Ross School News, May 16

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Ross Upper School
The libraries received a very generous donation from Marilyn Abel, who passed away recently and left her collection of books from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the school. Having worked in marketing for the museum for many years, she had accrued a large variety of books during her career. Marilyn was a lifelong book lover, and in addition to marketing, she worked in publishing in New York City. Eventually, she retired in East Hampton and learned about Ross School from her neighbor, whose children attended the school. Upon visiting a few years ago, Marilyn simply fell in love with its libraries and requested that her sister, Anne Searer, donate her collection of books to the school upon her passing. Approximately 130 titles were donated in all.

The high school Student Council hosted its first International Food Festival on May 5 outside the Ross Café. Boarding and day students prepared dishes that represented their country of origin and spent the evening sampling cuisines from around the world with their peers. Food from Austria, Russia, China, Brazil, Japan, Vietnam and Korea covered the tables. There was even gumbo, a Cajun dish prepared by visual arts teacher Ned Smyth.
Ross Lower School
Excited barks, licks, and lots of giggles were in abundance on May 8 when the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons brought some furry friends to the school using their mobile adoption unit. The pre-K invited ARF to the school as part of their current unit of study on the relationship between humans and animals. Parked on the grass near the entrance of the campus, the converted delivery truck, complete with a fold-out canopy, showcased a variety of adorable cats and kittens, including Floyd, a three-month-old domestic shorthair, and dogs, including Emma, a three-year-old Pekingese; Bambi, a three-year-old terrier mix; and Nemo, a one-year-old hound mix. Students from every grade filed into the truck, putting flat hands up against the cages for the animals to sniff and give kisses. Junellen Tiska, Lower School director of curriculum and development and ARF volunteer, guided each group of students on how to approach the animals and gave their backstories. Once the students were satisfied they had properly greeted each animal, they bid their farewells and carefully filed out of the truck on the other end.

The therapeutic qualities of a pet are widely known, but recently, schools are inviting therapy dogs onto their campuses because they are shown to lower stress and raise concentration levels among students. With this role in mind, Ms. Tiska adopted Honey, a beautiful mutt, less than a year ago from ARF. Honey has risen to the challenge, serving as a calming force on campus for students and teachers alike. “Some of my students calm right down when they interact with her. Yesterday we had an argument between two girls, and Honey came in and crawled into their laps, and they were able to relax and talk it out,” said Junellen. In addition, Honey helps struggling readers who are self-conscious about reading out loud. They come and read out loud to Honey. “There is also a lot of information out there about how therapy dogs help students who are on the [autism] spectrum,” Junellen said. Every week, Junellen visits different classrooms to teach reading comprehension, and Honey is always by her side. Last week, the two visited the third grade. The students gathered on the floor and Honey sat with them (sometimes even on them) as Junellen read “May I Pet Your Dog?” a guideline for children on how to approach dogs. For example, the students learned to ask for the owner’s permission to pet the dog, allow the animal to first sniff an approaching hand, and approach from the side. After more extensive training, Junellen will try to get Honey registered with Therapy Dogs International. In the meantime, Honey has already become the most popular “kid” at school.

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