Monday, November 30, 2009

Virtual Open House

To all of the parents and students across the country who are considering either the Cooper Yeshiva High School for Boys or the Goldie Margolin School for Girls as an option for your son or daughter next year, but could not make it to Memphis to for our Open House on November 19th... don't despair! We have decided to bring the Open House to you!

Follow this link to the site we created with all of the materials we handed out as well as live video of our Open House presentations.  The link has also been permanently added to the sidebar of the blog for easy reference in the future.

We look forward to introducing you to the school, the faculty, and the students in person very soon!

Giving for Thanksgiving

The school was alive with Thanksgiving spirit last week.  While our youngest students were busy taking in the sights, sounds, and tastes of Thanksgiving at their Early Childhood Thanksgiving Feast, our older students focused not on taking, but on giving.  Our Elementary School classes spent much of their feast - which also featured a Reader's Theater presentation - packing the toiletries which they had collected, together with a note, into Ziplock bags to be distributed amongst those in our city who cannot afford to purchase such items themselves.

Our Girls High School took it one step further.  Having already visited a home for Alzheimer's patients to help serve a pre-Thanksgiving meal the week before, they took of their own vacation time to serve as part of the volunteer team at the Memphis Thanksgiving Dinner for the Homeless and Hungry.  This annual event feeds over 700 people from the Memphis area who would otherwise go hungry even on Thanksgiving Day.  Here's the Fox News video explaining just how vital this event is and just how special the volunteers, like our girls, are: 

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Steak Dinner

...A wonderful, feel good evening for our school... Our boys and our school shined... I cannot remember The Yeshiva shining as brightly as it did last night... It really was remarkable to see the wholesomeness, camaraderie and drive that is instilled within them... It just gets better every year... What a special evening! A beautiful concept, executed beautifully... All the other schools I have ever been in have something to learn from what happened here tonight... To say that tonight was so beautiful and so nice, is a terrible understatement... I have lived in several different communities and I have never, ever seen something so moving... All the other schools I have ever been in have something to learn from what happened here tonight...

These were but a few of the comments I received in response to Sunday night's 16th annual Cooper Yeshiva High School for Boys Steak Dinner.  Moving as they may be, no words can quite describe an evening for which 40 boys, led by their mentor, teacher, and friend, Rabbi Gersten, spent weeks cooking, cleaning, practicing, filming, editing, marketing, and fundraising; an evening in which over 300 community members came out for food that was truly delicious, service that was truly unparalleled, and entertainment that was both wholesome and thoroughly enjoyable; an evening in which high school students, of their own accord, publicly payed tribute to a teacher who has made a difference in their lives.

Hopefully, this video will give you some sense of how magical the evening was.  The only way to truly appreciate it, though, is to join our boys as they do it again next year...

From Steak Dinner 09

Monday, November 23, 2009

Lyposuctioned Kangaroos

It's been a busy few weeks for the Junior inside and outside the classroom.  From the hosting of the Avon Lenox School, a Memphis City School for the physically and developmentally challenged, for a feel-good game of basketball ball and friendship, to onegs and in-town shabbatons, there's been little down-time for our 7th and 8th graders.

One only had to visit Mrs. Talya Tsuna's 8th grade English class on Friday, though, to learn that the fun doesn't only happen once class lets out.  As part of their English curriculum, our 8th graders have been studying the phenomenon known as origin myths, that is, the way in which ancient cultures composed stories to explain the world around them.  After studying several such myths together, Mrs. Tsuna asked the 8th graders to compose their own.  From tigers jumping through fiery hoops to zebras engaged in a paint fight, and from frogs with overly harsh parents to a kangaroo whose lyposuction went awry, there was no shortage of creativity, imagination, and genuine joy for learning.  


Thursday, November 19, 2009

"Simply Southern" Site Launched

For four and a half years, a dedicated group of women in our school community under the direction of Dena Wruble and Tracy Rapp, have given endless hours to the creation and publication of a professionally done, distinctly Southern Kosher cookbook, that would open up new avenues for exploration by kosher cooks the world over, while simultaneously serving to significantly benefit our school and our children.  Their tireless efforts have now come to fruition.

Jewish newspapers throughout the country have picked up this story on the cookbook by the JTA, and hundreds of people have already pre-ordered the cookbook through their website: .  If you haven't ordered yours yet, be sure to do so soon.  And, if you're in Memphis on Thursday evening December 10th, be sure to join us at the official Cookbook Kickoff event at Baron Hirsch at 7pm.  The price of admission is simply the purchase of one cookbook.  From what I understand, it will be well worth it...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fall Festival 2009

Our second annual Fall Festival was everything we had hoped for.  Picture perfect weather, lots of kids from throughout the community having lots of fun throughout our campus, and, most importantly, smiles on everyone's faces.  From the moonbounces and music classes to a petting zoo and hay rides, and from quilt-making and cookie decorating to face painting and necklace making, there was something for everyone.  Here's a glimpse into what was truly a wonderful day:

From Fall Festival

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

High Schools Rank in Top 10% of Nation

If you haven't read my Dean's Message in the school newsletter each of the past two weeks, I urge you to do so (click here for two weeks ago, here for last week).  In them you'll learn that our little high school out in Memphis, TN has done pretty well for itself on the SATs.  In fact, you'll learn that our average scores on the verbal section of the SATs over each of the last two years puts us amongst the top ten percent of high schools in the country.  You'll also learn that Math and Writing are not lagging too far behind...

High School Discovery Program

The Boys High School new Discovery Program is off and running.  The new program, created by Rabbi Lubetski and implemented by Rabbi Stein, allows students to choose from an array of exciting electives that meets their particular interests.   The electives are broken down into four categories: Learning, Service, Creativity, & Skill Building.  Each student has to pick four with at least one coming from both the Learning and Service categories.

So wander on in to the Boys high school during last period each day and don't be surprised to find students learning to cook in the kitchen with Chef Arie Hazzan, learning to wire outlets and jump start cars with Executive Director (and resident Handyman) Mr. Hirsch Serman, doing studio art with Mrs. Flieschhaker, practicing for Model U.N. with Mrs. Kutliroff, going at each other in Debate with me, learning bi-chavrusa with the kollel, peer tutoring younger students in the library, exploring current events in Israel with Rabbi Goldberg, preparing to fight poverty in the inner city, practicing with the school band, writing for the school newspaper, and - believe it or not - a whole host of other activities.

Head of OU Visits High Schools

Both the Boys and the Girls High Schools were privileged with a visit by the new Executive Vice President of the Orthodox Union, Rabbi Steven Weil.  Formerly the Rabbi of Congregation Beth Jacob in Beverly Hills, Rabbi Weil is now the professional leader of the OU, the largest organization of synagogues in the United States, as well as the country's largest provider of kosher supervision, and - of particular interest to our kids - it is the umbrella organization for NCSY.

Rabbi Weil, who met with community leaders the night before in an effort to better understand the dynamics of our community and its aspirations for the future, mesmerized our students with talk of the latest products soon to be kosher as well as with words of inspiration regarding their dual loyalty as citizens of the United States and proud, unabashed, Jews.  Clips of his words to our girls can be heard below.

From Rabbi Weil Visit

3rd Grade Play

The third grade introduced this month's Middah of the Month - Hachnasat Orchim (Welcoming Guests) - with a breathtaking theatrical performance, written and directed by their talented teacher Morah Yehudit and her equally talented husband, Moreh Shimshon.  Not only was the acting great, and the lines recited to perfection, but as you'll see from the video clips below - the entire play was performed in Hebrew.  It's but another shining example both of the results we're seeing from having transitioned to a Hebrew Immersion environment for all Lower School Judaic Studies last year, and of the way we're combining Hebrew language with core Jewish values and sacred Jewish texts in a way that's fun and exciting for all of our children.  Well done, Kitah Gimel!

From 3rd Grade Play

From 3rd Grade Play

From 3rd Grade Play

Kindergarten Blast

Kindergarten has had quite a blast these past couple of weeks... literally.  From the blast of their volcanoes in science enrichment to the blast of the waves against their pretend Ark and from the blast of Fall weather against their cheeks as they explored the Memphis Botanical Gardens to the blast they had searching for words throughout the school with their 5th grade buddies,  it's been one exciting adventure after another for our Kindergarten kids.


I sincerely apologize to all of those avid blog-followers out there, that it's been a while since my last post.  Don't think for a second, though, it's because school life has simply been dull.  Nothing could be further from the truth. So here goes a little game of catch-up...