Fall Newsletter

November 21, 2016

Life in the Dorms

We are deep into the autumn rains in Portland, and the kids have settled into the OES schedule. We started the year off with the coveted Belltower Ceremony, where the Dorms' own Daniel Ewnetu, Upper School Student Body President, gave a moving and inspiring speech. Students then departed for class trips that would build community and create supportive connections. These connections have developed even further over the months of September and October. 

Our first long weekend was Octoberim, a time when all the Upper School students are engaged in a range of activities around health, wellness, and service. It was a wonderful few days, with plenty of time for rest and reflection during workshops on Drug and Alcohol use prevention, personal and communal identity, and relationships. Octoberim culminated in a day of service, which included: harvesting community gardens, playing with children in our lower school, and working to care for/feeding low-income and homeless people around Portland. 

Since that time we have been busy with many sporting events and preparing for the mid-term assessments. These past few weeks have been particularly stressful for our dorm community, with our seniors preparing their college applications, juniors entrenched in their Literary Journalism Projects, and the Science Research Projects happening for everyone. Be assured, the dorm staff is well aware of all that is going on and are doing our best to support and comfort the students. There have been plenty of weekend activities to entertain, feed, and rejuvenate our community. 

This year we have an outstanding amount of dorm students involved in the school’s extracurricular activities. Alongside the President of the Student Body, Daniel Ewnetu, dorm students now hold 12 elected positions on the student council and policy board, as well as several other working as Ambassadors for Admissions.

Of note was the Fall play, Journey to the West, which featured the talents of more than a dozen dorm students involved in its production. Dorm students have also become more and more involved in the athletic programs at OES, with many involved in Soccer, Volleyball, Cross-Country, and Fencing. With the coming of the second trimester, even more dorm students are involved with Basketball, from Junior Varsity 2 squad to the elite Varsity teams.

Needless to say, the dorm parents are very proud of the success of our students, and will continue to support them at every turn. 

Vacation Plans

As you and your family enjoy the current holiday break for Thanksgiving, the dorm parent team wants to wish you all a very restful, fun, and rejuvenating break. 

Looking further ahead, the dorms will close for Winter Break from December 17 to January 1, and during Spring Break from March 24 to April 2. The dorms will officially close for the school year on June 17. It is important for families to minimize the amount of school missed by students on the days before and after these breaks. At the same time, we realize transportation costs can be high on these days near United States holidays. For this reason, the residential program opens early for Winter and Spring breaks.

This time also gives us the opportunity to make plans for future gatherings and trips. Now is a great time for students and families to indicate their plans for Winter Break. The dorms will close at noon on December 17 and open again on January 1. We can help place students with a host family during any or all of the break but need two weeks' advance notice. Residential Life will provide rides to and from the airport, train, and bus stations on December 16 and 17, as well as January 1 and 2. If a student departs or arrives on a date other than these, we will arrange for our shuttle service and the student’s account will be charged. Programmatically, we are unable to support students who make plans to miss scheduled classes. 

Winter break travel form

Looking ahead to other breaks
  • Winter Break: December 17 - January 1

  • Spring Break: March 24 - April 2

  • Summer Vacation: begins June 17

Meet the Dorm Parents

Peter Buonincontro:

Peter is the House Head for the Boys’ Dormitory, teaches performing arts for grades Pre-K - 12, and is the production manager for many of our school plays. Having graduated from Castleton State University with his degree in Visual and Performing Arts, Peter is well-suited for working with the ever changing needs of life in the dorms. As grillmaster, Peter loves to hold cookouts for the dorm students, where they can have their fill of hamburgers, hot dogs, and his famous barbecued chicken wings. It is a true delight to have Peter, his wife Colesie, and their children, Lou, Sal, and Josephine, helping to lead our residential program.

Sarah Grenert-Funk:

Sarah has been working and living in the dorms for two years now, but has been working in the OES Middle School as an English teacher and 7th grade team leader for 7 years. She is a graduate of Middlebury College, where she also earned her MA in English Literature. When not busy with school work, she enjoys visiting the Japanese Garden or the zoo with her daughter, Margaret. “The Japanese Garden is an oasis in the city and a great place to unwind. The Zoo because it is magical to see it through my daughter's eyes.” Sarah and her husband, Joe, also enjoy traveling and spending time exploring all the little gems that Portland has to offer.

Tyler Green:

This is Tyler’s second year in the dorms, though this is his 4th year working in some capacity at OES. A native of Portland, Tyler earned his BS and MEd degrees at Portland State University. An avid runner and self-proclaimed “outdoorsman,” Tyler is most at home working on projects in the outdoors and camping with students from the Middle School and Upper School. In August, Tyler finished first in Oregon’s “Waldo 100k Trail Run,” finished it in 10.5 hours; and this past October took first, again, in the Elk-King 50k Race in Tillamook, OR. Our dorm community is always waiting to hear which race he will win next.

Brad Hoffman:

This is Brad’s third year as House Head for the Girls’ Dormitory. He also teaches American Studies and Early Christianity in the Upper School, and in addition works with the OES Admissions team. He holds degrees in English Literature from Gonzaga University and Middlebury College, and has spent much of his career working in New England boarding schools. An lover of old books, Brad finds his greatest joy when he has the chance to spend a few hours surrounded by thousands of books at Powell’s Bookstore. Avid travelers, Brad and his wife, Gretchen, and two daughters, Tess and Nell, recently spent a few weeks traveling around Poland.

Stephanie Rankin:

A Seattle native, Stephanie has been teaching in the Lower School for the past 8 years. After graduating from University of Alaska in Fairbanks, Stephanie and her wife, Angel, made their way to Portland. This is Stephanie’s first year working and living in the Girls’ dorms, and she enjoys sharing her love of the Seattle Seahawks football team and the Portland Thorns Women’s Soccer Team with the dorms. There is a little known secret about Stephanie: she is the Northwest Regional Director of the World Sport Stacking Association and a past Junior Champion herself. Besides coaching Speed Stacking, Stephanie also the beloved coach of the OES JV2 Girls’ Basketball team.

Natasha Busick:

Natasha has been teaching Fifth grade at OES for 8 years, and working and living in the dorms for 3 years. A native Californian, Natasha brings her sunny personality to every activity and shared moment in the dorms. After spending time working for the Vice President in Washington, DC, and teaching in Egypt and Kenya, Natasha found her way back to the US, eventually settling in Portland. Tasha finds her greatest happiness spending time with her daughter, Jacqueline, on the sunny beaches of San Diego, or shopping the chilly streets of Boston's Back Bay. The ever-concerned mother, Natasha is an indispensable supporter of the emotional and social well-being of our dorm community.

Deri Bash:

This is Deri’s 16th year at OES, and his second year as the Director of Residential Life. After earning his BA in Chemistry from Whittier College and his MEd from Columbia University, Deri and his wife, Jen arrived in Portland, where they both started teaching at OES. Deri and Jen have two children, Erin and Nora, who both attend OES. A lover of the outdoors and running, Deri says that he came to OES because he wanted to be able to teach at a school where he could be a part of an experiential education program: taking students backpacking, mountain biking, hiking, climbing, and camping. Yet, despite his love of the mountains, Deri has a remarkable knowledge of the best places to shop and eat in Portland. “I like to spend time at Washington Park. The Rose Garden Amphitheater is my favorite location in Portland for a variety of reasons. It has an amazing view of downtown Portland, it's an incredible venue for outside performances surrounded by beautiful gardens, and it's where I proposed to Jen.”

Importance of Downtime - Note from Counselor

Parents and families of our dorm students,

It is my pleasure to care for the social and emotional health of students in the Upper School at Oregon Episcopal, and that interest runs especially deep in caring for our dorm students. It has been a busy fall of academic work, as well as theatrical, athletic, and service commitments, for these teens. All of these efforts make it even more important for them to enjoy a healthy balance of rest, time with family and friends, and time to simply relax and enjoy life.

On Harvard's admissions website, William Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Harvard College; Marlyn E. McGrath, Director of Admissions, Harvard College; and Charles Ducey, an Adjunct Lecturer in Psychology, Harvard Graduate School of Education provide important guidance to teens and parents about the value of downtime throughout one's education and life, in addition to promoting the significance of choosing to take a gap year in the article "Time Out or Burn Out for the Next Generation". I found the information helpful and thought-provoking and hope that you enjoy it as well.

Our school makes an important commitment to support health and wellness during days that students have off for extended times including Thanksgiving and our Winter Break, by asking faculty to assign no new homework during that time and to have no work due on the day that students return. This decision is intentional, as we hope to encourage our teens to take moments that build balance into their lives.

Wishing your families rest, ease, and laughter during these times together,

(503) 416-9356 Direct

Nurse's Note from Elaine Elliott

The goal of the nurse is to keep your children healthy during the school year. We encourage all students to wash their hands frequently, eat healthy food, exercise, and get plenty of sleep. We've been fortunate that the dorm community has been healthy so far this year. We want to keep it that way. Please encourage your students to practice healthy habits by asking them to follow dorm rules and the advice of the nurse. Elaine Elliott, our school nurse, can be contacted by email at elliotte@oes.edu.

Dorm Contacts

Director of Residential Life
Email: Deri Bash
Call: 503-416-9357

Residence Office
Call: 503-768-3171

On Call Dorm Parent
(on duty after 3pm)
Call: 503-515-5797

Dorm and Nurse Fax
Fax: 503-416-9803

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