The Ulysses S. Grant Foundation

An educational partnership between Yale and New Haven since 1953

Category: Uncategorized (page 3 of 3)

Color Wars!

A sixth grader is one happy camper after the pie eating contest this past Thursday!

The battle was on this past Thursday and Friday during activity period. Four teams–Blue, Green, Yellow, and Red–faced off for one of the most prestigious prizes of the summer: the U.S. Grant Color War Championship. Students (who were randomly divided into their teams) competed in a smorgasbord of crazy, fun events. Entourage, Duck Duck Goose, Fire Brigade, Tug of War, Pie Eating, Dance-Off, Capture the Flag … the list goes on. The hallways and Old Campus reverberated with shouts as the students competed in their events and cheered for their teammates.

At the end of the two days, Blue Team walked away with a decisive victory. The prize? Having free range to throw water balloons at Mr. Levine for five minutes. His sweater was quite soaked by the end.

We had so much fun and can’t believe that next week is the last week of the program!

Radio Journalism in Action

Mr. Levine’s and Ms. C’s Radio Journalism class just finished their first full-length news stories. The class split into two groups and set out to investigate rumors that U. S. Grant’s traditional end-of-summer lake trip would not be happening (editor’s note: the lake trip has been replaced by a beach trip). First came reporting: asking anyone and everyone–students, directors, park administrators, even former U. S. Grant staff–what they knew and how they felt about the news. Students then shaped their material into stories, adding voice-over narration to provide structure. We’ll be keeping the strengths and weaknesses of the final projects in mind as we head into our next and final piece!

Ticket to Ride

To see the third Parent Newsletter, click here.

From Ms. Lee:

After spending some time on probability, the ninth graders have moved on to the final topic in their discrete math course – graph theory. After learning the basics and studying weighted graphs, the students also learned how to use Dijkstra’s algorithm to find the shortest path between two points. On Tuesday, the students played a US Grant version of the game “Ticket to Ride.” Various cities in the US and Canada were connected by different length paths, and students rolled a die to see which length path they could build on each turn. Each group had a secret starting point and destination and had to try to build their route the fastest and most efficiently. The ninth graders quickly realized that they could also try to hinder different groups in the game and quickly began formulating strategies to win the game. “Ticket to Ride” on top of other games played throughout the class, such as “Grantjack,” “Deal or No Deal,” and “Plinko,” helped give the students insight into what type of game they might want to design for their final project.


To view this past week’s newsletter, click here.

From Ms. Tobin:

The calorimeter, complete with a burning pistachio!

In Seventh Grade Investigations we performed a Calorimeter experiment, which involved burning a pistachio in order to calculate its energy content! As the pistachio was burned, the energy lost from the nut was transferred to the water in the can above. The temperature change in the water was then used to calculate the energy content and the amount of calories in the pistachio. We learned how cool scientific devices can be used to measure the calories in the food we eat.  

Our first dispatch from the classroom

To see the first week’s parent newsletter, click here.

From Ms. Morris:

In Eighth Grade Humanities we have been working on using sensory detail to enhance our writing, specifically our writing about place. We read George Ella Lyon’s poem “Where I’m From” as an example of a detailed or “zoomed in” description of a place. After reading the poem students made maps of the important places in their lives. They labeled their maps with sensory details describing the tastes, smells, sounds, and feels of that place. I had them choose their favorite two details to share with the class and then I compiled these details into a collaborative group poem in the style of George Ella Lyon. Now each class has their own “Where We’re From” poem.


Where We’re From- Class A

We are from the water and the smell of salt air.


We are from children’s laughter,

From rough tree bark,

And gooey, sticky, marshmallows that melt in your mouth.


We are from apple cinnamon air freshener,

From seafood, and greasy hot dogs.

We are from buttery flavor.


We are from crashhhh! And booom!

From car horns and gasoline.

Our streets sound like an angry mob.


But we are also from gospel music,

From that tired, weary, brick house.


Where We’re From- Class B

We are from the long grass,

From the protective tree

By the bubbling river;

It smells like wood and animal fur.


We are from the goose poop on the boulevard,

From branches that snap,

And dogs that bark.

We are from the screams

Of children



In the pool.

We are from batman.


We are from grandma’s cornbread and

Spanish chicken with rice and beans.

We are from Johnny Rocket’s hamburgers,

From Mom’s rice balls,

And Dad’s artichokes.

We are from food still sizzling—

It tastes like creamy tomato sauce.

The first two days!

We could not have been more excited on Thursday to see all the students arrive at Dwight Hall!

The air was abuzz with greetings as students settled into the Common Room for morning meeting. Everyone quieted down after the opening daily cheer–“U-S-G-R-A-N-T!” “R-E-S-P-E-C-T!”–and the first day of the program was underway. In their morning core classes, students were introduced to the subjects that they will be studying for the next five weeks. They wrote poems, explored the flaura and fauna of Old Campus, and looked at optical illusions. During lunch, new and returning students alike met new friends and caught up with old ones. In the afternoon, students went off to the first of their two electives for the week. To cap off the first day, spoken word artists from some of Yale’s student groups (including a former Grant student and a former Grant teacher) performed for everyone and led the students in a reflective writing exercise!

Friday was also wonderful, continuing the introductions of the first day.

We hope that the students will be well-rested after their first weekend of summer and ready for the first full week at Grant! The teacher team cannot wait for tomorrow morning.


In the afternoon, students attend electives. We are proud of the extensive smorgasbord of offerings this summer!

The “advertisement” video from Family Orientation can be viewed here.

New Haven Politics: Who Rules Our City? Mr Levine

In this class, we will study the history and current political system of New Haven. We will read, watch films, go on walking tours of the city, and talk to historians, politicians, journalists, and community leaders and activists. We will try to understand why the city looks the way it does now, and how political power has been distributed over time. Finally we will examine the current mayoral race, at the end of which we will elect ourselves a mayor. Overall, two questions will be central to us: what is democracy in New Haven, and what should it be?

Radio Journalism, Ms. Calagiovanni and Mr. Levine

What happens when we take journalism from the page to the radio? In this elective, we will explore the medium of radio journalism: telling stories through sound. Through a variety of projects, we will explore and investigate the world around us. We will learn about recording sound, conducting interviews, and putting it all together into an exciting final product.

The Force vs. Buildings: The Physics of Buildings and Structures, Ms. Lee

Ever wondered how buildings are planned and built? In this course, we’ll become engineers exploring the physics behind buildings and structures. We’ll look at how buildings withstand gravity and high winds, and how they survive natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes. Using our new knowledge, we’ll even build some structures of our own and see how they can withstand the forces!

Game Time, Ms. Tobin

What are the 17 basic rules of soccer? Who is Ronaldo? What inequalities exist in the game of soccer? Through lively discussions, soccer demonstrations, and documentaries, students will learn about the history of soccer and the impact the game has had on different countries worldwide. Students will participate in interactive soccer drills, including juggling, shooting, and soccer tennis, in order to develop an active, involved understanding of the game. Finally, this course will culminate in a discussion of the sport as a force of change and by playing a scrimmage the last day of class.

The City: An Investigation, Ms. A-P

What is a city and how does it work? Using New Haven as our guide we will investigate how cities meet human needs and have their perks. We’ll look through clues like maps every class period, go on clue-finding expeditions, and ultimately decide what we would do to make the city even better! Students are required to have a brain and a desire to understand their city better, and be excited to investigate!

Building Dance: Movement and Choreography, Ms. A-P and Ms. Morris

What defines dance? What are the basic elements that link ballet to hip hop to modern to swing? How could all these different forms fall under the same category? In this elective we will work toward answering these questions by looking closely at the way that dances are constructed. We will begin by building up a basic movement vocabulary then work on manipulating these movements, focusing each week on different specific elements such as tempo, space, form, and quality. Students will learn about different styles of dance in order to see how each style uses the same elements to create a different effect. Students will use these tools to create their own phrases of movement and at the end of the elective students will perform a collaborative piece of their own creation!

The Dinos Aren’t Dead! : A Scientific Exploration of Dinosaurs and Birds, Ms. Morris

 More than 200 million years before humans walked this planet, dinosaurs ruled it. But what remains now of those gigantic and majestic beasts?  We have fossils, but we also have living remains. Modern day birds, the descendants of dinosaurs, give us living clues into the past of their long extinct ancestors. In this course we will work to uncover the relationship between birds and dinosaurs. We will also explore the most unique and mysterious features of birds: How do they learn their songs? How do they navigate on their long migration voyages? Students will also get to apply their knowledge of birds to the world around them, becoming familiar with the birds that inhabit their own city.

Hands-On Classical: Classical Music Explained Through Activities, Mr. Veitch

In this elective, we will study the different facets of classical music. Through hands-on activities, students will learn about pitch, rhythm, melody, musical instruments, structure, composers, and musical expression. Examples of activities include manipulating pitch with water in glass jars, creating musical instruments with everyday materials, and writing stories based on what one hears in a piece of music. At the end of the course, students will be able to understand a work of classical music in terms of its components and express an opinion about the work using specific terminology.

Natural Disasters: Tornadoes, Volcanoes, and Blizzards—Oh, My! Mr. Veitch and Ms. Tobin

How does a tornado form? What makes a volcano erupt? How did one storm bring three feet of snow to New Haven? This elective focuses on various types of natural disasters, including earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, thunderstorms, hurricanes, and blizzards. Through hands-on experiments, such as simulating soil liquefaction in earthquakes using water and sand, students will learn the science behind these disasters and develop research skills along the way. Students will also learn historical examples of and safety precautions for each type of disaster. The course will culminate in a research project on new technologies to combat the harmful effects of natural disasters. Students will leave the course with a better understanding of the natural world and its relationship with human beings.

Environmental Justice: A Social Movement to Unite All, Ms. Saracho

What does the Civil Rights Movement have to do with the Environmental Movement? How is Earth Day connected with the Montgomery Bus Boycott?  We will investigate how all of these moments of social change are all related, all the way through today, and together explore everyday environmental impacts from flushing a toilet to driving a car. At the end of the summer students will be able to articulate what we can do as empowered communities to be a part of history.

Spoken Word, Ms. C

If performers become poets and poets become performers, the result is an exciting art form called spoken word. What’s that? Spoken word artist Sarah Kay calls it “poetry that doesn’t just want to sit on paper.” In this elective, we’ll watch and talk about the work of Kay and other performance poets. Then, we’ll become a spoken word “troupe,” or performance group, and work to write, edit, practice, and perform our own original spoken word pieces.

Journey to China, Ms. Saracho and Ms. Lee

Through engaging activities students will not only learn everyday useful phrases in Chinese, but also important aspects of Chinese culture. We’ll explore proper etiquette, delicious cuisine, and important festivals. By the end of the summer, the students will be more aware of the unique characteristics of China.

Core courses

Every morning, students at Grant attend a core class in both Humanities and Investigations. Like all classes at Grant, these courses are completely original, designed for this summer by our teacher team. Enjoy!

6th Grade Humanities
Responsible Food Production and Consumption: Environmental, Economic, and Social Sustainability, Ms. Saracho
What is considered “food” in modern American culture and why? How is it produced and handled? What are the structures of the American Food System? Through the summer we’ll investigate these questions to discover why we eat what we do, as well as discover the major players in dictating which foods are abundant. At the end of this course, students will be able to analyze historical documents and articulate their own agency in what they choose to eat.

7th Grade Humanities
First Person History, Ms. Calagiovanni
What if we stopped thinking about history as just facts and dates and spent more time getting to know the people behind the stories? In this class, we’ll work as historians to use primary documents to look into the lives and work of historical figures and reconsider what we thought we knew about famous figures like Helen Keller and Rosa Parks. At the end of the class, students will be able to analyze primary documents and use them like puzzle pieces to tell the stories of the past.

8th Grade Humanities
Finding A Voice: An Exploration of the Art of Storytelling, Ms. Morris
We encounter stories everywhere we go, but what is the best way to tell a story about a particular person? Place? Event? In this course we will explore the stories of the people and places that surround us and well as the stories of our own lives. We will learn to capture stories not only with written words but with spoken words and images as well. Students will work on the mechanics of storytelling by building up a writing toolbox of skills. At the end of this course, students will be able to analyze and think critically about the way an author uses voice, point of view, and stylistic choices to tell his or her story. They will also have a greater understanding of the stories in their own lives and how they can make those stories most compelling using the tools they have acquired.

9th Grade Humanities
Poetry Hero: Xtreme Reading and Writing of Lyric Poems, Mr. Levine
Have you ever played Guitar Hero? Well this class is that, but for poetry. We will read classic (and not-so-classic) lyric from the ancient Greeks to the 21st Century Geeks. We will memorize, recite, and interpret as carefully and as wackily as we want. As long as we’re having fun. Authors will include Sappho, Emily Dickinson, Ezra Pound, and Us. Us? Yes, we will supplement our poetic learning with creative exercises that include imitations, Mad Libs, and illustration. Using our newfound prosodic skills, we may even have a poem battle, which is like a rap battle, but it’s…well, yeah, it’s a rap battle.

6th Grade Investigations

The Weird & the Wonderful: Evolution & Life on Planet Earth, Mr. Fishman
Ants that explode their bodies on command. Flowers that look like bees. There are so many incredible organisms on this planet! How have they developed these seemingly miraculous adaptations? This is the question that we will explore in this course. Beginning with an overview of the processes of evolution and speciation, we will then delve into a series of evolutionary “challenges” and see what an astonishing variety of solutions we can find in plants and animals around the world.

7th Grade Investigations
Food For Thought, Ms. Tobin
What is a carbohydrate and what is a lipid? How much of our eating is biological in nature? Why is our food environment “toxic?” This course will emphasize the chemistry and biology behind food and the way the food environment influences our everyday behavior. Through interactive experiments, students will learn research skills and how the scientific method applies to topics related to food and the digestive system. At the end of this course, students will understand the importance of making healthy nutrition choices and comprehend how individuals and the government can take action to implement positive changes in our food environment.

8th Grade Investigations
Your World & Your Brain: The Neuroscience Behind Everyday Experiences, Mr. Veitch
In this course, we will explore how one’s individual experience of the world is the product of brain activity. The course will focus on developing an understanding of the brain at the molecular and cellular levels. Building from this foundation, students will learn the parts of the brain and the neurological underpinnings of the senses, memory, learning, and emotion. Hands-on activities and experimentation will be used throughout. At the end of this course, students will understand how the brain generates everyday experiences for the individual. Students will also gain familiarity with the scientific method and learn to think critically about the world and how they experience it.

9th Grade Investigations
Mystery Math: Unraveling Discrete Mathematics, Ms. Lee
What’s your chance of winning the lottery? What is the best strategy in that game show? In this course, we will explore some major topics in discrete mathematics: including set theory, combinatorics, probability, and statistics. We’ll then see how all of these topics are used in real life, like in strategizing in “Deal or No Deal” or looking at weather predictions. By the end of this course, we’ll be able to use the new tools in our mathematical toolkit to make our own games, model everyday phenomenon, and analyze our own data.



Our staff

We are excited to present our teacher team for this summer!

Lucy Arthur-Paratley, Co-Director and Elective Teacher

Ms. A-P is from Lexington, KY, Horse Capital of the World. But instead of riding horses, she spends her free time dancing, reading the newspaper, hanging out with friends, and trying to keep up with her sister. She studies Political Science and Ethnicity, Race, and Migration and will be a senior. She will be teaching the electives The City and Building Dance. Ms. A-P could not be more excited to meet this year’s Grant students and work towards an awesome summer for everyone!

Eric Fishman, Co-Director and 6th Grade Investigations

Mr. Fishman is from Newton, MA, a small city outside of Boston. At home, he has two large, cuddly dogs who he wishes could live with him this summer. At Yale, he is a rising senior majoring in English. During the school year, he enjoys playing in his all-cello rock group. In the morning at Grant, he will be teaching a course on the diversity of life. Mr. Fishman could not be more excited to meet all the U.S. Grant students!

Ericka Saracho, 6th Grade Humanities

Ms. Saracho is a senior at Yale from Los Angeles, California. At school, she is majoring in Ethnicity, Race, & Migration and is concentrating in education and criminal justice. During the academic year, she works part time at Wexlar-Grant Elementary School as a reading tutor for second graders. Ms. Saracho loves playing rugby, cooking, and exploring new places in New Haven.

Rachel Tobin, 7th Grade Investigations

Ms. Tobin is a rising junior at Yale and hails from sunny Los Angeles, CA. She is on the Premed track and is majoring in Biology. She is involved in many teaching programs in New Haven, including Community Health Educators and Splash. She loves her five younger siblings, playing soccer, and baking. She’s excited for an awesome summer with U.S. Grant Students!

Julia Calagiovanni, 7th Grade Humanities

Ms. Calagiovanni is from Syracuse, NY. She is a junior at Yale majoring in English and Women’s Studies. She is involved in campus journalism, teaches after-school writing classes at Co-Op High School, and does community service with the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project. When she’s not writing, teaching, or volunteering, she enjoys reading, knitting, and spending time with friends.

Thomas Veitch, 8th Grade Investigations

Mr. Veitch grew up in Carlisle, Massachusetts, a small town 20 miles northwest of Boston. He is a junior at Yale, majoring in psychology with a focus on neuroscience and evolution. Outside of classes, he enjoys playing French horn, reading, and being politically active on campus. He has tutored ESL in New Haven and spent 5 summers working at a hands-on science museum. He is tremendously excited to be a part of U.S. Grant!

Kyra Morris, 8th Grade Humanities

Ms. Morris grew up in Cambridge, MA, and is a junior at Yale majoring in English. At Yale she leads freshmen outdoor orientation trips, works for the Yale Sustainable Food Project, and dances with a Different Drum Dance Company. Ms. Morris loves any activity that takes place outdoors, but especially enjoys running and skiing. This summer she is looking forward to runs up East Rock and of course to meeting this year’s U.S. Grant students!

Hyun “Soy” Lee, 9th Grade Investigations

Ms. Lee is a rising junior at Yale from Chicago, IL and Seoul, Korea. Although she’s lived in Chicago for most of her life, she went to school in Korea for four years. At Yale, She studies Applied Mathematics with a concentration in Computer Science. She is involved in a middle school math program called Mathcounts, where she coaches students in schools around New Haven and also organizes a large annual competition held at Yale. In her free time, Ms. Lee enjoys reading, biking, and riding horses.

Nick Levine, 9th Grade Humanities

Mr. Levine grew up in New York City. He is a rising senior at Yale. He is interested in the history of science and would like to build a friendly robot army and travel to Mars someday. He wishes he didn’t have to be called Mr. Levine. He is still Nick in spirit.



Hello and welcome to the new and improved U.S. Grant website. We are excited not only for the beautified aesthetics, but also for the addition of a wonderful new feature: a blog! Throughout the summer, the directors and teachers will periodically be posting dispatches from the classroom. Check back in every so often!

As we speak, the U.S. Grant teacher team is hard at work constructing our core classes and electives. The team this year hails from all over the country: from California to Kentucky, Syracuse to Boston. The teachers—all undergraduates at Yale College—are majoring in everything from Applied Math to English. They will bring a wide range of academic interests to their classrooms, and we could not be more thrilled for what they are going to be sharing with the U.S. Grant students this summer.

Every morning, students will have opportunities to study subjects in-depth in their Humanities and Investigations core classes. These original courses will delve into topics as diverse as autobiographies and neuroscience. Students will learn how to read poetry, analyze historical documents, construct statistical models, and so much more, all through interactive and engaging activites. In the afternoon, students will go to two different “elective” courses, where they will learn alongside peers from different grades. Elective topics for this year include subjects as drastically different as the biology of birds, dance choreography, and city politics! To top it all off, we are in the process of arranging a fascinating lineup of speakers and field trips for the afternoons.

We look forward to meeting all of you at the kickoff for the summer: the Family Orientation, at 5:30 pm on Monday, June 24 in Yale’s Loria Center. See you there!

All our best,

Lucy Arthur-Paratley and Eric Fishman



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