November 2018

Meera Ratnesar
Whether envisioning Curtis School in 2030, or sharing the fun of watching our students in costume during our annual Halloween Parade, there was much joyful and inspiring evidence of the strength of our community.
 
In October, for the first time in Curtis’s history, our school hosted a First LEGO League (FLL) robotics tournament, thanks to the tremendous hard work and organizational wizardry of our robotics team coaches, Linda Schaffer and Mark Gutierrez. A whopping 21 teams showed up to compete in Cougar Cyberstorm 2018, one of several practice tournaments leading up to the championship tourney. Our own two Curtis Cougars teams, comprised of 13 students in 5th and 6th grades who tried out in the spring, worked hard since the beginning of the school year, practicing at break times, lunch recesses and after school, and they represented Curtis well.
 
During competition, teams are expected to execute a number of missions with robots they have pre-programmed and practiced with. The tournament also includes a research project related to the competition theme (which, this year, is “Into Orbit") and oral presentation before a panel of judges. Curtis welcomed schools from all over Los Angeles―private, public, charter and parochial―and these kids from all over Los Angeles had a day to interact with each other in friendly competition.
 
As I watched the tournament, I was awed by the precision that is necessary for the robots to maneuver through the maze of challenges. There is no room for error! When a robot did not quite make a challenge, teams had to calmly think on their feet about what might have gone wrong and decide whether to reprogram or reposition their robot. Sometimes, teams had to make the hard decision to move on from a mission, take a deduction, and try to complete a different mission.
 
Our Curtis Cougar Robotics team exemplified so many qualities that we aspire for in our students: resilient problem-solving, critical thinking, respectful collaboration, and effective communication. Our students make me excited for the future of robotics engineering, as I believe those who continue in this field will bring compassion and a spirit of humanity that they develop here at Curtis to whatever they do. Please enjoy a glimpse into a day in the life of a robotics tournament: Curtis Cyberstorm 2018.
 
Also in October, we hosted four strategic planning sessions for parents, faculty/staff and alumni and asked these groups to envision the future of Curtis in 2030. Thank you to all of you who participated in these important sessions. Since we held these meetings, I have been imagining what the world for our students will be like in 2030. In 12 years, all of our current students will be of voting age or within a year of it. What a powerful and poignant image! There is nothing more certain than the fact that the future is in the hands of our children. Part of developing sound minds and compassionate hearts is also developing an understanding of civic responsibility. Students are never too young to understand the power of voting and that issues appearing on a ballot should be critically examined and openly debated. Tomorrow, students in Lower Elementary will be discussing Proposition 7, which, if passed, would give the state Legislature the power to change daylight savings time with a ⅔ vote. And, later this week, students will vote on a name for the new tortoise that has joined the LE science classroom. I do hope that you will share with your child your own experiences of voting.
 
In the coming weeks, you will be receiving the second of three surveys that are an integral element in the school’s ongoing strategic planning process. This survey will ask for your feedback on the ideas, values, and principles that were articulated by our parents, alumni, faculty and staff during the recent Envision Our Future planning sessions. I ask that you please take the time to complete this survey so that we can continue to hone in on what our institutional priorities should be for Curtis in the years ahead.
 
With gratitude,
 
Dr. Meera Ratnesar
Head of School
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