Archive for the ‘Students’ Category

Visual Arts In Early Childhood

February 1st, 2016

Visual Arts in Early Childhood

Art is an important part of Early Childhood programs. Here at Henderson International School, art is part of our weekly curriculum for many different reasons. Artistic endeavors and explorations are not only fun, but educational as well. Art allows our young students to practice a wide range of skills that are useful not only for life, but also for learning.

Skills students practice when participating in art activities include:

  • Fine motor skills: Grasping pencils, crayons, chalk and paintbrushes helps children develop their fine motor muscles. This development will help your child with writing, buttoning a coat, tying shoelaces, and other tasks that require controlled movements.
  • Cognitive development: Art can help children learn and practice skills like patterning and cause and effect (i.e., “If I push very hard with a crayon the color is darker.”). They can also practice critical thinking skills by making a mental plan or picture of what they intend to create and following through on their plan.
  • Math skills: Children can learn, create and begin to understand concepts like size, shape, geometry, measurement, making comparisons, counting and spatial reasoning.
  • Language skills: As children describe and share their artwork, as well as their process for making it, they develop language skills. You can encourage this development by actively listening and asking open-ended questions in return. It is also a great opportunity to learn new vocabulary words regarding their project (i.e., texture).

Froebel, the father of kindergarten, believed that young children should be involved in both making their own art and enjoying the art of others. To Froebel, art activities were important, not because they allowed teachers to recognize children with unusual abilities, but because they encouraged each child’s “full and all-sided development”.

Our curriculum includes activities that will help children develop their fine, cognitive, math and language skills. It gives them opportunities to express what they are thinking and feeling. When children participate in art activities with classmates, the feedback they give to each other builds self-esteem by helping them learn to accept criticism and praise from others.

This month Early Childhood students are involved in a collaborative project with Ms. Laurie Mallon, our Lower School Visual Arts teacher. Each classroom is painting a beautiful canvas sketched by Ms. Mallon.  The art works are inspired by master artists such as Picasso, Warhool, Van Gogh and Dahli. They will be donated to our PTA to be auctioned at the Silent Auction on March 6.

The students are enjoying their visits to the Lower School Art Studio. These visits serve a few purposes. Students are introduced to the Lower School Art Studio as a bridging exercise into Kindergarten. Our students enjoy a sense of satisfaction while involved in making art with their classmates. And we generate some student-created artwork that parents hopefully enjoying purchasing for the benefit of our wonderful PTA.

Ms. Lizette Fiumara, Early Childhood Team Leader

Our first trimester has been wonderful! We started with the strongest results from last year’s Educational Record Bureau (ERB) tests, and have already built upon that success across the grades. Strong teaching leads to solid learning, and I thank our teachers for all of their work to design and implement personalized learning plans while achieving excellent results. Success of the last trimester are below:

First trimester measures of success

We started the year with some impressive results from the spring ERB tests on which 73% of students in grades 3-8 scored 90% or better on at least one subtest of this assessment, qualifying them for consideration by The Center for Bright Kids’ Western Academic Talent Search (WATS). Henderson International School is in process of becoming a testing site for the region. More on this soon, but we are targeting the test dates in January and February. Taking the Explore, SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test), or ACT (American College Testing) at a young age prepares exceptional students to be challenged above the confines of grade level assessments, letting them know about challenges above and beyond.

Grades 5 and 6 attended Astrocamp in Idyllwild, CA and grades 7 and 8 went to Pali Adventures in Running Springs, CA.  These annual outdoor education experiences, which rotate among several venues, provide exceptional opportunities for class bonding, off campus study with different instructors than our faculty, and a trip away from the comforts of home. It provides the opportunity to develop independence and personal responsibility, which are necessary to expand executive functioning during late childhood and early adolescence. Within our Mission of developing Global Citizens finding personal confidence and appreciation for our opportunities and obligations seems an obvious rationale.

We have experienced several on-campus “field trips” and science explorations in Early Childhood classes, including parents sharing their international connections with our young Wolverines.  This term the 4th graders traveled to Carson City and Virginia City for their on site study of the Capital Region of Nevada – an experience many adults have not had.

Our Learning Commons is now complete. The transition from a secondary school library to a primary school learning commons is noticeable in the appropriately sized shelving units, color scheme, updated technology, and comfortable seating. During this process many older volumes were donated to local Title I schools and organizations, along with the former furnishings. Our goal has been to help others at each step of the transformation!

Pumpkin plants are growing in the Elementary School garden and we are planning for our Henderson Arbor Day and second annual Earth Day celebrations in April.

We are delighted that 3D printers are in use, as is our Maker Space for learning how things work. Students are designing and printing on the two PTA sponsored 3D printers.


Grade 7 and 8 created a magnificent recycled art project that will be on display at The Palazzo, and we are entered into the statewide art competition.

Grade 4 has completed their first arts rotation among Musical Theatre, Band, and Visual Art.  This rotation exposes each child to all three programs over the final year of lower school, and in 5th grade they will choose one area of art study for the year. Performance season is upon us, and the children have been vigorous in their rehearsals to make wonderful music and perform in public.

Our kindergarten has been working on their Thanksgiving show that will debut on Friday, November 20.

Student artwork has been on display at the Henderson Pavilion on several occasions this first trimester.

In our first trimester bridge building elective, the lightest design carried over 200 times it’s weight before breaking. These engineering design projects had to be no more than 500 grams, and were created entirely from popsicle sticks and glue.  The held weight of 113 pounds more than doubled last year’s most sturdy design.


Preparations are complete for the Meritas Games competition in Orlando, Florida, which will take place the week after Thanksgiving. The largest contingent of student-athletes will compete this year, 62 strong! A new individual sport has been added – Archery. Several of our middle school overnight trips have included archery, scouts have studied archery for their merit badge, and a few students regularly shoot at archery ranges. We are very excited about this addition!

And so to basketball! The Findlay Prep team defeated the 2015 Jr. College National Champions in Arizona. This was a preseason game. The athletes have started the regular season off well winning the first two games by double the opponent’s score. NCAA College team commitments: Carlos Johnson – UNLV Rebels, Skylar Mays – Lousiana State Univ. Tigers and Tristan Clark – Baylor Univ. Bears.

Our 7th grade flag football team earned their stripes in the 11-12 year old league played on Saturdays at Frias Field in Las Vegas. Thank you to their dedication in making the season happen!

Grade 5/6 volleyball played well all season, and grade 7/8 volleyball earned a spot in the post-season tournament. Our grade 5/6 flag football also earned 2nd place in the league. Congratulations to everyone! During trimester one, we also hosted our first cross-country race on campus, receiving rave reviews about our campus and the organization!

We hosted our Henderson International School Triathlon, thanks to organization by the PTA and Mr. Mike Chinn. We also hosted our annual Autumn Fun Run with varying distances based on grade level.


While standardized testing is only one metric of many we use to personalize academic progress, it is a reality that taking tests is something that our generation of students will be doing for most, if not all, of their academic and professional careers. In addition to starting the year with strong ERB results from the spring we have additional strong indicators about our curricula and programs:

 Initial writing assessment (WrAP test) results in grades 3-8 were very strong relative to Independent School norms (the strongest comparison/competition across the country). While we have a range of abilities demonstrated, the strong majority are in the middle to top Stanines, with over half of each MS grade in the top half of the top 2% of the country! Students will take these again in late winter at which time we look for improvements and also have time for further growth prior to the end of the year.

Elementary grades on the CPAA:

  • In the area of Phonemic Awareness, 42% of Kinder students met or exceeded expectations back in late August. Now, by the end of Trimester 1, 81% of students meet or exceedThe number who exceeded expectations has risen from 28% in August to 67% now.
  • In the area of Phonics/Writing, 42% of Kinder students met or exceeded expectations back in August. Now, that number is at 78%. Those who exceed has risen from 22% to 47%.
  • In the area of Reading, 64% met or exceeded back in September. Now that number is at 81%. Those exceeding has risen from 8% to 39%.
  • In the area of Phonemic Awareness, 80% of 1st grade students met or exceeded expectations back in late August. Now, by the end of Trimester 1, 91% of students meet or exceedThe number who exceeded expectations has risen from 23% in August to 43% now.
  • In the area of Phonics/Writing, 77% of 1st grade students met or exceeded expectations back in late August. Now that number is at 95%. Those who exceed has risen from 34% to 50%.
  • In the area of Reading, 77% met or exceeded back in September. Now that number is at 95%. Those exceeding has risen from 18% to 43%.
  • In the area of Phonics/Writing, 70% of 2nd grade students met or exceeded expectations back in late August. Now, by the end of Trimester 1, 84% of students meet or exceedThe number who exceeded expectations has risen from 24% in August to 43% now.
  • In the area of Reading Mechanics, 60% of 2nd grade students met or exceeded expectations back in August. Now that number is at 67%. Those who exceed has risen from 30% to 51%.
  • In the area of Reading, 67% met or exceeded back in August. Now that number is at 84%. Those exceeding has risen from 16% to 38%.

This has been a remarkable first trimester, and we look ahead to the following months, where more great progress and activities is expected.


Third Grade Trip to the Apple Store

Each year the third grade students read the novel Poppy by Avi. It is the second book in the Dimwood Forest series and is always a class favorite! After reading the book, this year we did something different. The students were put into collaborative groups, each creating a movie trailer as if the movie “Poppy” was coming out. First, each group had to think about the important events that took place in the story and the sequence in which they happened. The students had to work together with their groups and agree upon the scenes that they wanted to film. After several skit rehearsals in the classroom, the groups were ready to go outside to film. Using student made props, the groups acted out and filmed their scenes. Next, we watched the clips to see how they came out. The actors, actresses, and camera people were given constructive criticism by the class and went out to film again the next day. This process was repeated a few times before going to the Apple Store on October 27 to turn our movie clips into movie trailers using the app iMovie. At the Apple Store, the students were taught by the Apple geniuses how to use iMovie and turn their scenes into an edited trailer. The trailers were almost complete when we left, but many students wanted to refine their work at school. Finally, on Friday, November 6th, the third grade students, teachers, Mr. Lindsey, and Mr. Heffron assembled in the Learning Lab for a Movie Trailer Premiere. The students and teachers voted for their favorite two trailers. The top two student choices and the top teacher choices are can be seen by 3rd grade families – go to your grade-level Site, then to the Photos tab.

Lots of learning took place throughout this project. After the reading of the book, the students learned by coming up with the most important events in the story and recognizing what the differences were between the main events and the more minor details. They learned that the main events take place in a logical sequence, which will help them when they are trying to sequence events in their own creative writing. They certainly learned about character traits because these characters were very strong and dynamic. They learned how to work collaboratively in a group, realizing that this requires compromise. Students learned how to receive constructive criticism and how it is useful for improvement. Boy, did they learn about persistence! Some of those scenes needed to be shot over and over, and moving the clips into iMovie and getting just the right words to go with the scenes was hard work! Overall, it was an enjoyable, productive learning experience, aligning well with our Reading and Writing standards, plus technology integration and teamwork!

-Molly Heenan, 3rd grade teacher

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 10.04.11 AMThree HIS students, Kaitlyn , Jackson, and Emma, attended the National Clean Energy Summit 8.0. The keynote speaker this year was POTUS Barack Obama. (more…)

Mrs. Mercado and her class earned the honor of being named to the Renaissance National Honor Roll in Reading for the year 2014-2015. This recognition demonstrates students’ achievement in reading and effective implementation of Renaissance Learning’s data-driven technology. (more…)

Since its start in 2008, the Meritas Academic Olympiad has brought the spirit of competition to academics through the assembly of outstanding middle school students from Meritas schools around the world. Seven outstanding students from each of the ten Meritas Schools gather together to compete in Oration, Declamation, Music, Spelling, Chess, Geography, and Math. The MAO celebrates brainpower, determination, and hard work!

This year’s MAO was held this week at Rancho Solano Preparatory School in Scottsdale, Arizona. Our MAO team consisted of:

Christopher  (8th grade) – Math

Emma  (6th grade) – Oration

Lea (8th grade) – Geography

Liza  (7th grade) – Music

Olivia  (8th grade) – Declamation

Sheen  (8th grade) – Spelling

William  (6th grade) – Chess

Award Winners from HIS

Oration, 3rd place – Emma

Declamation, 3rd place – Olivia

Spelling, 2nd place – Sheen

It DOES take brainpower, determination, and hard work just to be selected for the MAO team, and we are proud of each of our representatives and their talented faculty-advisor Tara Cadena. Congratulations to the entire team!

Why we returned to HIS

April 16th, 2015

We asked one of our families, the Wingards, why they decided to come back to HIS after trying another school. The following response was written by Jessie Wingard.

Our family is one of the lucky few who have had the chance to experience both the public school system and private school.

All three of our children started their education at Henderson International School in the preschool and pre-k programs. In our opinion, they received the biggest and best introduction to school and went into kindergarten with so much knowledge. (more…)

Here at HIS, we believe that:

  • our social curriculum is as important as our academic curriculum
  • how children learn is as important as what they learn
  • the greatest cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.

An integral part of our Social/Emotional curriculum is our use of Morning Meeting in the Lower School and Early Years, and Circle of Power and Respect in the Middle School.  Starting with MM or CPR allows us to begin each day as a classroom community of caring and respectful learners.  It establishes a climate of trust and motivates our students by addressing two human needs:

  • the need to feel a sense of significance and belonging
  • the need to have fun. (more…)

We are so excited to introduce our new Imagination Playground at HIS. Imagination Playground (or “blue blocks” as we call them here on campus) is an innovative, interactive tool that encourages children to create and build objects like rocket ships, houses, robots, animals, and anything else a child can imagine. The activity is open-ended and child-driven, and encourages gross motor development, critical thinking, social development and movement. Perhaps the best thing about blue blocks is that they can be used by children of all ages. The soft foam blocks are safe for preschoolers to play with and sophisticated enough for middle schoolers to build complex structures.

Check out our students with blue blocks in action. (more…)

First week of school – by Aidan

September 3rd, 2014



Fifth grader Aidan reflects on his first week as an HIS student. 

When I came  to HIS this year, I asked some kids “what did you enjoy about the first week of school?” Lynus told me how he enjoyed the fun things we got to do and new experiences. As for a new kid like me, many kids were helping me with my schedule and I was very thankful. Charlie said he liked meeting new teachers. Also, Hudson enjoyed getting new lockers and seeing his friends. I think everyone at HIS is happy to be back.