The Baker News is a peek inside our classrooms. Each edition of the Baker News features articles about our Early Childhood, Primary, Intermediate and Middle School divisions, as well as news from the Baker community. We hope you enjoy our stories!
Early Childhood News
Preschoolers Enjoy Kamishibai Storytime
Preschoolers in Nichola Roberts-Jones and Kim Johns’ classes enjoyed a special storytime using the art of kamishibai, or “paper drama,” a traditional form of Japanese street theater that uses picture-cards to tell a story.
“Kamishibai is a form of storytelling that originated in Japanese Buddhist temples in the 12th century,” Mrs. Roberts-Jones said. “Monks used picture scrolls to convey stories with moral lessons to their audience, many of whom were illiterate.”
Mrs. Roberts-Jones said in kamishibai stories, text is written on the back of the illustrated cards. While she reads the story, students can easily see the illustrations that go with the text.
“The children in preschool ask for a kamishibai and sing a little tune as I open the doors of the story,” Mrs. Roberts-Jones said. “They sit entirely in awe of the story and love to retell what happened after the story is finished!”
Primary School News
Primary Students Write Notes for Blankets of Hope
Primary School students are giving back to the community with kind words and blankets for those in need. The first-, second- and third-grade classes partnered with Blankets of Hope, a nonprofit organization that partners with schools to donate blankets and handwritten notes in communities across the country.
As part of the partnership, students participated in a Kindness Workshop in the library. The workshop discussed the mission of Blankets of Hope and children took a deep dive into the concept of empathy. Students used what they learned to write meaningful, kind notes. The notes will be put with the blankets, which will be distributed to those in need around the community.
“The Primary Team chose to partner with Blankets of Hope because it integrates seamlessly with the ongoing diversity, equity and inclusion work we do in our classrooms,” said first-grade teacher Melissa Makagon. “It also provides our younger students with an authentic service experience that makes a direct impact on their community.”
Intermediate School News
Fifth- and Sixth-graders Represent Baker at Virtual Student Leadership Day
Congratulations to our fifth- and sixth-grade students who represented Baker at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center’s virtual Stand Up! Student Leadership Day.
The program, which students volunteer to participate in, features speakers, interactive programs and the opportunity to create a social justice project for their school communities.
“Student Leadership Day inspires the change-makers to build leadership skills, explore their role as citizens, and develop a deeper understanding of civil and human rights issues,” the museum’s website states. “Students return to their communities with the tools and drive to promote acceptance and understanding.”
The Baker community looks forward to seeing what our students plan for the school.
Middle School News
Middle School Welcomes Author, Former Baker Parent Marcie Roman
Sixth- and seventh-graders learned how to bring a book from a spark of imagination to publication from Marcie Roman, a former Baker parent and award-winning author of the upcoming middle-grade novel, “Journey to the Parallels.”
Roman, the parent of Baker alumni Ben ’20 and Abby ‘17, wrote “Journey to the Parallels” in 2016. She entered her novel in a contest for the publication of middle-grade books held by Regal House Publishing, and she won.
“It was a total surprise,” Roman said. “I had about six months to work on edits—including trying to address how a book written in 2016 might be interpreted by a 2022 reader. And I just sent back approval on the final publishing proof.”
Roman shared the first chapter of her book with students. The novel follows the adventure of two siblings who realize their mother has been replaced with someone, or something, from another world.
The catalyst for “Journey to the Parallels” plot came from Roman’s love of “portal stories,” where a location or thing can open doors to a new experience or place.
“What inspired me to begin the actual writing were two things happening simultaneously in the spring of 2016. One, I had a daughter the age of the protagonist, who was—I’m sure she won’t mind me saying this—vying for more independence; and there were things going on politically (this was during the presidential primaries) that had me concerned,” she said. “On my desk I have the Toni Morrison quote, ‘If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.’ So, I began writing a story that could help me navigate what was going on at both a personal and much more universal scale.
In addition to her inspiration, Roman discussed the writing process, how she writes and how books are revised. Students had the opportunity to ask questions.
The author wanted to speak to and share her work with Baker students because she knows how the school encourages students “to really engage with text in such a thoughtful way.”
“Baker is such a welcoming place and given that the book was written while my kids were still at Baker (and, in fact, was very much written for them), I thought the questions the book addresses could also be an interesting conversation starter for Baker students,” Roman said. “Plus, Baker is a great place to learn, and I’m very much on my own learning journey as I venture into the world as an author.”
Readers of “Journey to the Parallels” may find the setting familiar. The fictional school main characters Amber and Beetle attend has some elements of Baker in its design, although it is not based on Baker.
“My background is in film production, including scouting movie locations, so, in a way, the Baker building served as an imaginary filming location when I envisioned the scenes,” Roman said. “I could even picture the exact location of Amber’s locker.”
“Journey to the Parallels” will be released May 24 by Regal House Publishing. The book is available for pre-order from Bookends & Beginnings and other independent booksellers. More information about Roman and her book can be found at marcieroman.com.
All School News
Save the Date! April 22 is the Community Tailgate!
The Community Tailgate is Friday, May 20, from 6:30-9 p.m.! Save the date for this casual, outdoor event, which is an opportunity to gather with friends and meet new Baker parents. The tailgate will have a food truck and beer, wine, soft drinks and sparkling water for guests to enjoy. Childcare will be available. Ticket information is TBA, but mark your calendars! We hope to see you there!
Baker loves our alumni! We are connecting with alumni and sharing their stories in the Baker News.
Alumni Profile: Alison Cherry ’96
High School: Evanston Township High School
University: Harvard University
Alison is an accomplished children’s book author and podcast producer.
What have you been up to since graduating from Baker? Do you have any accomplishments you’d like to share with us?
I attended Evanston Township High School, then got a degree in photography from Harvard in 2004. I moved to Brooklyn straight out of college and worked as a lighting designer for theater and dance productions for four years, then spent another four as a photographer for the Metropolitan Opera while writing my first book.
From 2012 to 2018, I wrote full time and published nine young adult and middle-grade novels with Random House, Simon & Schuster and Scholastic, two of them with coauthors. Now I work as a freelance book editor and produce a podcast called “We’re Not Over Six Feet Under,” an episode-by-episode discussion of the HBO show, “Six Feet Under.”
In what ways has Baker prepared you for life? What do you appreciate most about your time at Baker?
Baker taught me to think independently and ask questions in a way most people I know didn’t learn until they were much older; I remember entering high school and wondering why most other kids in my class seemed hesitant to debate with our teachers. Baker also encouraged us to be self-starters and to learn independently, and since I’ve spent nearly my entire adulthood working as a freelancer in fields I’ve never officially trained in, these skills have been invaluable.
Do you have a favorite memory of Baker?
I still think about our week-long trip to Ancient Lifeways Institute to learn about the Illiniwek tribes when I was in eighth grade! It was a really immersive experience — we learned legends and traditional games, had language lessons, dug clay out of a riverbank and learned to sculpt it, made arrowheads, scraped deer hides, cut down saplings and learned to build a roundhouse, were introduced to traditional foods, and slept all together in a lodge. It’s amazing how clearly I remember it all.
What was your favorite subject at Baker?
Probably science. Our teacher, Vito Dipinto, was a huge personality and made the subject so engaging. He taught me how to write, ask the right questions, and search for answers, and he always emphasized that exercising our imaginations was as important as memorizing facts. His classroom was a chaotic explosion of cool stuff, and his pet turtles often roamed the space freely. We never knew what to expect when we walked through that door.
What is a memorable school project you participated in at Baker?
In eighth-grade social studies, we spent much of the year putting together a giant research project on the topic of our choice. I’ve always been interested in environmentalism and chose to learn about legislation to protect endangered species. I really honed my investigative skills, and every research project in high school was easy after that one.
Do you have any funny memories from your time at Baker?
The first thing that comes to mind is the time a few other students, a couple of teachers and I got stuck in the middle of a small lake on a field trip when I was about 10 because the motor on our boat died. I learned what an air horn was that day. I’m sure it wasn’t as funny at the time as it is now…
What advice do you have for current Baker students?
Read everything you can. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even when you feel like they’re dumb — chances are someone else in the room needs clarification too. When you read about history or current events, ask yourself who’s benefiting from the way the facts are being presented. And don’t whine about having to take Latin; it’s way more useful than you think it is.