Wye River Upper School’s Board Chair Issues $50,000 Challenge Grant

Alexa Seip, Board Chair of Wye River Upper School, announced a challenge grant to increase financial aid in honor of John and Susan Devlin. She made the announcement at the school’s fall fundraiser celebrating the geographic diversity of its students, who come from eight Maryland counties east and west of the bay. The Devlin Family Financial Aid Fund challenge will match dollar-for-dollar gifts up to $50,000 before December 31, 2016.

Alexa Seip, left, Susan Devlin, middle, John Devlin, right)

Alexa Seip, left, Susan Devlin, middle, John Devlin, right)

This tuition assistance program will go to the heart of Wye River Upper School’s mission––to provide outstanding opportunities for bright students with learning differences, regardless of their ability to pay. When fully funded, the Devlin Fund will enable students, who would otherwise not be able to attend this extraordinary school, to receive the financial support they need to prepare for success in college, career and life.

The Devlins were honored for their long-time commitment to the school. Serving as Board
Chair since 2010, John led the school through two strategic planning processes. Under his leadership, the school conducted a Capital Campaign that relocated the school from Chesapeake College to its home in Centreville, the historic Maryland National Guard Armory.

With several years of fundraising experience, Susan became the first chairperson of the Wye River Upper School Resource Development Committee and played an important role on the committee for the school’s grand opening gala in 2014.

“John and Susan are always motivated by the kids––they work to change the course of a deserving student’s life. Sending a student to WRUS is the ultimate game-changer for a teenager, so the Devlin Family Fund is a perfect way to honor them”, said Chrissy Aull,
Executive Director of WRUS.

“The opportunity to fund the Devlin Family Financial Aid Fund with $100,000 is awe-inspiring and very motivating. So many more students will have the door opened to success and a lifelong love of learning. Wye River Upper School will meet this challenge and I hope beat it,” said Seip.

Contributions can be made here or by check to the Devlin Family Financial Aid Fund at
316 S. Commerce Street, Centreville, MD 21617. Pledge forms are also available at www.wyeriverupperschool.org/support/financial-aid/ For more information, contact Chrissy Aull at chrissyaull@wyeriverupperschool.org

STEM Partnerships Benefit Wye River Upper School Students

A small private school on Maryland’s Eastern Shore thinks that “late bloomers” and students with learning differences can make important contributions in STEM careers—and it’s preparing them to do that with the help of an impressive list of partners that includes nearby Washington College and several local environmental groups, as well as the use of NASA technology.

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Wye River freshman Macyn Poag (center) of Bowie, MD handles Estuary Monitoring solution while her peers Bradley Scott (left) of Baltimore, MD and Shaina Moore (right) of Stevensville, MD observe the findings.

“We are firm in our belief that, like scientists and entrepreneurs such as Einstein and Richard Branson, who were/are dyslexic, late bloomers or who learn differently, our students are natural scientists and original thinkers. They are a natural fit for the many new opportunities unfolding in STEM,” said Chrissy Aull, head of school at Wye River Upper School, an independent high school in Centreville, Maryland whose mission is to educate students who learn differently or need a more personalized approach to learning.  “STEM activities naturally lend themselves to the way we teach, which is very hands-on and experiential.”

The partnerships are largely the work of WRUS science teacher and STEM coordinator Dimitra Neonakis, who has turned the nearby Corsica River, the air above it and the land around it into a classroom for her students. In addition to working with Washington College’s Center for Environment and Society (CES), Ms. Neonakis has taken advantage of the school’s relative proximity to Washington, D.C.—only 60 miles away, across the Chesapeake Bay—to participate in professional development and citizen science with federal agencies like the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Smithsonian institution. Closer to home, she is working with the Chester River Association (CRA), the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center (CBEC), and the Corsica River Conservancy (CRC).

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STEM instructor, Dimitra Neonakis (right) instructs students on how to test water. Wye River students look on (from left to right) – Ethan Shipler of Annapolis, MD, Josh Hansen of Centreville, MD, Sam Braver of Chestertown, MD, and Adam Shipley of Lothian, MD.

The idea of taking advantage of local scientific and environmental groups began in 2014 with a grant from the William and Patricia Fessler Foundation, managed by Mary Ellen and Bruce Valliant of Raymond James, and a buoy named BOB, or Basic Observation Buoy.  WRUS sponsored a BOB, built by CES, to be placed in the Corsica River to collect and digitally return water quality data to a MARACOOS website (Mid-Atlantic Coastal Ocean Observing System), which the students monitor and study.  BOB has been up and running since April 2016, and students in Neonakis’ environmental science class routinely check on the live feed to gauge the ever-changing quality of the estuary’s water. WRUS Junior, Rachel Pearson shared, “The partnership with Washington College to launch the buoy was very exciting. We can monitor the water quality through an app called Smartbuoy. I am very grateful to be able to be a part of something that will be able to help the Chesapeake Bay in the future.”

CES Program Manager Jemima Clark recently visited the environmental science class and led students through the process of analyzing water for pollutants.  A finding of both turbidity (suspended sediment) and nitrates, otherwise known as fertilizer, led the class to a discussion of the sources of the undesirable elements, and a brainstorming session to come up with ideas about possible ways to remove them from the water.

WRUS students also complete water monitoring from nearby Millstream Park, by collecting water samples which they take back to school and chemically analyze. The water data they collect is submitted to the Corsica River Conservancy and the Chester River Association.  CRA’s Tim Trumbauer makes routine guest teaching appearances at WRUS to talk about meaning of their results.

This school year, atmospheric data is being added to the curriculum, thanks to CES and a project using NASA technology known as AeroKat—an instrument designed to launch into the atmosphere and collect data on carbon dioxide and moisture levels as well as infrared and visible light images. The instrument will send back aerial views of the river’s land boundaries, allowing students to observe sediment run-off and attributes that are critical in a healthy watershed. Ms. Neonakis designed curriculum to accompany the Aerokat technology for the Chester River Watershed Observatory. WRUS students will pilot this curriculum before it is shared with teachers in Kent and Queen Anne’s counties.

Neonakis and WRUS biology and math teacher, Samantha Reed also lead students on frequent visits to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., where students complete lab work with Smithsonian educators. Some students assisted with some micropaleontology research and were treated to a behind the scenes tour of the collections not on public display. At the Smithsonian, students get chance to study the structure and function of the vertebrate skeleton, mineralogy and geochemistry.

Aull credits Neonakis’ passion for science and her eagerness to share STEM with her students—as well as the school’s fortunate location—for the innovative science curriculum. 

Wye River Upper School is a college preparatory high school for students with ADHD, dyslexia and other learning differences.

For more information, please contact: Katie Theeke, Director of Admissions and Communications
Tel: 410-758-2922, katietheeke@wyeriverupperschool.org, www.wyeriverupperschool.org
…because not all great minds think alike

Judith Bass to Speak at Wye River Upper School

judy_photo-original-2-1On November 17, 7pm at Wye River Upper School, Judith Bass, C.E.P. will offer a presentation on Finding the Right College Fit. This event is free and open to the public.

The process of choosing a college is daunting, especially if a student has a specific learning difference or simply may need some extra academic or social/emotional support. Nationally recognized college planning expert, Judith Bass, will present on the process of preparing students for colleges as well as tips on selecting the right one. Bass will highlight what college readiness means, the timing and importance of Psych-Ed testing, the different levels of support colleges can offer, and some pitfalls to beware of in college planning.

This presentation is appropriate for parents, students, educators, and other professionals who support students that need extra guidance in their transition to college.

Wye River Upper School is located at 316 S. Commerce Street, Centreville, MD 21617. To register, please visit wyeriverupperschool.org/tools/speakerseries.

Wye River Upper School is an independent, college preparatory school serving bright students with learning differences such as ADD/ADHD and dyslexia. We discover through innovation, develop with rigor and celebrate the strengths of our students, while preparing him or her for success in college, career and life.

Wye River Upper School Hosts Open House

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Location of the Open House, 316 South Commerce Street, Centreville, MD

Wye River Upper School is hosting an Admissions Open House on Thursday, October 13 from 6pm-8pm. The event is being held on campus at 316 S. Commerce Street, Centreville, MD. Wye River serves students from 7 Maryland counties including Talbot, Queen Anne’s, Dorchester, Kent and Caroline with bus service to and from Cambridge, Easton, and Kent Island.

Wye River Upper School is a college preparatory high school offering an engaging and challenging curriculum for students with ADHD, dyslexia and other learning differences.

For more information, please contact: Katie Theeke, Director of Admissions and Communications
Tel: 410-758-2922, katietheeke@wyeriverupperschool.org

www.wyeriverupperschool.org

Wye River Upper School Hosts Lecture on Social Media, Video Games

Wye River Upper School is pleased to announce that Dr. Vincent Culotta, author and president of NeuroBehavioral Associates will make a presentation on Social Media and Video Games: A Brain Perspective on Aug 25 at Wye River Upper School.

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Dr. Vince Culotta of Neurobehavioral Associates presents to parents and educators on the neuroscience of social media and video games.

Culotta will explore the impact of social media and video games among children and teens from a neuroscience perspective. Studies will examine data regarding the use of networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, Tumblr, texting/sexting and safety. Culotta will also evaluate a number of peer reviewed studies addressing video game use, functional changes in the brain during video game use, the relationship of video game use to real-life violence, issues of desensitization to violence and the specific impact of gaming upon children and adolescents with ADHD.

Dr. Culotta will provide parents and health professionals with recommendations and resources on how to create healthy strategies for social media and video game use.

This presentation is free and open to the public. It is being offered on two dates in two locations. Wye River Upper School is located at 316 S. Commerce Street, Centreville, MD 21617. Registration is required. Visit wyeriverupperschool.org/tools/ speakerseries to register and learn more.

Wye River Upper School is an independent, college preparatory school serving bright students with learning differences such as ADD/ADHD and dyslexia.  We discover through innovation, develop with rigor and celebrate the strengths of our students, while preparing him or her for success in college, career and life.

Wye River Upper School Honors Outgoing Board Chair

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John Devlin reflects on his tenure as Board Chair at Wye River Upper School.

After seven years of board leadership, John Devlin was celebrated for his steadfast support and service to Wye River Upper School. Alexa and Tom Seip hosted an evening at the Talbot  Country Club in celebration of Devlin’s lasting contributions.

In 2009, Devlin began his service to Wye River. What was intended at first to be a short stint of leadership became a generous two term Board Chair experience. During his tenure, the school relocated from the campus of Chesapeake College to its permanent home in Centreville. Devlin helped develop and lead a successful Capital Campaign culminating in the complete renovation of Wye River’s new home, the Centreville Armory. Under his direction, the school completed its third and current strategic plan.

Alexa Seip, who first introduced Devlin to the school, now steps up to become Wye River’s new Board Chair. Seip comes with 22 years experience serving on the Board of the Darrow School in New Lebanon, NY. For 12 of those years she served as Darrow’s Board Chair. Seip’s tenure at Wye River begins July 1, 2016. She looks forward to guiding the school through this exciting time of dynamic student-centered programming and enrollment growth.

The celebration at TCC included Devlin’s wife, Susan, and his family as well as current Trustees, school administration, and friends of the school.  Susan Devlin has been actively involved with the school’s growth as the Chair of the Resource Development Committee.  During the evening, members of the Wye River Founder’s Circle (5,000 and above annual donors) were also recognized for their support, and Virginia “Ginny” Capute was honored as she ended her third consecutive term on the Board.  

“I am very grateful to John for leading this school at a critical time in its young life,” announced Seip. “He brought strength, stability and process while supporting a crucial capital fundraising campaign.”  Wye River Executive Director, Chrissy Aull noted in her remarks that the school would not have been successful in moving into their new and permanent home without Devlin’s leadership, financial acumen, and vision.

During dinner, Devlin reflected on his time with Wye River and how it seemed to culminate with this year’s graduation ceremony. “Where does joy come from? I saw the answer to that question on the faces of our graduates’ parents as they watched their children on stage. Joy comes from seeing something wonderful happen that at one time you could not imagine.”

Wye River Upper School is an independent, college preparatory school serving bright students with learning differences such as ADD/ADHD and dyslexia.  We discover through innovation, develop with rigor and celebrate the strengths of our students, while preparing him or her for success in college, career and life.

For more information regarding Wye River Upper School, contact 410-758-2922 or visit www.wyeriverupperschool.org.

150 Attend Presentation by Race Relations Expert at Wye River Upper School

On April 6, Wye River Upper School hosted a presentation by Daryl Davis – author, musician, speaker and race relations expert.  The presentation was made possible through a generous grant from Tom and Cathy Hill.

Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 7.07.47 AMWith more than 150 people in attendance, Mr. Davis shared his life’s journey and how he came to write a book about the Ku Klux Klan, Klan-Destine Relationships. Audience members included Wye River Upper School students and faculty, community leaders, members of various religious organizations, and other friends of the school.

As a 10 year-old Boy Scout, Mr. Davis remembers bottles being thrown at him during a parade in the 60s.  He recalled thinking to himself, “Wow. Some people really hate the Boy Scouts.” It wasn’t until later that he understood the bottles were only being thrown at him, the only black child in the troop.  This event sparked a question in Davis’ mind that became the driving force to his life’s work –  “How can you hate me if you don’t even know me?”

Davis has been on a quest to understand racism.  Though it was not his intent, he has since become a leader and an agent of change in the United States. He has taken an unconventional approach to understanding racist behavior through the evolution of his relationship with several prominent KKK members. Unarmed and alone, Davis repeatedly risked his life as he interacted with the Klan. Through years of work and patience, he changed the hearts and attitudes of several long-time KKK leaders and members, prompting several of them to eventually give Davis their robes and hoods in a sign of peace.

Mr. Davis is the recipient of the Washington Ethical Society Bridge Builder Award and the highly prestigious American Ethical Union’s Elliot-Black Award, among others.  He is the Executive Director/ Curator and founder of The National Ku Klux Klan Museum and the Klan We Talk forum.

The Davis presentation came a few weeks before Wye River Upper School students and staff took a “2016 Peace and Resolution Tour” through the deep south. The students and staff visited Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma, Alabama as part of their academic studies.  The group traveled to major historical sites connected to the American Civil Rights movement of the 20th Century.  This is the culminating, cross-curricular trip was even more meaningful because the students had heard Daryl Davis’s story.

Wye River Upper School is an independent, college preparatory school serving students with learning differences.  We discover through innovation, develop with rigor and celebrate the strengths of our students, while preparing him or her for success in college career and life. To learn more about the school go towww.wyeriverupperschool.org or call 410-758-2292.

 

Wye River Upper School Presents Race Relations Expert Daryl Davis on April 6

Wye River Upper School announced that through a generous grant from Tom and Cathy Hill of Talbot County, they will be hosting a free presentation by Daryl Davis.

Mr. Davis is a dynamic speaker, nationally acclaimed race-relations expert and internationally known musician and actor. He has taken his experience in transcending racial and cultural barriers around the world and successfully applied them where it is needed now more than ever, right here in the United States.

Envision these highly improbable and unlikely scenarios:

· An unarmed, lone black man at a Ku Klux Klan rally, not agreeing with their ideology, but leaving with the group’s respect.
· A black man sitting down to dinner with members of the Klan in his home and in theirs.
· Klan members, after coming to know this man, voluntarily leaving the KKK and giving him their robes & hoods.

Davis has personally lived all of the above scenarios and accomplished much more in his efforts to implement diversity appreciation and racial harmony.

Davis is the recipient of the Washington Ethical Society Bridge Builder Award and the highly prestigious American Ethical Union’s Elliot-Black Award, among others. He is the Executive Director/ Curator and founder of The National Ku Klux Klan Museum and the Klan We Talk forum.

Wye River Upper School values diversity and educating students on our civil rights history. Prior to the Davis event, students from Wye River will be on a “2016 Peace and Resolution Tour” where they will be visiting Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma, Alabama. They will visit major historical sites related to the American Civil Rights movement of the 20th Century. This is the culmination of cross-curricular study in the area.

The April 6th event will be held at 6:30pm at Wye River Upper School, 316 S. Commerce Street, Centreville, MD. While there is no charge for the event, those interested in attending are encouraged to pre-register either online at wyeriverupperschool.org or by calling the school, 410-758-2922.

Wye River Upper School is a college preparatory high school offering a supportive yet challenging curriculum for students with a wide range of learning styles and needs such as ADD / ADHD and dyslexia.

Wye River Upper School Hosting Admissions Open House

Wye River Upper School is hosting an Admissions Open House on Sunday, January 31 from 2pm-4pm. The event is being held on campus at 316 S. Commerce Street, Centreville, MD.

Wye River serves students from 7 Maryland counties including Talbot, Queen Anne’s, Dorchester, Kent and Caroline with bus service to and from Cambridge, Easton and Kent Island.

Wye River Upper School is a college preparatory high school offering a supportive, yet challenging curriculum for students with a wide range of learning styles and needs such as ADD / ADHD and dyslexia.

For more information, please contact: Katie Theeke, Director of Admissions at 410-758-2922.

Wye River Upper School Partners with Center for Environment & Society to Monitor the Corsica River

A common interest to gain knowledge of, and share passion for, the Chester River watershed brought together two markedly different learning institutions to advance a project that will enable students to track their home river’s health.

On a beautiful early December day, staff from the Center for Environment & Society (CES) at Washington College in Chestertown teamed with faculty from the Wye River Upper School (WRUS) in Centreville, and eleven of their high school’s students, to deploy a data collecting observation buoy on the Corsica River, one of the Chester’s largest tributaries.

 Doug Levin, deputy director of Washington College's Center for Environment & Society, Chrissy Aull, executive director of Wye River Upper School, Bruce Valliant of Valliant & Associates in Chestertown, MD, and Virginia "Jij" Duffey examine a nautical chart to find the position of the new data collecting observation buoy.

Doug Levin, deputy director of Washington College’s Center for Environment & Society, Chrissy Aull, executive director of Wye River Upper School, Bruce Valliant of Valliant & Associates in Chestertown, MD, and Virginia “Jij” Duffey examine a nautical chart to find the position of the new data collecting observation buoy.

This basic observation buoy—also known as a BOB—is the latest addition to the College’s Chester River Watershed Observatory (CRWO), whose goal is to connect surrounding communities to the river’s future and provide more thorough information on which to base decisions that will positively affect the river and, ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay.

The buoy launch was a natural progression of CES’s partnership with Wye River Upper School, whose two science educators, Dimitra Neonakis and Stacey DeWitt, completed the Rivers to the Bay program with Doug Levin, deputy director of the CES and leader of the observatory. Through Rivers to the Bay, which has been funded for the last three years by the Maryland State Department of Education and NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Office, the CES has worked with nearly 60 educators in Kent and Queen Anne’s counties to teach data-gathering techniques and to develop K-12 lesson plans that incorporate the observatory. By graduation, students will have a 12-year dataset, experience in building robotics and conducting field research, and a deep personal connection to, and understanding of, the Chester River and the Chesapeake Bay.

Students from Wye River Upper School, along with faculty and supporters, gather around the basic observation buoy before it's deployed into the Corsica River.

Students from Wye River Upper School, along with faculty and supporters, gather around the basic observation buoy before it’s deployed into the Corsica River.

With the new buoy in place, Neonakis and DeWitt will show their students how to use the data to analyze the conditions in their “backyard” Corsica River and compare those results to the buoys located up and down the Chester River and in the Chesapeake Bay. They will measure water temperature, salinity, turbidity, pH, and dissolved oxygen, and post their data to a central, publicly accessible website. The water quality data will be augmented by the installation of five weather stations around the watershed. Ultimately, these sensors and many others will provide a dense network of monitors, collecting real-time information on a host of variables critical to the health of the river.

“WRUS is diligent in using community-based opportunities, and the learning goes deeper if students can see their work in the context of a real situation,” says Neonakis, who also notes that WRUS students were a part of Levin’s presentation to the Corsica Implementers group. “This project included our students interacting with the multiple government and non-profit agencies that are working to protect the Corsica River.”

The vision to see the Wye River Upper School align with opportunities offered by the College was that of a friend of both, Virginia “Jij” Duffey. A staunch steward of the watershed and, at the time, a WRUS trustee, she began talking to personnel at the school and College.

“There are innumerable possibilities for partnerships between non-profits. We all have visions and good suggestions, yet not as many actually form. Jij pursued this one and helped to make it happen,” says Chrissy Aull, executive director of WRUS.

With support from WRUS grant funders, Bruce and Mary Ellen Valliant of Raymond James Financial Services in Chestertown, Aull dedicated a small portion of a Raymond James grant to CES to underwrite half of the cost of the Corsica buoy. The remainder was funded through the Maryland State Department of Education and the CES.

Through Maryland Department Environment permitting processes and fabrication delays, the school and College eagerly awaited delivery of the buoy. Within days of its completion, Levin welcomed WRUS students and teachers, Jij Duffey and her husband Stoney, Bruce Valliant, and Myron Richardson, representing the Corsica River Conservancy, on board the Callinectes, one of Washington College’s two research vessels. The 15-foot BOB lay centered on the aft deck, clearly the focal point of the gathering.

A short ride down the Chester, a left turn into the Corsica, and the Callinectes arrived at the buoy’s position, about a mile-and-a-half downstream of Centreville wharf. Three men and an anchored tether carefully guided the BOB, now bearing the WRUS logo, into its new location, prompting applause from all on board. Within minutes, Levin, who was eagerly watching his mobile device, announced, “We have data,” and another round of cheers erupted.

“We are so happy to be a part of the plan to take collaborative learning between higher learning institutions and colleges and the Wye River sciences program,” says Mary Ellen Valliant.

“This buoy is a critical part of a growing network of buoys, improving our understanding of the glorious Chester River,” says John Seidel, director of the CES. “CES and Washington College are delighted to partner with Wye River Upper School and the Valliants. This is a win for the kids, a win for the environment, and a win for all of the rest of us.”

When the CRWO is complete, it will support a series of buoys, monitoring stations, research vessels, and autonomous craft that will record a wealth of data about the river, from its headwaters to its mouth at the Chesapeake Bay, several times a day, every day. Coupled with monitoring of variables such as weather events, fish migrations, and land-based factors including agricultural and urban water management practices, the data will be accessible to schools, citizens, agencies, organizations, and scientists through a publicly accessible website developed in partnership with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Association Coastal Ocean Observation System (MARACOOS). In the coming year, monitors will be installed in public areas of at least 10 local schools that will show the changing conditions of the water throughout the day on “buoy TV.”

Founded in 2002, WRUS is an independent high school serving bright, college-bound students with learning differences. With enrolled students and staff from east and west of the Chesapeake, the Bay and its estuaries strike a common chord with the entire WRUS community.

Created in 1999, Washington College’s Center for Environment & Society promotes interdisciplinary learning, research, and exemplary stewardship of natural and cultural resources. Its primary objective is to support the integration of ecological and social values.

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