Archive for Classes

Learning Music at The Clearwater School

Cass Singing, playing instruments and listening to and talking about music have been a big part of people's lives at Clearwater for many years. A changing group of girls have been members of a small choir for several years. A few students have become proficient at guitar or drums. A few poke around on the piano or take a few lessons. Maddy and Jacy This year, enough people are interested

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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.

End of post.

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Tuesday Cooking Class

Each Tuesday at Clearwater staff member Mat Riggle and Robert, an advanced student chef, work with Clearwater students of all ages to prepare a meal that the group has chosen. When the food is finished cooking, they all sit down and literally enjoy the fruits of their labors. After eating, everyone works to clean the kitchen, from dishes to pots to counters and tables to the floor.

Recently, they decided to make yakisoba or Japanese fried noodles.


Setting up


Separating yakisoba noodles


Cutting chicken

Several students chopped vegetables.






These two peeled carrots.


Robert (below right) noticed that Jaime was peeling the carrot by moving the peeler blade toward his carrot-holding hand rather than away from it. He quickly came over to explain and demonstrate to Jaime the safe way to peel a carrot.


Mat brought a propane wok to school to stir fry the yakisoba. Propane cooks at higher heat than non-commercial stoves. High-heat stir-frying maintains the color and crispness of vegetables better than steaming, which is what lower-heat residential stoves do.


More story, photos and recipes after the jump...

Several students tried their hand at rapidly circulating the meat, veggies and noodles in the wok.




Mat explained that since meat takes longer to cook, it is fried first. He also mentioned that frying with peanut oil adds a distinctive flavor to yakisoba.




Students discovered that keeping the food moving in the wok kept it from sticking or burning. Stirring food up the sides helped the liquid evaporate more quickly and prevented vegetables from steam cooking and becoming mushy.




Various seasonings were added throughout the stir frying to enhance flavors.




Recipes

Pork Yakisoba
12 oz. yakisoba (rinsed with water and drained)
3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
2 oz. pork (cut into small pieces and marinated with some soy sauce)
2 oz. cabbage (roughly chopped into pieces)
2 oz. carrot (cut into thin strips)
Some scallions (cut into thin threads)
2 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sake
1/2 tsp mirin
3 dashes white pepper powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp sesame oil
Salt to taste

Heat up wok with oil. Add garlic and stir fry unti llight brown in color. Add pork and do a few quick stirs before adding cabbage and carrot. Stir a few times and add noodles and all the seasonings. Continue to stir-fry until the vegetables and noodles are cooked, for 1-2 minutes. Transfer out and serve immediately with some benishoga (Japanese pickled ginger).

Chicken Yakisoba
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp chile paste
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch cubes.
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 onion, sliced lengthwise into eighths
1/2 medium head cabbage, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
8 oz. soba noodles, cooked and drained

In a large skillet combine sesame oil, canola oil and chile paste. Stir fry 30 seconds. Add garlic and stir fry an additional 30 seconds. Add chicken and 1/4 cup of soy sauce and stir fry until chicken is no longer pink. Remove mixture from pan, set aside and keep warm.

In the emptied pan, combine onion, cabbage and carrots. Stir fry until cabbage begins to wilt. Stir in the remaining soy sauce, cooked noodles and the chicken mixture to pan and mix to blend. Serve and enjoy!

End of post.

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Cooking Class with Young Students

Robert and Braden, who have spent a lot of time under Mat's tutelage in the Clearwater kitchen, are doing their cooking and eating in Denmark for the next month and a half. (For their ongoing posts, look for the "Denmark" tag.) Meanwhile, cooking at Clearwater continues even in their absence.

Last week, I loved watching Mat work with a group of nine- and ten-year-olds, who wanted to make sushi and teriyaki to eat. These students don't have the expertise some of our older student cooks have, but they are learning more skills almost effortlessly thanks to Mat's ability to work with students at their particular skill level. They prepared ingredients, rolled rice balls, cleaned, and had a great time. Plus, the food they made was delicious.


Peeling carrots and cutting cucumbers


Mat purchased some whole squid and the four students cleaned them: removing heads, innards and skin. They were simultaneously fascinated and mildly repelled by the task. They all know a lot more about squid anatomy than they did before.

Cleaning whole squid


While they were all rolling rice balls, a six-year-old student wandered in to watch and eventually rolled her own rice ball. Watching her watch her older peers so intently reminded me again of the incalculable advantages of a school where all ages share all the spaces throughout the day. The learning and rich interactions that happen daily because everyone has access to each other all the time are sometimes obvious (as in this cooking class) and and other times more difficult to discern.

Rolling rice balls


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Batch of completed rice balls


The younger girl watched the others roll rice balls, stood on a chair to see Mat fry up the squid, then watched him improvise rolled sushi after discovering that the package of nori in the cupboard had disappeared. I later realized she also paid attention when I took photos of a couple of the students' rice-covered hands.

Fashioning sushi rolls without nori



Rice-covered hands


The six-year-old asked to roll a rice ball and found out that before she could begin, she had to wash her hands with soap, which surprised her. Perhaps she didn't intially see the difference between rice-messy and mud-messy hands. She also discovered that rolling a rice ball was not a slam dunk. She found she had to use quite a lot of pressure to fashion a ball that would stick together.

Rice ball with carrot and fried squid


Although the six-year-old girl may have wandered into cooking classes with the teenage students, I don't remember seeing her spend a lot of time watching much older students cook. I suspect what held her interest last week was the fact that the group was only three to four years older than her and what they were doing seemed therefore more accessible and possible.

I can guess but don't really know what of her experience that day seemed important to her, what new thoughts will bubble up, or what will ultimately stick with her. It doesn't matter whether I know. What matters is that she was able to be a part of a complex and rich experience that she chose and had meaning for her.

After she was done making her rice ball she came over to me and asked me to take a picture of her rice-covered hands. In addition to whatever she took away from the experience, as a bonus she got to share the experience of having and showing off messy hands.

Proud of rice-covered hands


End of post.

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Corrupting the Youth

[Note: Bryan volunteers at Clearwater one day a week, and he is the parent of a Clearwater student. I've interspersed photos of Clearwater students and scenes into his post. --Shawna]

(This is cross-posted from my blog Speculum Criticum Traditionis, where I address a lot of philosophical issues. This explains the name-dropping of philosophers here, and why I explain Sudbury education a little more in depth—my original audience did not necessarily have the familiarity.)

So in my day job, I'm a teacher. I work with students, grades k-5, at an after-school program. Sometimes this is more or less glorified daycare. Sometimes it is homework club, or basketball coaching, or any of a dozen or so improvised activities, mainly initiated by the kids I work with. I've worked in the schools, first as an AmeriCorps volunteer, then as a district employee, then at the after-school program, for ten years, and I have a fair idea, not especially nuanced but I think realistic and informed, of some of the realities in an elementary or middle school in my city. I've broken up fights between students as big as or bigger than me, administered tests, tried to help struggling kids catch up, and seen more than one go from non-reader to reader. I've seen things that would make you cringe, and "successes" by some standards that could bring a tear to your eye. Most of the time I find the work exciting, sometimes exhausting, always deeply rewarding. It is certainly the happiest I've ever been at a job.


I do have occasion to talk philosophy to the kids I work with. I stumped a number of them (and myself) with Heidegger's question "What is a Thing?" (the rule was, they couldn't use the word "thing" in the definition), and walked one or two through Cartesian doubt up to the cogito. One time I had four or five laughing a bit too loud at the back of the bus over the Euthyphro, which at least one thought was the funniest thing he'd ever heard. But for the most part, I don't really try out the canonical stuff on them; it's musty and smells of footnotes, and the last thing most kids want after school is more school.


We do, though, talk a fair amount about education itself, and its relationship with freedom, and power. Because I am constantly taking mental notes on how to be a better teacher, I pay a lot of attention to when I hear kids complain or enthuse about something they are doing in school. I listen to their accounts of what makes a teacher "nice" or "mean," fair or unfair; what makes something interesting or engaging for them, or bores them to tears. I get a lot of practical, hands-on tips from these conversations (I once had a ten-year-old boy confide to me, in real big-brother, lemme-tell-you-'bout-us-kids fashion, that "It's okay to be a little mean"); but what I want to focus on here is the more general impression I get of their impression of school. Not all kids are articulate or reflective enough to intentionally paint a picture of this, but every one of them knows very well that they aren't in school because they choose to be. They regard it the way most adults regard work: a necessary evil, the lesser-of-two perhaps, and often the devil they know. They each sense on some level that they are being made to do things, which they would never, ever decide to do themselves. What is heartbreaking to me is the way they internalize the notion that this is somehow a good thing.



Let me be clear; we aren't talking about the them's-the-breaks of life, or the tough-luck unfairness of circumstance, or rolling with the punches and playing the hand that's dealt you. No one likes to have to adjust their life to the realities imposed upon them by happenstance, but ten-year-old children know very well the difference between happenstance and a decision, and they know the difference between a considered decision and an arbitrary one.


Whenever a new activity is announced in my class, the first question I get is always "Is it mandatory?" This is quite striking considering that the answer is almost always "no." The things kids have to do in my class in the course of a year can probably be numbered on the fingers of one hand. Their reaction thus indicates to me that they are so beset by "things to do" [read: things adults want them to do] that at the first sign of another one, they brace themselves.

And yet. Though they know very well the feeling of being put upon, the kids I work with have all more or less accepted that this is for their own good; or at the very least, that it's Just The Way Things Are.


I also volunteer one day a week at The Clearwater School. Clearwater is a Sudbury school; it's run using an "alternative" model of education, based on (and named for) the Sudbury Valley School in Massachusetts. It's a radically student-centered mode of education in which children never. ever. take. classes. unless. they. want. to. There are no grades, and no age divisions (the five-year-olds and the fifteen-year-olds aren't kept rigorously separated or together); above all there are no rules that haven't actually been agreed upon by those who live by them.


These absences (no classes, no grade levels, no transcripts) are the things that stand out in people's minds when Sudbury education is explained to them, but the actual content of the model tends to pass them by. Sudbury education is radically participatory, radically democratic, and radically organic. Far from being little lord-of-the-flies centers where mere anarchy is loosed, Sudbury schools are communities that are run by the students, for the students. There are plenty of rules, but they are neither arbitrarily imposed from on high, nor artificially "decided on," as I've seen far too often in a traditional classroom, by a sham one-time meeting at the beginning of the school year when kids are manipulated into automatically mouthing and "agreeing to" the same rules they've lived with last year and the year before and the year before that. Above all, every student and teacher can vote on every issue affecting the school. This includes buying a new computer, refurbishing the music room, changing the rules about who can go off campus when, or hiring and firing of staff (teachers are re-elected to their posts every year).


The first day I volunteered there, I played a game of four square. I was never a big sports player in my own school days, and now that I'm at least a little more coordinated (and a little less invested in looking cool), I can finally enjoy this staple of the American playground. On the day in question, it took me a while to register that there was something different about the game. I couldn't put my finger on it. I was getting out with about the same frequency; I was playing no better or worse than usual. What was it?

Finally it dawned on me. It had nothing to do with how I was playing; it was that playing was all I was doing. I wasn't the ref.



At the public school where I work, if a dispute breaks out between kids over who is out, the immediate next step is to call my name. Whether or not I'm playing the game, whether or not I even saw the play, whether or not I know the kids involved, it's my job to make the call, as if by virtue of how tall I am. Have an argument? Where's the grown-up? But at this Sudbury school, though there had been a dozen or so close calls and disputes, not one kid had looked at me to resolve anything. Not even when one kid stormed off in anger did anyone so much as look at me as anything but another player. I should add that I knew all these kids already; they weren't unsure about me as a newcomer; it simply had never occurred to them that the adult in the group was the default decision-maker.

No kid asks if they can go to the bathroom. No kid raises their hand before they get a drink of water. The notion that they ought to "wait till the bell" before eating the lunch they brought would be met with incomprehension. Bell? You mean, like Pavlov's dogs?



When adults hear about Sudbury schools, their initial question is likely to be "how do they learn anything?" In fact, it is not difficult to learn the rudiments of any educational competence. It takes approximately 100 hours for a motivated student to learn how to read, for instance; the real issue is waiting patiently for that motivation. (In fact, Sudbury Valley School maintains that in over 30 years no student there has failed to learn to read). What the question really reveals is a fear that the motivation will never arise; that left to themselves, children won't want to learn anything. It'll be too easy to just float. It doesn't matter that this is a surreally counterfactual fear. We've accustomed ourselves to not trust our kids. And they have met our expectations.


When kids first hear about Sudbury, their first reaction tends to be "Whoah." But it's not an unambiguously enthusiastic "whoah." Almost without exception, the public school kids I have talked to about Sudbury education have said, "that sounds really hard." And they're right.

At the school where I volunteer, there have been (among other things) music classes, French classes, cooking classes; kids pursuing Aikido, computer programming, film-making; writing and producing a play; caring for livestock. And yes, reading. Some learning to read; plenty of just plain reading. There are also lots of games. Computer games, board games, team sports, weird improvised invented mash-ups of basketball and softball and soccer, strung-together make-believe role-playing games that are really just long conversations.



What all these activities have in common is that they were all initiated by some student. At some point a child or a teenager approached a staff member and said, "I want to learn French" or "Will you teach me to play drums?" or "We should put on a play."

When the kids I work with say "That sounds really hard," this is what they are talking about. Every step of their education is up to them. It is hard. It is also, in my experience, indisputably more rewarding. Because everything a student formally learns is something they have decided to learn, what they internalize is far more than a degree of mastery over a "subject." They have learned that they can explore and that their exploration has real meaning and concrete results.



And the teachers? Aside from no-brainers like keeping kids safe (a task made markedly simpler by the Sudbury model's real high expectations of student responsibility), the teachers are there to pay attention to kids, to cultivate real relationships with them, a close real attention attuned to the actual interests of each one; to really be open to every request, and to make it happen when it's asked for. This might seem to multiply beyond control what a teacher needs to attend to--instead of teaching 5th grade math to 30 kids, I'm supposed to notice that he's interested in geology, she's into origami, they're asking about the civil rights movement, and that kid off at the other side of the playground is doing acrobatics? But in fact, working as a Sudbury teacher is far easier than teaching in a mainstream school. Aside from the absence of meaningless paperwork, every teaching encounter is fresh because it arises out of the actual relationship one has with the child. And, I ought also to mention, the lack of age distinctions means that children wind up teaching each other.

In contemporary mainstream American culture this model is so deeply counter to the widespread assumptions of our age, that it is not uncommon for people to refuse to consider a Sudbury school a school at all. I would submit that this critique might be better made of the enormous, and financially teetering, holding pens that our taxes fund primarily to free parents to work (so as to pay taxes), and to accustom children to surveillance and boredom.

Boredom. Ah, yes. Kids go through a lot of boredom at Sudbury schools-- particularly students who have come from a more structured school environment. It is constantly mentioned in the literature. The responsibility for one's own education is really just a subset of being responsible for one's life. There are big stretches of time when kids ask themselves what they feel like doing and come up blank. Of course this happens in a public school too, but there the boredom is rarely given much chance to last very long because the bell is always about to ring or the next subject is about to be taught. In fact, the very thing that cuts off boredom also cuts off interest--because you can't invest enough time to really get involved in anything when you've got to cover seven subjects in one day.

At an after-school program like mine, though, kids can get bored. The difference here is otherwise. I hear between two and ten complaints of boredom a week, I'd guess. I hear none at a Sudbury school. Kids get bored, to be sure--but not one of them assumes it is anyone's job but theirs to decide what to do about it.



I know that the picture I have painted could be disputed: too romantic, too Rousseauian, too naive. An excuse for lazy adults to do permissive teaching and spare-the-rod. Spare me. I'm a Platonist, but I'm an empiricist too, and I speak from experience. The kids I work with at the after-school program aren't miserable. They haven't had their love of life stamped out of them, or their creativity. This isn't because I've imported as many Sudbury-esque features into my class as I can adapt, but because the kids come from families who love them to go to a school run by teachers who care, and because, well, they're kids. But little by little I see them accommodating themselves to a world whose guiding axiom--despite the loving parents, despite the caring teachers--is that they do not matter. This axiom is not foisted upon parents or teachers by evil men in a smoke-filled room; it's a function of the model of education as mass-production we've come to accept.


This long post on education is not an interloper or guest on my mostly-philosophy blog. I acknowledged an interest in contentious issues, and I know of little more likely to rile people than strong opinions about how to raise kids. But I'm not really trying to bait anyone here. My interest is philosophical. Philosophy has been about pedagogy from the very beginning, ever since Socrates got his famous double charge of not honoring the gods of the city and of corrupting the youth. From Plato's doctrine of anamnesis to Heidegger's remark that real teaching is letting-learn, education is the very essence of what philosophers do. Dewey remarked that "Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself." The examined life, I would add. And given the contrast between sitting in rows for six hours a day, and roaming around exploring the world however your fancy strikes you, I can't help but reflect further that, as Alphonso Lingis writes, the unlived life is not worth examining.
--Bryan Carr

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Guitar Student Builds Electric Guitar

Musicmaking is a huge draw at Clearwater right now, and the Music Room is a very popular place. Many students of different ages are learning instruments and singing, and three students have formed a band. Cass, who is 14 years old, is studying guitar with Matt, a staff member and musician. Cass plans to design and build his own electric guitar from scratch, but is putting together a guitar kit first thanks to a guitar builder's recommendation.

Cass just got the Fender Strat guitar kit below.



The guitar is in pieces, and needs sanding and painting. Cass has primed the body and will paint the body of the guitar white, but has not yet settled on what design he will paint on top of the white.




After Cass showed off the pieces of his new guitar, Matt and interested students pulled other electric guitars out of the Music Room to compare the shapes of the guitar heads. In the photo above, you can see the kit head, which has not been shaped. Cass has designed a shape and has identified an Assembly member with tools to cut out the design.


He hopes that completing the kit will give him some of the experience he needs to design and build his own guitar.

End of post.


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Cooking Class

Talking about making Thai red curry

Karen's recent post is a perfect segue to this one about the cooking class that takes place once or twice a week at Clearwater. A core group of students is involved in every class, and others come and go as their other interests and activities allow. The class is headed up by staff member Mat Riggle, a skilled chef who has worked in and managed a number of restaurants.

Demonstrating how to cut an onion

Chopping mango


Mat demonstrating how to roll a tamale in a banana leaf

Students involved in class range in age from 8 to 17. Early in the year I became a fly on the wall, watching Mat demonstrate knife skills, make a quick stock from vegetable peels and meat trimmings, put ingredients together using his vast experience, playfulness and curiosity instead of using exact measurements, encourage creativity and experimentation, effortlessly assign different people to specific tasks, and engage everyone in the fun of preparing food from scratch and then cleaning up afterward.

Click on the link to see more pictures and read more...


Oiling a banana leaf

Placing masa on a banana leaf

One 11-year-old student explained that she especially liked the chicken curry dish and thought the number of spices for the dish was interesting. She also felt proud that she was able to stay engaged and focused for the 3-1/2 to 4 hours the class lasts from beginning to end.

Masa dough on oiled banana leaf


Rolling tamale in banana leaf

Early on in the class 17-year-old Braden (who along with 15-year-old Robert will be attending a Sudbury school in Denmark this April and May) talked about learning to cut onions and garlic to release their flavors and was interested to discover that some Asian foods use different flavors such as fermented shrimp paste that one wouldn't expect based on the taste of the finished dish. He especially enjoyed the flavor of the Indian dish, saag paneer. Robert said he's enjoying learning how to cook everything and chop fast and efficiently.

Building a tamale

A 9-year-old enjoyed learning how to cut things and peel potatoes so the potato itself doesn't end up in the trash can. She especially enjoyed the tamales, spicy chicken sandwich, corned beef and teriyaki dishes they made.

Making fresh rolls

I enjoyed watching Mat moving around the kitchen, efficiency personified, freely offering his encyclopedic knowledge of food preparation and the many different ways to combine ingredients and flavors, even as he kept an eye on at least two pots on the stove top, whatever was cooking in the oven, corrected someone's hand position while chopping, talked about the "why" of what he was doing, AND laughed and joked with everyone.

Making stock

The cooking class is a delightful place to hang out not only to pick up tips and try to pick up some of Mat's efficiency and knowledge by osmosis, but also to enjoy the camaraderie between everyone whether they're in the middle of chopping, mixing or cooking or waiting for their turn to try out the next step.

Making Thai fresh rolls

A short list of things that have been prepared this year include: Thai fresh rolls, creme brulee, Djawa (Java) curry, chicken masala, Thai red curry, Gado sauce, Jamaican jerk chicken, roast beef sandwiches au jus, tamales wrapped in banana leaves, macaroons, macaroni and cheese from scratch using aged cheddar and gouda cheese, crepes and saag paneer. Students also have at their disposal approximately 50 spices and spice combinations.

Some Asian food ingredients and condiments

End of post.

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Clearwater Is a Swirl of Activity

The new school year is well underway and characterized by great excitement, a mature culture and a wealth of activity. Everyone is happy to be back at school and enters into interactions and activities with focus and anticipation. The days feel very full and fun.

A subset of students initiated and joined in on a number of organized group activities and projects, to the extent that we had to create a weekly schedule just to make sure that activities wouldn't conflict and preclude students involved in more than one from doing all or most of the things they want to do. The master schedule looks like this, for now, with an addition of singing two mornings a week.



In addition to these activities, a large number of students are involved in the cooking class which has created the Clearwater Cafe, the playwriting/acting class and a movement class inspired by student interest in martial arts. Individuals are also involved in guitar, drum, math and French classes, sewing and piano practice. The Clearwater Singers are rehearsing for a December concert. Magic, the Gathering and Settlers of Catan are played on a regular basis again this year.

The newest sport is Whiffleball and an invented variant that can be played in the Active Room. A bus load of students travels to a nearby soccer field at least one day a week. As in all previous years, many students continue to create and develop rich worlds, stories and characters as part of live-action roleplaying games that reflect their particular styles and interests. A film committee selects older or lesser-known movies for movie Fridays. The current movie theme is visions of the future. (More about many of these activities in later posts. Stay tuned.)

The list of specifics doesn't even begin to give a sense of the heart of Clearwater education--the daily work and rewards of creating and re-creating relationships with fellow students and staff members and making constant decisions about how to prioritize one's time, where to focus one's efforts and what it means to be responsible in any given situation.

Students spend time in the art room on a daily or occasional basis.






In the waning days of late summer, intrepid young students braved the creek water, which is much cooler than it was during the summer. Their tolerance for cold water is truly impressive.


To see more photos and snippets of the first weeks of school, click on the link below.

A Magic game in full swing.



Selling delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies to benefit equally the school and themselves.



Working on a sewing project.



Putting the new drum set through it's paces. (More on the new set in a later post.)



Caring for a lame hen.



A monumental, multi-day Lego creation. (More on this later.)


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Making Music

The music room got a lot of use today.


Rob and Matt jammed for awhile.


In the afternoon, Rob played guitar and drums, and later Delayney played piano.


The chorus rehearsed for the spring concert. They worked on John Denver's "Take me Home, Country Road", and The Fleet Foxes' "White Winter Hymnal". They sounded beautiful. (Today was pajama day.)

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