Archive for July, 2010

Construction Update

We are learning so much about the construction industry! The first pipes are in for our new bathroom. One big hurdle down!

First pipes are in!!

In this process, we’ve also gotten to know the government officials at the city and county levels pretty well. Yesterday when I visited the building department for our plumbing permit, one of the people who works there stopped mid-sentence with another customer and called out across the room, “where is he?” I answered “who?”, to which she replied…”your son, where is he?”

…A sure sign that my seven year-old son and I are spending too much time in government offices! — Idelma

toilet pipe

Who knew bathroom pipes would be so exciting?

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How I have prepared myself to be an effective adult (fourth 2010 thesis)

(Fairhaven School has just graduated five students. As a way to celebrate the class of 2010, over the next month, we will be posting the theses that they  successfully defended. In italics below is a brief description outlining how somebody earns a Fairhaven diploma, followed by the seventh and final thesis. Enjoy!

Students who have spent at least three years at Fairhaven School may earn a diploma by defending the thesis that they have prepared themselves to become effective adults in the larger community. Diploma candidates must declare their intent to graduate and answer questions at a special winter Assembly of parents, students, staff and public members. They also meet with their individual graduation committees, and defend their written theses before a Diploma Committee made up of three experienced staff members from other Sudbury schools. A majority of positive votes from the Committee is the final requirement of  the diploma process.)

How I have prepared myself to be an effective adult

Effective adult means many different things to many different people.  I believe an effective adult has responsibility, knowledge of self, effective communication and community integration.

When you are self responsible, effectiveness within the adult community is assumed.  When you aren’t responsible for your self other pursuits become irrelevant, not to mention impossible.  A job is essential for food, clothing, housing, and general finances.  And if a person is to have a job they must have responsibility.  I believe when you know who you are work becomes an act of gratitude.

I see work as something that becomes apparent through constant pursuit of happiness and balance.  With the pursuit of a balanced life there are many opportunity’s for responsibilities.  I believe through responsibilities we can find peace.

Now that I am of legal age, responsibility means knowing what needs to be done. I have learned to manage my money, take care of my car, and contribute to the household.  I am currently working for the Bowie Blade delivering newspapers once a week.  I have learned to be dependable in doing my job and recognize the importance of work ethic.

During my time at Fairhaven the judicial committee exhibited a fair justice system; I believe this system taught me responsibility as a necessary characteristic. Being written up repeatedly through out the years has been a cycle of learning resulting in a new perceived value of responsibility. The first case I remember was when I was 5 years old. My friends and I rolled a giant pumpkin across the co op grounds only to be written up later.  The pumpkin had an owner and we hadn’t asked permission.

Knowledge of self is critical to being an effective adult.  I believe an effective adult recognizes their infinite potential for self discovery and growth.    I believe it’s important to consistently ask yourself what you need concerning this.  I have been seeking knowledge of self primarily through a spiritual manner. Meditation has been a beneficial route in self discovery.

At Fairhaven I have been given an abundance of freedom.  This has been essential in pursuing the constant discovery of where I want to be in life.  Following enrollment I found interest in video games and learned to read from playing them.  I grew up with a love for nature that was nurtured by the structure of Fairhaven; spending hours in the woods, collecting rocks and building forts.  I was quick to follow my heart.  At Fairhaven I also found an environment ideal for relationships, that environment being one with few restrictions that would prevent me from discovering my truest nature.

I have been producing and composing music since I was 14.   Working with music has helped me open to myself and others.  Music is my primary inspiration as a career.  I also have interest in horticulture. Living in a rural area, I feel much motivation to learn how to live off the land.  I aim to project my value of a better world, through artistic and other expressions.

I believe an effective adult recognizes communication as the connection with the outer world and manifests this knowing with that very communication.  I believe communication to be essential for any connection. At Fairhaven I have learned to communicate with clarity and integrity, from discussing my job as “sound guy” in the plays, to talking about life with younger students. I find the widest knowledge to come from communicating to the widest age group.

An effective adult recognizes the importance of being integrated within a community.
Community is essential in a balanced life.  I find my inner balance most present when I reflect upon a community for support.  I have participated in music corp. and have been the DJ at school dances and coffee houses.  I have enjoyed being a part of many of the school plays as the sound engineer, helping to create various musical scores.  I have found much contentment coming from simply being a part of the bigger picture.

I went to the Fairhaven school co-op at age 5 and went to Fairhaven at age 6 when the doors opened.  I have been a student at Fairhaven for 12 years. During my time at Fairhaven School I have acquired responsibility, communication, integration within the community and knowledge of self. This is what an effective adult is.

By Jimmy Jackson

Fairhaven School Class Of 2010

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SAVE THE DATE! August 14th

Join us on Saturday, August 14th (3 – 5 pm) for the last open house / information event before the school year starts! You can tour the school, watch a multimedia presentation and get answers to your questions.

This will also be a chance for you to turn in your admissions application and schedule an admissions conference. Simple activities or movie viewing  for children ages 4 and above will be available.

Hope to see you there!

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I Want Your Stories of ADHD in Homeschoolers, Unschoolers, and Free Schoolers

Most ADHD diagnoses in children are initiated because of inattention or disruptive behavior in school. To date there has been no research at all on ADHD in children who do not attend a conventional school. If you have (or are) an ADHD-diagnosed school-aged child doing homeschooling, unschooling, free schooling, or some other form of unconventional schooling, I invite you to post or send me that story. I will analyze the stories qualitatively and quantitatively and present the results soon on this blog.

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Why Our School Exists

Interesting insights from a high school valedictorian in her graduation speech.  You can read comments from other readers on the author’s blog.

Coxsackie-Athens Valedictorian Speech 2010

Here I Stand
Erica Goldson

There is a story of a young, but earnest Zen student who approached his teacher, and asked the Master, “If I work very hard and diligently, how long will it take for me to find Zen? The Master thought about this, then replied, “Ten years . .” ?The student then said, “But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast — How long then?” Replied the Master, “Well, twenty years.” “But, if I really, really work at it, how long then?” asked the student. “Thirty years,” replied the Master. “But, I do not understand,” said the disappointed student. “At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?” ?Replied the Master, “When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path.”

This is the dilemma I’ve faced within the American education system. We are so focused on a goal, whether it be passing a test, or graduating as first in the class. However, in this way, we do not really learn. We do whatever it takes to achieve our original objective.

Some of you may be thinking, “Well, if you pass a test, or become valedictorian, didn’t you learn something? Well, yes, you learned something, but not all that you could have. Perhaps, you only learned how to memorize names, places, and dates to later on forget in order to clear your mind for the next test. School is not all that it can be. Right now, it is a place for most people to determine that their goal is to get out as soon as possible.

I am now accomplishing that goal. I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system. Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination. I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contest that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer – not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition – a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning. And quite frankly, now I’m scared.

John Taylor Gatto, a retired school teacher and activist critical of compulsory schooling, asserts, “We could encourage the best qualities of youthfulness – curiosity, adventure, resilience, the capacity for surprising insight simply by being more flexible about time, texts, and tests, by introducing kids into truly competent adults, and by giving each student what autonomy he or she needs in order to take a risk every now and then. But we don’t do that.” Between these cinderblock walls, we are all expected to be the same. We are trained to ace every standardized test, and those who deviate and see light through a different lens are worthless to the scheme of public education, and therefore viewed with contempt.

H. L. Mencken wrote in The American Mercury for April 1924 that the aim of public education is not

    • to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. … Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim … is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States. (Gatto)

To illustrate this idea, doesn’t it perturb you to learn about the idea of “critical thinking.” Is there really such a thing as “uncritically thinking?” To think is to process information in order to form an opinion. But if we are not critical when processing this information, are we really thinking? Or are we mindlessly accepting other opinions as truth?

This was happening to me, and if it wasn’t for the rare occurrence of an avant-garde tenth grade English teacher, Donna Bryan, who allowed me to open my mind and ask questions before accepting textbook doctrine, I would have been doomed. I am now enlightened, but my mind still feels disabled. I must retrain myself and constantly remember how insane this ostensibly sane place really is.

And now here I am in a world guided by fear, a world suppressing the uniqueness that lies inside each of us, a world where we can either acquiesce to the inhuman nonsense of corporatism and materialism or insist on change. We are not enlivened by an educational system that clandestinely sets us up for jobs that could be automated, for work that need not be done, for enslavement without fervency for meaningful achievement. We have no choices in life when money is our motivational force. Our motivational force ought to be passion, but this is lost from the moment we step into a system that trains us, rather than inspires us.

We are more than robotic bookshelves, conditioned to blurt out facts we were taught in school. We are all very special, every human on this planet is so special, so aren’t we all deserving of something better, of using our minds for innovation, rather than memorization, for creativity, rather than futile activity, for rumination rather than stagnation? We are not here to get a degree, to then get a job, so we can consume industry-approved placation after placation. There is more, and more still.

The saddest part is that the majority of students don’t have the opportunity to reflect as I did. The majority of students are put through the same brainwashing techniques in order to create a complacent labor force working in the interests of large corporations and secretive government, and worst of all, they are completely unaware of it. I will never be able to turn back these 18 years. I can’t run away to another country with an education system meant to enlighten rather than condition. This part of my life is over, and I want to make sure that no other child will have his or her potential suppressed by powers meant to exploit and control. We are human beings. We are thinkers, dreamers, explorers, artists, writers, engineers. We are anything we want to be – but only if we have an educational system that supports us rather than holds us down. A tree can grow, but only if its roots are given a healthy foundation.

For those of you out there that must continue to sit in desks and yield to the authoritarian ideologies of instructors, do not be disheartened. You still have the opportunity to stand up, ask questions, be critical, and create your own perspective. Demand a setting that will provide you with intellectual capabilities that allow you to expand your mind instead of directing it. Demand that you be interested in class. Demand that the excuse, “You have to learn this for the test” is not good enough for you. Education is an excellent tool, if used properly, but focus more on learning rather than getting good grades.

For those of you that work within the system that I am condemning, I do not mean to insult; I intend to motivate. You have the power to change the incompetencies of this system. I know that you did not become a teacher or administrator to see your students bored. You cannot accept the authority of the governing bodies that tell you what to teach, how to teach it, and that you will be punished if you do not comply. Our potential is at stake.

For those of you that are now leaving this establishment, I say, do not forget what went on in these classrooms. Do not abandon those that come after you. We are the new future and we are not going to let tradition stand. We will break down the walls of corruption to let a garden of knowledge grow throughout America. Once educated properly, we will have the power to do anything, and best of all, we will only use that power for good, for we will be cultivated and wise. We will not accept anything at face value. We will ask questions, and we will demand truth.

So, here I stand. I am not standing here as valedictorian by myself. I was molded by my environment, by all of my peers who are sitting here watching me. I couldn’t have accomplished this without all of you. It was all of you who truly made me the person I am today. It was all of you who were my competition, yet my backbone. In that way, we are all valedictorians.

I am now supposed to say farewell to this institution, those who maintain it, and those who stand with me and behind me, but I hope this farewell is more of a “see you later” when we are all working together to rear a pedagogic movement. But first, let’s go get those pieces of paper that tell us that we’re smart enough to do so!

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Catching Leaves (third 2010 thesis)

(Fairhaven School has just graduated five students. As a way to celebrate the class of 2010, over the next month, we will be posting the theses that they  successfully defended. In italics below is a brief description outlining how somebody earns a Fairhaven diploma, followed by the seventh and final thesis. Enjoy!

Students who have spent at least three years at Fairhaven School may earn a diploma by defending the thesis that they have prepared themselves to become effective adults in the larger community. Diploma candidates must declare their intent to graduate and answer questions at a special winter Assembly of parents, students, staff and public members. They also meet with their individual graduation committees, and defend their written theses before a Diploma Committee made up of three experienced staff members from other Sudbury schools. A majority of positive votes from the Committee is the final requirement of  the diploma process.)

Catching Leaves

“In the blink of an eye, babies appear in carriages, coffins disappear into the ground, wars are won and lost, and children transform, like butterflies, into adults.”

–Brian Selznick

My art is not writing, it is telling. I tell stories through my artwork, but today I am telling you a story through my words.

I believe that an effective adult is a self-sustaining being, who does not need to rely on anyone but herself, and who knows responsibility and self-discipline. She is also aware that every action she makes has a reaction that will affect others and she is successful, meaning she is satisfied with herself and how she lives her life. An effective adult is also able to communicate her needs and feelings in a respectful and mature fashion, and can work and compromise with others to obtain contentment for all involved. She is also very adaptable, able to work with any type of situation easily and efficiently.

I was born July 16th 1994 and I was given the name Lillian Ashanti Lani. I lived and learned from my experiences. When I was four years old I decided I was ready to travel across the Atlantic Ocean and the United States by myself. I flew from Kauai, Hawaii (which was my home then) to Delaware where my grandparents lived. That journey gave me a greater sense of responsibility for myself and my actions; it also quenched my thirst for independence and made me hungry for more. Ever since that trip I have loved to travel. I am captured by the thrill of experiencing new places and different cultures and I can acclimatize very easily.

In the summer of 2004 my mother and I moved to Maryland so I could attend Fairhaven School. I was very nervous, I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t know if I would “fit in.”

My first day at Fairhaven went like this: I was walking into the office with my mom and out of nowhere popped this boy with long curly hair, bare feet and mud on his clothes. Zack Bennet. He looked at me and literally screamed, “HEY YOU’RE THAT GIRL FROM HAWAII RIGHT?!!” He didn’t give me a chance to reply. He just introduced himself, “I’M ZACK! YOU’RE GOING TO LOVE IT HERE!” Then he ran off. I remember being excited that I didn’t have to wear shoes and being terrified of that Zack creature. I also thought about what he told me, “You’re going to love it here.” I was skeptical; I had been to so many different types of schools and so far none of then had worked out. I had been uprooted and transplanted so many times it was hard for me to believe those words. But he was right, I loved it.

My first week at school I spent in the Art Room by myself. I was so happy I could just draw all day. ALL DAY!  I loved my new freedom and I fit perfectly into Fairhaven’s unique system. I watched; I played; I learned; I grew. I was no longer a child, not in my eyes, no.  I was a….  Well I wasn’t exactly sure what I was yet, but I was sure I wasn’t a child anymore. Why?

Because I had an opinion, I had a voice, a vote equal to those older than me; these are all things that were and are very important to me. I have always wanted people to listen to what I’ve had to say and I have always had an opinion about something.

At Fairhaven I also had the right to do what I wanted to do with my time, but occasionally what I did with that time landed me in J.C. My first time in Judicial Committee was as a plaintiff. I had written Jared Luczak up for repeatedly taking things out of my cubby. The other times I was there as a defendant. I went through a period of time when I lied. See, I was accustomed to the “you don’t get caught, you don’t get in trouble” policy, but at Fairhaven if you get caught and then you don’t tell the truth, you’ll get in much bigger trouble. When people found out I wasn’t being honest I got scared. I thought everyone was going to hate me for it.  But no, they didn’t.  I soon learned that it was okay to make mistakes as long as you learn lessons from them and that at Fairhaven School everyone is just learning together. Even though they might be learning very different lessons or might be at very different stages in their lives, we still all learn together and help one another along. I wasn’t I anymore, I was we, a part of the most amazing community I had ever experienced. When I figured out that J.C. wasn’t against me and out to get me, the judicial system was so much easier for me to work with. J.C. helped fine tune my ideals of respect, my actions and the reactions to them (in this case room restrictions and community service) and the benefits of telling the truth.

This year I found myself clerking J.C.; in previous years I had been interested in clerking or alternating but I just wasn’t ready to commit that much of my time. Julia Rubin and I were elected together. Clerking on the Judicial Committee really helped me improve my communication skills, and my patience. J.C. also helped me determine the most efficient ways to hear everyone’s thoughts and feelings and meet all their needs. I hadn’t ever really run a meeting before, unless you count a Music Corporation meeting comprised of three people. I had watched J.C. and School Meeting run so many times that I knew the theory by heart. So I dove into clerking and I loved the experience.

When I was younger and to this day I was given art supplies and puzzle games instead of a TV, so naturally when I saw the Art Room I thought I had walked into a dream. I have always been a very creative person and just being at Fairhaven inspired me to put my talents to greater use. I mean the entire campus is a beautiful work of art. I love to paint, draw and make 3D art. Working on my art projects enables me to dive into my imagination and just let go of all the stressful things in life; and it is amazing where my imagination takes me. This school year I went to School Meeting and got an attendance acceptation to have more time to work on my larger pieces of artwork. Art is really a passion of mine and I am basing my career off of the things I love because I believe that in order to be successful in life you need to enjoy your occupation.

I made a lot of amazing friends at Fairhaven. One thing that really helped me to do that is that I could just be myself at school and I didn’t have to worry about anyone judging me. After I had gotten comfortable with myself and my surroundings I started to be more outgoing.

Once, this girl, Josette Jackson, and I spent two weeks in the shop building a jump so we could play horses. Josette and I later became very good friends. We were inseparable, we played all day together, we ate together, and we practically lived with each other. She helped me learn and grow, and I likewise, helped her; it was a great friendship. Fairhaven showed me it was okay to be an individual. It was not a bad thing to stand out of the crowd and say, “Here I am. Accept me like this or don’t at all, but I don’t care because I am just me and I like who I am.” The school also helped me learn how to connect with lots of different types of people and cope with all their different habits and needs; I also gained courage to make new friends. At the age of twelve I even had the courage to take a trip to Tanzania, Africa, with my mother; we volunteered in the schools everyday for a month and during those days we were separated by miles. I taught my own class of twenty-five kindergarten and preschoolers who spoke mostly Swahili (the common language in Tanzania). I wasn’t afraid at all. I just took things as they came to me and worked my hardest to teach the children in my care. It was an amazing experience living there for a whole month. A lot of people that we met didn’t want me to leave and I seriously considered staying.

It was late spring 2008 when my mom told me I had matured enough to carry my secret name; she also told me we were moving to a different house. We had been living in the same house for four years. When we had lived on Kauai we had moved from house to house a lot, so I was kind of excited for the change. During that last school year at Fairhaven I had been debating whether or not to change schools, and in mid-summer I made my decision. I was going to try something new.

A new house, a new name, a new school.

So at the beginning of the new school year, instead of getting in the car with my mom and driving to Fairhaven, I got on a school bus for the first time in my life and headed off to the local public school, Southern Senior High. My first month at Southern I didn’t say a single word; all I did was listen, observe and memorize. This was such an abrupt change for me. I had attended public school on Kauai for second grade, but elementary school on an island is a whole lot different than a high school on the “main land.” I knew no one, and when I say no one, I mean every single person at Southern High had no idea who I, Salvia Lani, was. All of a sudden after four years of running barefoot though the woods, jumping in the stream and having Munchkin wars, I had a schedule. I had classes, I had homework, and I had to be there on time. It was kind of a culture shock at first but I adapted well to the very different school system and I thought it was a lot of fun.

I confused the teachers more than anything. No previous grades, no classes, no preparation and straight A’s! That is another thing I really love about Fairhaven, you just learn even without realizing it sometimes. Also I am just, “stubborn” as my mom calls me. If I want to do something I will work as hard as I can until I finish it or I will fall short, then I will get right back up and try again until I succeed. I am a very determined and self-motivated person. When I was very little I figured out that I can do anything I put my mind to no matter how difficult it is and no matter who tries to stand in my way.  With my artwork I like to set myself tasks and deadlines in order to exercise my self discipline and keep the gears in my brain well-oiled. That year in the public school system was really enlightening. It made me realize just how lucky I really was, how much freedom I had, and how much trust I was given at Fairhaven School. I learned some valuable things at Southern High School, and I met some people that I won’t ever forget and a lot more things that I can’t forget soon enough, but by summer I was ready to go back to good old Fairhaven.

I really enjoy working; I love the satisfaction of getting the job done even if it is extremely difficult. At the moment I hold two seasonal jobs, one in a catering kitchen and the other at a local café. I also provide child care for a couple different families. I am a very quick learner; you can show me how to do something once and I will be able to do it or you can take me somewhere once and I will be able to get you there again no problem.  This has been very useful for me in my places of work as it allows me to move up to the harder tasks quickly, plus I am a walking GPS.

When I was younger I would always answer that question, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” with something different. Now that I have to answer it for real the list has become insanely long. (But everyone has to start somewhere, so here goes.)  I am going to get a full-time job for this summer in order to save up money to pay for my schooling and housing down the road. Then in the fall I will switch to part-time so I can attend community college, either AACC or PGCC.  My reasoning for this is because I would like to have a few credits under my belt before I start a four-year university. Next fall I am also going to take EMT training; I feel that I will learn a lot of very useful information and I really like to help people. That is another possibility for a job. In the field of four-year colleges I am looking at schools that major in art. I am very interested in a career as a fashion designer, an interior designer or a chef. These are all things I take pleasure in doing and I believe they will make lucrative careers.

Attending Fairhaven School has given me amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experiences.  It has taught me to speak out for what I want and what I believe in. Fairhaven gave me the opportunity to focus on one subject or endeavor for as long as I was interested, and allowed me to follow my passions. It has helped me establish and govern my ethics of independence, self-discipline and responsibility; my efficiency and negotiation skills, my adaptability, awareness and self satisfaction. The school has helped me learn and grow throughout all my stages of childhood. It has helped me become who I am today, an effective adult ready to move on to new challenges and experiences in the larger community.

Even if I get nervous about taking the next step, I know all I have to do is take a deep breath, hold my nose, jump into the cold water, see where the current takes me, and work with it.

“It is good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end.”

–Ursula K. Le. Guin

by Salvia Lani

Fairhaven School Class of 2010

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Early Enrollment Ends Tomorrow!

The link below takes you to a summary of the steps and deadlines for enrolling your child at Sunset Sudbury School. Keep in mind that by enrolling now you are receiving benefits that are only available to families enrolling early (before July 16th).

Note: Any form requiring a signature must be signed by both parents (or legal guardians).

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Checklist for Admission and Enrollment to Sunset Sudbury School.

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Summer Info Meeting!

A bunch of us!

A bunch of us, Spring 2009. photo by Donna Watson

Hello and happy summer!

We’re having an Info Meeting this Sunday, July 18th, at a special summer vacation location.  Please join us at Abbe’s house (located at 1800 Bigelow Ave NE in Olympia) at 1:30pm for conversation about Sudbury education and Rising Tide School.  Kids are welcome at the meeting.  We’re looking forward to another excellent year of creativity, friendship, and non-stop learning.  We look forward to meeting you!

For more information or directions to the meeting, contact us.

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Wish List

Some of you have been asking us to put together a wish list  for the school. Here it is…

Remember that all donations are tax-deductible. We would be happy to provide you with documentation for your donation of  anything on this list. You can send e-mail to or call 954-404-7785 to make donation arrangements. Thank you so much for your support!


  • Laptops (Minimum Windows XP / MacOSX)


  • Credenza 6-8 ft long x 2 ft wide
  • Ottoman or bench  3’ x 3’
  • Large round ottoman (leather of vinyl)
  • Couch – up to 8 ft (vinyl or leather)
  • Bean bags (leather or vinyl)
  • Outdoor picnic table


  • Rugs (all shapes and sizes)
  • Outdoor and indoor rubber-backed entry mats

Small Appliances

  • Toaster oven
  • Vacuum cleaners (3)


  • Large dining room table up to 8.5’ long  x 3’ wide
  • 2 tables – 6ft long x 2 feet (no wider than 3 feet)
  • Various sizes – rectangular or square tables for our art room


  • Benches up to 8 feet long
  • Folding chairs (20)
  • Leather or vinyl side chairs (2)
  • Stools / chairs for our art room
  • 5 wheeled office chairs


  • Shelving all types and sizes (free standing or wall mounted)
  • stackable shelving (metal wire or plastic) 4.5 ft w x 2 ft deep


  • Garbage Cans w/ lid
  • Paint (interior and exterior wall paint)
  • Flooring – Wood/bamboo/cork (650 sq ft)
  • Step ladder
  • Lockers
  • Cork / dry-erase boards
  • Coat hooks – wall mounted
  • Throw pillows
  • Shoe cubbies
  • Games  - (Board games, video games, Wii games)
  • Books  - (middle school & high school)
  • Toys – (Legos, other logic / building games) for ages 10 and above
  • Art & crafts supplies – any and all
  • Gift certificates for Office Depot, Target, Home Depot, Lowes, Publix, Whole Foods, etc.

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My Last Walk Home (second 2010 thesis)

(Fairhaven School has just graduated five students. As a way to celebrate the class of 2010, over the next month, we will be posting the theses that they  successfully defended. In italics below is a brief description outlining how somebody earns a Fairhaven diploma, followed by the seventh and final thesis. Enjoy!

Students who have spent at least three years at Fairhaven School may earn a diploma by defending the thesis that they have prepared themselves to become effective adults in the larger community. Diploma candidates must declare their intent to graduate and answer questions at a special winter Assembly of parents, students, staff and public members. They also meet with their individual graduation committees, and defend their written theses before a Diploma Committee made up of three experienced staff members from other Sudbury schools. A majority of positive votes from the Committee is the final requirement of  the diploma process.)

My Last Walk Home

Hello! My name is Zachary Taylor Bennett. I am seventeen years old and have been attending Fairhaven School for 13 years now. Every single second has been a learning experience because Fairhaven has allowed me to pursue my passion in whatever way I saw fit at the time. I love adventure, being outdoors and exploring. Among other things, early on, I wanted to become a paleontologist and a geologist, so I spent alot of time getting muddy in the stream searching for shark’s teeth, and finding that one rock that was so much better than the rest! I spent days, weeks, months and years exploring, happy with my wet clothes caked in mud and God knows what else. I was diligent, devoted and playing hard.

One of the things that Fairhaven urges its students to do is follow the rules. When I was younger, I spent a lot of time in the Judicial Committee.. I was suspended, indefinitely suspended, and even expelled at the age of six because I left school property three times. I decided to walk home, and got pretty far the first time. I was angry, frustrated, and wanted to get away from being bullied. Since my independence made me a liability for Fairhaven, I was expelled. I attended Davidsonville Elementary where I came to the realization that my opinion meant nothing. I had no control over anything; it was the opposite of everything I was used to. I was determined to do better the next time at Fairhaven where freedom is everyone’s right.

I have been traveling since the age of three months. I have been to several places including St. Martin, Bolivia, Panama, Mexico, Canada, Jamaica, the Canary Islands, Hawaii, and all over the United States. I have seen huts with dirt floors, given clothes and toys to the poor, and enjoyed the pinnacle of extravagance. I saw the devastation of 9/11 a month after the fact. I remember playing in the Circle Room of Fairhaven’s old building that morning and not knowing what was happening. At the end of September, my mom showed me. I was nine years old, with my scooter, in the city of New York. It resembled a war zone yet the people stood stong and proud. Being an effective adult means showing up.

Presently, my passions are snowboarding and spelunking. I helped organize the annual Fairhaven ski trips to Seven Springs three years in a row. I have been caving and snowboarding for ten years and traveling from coast to coast, often alone, to do it. After you do something for that long, you find ways to relate it to your life in general. For example, when you’re coming up on a thirty foot jump, there are a few things going through your head: Am I going fast enough or too slow? Am I going too far to the right or left or am I in the middle? Is there someone at the bottom of the jump? All these factors are in play. Let’s say I have a job and am excelling. If I tell them I can do things I cannot really do, I am going to overwhelm myself and get fired/ fall. On the other hand, if I take my time, in business, good jobs are quickly taken by people willing to take that hard fall.

I enjoy caving because it is one of the most beautiful ways to see nature at its best. Most caves remain untouched for thousands of years before we find them. They are a sight to behold. You would never believe how amazing it feels to be hundreds of feet underground until you have done it. I have been in lava tubes, tight spots, gigantic rooms, and in complete darkness. There is a cave in particular in West Virginia, named Simmons Mingo. Just entering the cave is a feat of its own. You literally climb down a thirty foot hole in the ground about as wide as a barrel of wine, followed by several other decents. In general, cavers must be prepared with the correct eguipment, cooperate and trust each other. We also take out of the cave whatever we bring in and the trash others leave behind. It is a sport that requires patience, endurance and skill, just like life.

Fairhaven has taught me to give back to the community. Whether you are sentenced to by J.C. or you do it on your own, it’s positive. Since I enjoy helping others, I decided to volunteer at the Woodland Beach Fire Department. From cooking at fundraisers to cleaning the trucks, I learned to deal with some of the nicest to some of the most unpleasant people in Edgewater. I am grateful for my communication skills. To further my experience, in July of 2009, I took a five week EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) course through the University of Maryland. The class required me to take five ride alongs on the ambulance and really buckle down and get serious. Unfortunately, I didn’t pass the final written test. This summer I will. Some of the people I encountered during my training were drunk, on drugs, and I witnessed one suicide. Treatments of patients must remain confidential so I will not elaborate. How it affected me is another story. I learned how desensitizing something like a suicide can be. I did not have nightmares or unwanted memories, it was just terrible.

I’m comfortable speaking in public, communicating, traveling and enjoy working. I have had an array of jobs ranging from cooking at Smoke and Spice, a BBQ pit, to working as a dockhand at South River Marina. In my current job, I do everything from working in the office to being outside with the mechanics, so I don’t make a lot of money. I do not have this job for money; I have this job for experience. I may join the military, not for the stereotypical reason, but for the stability of having a job, going to work everyday, and having a purpose in this world. It’s a lot to think about. My current plan after leaving this utopia of a school is to work for six months to a year at the marina, but no longer than a year, because believe me you cannot live on what I make.

In my intent to graduate, I spoke about balance in life and how it must be maintained. This is what’s most important to me in being an effective adult. If you work too much you’ll lose your friends. If you play, party, or just straight up goof off too much, you’ll lose the stability of a job that most people need for a happy life. Being an effective adult means being true to oneself. Being devoted, funny, responsible, honest, mature, and dependable is who I am. My life, so far, has required many choices. I want to live fully, take chances, change when necessary and remain flexible Whether walking my dog, spending money, managing time, being a friend or doing laundry, it all matters. Right now, I still make mistakes and do things that aren’t productive, but I’m learning all the time, and that I know for sure. My name is Zachary Taylor Bennett. I am seventeen years old, and this is my last walk home.

Zachary Taylor Bennett

Fairhaven School Class of 2010

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