Chemdiya Reed is who you’d call a ‘lifer.’
She’s a senior at Rockland Country Day School and has been there for 13 years. This Pre-K through 12 private school spreads out on 20 acres. RCDS kicked off the start of the school year on Sept. 5.
“I think the entire school system is great,” said Reed. “The school does focus on the individual. I feel like what the school means is being a part of a community. You can be whoever you are.”
As she enters her last year at RCDS, she is looking ahead and plans to go to college, possibly one in Boston. As she prepares, RCDS is there right with her.
“We prepare students for standardized testing and have multiple AP classes available,” said Kimberly Morcate, head of RCDS. AP courses are offered in English Literature, French Language, American and European History, Calculus BC, Statistics, Biology, Physics C: Mechanics, Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism and Music Theory. In 2011, 43 percent of eligible students earned AP Scholar designations in recognition of their outstanding achievement.
“The support’s been fantastic,” she said, adding that the other day, her class was working on applying to colleges, applications and writing essays.
This RCDS ‘Lifer’ plans to pursue media communications or film. Reed is one of 25 seniors at RCDS, which is a lot compared to last year’s 14-person graduating class.
On the other end of the spectrum, Candace Abrams is new to RCDS having transferred from a public school, Farley Middle School.
Abrams starts the ninth grade this year at RCDS.
“There’s a lot less people in my class,” she said. The class sizes stay very small with the student:teacher ratio at 7:1. Enrollment is 125-140.
“People are much nicer. It’s more individualized,” said Abrams.
Abrams’ mother Lori said that transferring her daughter was “the best thing I ever did.”
“She was an honor student in school but she didn’t fit in well,” said Lori Abrams. “Here, she fits in very well with everyone. Everyone helps everyone else. All the teachers make learning very interesting. It’s helped her find her voice and who she is.”
Abrams added that one aspect of RSDS she’s looking forward to is “getting to participate in the ice cream socials and plays.”
The high school students get to run the ice cream socials for all the younger students.
“There really are so many experiences, it’s hard to pick,” said Reed, when asked what her favorite RCDS memory is. “The ice cream social has really become a big community thing. It’s done by the high school but all grade levels participate.
“The older students will serve ice cream and entertain the younger students,” said Jim Fyfe, acting and history teacher. “We’re pre-K through 12 so we have 3½ to 18½ year olds in the same school.”
He added that having Pre-K through grade 12 all on the same school campus creates a very interesting environment. The older students naturally want to help the younger ones and that “it’s organic to our school.”
“Everyone knows everybody’s name,” said Ken Pierson, music teacher and independent studies coordinator. “We teach and learn from each other. It’s a very unique dynamic.”
The ice cream social also includes a show. Performing arts and public speaking are strongly reinforced at RCDS.
“Students get up (on stage) and show a side of themselves that you’ve never seen before,” said Pierson. “The show makes the students convey and conduct themselves in a composed manner.
“It’s tremendous the work they do with performances here, the singing, dancing and acting,” said Josette Maderna, whose child Isabella is in third grade.
Kimberly Morcate, head of RCDS added htat there are talent shows on Fridays and the school encourages “talking and learning and sharing.”