Friday, April 4, 2014

UCHS Jazz Band Workshops with Peter Martin

The University City High School Jazz Band recently spent an afternoon with famed jazz pianist Peter Martin.  The band was invited, as they have been for the past ten years, to participate in a workshop at the Sheldon Concert Hall  in Grand Center.

Students had the outstanding opportunity to perform for Martin (himself a UCHS alum, class of 1987), who then gave them detailed feedback on their performance.  Students were free to ask questions, and topics covered included everything from how to achieve a more authentic New Orleans jazz sound to the complexities of syncopation to what makes the blues sound like the blues.

The workshop concluded with Martin accompanying the band on the piano, enabling these lucky students to claim that not only have they performed in one of the premiere concert halls in the nation, but also that they have played with one of the most acclaimed jazz pianists of our time.

Jazz Band Director Stan Coleman (a Yale University Distinguished Educator) consistently seeks out educational and performance opportunities for his students.  Over the years they have had the opportunity to work and play with many locally and nationally known musicians. In 2012 the jazz band won ten awards at the UMKC Jazz Festival, and they look forward to future festivals and competitions.

University City High School has a proud tradition of producing outstanding musicians, including the likes of Peter Martin, Jeremy Davenport, Marty Ehrlich, Ronnie Burrage, Wayne du Maine, David Harris, and most recently 2013 grad Zach Morrow, who just last week performed at the Monterrey Next Generation Jazz Festival. 

You can catch the current crop of UCHS jazz legends, along with some returning alumni, when they perform at the Starlight Concert Series this summer at Heman Park!

Band Director Stan Coleman
with Peter Martin

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Journalism Awards

And now a word from the sponsor...

From: Williams, Mary []
Sent: Monday, March 10, 2014 8:00 PM
Subject: Journalism award winners today!

Please congratulate our journalism students who excelled at the Sponsors of School Publications of Greater St. Louis (SSP-STL) conference Monday at Webster University. All of our publications received an overall excellent rating, which is a testament to their teamwork and dedication. One of our newspaper students, Anna Russell, was awarded a Best of Show for her editorial cartoon. Below is a detailed list; however, all students on staff contributed to our success.

Overall Publication Awards
Excellent: Overall 2013 Yearbook, Madeline Lewis, Editor-in-Chief
Excellent: Overall 2013-2014 U-Times, Lily Lewis-Stump and Alice Mutrux, Co-Editors-in-Chief
Excellent: Overall utimesonline 2013-2014, Christine Politte, Web Editor
Newspaper Individual Awards
Best of Show: Editorial Cartoon, Anna Russell
Honorable Mention: Illustrations, Anna Russell
Honorable Mention: Sports Feature Story, Christine Politte
Honorable Mention: Sports News Story, Sophia Kenyon
Honorable Mention: In-Depth Story, Sophia Kenyon and Alice Mutrux
Yearbook Individual Awards
Superior: People/Classes Design, Marina Claunch and Reneise White
Honorable Mention: News Photography, Individual Photo, Eric Strand

Thanks, Mary
Mary C. Williams
University City High School

Publications Adviser/English Teacher

U Times - the UCHS newspaper can be found online at

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ronald McNair

Before Black History Month comes to a close, we wanted share a short story about the man for whom the McNair administration building was named. It's a reminder to always dream big.


I've never been good at math. Just hearing the word equations makes me anxious. Thankfully, my children didn't inherit their math gene from me. In fact, they excel at math and had the great opportunity to participate in the annual U. City Equations Open held every winter at UCHS.

The 2014 Equations teams hard at work

Equations is a board game played with dice that have numerical digits and arithmetic operators (+, -, X, etc.) that are used to make "goal" equations. Competitors improve mathematics skills while having fun in the process.

The start of an equations round
This year was the 17th annual U. City Equations Open. Tom and Mary Ellen Campbell started the tournament and coordinated the first 12 Opens. Judy Maffitt has been chairing the Equations Open since 2010 and is already planning for the 2015 event.

Judy, a Scrum Master for AT&T, and her husband Dave, a software engineer at the Electronic Radiology Lab at Wash U, moved to U. City in 1987. Both of their children attended Flynn Park, McNair, Brittany Woods and UCHS. Their son Kevin is now 23 and a Wash U graduate, and daughter Zoe is 20 and a Junior at Truman State University.

It is committed parents, volunteers and residents like Judy and Dave that make U. City the special community we all enjoy.

UCHS PTO moms run the concessions

The district also hosts a practice session for first-time teams to hone their skills a few weeks prior to the open. In addition to providing an opportunity for students to practice their math, logic and strategy skills, the Open hosts schools from across the region at UCHS and raises approximately $1,000 for the UCHS PTO.

Flynn Park Fifth Grade Team
Like the USFIRST robotic teams in the school district, equations allows kids who may not participate in sports teams to belong to a team. There is only one other Equations event in St. Louis and that is The Gifted Resource (GRC) Council's Academic Challenge. The U. City Open provides Equations teams the opportunity to prepare for that event and gives parents and coaches an opportunity to watch as no spectators are allowed at the GRC event.

For teams that want to get started there is good information on the GRC web site. There are also workshops held every October and November for parents and teachers interested in learning about Equations - and starting their own teams.

Flynn Park Third Grade Teams
Over 300 students attend the Open annually. For many students and their parents it is the first time stepping foot in the beautifully, historic UCHS building and gymnasium. If your school doesn't field a team there is plenty of time to get started. After all, who doesn't love kids playing a math-based game?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Life Plan

Those that know me might describe me with adjectives such as hard working, good parent, community volunteer, gainfully employed, or activist. Most of the time I live up to those labels, but earning those labels wasn't such an easy path.

My path to adulthood was a rocky one. My parents were transient and sometimes I'd attend 2-3 schools in one school year - if I was enrolled in school at all. There were foster homes, a group home and eventually I landed with an Aunt and Uncle for my last three years of high school. Those three years are the only reason I even made it to college, but my journey was just beginning.

At the age of 17, I found myself in college with no money, no real support system and without the maturity or established direction to be successful. Thankfully there was something in my gut that told me I needed that college degree, but I had to fight and claw for four years to be able to cross the podium on graduation day.

My story is just one reason why I find the Lifeplan program at University City High School so exciting. An outgrowth of the California Mentor Foundation and the Evelyn Freed Mentor Center, Lifeplan believes if you change the conversation with a young adult, you change their choices. With all the distractions our society offers young adults these days, conversations that focus on the future and get students discussing what they want out of life can only be beneficial.

UCHS happens to be the first and only Missouri high school to implement Lifeplan, a mentoring program for teens. The program helps teens maneuver through high school and on through young adulthood helping "participants discover for themselves how to navigate the path of life, avoid the common pitfalls, and become successful thriving adults."

UCHS launched Lifeplan in the fall of 2011 with an inaugural group of 25 freshman and now all incoming freshman go through the program each year. After hearing other area high school administrators talk about the UCHS Lifeplan program, KMOV Channel 4 news visited UCHS and ran a feature on the program.

Many UCHS Alumni support this program financially and as mentors. If you'd like to get involved contact Mr. Ernest Carter, Assistant Principal via email at or phone at 314-290-4128.
logo - California Mentor Foundation logo - Evenlyn Free Mentor Center

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Pomp and Circumstance

In an earlier post we highlighted Brittany Wood students Ethan Braske, Selena Lewis, Torey Lowery, Alan Phillips, Daniel Pomerantz and Phoebe Thoroughman who were selected to play in the Desmond E. Lee Middle School Honor Band which performed Thursday, February 6 at the Touhill on the UMSL campus.

Below is a photo from the concert finale - what a thrill and an opportunity for our students to participant. Thanks to all of the students for representing University City and our schools wo well.

Photo courtesy of Melissa Pomerantz

Friday Night Lights

No, we're not talking football, but on Friday, January 24th the lights were on at many of the U. City schools this past Friday night. There was a basketball game at the high school, bingo night at Flynn Park, Cub Scout Chili Cookoff at Jackson Park, and the Winter Ball at Brittany Wood Middle School - what has become the social event of the season. Below are a few snapshots of all the fun.

Brittany Wood Winter Ball

Jackson Park Cub Scout Chili Cook-off
The U. City Fire Department chooses the winner of the "Judges Choice"

The JP Girl Scouts provide the home-baked desserts

It was a full house at the January 24 Chili Cook-off