Archive for September, 2013

September 26 marks the birth date of a famous historical figure known for his generosity, conservation habits and the significance he credited to apples – John Chapman, more commonly known as Johnny Appleseed.


For over 50 years, Johnny traveled through Pennsylvania, the Ohio valley, and Indiana planting apple seeds, grafting trees and tending to his apple farms to help make the wilderness a suitable home for the advancing pioneers. His apples were used for food, juice, cider and as a means of trade. Legends portray Johnny Appleseed as a wanderer who plants seeds and sings songs. But in truth, he was a knowledgeable businessman who bought and sold land and used his nursery skills to cultivate thousands of productive apple farms.

Throughout history apples have had a bad reputation. Apples were the forbidden fruit in The Garden of Eden, the golden apple of discord played a large part in the start of the Trojan War, the wicked witch in Snow White presents the princess with a poisoned apple and in Latin apple means evil. Johnny Appleseed was one of the first men to help turn around the symbolic meaning of the apple. Thanks to him, the apple is an American icon for wholesome, nourishment, prosperity and American pride.

Johnny Appleseed was viewed as “eccentric” by most of the settlers in his days. He was a vegetarian, who chose to go barefoot, did not use a horse to get around and made friends with the Native Americans. Although most people found him to be an odd man, he was welcomed by all for his humanitarian efforts.  His appreciation for nature, kindness to animals and open attitude toward Indians, although an eye opener for most, never-the-less made him an example to Americans everywhere.

September 26 not only marks the birthdate of Johnny but also serves as a reminder of the significance of apples. Celebrate this day with a delicious, sweet, nourishing apple and remember Johnny Appleseed for all his efforts during the 1700-1800s in bringing light to horticulture and humanitarianism.



By Seth Ahlborn, Headmaster at Henderson International School

Education is a journey, and not a destination. What children want from that adventure, what they think about and dream about can be vastly different from parental notions. What we can all discover along the journey is a better understanding of who each of us is becoming – lifelong learners, engaged and reflecting upon our education all the time.

I recently had the opportunity to consider this reflection on education while traversing the wilderness of the Appalachian Mountains. Since she was five years old, my daughter Maddy has dreamt of hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT). She began to accomplish that dream this year, and for a week in July I joined my 22 year old “Leeloo” for a section hike in mountainous Virginia.

Maddy planned this hike as the culmination of college studies in fine art at the world-renowned School of the Museum of Fine Art in Boston. It is a vision quest to integrate the natural environment into her amazing visible thinking that is represented in drawings, paintings, and sculpture. It will serve her throughout her professional teaching and art production career. I wanted to participate in the process to provide a family reflection somewhere in the middle of the experience. Her plan is to complete the 2,186 mile journey before New England winter weather makes completion improbable. She left Springer Mountain, Georgia on May 24 and expects to climb Baxter Peak in Katahdin, Maine on October 15, an almost 21-week trek on a trail developed in 1937.

The original plan for my section hike was to spend ten days and nine nights backpacking roughly 16 miles each day with half of my food to start and restocking after five days. Planning far enough in advance to purchase airline tickets and arrange for transportation to the trail entailed a fair amount of estimation, and as the time drew near, text communication with Maddy from the trail was critical. Thankfully, Virginia holds about a quarter of the total 2,100 miles of the AT, so a former colleague in Richmond was certain he could get me wherever I needed to travel to intersect her progress.

The plan was to hike together in the Shenandoah region, the most hiked section of the AT, which is gradual and graceful and provides many spectacular views. The Blue Ridge Parkway crosses it multiple times and the trail is very accessible. By comparison, the rocky ups and downs of the western boarder between the Virginias is a very strenuous and remote section. Unfortunately, due to an old athletic injury, I was forced off early and was only with her a mere five memorable days.

As parents you are your child’s first teachers, and you guide them through the greatest and most accelerated learning adventure of their lives, infancy into early school age. More neural connections are established in this timeframe than in any other time of life. As I prepared for my trip I asked myself, was it our family’s “just do it” attitude during which we took our kids into nature on hikes, camping, cross-country skiing, winter animal track hunting, canoeing and all manner of outdoor activities that set the stage for Maddy’s young interest and lifelong determination to take this hike?

Making the metaphor more obvious, there is advance planning (curriculum design – taking the hike), delivery of sustenance (class meetings – regular drop boxes of food), and the daily work to make progress (personal learning plan – pacing your distance with enough water). School is a time for growing independence and self-reliance. Temporary setbacks are to be expected. Not everything goes according to schedule – 55 days into her hike, Maddy was a week behind the original location where I planned to join her, and consequently I got to hike in the wilderness rather than the tranquil area I had anticipated.

Our primary school students are on an educational path to manifest their personal learning in their projects. Rather than simply “getting it out of the way,” they instead invest themselves in personal ways through writing and other visible forms of complex human communication. As parents you cannot participate in each lesson, nor would this kind of engagement allow for the personal growth we expect to see in our children. Independent and group learning will prepare them well for secondary school studies and set the stage to further their education in college. How we, as educators, reflect on each child’s individual growth and engage you, as parent partners in our teaching and learning environment is becoming more of a sophisticated journey beginning this year. At times the path will be open and clear, and at others times it may feel challenging, but either way we will navigate the journey together.

I spoke last year of a more informative reporting process, and we began with expanded teacher commentaries covering a longer permanent grading cycle. We want students to have developmental time to grow and more importantly to integrate their daily experiences into long-term cross-curricular understandings. Their daily “hiking progress” and what they think about during each learning cycle needs to be captured in writing a journal, making a video, or simply talking about how they are developing new understandings about material and themselves. Our choice of text and online resources underscores our plan to help our students become complex problem solvers and global citizens.

The family-school partnership is meant to be a collaborative effort among student, teacher and parent to design the ongoing structure for reflection leading to high order reasoning skills. As part of this plan, each student’s journey will be unique.

We look forward to our ongoing partnership in supporting each child’s personal adventure at Henderson International School and beyond.


Much like the Fourth of July in America, Mexican Independence Day is one of the biggest celebrations for the country of Mexico. Food, music, parades, parties, flags and fireworks accompany this holiday each year on September 16 as a reminder of the victory in the struggle for freedom against Spain.


The long battle between Mexico and Spain started in 1810 and lasted 11 long years. Since the 1500s, Spain ruled over Mexico. In the early 1800s, a small peasant rebellion began which led Catholic priest, Miguel Hildago, to encourage the native people to retaliate against the Spaniards who had oppressed them for almost 300 years.

Every year on September 15, at midnight, the President of Mexico leads the country in shouting El Grito de Dolores, “Mexicanos, viva Mexico,” in remembrance of the famous words from Hildago that commenced the Mexican war on independence.

Mexican Independence Day is all about remembering the struggle, celebrating victory and reveling in Mexican culture. September 16 is still a significant holiday celebrated in America by Mexican descendants. The Mexican culture has become increasingly prevalent in America, and it’s important to understand and appreciate the history and culture to help it live on.

The Henderson International School promotes a global learning experience by incorporating Spanish language daily into each grade level. We also offer opportunities for international travel and global problem-solving classes, and immerse our lessons in global history and heritage.

A child who learns a foreign language at a young age is at a better advantage than those who don’t. Since the Mexican culture has become so dominant in America, it’s important for children to be able to communicate effectively through language and understand cultural differences. Spanish is the second-most spoken language in the U.S. and the dominant language of many communities surrounding the southern borders of our country. Spanish speaking skills can benefit your child in school, business, travel and everyday life. Studies show that people who are bilingual have improved cognitive skills, improved English skills (Spanish is derived from Latin), have an easier time landing a job, and have an improved cultural understanding.

From everyone at Henderson International School, have a Happy Mexican Independence Day!


Performing arts, creative activities, artistic expression; however you want to define it, they all play a pivotal role in the growth of children – mentally and physically. Performing arts are anything that requires an audience for a creative performance. Dance, music and theatre are popular forms of performing arts that every child should experience at least once. Students can benefit from participation in arts, both at school and as additional activities.

Students who participate in performing arts are at a greater advantage than those who don’t. Research shows that continued learning in performing arts such as, music and theatre, correlates strongly with higher achievement in math and reading. New research has also demonstrated that extracurricular and curricular music activities help to promote creativity, social development and self-worth.

The top ten skills children learn by participating in arts:

  1. Creativity
  2. Confidence
  3. Problem Solving
  4. Perseverance
  5. Focus
  6. Non-verbal communication
  7. How to receive constructive criticism
  8. Collaboration
  9. Dedication
  10. Accountability

At the Henderson International School, we strongly believe in incorporating arts into our everyday curriculum. Visual and performing arts help to build self-esteem, inspire creativity and lead students to think critically. We integrate visual arts, music, musical theatre and dance into each grade level to enhance child development.

There are plenty of art related events taking place in the Las Vegas valley that you can attend with your child. Here are a few upcoming events for the month of September:

Who: Prince Kuhio Ho’olaule’A Pacific Island Festival
What: Hawaiian culture song and dance festivities
Where: Henderson Events Plaza
When: September 14-15, 2013 from 9 am – 6 pm

Who: The Henderson Symphony Orchestra
What: 27th season of the orchestra’s talented musical performance
Where: Henderson Pavilion
When: September 14, 2013 at 8 pm

Who: ArtBeat’s Crowd of Small Adventures
What: Las Vegas based rock-pop band
Where: Henderson Events Plaza
When: September 20, 2013 from 8 pm-10 pm