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SARATOGA SPRINGS - Saratoga Independent School (SIS) was founded by parents in 1991 and is a private school for children in kindergarten through fifth grade, until this year. The sixth grade is finally open with the rest of the middle school grades to follow in the next two years. SIS’s mission is to empower students to “become confident learners who are capable of critical thinking, problem solving and teamwork,” according to their website. This year, the sixth grade is open for business and currently has 13 students enrolled, 12 of which are recent graduates from the fifth-grade class. 

"A middle school was a dream of SIS parents for years... I’d say probably five years ago, there was another effort and enrollment had grown significantly and it looked like this was really the time to focus on starting a middle school. There was a very determined board of trustees and they worked hard to come up with a plan and then when I came, it was my job to put the plan into action. I work with a middle school coordinator, Jeny Randall, who has done excellent work in creating curriculum and ideas for the middle school,” explained Lisa Brown, Head of School.

All teachers from the elementary school will be taking on classes for the middle school as well.

“We’re really excited! In fact, we had a bunch of middle school students who came in and met with us last week and we talked a lot about the middle school and what it was going to be like and what their ideas were and we’re having them help us write the middle school handbook. They took it really seriously and they’re really looking forward to all of the privileges and responsibilities that they have as middle schoolers,” Brown said.

The middle school adds a longevity to prospective parents looking into the school.

“As people are looking at schools, that’s really important so that they don’t have to think ‘well I’m coming into the school now but I’m going to have to look for another school in another few years,’” Brown explained.

Each grade has a theme for the year. Sixth grade’s theme is Identity and Origins, with the curriculum tying into that theme and also helping students make connections between different disciplines.

“It’s also a writing intensive curriculum so they are asked not to write just in language arts class but also in social studies and science and across the curriculum. We are focusing through our advisory program but also on social emotional learning and building community and a sense of respect for each other and for our school community and the larger community through service projects,” said Ms. Randall.


“I think it makes parents very comfortable to know that their kids are in an environment that values the same sorts of academics and social values that they’ve experienced in the elementary school,” Brown said.

For additional information or to schedule a tour, Saratoga Indepenent School can be reached at 518-583-0841. Visit the website at siskids.org/new-middle-school.

Published in Education

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Independent School’s (SIS) Odyssey of the Mind team won first place in its regional competition and is moving on to compete in the New York State Finals Tournament on April 7 at Binghamton University. Saratoga Independent School’s three Odyssey of the Mind teams took home three awards at the New York Region 6 competition held in Galway, New York on Saturday, March 17, including a first place finish, a third place finish, and a special award for good sportsmanship.  More than 300 students on 44 teams from public and private schools in 15 school districts competed. SIS’s Odyssey of the Mind team advancing to the state tournament includes:  teachers Sarah Morris and Ilena Coor; students Jack Scher, Virginia Arnod, Wyatt and Carter Short, Anna Westney and Norah Hoke. Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. Team members apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics. Founded in 1991, SIS is a New York state-chartered private school in Saratoga Springs accredited by the New York State Independent Schools Association.  The school currently serves 140 students in Prekindergarten through 5th grade. In Fall 2018, SIS will launch The Middle School at Saratoga Independent School, beginning with sixth grade. Seventh grade will be added in 2019 and eighth grade in 2020. The school’s mission is to empower students to become confident learners who are capable of critical thinking, problem solving and teamwork.  It strives to equip its students with the knowledge and skills they will need to succeed in an increasingly complex world, while enriching each day of their childhood.

Published in Education
Thursday, 15 February 2018 14:04

Valentine's Day at Saratoga Independent School

[Photos provided]

SARATOGA SPRINGS — On Wednesday, Feb. 14, children at the Saratoga Independent School invited their grandparents and “grandfriends” to visit with them and see their classrooms, school work and projects, a homemade snack, and other fun activities throughout the school. They were also given a tour of the new Middle School, scheduled to open in Sept. 2018.

“Children feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when they know that people in their family and community are interested in them and their school. Our second annual Grandparents and Grandfriends Day gives our students an opportunity to share a special part of their lives with their loved ones,” said Pamela Howard, Director of Development.

“Grandparents and good family friends, or ‘Grandfriends,’ are very important people in our children’s lives and in the life of Saratoga Independent School. Valentine’s Day, we celebrated the many gifts: laughter; understanding; listening; family stories and memories to last a lifetime; and, most of all, unconditional love that grandparents bring to our lives,” said Lisa Brown, Head of School.

Published in Education

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Before there was a Marilyn Monroe. Long before there was an “America’s Next Top Model.”

There was Audrey Munson. And her story trumps them all. 

Audrey was the iconic face and form that served as inspiration for Daniel Chester French’s Spencer Trask Memorial statue in Congress Park: “The Spirit of Life,” as well as nearly every major female statue cast in the early 1900s. Her visage stretched from New York City to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition to the image on the “Walking Liberty” U.S. half-dollar coin that was first minted in 1916.  

She was also a silent film star, appearing in the first known completely nude movie role as an artist’s model in Inspiration. Only one print of her in film, a movie called Purity, exists today.

But in any age, Audrey Munson’s life would not be regarded as “pure,” and her life and times will be portrayed in a performance of an original musical, American Muse, this weekend.  

Muse will be presented by the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation to benefit the restoration of the Spirit of Life and Spencer Trask Memorial. Performances will be held on Saturday, October 4 at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, October 5 at 2:30 p.m. in the Dee Sarno Theater at Saratoga Arts, 320 Broadway in Saratoga Springs.

Munson’s life unfolded like a soap opera full of drama, scandal and mental illness. Born in Rochester in 1891, Audrey was pushed into modeling at age 15 by her mother. Audrey quickly became the most sought after model for sculptors and painters throughout the American Beaux-Arts building boom (from 1900-1920).

After doing four silent films in California, Munson returned to New York in 1919 and was living with her mother in a boarding house owned by Dr. Walter Wilkins. Wilkins fell in love with Munson and murdered his wife, Julia, so he could be available for marriage.  

Although Munson and her mother had left New York prior to the murder, the police still wished to question them, resulting in a nationwide search. 

They were finally questioned in Toronto, Canada, where they testified that they had moved out because Mrs. Wilkins had requested it. This satisfied the police, but the negative publicity generated by the case effectively ended Munson’s career as a model and actress. Wilkins was tried, found guilty and sentenced to the electric chair. He hanged himself in his prison cell before the sentence could be carried out.

By 1920, Munson, unable to find work anywhere, returned with her mother to the town of Mexico, New York and worked selling kitchen utensils door to door. On May 27, 1922, she swallowed a solution with mercury in an attempt to take her own life.

In 1931, a judge finally ordered the 39-year-old Munson into a facility for treatment. Audrey died in 1996 at 104 years old, having spent her last 65 years in an upstate New York psychiatric hospital.

Tickets for American Muse are $15 for adults; $10 for seniors; and $7 for students. They may be purchased at the door or by calling (518) 339-0636. 

Published in News