The Block Island Times

Candy kisses and plans abound at island school

By Gloria S. Redlich | Feb 19, 2013

On the day before Valentine’s Day, and two days before February break, there is a sense of anticipation crackling along the corridors and classrooms at the Block Island School. Both students and staff members are buzzing about their plans and enjoying a sense of holiday.

In the main office, Administrative Assistant Lynne Cunningham points out that a secret-parent has left candy kisses in all the faculty and staff mailboxes. As people stop in to retrieve their mail, there are appreciative oohs and ahhs exuded as something sweet is popped in for a pre-taste of the special day of candy and flowers that is just around the corner.

In other corners of the school, plans are afoot for the annual student Close Up trip to Washington D.C., from March 23 to March 29. Under the guidance of social studies teacher Shannon Booth, seven students plan to attend, including two ninth graders, four sophomores and one junior.

With the cost of the trip running to $14,000 for the seven students and one chaperone, the students are actively engaged in mounting fundraisers. One just concluding was a raffle that raised $1,000. The students are also organizing an Italian dinner scheduled for March 2 at the Harbor Church. They are very excited and hopeful the community will help them attend a program designed to give high school students from across the country an introduction to the processes of the federal government — a “close-up” look at the structures and principles of democracy as it works within the nation’s capital.

Those interested in learning more about the program or contributing to it, should contact Shannon Booth at or by calling the school at 466-5600.

Another annual school excursion is being planned by faculty adviser Shannon Cotter Marsella. It is the seventh grade sailing trip aboard the offshore classroom schooner Brilliant out of Mystic, Conn., planned for the week of June 10-14.

Cotter says that this year’s junior chaperone is John Warfel Sr. and that a fundraising letter will be sent out just after February break. She adds, “We need a great deal of support this year.” She’s hoping the community will help as it has in the past.

While middle school and high school students plan adventures, the third grade has been engrossed in a unit on Africa. According to their teacher Judy Durden, they are studying the vast continent’s geography, its many cultures and history. They are also studying African-American history, with each student assigned a research project on a famous African-American.

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