Jacob '20's memories of his grandmother are filled with songs. When it came time to begin his Ma'avar project, he knew he wanted to preserve the memory of his grandmother through music. "Ma'avar not only gave me a platform to express myself musically in a way I've never done before," explained Jacob, "but also allowed me to connect with my grandmother."
Gann Celebrates Class of 2020 with Drive-in Commencement
By: Ellen Seaward
On Sunday, June 14, under a bright blue sky, 66 heifers and their families rolled into the Gann Academy parking lot for a drive-in commencement ceremony, the first in the school’s history. Faculty sat socially distant along the school’s lot and welcomed the cars, decorated with balloons, signs, streamers, and paint. Joyful waves and shouts of hello were exchanged between students and teachers who had not seen each other in-person in over two months.
Over the past several weeks, Gann Academy has offered students and families the opportunity to stay connected to one another and to stay engaged in education despite unprecedented global circumstances. As the school quickly shifted into virtual gear, it also became clear that there is still a need for digital learning.
We, alongside communities across the country, are angered and saddened by recent moments of racial violence and injustice, including the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Sean Reed, and Tony McDade. Our tradition teaches us that every person is created in the image of God, b'tzelem elohim, and our hearts are broken by the loss of life and divine spark embodied in each of these human beings and the injustices that our African American communities continue to suffer.
US Supreme Court Cases has long been a popular course among Gann Academy students. Affectionally referred to as "SCOTUS," the class, led by history teacher Yoni Kadden, has championed a style of learning that engages participants as both students and teachers. SCOTUS, which stands for Supreme Court of the United States, is also known for leaving an impact that lasts well beyond graduation from Gann—an impact that inspired Talya Lerner '19, who took SCOTUS last year, to organize a virtual reunion of her former SCOTUS peers.
Gann Student Creates App to Organize Zoom Activities
Between participating in Yoga with Julia, cooking during Bake and Chat with Miranda, or group-watching Shrek: The Musical with the Red Curtain Drama Club, the number of Zoom hangouts at Gann Academy is increasing exponentially. With the multitude of options, scheduling student free time has become a challenge. With this in mind, Jacob '20 decided it was time for some organization. So, he built an app.
In an upside-down world, during an upside-down time, Gann Academy students and faculty are coming together virtually for Open Mic Mondays—a midday respite where all are encouraged to share music, art, and other creative passions.
"I loved how it was just a time to be together making art," said Sydney '22, who shared a song and played the ukulele. "It was so nice to be connected to other people during this crazy time. I was not planning to perform, but everyone was so supportive that I really wanted to!"
Left over middle, under right. Right under middle, over left. It may not sound like conventional academics—but that’s only because it isn’t. Ninth grade Jewish Studies students at Gann Academy recently concluded an experience-based unit about Judaism and food by baking challah. There was one extra twist though: the challah was baked entirely from scratch.
By: Joseph Hirsh '22 (Originally published in the Shevuon Hatichon, January 31st, 2020) Q: When did you become interested in teaching? Why?
Well, I have been teaching for a very long time. I think my first year was at the University of California-Berkeley 37 years ago, so at a college level first. I taught at Berkeley, then Virginia Commonwealth [University], and then the University of Florida, and then at a high school in New York and other types of informal places: At a JCC in N.Y., at Camp Ramah... I love teaching. I have always loved teaching. There is something very satisfying about the process of watching and helping students expand their understanding of the world around them, expand their understanding of themselves, and that’s amazing work and holy work, and I’m happy to be a part of it.
Biotech Students Tackle Research Projects with Electrophoresis
"Our findings were very conclusive," began Jordan '20 and Elijah '20. "We found that [the genes of] patients with Multiple Sclerosis reacted very differently to the restriction enzymes than [the genes of] patients without MS."
Although football season has come to a close, Gann Academy’s two college counselors recently completed a kickoff of their own. College Kickoff, that is.
"Even as the college process is winding down for our seniors, we start introducing juniors and their families to the process," said Co-Director of College Counseling Sherri Geller. Geller has been with Gann for 10 years and co-chairs the department with Lauren Avalos, who just joined the Gann community after working in higher education for twenty years. The duo formally begins the process each year with “College Kickoff Night,” an opportunity for juniors and their parents to meet with both counselors.
Deborah Lee James, Former Secretary of the United States Air Force, Visits Gann Academy
By: Leah Koritz '22
On Wednesday, January 22, former United States Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James visited Gann Academy to discuss her experience as the second woman to ever serve in that role, as well as her journey to get there. James, who served as Secretary of the Air Force from 2013-2017, also shared with Gann faculty and students her advice on pursuing goals, personal stories, and information about the Air Force. The assembly concluded with time for students to ask questions and with a smaller group of interested students meeting with her afterward to learn more.
Gann Academy’s four robotics teams got ready to rumble for one final time this season at Needham’s annual Rocket Rumble tournament, which welcomed more than 40 Massachusetts teams. After spending months researching, designing, and constructing robots to take on serious engineering enigmas, Gann’s hard work paid off as their robotic designs became reality in the ring.
Two teams, the Hutzbots and the Aleph Bots, cracked into the tournament’s top ten, while Gann’s all female-identifying team, the Bot Mitzvahs, battled hard and achieve a spot well within the top twenty. For the second year in a row, the MaccaBots laid claim to the prestigious Design Award, recognizing creativity and ingenuity in robotic construction.
Gann Sends Delegation to NAIS People of Color Conference
Founded with a mission of Jewish pluralism, Gann Academy embraces the richness that comes from building a diverse community. Today, diversity at Gann goes well beyond the religious dimension and includes differences in socioeconomics, gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, and political affiliation. Students explore their commonalities and differences in an environment of trust, curiosity, and growth.
In a new music video that truly puts the "light" in lightsaber, Gann alumni Carl Haber '12, a member of the Jewish a cappella group "six13," remixes the familiar soundtrack of Star Wars with Chanukah lyrics. Haber, who joined the group in 2019, credits his lyrical success to exposure to a cappella at Gann.
Gann Robotics Gears Up for the Season in Annual Scrimmage
Gann's four robotic teams, the Maccabots, Hutz Bots, Aleph Bots, and the Bot Mitzvahs, kicked their robots into full gear as they faced off against nine teams from the Greater Boston area in the annual Gann Academy scrimmage. The scrimmage presented teams with a challenge similar to what they will see in the coming months, helping the groups prepare for the forthcoming Battle of Lexington in January.
Dr. Daniel Gordis Discusses Op-ed with Gann Students
Dr. Daniel Gordis, an American-born Israeli writer, speaker, and ordained rabbi in the Conservative movement, visited Gann last week to discuss his controversial op-ed "Israelis don’t care that you’re insulted: An open letter to American Jews" (The Times of Israel, 2007). Dr. Gordis, whose writings are frequently read by Gann Jewish Studies students, had previously visited Gann to speak with parents about his book We Stand Divided (Harper-Collins 2019). Dr. Gordis' op-ed, which argues that American Jews should not interfere with or offer advice on matters of Israeli security, incited thoughtful debate amongst students.
Fender CEO Andy Mooney Discuss Music and Life with Gann Students
"It was amazing to learn from the man who is undeniably one of the best in the music business," said David '21 of Fender CEO and former Chairman of Disney Consumer Products Andy Mooney.
Earlier this month, David and his Electronic Music classmates sat down for a video call with Mooney. The students spent nearly an hour learning from Mooney, who spoke about being at the top of one of the most influential music businesses of all time, his marketing philosophy, and his love of music.
Constitutional Scholar Visits Gann's Supreme Court Class
Constitutional scholar and law professor at Fordham Law School Jed Shugerman visited Gann Academy's Supreme Court class this week to discuss Marbury v Madison, the 1803 Supreme Court case that established the principle of judicial review in the United States.
"The Supreme Court course at Gann is unique in that students don't just read and analyze influential court cases, but debate and re-try them," said Yoni Kadden, teacher and History Department Chair. By re-trying the case, students think deeply about the law, government, and the American constitutional system. And, as Kadden puts it, "Having a constitutional scholar of Professor Shugerman's acumen helping students think through their ideas, on such a high level, is an incredibly rewarding experience."