2013-14 Happenings at Anderson
Congratulations Kindergarten Graduates!
Anderson's K-106 and K-123 classes had their graduation ceremony in the O'Shea Campus auditorium on June 19th. See the collage below (click on individual images to enlarge) and two brief videos of the kindergartners performing as Miss Sarah plays the guitar. Congratulations to our new first graders!

Author Laurence Pringle Visits Anderson!
Prolific author Laurence Pringle, author of 113 mostly non-fiction books, visited Anderson's fourth and fifth graders in our Library Media Center on May 12th. Mr. Pringle shared a lot of information about the writing process and his life as a writer:
  • His first book, a book about dinosaurs, was rejected 8 times. He became a published author (in a magazine) at age 30.
  • Sometimes he feels like Dorothy Parker ("I hate writing but I love having written"); he doesn't always like the process but completing a book gives him a sense of accomplishment. Even after 113 books, the process of writing the first draft can still be a struggle. But sometimes it flows well.
  • Editing and revision takes time. Sometimes he'll go back 20 times to work on the wording. Sometimes he is still making tiny little changes near the end of the publishing cycle (like punctuation).
  • He told the children: your writing will grow richer as your vocabulary grows.
  • Good writers break up their paragraphs so they are not too long.
  • The non-fiction research process is like baking a cake--you have to put together all the ingredients.
  • He gets excited about conducting research, because he is very curious about a lot of subjects. He likes the idea of passing along really interesting information to his readers.
  • Mr. Pringle works really closely with the editor all through the process. He examines the artwork carefully to make sure the tiny details are right (such as, crocodile nostrils are really close together while alligator nostrils are far apart).
  • He shared a quote from writer Jerry Spinelli, that the job of the first paragraph is to get the reader to read the second paragraph, and shared some wonderful first lines of famous books with us. Lots of our students were able to identify them.
  • He recommends using dialogue early in the book to grab the reader's attention.
  • He said he takes almost as much time to do the research as the actual writing. Some of his books take a year to do the research, especially the more comprehensive ones.
  • Since leads are so important to him, he thinks about the leads months before he begins writing the book. He always challenges himself to make sure to make each of his leads different
  • One of his all-time favorite books is his monarch butterfly book, An Extraordinary Life, the Story of a Monarch Butterfly, which follows the life of one butterfly. People tell him they have cried at the end of that book.
  • Some of Mr. Pringle's books, like the monarch butterfly one, are narrative non-fiction.
  • Pretty much all of his books are about topics that he likes. 

Laurence Pringle, May 12,2014

  Mr. Pringle has written two books about the Lewis and Clark expedition. He shared research with the fifth graders (who studied Lewis and Clark this year) and answered student questions. Here is some of what we learned:
  • He uses the Internet for research (choosing only the most reliable sources, with good references) as well as historic journals, and the most recent  non-fiction books, to get the most up-to-date information.
  •  Using multiple sources will help you keep from plagiarizing. That way the writing will blend in your mind and will keep you from using one writer's exact words.
  • When he was researching the Newfoundland dog that accompanied Lewis and Clark, he realized that there were not a lot of details in the primary sources, so he had to add some general information that he knew about dogs to make the text more interesting.
  • It has been said that "Lewis and Clark were the 'writingest' explorers of all time," which led Mr. Pringle  to search out the annotated version of their journals, to gather a lot of information.
  • Mr. Pringle saw that the original journals had some errors, such as a sighting of sea otters up the river. It was really a seal sighting--sea otters always stay near the shore. The annotated version pointed out these kinds of errors.
  • Mr. Pringle was able to use the index in each annotated journal to find the information he was looking for, instead of having to read every entry in every journal.
  • Mr. Pringle made some writing decisions such as breaking up the information into diary-like entries, much like a journal, in the Dog of Discovery book. 
  • Mr. Pringle recommends the historical journal "We Proceeded On" for people who are seriously interested in Lewis and Clark.
  • Mr. Pringle goes to his local upstate library for a lot of his research. He often uses the inter-library loan system to borrow books from other research libraries.
  • To make sure  that his resources are reliable, he uses an expert. For the two Lewis and Clark books, he worked with a historian.
  • Sometimes he'll come across two different sources saying two different things. When that happens, he'll read more to figure out which source has more validity and then will use that one.
Author and Illustrator Roxie Munro Visits Anderson!
Picture book author and illustrator Roxie Munro visited Anderson's K-2 students in our Library Media Center on May 8th. She shared facts about some of her non-fiction science books and shared lots of her artwork. She also shared information about her background as a writer and how her books get published.

Roxie Munro May 8, 2014

Here's some of what we learned from her presentations:

From The Inside Outside Book of Dinosaurs:

  • T-Rex's head was 5' long!
From the book Hatch:
  • Male birds are usually more beautiful than female birds.
  • Bright colors in a baby bird's mouth help the mom put food in their mouths, since the inside of the nest is very dark.
  • Ostriches are the fastest animal on two legs. 23 hen eggs can fit in one ostrich egg!
  • A bald eagle's nest weighs as much as a car!

From the book Busy Builders:

  • Honeybees, ants, spiders, caterpillars and termites are some animals that build homes or contraptions to trap food.

From the book Slithery Snakes:

  • Emerald Tree Snakes are (in Roxie Munro's opinion) lazy. They wrap around a tree and stay there. When a rodent comes by, they eat it without even getting up.
  • Their patterns are (to Roxie Munro) beautiful and very detailed. They appeal to her as an artist.
  • Some are venomous, most are not.

Here are some things we learned about Roxie Munro:

  • She writes about things that scare her. Researching scary creatures is a way to become unafraid, she says.
  • She does oil paintings in her studio, as well as illustrations.
  • Her studio is usually messy (there are a lot of materials around).
  • She has been to most of the places that she writes about.
  • Sometimes she thinks of a title, but she and the publisher change it around until they like the sound. The editors make sure that the titles make sense. For example, she wanted to name her Busy Builders book Bugs, but it includes an arachnid, not just insects, so the title couldn't just be about insects. She liked the title Sneaky Snakes, but the editors said they are not really sneaky, so that title wouldn't be accurate. They came up with Slithery Snakes instead.
  • It takes around a week  for her to create a maze, depending upon the size.
  • The solid color endpapers in her books are the publisher's decision, not hers. The graphic designer does this part.
  • She has written seven Inside Outside books: Dinosaurs, Paris, London, Washington D.C., Libraries, Texas and New York.
  • When Roxie Munro was six, in first grade, she won first place in an art contest that a newspaper ran. She knew she wanted to be an artist since then.
  • She told us that she actually enjoys the illustrating more than the writing of her books.
  • She wrote her first book about twenty years ago.
  • She has written between 35 and 37 books--it is hard to keep track!
  • Arthur Syzk's illustrated version of Andersen's Fairy Tales was her favorite book as a child.
  • Roxie Munro's preferred colors are the primary ones: blue, yellow, and red.  She's been using a lot of green lately too.
  • She gets ideas for her new books from her last book. She is currently working on a book called Market Maze.
  • Some of her sketches take a day to make, but more detailed ones that need research can take a lot longer.
  • Roxie Munro said that she gets rejected about ten percent of the time (one book for every ten ideas).  A second publisher published her Maze books after her regular publisher turned that book idea down.
  • She got started in non-fiction because nature is so weird and fascinating to her.
  • Busy Builders took about nine months to write.
  • Her current favorite book that she wrote is her first Maze book because it led to so many other things.  She got the idea for writing maze books with hidden items from a young child who noticed details in her architecture illustrations.  Her old favorite was The Inside Outside Book of New York City, which was her first book.
  • It is hard for her to choose a favorite children's book nowadays. 
Roxie Munro also shared how her maze books ended up inspiring some computer apps. After her maze books were published in The Netherlands, a Dutch man got in touch with her about creating apps based on mazes.  She visited Holland and worked out some new ideas for the mazes.She created them by hand first, in black and white, in a big grid.  Then she painted them in. This was really time-consuming!
Next, she had to do  a series of extra drawings that would get turned into animation in the app. Then the art got scanned on a special gigantic scanner (one of the biggest scanners in the world). Then the app got tested. Music was added, sounds were added, and it got tested again and again.  Kids in Holland tested it out at school! Once it was tested, it went to the Apple App Store and was listed for sale.
Author and Illustrator Bob Shea Visits Anderson!
Picture book author and illustrator Bob Shea visited Anderson's kindergartners and first graders in our Library Media Center on April 10th. He shared some of his published and unpublished books with us and kept us laughing.

Bob Shea's hilarious books include New Socks, Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great, Don't Play with Your Food, I'm a Shark, Cheetah Can't Lose, and Dinosaur Vs. Library.

Kindergartners drew along with Mr. Shea and learned some drawing techniques for animals. First graders gave Mr. Shea ideas for a book and he wrote it while they suggested  characters, ideas for problems, and how to solve the problems. He taught the children how illustrators of picture books use thumbnail drawings to help plan out their books. Then they edited the ideas together and Bob Shea created the book right in front of them using his special paint markers.

April 10, 2014

Mr. Shea does the art direction for his books as well as the story and the illustrations. He does it all!

Bob Shea had a Question and Answer session as part of his presentations.

Here are some of the questions and answers:
Q. How do you decorate the hard covers?
A. The printers do that part. They put the art that I made onto paper, and they glue it onto the hard cardboard.
Q. Do you play with your food?
A. Sometimes I push it around with my fork. Sometimes I hide it. If I had a dog I could give it to him. But I try not to play with it
Q. How do you know what to draw?
A. I draw a story, and then the art director helps me figure out the story.
Q. How do you choose which colors to go together?
A. In New Socks, only a few colors: black, yellow, orange, and blue, and white, which is the paper. So you have to make sure the colors go together. That happens with practice and by looking at a lot of art.
Q. How do you know what to write?
A. Sometimes I don't know what to write. Sometimes I try and it doesn't work out. Then for others if it's working, I send it to people to look at and give me advice. 
Q. What was your first book?
A. New Socks.
Q. When was it written?
A. 2007.
Q. Why do you write books?
A.Because it is my favorite thing to do.
Q.How many books have you written?
A. 13 books.
Q. Do you have any children?
A. Yes, I have a ten year old son, named Ryan, who loves skateboarding.
Q. Do you like to read?
A. Fun and silly books are my favorite thing to read; that and a book about the 2008 financial meltdown.
Q. How long does it take you to write your books?
A. Dinosaur Vs. Bedtime took three days, but one book took a year.
Q. How old were you when you wrote your first book?
A. Seven.
Q. Do you like goats?
A. Yes!
Q. How do you get started with your books?
A. Some start with a joke, or something funny, or a sketch.
Q. Did you have any special writing teachers or classes as a child?
A. I didn't, but I always knew fun writing was legitimate. I read a lot and wrote a lot of stories as a kid.
Q. What's your favorite book?
A. Big Plans.
Q. Why do you have a book about jealousy?
A. I noticed when my son was 7 that the kids were starting to be jealous, even though they were all so similar. That gave me the idea.
Q. Do you write about friendship on purpose? Or life lessons?
A. No, not on purpose. I write about relationships, and relationships aren't perfect.
Q. Why do you draw cupcakes?
A. They are easy to draw.
Q. How do you come up with characters?
A. I try to pick characters with traits that match the topic. Like I need a fast character, so: Cheetah. I need a character you'd be jealous of, so: Unicorn.
Q. How did you come up with the title for Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great?
A. It was what Goat was thinking since he was jealous.
Q. Why are your books silly?
A. Because that's more fun than being serious.

Author and Illustrator Brett Helquist Visits Anderson!

Author and illustrator Brett Helquist visited Anderson on April 9th. He shared his childhood inspiration as an artist, and shared behind-the-scenes information about how to illustrate a book.

April 9, 2014

 Here are some of the things we learned:

He was influenced by comics as a child, especially the ones that told a story, like Alley Oop.

The illustrator NC Wyeth was a big influence. Howard Pyle, who taught NC Wyeth, was also an influence. Nowadays, he really admires Lisbeth Zwerger’s work.


Left to right: Alley Oop, art by NC Wyeth (top row); art by Howard Pyle, art by Lisbeth Zwerger (bottom row).

The Series of Unfortunate Events was Brett Helquist's first job as an illustrator! 

Roger the Jolly Pirate is the first book he wrote. It tells the story of why the pirate flag is called the "Jolly Roger," which is something he always wondered about as a child.

The Grumpy Goat book was inspired by his family, who were farmers.

The hardest painting he ever did was for A Christmas Carol, and was the Ghost of Christmas Past.

One of the hardest characters he ever created was the lump of coal character for Lemony Snicket’s book of the same name.


He has illustrated almost 50 books so far.  He uses oil paint and paints large paintings. He uses color for covers, and black, white and grays for illustrations.

His first job was a graphic designer. He did illustrations at night.

Mr. Helquist conducted a drawing demonstration for second and third graders, and the students drew alongside his work. Fourth graders contributed to ideas for new artwork that he created right in front of the students.

Each session ended with Questions and Answers. Some of the questions are below:

Q. Why are tessellating triangles in the background of the Series of Unfortunate Events?

A. Mr. Helquist does background cross hatching, but gets tired of that so he switched to a pattern of triangles to make it more interesting.

Q. What authors do you want to work with? 

A. Philip Pullman, the Golden Compass author, or Jon Scieszka, author of The Stinky Cheese Man and many other books.

Q. What book would you like to illustrate?

A. Treasure Island (his very favorite childhood book).

Q. Who would you like to switch places with?

A. The artist Lisbeth Zwerger.

Q. What are the steps to illustrating a book?

A.  He starts by reading it very closely, looking for information about the characters and setting.

Q. Do any characters look like real people?

A. Mostly himself.  His wife looks like a character on the Chasing Vermeer cover, but he didn’t plan it that way.

Q. Do you ask the author for ideas first?

A. Not usually. Usually he works with the editor of the book.

Q. Have you written any nonfiction?

A. Not yet, but one book is coming. It will be on tennis starts Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.

Q. What’s your daily life as an artist like?

A. He starts his day in an art studio, painting. He paints till lunch. Then he does bookkeeping for business and makes business phone calls.  There is a lot of work to do that’s not about the art. 

Aladdin Jr. Production Is a Smash!

The Anderson School Theatre, under the direction of Sarah Prusasky and Brian Shaheen, presented its second annual musical on March 14 and 15: Aladdin Jr.  Students in fifth through eighth grades sang, danced, and made Agrabah come alive. See the photo collage below (click on each photo to enlarge):

The New York Daily News covered the show: Anderson School gives 'Aladdin' carpet a ride- NY Daily News

View the virtual Playbill here.


Congratulations to Anderson Chess Dragons!

2014 City Chess Championships

On Sunday, January 12th, the Anderson Chess Dragons competed in the 48th Annual Greater New York Scholastic Chess Championships (the "City Championships".) Over 1,000 students competed across various sections. Twenty-nine students represented Anderson, Kindergarteners to 8th graders, with experience levels ranging from first time tournament players to others who had played in over 50 tournaments. Our Chess Dragons did an outstanding job and came away with many team and individual trophies:


Elementary Junior Varsity: 2nd Place

Elementary Varsity: 6th Place

K-1 Primary: 6th Place


Christopher W. Elementary Junior-Varsity- Champion

Zane G. Primary Novice - Co-Champion

Lucas F.-Y. Primary K-1 - 4th Place

Joey L. Junior High Junior Varsity - 5th Place

Quentin C. Elementary Varsity- 12th Place

Aarav A. Primary K-1  Unrated Players- 3rd Place

Story Pirates Dazzle Anderson Audience!
Anderson Middle Schoolers in the Story Pirates elective run by ELA teacher Amy Zolla (pictured below with costumes) with guidance from Story Pirate professionals performed their first show on December 13th. 
Amy Zolla at costume table
The troupe takes story ideas created by our elementary students and turns them into clever, very funny skits.  Here are some scenes from today's dress rehearsal and performance. Click on the collage below  to enlarge the individual images.
 Anderson School Winter Showcase Was a Big Success! 
 Anderson's Music Department, Sarah Prusasky and Brian Shaheen, led the fifth through eighth grade students as they performed in the chorus, band, and orchestra on December 12th. Fifth graders also displayed their skills on guitar in fifth grade band,  and on strings, and the audience was treated to two rock band performances as well. Click on the collage below to enlarge the images. 

AMS Pops Orchestra Played at Sony Atrium!
Sarah Prusasky and Brian Shaheen took the AMS Pops Orchestra to the Sony Plaza Atrium in Midtown on December fifth.  The students played for workers, tourists and passersby in the huge glass-enclosed space.

O'Shea Campus Hosts First Annual School Bus Driver Appreciation Breakfast!
The Anderson School and P.S. 452 welcomed our schools' bus drivers to a special breakfast on December sixth, where we showed our appreciation for their hard work and dedication.  Students created cards thanking their drivers for their service, and these were presented to the drivers at the breakfast. Thank you to Anderson Community Coordinator Donna Smiley and P.S.452 Parent Coordinator Sharon Lustig for organizing the event!

Aladdin Auditions Have Begun!
Brian Shaheen and Sarah Prusasky, our fabulous Music team, began auditions for this year's musical production of Aladdin on October 28th.  Just about twice the number of students in grades five through eight tried out than did so last year, the inaugural year of the musical production at Anderson. Students will continue to audition this week and next as the cast is chosen and stage crew and other tech decisions are made. The level of talent on display during auditions is high!

Chancellor Walcott Visits Anderson!
The NYC DOE Schools Chancellor, Dennis Walcott, paid The Anderson School a visit today.  He congratulated the students and staff on our superlative state exam performance and took questions from many students.  See NYC.gov for a press release about visits today to the 22 top-performing schools in the city, or click here.
Our New Fitness Room Is Here!
AMS students and Anderson staff will be excited to learn that our new fitness room has been installed and is ready for use in the fall!  Thanks to a generous grant from the office of City Council Member Gale Brewer, a spare room was renovated. Blackboards were torn out, the room was rewired, and new overhead lights were hung.  The room was plastered, painted, and equipped with cushioned mats, an air conditioner, and sixteen cardiovascular machines including treadmills, stationary bikes, two recumbent bikes, and several Arc trainers (elliptical machines). Students will receive safety training and will sign off on a pledge to use the machines responsibly.  We look forward to our sports teams, health-related clubs and electives taking advantage of this great new space. Thanks for all the hard work by Principal Jodi Hyde, A.P. Rob Schliessman, and Frank Felix, our Custodian Engineer as they pursued this project from beginning to end.

See Our Wonderful Schoolyard Renovation!
If you've walked past the O'Shea Campus schoolyard recently, you've probably noticed the contractors hard at work painting the schoolyard, thanks to the generous funding of City Council Member Gale Brewer.   Here is a look at the work in progress (click on collage to enlarge images):
Thanks to custodian John P. for access to the roof!






Broadcast Journalism 2014

Click on the image above to get the latest weather information from the P.S. 334-Cast WeatherBug Center, and to see a live image from our sky camera!

Respect for All Week at Anderson

The week of February 10th was Respect for All Week in all New York City public schools. Bullying, intimidation, and other forms of bias-based harassment have no place in our schools or communities, and we all need to work together to address this issue.   It is the Department of Education’s policy and Anderson’s policy to maintain a safe and supportive learning environment that is free from bias-based harassment, intimidation, and/or bullying on the basis of race, color, creed, ethnicity, national origin, citizenship/immigration status, religion, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, weight or disability.


This year at Anderson, we are continuing discussions with our students about respect, being kind to one another, and how to be a good member of the community.  We have been talking about our cultural differences and sharing with each other how we can all celebrate these differences so we learn from one another.  Each class, Kindergarten through Eighth grade, took part in making Cultural Banners and posters that are displayed outside of each classroom.  These Cultural Banners express the different ways our students view themselves from the standpoint all of their unique cultural backgrounds.   


We are also proud to have Peace in our main lobby entrance of the school.  Each class discussed how our Peace Tree can display leaves for all good deeds or acts of kindness that they witness taking place in the building.  We hope to teach the simple concept of being nice to one another by helping a friend, consoling a sad student, sharing, or any other kind act that is witnessed.  It has been wonderful to see the leaves starting to show up on the Peace Tree and to watch them multiply through the rest of the school year. 


It is important to promote respect for diversity and to create a positive school climate so that all students and adults in the school community feel safe and respected.  Teaching children to respect others is a shared responsibility.  We encourage you to reinforce the message of Respect for All at home with meaningful discussions so that your children will know you support this viewpoint.


Respect for All 2014


Peace Tree 2014