2021

  • March

    Children's Love Filling LREI Hallways

    Faith Hunter
     
    Dear Families,

    I imagine it’s been a hard week seeing your children go back to remote learning. As I watched your children head away from school after Tuesday’s dismissal, I found myself grappling with a wide range of emotions. I was saddened knowing I would not see your children in person every single day. I was frustrated knowing that sending young children home for remote learning is never easy on a household, especially one with working parents. And I was also incredibly grateful that, despite the challenges, our students and faculty have already come so far in a year of living with the COVID-19 pandemic.

    One practice that has helped me contextualize the year, including this past week, is thinking about how many profound lessons and skills our students will have learned. Flexibility and adaptability, perseverance and stamina, comfort with sharing different opinions and expressing gratitude, a remarkable level of independence and inner confidence — these are the skills I see our students developing, and at a faster rate than they would have during non-pandemic times. I know that these silver linings do not outweigh the great personal loss and sacrifice we all have had to make in the short run, but they offer me hope in knowing that our students will come out of this pandemic stronger and more mature than ever.

    Like I’ve said throughout this year, I am deeply thankful for your optimism and your support as we continue to navigate this school year. As always, I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to reach out. I hope to see many of you at our upcoming community events.
     
     
    This week’s Push Page will cover the following:
    • Thank You to the FSA
    • Culminating Assembly for Black History Month
    • Principal Open Forum 2 Part Technology Workshop
    • Upcoming Artist of the Month Lower School Gathering Series
     

    Thank You to the FSA! Your children’s hearts hang on our walls, and their words lift up our faculty’s spirits every time they pass by. Thank you for the thought and care that went into supporting our dear teachers. 
     
     
     
     
    Culminating Assembly for Black History Month: We are excited for the children to share some of the work they have engaged in during Black History Month at our Lower School Gathering on Friday. I’d like to invite you to join our gathering so you can extend this important learning at home. Please keep your camera off so as not to distract the children. 

    Feb 26, 2021 10:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
    Meeting ID: 489 877 4770
    Passcode: lreistrong


    Principal Open Forum, 2 Part Technology Workshop:
    Part I:
    Tech Habits of Mind: Building a Thoughtful and Healthy Relationship with Technology
    Tuesday, March 9th, 9:30am
    Password: lreistrong

    • Are we using technology to be our best selves?

    • How do we use technology in meaningful ways?

    • How do we measure and assess screen time?

    • Is balance possible? 

    In this session guest speaker, Kim Deveaux, will share information about how to develop healthy habits when using technology at home. Parents will leave with useful items to facilitate conversations with their children, such as tech habits of mind and a home technology contract. 

    Kim Deveaux has served nationally in schools as an educator, professional developer, and educational technologist. Currently, she is the Ethics and Technology Coordinator at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School where she is a member of the Innovation, Integration, Collaboration Committee team, and STEAM team.  She also runs Family Tech Tutor -a program that works with families on how to set up procedures, routines and create safe and responsible expectations for how technology is used at home. 
     
     
    Part II:
    Bring Your Own Device: Hands-on Workshops about Managing Technology Use at Home 
    Tuesday, March 16th, 7:00pm
    Password: lreistrong

    At LREI we take great care to shape our student’s experience with technology to ensure that they become safe and thoughtful participants of the digital world. Please join the LREI tech Team and guest presenter Kim Deveaux for a hands-on workshop on how you can set up a safe and thoughtful online environment at home. At this workshop, we will divide into groups and walk you through how to create routines and expectations around tech use at home and help you set up parental controls and mindful usage apps on a variety of Apple devices and Chromebooks. To get the most out of this workshop, please bring with you the device your child uses. You will also have an opportunity to share best practices and strategies within the parent community. 

     
    Artist of the Month Lower School Gathering: In March, we are launching a series of Lower School art assemblies called “Artist of the Month.” At each gathering, we will learn about a new artist and experiment together in that artist’s style. In this unique year, we are constantly thinking about ways to infuse a sense of community and the arts into our students' experience. You are invited to join this gathering so you can extend the conversation at home: Friday, March 5, 10:30am. Please keep your camera off so as not to distract the children. 

    Mar 5, 2021 10:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
    Meeting ID: 489 877 4770
    Passcode: lreistrong
     
     
    Warm Regards, 
    Faith Hunter
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  • February

    Spirit Week!

    Margaret Paul
    Dear Families,
     
    It’s S-P-I-R-I-T WEEK! It is unequivocally the most favorite week in the high school! Each February our Student Government plans a week of silliness and fun for students and faculty. It is such a special part of our high school experience! 
     
     
     
    This year, our Student Government team has done an exceptional job in imagining a hybrid Spirit Week that fosters fun and belonging across our physical and Zoom school spaces. So first, a shout out to this amazing team, led by Student Government sponsor Ann Carroll:
     
    President & Director of Community: Ajahni ‘21
    Director of Communications: Dylan ‘21
    Director of Programming: Gwen ‘21
    Director of Social Justice: Marcus ‘21
    Junior Executive: Margaret ‘22
    2021 Reps: Cole & Pearl
    2022 Reps: Emma & Bella
    2023 Reps: Leah & Ciara
    2024 Reps: Kate & Zoë
     
     
     
    They have put so much creativity into this week, and have used all of their motivational and organizational skills to get their grades involved and invested. Well done Student Government!
     
     
    So, how have we spent the week? We have had grade level competitions with costumes each day . . . from Era days to Twin matchups to a blast of red on the Zoom screen for LREI spirit at our Wednesday all school meeting. Each moment is a reminder that we are one high school community, linked across the spaces!
     
     

    Students (and Faculty) have also participated in grade-level competitions--Geography bees, Jeopardy rounds, and of course, our annual, EPIC lip sync competition! This is a renowned assembly for the high school, and this year did not disappoint! 
     
     
    Our students are so incredibly talented! This year, each grade put together a lip sync video, which allowed for our performers and film producers to shine in a whole new way. We can’t possibly capture the talent and hilarity of this assembly for you in this short note, but it was a highlight of the week, and truly fostered community in the high school like no other event can! Ask your kids to share the videos with you! 

     
    Throughout this week--both in Zoom spaces and in the building--students and teachers have found a greater sense of community and connection. These moments matter in the life of the high school, and we are so thankful for all the effort and participation to make it happen!
     
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  • A Few Thoughts & Notes

    Margaret Paul
    Dear families,
     
    A patchwork of thoughts and notes today . . . please read through!
     
    We are deep into February . . . it’s cold, and snowy, and just plain hard to get out of bed! As high school teachers we always joke that the reason we love high school students is that we are basically high school kids {at heart} ourselves! WE GET IT--the equation of freezing temperatures and ongoing Covid restrictions = tough times for teenagers!

    So, if you’re feeling the struggle of parenting your teenager right now, or just want to listen in and get some additional advice for how to support them, please join us tonight for a conversation about anxiety and other emotional challenges our teenagers are facing. Dr. Dana Dorfman is a seasoned expert who understands teenagers, and she will guide our conversation.
    TONIGHT: Allison’s Zoom room: https://zoom.us/j/7474245440 

    Also, you are welcome to submit questions to Dr. Dorfman in advance. Please email info@teenbraintrust.com with the subject line "LREI Question." These questions will be addressed anonymously.
     
     

     

    Are you already thinking about the summer and wondering what options there will be for your student? Remember to check the “High School Student Opportunities” section on the High School News page in Connect! We are just beginning to receive information from summer programs, and will post everything we receive in this digital space:
     
     

     
    Teachers shared interim comments and updated SBGBook comments yesterday. Please encourage your students to review these, as well as in-text comments made to papers in Google Classroom. If your student is unclear about the feedback provided, please encourage them to set up a time to meet with their teachers during office hours. We recognize that being remote for much of the week makes it more difficult to catch up with teachers, but we assure you that they are here and ready to meet with your students. If your student needs help navigating this process, they should check in with their advisors for support. In addition, Jess, Jonathan, and Jerry are available in the Learning Center for academic support. They have open hours every day, and they are also making appointments for students who email them directly. 
     



    Coming up . . . SPIRIT WEEK! We can’t wait to share with you the wild and crazy fun that happens in the High School during Spirit Week, February 22-26! Costumes, contests, LIP SYNC BATTLES and more! Though we won’t all be in the building, we will all have a bit more fun that week, and we plan to share photos and videos with families, so stay tuned. In advance, we thank our amazing Student Government for all the work they are putting into this hybrid Spirit Week experience!
     
    Allison & Isabella '21 during last year's Spirit Week!
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  • The Fun of Teaching

    Faith Hunter
    Dear Families,
     
    I hope this email finds you staying warm and healthy. A Happy New Year to those of you who are celebrating the Lunar New Year this weekend.
     
    I often talk about the fun of teaching after winter break. Students are so in the groove that learning feels accelerated and a quick walk around the building provides more material than I could ever fit in one Push Page. It was hard not to make this a mile-long scroll. Please enjoy!
     

               
       
     
     
    First graders practice reading and writing their site words together.
    First graders share and learn about the Lunar New Year.


                
     

    Louis Armstrong
    Ella Fitzgerald
    First graders spent the week of BLM Week of Action with a “song of the day,” listening to the melodies and lyrics of prominent Black musicians. Class favorites included Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Willie Mae Thorton, Jimi Hendrix, Nina Simone, and James Brown.

    “We know that music and dance are simple ways of not only bringing joy but also learning about history by looking at the lyrics and artists’ backgrounds.” — Amina and Andrea, 1st Grade Teachers
     


    First grade remote students are working on creating their own games during social studies while developing their nonfiction writing skills in a "how-to" unit in which they write directions on how to play their games.
     
                       
                     
     

    Second graders are launching their nonfiction literacy unit, which centers on gathering research and writing biographies about changemakers of interest. “I picked Simon Biles as a changemaker because I like to learn about changemakers who are women.” Inez Gimbel, 1st Grader
     

                                  
     

    Second graders write full sentences in Spanish about their favorite animals.



    E34 Remote has been examining the past as a team of historic investigators tasked with preserving the stories of Minetta. Over the past couple of weeks, they have uncovered artifacts from boxes from the 1600s — one belonging to a Dutch colonist and the other to a freed African living in New Amsterdam — and researched what their stories are.


     

    Now that third graders have learned to use the “hamburger graphic organizer” to think critically about paragraphs, it’s time to put multiple paragraphs together as they write their fictional stories.


     

    Remote third graders investigate area in their Geometry unit.

    Lower School had so much fun playing in the snow together over the past two weeks!
     

    Warm regards,
    Faith Hunter



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  • This Week in Math and Science

    Ana Chaney
    Dear Middle School Families,
     
    Since we spotlighted humanities last week, this week we are sharing some of the challenges, projects and perplexing problems our middle schoolers are grappling with this week. Enjoy.
     
     
    Eighth grade mathematicians are dissecting the theory behind the Pythagorean theorem and radical expressions. A recent assignment was to analyze the diagram below in order to find various unknown side lengths, areas, and perimeters. Try this: How would you use what you know to find the length of segment GE?
     
    As a connection activity, students will be annotating an article on Fermat's Last Theorem which states that no three positive integers, a, b, and c satisfy the equation aⁿ + bⁿ = cⁿ for any integer value of n greater than 2. (The Pythagorean Theorem is when n = 2). In science, students are just finishing the Virus Project in which they designed their own viruses and created stop-motion animations that told the story of how their virus originated, replicated, and battled against the immune system. 
     
    Seventh grade mathematicians are asking, When looking at data or analyzing situations that involve two quantities, what kind of statement best communicates the information: ratio, percent, fraction, difference or scaling statement? Why might you use one over another? How can you convert between the different kinds of statements? They are beginning to analyze and talk about patterns that emerge in rate tables which will connect to the writing of equations and graphing of the information. In seventh grade science, students are deeply immersed in their preparations for the Great Energy Debate next week. Students will be debating the merits and the limitations of different energy sources as they make a case for which one should be the primary source of energy in the U.S. 
     
     
    Sixth graders are studying statistics. Their next major project will allow them to incorporate and improve upon their design and communication skills.  And each day this month, students are starting class by reading about a Black mathematician or scientist who changed the world. In science, they are applying what they've learned in our study of cell systems to a new concept - fermentation. They are learning about how different fermented foods are made and are experimenting with making kombucha in the classroom.
     
    In science, fifth graders are designing and building a board game that shows how evolution works. Their starting population navigates an arena to collect as much energy as possible before giving rise to the next generation. The more successful you are in the arena, the higher the chance the next generation will be born with a positive mutation that helps the population survive. In math, students are in the midst of a number theory unit. They are considering such questions as... How do numbers behave? Why do they behave that way? What is the correct order of operations? Why? Can knowing how to classify or break apart numbers help me solve problems?  Fifth graders recently started a new class: coding. They are exploring various ways to code and programs to use. They are using Scratch, an MIT-developed block-based coding language that makes coding accessible to every student of every experience level. 

    Ana
     
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  • January

    A Day In The Life of The Lower School

    Faith Hunter
    Dear Families,
     
    I thought for this week’s Push Page you might enjoy a glimpse into our classrooms to see the innovative and joyful ways in which your children are learning. 
     
     
    I hope you are all well and keeping warm during this frigid weather. In order to ensure the children are as comfortable as possible, both in and outdoors, please continue to have them dress in layers. 

    Warm regards,

    Faith Hunter
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  • Student Anti-Discrimination Policy

    Margaret Paul
    Dear Families,
     
    We are thrilled to share with you that yesterday during our high school assembly, student leaders Ajahni, Natalie, Marcus, and Malia presented the Student Anti-Discrimination Policy they we have been working on for the past few months.
     

    A little history on this project. Two years ago, students from various affinity groups began working with teachers to craft a policy that would help students navigate situations of discrimination that occur within the student body. This summer, student leaders Ajahni and Marcus crafted a letter, signed by all student leaders in the high school, requesting that we work to get this policy into action as soon as possible. In July, the student leaders mentioned above started meeting with Margaret, Allison, and Charlene Cruz-Cerdas, our High School DEI Facilitator, to complete the drafting of the policy. In concert and close conversation with Phil, these students put hours and hours into this plan.
     
     

     
     
    It is so hard to put into words here all that has transpired in this process. From an educational perspective, this project is a beautiful example of progressive practice--students and teachers engaging in meaningful work on behalf of the school community, the team working collaboratively on the concept and the draft, and grappling together about the complexities of policy as it comes to life in practice.
     
     
     
    It is also an example of one of our core beliefs--that student voice is at the very center of all that we do. As adults, we could have drafted a fairly decent policy, but with a team of seniors driving the work we now have a beautiful document to guide us in the work of being a safe, just, and equitable community for each person who enters the door.
     

    The guiding principles of the policy form the acronym C.A.R.E.S.--Community, Accountability, Reconciliation, Education, Students. These five words have directed the design and ideas for implementation and use. We invite you to review the new, working version of our Student Anti-Discrimination Policy here. Please know that we value the iterative process of bringing a policy into practice with students, and thus we expect for this draft to be revised along the way. This policy will be posted on the High School Resources page, along with our Student Handbook and our Sexual Harassment Policy.
     
    In closing, want to express our profound gratitude to Marcus, Leilani, Ajahni, and Natalie for their time, intellect, tenacity, patience and generosity they have brought to this work. We are better teachers and leaders because of the time we have spent together on this project.
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  • What We've Been Up To

    Ana Chaney
    Middle School Families,
     
    As a teacher said to me this morning, we say the following phrase often these days: "In a typical year, this would be when we..." 
     
    While there's an intrinsic loss there, the flip side is that we're doing a lot of things for the first time and in new ways. This can be exhilarating, if a little hard. Our middle schoolers and their teachers - accustomed to adjusting their school life to meet the world - are adaptable, so they are well equipped for this. Here are some of the happenings in the Middle School, with a spotlight on humanities:
    • Eighth graders are planning remote "fieldwork" interviews and experiences based on this year's social justice project topics, including Healthcare in Prisons, Women and the Media, and Reproductive Rights, among others. More information about past Social Justice Projects are on the Social Justice Project Blog, which will also soon be home to posts about this year's projects.
    • Seventh graders are reading Arthur Miller's The Crucible and exploring the tragedy that results when a people confronted by intolerance and fear lose their integrity in the face of social pressure.
    • Sixth graders are starting their medieval guild journey with their pod leader doubling as guild master. Students are delving into projects as apprentices learning to be stone masons, artisans, cartographers, musicians, performers, and many other medieval skills. The guild members will have a socially distanced opportunity to share some of what they have learned in the Spring.
    • The fifth graders are deep in their study of ancient Egypt. This week, they examined several artifacts, including an early example of a calendar, and conducted research. They learned that the people of ancient Egypt studied the stars and created a calendar to track the flooding of the Nile, as they depended on this event for the deposit of rich soil for farming. Fifth graders wrote news reports to share their findings.
    • The white-identifying seventh and eighth graders met in anti-racist caucus groups for the first time this week. As a reflection on their first meeting, some students shared their vision of the purpose of these groups and wrote: "To talk about how to use privilege to make change and not just feel bad. We should have done this earlier!" and "So that we can learn how to fight systemic racism. We need to fix our own problems, not leave it to other people to solve the problems." and "We can work together as a group to build on ideas and problem-solve. It’s a safe place to think together."
    • Finally, the Winter Concert, which premiered on Tuesday evening, is available here for your viewing and listening pleasure. We're so proud of our young musicians! 
     
     

    Please remind your child to dress in layers tomorrow! We have new heaters but the weather is supposed to be quite cold and it's hard to compete with an open window.

     
    Best,
    Ana
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  • Centering Our Racial Justice Work

    Ana Chaney
    Middle School Families,

    Lately each day is a living lesson in civics, politics, ethics and identity. Whatever our adult feelings about the news are - worry, exhaustion, rage - we have to acknowledge that this is where our progressive pedagogy thrives. We are living through history and every day looking for ways to hitch our classrooms to the world - to study our own environment and to be active participants in it. Centering the fight for racial justice feels more timely and urgent than ever. To that end, I wanted to share some of the Middle School's diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work with you and give a preview of what's to come.

    In the next week, every middle schooler will have finished the first five chapters of This Book Is Antiracist by Tiffany Jewell. In advisory, they have discussed and shared answers to the questions: Who am I? What are my social identities? What is personal racism? What is institutional racism?

    Some of there comments were:

    “It just feels awkward to talk about stuff like this.”
     
    “[We should make] sure to not just focus on making the white students in a mainly white identifying community comfortable about talking about race and how they can help but also allowing the POC members of the community to have a voice.”
     
    “It would be cool to involve our parents more.”
     
    "A lot of being antiracist is about understanding your identity and how it affects yourself and others."
     
    “The only thing I would say to improve is making sure everyone has a chance to talk and say what they have to say. At least in my class, the students weren’t participating as much as they should.”
     
    "I think that one of my most meaningful takeaways from the book and the video we watched is that a lot of people don't even know racism exists. Or that racism is everywhere. We also said something like you can't know what you can't see or talk about."
     
    “I think the teachers have been doing a good job structuring the conversation.”

    I encourage you to check in with your child about this reading. You could ask: What is privilege? How is anti-racist different from not racist? How would you describe dominant culture and what does it have to do with privilege? What is the difference between personal and institutional racism?

    The reading and conversation established a foundation and common vocabulary for one of our next DEI initiatives: Anti-racist caucus spaces for white students. In the next few months, every student who identifies as white will participate in four caucus sessions with a pair of white teacher-facilitators. They will grapple with such questions as: What is whiteness and why is it important for white people to talk about it together? How does it feel? When did you first notice your own whiteness? How can race be a social construct and a real experience at the same time? 

    While we have had many conversations about these issues in multiracial configurations before, this is the first time we have set aside a space for our white students like this. It's important for these students to have the opportunity to build skills and vocabulary in an anti-racist learning space, as it is less common for white families to engage in regular conversations about race at home and our white students are typically less practiced at it. It is our hope that the capacity and confidence white students build in these settings will enrich those conversations they have elsewhere.  

    All white-identified students will participate in these groups. We will send the following survey to all students next week asking whether they identify as white, as both white and BIPOC (Black/Indigenous/Person of Color), or as BIPOC. We will use this to create four small groups of white-identified students - first the older middle schoolers and later in the winter, the younger.

    The first set of anti-racist caucus sessions for seventh and eighth graders will be on Wednesday January 27th. The sessions for fifth and sixth graders will follow, starting at the end of February. The eight white faculty members who are facilitating these groups in pairs have been hard at work preparing since the summer. We are all excited to begin.
     
    Please join us on Tuesday, January 19th at 6:30pm for a more in-depth update about all the Middle School DEI initiatives with me, Phil, and our Middle School DEI facilitator Sara-Momii Roberts. The zoom link is on the community events calendar (on Connect), as always. 

    Warmest,
    Ana

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  • HS Wellness Challenge

    Margaret Paul
    Dear Families,
     
    We want to share today about the High School Wellness Challenge that we kicked off at our Assembly last week. In the midst of all that we are facing each day--due to Covid and the ongoing crisis in Washington--it is more important than ever to equip our students with tools to take care of themselves.
     
    Below are slides and notes from our assembly. It is our hope that, by sharing these with you, you will be able to encourage and support your students in making choices to care for their well-being everyday. Rest assured that our advisors and teachers are all centering these conversations in advisory meetings and classrooms!


    Wellness is not a state of being--it is an action. Each day we can choose to process our stress by taking up practices that help us move through stress cycles. We can’t prevent stress, but we can process stress.
     
     
     
     
    LREI HS Wellness Challenge: We have given your students a sticker chart (yes, you heard that correctly) because it’s back to the basics to help form some healthy habits! Research shows that tracking our choices is one small way that we can stick with something--and each time we “reward” ourselves with a sticker (in this case) for our choices, our brains give a small burst of dopamine (satisfying our reward system). In a nutshell, we are working, through this wellness challenge, to bring cortisol levels (stress hormones) down, and instead generate endorphins (happy hormones) that can increase our feelings of calm and well-being, even in the midst of a stress-filled world.
     
     
    Across the month we will also be offering conversations to students on the topics of anxiety and depression, body image, the power of sleep . . . and more! We know that well-being and learning are deeply intertwined, and we believe that attending to our students’ mental and physical health is just as important as their academic program. If you would like to check in with us about your student, and if you would like additional support or resources, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
     
    Chelsea Rissner, High School Mental Health Counselor: crissner@lrei.org
    Linda Perlmutter & Joanne MacDonald, High School Nurses: jperlmutter@lrei.org jmacdonald@lrei.org
     
    And as always, your advisors, deans, and the two of us are always available as well!
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  • Turning Over a New Leaf

    Faith Hunter
     
     
    4th Graders get ready for tomorrow’s Spirit Day theme: Upside Down day!

    Dear Families, 

    I hope you all had a restful and restorative winter break, and I am grateful to welcome you back to school.

    Though I know many of us were hoping to turn over a new leaf with the new year, we once again find ourselves facing a flood of deeply troubling news updates every day. It’s easy to feel despondent, outraged, or lost. And yet, I find myself with the good fortune of being the principal of a school where children are empowered to make change. When I look at the partnership between our parents and our teachers in building our children’s capacity to be leaders in the world, I remain hopeful.

    The teachers have finished writing your children’s reports, which offer detailed insights into your child’s personality, strengths, and areas of growth. Looking at these reports as a whole, I am extremely proud of the increase in our students’ ability to take ownership of their learning, their resilience and tenacity, and their emerging leadership skills. Please take your time while reading, as our teachers dedicated a great deal of effort to writing each report. We aim for reports to complement the parent-teacher conferences and other incidental communications you may have with your child’s teachers. 

    As always, please feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns. 

    Warm regards,

    Faith
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