From Paint Night to Culture Fair

March 2023

Dr. Sally Mingarelli

Head of School, EF Academy Pasadena

Dear Families,

I cannot believe that we are so quickly approaching the conclusion of our inaugural year!  I couldn’t be more proud of the programs we have launched in academics, university & academic advising, and residential & student life.  In every area of the school, passionate educators are working closely with students to develop their individual strengths while fostering a sense of community and family.

I hope families enjoyed our second round of family/advisor conferences before spring break, where your student could focus on setting academic goals for the rest of the school year.  Meanwhile, starting in mid-April all returning students will set future-facing academic goals in 1:1 meetings with their University and Academic Advisor (UAA) as they collaborate on course sign-ups for next year.  Please reach out at any time to your student’s advisor or UAA if you have questions about academic progress or course selections.  You can look forward to another email from me in mid-April that shares our finalized course offerings document for the 2023-2024 school year.  You will see increased AP course offerings and a number of unique Advanced Studies courses added across our core disciplines, along with growth in our arts and technology offerings.  We are thrilled to continue growing our offerings every year to provide more choice and more challenge for our students.

The UAA office is also busy in Quarter 4 helping Grade 11 students better understand the college admissions process through their participation on “Model Admissions Committees.”  In this unique program, students work with regional college admissions officers from a number of colleges to review a stack of hypothetical college applications and make admissions decisions.  By standing in the shoes of the decision makers, our students will be prepared to put their best foot forward in their own applications while also holding a more informed mindset about the variables in this complex process.
In the 3rd quarter, we began the process of launching student leadership roles.  Interested students had the opportunity to apply for student ambassador roles and for seats on the student council, and both groups have now been formed.  In 4th quarter, student residential life leadership roles will be announced.  It has been a thrill to watch our founding students define what it means to be a student leader at EF Academy Pasadena!
Our 3rd quarter was also rich in student and residential life programming, and 4th quarter promises even more memorable events!  This month’s newsletter was written by our student activities team to give you a glimpse of these past and upcoming events.  Please enjoy this opportunity to better understand the intentional ways that we build community, cultural understanding, and fun!
As always, thank you for the privilege of trusting us with your children.  We are so proud of these young people!

All of our activities

EF Academy Activities Team

We are thankful for the opportunity to welcome back your students for Quarter 4. We are deep in planning for our inaugural Culture Fair on Saturday, April 15th and cannot wait to debut our Prom theme to students next week at Community Meeting! Before we get too excited about the inaugural traditions coming up, we wanted to share with you a few highlights from the vibrant activities we offered in Quarter 3.

 As a reminder, our Activities department coordinates programs within the following categories:

  • Events— On-campus programs and gatherings that foster student engagement and social connection

  • Excursions — Chaperoned trips within the Southern California region that provide high-spirited experiences for students

  • Shuttles— Transportation for students to explore within local hubs of entertainment, dining, and shopping

Activities Highlights from Quarter 3

Our Paint Night in late February was an eventful activity in Alder House as students followed along with a virtual Bob Ross tutorial while they painted their own canvas tote bags. While some followed Ross, others opted to create their own design. You can see the creativity and talent shining in their finished designs!

Holi was celebrated by our campus community right before Spring Break in early March. A Hindu tradition, Holi is a celebration of color, love, and spring. This event brought so much joy to the afternoon and reminded us of how much kindness our community is filled with.

In February, we held our first Spirit Week! Students, faculty, and staff across the U.S. participate in this American tradition by dressing to match a certain theme each day of the week to show school unity, spirit, creativity, and humor. Spirit Weeks usually lead up to a sports match or a special school event where students come together to celebrate. Throughout our Spirit Week (pictured above), EF Academy members wore their favorite colors, represented a musical artist or sports team, and dressed as Hollywood stars. For Friday—“Movie Character Day”—you can see that our faculty came in their impressive costumes, which perfectly set the tone for the Outdoor Movie & Pizza Night (pictured below). According to a report by The Connecticut Association of Schools, “Students with school spirit do more than show support for their school. They perform better academically, are more socially and civically engaged, and are happier in general.” Furthermore, the study shows student statistics where students who participate in school spirit events are 91% more confident, 90% more likely to be leaders in their community, 73% more fulfilled, 88% happier than the average student, and more active in their communities by 87%.

The excursion to Knott’s Berry Farm in February had to be the highlight for our thrill-seeking students! Just an hour away in Orange County, this Old Western theme park offers a unique combination of world-class mammoth roller coasters, adventure rides, and family attractions with characters from the Peanuts comic strips roaming around. Some of our kids ran into Snoopy, the world’s most loveable beagle! 

Upcoming Student Activities in Quarter 4

We are looking forward to our Laguna Beach Clean-Up to give back to the community in a sustainable way, a competitive Spirit Week leading up to Culture Fair, a lively dance floor at Prom, a memorable excursion to Disney California Adventure Park, a Jaws-themed “dive-in” movie at the pool, the long-awaited staff versus student volleyball game, and the End-of-Year Celebration commemorating all the students who have been a part of EF Academy Pasadena’s founding year. Please take a look at the attached activities calendars to see the many opportunities our students have to make life-long memories with each other!

Culture Fair is a years-long tradition of EF Academy and we are beyond excited to put our Pasadena spin on it. With 28 countries represented on our campus, most are preparing to partake in the festivities. Decorations, supplies, and snacks are flowing into our mailroom daily!

Held in Blackwell Hall on Saturday, April 15 for an all-day celebration, we are looking forward to seeing various demonstrations, including cooking (with many awaiting the tasting sessions), folk dancing, and cultural showcases. A highlight for us has been seeing our students’ impressive leadership and collaboration skills in action, combined with their passion to share their cultures—truly building the global community we’ve aspired to become back in August.

We are excited to host a long-standing American high school tradition: Prom! Short for “promenade”, Prom is a formal dance held near the end of a school year to celebrate students’ individual and collective achievements in a fun social setting with their school community. This year, our inaugural Prom will be held on Saturday, May 13 at a local Pasadena ballroom where we will enjoy a 3-course dinner and dancing to the theme of planet disco. We encourage our students to dress in their most dazzling gowns, suits, and formal wear on this special night.

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