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November–December, 2022

In a snap, the season of holidays popped up in late fall. At this time of festivities and visitors, we in the BWS library chose to focus our gratitude for the nature outside our windows and the people who lived on the school grounds long before we arrived. Appreciation!

Who Lives in Oxon Run?

The youngest among us can be researchers. Kindergartners are studying all 5 senses. Along with 1st and 2nd grades, they were encouraged to use their ears and eyes just like birds do to know exactly where they are and where they are going. We introduced many types of birds through our nonfiction collection. Some they could read and some they could learn from the captioned pictures. Stories about owls and cardinals held a special fascination.

After sharing a photo of a deer that I saw just 20 yards from the school building, the scholars had many questions about how that deer or squirrel or sparrow could live there all year. Curiosity about who lives with us in the woods prompted more interest in care for their environment. Each little book strengthened their connection to nature. We connected that to our Harvest celebrations such as Thanksgiving. Native Americans used animals in their folklore and religion stories to explain how the world began and how certain animals had spiritual powers. The scholars particularly liked the story of the boy who turns himself into a Raven who then steals the sun to bring light to the world.

After hearing and reading many Native American tales, Third Graders decorated our forest wall with detailed birds giving Tweets of Gratitude for nature, including appreciation for the chicken who gave us great fried chicken.

Who Lived near Oxon Run Long Ago?

The Upper Primary grades were challenged to imagine living in the woods outside our windows. Then we introduced the history of the indigenous people of North America who lived on this continent for more than 20,000 years. In the Library, we spent the month of November studying all we could about the lifestyles and legends of various tribal nations.

Then we zeroed in on the Powhatan natives along the Potomac and the Nacotchtank who had their main village where the Anacostia River meets the Potomac. Our scholars discovered that Oxon Run was a major hunting ground-right outside our windows. Our

nonfiction collection provided the history and folklore tales. A highlight was learning about how every part of the deer was used. The skin and sinew wrapped around a log created a drum. A Cherokee folktale described the origin of day and night, the stars and the sun. We followed up with books on the Solar System

During the election season, the 5th grade learned how women fought for the right to vote by looking at the Suffrage Movement. They also got the real story of how Thanksgiving became a holiday and exactly what happened on that first Thanksgiving from the book The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower. We ended the month by reading a speech by Chief Seattle imploring Congress to care for Mother Earth, especially the Northwestern land he was giving over to the Federal Government.

A Time for Visitors and Celebrations

Our BWS Library continues to be the hub of the school, whether we are lifting the spirit of the community, blending the ages for a good story or welcoming one of the very best children’s book authors in the country.

Bishop Marianne consecrated a new handmade alter for BWS. A carved statue representing the world being held up reflects the song “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”. We sang and raised up this addition to the Worship space in the center of the building. Illustrated books with Spirituals filled the display space.

December opened with a bang: As Mr. Molina was reading from Crossover, the author Kwame Alexander jumped out of the conference room to surprise the 3-5 grades. He read verse, prose and played games with an adoring audience. Pure Joy!

Kings Community time now includes Book Buddies-a time when older boys read stories to their younger BWS brothers. We’re happy to see the Library books finding cozy corner all over the Campus.

Christmas themes filled the month. First we compared and contrasted various renditions of The Gingerbread Man. Although the refrain of Run, Run As fast as You Can… remained constant, the settings ranged from New York City to the Wild West to a Fire Station. This challenge helped all ages concentrate on the fine details of the story.

We did the same with Santa stories. Finally, we got to the Real Christmas Story and examined many different ways of showing the Holy Land and the people in it. Sometimes it looked like Jesus was born in England! And our scholars noticed. In the end, they learned to look for the Star.

During these months, we realized our bounty. Book donations keep coming. We have a special Wish List on Amazon:

The Nature around us gives us hope. And the scholars at BWS keep us all young and curious. We feel so blessed.

January-February 2022

Whether at home with Responsive Learning or in the classroom for indoor recess, the cold weather invited us to snuggle up to a good book. The Library sponsored a renovation of the annex space next to the Kindergarten by adding books, a chalk easel, chairs and tables for different sized bodies and an Eric Carle wall design depicting The Hungary Caterpillar. Now teachers, tutors, learning specialists and scholars can learn in a cozy Small World space. New colorful cushions in the shape of donuts spread out the seating for K-2 grades on the Green, Green Grass carpet that has been a part of the BWS Library for 8 years.

2nd Grade ventured into the stacks of non-fiction finding Minecraft books, interplanetary exploration books and, of course, the always-favorite scary animal books. 3rd Grade has its story in the classroom during lunchtime, which allows the teacher to send small groups into the Library for a deep exploration of the collection. No peer pressure. Each scholar finds the books he is most interested in reading during these dreary days of Winter.

Book Clubs

Much like colleges do, we offered a mid-winter focus for grades 3-5. We zoomed in on the genre of Fantasy and read aloud a classic: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. Each scholar had his own book and followed the adventures in Narnia Tuesday-Thursday at lunchtime over a 6-week period.

We discussed the context of children leaving London bombing during WWII. We spotted tricky vocabulary and explored a map of Narnia. We followed how the main characters changed over the course of the novel. The allegorical lion Aslan as Savior was not lost on the scholars. Even though it was not enchanted, we did celebrate the conclusion with Turkish Delight !

CSK Book Club

During Black History Month Barbara Ochmanek and Heather Florance encouraged an exploration of our newly expanded Coretta Scott King Award winning books. As an added incentive to make a connection with these honored books, Mrs. O set up the CSK Book Club. Scholars from 4th and 5thgrades are invited to read CSK award winners and report on them. Then they all read the same novel: Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome. A culminating afternoon of discussion and games will follow.

Our BWS Black History Month went on for 3 months! When we returned from Christmas break we started with the life and achievements of Martin Luther King Jr. From there we exposed the scholars to our vast collection of Biographies and Fiction written by and about African Americans. Every week we encouraged the scholars to search the shelves for that “Just Right” book and also to choose a book to share at home about an African American who really inspired them. They had hundreds of books to choose from. Some swapped books with each other. Others found two very different books that pleased them.

Early Primary explored their History through African American Biographies. Some K and 1st were not alive for Barak Obama’s Presidency, so that was an introduction. Then we moved onto MLK Jr.- his early life leading to greatness. Over the next weeks we covered Scientists, Explorers, Inventers, Olympic Athletes like Simone Biles, and Artists such as Alvin Ailey. We read and sang well-known Spirituals and Pharrel Williams closed us out with his Happy book.

Washington DC-Local Dignitaries

For the older scholars we focused on several people for whom Washington DC was home at some important times in their lives: Frederick Douglass from the 19th century and Thurgood Marshall from the 20th century. We reviewed their childhood and asked what character traits did they develop from those years.

Both Anacostia and Howard University featured in their experience. Both were orators and writers. Both suffered terribly from brutal racism but showed Resilience, Resistance and they Rose Up to change our country. According to Mr. Molina, these 3 R’s inform Black History and our scholars found those qualities in our myriad Biographies of well known and little-known African American Kings and Queens.

November-December 2021

Since the end of Play Ball! in late October, the 4th and 5th grade have settled into a library routine of a picture book read-aloud followed by plenty of time to explore the shelves and find those next good books.

Four books can be checked out and returned or renewed each week.

Fourth grade delved into the mysterious work of author/illustrator Chris Van Allsburg and both grades learned interesting background information about Thanksgiving. Thank You, Sarah, the story of one woman's activism that brought about the national holiday and Balloons Over Broadway, the history of the puppeteer who is responsible for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade provided fun historical context for our family feasts.

Fifth grade also discussed the primary source material behind the fictional Hanukkah at

Valley Forge. The library's ever-expanding graphic novel collection now has pride of place in the central shelves formerly housing the baseball books, and that is the first place the 4th and 5th graders head after storytime.

Visitors such as Alistair Chang from the DC Board of Education came to see why the scholars gain such value from their Library. He wants to keep the funding going for public school libraries and he gained fodder for his argument at the BWS Library.

Festivals of Light for Grades K-3

From Halloween onward, we traveled the Northern Hemisphere of the Earth noting the various holidays and festivals popping until January 1. Over 4 continents north of the

equator, the diminished light caused folks to gather together, feast together and share the light of candles and fire and very bright colors. We touched marigolds and lit the diya candles of Divali in India and colored skull pictures for Dias De Los Muertos.

We floated candles on leaves to send our problems away with the river for Loy Krathong in Thailand and learned of how a kind Bishop from Turkey tossed coins to children in need for Sinterklaas in The Netherlands or St. Nicolas Day. We learned from Father Sheppard that each Advent candle has particular meaning, as do the 8 candles of

Hanukkah and the 7 candles of Kwanzaa. These rituals give meaning and purpose to our lives and strengthen community. The scholars heard many stories read aloud and can compare and contrast each festival. Such a joy to share!

The first Advent candle lights our way toward hope while the next candles lead us to faith, joy and peace.

Surrounding the Winter Break, we had Library time virtually as Responsive Distance Learning occurred due to Covid protocols. Well, we have done this before and we managed to introduceKwanzaa through Zoom by lighting the red candles on hand, gathering the winter harvest fruits and veggies, laying out the Kinara on a woven mat and hearing stories about the Seven Principles that build character and fellowship within the African American community. Our final Festival of Light.

The 1st Grade checked out books to take home for the first time in this second term of school. We have a vast collection of Picture books and a growing collection of Early Readers and Nature books for them to choose from. Heather Clessuras and Sandi Hannibal constructed books that align with their Reading Program of leveling up the complexity of phonics and sight words. In this way the young readers can hold in their hands the same booklet that they see on a screen.

Kindergarten checked out a crate of Classic Stories so that their teacher could easily show them the parts of a story: Character development, Setting and the Arc of a story to its conclusion. Never underestimate what those young minds can absorb.

On December 1st we celebrated the beginning of Advent, the anticipation of the birth of Jesus Christ. Bishop Mariann Budde and our new Chaplain Father Sheppard were joined by the 5th grade scholars in the Chapel space within the Library. Afterward, Bishop Budde had a nice long chat with the scholars.

She spoke of leadership and compassion. And she asked questions. She demonstrated her interest in how their lives were going during this pandemic. The blessing she gave strengthened us all for the challenges and the adventures ahead.

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