Monthly Archives: April 2011

Gold Medals, Top 10% and Honor Society Inductions for Oakcrest Math and Language Students

Virginia Mathematics League

The official results of the Virginia Mathematics League Competition for the Academic Year 2010-2011 are another success story for Oakcrest students.  1,919 students from 95 high schools in Virginia participated in a series of math contests this school year.  The Oakcrest Team performed exceptionally well.   As a school our team placed seventh out of 95 schools.  Individually, Lourdes B., a senior, placed fifth out of 1,919 students!

National Latin Exam Awards

Our amazing Latin students here at Oakcrest were joined by over 150,000 others from all 50 states and 12 countries including Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, China, England, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, Zimbabwe, Iran, and Malaysia in taking the National Latin Exam. The students are tested on their Latin reading comprehension skills, along with their abilities to define derivatives, identify important cultural, historical, geographical, and mythological items, and their capacity for being able to translate accurately.

The American Classical League awards no medals for the best student within a school: awards are only given in comparison with the average of the 150,000 students. This year, many of our students have achieved high scores, as they have in the past.  We have 4 students who are in the top 10% of all the Latin students who took the National Latin Exam and qualified for the Gold Medal: Laura C., Maddie M., Theresa B., and Mary Z.

Here is a brief summary of the results:

Latin IV Poetry – 2 Gold Medals, 2 Magna Cum Laude, 1 Cum Laude

Latin III – 1 Gold Medal, 1 Silver Medal, 2 Magna Cum Laude, 1 Cum Laude

Latin II – 2 Silver Medals, 1 Magna Cum Laude

Latin IB / Latin I – 1 Gold Medal, 1 Silver Medal, 2 Magna Cum Laude, 2 Cum Laude

Latin IA – 4 Outstanding Achievements, 2 Certificate of Achievements

Foreign Language and Math Honor Societies Induction

On Friday April 15, the Latin, Spanish, and Math Honor Societies had their induction ceremonies.  Miss Ortiz, Assistant Head of School, presided over the ceremonies.  Mrs. Theresa (Currano) Talavera ’93 was the keynote speaker.  Mrs. Talavera speaks fluent Spanish, French, Italian, Russian and German.  A former Oakcrest language teacher herself, Mrs. Talavera shared the story of how she developed a love and appreciation of foreign language, and spoke about the importance of learning languages.

The Oakcrest Chapter of the nationally recognized Junior Classical League Latin Honor Society (begun in 1936), affiliated with the American Classical League, recognizes Upper School students in grades 10-12 for excellence in their command of the Latin language and for their study of its literature.

Congratulations to the 2010-2011 members: 

Theresa B., Emma B., Kathryn B., Kathleen B., Lucy C., Amanda C., Alexandra D., Kathleen D., Madison D., Desiree F., Caroline H., Paula K., Julie M., Madeline M., Mary M., Elizabeth N., Kathleen N., Anne P., Elizabeth T., Elizabeth W., Adrienne W., and Mary Z.

The Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica was founded in 1953 by the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese to honor students in North American secondary schools.   Mrs. Laura Mandino, of Oakcrest School, established this chapter, El Capítulo Cervantino, in 2004, in honor of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, author of Las Aventuras del Ingenioso Hidalgo, don Quijote de la Mancha.    The purpose of the society is to recognize high student achievement in Spanish and Portuguese and to promote a continuity of interest in Hispanic Studies and Luso-Brazilian Studies.  To qualify, students must be a regularly enrolled student of a secondary school (grades 9-12) who has maintained an honor average of 87% or above for at least 3 semesters.  Other criteria for selection into the Society are character, leadership, and seriousness of purpose, cooperation, honesty, service and commitment to others.   

Congratulations to the 2010-2011 inductees: Layla A., Nancy F., Margaret G., Jacqueline H., Lovisa M-O., Katherine M., Kaitlin O.

Current members of the Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica are: Lourdes B., Christina C., Alessandra C., Eileen, D., Rachel E., Alexandra G., Beka H., Mary Theresa K., Sally L., Carolina L., Theresa M., Angélica-María M.

Mu Alpha Theta is an organization whose purpose is to stimulate interest in mathematics by providing public recognition of superior mathematical scholarship and by promoting various mathematical activities.  It is co-sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, and the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges.  There are now over 1500 chapters in the United States and foreign countries.  Colleges and major universities recognize membership in Mu Alpha Theta as an important part of the student’s academic resume.  Topics presented during club meetings and interest generated therein help members to gain a greater understanding and enjoyment of mathematics.

Congratulations to the inductees of Oakcrest Chapter of The Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Honor Society:  Kathleen B., Lucy C., Amanda C., Madison D., Abby F., Nancy F., Maggie G., Jacqueline H., Lovisa M.-O., Katherine M., Elizabeth N., Katie N., Bonnie N., Katie O., Monica R., Elizabeth T. and Rachel W.


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Filed under Academics, Alumnae, Liberal Arts

Senior Service Project at Ronald McDonald House

The Senior Service Project is a cherished tradition at Oakcrest.  As part of their project, on April 14th, the Seniors spent the day volunteering at Ronald McDonald House in Fairfax, Virginia.  The Seniors bought groceries and house supplies, prepared meals, cleaned the house and did light yard work.  A second group of Seniors will be spending a day volunteering at Ronald McDonald House on April 29th

From the Ronald McDonald House website:

“Our Ronald McDonald House program provides a “home-away-from-home” for families so they can stay close by their hospitalized child at little or no cost.  Our Houses are built on the simple idea that nothing else should matter when a family is focused on healing their child – not where they can afford to stay, where they will get their next meal or where they will lay their head at night to rest.” 

To learn more, visit the Ronald McDonald House website here.

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JUNIORS AND SENIORS: Don’t forget to check out the College Corner Page for new blog entries on AP schedules, summer internships, teacher recommendations for college applications, and the NEW Oakcrest Business Internship!!  Click here to go to College Corner.

Questions or suggestions for Charger Chatter?  Contact our blog editor, Mrs. Watts at

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Filed under Character, Faith, School Traditions, Service, Special Events, Student Life

Fine Arts Department Hosts Paper Crane Making Event for Japan!

Last week, The Fine Arts Department hosted a week-long paper crane making event to benefit relief efforts in Japan.  Oakcrest students, faculty and staff joined the worldwide effort, organized by Students Rebuild and, of folding symbolic paper cranes in order to promote hope and healing while illustrating their concern and well wishes for the people of Japan. 

“These simple yet powerful gestures will trigger a $200,000 donation from the Bezos Family Foundation – $2 for each crane received – to Architecture for Humanity’s reconstruction efforts in Japan.” (- Students Rebuild.)  Once the goal of 100,000 paper cranes has been met, they will be woven into an art installation – “a symbolic gift from students around the globe to Japanese youth.”

There is a tradition in Japan that if you fold 1,000 paper cranes, you will be granted one wish.  Oakcrest made a goal of folding 1,000 cranes.  WE SURPASSED OUR GOAL!



For more information, visit Students Rebuild for Japan here.

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Filed under Character, Clubs, Fine Arts, Service, Special Events, Student Life

Why Study Latin and the Classics?

Part I: English Speakers Need Latin

By Mrs. Karen Carducci

“Latin? Latin is dead. It’s useless and a waste of time. Why would you ever want to study it?” You might hear this statement, often uttered in a slightly sneering way. People who make this comment often have never studied Latin, so they don’t know what it is they are missing. Let me share with you—and them—a few reasons why Oakcrestians should study Latin and the Classical world. This will be the first in a series.

Photos of Latin II and Latin IB students at the U.S. Botanical Gardens in Washington, DC.  Carolus Linnaeus + Latin + plants = fun hands-on learning!

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We should start with practical considerations: Over 80% of our English words come, directly or indirectly, straight from Latin. The English-speaking world adopted Latin words wholesale several times. Without Latin, in fact, our modern English language would not exist.

Let’s look at it from a historical perspective. Have you ever heard of Julius Caesar? He made the first Roman incursion against the island later known as Britannia, and 80 years later, the emperor Claudius made Britannia a Roman province (43 AD). The resulting influx of Roman soldiers and merchants led to the adoption of Latin by the local Celtic peoples as the language of learning, law, and commerce. Many place names came from Latin, such as Londinium, which later became London. Later, Christian priests were trained in Latin, the language of the Church. They visited England and converted (Latin: convertere: “to turn around”) the local people, bringing to them the light of salvation (Latin: salus, “safety/salvation”), and the history (Latin: historia, “history”) and tradition (Latin: traditio, “handing down”) of the Church using largely Latin terminology, including even the word religion itself (Latin: religio).

Eventually, after the Roman government left Britain to fend for herself (410 AD) Saxons, Angles, Jutes, and other peoples invaded, leading to a widespread loss of knowledge about Christianity and literacy. But Irish missionary priests came to found monasteries (Latin: monasterium) and they brought back knowledge of the Christian faith. Along with literacy and learning, they added more Latin words to the growing English language. Yes, the Irish (trained and educated in Latin) saved the English.

In 1066 AD, William the Conqueror invaded England, bringing with him Norman French, a language derived from Latin. The new rulers imposed their own legal (Latin: lex, legis) and culinary (Latin: culina) terms upon the English-speakers, all of which were, again, ultimately derived from Latin. During the Northern Renaissance in the late 15th-early 16th centuries, educated English speakers like St. Thomas More were so enthralled by Latin that they created their own Latin derivatives. Many of them were seized upon by other writers and became part of the rapidly expanding English vocabulary. An example is “recapitulate,” which comes from the Latin words re, meaning “again” and caput, capitis, meaning “head,” so therefore “recapitulate” means “go back to the head of the discussion.”

With the discovery of the telescope and other scientific advances, a new technical vocabulary arose, e.g., for describing how the moons of the planet Saturn revolved in space around it. Charles Linnaeus invented the modern science of taxonomy. It didn’t matter that he happened to be a Swedish scientist, because he used the innovative idea of naming newly-discovered organisms with Latin or Greek derivatives, and his love of Latin was carried over even to his own name, frequently appearing as “Carolus Linnaeus,” i.e., as it would be in Latin. Because of Linnaeus’ influence, new species are frequently described using Latin or Greek derivatives. A familiar example should suffice: Homo sapiens, the term for our genus and species (Latin: homo sapiens, “wise man”).

As you can see, Latin lives through our own language, English. Without the Latin (and Greek) heritage for English, we would not have a language capable of expressing sophisticated scientific or literary thoughts. To show this more clearly, here is the previous paragraph without Latin or Greek derivatives:

“With the of the and other, a new, of how the moons of the in around it. the for. It didn’t that he happened to be a Swedish, he the of naming newly- with or, and his love of was over even to his own name, as, as it would in. of , new are or. A should: the for our and (wise man).

Ultimately, to those who say: Latin is a dead language, then I respond: so is ours, without it.

To be better speakers, writers, and connoisseurs of English, our Oakcrestians should study Latin. They can reflect upon the connections between our language and the eternal language of the Romans, as these young women have done on their recent fieldtrip to the U.S. Botanic Gardens in Washington, DC. On this journey, the Latin students raced through a competitive Latin Nomenclature Scavenger Hunt (taken from Linnaeus’ scientific nomenclature) and reflected upon gardens, history, and the Romans (see above slideshow). As these students found out, Latin can be enlightening, entertaining, and exciting—and extremely relevant for the modern English-speaking world.

But this is just one major for why your daughter should study Latin. Stay tuned! There’s more to come in the next issue on Why Study Latin and the Classics?

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Filed under Academics, Faculty & Staff Reflections, Liberal Arts, Student Life

Join Us at the Spring Open House!

Oakcrest’s Spring Open House is on Tuesday, April 12, from 6:30-8:00 p.m.

 Join us and plan on bringing a friend!  Families can come and hear Ellen Cavanagh give a compelling talk about our mission and philosophy. Jerry Hadley, father of four Oakcrest alumnae, will address the importance of an Oakcrest education in forming women of character who will be leaders of the culture.  Oakcrest alum, Mary Gabriel (’01), will also speak about how her Oakcrest experience and the impact it has had on her college career and beyond. Families will also have the opportunity to meet Oakcrest’s supportive and attentive faculty who engage the students in a rigorous liberal arts curriculum. Families can also meet our students and see that they are cheerful young women who are motivated to develop their character, faith and intellect.

 If anyone has questions, please contact Terri Collins (703) 790-5450 ext. 106 or Your referral goes a long way to building the culture of our school.

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Filed under Alumnae, Special Events

March Mini-Courses at Oakcrest

At Oakcrest, Middle School students select different “mini-courses” each semester.  The offering of elective mini-courses to 6th – 8th graders to enhance each student’s learning experience has become a tradition at Oakcrest.  This semester’s mini-course offerings are World Cultures, Culinary Arts, Etiquette, Quilting Bees, Kitemaking, Scrapbooking and Board Games.  Other mini-courses offered in the past included photography, film-making, science “explore-a-vision,”  and jewelry-making.  With the exception of Culinary Arts, mini-courses take place every other week.  Culinary Arts takes place once a week.  The seventh grade curriculum includes one full semester of Culinary Arts, and one semester of mini-courses.

Last week, the World Cultures mini-course explored the French culture and language with Mrs. Larsen.  In Etiquette, the girls had a tea party with Miss Ortiz (Asst. Head of School), and also practiced writing thank-you notes to express gratitude.  The students in scrapbooking started their ‘scrapbooking gifts’. It’s an ABC scrapbook, where each page or section of a page is labeled with a letter and all of the content of that page starts with that letter. So far, each student has chosen the gift’s recipient and constructed her book. In Culinary Arts, the students learned to cook pasta and biscuits. The girls learned the rules and strategy of Blokus in Board Games.  The kitemaking group joined the girls in board games since most of their group was on a field trip.


Mrs. Larsen teaches the girls about French fashion, language and culture in the World Cultures mini-course.

Practicing writing thank-you notes



Remember to visit our PEC Page and College Corner by clicking on the side panel under “Blogroll.” 

To read College Corner’s recent stories, you may click on the links:

To read, “Juniors Embark on College Admissions Process on In-House College Day,” click here.

To read, “Get Those Pencils Ready,” (AP schedule), click here.

To read, “Summertime…and the Livin’ Is Easy,” (summer programs), click here.

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Filed under Academics, Clubs, Mini-Courses, School Traditions, Student Life

Sports Recap: Two Great Seasons for the Chargers!

By Mrs. Watts, Director of Development

We’ve just kicked off our Spring Sports Season, and Charger Chatter would like to give a shout out to all of our fall and winter sports teams for bringing the Chargers to victory in the past two seasons. 

I had the chance to interview Oakcrest’s Athletic Director, Miss Caroline Heeter, for a report of our fall and winter sports.  An Oakcrest alumna, Miss Heeter was a member of the Varsity Basketball and Softball Teams during her high school years at Oakcrest (including a brief stint on the Varsity Soccer Team).  She is one of three Heeter sisters who graduated from Oakcrest.  Not only has Miss Heeter been the Chargers’ fearless leader, she was also the inspiration behind the name of our blog, Charger Chatter! 

At Oakcrest, sports is about more than just going to practices and winning championships.  In line with the School’s mission, our athletes strive to live  virtues through their athletics.  Perseverance, patience, courage, selflessness, humility – these virtues are essential to being an Oakcrest athlete.  The abilities to take initiative, maintain a commitment, foster cooperation, respect competitors, and follow the rules of the game are leadership qualities demonstrated by each and every Charger. Whether it is in the classroom, at home, or on the sports field, the Chargers strive to improve and exhibit their strength of character in all they do.

Reporting from the desk of our athletic director, here’s a recap of our Fall and Winter Seasons:



Varsity Tennis: The Chargers finished 1st in the Potomac Valley Athletic Conference and also took home 1st place in the PVAC Tennis Tournament!  Mary Margaret E. was named Tournament MVP for the second year in a row.  During the tournament, Mary Margaret E. won #1 singles, Caroline H. won #2 singles, and Maddie N. and Jean M. won #2 doubles.

Varsity Volleyball: The Chargers finished 2nd in the Potomac Valley Athletic “AA” Conference, and also won the 2nd place plaque for the PVAC “AA” Tournament Championship game.  Five players made the All Conference Team – Jackie H. (1st Team), Haley F. (2nd Team), Janey N. (2nd Team), Katerina W. (Honorable Mention), and Tara H. (Honorable Mention).

Varsity Soccer: The Chargers finished 5th in the Potomac Valley Athletic “A” Conference, with two of our players making the All Conference Team – Leire D. (1st Team) and Alex A.

Varsity and Middle School Cross Country: Both of our Cross Country teams ran a great season, with our Middle School team finishing particularly well.  The MS Cross Country team finished in 1st place and took home the PVAC Champions Banner for the first time in Oakcrest history!  Gabriella B. finished in 1st place, and Clare K. came in 3rd place during the championship meet.  Oakcrest dominated the championship meet, with our next three runners coming in 4th, 5th and 15th.


Varsity Basketball: The Chargers finished 2nd place in the PVAC South Division. In the quarter finals of the PVAC Tournament, the team lost a close game in overtime to Jewish Day School (41-44).  Several of our players made the All Conference Team – Leire D. (1st Team), Ali C. (3rd Team), Elise M. (3rd Team), Sally L. (Honorable Mention), and Abby F. (Honorable Mention).

MS Basketball: The Chargers finished 3rd place in the regular PVAC season and won the 2011 Mustang Invitational Basketball Tournament.  The team defeated Barrie School (16-6) and Spencerville Adventist Academy (10-7) to win the tournament championship title. Leading the team in scoring were Giorgi A., Grace C. and Cailtin R.

Varsity and Middle School Swimming: The Middle School and Varsity Swim teams combined to win the Charger Invitational Championship Meet. The team scored 202 points to defeat Washington Waldorf, Washington International and Edmund Burke Schools. High Scorers for the meet were: Emma T. (24 pts), Sam K. (21 pts), Katie N. (20 pts) and Kat O. (16 pts).  In addition, the Middle School Swim Team finished 6th (out of 20 teams) at the MS Championships, with Sam K. breaking several records. 

Congratulations to all of our athletes.  GO CHARGERS!!

Don’t forget to check out our new stories on the 2011 Prom-Palooza and Mothers Brunch on our PEC Page!  (Click the links or on the “Blogroll” on the right side panel).

Have sports photos you’d like to have featured on the blog or added to this post?  Email them to Mrs. Watts at

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Photos courtesy of Oakcrest Yearbook Staff

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Filed under Athletics, Character, Green & White, Student Life