Archive for Field Trip

Big Kids on the Playground

As promised, here is the second post about the North Creek Park outing during the first week of school. After everyone had explored the boardwalk and other trails in the park, we all gathered at the playground near the wetland. The youngest student in our party was 8 years old and the oldest 18. With the exception of one surprisingly challenging piece of equipment, the playground was a fun diversion. It's always fun to see older Clearwater kids play with abandon and without self-consciousness, especially in a playground built with with much younger children in mind.



A gaggle of girls on a bridge




A big guy can get a big bounce



Cass (on pole) and Braden


The equipment pictured above was challenging, especially for the oldest, biggest kids, and was the source of much experimentation and discussion. It's a large pole with a platform for sitting or standing that rotates when someone pushes either the person on it or the handles at the top. Unlike a merry-go-round, riders have to be close to the pivot point.


Leo spinning Cass & Keenan


It turned out to be devilishly difficult for big, tall students to even stay on, despite bigger muscles and dogged determination. In addition, several older students looked positively green after just a few seconds spinning. The champion spinner was 10-year-old Keenan, whose pole-spinning enthusiasm and stamina was inexhaustible. She had no trouble hanging on, felt dizzy but never sick, and earned the respect and admiration of the 13- to 18-year-old guys in the group.


Swingers Mara, Matt, Delayney and Leo



Lucas and Cass flying


Older students continued to work at the spinning pole challenge. Some decided that rather than trying to hang on to the pole, they would take advantage of the centrifuge effect. They clung to the handles at the top, ran and launched themselves. For a few thrilling and satisfying seconds, their bodies were airborne.


Not to be outdone and in spite of her awesome ability to hang on to the spinning pivot, 10-year-old Keenan got in on flying, too.



Braden and Keenan



Keenan and Cass (Lucas behind pole)



Airborne trio Lucas, Keenan and Cass



Cass and Aidan


As a staff member, I have the privilege of watching Clearwater students metaphorically spread their wings--maturing, experimenting, developing skills, taking leadership, discovering and pursuing passions, offering empathy and compassion, to name a few examples. How exhilarating it felt that day at the park to watch the physical embodiment of the very real and important flights that Clearwater students take every day as they figure out what's important to them, develop relationships, and work hard to achieve their goals.

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North Creek Park Outing

Last week a group of us piled into the Clearwater bus and drove up to North Creek Park. If you live in the area and haven't visited this park, it's well worth a trip. It's a wetland with a boardwalk through it, lots of wildlife and interpretive signs. The flora and fauna vary with the seasons and different wildlife are visible at different times of day.

The day we were there was warm. Although the weather was dry, there are several areas of the board walk that are prone to sink slightly below water level when a bunch of people walk along them at the same time. That was a source of amusement and challenge for several Clearwater students, who wanted all of us to walk or stand on a section, submerging it so they could have the fun of escaping the deluge or wading in it.

Heading down to the boardwalk



One interpretive sign talked about the importance of wetlands, describing them metaphorically as the kidneys of the earth. Clearwater staff member Matt thought it would be fun to talk about his own kidneys as the wetlands of the body. A little later, a student extended the metaphor further and suggested that lakes might be the bladders of the earth.

Reading about the function of wetlands


Delicate floating duckweed


Girls returning from a boardwalk spur to a peat bog




Because wetlands help clean storm water, the fact that Clearwater is downstream of North Creek Park means that the creek is cleaner when it gets to us than before it goes through the park. In fact, we noticed areas of water in the park that had an oily sheen and the appearance of sludge.

We also noticed and heard lots of birds and insects, and saw the occasional garter snake.


Fun with flooded boardwalk



Girls voluntarily trapping themselves on platform


Common Touch-Me-Not or Jewelweed (Impatiens noli-tangere)


Water Smartweed (Polygonum amphibium)


A lovely nosegay made by a student

In spite of one minor injury (a nettle sting), everyone spent a lot of time exploring the board walk and dirt trails of the park. After exploring the wetland, we all met up at the playground by the parking lot, where everyone played. Photos and information about that part of the trip will be in a post later this week.

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Paintball Excursion



Recently a group of students and two staff took our new bus to East Side Painball. They had a great time and several of them looked surprisingly unpainted on their return. In School Meeting last week one of the paintball participants suggested another trip, although the fee is probably too steep for enthusiasts to go very often.
Shane, one of the paintballers, took this picture before they all got started. Thanks, Shane!

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Clearwater Has A New Bus!

One week before Winter Break, our Blue Bird Mini Bird yellow school bus drove into the school parking lot in a cloud of smoke. Matt, our driver/staff member tried to drive it to the mechanic but gave up the attempt after a block or two because the smoke was so bad.

Matt driving our new bus

After our bus was towed to Earl's Garage, our great mechanics, they diagnosed the problem as cracked cylinders and recommended a brand new engine. In the 2-1/2 years we've owned and operated our 1991 yellow school bus, we've discovered just how problematic a high-mileage (over 270,000 miles), older bus can be. We considered replacing the engine, but it did not make sense to spend a lot of money to put a new engine into such an old vehicle.

For the past month and a half as we debated repairing our bus, we also scoured craigslist and dealers for available buses in our price range with adequate capacity. As of last week there were no good buses available and the families whose kids ride the bus daily continued to limp along arranging carpools to school as much as possible.

Then over the weekend, the clouds parted and the angels sang. Matt discovered a 2003 23-passenger shuttle bus for sale, in immaculate condition and well-maintained. The owner agreed to sell it to Clearwater for $10,500, instead of the $12,500 asking price, considering the $2,000 a nonprofit donation. Despite the large expense, School Meeting authorized the purchase, reasoning that having a bus is a major asset for the school and this bus's newer, high-quality body and engine will provide long-term reliability.



School Meeting has made a huge commitment to the bus as an investment for all Clearwater students. Clearwater has initiated a pledge drive to help us finance the bus purchase. Please consider a one-time or installment donation; contact us by email or telephone (425-489-2050).

Matt drove our new bus into the school parking lot for the first time yesterday to enthusiastic applause. The very first trip was to Mill Creek Sports Park for an ultimate frisbee game. The first trip for daily riders was from school to home yesterday evening.



As you can see from the photos, the bus is gorgeous inside and out. The windows are huge, the seats are comfortable for the driver and the passengers and the ride is smooth and quiet.




Here's a short video of the bus and the excitement surrounding it.




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Soccer at the Field

Here are a LOT of soccer pictures from a December day at Mill Creek Sports Park. Note the variety of ages and sizes. On this particular day a couple of Clearwater alumni who happened to be visiting the school joined the regulars to play soccer. (Shameless plug for donations for a new bus: We need the bus to take this many players to the field.)

In addition to playing games, many Clearwater players also run practice drills to improve their skills. Since everyone began playing several times a week a few months ago everyone's individual skill and ability to execute strategic plays as a team has improved markedly.

The little five-year-old girl in the foreground of the first photo really wanted to play, but she is so tiny and has never played soccer so everyone was afraid she'd get hurt in a rough and tumble, high-energy game. Instead, while everyone else was playing she and I kicked the a ball back and forth and teamed up to kick it all the way around the entire sports park twice. She also got to practice a little goal kicking with everyone after the game was over.

It was heartwarming and wonderful to watch eight- and ten-year-old goalies make a great show of leaping to block her ball and miss so that she made her goal every time. No one suggested that they do that. They instinctively understood what would please her and generously included her and ensured her success.





An eight- and nineteen-year-old going toe to toe.


Lots more photos after the jump!










The symetry of the players in this photo is lovely.






Matt leads the charge.





Valiant and failed attempt to block a goal.


Goal-kicking practice. Impressive form, Stephanie!



I took a bunch of pictures trying to get this goalie in action. He is poetry in motion!




This photo is grainy and the lens isn't aimed quite high enough, but here he is in mid-leap.


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Fun at Mill Creek Sports Park

Most days of the week this winter a group of 10 to 12 students and two staff drive four miles north on Highway 527 to Mill Creek Sports Park. Most of those who go to the park play one or two games of soccer, and a few play in the skate bowl. One day I joined the park group and got to see some soccer action and skate park play, minus skates or boards.


The day I was at the park was cloudy and dark and I didn't get the best soccer pictures. Here are a couple of photos. I'll do another post soon with more soccer pictures from a different day.



Some of the 7-9 year old girls like playing in the skate park bowl. They use the bowl for climbing and sliding. On school days there are rarely skaters there, so they have the skate park to themselves.





They get a running start in the base of the bowl and clamber up the sides to the top. It's especially thrilling to watch these small girls fearlessly run up a nearly vertical wall twice their height, again and again. Then they slide down.

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