Academic News

The Junior Parent College Night has been rescheduled for Wednesday, January 27 from 6-7 p.m.  Here is information about the event:

This month, SGS college counselors Happy Avery and Kerry Clark will start working with 11th grade students on next year’s college admissions cycle.  They know that junior parents have many questions and concerns regarding the college admissions process as well.  Please join them on MS Teams to learn more about the process overall and priorities for this spring and summer. 

This meeting is designed for parents of current juniors who are preparing to apply to college next fall, but all Saint George’s parents are welcome and encouraged to attend, as it’s never too early to plan and gather information.  If you didn't receive an email from Happy or Kerry, contact them at or for the MS Teams link.  And if you can’t attend, they will record the meeting and follow up with a link to share. 

An SGS senior has used the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme to set up a program to reduce stress in her neighborhood -- with therapy bunnies and tea! 

CAS Project Highlight: Senior Erika Piotrowski has developed a Bunny Outreach Program that she will run for two months.  This will be a neighborhood stress release program with her pet bunnies as therapy animals.  She plans to individually schedule people for the program, then show up wearing a mask and bringing a folding table.  She will set the rabbit and some tea on the table then move six feet back.  The neighbor, who is wearing a mask, will help themselves to refreshments and will be able to interact with the bunny.  In conjunction, they will discuss their day and any other light-hearted topics.  Erika has already discussed this program with some neighbors to gauge interest, and they all seem really enthused by it. 

CAS Experience Highlights: CAS experiences for all of our Upper School students (in the US and in China) include cooking clams, delivering cookies, making rings, shadowing a parent at work for a day, skiing, participating in a community night, making dessert, volunteering at 2nd Harvest, making a snowman, solving a Rubik’s cube, and walking dogs.  

EE Highlight: Senior Sophie Yao is doing her Extended Essay on a topic in Economics.  She is discovering the pros and the cons of her EE question: To What extent does passing out coupons to citizens influence the general merchandise industry in Hangzhou, China.  She came up with the idea because Hangzhou’s government was passing out an electronic coupon through a site called Alipay.  Most of the citizens had successfully obtained the coupon, including Sophie’s mother, which sparked her interest in her research topic.

IB Question of the Week:  Can you explain a little more the difference between HL and SL courses?

With humor, see the picture below:

But seriously, follow this link to see the brief on HL and SL courses:

“It is essential for any pre-university education to equip students with the depth of discipline-specific knowledge and skills that they will need for their chosen academic and career paths. However, this must be balanced with the breadth needed to develop well-rounded students who can draw connections between the different disciplines. 

"As such, the philosophy of the IB DP is that students should engage with a range of subjects while being able to explore specific areas of personal interest in greater depth. SL courses ensure students are exposed to a range of disciplines that they might otherwise opt out of, and HL courses allow students to spend more time with subjects they are more interested in by exploring options in addition to the SL core curriculum. In this sense, all DP courses, regardless of whether they are SL or HL, are integral to the programme.”

IB Overview:  The Diploma Programme (DP) curriculum for grades 11-12 is made up of six subject groups and the DP core, comprising Theory of Knowledge (TOK), Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) and the Extended Essay (EE).  Please refer to our IB webpage and to the IB Resources page in PowerSchool Learning for detailed IB information.  

Dear SGS Community,
I am sure you are all excited to see 2021, vaccines, and a progression to a return of normalcy for ourselves and children.  The events of yesterday in Washington D.C. were a gut punch that left me saddened as a citizen.  I can only hope our nation and our elected officials are able to get back on track to unite and come together to resurrect hope and confidence going forward.  
Over the break there were several developments that took place regarding guidance for schools from the Governor, DOH and SRHD.  The Governor introduced the new regional plans for re-opening and the SRHD has updated their guidance, process, and metrics for schools.  The good news is the focus is now on re-opening secondary schools.  As a smaller independent school, we are already further ahead, both in terms of in-school instruction K-12 and limited COVID activity in school. Our planning, execution and parental diligence have all been successful.  We are still on track for adding grades 9-12 to four days a week in our hybrid model (students in-school and DL by choice).  Our plan has changed slightly, but we feel more confident with this model as it provides a graduated approach allowing us to make quick adjustments and maintaining our proven risk mitigation efforts.   
The week of January 11, our K-8 schedule will remain in place at this time. 
• Grades 11 and 12 will be able to attend Tuesday thru Friday.
• Grades 9 – 10 will be able to attend Thursday and Friday.  (This will be the first two days of all four grades attending classes in-school.)
The week of January 18, (No School on Monday, January 18 in observance of MLK Jr. Holiday)
• Grades K-8 schedule will remain unchanged.
• Grades 9-12 will attend Tuesday- Friday if they choose.  The Hybrid model for students learning from home will remain in place.
Timing Rationale:
- There is an ongoing concern related to mental health and engagement while students are out of school.
- Data continues to show low transmission in schools when safety precautions (masks, physical distancing, cleaning, etc.) are in use.
- This will provide a 12-day period from New Year’s Day to when grades 9-12 would be together. 
- Based on our enrollment and facilities, we are able to maintain the physical distancing requirements, cleaning regiments and face coverings.  Many of the larger schools will find it difficult to meet the physical distancing requirements in the classrooms. 
Ryan Peplinski continues the contact tracing protocols and maintaining our COVID Dashboard.  Our parents have done an outstanding job of erring on the side of caution with their students and in turn, this benefits the entire community.  Thank you!!  
Thank you and continue to take care of yourselves.
Jamie Tender
Head of School
Regulatory Oversight Update: 
Governor’s Office:  The Governor released the Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery and shared the goal for a return for secondary school students.
The Spokane Regional Health District: The SRHD has updated their guidelines and processes related to schools.  This is in accordance with new guidance from the Governor and the Washington DOH.  Additionally, the SRHD is also reviewing protocols for other activities, including choir and orchestra.
Additional COVID related meetings and resources:
Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA): Announced new timeline and planning for High School Athletics and Activities starting February 1.  This was just announced yesterday, and further details are forthcoming.
Calendar Update:
Proposed Calendar for January 11 – January 22: (Parenthetical days are for MS/US schedules)


Operational Issues Update:
Busses: There remains reluctance with the bus model at this time since we have K-12 students typically using the same bus.  If there are two occurrences of COVID within a class during a two-week period, that would lead to a class-wide quarantine.  We continue to work with the SRHD for guidance in this area and have developed several models that may limit this risk when confidence in transportation is higher, this would reduce the overall bus availability for families closer to school.
Since the school year began, Ryan Peplinski, COVID-19 Coordinator, has been communicating with families that have been impacted by COVID-19 in their family and then working with the SRHD team to assist with contact tracing.  
Items that could impact plans: 
1. COVID Activity metrics in the region.
2. Outbreak of 2 more students in a grade level during a 14-day period.
3. Inability to meet the state’s COVID updated requirements.
Contact Tracing - The SGS families have been very cooperative and proactive in notifying the school if they have come in close contact or if a family member has tested positive.  This community effort strengthens our risk mitigation protocols in reducing the spread of COVID-19 if we have a case on campus.  


An SGS senior has used the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme to explore the meaning of characters created by a major Spanish author.  

EE Highlight: Senior Cambrie Rickard is writing her Extended Essay on the book Caperucita en Manhattan (Little Red Riding Hood in Manhattan) by Carmen Martín Gaite, one of the most important and influential Spanish authors of the 20th Century.  Cambrie is writing about the representations of freedom (libertad) and solitude (soledad) in the novel as portrayed by some of the characters, especially Miss Lunatic. 

CAS Project Highlight: Reagan Ivey and Adelaide Lennemann will be starting a clothing drive to donate clothes to the Teen and Kid Closet. They will promote the drive with posters and other means and will deliver the donations to the closet. The drive will run for 2-3 weeks. Details will be coming out soon. 

CAS Experience Highlights: CAS experiences for all of our Upper School students (in the US and in China) include  the lifetime fitness class, learning to sew, skiing on Mt. Spokane, learning about human trafficking and making care packages w/ Spokane Girl Up Club, OUR, and International Network of Hearts, restarting the writing center, skiing, setting up Christmas lights, building a snowman, playing ping pong, doing Among Us drawings, painting a picture, and creating a game server.

IB Question of the Week:  What is the IB doing about exams during the pandemic?
The IB continues to release updated guidance for schools regarding assessment since the pandemic started.  Their documents aim to supplement the subject guides and existing teacher support material (TSM) for DP subjects and to share guidance and advice on how teachers can support students working remotely to undertake this work.

Last year, the IB established a non-exam route as a result of the pandemic and came up with a course grade for students using their Internal Assessments (IAs), predicted grades from teachers, and past predicted grade reliability.  

Schools who tested in November 2020 were given the guidance that they could opt in or out of exams.  If they opted into exams, a student’s course grades would be based on their exams, IAs, predicted scores and past predicted grade reliability.  If schools opted out, course grades would be based on IAs, predicted grades and past predicted grade reliability, like in May 2020. 

The IB has not yet sent official and final guidance for the May 2021 cohort. They have told schools to look at the guidance given to November 2020 schools for what to expect.  Schools have been told by the IB to expect an official guidance to be released in late January/early February.  So far, for the May 2021 cohort, it is official that all IAs will be sent to the IB examiners, and not just a sampling as in a normal year.  We are waiting to hear about the exam and non-exam choices and routes. 

IB Overview:  The Diploma Programme (DP) curriculum for grades 11-12 is made up of six subject groups and the DP core, comprising Theory of Knowledge (TOK), Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) and the Extended Essay (EE).  Please refer to our IB webpage and to the IB Resources page in PowerSchool Learning for detailed IB information. 

All of the Lower School celebrated 2021 Seconds of Reading on Jan. 8 by dressing in their pajamas and bringing their favorite books and stuffed animals to class.  Unlike past years, the reading was done in their classrooms or from their homes.  Some of the teachers and students also read books to their Distance Learning classmates who are at home.  See photo galleries of the Kindergarten Readers, the 1st Grade Readers, the 2nd Grade Readers, the 3rd Grade Readers, the 4th Grade Readers, and the 5th Grade Readers!  

The 7th and 8th grade English students were asked to take a photo of an object that symbolized the year 2020 to them and write a poem about it.  Here is a Photo Gallery of their thoughtful responses.  They also were asked to photograph an object to symbolize the year 2021 and write a poem about it.  Here is a Photo Gallery of their hopeful responses!

Saint George's will begin bringing students back to the Upper School in a staggered roll-out.  This week (Jan. 11), grades 11 and 12 are invited to learn on campus Tuesday through Friday.  Grades 9 and 10 will learn on campus Thursday and Friday.  Next week (Jan. 19), grades 9-12 are invited to learn from campus on Tuesday through Friday.  See more details on Dr. Francesca Mulazzi's Weekly Letter.

In order to bring students back to campus safely, we have three focus points for students:

Awareness: Be conscientious of the distance between you and your friends; stand and sit on red dots, walk along the yellow arrows.
Breaks: Be aware of your friends and neighbors when you are at your locker and in the hallway; stand on a dot when possible, walk along the yellow arrows; teachers will let students out on breaks in staggered breaks.
Lunch: Sit in one of the eight designated areas: US Courtyard, Library, Theatre Courtyard, or five classrooms designated as lunch zones, sit and eat at a red dot.

Thank you, parents and families, for your patience as we have waited for the right time to move to this next step. 

One aspect of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme is CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service).  SGS Upper School students (in the US and in China) performed a wide variety of CAS experiences during the holiday break.  

CAS Experience Highlights: Delivering cards and gifts to nurses, cleaning up their neighborhood, making a Cindy Lou, participating in Operation Christmas Smile, dog walking, learning breakdancing for fun, participating in the US door decorating, teaching themselves to play Stairway to Heaven, playing tennis, skiing at Silver Mountain, a week of exercising a dog, debate tournament, participating in the 2nd Harvest Food drive, making Christmas cookies for friends, picking chrysanthemums, visiting a Panda base, mentoring, making a grocery basket to donate, learning a new gymnastic drop using silks, wrapping gifts, decorating advisory doors, going to a barbershop and learning about a new culture.

IB Question of the Week:  Are there any YouTube videos that help students/parents further understand the IB and also that help students navigate IB courses?  
Yes, often times IB alumni will post YouTube videos, either explaining the IB or helping students with certain tactics they learned when taking certain courses and studying for exams.  All ages can benefit from watching these videos because KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!  Here are some relevant videos:
> Ivy Lilia’s video on “IB EXPLAINED | everything you NEED TO KNOW about IB” can be found here:  Ivy has lots of IB videos out there so check out her channel.
> One student who got a 45 (the highest score you can get) explains her top ten tips here:
> Diana Ang gives her tips from “a realistic IB student” here:

IB Overview:  The Diploma Programme (DP) curriculum for grades 11-12 is made up of six subject groups and the DP core, comprising Theory of Knowledge (TOK), Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) and the Extended Essay (EE).  Please refer to our IB webpage and to the IB Resources page in PowerSchool Learning for detailed IB information.  

The members of the 8th grade received their own personalized SGS Dragons sweatshirt from one of the juniors or seniors (some of them older siblings) in a socially distanced event in the Upper School Courtyard just before Winter Break.  Each of the older students also offered a piece of advice for success in the Upper School to the 8th graders.  See a Photo Gallery of the ceremony and the entire Class of 2025 in their new sweatshirts!

The fourth graders made beeswax “velas” (candles) after a week of learning about the traditional Christmas celebration of Las Posadas in Spanish class.  See a Photo Gallery of the creative process and the final results.

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