Upper School Highlights from December & January 2017-2018

By Haoran Zhu ’18

December is always an exciting and wonderful month because it means two weeks of rest and recharge, otherwise known as the winter break. Before traveling locally, nationally, and internationally for family holiday celebrations, my peers and I finished the year of 2017 with enthusiasm. As I returned in January, I could still feel the excitement and warm spirit that continue to fuel our community.

Winter Varsity Sports
Winter sports teams continue to compete and thrive in many fields. Men’s Varsity Basketball, captained by Mikey Parker (’18) and Cheick-Oumar Toure (’19), earned key wins in multiple tournament games against St. Anselm’s Abbey, Avalon, Hebrew, and McLean. The team had tough loss to Potomac and St. Christopher’s, but our players fought hard and did their best. Special congratulations to Mikey who scored his 1000th point for our school. With Coach Parker’s leadership, I have hope for the accomplishment of the team in the end of the season. Women’s Varsity Basketball, meanwhile, captained by Noa Brown (’18) and Erica Fenton (’18), continued to improve, turning losses in December to victories in January. The team won games against Barrie, Madeira, and Washington Waldorf. They are excited for their next home game against St. Andrew. The Coed Rock Climbing team, captained by Seth Gorton (’19), Sam Schwartz (’20), Colleen Cooper (’18), and Anna Goodman (’18), won the JV and Varsity girls division as well as Varsity boys division in the last competition. They continue to be as energetic as they were at the beginning of the season. SSFS Hockey athletes Alan Burd (’19), Jimmy Hu (’19), and Quinn Bittenger-Esser (’19), who are in the Blake-Poolesville Griffins co-op team in the Maryland Scholastic Hockey League, had tough losses in the season but all of them have strong goals moving forward.

I look forward to their ongoing success in the winter season!

SSFS Quiz Bowl
#It’sAcademic: Our impressive Quiz Bowl Team, represented on stage by Captain Asa Kienitz-Kincade (’18), Assistant Captain Justis Dixon (’19) and Michelle Tobin (’19), continued to excel through advancing to the playoffs in the MABL (Montgomery Academic Beltway League) for the fourth time in five years on It’s Academic, a TV program for quiz bowl. With an encouraging crowd of students as the audience, the team gained 685 points in defeating Dominion (340 points) and Suitland (280 points). Mark your calendar, and don’t forget to watch the memorable moment on NBC4 on Saturday, March 17th, at 10:30 am!

SSFS Robotics
This year, a new team has emerged to compete in The FIRST Tech Challenge season game held at Bullis. FIRST Tech challenged students to design, build, program, and operate robots to compete in a head-to-head challenge in an alliance format. With biology teacher Takisha’s support, SSFS Robotics Club founded by Qian Wang (’20) and Jeremy Huang (’19) brought in BeestBot, a robot they have created, and earned Best Judge Award in the game. This is the first competition for the team, and they are looking forward to the next one on January 28th. STEM education is a strong component of our science department.

The Arts
On December 7th, 8th, and 9th in the PAC Theater, three upper school classes (Modern Dance, Advanced Modern Dance, and Stagecraft) came together for an awesome performance, the Winter Dance Concert. It’s an all-ages show that features different cultural dances and styles including Bollywood, Bellydance, Contemporary, Chinese Fan Dance, K-Pop, Music Theater, Ribbon Dance, Shadow dance, and more. I was impressed by the effort my peers put in outside of the performance. They definitely let their lives speak through the beautiful moves. (See photos online here.)

During a school day on January 11th, we enjoyed a short peek into this year’s Upper School Music Assembly featuring Handel’s Messiah, Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb,” and other songs for music lovers. The stellar performance by our music band instilled in me a desire for metal rock. Andy Gao (’19), one of the key singers, said this performance really allowed him to grow and express himself. The orchestra also performed Hallelujah in collaboration with the handbells group. After the awesome performance, I heard the phrase “good job” many times in and outside of the classroom from my peers to cheer and support our performers.

Let us formally thank Sandy Spring’s artists and musicians for their remarkable performances!

Student Life
Model United Nations: The SSFS MUN Team received our country assignment – Islamic Republic of Iran. Representing the country, students are also assigned to different UN committees. For instance, I am on the Economic and Financial Committee (ECOFIN) while some of my friends were assigned to the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Within each committee, we will be representing Iran in the corresponding topic. Mine is about cryptocurrency. Currently, we are researching Iran’s position in various issues and past UN resolutions regarding the country. We are looking forward to our conference in early March.

Martin Luther King Day of Service
With dedication to our Quaker value of equality and community, Upper School students immersed themselves in the annual community event, MLK Day of Service, hosted by the Parent Association of Sandy Spring Friends School. We participated in various service projects from Empty Bowl to the Linus Blanket Project and had a space for open dialogue that focused around the theme, “Why Race Still Matters In Our World,” led by Dr. Joanna Scott, a nationally recognized expert on race in organizations. The event felt meaningful as Sandy Spring was connecting with the outside world.

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