Atrium School

Excellence with Joy

Eleven Students Graduate from Eighth Grade

On June 11, 11 students from Atrium School graduated from eighth grade, including the school’s first students to attend Atrium from PreK through eighth grade.

In Atrium tradition, this year’s graduation speaker was an alumna, Celia Reddick ’96, a Ph.D. candidate in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education studying the intersection of education and migration. Ms. Reddick told graduates, “When I look at my daughter Keza, I want for her so many of the things that I heard you all describe about your experiences at Atrium and that I hope you continue to pursue and find in your next steps. I wish for her to develop a sense of curiosity, of empathy, of awareness, and of action. And I wish, most of all, that she too will declare one day how much she cares for her classmates and they for her, and to describe, as many of you did, the foundation that those vital relationships have provided so that she too can explore the world.”

Photo by Joe Murphy

Photo by Joe Murphy

Students from the Class of 2019 will be attending a variety of public and independent schools in the area: Boston Latin School, Cambridge School of Weston, Chapel Hill Chauncy Hall, Concord Academy, Gann Academy, and McCallie School, as well as Arlington High School, Belmont High School, Minuteman High School, and Newton South High School.

“In reading some of the last poems you've written at Atrium, the subjects and emotions are wide-ranging and the styles are varied,” said Head of School Marshall Carter in his graduation address. “Uncertainty comes up numerous times, as do strength and confidence. But there is a shared voice, a unified vision, and sense of cohesion in them. I hope that Atrium has given you, among many other things, these two things: one is the power of your own voice on its own, and the other is an understanding of the power of your voice in concert with others.”

Atrium Hosts Alumni Reunion Reception

This weekend, Atrium hosted a reunion reception for alumni from the classes of 1999–2009. Graduates came together to reconnect and reminisce about their time at Atrium, singing songs and telling stories. It was a deeply moving and emotional evening, full of fond memories and reunions between old friends. To stay abreast of other upcoming alumni events and to be added to our alumni mailing list, please click here.

Fourth and Fifth Grade Engineering Projects

Fourth and fifth graders have recently completed an engineering project in which students had to identify and research problems inside the school, before designing and testing a solution. After finishing their projects, students did a “Shark Tank”-style pitch for members of the administration, who will then decide which projects will be built and installed at school this spring.

Eighth Grade Clusters Presentation

This week, Middle Schoolers had their demonstrations of learning for their Clusters block. Middle School students rotate through three two-week Cluster learning blocks throughout the year, cycling through Performing Arts, STEM, and Digital Storytelling. For the fall rotation, eighth graders were in Performing Arts, focusing on social justice issues like immigration, racism, and ableism.

Third Grade Rocketeers

How do you build a rocket? Our third graders can tell you! This fall, the Rocketeers learned how to build rockets, teaching them about the scientific and engineering elements of designing rockets while simultaneously helping them to practice the patience and consideration required to learn from their mistakes and improve their designs. Also, rockets are pretty awesome and fun.

PreK's Walk to Willow Pond

PreK students recently took a walk to Willow Pond to document the seasonal changes they observed. Prior to the trip, PreK students predicted what they would see, making arguments about why they would see it. During the trip, they observed and investigated their prior claims, collected evidence, and paid particular attention to a tree the class took notice of earlier in the year. Did it grow? Does the bark feel different in the fall? At the end of the trip, the class gathered together in a circle, reflecting on what they saw.

Seventh Grade Probability Carnival

At the end of their probability unit, Atrium School seventh graders design games with several probabilities. They calculate the odds of winning and award tickets, with the goal being an unfair payout so that they "make money". The entire school attends the Probability Carnival, where each game is played.

Virginia L. Kahn (1927-2018)

Click here for information on Ginny Kahn’s memorial service.


It is with deep sadness—and profound admiration for a life so well-lived—that we announce the death of Virginia L. Kahn, the visionary founder of Atrium School. Ginny, as we all knew her, died peacefully on Friday afternoon at her home in Cambridge, after several days of visits by old friends, family, her dear caregivers, and loved ones. Her charisma, charm, and affection for others remained vital, even as she slipped away. Ginny was 90 years old.
Ginny’s own early education in New York City was at the Lincoln School, a beloved place that deeply informed her vision of what schooling could be for children. As an educator, she perennially sought to spark joy in learning, strength in community, and authentic experiences. In 1981, she articulated a desire to reinvigorate empathy in children’s schooling, and in 1982 she founded Atrium School. Ginny served as the first board chair and Bruce Droste was the founding director.
With their leadership, Atrium was quickly a success. After just a decade, a founding board member wrote, “What you have done Ginny, in the founding of Atrium School, is a remarkable achievement. Many of us dream about such things, but you managed to pull it off. Your vision has been remarkable and prophetic.” Of the impact of Atrium, an alumna recently wrote, “When I reflect on my adult life, many of my deeply held values can be traced right back to The Atrium: confidence in myself as a learner, a love of curiosity and play, a passion for contributing to social justice movements, and the power of community and music to lift the spirit and create resilience and joy.”
Ginny loved to witness Atrium in action, and until very recently she attended musical performances and visited classrooms. She loved having our students visit her at home; often they would quite literally sit at her feet to hear her wonderful stories. More often though, she asked them questions, and she listened intently to their answers. Ginny had an unusually profound respect for all kinds of children, and all kinds of learners.
Ginny will be buried in a small, private ceremony for family and close friends. Later this year, Atrium School will join with the Kahn family to host a celebration of her life and legacy. Today, please join me in expressing your condolences to Ginny’s family, and in expressing profound gratitude to Ginny for the extraordinary gifts she gave us all: Atrium the school, but also the Atrium values, experiences, and inspiration that each one of us carries within.
In the closing words of her memoir Never a Dull Moment, Ginny writes “I am an eternal optimist and so hope I will live to see us become part of a more cohesive and peaceful world. I am forever hopeful!” Ginny wanted all of us to live in such a world, and indeed, we continue her legacy when we work to make our world more cohesive, and more peaceful. 

Marshall W. Carter
Head of School

Welcome to Atrium!

Today, we held our annual Welcome Assembly, in which every new member of the Atrium community received a welcome sunflower from an eighth grader. Head of school Marshall Carter welcomed new students and eighth graders shared their own greeting. Librarian Susan Jacoby and art teacher Talin Megherian invited visitors to view the library’s new artwork, created to more accurately represent Atrium’s population. Middle School math teacher Liz Caffrey, fifth grade teacher Nicole Moran and kindergarten teacher Jaleesa Anselm asked families to consider “What is math?” (definitions, not opinions), and to write their conclusions in a banner to be contemplated and discussed later. To new students and old, welcome (back) to Atrium!

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What Teachers Did Over Summer Vacation

At Atrium, learning is a continual process—both the simple act of learning and learning how to teach. Summer is no exception, and Atrium educators spend much of the summer doing professional development and learning how to enhance their teaching. This summer, Middle School teachers Laura Page (science), Paul Capobianco (social studies) and Julia Schroeder (ELA) each participated in Developmental Designs' Education for Equity program, a program focused on social-emotional learning and social justice. After completing the workshop, the teachers worked together with art, music and PE specialists to help integrate social-emotional learning more fully across all the subject areas.  

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