Shalhevet School is on a winning streak, bringing the Los Angeles yeshiva high school to national prominence in the areas of ethics, politics and sports.
Shalhevet is the only Jewish school and the only school in Los Angeles included in a national report on how to produce students who are not only intelligent, but have a sense of moral maturity.
The 14-year-old high school is one of 24 schools from across the country included in "Smart and Good High Schools: Integrating Excellence and Ethics for Success in School, Work and Beyond," a 225-page report recently published by State University of New York College at Cortland.
Researchers spent time at Shalhevet to observe how it builds character in its students -- for example, through its weekly town hall meetings and moral discussions that permeate the classroom and extracurricular activities.
"In a 'Smart and Good High School,' all things in the life of the school -- routines, rituals, discipline, curriculum, co-curricular activities and unplanned 'teachable moments' -- are intentionally utilized as opportunities to foster excellence and ethics," the report reads.
Two seniors from last year, Leor Hackel and Sara Hoenig, served on the National Student Leaders Panel for the study.
Shalhevet also chalked up a win in Yeshiva University's Model United Nations, where about 40 Jewish high schools faced off in debates on issues such as the crisis in Darfur, how to define terrorism and providing nutritional support to alleviate the HIV crisis in sub-Saharan Africa.
Shalhevet's win continued a long Model U.N. crosstown rivalry with YULA High School, which came in second. In the last five years Shalhevet has placed first twice and YULA three times.
Phu Tranchi, adviser to the 14-member Shalhevet team, notes that aside from spending many hours preparing, students hone their persuasive abilities at town hall meetings.
And, Tranchi added, "I don't think it's a coincidence that we have great overlap between the Model U.N. and the drama club -- they can really get up and put on a show."
The same can be said for Shalhevet's Lady Firehawks, who won first place in the Hillel Community School invitational basketball tournament in Florida last month, where teams from Jewish high schools across the country competed. This was the second consecutive year that the Lady Firehawks won the tournament. Tamar Rohatiner, a Shalhevet senior, won tournament MVP.
Sun Strong for Camp Ramah
Camp Ramah in Ojai will be getting some new décor atop the Gindi Dining Hall this summer -- about 250 photovoltaic panels to generate enough solar energy to cut the camp's energy bill by about $30,000 a year.
This is phase one of a three-part project that will eventually save the camp up to $75,000 a year and will reduce toxic emissions by approximately 15 million pounds of carbon dioxide, 37,800 pounds of nitrous oxide and 121,000 pounds of sulfur dioxide over the 50-year life of the installation.
The camp received a $500,000 gift from alumnus David Braun to begin construction on the $1.3 million project. Camp Ramah expects reliance on solar power to insulate tuition against future energy cost spikes.
"By both using and educating about solar energy during future encampments, we believe we will create generations of Jewish leaders who are environmentally conscious and who will seek to move more and more Jewish and non-Jewish institutions to environmentally friendly energy options," said Ramah's Executive Director Rabbi Daniel Greyber.
Greyber has been working with Rep. Howard Berman (D-Van Nuys) to obtain IRS approval of a strategy to offer nonprofits the same tax incentives currently given to for-profit companies to build solar installations.
For more information about Camp Ramah or the solar energy project, call (310) 476-8571.
YULA Girls Face History
Facing History and Ourselves, a Boston-based organization dedicated to teaching morality and tolerance through the study of the Holocaust, will hold a seminar for teachers this summer at the YULA girls' school. The five-day workshop will be geared toward, but not limited to, teachers at Orthodox schools.
"What I hope people come out with is a better way of teaching about this history and also a way to help students think about their own participation in the society in which they live," said Jan Darsa, director of Jewish education at Facing History.
The conference runs June 25-30 and costs $500 for the first teacher and $400 per teacher after that. Applications are due April 15. For more information, contact Jan Darsa at (617) 735-1613, or visit www.facinghistory.org.
Jewish Peace Corps
Looking for a great summer experience of hard physical labor and few amenities? American Jewish World Service, an organization dedicated to sustainable development, will bring 16- to 25-year-olds to Africa, Central America and Asia to engage in tikkun olam, repairing the world, in the most literal sense.
The seven-week program couples intense physical work -- building schools, water systems, homes and agricultural projects -- with Jewish study and community experience.
The program is open to high school juniors and seniors, and adults 18-25. The application deadline is March 31. For more information, contact Sonia Gordon-Walinsky at (800) 889-7146, ext. 651, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ajws.org.
Prejudice Awareness Summit
More than 300 middle school students from area public and parochial school participated in a Prejudice Awareness Summit at the University of Judaism (UJ) last month. UJ undergraduates led the younger students in exercises that encouraged honest and open dialogue and allowed them to explore their own feelings about prejudice. Workshops focused on reducing harmful actions and developing techniques to resolve conflicts. For more information on the summit, call (310) 476-9777.