaurant was a part of the trip where we had the most fun. We were sitting at the table trying to figure out how to order in the best way possible and it was a lot of fun.”

This project has been supported by a grant from the Chatham Education Foundation of Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation.

Jennifer Powell
Spanish Teacher
Chatham Middle School

Chatham Education Foundation Awards $25K to 22 Projects

Chatham Education Foundation members
Front Row: L-R Mike Chuddy, Lael Locke, Jeanne Damia, Amy White, Judy Staber, Muriel Faxon, Hank Binzer, Alicia Anderson, Elizabeth Conley
Back Row: L-R Brooke Decker, Patricia Songaylio, Sandy Fischer, Michele Debye-Saxinger, Melony Spock, Michelle Apland, Kathryn Kostco, Cecilia Hetterich, Jeff Artist, Jennifer Powel, Sal DeAngelo

Now in its 15th year of existence, the Chatham Education Foundation (CEF), is offering financial help to 22 projects for the 2019-20 Chatham pubic school year. The projects, from kindergarten through high school, ranging across many academic areas provide $2,500 to $181, for a total of $25,194. On January 17th board members met in the Elementary School’s Conference Room with grant recipients to congratulate them.

Established in 2002, the CEF’s mission is to raise and distribute private dollars for innovative and inspiring projects not funded by the regular school budget. Its board consists of community members, school staff and two students. The Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation oversees its funds and administrative activities.

“We have never had such ample funding to be able assist so many excellent projects—both large and small. 2019-20 will be a truly exciting year,” exclaimed Judy Staber, CEF Board President.

Nine grants have been awarded to high school projects. For a third year the popular Artemis Robotics program teaches all aspects of designing, building, programing and competing with robots—including the making of a business plan and raising of funds. The year culminates in entering two competitions with the ultimate goal of reaching the World competition in Detroit. Also funded will be a trip for 25 advanced Spanish-language students to attend the Repertorio Spanish Theater in New York City, followed by an authentic Hispanic dinner.

Other high school grants will enable teacher Jeffery Artist, with student help, to revive the publishing of the high school art and literary magazine, Peloris; literary scholar Jim Kraft will once more expose advanced English students to novels by Edith Wharton and Henry James, both of whom spent considerable time in the Berkshires; and talented young singers participating in the New York State School Music Association competitions and festival will receive training from foremost local musicians. Smaller grants in the sciences provide for the an up-dated cleaning of the popular high school vivarium and the acquisition of several new frogs whose activities have fascinated students; science teacher Patricia Songayllo, a dedicated bird watcher, will be helped to buy bird food, binoculars and enroll many new students in the Cornell Lab Ornithology Project Feeder Watch. Two other science offerings will help students to more fully understand –and experience—creatures around us. A Wildlife lecture will expose all science students to the ecology, anatomy and structure of birds of prey and certain reptiles; another small grant provides written materials and film clips to familiarize advanced science students with the circumstances and survival problems of different breeds of wolf.

All current Seventh graders in the Middle School will once more be exposed to history teacher William Richard’s Living History program. The program experience includes complementary Revolutionary War units across all subject areas —e.g, seventh grade Science classes focus on war related challenges like gangrene or amputation, English classes include diary entries from Abigail Adams, Molly Pitcher and Benjamin Franklin. And all Seventh Graders will learn what life was like in the 17th and 18th Century through reenactments with the 2nd New York Reenactment Regiment at the Austerlitz Historical Society grounds; and the Regiment hopes to march in Chatham’s Memorial Day parade. Another project, a six week After School Film Club, will enable twenty seventh and eighth graders to learn about film-making by helping to write, act, film and promote a film that will be shared with the entire Middle School. Another focuses on reading; all Middle School students will meet and have discussions with Award winning children’s book writer, Gordon Korman, after having read his novel, Restart.

In the elementary school the Flying Deer Nature Center will be conducting an ambitious learning experience for all fourth graders by combining the reading of a novel My Side of the Mountain which involves a young man’s trials in the wilderness, with trips to the Nature Center’s woods for actual lessons in relevant survival tactics relating to shelter-building, fire-making and foraging. In its fourth year of construction, another Flying Deer project for fourth graders, an Iroquois longhouse on school property, CEF will help fund the acquisition of bark shingles to complete the structure’s building.
An Afterschool program developed and provided by the Art School of Columbia County for the last four years will once more provide a wonderful mix of poetry, discussion and artistic adventures for about 150 Kindergarteners through Fifth graders in the Elementary School Library during the Spring of 2019. In a relaxed environment the children read poems, discuss them and their authors and may write their own poetry. They then go on to use a variety of implements —magic markers, paints, items like leaves or flowers from nature—to make pictures inspired by the poems and discussion.

To learn more about the CEF, to apply for a grant for next year or to make a donation, visit: