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News from Burgundy in STEAM-related topics, including science, technology, library, fine and performing arts, music, and more.

Approaching Graduation and Celebrating Growth for All Students!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Earlier this week I had the great joy of visiting the new Gold Frogger Airlines (parent company K Frogs) at the West Barn Early Childhood building. One K Frogs student was manning the phone at the reservation desk; another seemed to be collecting luggage (real, vintage American Tourister upright suitcases); and yet another two Frogs were warming up the jet for take-off. The students had invented and constructed the entire thing.

Last week I’d been watching some of them starting the ‘EC tarmac’ with large pieces of corrugated cardboard framing the jet, with only occasional check-ins from a teacher. And now I was seeing them animating their creations, again free of interference from tall people. Seeing children’s imaginations in action is as about as entertaining and rewarding as anything one can, well, imagine.

Wednesday I had the pleasure of stopping by the first grade classrooms. They had been preparing for their dramatic productions, which were put on under the expert direction of Roberta Cullen, on the big stage in The Logan Loft. After the performances, they shared looms and weavings they had created, and books they had written and illustrated. The great thing about the first graders’ books is that they’re handcrafted and self-illustrated and developmentally at whatever levels of literacy the children happen to be at, and they’re made to feel great about their creations, because 1) they are awesome and lovely (and sometimes hilarious) to look at and read; and 2) they are so authentic and the kids are so proud of their work.

One of the greatest gifts of Burgundy is sustaining the love of learning that children are born with — a love of learning that too often is tamped down or extinguished by weighty structures and adult expectations. Burgundy preserves the wonder and the adventure of learning. Credit the teachers in our JK, Kindergarten, and first grade who work so hard: to establish the community that supports children being respected and connected and feeling good about themselves and free and available for learning, and to ensure that learning remains a thrilling and enticing enterprise!

Taking reservations
Checking in Gold Frogger Airlines passengers. Photos by Jeff Sindler.
Taking reservations
Taking reservations


The jet
Fueling the jet



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Next Week: Peter Pan Lands On Stage!

Friday, May 11, 2018
Peter Pan teaser
Thanks Ruby and Nathan for this Peter Pan promotional video! Click to play.
Peter Pan poster
Thanks Mina for the Peter Pan poster artwork!

Tickets are now available for the Class of 2018’s production of Peter Pan! We’re thrilled to have four opportunities to see the show this year, beginning Thursday afternoon at 4:30 p.m., continuing Friday night at 7 p.m., and concluding Saturday with both an afternoon (2 p.m.) and evening show (7 p.m.). All shows include an intermission and the opportunity to purchase concessions (cash and credit card).

Don’t forget that Extended Day is offering an afterschool pizza party ahead of the Thursday afternoon show, May 17. Registration is available now through midnight, Sunday, May 13. Keep in mind that Thursday enrichments will be rescheduled.

Tickets are now available via Brown Paper Tickets! With processing fees included, student tickets are $2.03 and adult tickets are $6.17. Please note that these shows in the new Logan Loft offer a mix of reserved and general admission seating.

Get Tickets

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Ready for Peter Pan!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Next week the Class of 2018 will put on this year's 8th grade musical, the timeless classic Peter Pan! The 8th grade musical is always a highlight of the school year and a rite of passage of the 8th graders’ individual and collective journeys. This year, the play is even more special because it’s the first major drama production in the new Logan Loft!

Younger students, parents, and faculty and staff will delight in the reprisal of their favorite characters from Peter to Captain Hook to Tinker Bell to Wendy Darling, and we’ll all be captivated by the themes of childhood freedom and youthful exuberance versus… growing up!

With each season we are reminded that the arts programs at Burgundy and especially these Middle School productions are signature developmental moments where students find their voices and surprise us with their talents. Some of you who know our 8th graders are in for some wonderful surprises Thursday, Friday, and Saturday! They have taken on important and impressive roles both onstage and off. I know you'll want to join me in seeing our Burgundy “seniors” next week at one of their four shows, including a special Thursday afternoon show and a new Saturday matinee. Tickets are available online. See you there!

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Thinking About Tinkering: Donations Requested for Makerspace(s)

Friday, May 4, 2018

Art teachers Mary Iannone and Annie Rocha recently attended a STEAM conference (focused on the integration of science, technology, engineering, art, and math) at the National Cathedral School to help gain knowledge for our Makerspace program for the coming school year. Gifts to Annual Giving help make professional development opportunities like this possible. At the conference, Mary and Annie networked with a variety of teachers from many different grade levels and subject areas, and even met a few teachers that pioneered the program for the Makerspaces in their own schools. They came away with some interesting ways to integrate math, science, and technology in the art room, including learning aspects of simulated interior design, watching kids working in a "tinkerlab" taking apart old electronics, creating miniature robots with computer programming tools, and observing a project made with a laser cutter for a collaborative history project focused on civil rights.

Although we will be integrating technology and tools into our makerspace, Mary and Annie learned that it is also important to have access to a variety of hand tools, recycled materials, and old unneeded electronics. We will begin collecting these materials now as well as over the summer to help supply the room for the new school year. Here is a list of what we need:

  • Tools: hammers, screwdrivers, drills, scrap wood, hand saws, sanders/sandpaper, pliers, tweezers
  • Recycled materials: baby food jars, toilet paper/paper towel rolls, cardboard boxes, styrofoam (pretty much anything that can be recycled and is usable — similar materials as needed for junk art)
  • Any and all electronics that can be taken apart to observe and learn from.

These donated materials can be brought to the Makerspace room downstairs in The Logan Loft. Thank you in advance!

We also are still eager for donors who can help us staff The Logan Loft Makerspace as well as the Wonderlab for JK-1st grade students. For more information, please contact Michele McCabe at

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2018 Earth Week Projects

Friday, April 27, 2018
Book swap
Kindergarteners compare their books from the Book Swap.
Jacob helping prepare dinner at the Ronald McDonald House.
8th graders on their way to clean up Burgundy Road and adjacent roads.
6th graders planting around the Middle School.

With Earth Day last Sunday, Burgundy has been participating in related activities last week and this week.

In the spirit of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” we asked our community to donate gently used children’s books that were ready to be passed on to others who might enjoy and learn from them. Middle School students sorted the collected books and last Friday, April 20, we held a book “swap” where all students were welcome to choose a new book to take home. The remaining books were donated to Alexandria organization Wright to Read for distribution in public schools.

On Sunday morning, April 22, a group of Middle School students, parents, and humanities teacher and chef Levita Mondie went to the Ronald McDonald House at Fairfax Inova Hospital and prepared a complete vegan dinner for guests staying there. The Ronald McDonald House provides housing, food, and other services for families whose children are receiving medical care at the hospital.

As part of our commitment to the VDOT Adopt a Highway program, this week Burgundy’s 8th grade class cleaned Burgundy Road from Norton Road to East Street, Norton Road to Telegraph, and Norton Road to the Burgundy Community Center. They also cleaned parts of Elmwood and Tremont Streets near Burgundy Road. The students separated trash and recyclables, collecting about 3 full bags in total.

Traditionally, each class at Burgundy chooses a different project in which to participate to celebrate Earth Week. At the Wednesday All School Meeting, students shared skits about what they had done — many of them silent, charade-style skits that allowed peers to guess the activity. There was lots of picking up trash and planting across campus this week! To close the meeting, everyone sang two Burgundy favorites, “The Garden Song (Inch by Inch)” and “This Pretty Planet.”

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Report from 2018 Spring Curriculum Night

Friday, April 20, 2018

Thank you to all the parents who joined us last Thursday night for Curriculum Night. The event gave attendees a chance to learn more about our drama program from grades 1-8, our science program from JK-8 and our Middle School math program. It is impressive to see how the curriculum builds from year to year and integrates with our subject areas. We learned about the 2nd and 3rd grade study, the Shakespeare play in 4th and 5th that connects with the Medieval unit in social studies, and the herbivory project in 6th grade math that combines science study at the Cove with statistical work in math class, to name just a few. We participated in a drama activity, tried to solve a tricky math problem, and reviewed student materials from each subject.

It’s hard to recreate the entire experience, but the faculty teams have shared their presentations, available via the links below, for those who were not able to attend. Please note that the links lead to PDFs and some elements of the presentations (e.g., videos) may not be available in this format.

We hope to see you at next year’s event!

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Off-Campus Learning Made Possible Through Annual Giving

Friday, April 20, 2018
Huntley Meadows
First graders exploring Huntley Meadows on a previous trip.

Annual Giving supports memorable learning opportunities for all our students, on campus and off! For virtually all field trips during the year, the cost of transportation and admission is already covered, not an add-on fee for families. Annual Giving helps make this possible.

First grade authors write and share books
about local wildlife, often inspired by what
they've seen at Huntley Meadows.

The Huntley Meadows field trips that the first grade classes go on each year are a great example of the importance of field trips in the curriculum. The spring visit is coming up on April 24. Huntley Meadows Park, located just four miles from Burgundy, is a nearby resource ideal for younger students. The series of field trips — one each in fall, winter, and spring — offer first graders the opportunity to study wetland plants and animals and to learn about the importance of wetlands in the ecosystem. They observe how the wetlands change with the seasons, noting the differences in the plants and types of wildlife encountered on each trip. The field trips gives students an excellent opportunity to hone their observational skills, a key component of science education.

The Huntley Meadows trips also correspond to a central tenet in Burgundy’s mission, which is to instill respect for the natural world. After each trip, first graders share their experiences with the class verbally and in written form. They also draw a picture that reflects what they saw. The spring field trip is paired with research about local wildlife. Many choose to focus on wildlife they saw on their trips. As a culmination of the project, students create a book that allows them to write about scientific concepts in an age-appropriate way.

There are many more great field trips coming up this spring! These are just a sampling of the opportunities offered to Burgundy students throughout the year:

  • Buckeyes and Viceroys will enhance their knowledge of astronomy today with a visit to the planetarium at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria.
  • As part of their study of Asia, which the classes are beginning now, the Buckeyes and Viceroys will also visit the Japan Information & Culture Center (part of the Japanese embassy) in the next few weeks.
  • Coopers and Redtails students will head to the Kennedy Center April 26.

If you've already made a gift to support Annual Giving, thank you! If you have not made a gift or would like to make an additional gift, please consider doing so today to support field trips and so much more!

Give Now!

Questions about giving? Please contact Michele McCabe, Advancement and Annual Giving Coordinator, at

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Musician Visit: François Clemmons on April 25

Friday, April 20, 2018

Burgundy will host singer and actor François Clemmons for a lunchtime concert, noon-12:45 p.m. Wednesday, April 25. The concert will be either on the outdoor stage on the Campus Commons, or inside in the theater/community room.

François may be best known as the policeman Officer Clemmons on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, but he enjoyed a career as a singer specializing in both opera and spirituals. He founded the Harlem Spiritual Ensemble, and before his retirement he was the Alexander Twilight Artist in Residence and director of the Martin Luther King Spiritual Choir at Middlebury College in Vermont. At Burgundy, François will present an interactive concert of spirituals and talk about his career and experiences. Families are welcome to attend.

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Thank You! Dedicating and Enjoying Our New Spaces

Friday, April 13, 2018
Cutting the Ribbon
Cutting the ribbon to officially open The Logan Loft! See more photos from the dedication.

On Wednesday our school community and many guests gathered to celebrate the dedication of The Logan Loft, named for alumni parent donors who inspired hundreds more donors in our community to fund construction, and the Campus Commons, which will honor longtime librarian Ann Van Deusen. The program opened with singing from the 7th grade “Burgundy Bellas” chorus; included remarks from Head of School Jeff Sindler, Board of Trustees President Joanne Petty, and Campaign Chair Charlie Rawls; and concluded with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting.

The true celebration started Tuesday night, however, during the first Arts Festival in the new space. The gallery is full of artwork from Burgundy students, completed throughout the year in classes and groups, focusing on various art media and techniques. Several students also offered musical performances during the event. If you missed it, the art remains on display.

Burgundy once again extends thanks to all the donors to this Campus Renewal project, who have made it possible to transform our Alexandria campus by building The Logan Loft and Campus Commons. Soon, look for an opportunity to suggest an official name for the Campus Commons, recognizing Ann Van Deusen’s legacy at Burgundy.

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A Springtime Celebration of Arts and Community!

Friday, March 30, 2018
Cake art
Our students have been cooking up
some delicious art pieces to share
at the Arts Festival!

Two upcoming events will help us celebrate the transformation our new spaces are having on Burgundy’s curriculum and community. Mark your calendar and plan to join us!

First, the inaugural Arts Festival in the new building will showcase work from every Burgundy student. This is a new location for a longtime Burgundy tradition. The annual Arts Festival is nearly 30 years old! Join us 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 10, to see the art and enjoy student musical performances and light refreshments.

The following morning, Wednesday, April 11, at 8:40 a.m., the entire school will gather for a dedication of the new building and Campus Commons. A brief program will include remarks and music. Afterwards, adult guests are invited to join us for coffee and pastries as students head back to class. Please note that this is an outdoor event, and in the case of inclement weather it will be postponed to Wednesday, May 2. Unable to attend? We plan to broadcast the program via Facebook Live video on Burgundy’s Facebook page.

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