Summer Silent Retreat at Camp Pecometh

Join Pecometh Camp & Retreat Ministries in Centreville MD July 9-14 for their Summer Silent Retreat at the Riverview Retreat Center. Facilitated by Rev. Karen Covey Moore and Anita Woods, this retreat offers an opportunity for you to experience a daily rhythm of prayer, simple meals, communing with God in nature, and spiritual direction.
You have the option of staying with them for the whole time or just a few days.
If you register for the silent retreat you can attend for their Yoga Retreat on July 9 for free!
For details and to register, call Retreat Program Coordinator Megan Shitama Weston at 410-556-6900 ext 104, email, or visit them online at the Pecometh website.

Support Our Schools (SOS) “Random Acts of Kindness” Campaign a Big Success


Support Our Schools, a grassroots organization started by a group of local parents, recently completed its first “Random Acts of Kindness” campaign for Kent County Public Schools. The group set an ambitious goal of $5,000 and thanks to the generosity of the community, surpassed that goal by almost $1,000 for a total of $5,921.58. This amount was divided among the seven local public schools to offset unexpected year-end expenses. Each school received a check for $845.94 at the June 12 Board of Education meeting.

Donations ranged from $2 to $1,000 and were received from individuals as well as local businesses. Business sponsors are being promoted through the SOS website and Facebook page, which currently has a membership of more than 700 people. Those businesses can be identified by the SOS decal in their window. Friendship Montessori School, Johnson’s Concrete, both in Worton, and Welcome Home in Chestertown all became top-level “Golden Apple” sponsors.

The first Random Acts of Kindness campaign kicked-off on May 1, 2017, and ran for 31 days. It was a direct response to help funding needs expressed by KCPS principals to meet the needs of their students. This annual campaign will return on February 17, 2018, also known as “Random Acts of Kindness Day.”

The Support Our Schools (SOS) Initiative is a grassroots advocacy effort devoted to increasing awareness of and support for the needs, challenges, and untapped potential of our public school system—both for the sake of the current student population and for its opportunity to serve as a catalyst for economic development. For more information on the Support Our Schools initiative please visit our website.

Maryland 3.0: WC “Dream Team” Creates Apps in NASA Competition


A group of Washington College students and faculty sat down at the beginning of May to work on “You Are My Sunshine.”

No, they weren’t rehearsing old folk songs. Instead, they were working on a NASA space challenge – an international effort to find ways to educate the public about solar power and its possible benefits both for ordinary people and for a possible exploring party on Mars.

Washington College Associate Professor Shaun Ramsey of the “Dream Team” writes data on the wall of the Hot Desks center as other team mebers watch. From left, Joseph Erlandson,, Luis Machado, Katie Walker and Ian Egland.

Taking part in the project were Ian Egland, a 2016 WC graduate in Computer Science; Joseph Erlandson, a senior Computer Science major; Katie Walker, a Senior majoring in Environmental Studies; Luis Machado, a 2013 graduate now working as a project manager at the college’s Geographic Information Systems laboratory; and Associate Professor Shaun Ramsey, of the Computer Science and Mathematics departments at Washington College.

The group began work at the “Hot Desks” co-working center  at 903 Washington Ave. Michael Thielke of the Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center and Jamie Williams, Kent County Economic Development Coordinator, arranged for them to use the facility before the official opening

The “Dream Team,” as they named themselves, went to work  at 8 a.m. Saturday, April 29, for a 48-hour “hackathon.” Williams and Thielke were on hand to assemble furniture for the hot desk center and to provide breakfast and other meals during the project. The team set up computers in the large main room, using the facility’s high-speed wifi connection. They even took advantage of the dry-erase walls to jot down computations, web links,  and other information for handy reference.

Ramsey said the project was related to one that NASA is conducting in Hawaii right now, simulating conditions on Mars. “In space, power usage is variable, and mission critical, and essential to life,” so understanding power consumption is essential, he said. “The app that we’re developing is for everyday people to better understand their power consumption,” he said. Since solar power is freely available in space, the project focuses on that form of energy.

The Dream Team compiled a list of several typical home appliances – refrigerator, microwave, TV, air conditioner, etc. – and listed their typical power usage. In each case, the power draw listed is an average. Older, less efficient appliances will use more than new ones designed to minimize power consumption.

They also looked at the amount of sunlight available in Kent County over different seasons, so as to get a practical estimate of what kinds of equipment could be run on solar alone.

Ramsey said the group was one of 74 different teams from all over the world that worked on their particular problem. Presumably they’d all come up with different solutions, though the teams were allowed to share ideas, and NASA might well choose to combine results from several different teams once the project was completed.

Overall, the competition had five different categories, each of which included several different projects. Ramsey said it would be several weeks before NASA announces the results.

Ramsey updated the status of the project in an email, June 1. He wrote, “In the end, we created two applications that are useful, intuitive and that showcase solar power.” He said he had three goals for the competition: “To contribute to the overall community. To make an application of which I’d be happy to claim ownership. And the last was to have something that could inspire and grow. Something that could spawn other ideas and be developed into something larger if someone were inspired or interested. I definitely feel we accomplished all three of those.”

As of the date of writing, he said, “The awards have not yet been announced. We’re not in the finalists for people’s choice, but that’s to expected with such a smaller network compared to, say, a big school in a big city. It is possible we “win” one of the other awards, but there have been no posted results yet. (…) I do feel like we will be in the running,” he said. He said he would let the Spy know when results were announced.

Ramsey said the Dream Team had posted a brief video telling about their work. They also posted an update with more details. He also provided a like to an overview of the NASA challenge.

Click here for information on the “Hot Desks” facility.

Research-Based Singapore Math at St. Anne’s Episcopal School


In an age when many questions can be answered with the aid of an electronic device, what do our children need to learn in school?

Singapore Math Consultant Sarah Schaefer engages first graders in talking about different ways they can solve the same problem.


In 2016 St. Anne’s Episcopal School adopted the research-based Singapore Math approach to prepare its students for a rapidly changing world.  Solving math problems is just one of the benefits; students, parents, and teachers are energized by this innovative approach, which asks students to understand the “why” before the “how.”

“Finding the answer is just one small piece of the puzzle,” Lower School Head Valerie White said. “What is more important is the ability to think critically and understand the “why” behind the solution. When we press kids to think more deeply and demonstrate understanding of the concept or skill we are extending their learning to create true mastery.”

St. Anne’s Episcopal School introduced Singapore Math in Kindergarten through 2nd Grade in the fall of 2016 and will expand the program through 4th Grade next year.

Singapore math is a teaching method and curriculum developed and used in Singapore, a nation that consistently ranks at the top of international assessments of student achievement in math.  One of the defining features of Singapore math is visualization. The concrete, pictorial, and abstract method underscores real-world application of math.

The Singapore Math approach emphasizes depth and process over memorization and drill work. It reinforces the life lesson that there is more than one way to solve a problem.  Because children work collaboratively with others to problem solve, Singapore Math also teaches children to communicate, to listen, and to respect their peers.  These are all skills that will help children navigate and build positive relationships in life.

St. Anne’s invested in Singapore Math resources and teacher training for faculty in Preschool through Fourth Grade and formally initiated the program in Kindergarten through Second Grade last year with the help of a grant from the Longwood Foundation.  Teachers, parents, and students tell us what a difference they see this year as a result of adopting Singapore Math:

“What has been happening in the classroom this year is really exciting!  Because we used the Singapore Math approach to teach place value, our students have a deeper understanding of numbers and how they relate to each other,” said first grade teacher Melissa Meier.  “My first graders this year have a stronger number sense, which is the foundation of all mathematics.”

John Burk, Director of Academic Innovation, Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science at St. Andrew’s School observed how the Singapore Math approach lays the foundation for success in high school.  “As a high school math and science teacher, I see daily that the most successful students are the ones who develop a flexible approach to problem-solving, are willing to seek out more than one way to solve a problem, and embrace the creative exploration that is integral to math and science,” Burk said.  “As a kindergarten parent, I am thrilled that my daughter is learning to approach math in a playful and creative way that is helping her develop a joyful approach to learning math, grounded in deep understanding that will serve throughout her education.”

St. Anne’s second graders shared the following reflections about math this year:

“I have learned that there are different ways to solve problems and arrive at answers.”

“I am not as worried about taking risks or making mistakes. I know it helps my brain to grow.”

“I like seeing how math can be USED, like in measuring length and mass.”

“I am better at math and more confident.”

“I have learned to not give up so quickly.”

Located in Middletown, Del., St. Anne’s Episcopal School focuses on academic excellence and spiritual growth in a small, family-oriented and diverse community. St. Anne’s is a co-ed independent day school for children in Preschool (age 3) through Grade 8. Founded by visionary educators from St. Andrew’s School in 2002, our academic program prepares students for honors course work in the finest area high schools through its commitment to intellectual, spiritual, physical, social, and artistic growth and character development.

Echo Hill Outdoor School – An Intern’s Snapshot


Eden Ettenger arrived at Echo Hill Outdoor School in August of 2016 and seamlessly stepped into the role of Intern.  Hailing from Malibu, California with over eight years of residential camp experience in the Southern Sierras, Eden brought her genuine desire to make everyone feel important and included.  Her spirit and natural ability to put a smile on everyone’s face combined with possessing an incredible musical talent, placed Eden into the heart of our mission immediately.

During Eden’s three month internship with EHOS, she became immersed in every  aspect of our instructional classes, residential life, and recreational activities.

Eden asserted her passion for videography in long hours spent on a special project as a contribution to our program.

“Working for EHOS not only sparked my curiosity to delve deeper into the exploration of our world, but also my love for sharing this passion with our younger generations.  EHOS is a magical place that everyone needs; it is a family and community that provides a space for learning, growing, and most of all, playing.” -Eden Ettenger

It is with deep respect, admiration, and appreciation that we introduce Eden Ettenger’s snapshot video of life as she saw it at Echo Hill Outdoor School.

We extend a special thank you to one of Eden’s co-workers and mentors, James Stankewicz, for his original musical score and accompaniment with the video.

This video is approximately three minutes in length






A Fond Farewell: The Gunston School’s Class of 2017


Friday, May 19th marked a special day at The Gunston School. An annual tradition, Senior Transition Day and Disembarkation commemorates seniors’ final day on campus. During the day, the seniors enjoyed a walked down memory lane with a slide show highlighting their high school years, were welcomed into TGS Alumni Association, and with family and friends watching, placed a personalized brick on the Heron Walkway adding to the foundation of Gunston. The day ended with a receiving line of students and faculty wishing them farewell as they disembarked the Gunston campus on the Chester River Packet for a cruise down the Corsica and Chester Rivers. We wish the Class of 2017 the best of luck!

Sky-Watch for June 2017 – Saturn Peaks and Eclipse Coming in August

The two biggest planets in our Solar System, Jupiter, and Saturn adorn our early summer sky this year.  Jupiter, which has been near its peak in our sky since April, shines at magnitude –2.2 high in the south at sunset, remaining visible until well past midnight.  On June 3rd the waxing gibbous Moon will appear just two degrees from Jupiter.

Rings of Saturn 

Saturn reaches opposition on June 15th as it lies opposite the Sun in our sky and remains visible to us all night.  At oppositions, planets come closest to Earth, so Saturn also shines brightest and looks largest when viewed through a telescope.  The best times to look at Saturn with a telescope is when it is highest, which would be when it is up in the south, from later evening to early morning.  Saturn lies among the stars of Ophiuchus, just past the edge of nearby Sagittarius.  At magnitude 0.0 at opposition, Saturn is far brighter than any star in the surrounding sky.  Any telescopic view of Saturn is spectacular but now, with the rings tilted 27 degrees to our line of sight, seeing their structure is easier than normal.

            Another planet, Venus, dazzles too, but in the early dawn eastern sky.  Venus reaches greatest western elongation on June 3rd when it will be 46 degrees west(right) of the Sun.  Venus is at –4.4 magnitude, far brighter than any other morning object.  It rises two hours before the Sun and will be seen about 10 degrees above the eastern horizon one hour before sunrise.  It will be hard to miss, even though its altitude will not be great.  By the end of June Venus will rise 2.5 hours before the Sun and appear some 15 degrees higher.
A really great sight awaits us on June 20 and June 21.  The waning crescent Moon will appear near Venus in the early pre-dawn eastern sky each of those mornings.  And on June 30th, Venus will appear to rise just 8 degrees to the right of the well-known Pleiades star cluster.  Just as morning twilight begins to lighten the sky we should be able to see the Pleiades and Venus together in the viewing field of a pair of binoculars.
Moon phases this month:  1st quarter (June 1st); and (June 30th); Full (June 9th); Last quarter (June 17th); and New (June 23rd).
Summer Solstice occurs at 12:24 am EDT on June 21st ——Summer officially and astronomically begins.
We are getting closer to the wonderful Solar Eclipse of August 21st, so it is time for a few more words about it.  Solar eclipses happen only when the Earth, Sun, and Moon align perfectly so that the Moon passes between us and the Sun directly in front of the Sun.  This is the only time when we can actually see the phase of the Moon we call New.  Usually, we see the Moon partially or fully illuminated by the Sun’s light.  But when the Moon is between us and the Sun its illuminated part is pointed back towards the Sun.  The unlit part faces us and we cannot see it.  So only at eclipse time does that unlit part become visible.

Solar Eclipse

Here are a few things to look for during a total solar eclipse.  In the 5 or 10 minutes before totality, put down your Sun viewing eye protection glasses and notice how the Sun illuminates the grounds around you.  Cars, buildings, trees will appear a bit alien.  The Sun reduced to a mere crescent by the Moon has its light drastically changed in quality.  Shadows will have sharper edges, colors will be saturated, and contrast heightened.  The light passing through trees leaves will leave odd crescent-shaped shadows on the ground.

Totality may be announced by a diamond ring, a temporary small burst of light at the edge of the circle of light of the Sun.  During totality with binoculars look for solar prominences; small deep pink nuclear flames.  And marvel at the corona, the thinnest, wispiest part of the Sun’s atmosphere, which is never seen except during totality.  Around you, on Earth, it will look like a Full Moon night.
           I look forward with great anticipation to seeing my first solar totality.  I am told it feels like nothing else in life. So just let it in.  I heard of someone saying, “It felt like the home of my soul.”  American author James Fenimore Cooper, after viewing the total solar eclipse in Oswego New York in 1806, said, “Never have I beheld any spectacle which so plainly manifested the majesty of the Creator, or so forcibly taught the lesson of humility, as a total eclipse of the Sun.”
            All I can say is, “be there!”
Photos courtesy of NASA.
 Solar Eclipse

Washington College Graduates 292


Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, encouraged graduating Washington College students to keep an open mind to the constant question of “what comes next,” while knowing that their education has given them the strongest footing from which to answer it throughout their lives.

“Saying ‘I don’t know’ is one of the hardest things to do in life,” Lagarde told graduates, families, faculty, and alumni during the college’s 234th Commencement on the Campus Green, May 20. “We have all been trained from a young age to have an answer at the ready. But the reality is that the answer is not what matters most—it is knowing how to find the answer that is key. Your education—this wonderful, complex, classical, liberal arts training—has given you the foundation you need to begin to solve the puzzle of ‘What comes next?’ ’’

Although the future these graduates face is one where technology, automation, and artificial intelligence may take over the tasks now managed by humans, Lagarde said that the problem-solving skills, empathy, and perspective inherent in the liberal arts will become even more critical as time goes on.

“Many of the founders of this country, who were lawyers, businessmen, and farmers by training, could also recite orations from Pericles by heart. Those polymath skills not only gave their revolution historical context, it informed the society they hoped to build,” she said. “Your school embodies their vision and has instilled in you a love of knowledge. Success for your generation requires a commitment to life-long learning and an understanding that today is a milestone in your education, but it is not the end. The truth is that college has taught you how to learn, not what to learn.”

“By choosing Washington College, each of you has stood up and said that public service is important in your life. The values of this institution come directly from Washington himself; his example serves as the inspiration for your honor code. You have made a promise to help others and now you must follow through,” she said. “Think about what matters most to you—is it climate change? Homelessness? Improving education? Whatever it is, fight for it.”

Read the complete text of LaGarde’s speech here.

Before the address, President Sheila Bair awarded Lagarde an honorary doctor of laws.

Along with conferring degrees upon 292 graduates, the ceremonies on the campus green included multiple awards and citations:

  • James Allen Hall, associate professor of English and the director of the Rose O’ Neill Literary House, earned the Alumni Association’s Award for Distinguished Teaching.
  • Alex Aiello Roberts, a math and computer science major, philosophy minor, from Bel Air, Md., won the George Washington Medal and Award, given to the senior who shows the greatest promise of understanding and realizing in life and work the ideals of a liberal education.
  • Anna Elizabeth Inserra, a chemistry major from Dix Hills, N.Y., won the Clark-Porter Medal, given to the student whose character and personal integrity, in the opinion of the faculty, have most clearly enhanced the quality of campus life.
  • Alexandra D. Kurtz, of Lancaster, Pa., a political science major with minors in economics and Spanish, won the Louis L. Goldstein ’35 Award, for a graduating senior who, in the opinion of the faculty, has demonstrated unusual interest, enthusiasm, and potential in the field of public affairs.
  • Erika Louise Koontz, of Woodbine, Md., an environmental studies major with minors in Spanish and biology and a concentration in Chesapeake regional studies, earned the Eugene B. Casey Medal, given to a senior woman voted by the faculty to be outstanding in the qualities of scholarship, character, leadership, and campus citizenship.
  • Patrick S. Ginther, of Harleysville, Pa., a double major in chemistry and biology with concentrations in biochemistry and organic and medicinal chemistry, won the Henry W.C. Catlin 1894 Medal, given to a senior man voted by the faculty to be outstanding in the qualities of scholarship, character, leadership, and campus citizenship.
  • Two students won this year’s Jane Huston Goodfellow Memorial Prize, which goes to the graduating senior majoring in science who has an abiding appreciation of the arts and humanities and has shown scholastic excellence. They are Laura Elizabeth King, of Rising Sun, Md., a double major in biology and Hispanic studies, and Ryan Manning, of Chestertown, an English and chemistry double major and creative writing minor.
  • The Gold Pentagon Awards go to one senior and one alumnus, faculty, or friend of the College, selected by the Omicron Delta Kappa Society, in recognition of meritorious service to Washington College. This year they are Madeleine Morrissette, of Arlington, Mass., a biology major with a minor French studies, and Edward P. Nordberg ’82, former chair of the Board of Visitors and Governors.
  • Catalina Righter, an English major and creative writing minor from Manchester, Md., won the Sophie Kerr Prize, given to the senior who shows the most promise for future literary endeavor.

The Good Stuff: MSCF Hands Out $500K in Mid-Shore Scholarships


There are some very special days in the life of the Mid-Shore throughout the year, but very few of them can match the joy and the hope that comes with the annual distribution of the Mid-Shore Community Foundation scholarship fund to deserving young people in all five counties.

Last Saturday morning at the Talbot Country Club, Foundation president Buck Duncan, along with the MSCF Scholarship Fund co-John Lewis and programs director Robin Hill, handed out over a half million dollars of scholarship funding for eighty-one high school and college students from thirty-five different funds at the MSCF. Those awards ranged from $500-$20,000.

The Spy was there to capture the award ceremony and shared these excerpts to share this great moment for the Eastern Shore.

This video is approximately seventeen minutes in length.  For more information about the Mid-Shore Community Foundation and its scholarship program please go here