Archive for Active Room

Indoor Games

It's been terrible outside, but the weather hasn't put a damper on the fun and games at Clearwater. Players had to improvise some rules to fit Football in the Active room, and then they were off and running.







 It was so much fun watching all of the kids (Matt included) having such an unrestrained good time.

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Master Chefs’ Amazing Dinner Performance

Active Room becomes dining room with atmosphere

On Saturday, November 6, the three students in Clearwater's Master Chef program and Mat Riggle, staff member and skilled chef, produced a five-course French dinner for 30 people. The evening was the first of three or four gourmet dinners the master chefs plan to prepare this year to raise money to add to and improve Clearwater's kitchen equipment.

The menu

Robert (16) and Braden (18), worked with Mat in March to design and create a dinner to raise money for their two-month stay in Denmark. During the 2009-10 school year they cooked a variety of foods each week. This year, they are joined by Lucas (17) and are undertaking an in-depth study of a number of world cuisines. They are learning how to take basic elements to make building blocks such as stocks and sauces, then they create original dishes based on those building blocks.
To make one of the dishes for the November dinner, they dry-roasted beef marrow bones, which were then cooked for hours with water and vegetables to become a basic brown stock.


Beef marrow bones ready for roasting


Brown stock underway

From the brown stock they made an espagnole sauce, which then was used to create a Marsala wine demi-glace. Brown stock and espagnole sauce went into the first course--French onion soup. The demi-glace was an element in the Marsala sauce served over the herb-crusted beef rib roast.

Beef course with Marsala sauce

The dinner was on a Saturday and the chefs began the process of making the demi-glace on the previous Tuesday. Work continued on Wednesday and Thursday, and then all four cooked all day on Friday and Saturday until dinner began.

Chefs begin work 5 days before dinner


Final preparations before serving dinner


Braden and Lucas


Robert in chef uniform with empty plates on Saturday

The chefs also made a Madeira wine veloute sauce using chicken bones. The sauce accompanied a chicken breast and pasta dish, a favorite of many of the diners and two of the chefs.

Lucas made several batches of roux for the chicken veloute and joked about gu-roux, so I dubbed him the guru of roux.


Lucas, the guru of roux


Stuffed chicken breasts before plating


Chicken breasts & pasta with Madeira wine veloute sauce

The four cooks used four pounds of butter, seven pounds of flour, 30 pounds of bones and more than 150 ingredients to make a five-couse meal for 30 people. By the time all the courses were served, they had prepared a total of 160 plates.

Two students and two staff members served diners with speed and efficiency, ensuring that each course was just the right temperature and freshness.


Lily, the speediest server


Nikos' second server gig


Salad, the fourth course

Those of us who dined that evening enjoyed wonderful food and stimulating conversation. The fifth course was Robert's amazing apple pie a la mode. A delicate, high-quality olive oil was drizzled over the ice cream--delicious. If my camera's battery hadn't run out of juice, you'd be able to see photos of the pie. One diner, who's lived long enough to try and probably make lots of apple pies, said it was the best apple pie she'd ever eaten.







The youngest diner


Robert's proud grandfather photographed each course

As a bonus, Corey Campbell, 2007 Clearwater graduate, singer/songwriter and Evergreen State College student, traveled from Olympia to sing and play for us. It was a perfect ending to a delicious, skillfully-prepared dinner.

Corey performed his original songs

It was a really wonderful evening and I can't wait for the next.

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First Week of School

The first week of school has ended and the second week begins at Clearwater. The word that best describes the week for me is joy. Everyone is so happy about being back and hanging out with friends. There is so much to talk about, to do, to try, to experience. Everyone is a little older, more mature, more themselves. Of course, this happens through the school year, too, but the three-month gap makes the difference seem more striking and even miraculous.Even after being on staff for 15 years, I feel such wonder and gratitude to be able to know the incredible people who attend Clearwater and witness their growth.

The big news in terms of our physical environment is that a lot of sockeye salmon are returning to spawn in North Creek. The bulk of their bodies are an intense red-orange color, the head and tail are green, and the top of their snout is hooked down to enable them to dig depressions for egg laying in the silt of the creek bed. After two previous years with no salmon sightings, it is wonderful to be able to see their tenacity as they move upstream past little rapids and waterfalls.

The glare on the water inteferred with really clear photos of the fish, but the red bodies are visible even through the glare. Many salmon rest for long periods in a calm, deep pool south of the foot bridge before marshalling their energy to push upstream again.





Three girls who performed acrobatics on the spinning bar at Whistlepig last spring are continuing to refine their technique, experiment and add new moves. It is mesmerizing to see their focus, their willingness to try things even when the results look awkward. They are planning to have a whole new routine to present at Whistlepig next spring. Two of them are pictured here.








The foosball table also saw some action.


The punching bag in the basement attracted 5- and 6-year-old girls who walloped it within an inch of its life.


Several students want to learn and practice tennis, which inspired Matt, staff member and sports guru, to create a tennis/pickle ball court in the active room.



While two younger students waited for Matt and Robert to finish their game so they could take the court, they served as skilled ball boys.









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Catching Up Some More

Here is another photo survey of some of the activities that go on during a school day.

This student is working on his guitar skills. On this particular day, Matt (staff member) was keeping time on the drum kit and another student, also a skilled drummer, was doing an amazingly fast and complimentary beat with a mallet on a hollow wooden drum.



Over a period of several days, these two students met regularly to build villages, schools and other kinds of sites, while they assumed the various personalities of residents and workers in their settlements and acted out various story lines.


In the few weeks before Winter Break, many students and staff gathered almost daily for a rousing game of Apples to Apples. Often, the groups of players included a diverse age range.


These two students met daily for a while to play chess. It was fun coming into the room and seeing the quiet concentration and camaraderie they shared.


Earlier in the year these same two worked for many days on a monumental and complex Lego structure.







At the beginning of the year, whiffle ball was all the rage with a lot of students. Once the weather changed and it became too soggy to play in the parking lot, these two students created a variant in the Active Room that they named "Can Ball", after the garbage can placed behind the batter. One pitches and the other tries to hit the ball. If the batter hits the ball, he tries to run around the room and back to the can without the pitcher tagging him. If the batter strikes out, he then becomes the pitcher.





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