In late September, seventh and eighth-grade students from private Jewish day school Hershorin Schiff Community Day School traveled to Tallahassee for a tour of our state capitol – a trip that has been enjoyed by middle schoolers at Community Day for many years. Unfortunately this year, the state legislature was not in session when the students visited, so they didn't have the opportunity to meet with local elected officials.
In order to facilitate face time with these young constituents, Representative Margaret Good, District 72 (D-Sarasota) visited them on October 2. Rep. Good discussed her motivations for getting involved in politics, explained how the process and calendar works in the Florida House, and then engaged in a rigorous Q&A with the students about some of the pressing issues facing our area. Topics included water quality issues, gun control, school safety, and her take on the challenges of serving in the minority party, especially as the country has become so polarized.
Rep. Good - who noted that she either wanted to be President or a major league baseball player when she was young - emphasized that she works to bridge difference by staying focused on the issues. She said she's happy to get things done, even if she doesn't get credit for it. Although many of the students' questions focused on the frustration of seeing legislators not executing the will of the people (particularly with regard to the 2014 Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative and background checks, which are overwhelmingly supported by voters of both parties), Rep. Good noted that she is heartened by the rising support for environmental issues on all sides of the aisle.
Rep. Good was asked how kids can get involved with issues that they care about and she encouraged them to stay in touch with elected officials, to write letters and to protest. She is heartened to see young people getting involved and speaking out - she noted that there are 35 high school and college interns involved with her office because they want to make a difference.
This coming year, which is the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment (giving women the right to vote), Rep. Good hopes to get the Equal Rights Amendment ratified in Florida so that the country can move closer to amending the U.S. Constitution.
When her visit was concluded, Rep. Good was presented with a gift bag from the school and thanked enthusiastically by the students, attending teachers and school leadership.
Community Day School Students of all ages celebrated Rosh Hashanah with acts of love, kindness, and community to welcome in the new year!
The kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades visited local retirement facility Aviva to sing, take part in a tashlich ceremony, and enjoy some delicious apples and honey with residents.
Our middle school students welcomed middle schoolers from St. Martha's Catholic School, where they shared about the holiday and special traditions with the students.
The day was a beautiful opportunity for intergenerational and interfaith connections.
Our 7th and 8th grade students spent several days in Tallahassee learning about the Florida state government.
Over the course of three days, the students visited the Historic Capitol building, took a tour of Florida State University, stopped in to the FSU College of Fine Arts' museum, toured the mural-covered House of Representatives Chamber, and took part in a mock oral argument program at the Florida Supreme Court!
The 5th and 6th grade students took an overnight trip to the Pathfinders Outdoor Education center, where they focused on teamwork, leadership, and engaging with others to gain new perspectives during challenging situations.
While engaging in exciting activities like canoeing, ropes course climbing, and nighttime nature walks, students discovered how to investigate things that make them nervous while also learning firsthand how their actions affect others around them. The students found that by examining their fears, they were better able to manage and face the challenges at hand! It was a successful learning experience for all.
Community Day School students were featured in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune for their donation to Hurricane Dorian relief efforts. A quote from the article is below:
"A group of students at Hershorin Schiff Community Day School asked their head of school what they could do to help.
He put the question back on them.
'What do you think?' said Head of School Dan Cesar.
They talked about the obvious — clothes and food drives — but decided the situation in the Bahamas required urgency.
'We didn’t want to wait,” Cesar said. “We wanted to be able to get something to them as quickly as we could.'
The brainstorming pupils at the 270-member Jewish day school that serves children in preschool through eighth grade suggested they use the student fund, fattened over a year with loose change totaling $250, and sent it to victims. They call the weekly giving a Tzedakah, a Hebrew word meaning 'justice.'
'We hopped into the van at lunch, and I took the eighth-graders to meet Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz,' Cesar said. 'He talked to the kids and said they are doing good work.'
'To me, it is very touching to see young people of your age reaching out so far — you’ve never met those people, you don’t know if you ever will in your lifetime, yet you feel obligated to show that you care and can help,' Rabbi Steinmetz told the students. 'In that way, you’ve fulfilled the word mitzvah, the commandment of Tzedakah. You didn’t just do something charitable, you did justice. If someone, somewhere is suffering, you’ve shown that you suffer, too.'
Student Maya Werbow said, 'This is our world, and we have to be responsible. If it had happened to us, the people of the Bahamas would help us.'"
Head of School, Dan Ceaser, was featured in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune regarding Community Day School's commitment to diversity and inclusivity. Ceaser highlighted the positive results experienced by the student body and staff as a result of these initiatives while encouraging educators and legislators throughout the state to implement policies that will support LGBTQ students and families.
The article is below:
Two state lawmakers recently filed bills banning discrimination against gay, lesbian, transgender and disabled students by private schools that receive public funds from Florida’s scholarship and voucher programs.
Current state law bans discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin, but it enables private schools — including some faith-based institutions — to have policies asserting that gay students can be expelled, or that gay, lesbian and transgender families may be barred from enrolling.
At Hershorin Schiff Community Day School, we strongly support programs that enable greater school choice for Florida families while firmly disavowing policies that exclude students from educational opportunities simply based on who they are. We believe that such policies are shortsighted, cruel and inconsistent with any institution that espouses a values-based mission.
We live in a world that is data-driven and the data is clear: LGBTQ adults and children, as well as children raised in LGBTQ homes, are subject to a level of discrimination that should not be tolerated in a civilized society.
According to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s “2018 LGBTQ Youth Report,” LGBTQ youth are twice as likely as their peers to say they have been physically assaulted, and four in 10 LGBTQ youth say the community in which they live is not accepting of LGBTQ people. Just five percent say all of their teachers and school staff are supportive of LGBTQ people.
Nearly five years ago, our school was established as an independent institution with a mission that emphasizes the values of diversity and pluralism alongside academic rigor and leadership.
Students learn about and share religious values and traditions from around the world while benefiting from a courteous and respectful learning environment that values the beliefs and the rights of every member of our community.
At Community Day, core to our mission is helping shape the next generation to lead the fight against anti-Semitism, racism and sexual, gender and cultural discrimination. We aren’t just teaching students a traditional core curriculum — we’re giving them the tools to build a better world.
As educators, we can all agree that kids need to learn reading, writing and math as well as social and employability skills. But we also need to create safe spaces for children and share the responsibility for raising a generation that is better able to handle the challenges of our society.
In our schools and communities, there are easy steps we can take to address discrimination:
• Although topics such as sexual orientation and gender identity may be uncomfortable to talk about, we need to discuss these issues openly, and acknowledge that discrimination happens.
• Make our classrooms more inclusive. This can mean avoiding the use of gendered language, allowing students and families to self-identify, making sure facilities are accessible for all students, and showing you’re an LGBTQ ally.
• Take advantage of free community resources. We asked ALSO Youth to do an “inclusivity audit” to see how we were doing and identify opportunities to do more and better.
• Walk the talk. Aggressively pursue inclusivity and kindness and actively confront those who speak or behave in a way that is antithetical to those values.
When it comes to education, equity and inclusion, no school — public, private or faith-based — should be allowed an “out.” Independent schools, in particular, have the autonomy, authority and responsibility to lead in this arena. What better use of our faith-based foundation than to teach inclusivity, love and an appreciation of others?
Leviticus 19:18 reads, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s a lesson that many educators in private schools across the state would do well to heed.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel featured Community Day School as a pioneering Jewish Day School that focuses on religious inclusivity.
CDS Alumni Spotlight: 2015 graduate Luca Stine in the news! We are incredibly proud of our alumni and their accomplishments. Read more here.
CDS in the news: The Herald-Tribune featured an article on our common table program between 7th and 8th grade girls and members of WIN. Read more here.
The C3 Project showcases how Community Day School and Visible Men Academy worked together last year through improvisation, spoken word, and play. This documentary short about the two diverse schools exemplifies their unique cultures while celebrating diversity. The Asolo Repertory Theatre led activities to help the 22 participating students explore personal identity and find commonality through theater. Show times are April 8, 3:30 p.m. at the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium and again on Friday, April 12, 8 p.m. during the "Florida Showcase 1 Shorts" at Auditorium 3 of the Regal Hollywood Stadium 11. To reserve tickets for a showtime of The C3 Project, go to the Sarasota Film Festival website: sarasotafilmfestival.com.
Pre-kindergarten classes traveled to the South Florida Museum for an exciting learning expedition! Students were exposed to natural and cultural Florida history from the prehistoric to the present. Highlights included a planetarium view of our solar system as well as below water views of real manatees. The children were each assigned a letter and asked to find things beginning with their letter as they walked through the exhibits. Guided lessons also included making observations about a variety of rocks and fossils. The large mammoth skeleton just beyond the front lobby was met with much contemplation from these young scholars. Our students loved being out on the town together and departing from their regular school environment. Even the novelty of traveling with their friends in the carpool caravan was very intriguing! As usual, learning expeditions at CDS are bountiful!
Click on the link below to read about our student's local scientific learning expedition!
We have reached the end of an inspirational school-wide week celebrating the power of a random act of kindness. The slogan, "Stronger Than Hate" was birthed out of the desire to spread love after the Tree of Life tragedy in Pittsburg, PA. Our school community stands with our friends in Squirrel Hill to send a powerful message of love to the world. Students have been encouraged to think about how we can show kindness to others in our community. They have been given kindness cards to pass out explaining this mission and calling on others to pay it forward. First graders made inspirational posters with a recipient in mind. Our second-grade class hid hand painted rocks at the bayfront to brighten someone's day. Numerous discussions held over morning advisory have sparked deeds to show care, kindness and empathy to others.
Students in Guatemala thank the Community Day School family for their generous donations. Our third and fourth graders raised money to help victims of the Fuego volcano eruption with sales of Guatemala Grams. Marketing for this service project involved learning about the power of storytelling in motivating an audience to take action. Our students used the Pixar universal story arc to write the story below. In the end, $850 was raised and sent to these students. How wonderful for our students to see their vision in helping others come full circle! As always, we are so proud to see the impact that our students are making around the globe.
Once upon a time, there was an eight-year-old boy named Luis in Escuintle, Guatemala. Every day he played soccer outside with his friends. One day, Volcan De Fuego erupted hot lava. Because of that, his home was destroyed. Because of that, he had to sleep on the floors of the street. Until finally, a small school in Florida, Community Day School, had the vision to help raise funds to support him and his community.
Community Day School hosted the 3rd annual Goldie Legacy Brunch honoring local "Champion for all Children" Wendy Katz. This elegant brunch held at Michael's on the Bay at Selby Gardens included a delicious brunch, mimosa bar and tributes to Dr. Katz. Proceeds from the event will seed the Wendy J. Katz Scholarship Fund, which will assist deserving students who embody the qualities of a non-traditional learner.
Click here to see additional photos and coverage of the event in The Sarasota Observer.
Preschool students have been enjoying their new outdoor play space and tricycle track since it opened for play last week. This incredible shaded area includes a trike track, Poseidon's hideout, a deconstructed race car, a play cottage, a water trough, and the county garage filling station. Our commitment to keeping kids outside playing as much as possible just became more fun! Stop by and see our new outdoor adventure park!
Nearly every head turned as 12 pint-sized students, dressed appropriately and adorably in blue scrubs, made their way to the Simulation Lab of Sarasota Memorial Hospital. Our kindergartners were privileged to enjoy a morning of learning and lunch thanks to the hospital's community outreach program. Each child received a cuddly bear and got into protective gear. They explored some cool medical tools and learned about the different ways people can "get fixed" when they are sick. They worked on their teddies, checking heart rates and giving shots, and gently affixing Band-Aids once the injections were done. The students also enjoyed informative learning demonstrations about robotic surgery and physical therapy. Perhaps most relatable to our students was learning all the ways the pediatric wing works to make their young patients comfortable including a music and playroom. The children arrived back to campus full of enthusiasm and stories about their individual bears' treatment plans. This was certainly a memorable and highly successful learning expedition for some of our youngest students.
Sarasota's Hershorin Schiff Community Day School was recently presented with the School of Excellence Award from Keep Sarasota County Beautiful in recognition of the school's environmental stewardship curriculum. The award nomination focused on a school-wide cleanup effort at Siesta Beach in March that mixed community service and learning. The school's entire student body heard from environmental experts on topics such as "Understanding Our Tortoises and Sea Turtles," "Sand Investigations," "Erosion, Environmental Issues and Sea Debris" and "Why Worms?" and collected trash to be sorted and studied by Sarasota County scientists. Environmental stewardship is a key component of the curriculum at the school, which offers classes from kindergarten through eighth grade.
Our talented tennis team played the number 2 ranked team, Incarnation, to clinch the championship! Everyone pulled together to make it happen! Congratulations Coach Gina and the Community Day Panthers!
On the fifth day of Hanukkah, second-graders from Sarasota's Hershorin Schiff Community Day School traveled to Aviva - A Campus for Senior Life to share the joy of the holiday. The students sang Hanukkah songs - including favorites "Oh Chanukah, Oh Chanukah" and "Sevivon Sov Sov Sov" - and interacted with the residents of the facility, benefiting all who participated.
Community Day School and Aviva have enjoyed a warm relationship for some time, with intergenerational programming throughout the school year. Through the Better Together program the past couple of years, middle school students from Community Day and Aviva residents have enjoyed numerous gatherings to celebrate Shabbat and Jewish holidays, share stories, and create memory books and family trees, among other activities. The focus of the Better Together program is to sensitize students to the challenges of the elderly and incorporate Jewish learning and values in their interactions with them.
Longtime second-grade teacher Barbara O'Brien was thrilled for the opportunity to bring her students to Aviva. "Many of our students don't have grandparents here in town and their opportunities to spend time with older people are very limited," she said. "I've found that our kids absolutely light up when we tell them we're going to do something to make other people smile. They definitely enjoyed their time celebrating Hanukkah with their new friends at Aviva."
Our first and second grade students had quite the treat this Monday when local weatherman Bob Harrigan gave an interactive presentation on the science of forecasting! Bob spoke to the students about the ins and outs of weather and answered our students' questions before heading outside to show students the ABC 7 weather tracker van. The crew from ABC 7 kindly left our students with plenty of swag including signed photos of Bob, sunglasses, rulers, pens, and pencils.
A beautiful night of community and fellowship was had by all recently at our first annual long table family Shabbat dinner. Highlights included the traditional blessings by Rabbi Michael Werbow and the superman prayer from Pastor Kelly Fitzgerald. Many thanks to the Community Day School Parent Association for hosting this incredible night of friendship, food, and fun!
US Lacrosse has selected CDS as a recipient of a lacrosse equipment grant. Special thanks to our own Heather Chase O'Neill, director of Ripcurl Lacrosse for helping to spearhead this program.
We are proud to announce that Dan's character has earned him the much-deserved position of board member on the Education Practices Commission. Dan was recently appointed to this role by the Florida State Board of Education. Read more about this great accomplishment in Sarasota Magazine here.
The middle school STEM drone class kicked off this week with a talk and live demonstration from CDS parent, Tim Nilson. Dr. Webber has big plans for this class. From building drones to exploring the ethics and legality of drones this study is an example of project-based learning at its finest.
Our STEM curriculum keeps pace with modern innovation. The commercial drone market is projected to hit $17bn by 2024: Global Market Insights, Inc.
Thank you to CDS parent Tim Nilson for helping to pilot this program.
Upper school students went to Aviva Campus for Senior Living. The aim of intergenerational learning is to bring people from different generations together in purposeful, mutually beneficial activities, which promote greater understanding and respect between them.
Although our chickens live outside in their coop, they have a profound impact on learning throughout the school. Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, is an essential part of our mission and our feathered friends help teach those lessons. The 3rd and 4th graders have been reading chicken themed books to their kindergarten book buddies. This week, they also enjoyed scrambled eggs and pancakes made with the eggs provided by our chickens.
Countries represented by our families and faculty at CDS
Languages spoken at home and in our hallways
Religions practiced among our school community
Mile zone of attendance that stretches across multiple counties