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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.

Can you spy with your little eye what this Lego layout defines?

Why, it’s the Bishop Walker School…and where are those gems?

In the Library!!!

Over the summer months the Library Volunteers polished up the Treasure, with new labels and new titles. We transferred the Collection to a new online library system: Follett Destiny. Each book has been reviewed for its relevance and quality. The KINGS’ Treasure is the library containing the best books we can find for the particular interests of Bishop Walker School scholars. Our goal is developing a life-long love of reading…a jewel in the crown of their education.

How can I find that Gem among the 10,000 volumes?

Grades 3, 4, and 5 spent the first months of school leaning how to unlock the Treasure. We distinguished fiction from nonfiction, discovered different areas for Fiction such as Picture books, Series, Early Readers and Novels. Older students looked for various genres among the fiction. Games to hunt for fact-based books using the Dewey Decimal system led to great finds, such as this Rock and Mineral book about fantastic emeralds and rubies located at the 552 spot on the shelf of Natural Sciences. Lounging and reading with a friend are totally fine at BWS.

Another way to unlock the Treasure is to go online and search for your self. Both our Library volunteers and the BWS Faculty were trained in how to search and reserve books. Faculty, Staff and students have specific access but all are welcome to browse this new site:

In addition to learning how to officially check out a book in the library, 2nd graders reviewed the difference between fiction and nonfiction. They explored Early Readers and found just the right fit. Then Mrs. Hannibal felt they were ready for a longer read-aloud book: “Akimbo and the Elephants” by Alexander McCall Smith.

This is the story of a young boy between eight and ten years old who lives on an animal preserve in Africa where his father is a ranger. Akimbo learns that ivory poachers are killing elephants. He is determined to stop them. A dangerous adventure ensues as Akimbo tries to save the elephants. We cannot talk about the preservation of African animals without looking at information about the animals Akimbo might encounter on the preserve. Students have been encouraged to add a factual book about African animals to their check out selections. Second graders heard stories from others countries through folktales and myth. They checked out many of the new Early Readers which will bump up their ability while making them laugh out loud. Some titles include: Narwhal and Jelly, King and Kayla Mysteries, Moby Shinobi and a new Elephant and Piggie series.

Kindergarten and First graders

Kindergarten and First graders found their way back to the Green, Green Grass for a great story to open up their imagination as well as their curiosity. Scholars learn how to read the pictures as well as the words. We have books at various reading levels and fact books in the Early Reader (E) mobile bookshelves. National Geographic provides the best range of natural science for early elementary. An entire wall is covered with the latest and greatest Picture books (P), with special emphasis on acquiring the works of African American authors and illustrators.

Kindergartners get a group of books each week to share in their classroom by authors such as Eric Carle, Leo Lionni, Don Freeman. Their teacher asked for books to supplement her curriculum such as books about the 5 senses like If You Give a Moose a Muffin and Pumpkin Soup and Eye to Eye. Halloween allowed us to introduce the fantasy of monsters and dragons and Super Hero early readers. From there, we moved to understanding the changing seasons by learning about trees and plants that provide the harvest of food we need. How Many Seeds Are in a Pumpkin and The Blackest Berry and The Little Tree are some titles.

Both K and 1st grade moved to a study of animals in our backyard. We combined fun stories with fact books such as A House for Moose, A Walk in the Woods and Squirrels Leap Squirrels Sleep. Scholars checked out nonfiction books at the earliest reading levels along with the fan-favorites like Pete the Cat. What John Marco Saw opened our eyes to what is happening outside our BWS windows. After reading Peter Rabbit in big book form, we let the scholars check out small books about bunnies, frogs, ducks and hedgehogs. Ms. Potter was the first to make small books for small hands.

By October, First graders started checking out one book of their choice each week. Understanding that borrowing a book means returning a book is part of what young children learn at the BWS library.

3rd and 4th Grades

4th graders took the challenge to find various nonfiction books in the different color-coded sections of the library. These stickers on the spines correspond to the Dewey Decimal system which is the organizing principle of every library in this country. Due to our Covid separation, these scholars have spent less time in our physical library. Now’s the time to unlock the code so they can answer their own questions with fact books. Popular areas of interest were: Space 500’s for facts and 600’s for technology, Minecraft and Marvel characters 700’s, and a ranges of 900’s biographies from Neymar the soccer player to John Coltrane. Yet for pure pleasure, the Graphic novels hold their spell on 10 year old readers. They follow Amulet, Plant vs Zombies, New Kid and Dogman.

3rd grade spent the early part of the year getting to know the authors’ last names of their favorite books. You have to know that all fiction is organized alphabetically by the author’s last name. We also introduced them to new and exciting Series books that suit their expanding reading levels. Without a thoughtful introduction to the layout a library, the students tend to go to the same favorites. After weeks of exploration we saw the range of choice grow into the breadth of our full shelves. Popular new discoveries included: Press Start, Little Shaq, Kondo and Kazumi, along with an increasing length of series Ellray Jakes, The Bad Guys and Dragon Masters.

These two grades took the theme of gems in our Library Treasure to the Kindergartners and 1st graders. They wrote reviews for display on our large Treasure box and then read to a Book Buddy during a Community Hour on Friday. Reading old childhood favorites such as Where the Wild Things Are, Green Eggs and Ham, Llama, Llama Red Pajama or Chicka Chicka Boom Boom gave the older readers confidence and the younger students joy in sharing a good story!

Finally, a long-term goal for these students is to find time and space to read a book quietly in the library. We have beanbags, padded benches and velvet gamers chairs scattered throughout the space. Now that we have the classes for 45 minutes we now have time to settle down and snuggle up to a good book. Even with a buddy nearby, the voices are calm as they chat about the books at hand.

5th Grade

The 5th grade has been focusing on connections between history and current events as our country continues to struggle with issues of personal freedom and civil rights. In celebration of BWS’s new library catalog ( and the access it now affords to our students and staff, September was devoted to reading about libraries and talking about the threats they face today with book banning and defunding. We learned that in the past our public libraries have not always been open to all. Stories from the lives of author Richard Wright and astronaut Ron McNair illustrated how these African Americans valued libraries and overcame challenges to their ability to borrow books and read. We also read about the Little Free Libraries movement and how it spread from one man’s idea to a global phenomenon offering free books to all. Even THEARC has a Little Free Library! Check it out near the bus stop on Mississippi Avenue.

Voting was the topic to explore in October. We read about African Americans getting the right to vote in 1870 pursuant to the 15th Amendment to the Constitution as well as continued voter intimidation and suppression in the segregated South during the civil rights era. The boys were amazed to learn that women of any color did not get the right to vote until 1920. Each week’s read-aloud provoked discussion about why voting is so important, why it has been historically denied to certain groups, and what kinds of voter suppression are occurring in our country right now. Don’t be surprised if your 5th grader asks you about your intention to vote on November 8th!

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.

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