It’s hard for me to talk about tradition without thinking of “Fiddler on the Roof” and Topol’s deep voice belting out the song, “Tradition!”  The song rings true in that when we have similar experiences to celebrate and pass down it creates a feeling of belonging and “roots.”  Those of you who have been part of the Park Maitland “family” for any length of time are familiar with the many honored traditions established here in each grade level and as an entire school. Some of these traditions give way to new
traditions so that they are still relevant and meaningful. Nonetheless, they are one of the things that make Park Maitland School such a special place to be!

As I write this week’s message we are at the tail end of our annual 5th grade Williamsburg, VA trip! I have had the pleasure of spending this past week with this tremendous group exploring and “living” the traditions of the Colonial days and their impact on the _DSC6022development of our country. This Park Maitland tradition allows our students and their parents time to share special memories while engaging in spellbinding reenactments and historical lessons.

Back at home, our 3rd graders are preparing for one of their special annual highlights…the Native American Festival.  After spending weeks learning about the traditions and culture of Native Americans, the children will spend a day celebrating and honoring these great people with reenactment of songs, dances, games, and most exciting, enjoying a visit from Jim Sawgrass, a Florida Native American. This entire process is as authentic and close to the “real” thing as it comes!

Ms. Cindy Dawson shared this about the “famous” tipi that she (with help from a few of our staff) erected last week: It is a traditional Sioux tipi from the plains tribes who followed the buffalo across the central plains of our nation several thousand years ago, right up until the early 1800’s. It is made to the exact specifications of that particular tribe, and it is 18 feet tall!  _MG_6333The poles themselves are from a Lodge Pole Pine, a rare tree found in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana. In the 1700’s, the cover would have been made from large buffalo hides stitched together with sinew and softened with the juice of the bison brain! One family would live in each tipi, and the actual dwelling was “owned” by the mother. It could be put up in 20 minutes by just two braves and taken down in half that time, which is why it was a perfect home for the plains tribes, who were mobile and followed the buffalo year-round, even in the snow.

This tipi was made by a very famous Montana man named Don Ellis, who owned White Buffalo Lodges in Livingston, Montana. His family can trace their people back to some of the first who settled in Montana. Anyone who is lucky enough to own one of Don’s tipis is very lucky, indeed. He is world-famous. Each tipi is made completely by hand, and the wait for one can be up to one year due to the planning and strategizing to obtain and strip the _DSC6178amazing and beautiful poles. Each pole is a single tree! This particular tipi has found it s home in the Bell Garden of Park Maitland School for the past 16 years and is beloved by all.  Our 3rd graders have just learned the history and “story” of this tipi, and, each year, students from each grade are invited to go inside!

In the midst of the Native American excitement, our 1st grade students are eagerly anticipating their “Harvest Festival” this year with a new twist. Students and parents will spend the day exploring about our early settlers and their first celebration of Thanksgiving. They will create jewelry, make butter, and explore and learn together with their families and friends.

It is the common values, morals, customs, and general culture that help bond members of a school family.   These highly anticipated traditions bring students, teachers and parents together _DSC6160to celebrate learning in a relevant, fun and engaging way!  How can they possibly be forgotten!

Each year, more and more Park Maitland alums send their own children to our school. One of the things that we are delighted to do is celebrate these much loved traditions with their children! They are always so happy to hear that we have held on to these celebrations. They are also relieved and pleased to see that the “old fashioned” values so important to our founder, Nell Cohen, such as good manners, morals, and character are as important as always!

I think that one of the problems plaguing our fast paced and ever-changing society today is the “rootlessness” of so many people and the lack of common values. It is very important for families, schools, and the workplace to establish traditions and values that allow for a coming _DSC5952together of all to reflect, learn, connect, and celebrate!

On that note, I hope that each Park Maitland family enjoys your family traditions next week as you gather together on Thanksgiving! We have much to be thankful for!

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Cindy Moon

Head of School   

Williamsburg Trip – Day 4

Today, our last day in Williamsburg, we went to Shirley Plantation and Yorktown. The Shirley Plantation was a working plantation in colonial times and has been owned by 11 generations of the Hill Carter family.  That’s a long time!  We toured the grounds and learned about brick making and storing ice.  All the 4 million bricks that make up the plantation buildings were created using clay and sand from the land at the Shirley Plantation.  We toured inside the almost 200 year old three
story house too. There was a really cool floating stair case in the house1 that really made it remarkable, a team of engineers had to come just to figure out how it was made. The first floor was a museum and the current generation of the Hill Carter family are living on the second and third floor. We were all waiting anxiously for the ghost story at the end of the tour. The ghost story was about Aunt Pratt, she was the aunt of the children who lived there although she never did. When she died she was buried in England and her portrait was put in the attic. The current man living there could not sleep with the ruckus of the unhappy ghost portrait. So he tried moving her portrait from floor to floor, but she would not rest until he reached the first floor. On the first floor Aunt Pratt’s portrait sat by the window looking into the family graveyard to make sure her family was okay. Now she never gets upset unless a cell phone rings.

At Yorktown we toured a colonial village. We learned about the battle, medicines, jobs, and muskets. We saw what it would really be like if you were a soldier in the battle against the British. You would have to sleep six men in a tent. That would be hard!  We got to see the medicines and tools
that would be used if you got sick or shot – so scary! 2It was really cool when we got to see the musket fire, but it really scared me when there were two misfires! We also saw the tobacco farming area and the kitchen where they smoked almost all of the food. It was fun to see a normal house that would be there during that time. It was so small compared to how we live today.

My favorite part of the day was being at the Shirley Plantation. It was so much fun to play colonial games with my best friends. We played tangrams (a puzzle with only seven pieces), dominos, pickup sticks, close the box, crazy eights, and some others. I had no idea that Uno is the modern form of crazy eights! I also liked touring the house. I’ll never forget my trip to Williamsburg, and I loved spending time with my friends and my mom. 3

-Sophia L.

Williamsburg Trip – Day 3

Williamsburg is a fun and informational trip that fifth graders get the opportunity to go on every year. The trip this year was from November the seventeenth to the twentieth. On the nineteenth we went all around 1Jamestown and shopped a bit too! We saw trades like the blacksmith,
silversmith, and tinsmith. Seeing how the blacksmith made nails was really cool.
When the iron got hot it made the coolest colors!

We went to the Governor’s Palace where we all went through its hedge maze. The parents had just as much fun as the children did. We all ran through the maze as fast as we could trying to see who made it out first. When we walked into the palace, we saw rows and rows of weapons! Swords, rifles, and pistols covered the walls like plaster. We all went to the court room were we had a trial that we participated in. The case was someone had stolen the candles. Who would do such a horrid thing? Anyway, I chose to be the clerk. The clerk does not sound like a very important person, but he studied the law and keeps paper work in order for the council which is very important. Also, his chair and desk look awesome! They had little buttons around the rim and a ink well and quills! Speaking of quills, at the different shops we went to, my souvenir was a thick sheet book with three packs of ink and a quill. I found out that each of my packets of ink can write the Constitution twice!  2

The costume ball was one of the biggest events of the whole trip.  At the costume ball teachers, administrators, parents, and students all dressed up as colonials or people from the time period. Here we had a group of people perform dances and teach us how to do them too. A parent said “I loved it because it got everyone involved.” Mr. Courson, the fifth grade social studies teacher became “General Courson” at the ball. 3For dinner we had macaroni and cheese, green beans, salad, chicken, and bread rolls. At the very end of the ball we all had the opportunity to choose another student partner to dance in the last dance they would teach us. The dances in a way were all educational. We learned about what traits the people in England brought into their dances and how the colonials brought those same influences with them when the came to the colonies. Everyone had so much fun dancing though sometimes we got mixed up. Williamsburg is a place I won’t forget, and that Thursday is a day I won’t forget.

-Reese T.

Williamsburg Trip – Day 2

3Hi!  My name is Conner V., and I am the reporter for the second day of our Williamsburg trip.

Today on our trip, we drove to Richmond to see a re-enactment of the 2nd Virginia Convention at St. John’s Episcopal Church.  This is the actual church where Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech was given. The actors in olden day clothing pretended to be some of our 2most famous Americans such as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. Watching this presentation made me feel strengthened that I am an American and proud that these men all worked for my freedom.   It also made me realize that sometimes war is the only answer to earn this freedom.

Next we drove on to Charlottesville where we had lunch at the historic Michie Tavern.  We enjoyed a real Southern meal of fried chicken and black eyed peas! I also enjoyed shopping here and seeing lots of handmade crafts and toys and even bought a very cool fountain pen as a souvenir.  After shopping, we drove up to Monticello and took a tour of the famous home of Thomas Jefferson. I was very amazed and impressed that Thomas Jefferson was interested in so many different things.  I really liked all of his gadgets that he invented like the polygraph which helped him duplicate what he was writing.  He also invented the bed in the wall which let him enter a different room on each side of the bed!   That night we ate dinner at the Seasons Restaurant in downtown Williamsburg.  After dinner, we went to an African American Music 1program where we formed a big circle around a bon fire and sang and danced and learned about the lives of slaves during the 1600’s.

From our tours today, I learned that music was extremely important in the lives of the slaves.  It helped them to keep a rhythm while they were doing their work such as farming.   It also helped them with their sorrows by bringing comfort during sad times.  I also learned that Thomas Jefferson built his house around classical Roman styling.  He was the first person to use domes in a house in America which is what makes it so different and beautiful.

This has been the most amazing trip so far and makes me really happy that I have returned to my country’s birthplace to see what life was really like back then.

-Conner V.


Williamsburg Trip – Day 1

My name is Hafsa C.  Today in Williamsburg we went to Jamestown and visited interesting places like the Powhatan Indian village, the Jamestown Fort, the Archerarium, and the Glasshouse. Since today was the first day I wasn’t used to the walking tours, and the tour guides walkedpicture 2 really fast
but taught us a lot about Jamestown. Even though we had just gotten off the airplane and my ears were still popping, I heard most of the tour. The most exciting part of the day for me was the re-enactment of the witch trial with Grace Sherwood where we had to find her guilty or not guilty. In the end, she was found guilty!

My favorite part of the day was this re-enactment of the witch trial. The actors were amazing and the scenes were perfect. And I thought the lawyer was very believable for back then. It was really interesting learning about the trials and how they helped decide if you were a witch by tying the “witches” up and seeing if they floated in a weird way, or if they couldn’t say the Lord’s Prayer without fainting.  Grace Sherwood failed both of the tests. picture 1

Something fun we did was watch how the Powhatan Indians lived. Their life was much different than the English colonists. An interesting part was watching them make their clothes and their Yahawkins. It was so much fun watching how they lived in the 1600’s.



Salute to our Veteran’s

IMG_8779-S[1]With all the negative hype about politicians, our country’s dismal economic stature, and the strong divide between parties, it’s refreshing to see that love and pride for our country are still strong! This week, we enjoyed honoring our heroes, the United States veterans during our annual Veteran’s Day ceremony! It was heartwarming to see the pride in the faces of our many honored veterans and the looks IMG_8694-X3[1]of respect and awe in the faces of our students as stories were told, songs were sung, poetry recited, lessons taught, flags folded, ROTC marching, scouts leading, veterans sharing, and so much more — all in honor of the special men and women who have or are still sacrificing so much for our freedom!

Colonel Redmond, our passionate keynote speaker, honored and decorated U.S. veteran, author, and proud father of Ms. Kathy Parkins, beloved K-5 teacher.  Read more about his book “A Dusty Boot Soldier Remembers” at


A Special Thanks to…

  • Drill Sergeant Foley for working with the scouts on flag protocol and the donation of new U.S. flags to our school.
  • The many honored veterans who attended the ceremony and allowed us to pay our deepest respect and gratitude! You are our heroes!

Patriotism and respect for our country and its history remain a valuable and integral part of our school curriculum and our daily celebrations as we
work to prepare our students to be productive and successful leaders of tomorrow. Yes, patriotism is alive and well at Park Maitland School!

God Bless America…
Cindy Moon
Head of School

Our heartfelt support and condolences go out to

victims of the Paris attack and their families.

“There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”

— Howard Zinn