February 3, 2018

2 conductors + 100 4th and 5th graders + 100 instruments (flutes, clarinets, french horns, trumpets, euphonium, trombones, snare drums, bells, self-tuning timpani, saxophones, violins, violas, cellos, upright bass) = one amazing Ray School Winter Instrumental Concert.

Part 1: The Rehearsal. I wandered down early to lend a hand. Ms. Rommer, strings teacher, had already tuned all 56 instruments and was straightening chairs in the music room. At 11:30AM, band members entered to rehearse (strings players were eating first lunch). The room was quickly a riot of sound, reminding me of the warm up at the New York Philharmonic before the first violinist plays her solo A.  It was beautiful. It was loud. A girl requested a set of earplugs from Ms. Rommer.  Mr. Maurer, band director, called his instrumentalists to attention and the din dropped. Silence. The kind of quiet that precedes the first note of a performance.

Part 2: The Strings Performance. From Turkey in the Straw to Tchaikovsky to Bartok, the Ray School String Orchestra played beautifully. Proud parents held up phones to capture it all on video. All 54 strings players carried us into Beethoven's Ode to Joy, and the audience was entranced. Ms. Rommer had created an arrangement that allowed every student to play. Beginning violinists and cellists, just six months into this endeavor, held the steady quarter-note rhythm. More experienced musicians played a delicate interlude with more complex harmonies and rhythms. Ms. Rommer: "We've been focusing on ensemble work, primarily rhythm and tempo, because a right note played at the wrong time becomes a wrong note. Ensemble work naturally builds interpersonal skills, awareness and sensitivity to others."

Part 3: The Orchestra. The Ray School Band leads off with a bang, forte, trumpets blaring, a fanfare of notes, percussionists driving the beat. Girls in pink dresses and in Converse sneakers, boys in sweatshirts and in suits and ties, our band members play remarkably in synch, drawing on six weeks' worth of lessons since they first received the music in early December. Mr. Maurer:  “Ray kids have a work ethic second to none. We’ve been working on listening across the group:  clarinet players listening to trombone players listening to timpani." The work's paying off.

It's never too late for a 4th or 5th grader to take up a band instrument. Mr. Maurer is looking for trumpet and tenor sax players, in particular. He looks forward to rehearsing and even larger group. The kids did it all again 30 minutes later, performing for all the students and teachers in our wonderful school. A standing ovation, Ray musicians!


Olympic Moment at the Ray School

Friday afternoon the community filed into the gym, Olympic fanfare in the backround, to hear from Ray dad and Olympian Dan Weinstein. Dan is a two-time Olympian in short track speedskating; he skated for the U.S. at the 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympics.  Dan taught Ray students two speed skating exercises -- we assumed "basic position" and attempted to "dryskate with squat." (Click for video demos.) Students reported that their thighs were burning after just 30 seconds. Dan showed us the Olympic torch, tip blackened with soot, that he carried en route to the 2002 Salt Lake games. (See photo with his daughter Grade, a 3rd grader.) Dan and his wife Amelia, a former U.S. National Team member, run an all-ages speedskating club in the Upper Valley, featured in a recent Upper Valley News article. The club welcomes not just kids, but entire families, a rare chance to learn a sport at the same time as your child. Click here for info and to contact Dan with questions. Keep your ears peeled for during the upcoming winter Olympics. Dan will be commentating for NBC as part of their coverage of the Pyeongchang games.

Box Tops Update: 2/16 Deadline

Please turn in all Box Tops by February 16: they'll be counted and sent in to General Mills the last week of February. And then... keep collecting! The next submission will be in the Fall. We also have new collection tins at the mini Coop (by the registers) and the Hanover Coop (service desk). Thanks for participating! The money earned through the Box Top drive supports great things at Ray!

RMS Transition: Informational Meeting for Ray School 5th Grade Parents

On Wednesday, February 28, 6-7 PM, please join RMS School Counselors John LaCrosse and Liz Powers, as well as Principal Mike Lepene and Associate Principal Amanda Yates, for a Q & A session in the Ray School multipurpose room. This initial meeting for parents of current 5th graders will help answer questions about topics including: scheduling, choosing classes, the elective program, and the structure of middle school teams. We hope to see you there!

Haven Helper Update

Wow! Great job, Grade 3!  Last Wednesday, parents delivered 249 pounds of macaroni and cheese to the Upper Valley Haven.  Excellent effort on supporting our neighbors in need.  5th graders are our Haven Helpers for the month of February.  Stay tuned for needed food items and keep up the good community work.  It matters. 

Lost and Found

The Lost and Found will be collected Wednesday, February 7th. Please take a moment to check to see if your child might be missing something.

February Vacation: Korean Culture Camp for children in grades K-6 will be held at Grace United Methodist Church in Bradford, VT from 2-5 in the afternoon, Monday through Friday, February 19-23. Camp activities include art, traditional Korean dance, stories, skits, and learning phrases in Korean. On Friday evening, there will be a community dinner and presentation, including a group of traditional drummers, a demonstration of Tae Kwon Do, and more. Dance teacher Myoungju Lee was a dance professor in Seoul before moving to Bradford last year. Payment is by donation. For more information, or to sign up, please email abigail.fleming1@gmail.com, or call 802-222-3378.

The Hanover Conservancy encourages us to get out in nature and move! Perhaps one of these upcoming excursions can serve as a "Passport to Winter Fun" trek for your whole family...

Saturday, February 24 5-8 pm / Family Moonlight Snowshoe Hike & Bonfire
Join the Hanover Conservancy and Hanover Parks & Rec on this annual family favorite! Prowl the Slade Brook watershed by moonlight, enjoy Vermont views, check out a new bridge and finish with a bonfire, s'mores, cocoa and more! Meet at 11 Old Lyme Road. FREE, no registration required. Please, no dogs.  www.hanoverconservancy.org/calendar for more info. 

Saturday, March 3 2-3:30 pm / Winter Wayfinding at Balch Hill
Meet at Balch Hill and you will see a brand new Quest for you and me! Questers of all ages are invited to join this fun family hike exploring the Hill. We'll follow clues in a quest written for this event, check out views from the summit, and enjoy cookies at our destination. Meet at the Grasse Road trailhead (junction of Grasse Rd and E. Wheelock/Trescott). FREE, no registration required. Please, no dogs. www.hanoverconservancy.org/calendar for more info. 

Ray Calendar