Archive for fundraising

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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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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Building Fund

Thank you everyone!   We raised  over $5, 600!

Thank you!

Our campaign is closed!

We are thrilled to announce that we have found a wonderful place to serve as the home for Sunset Sudbury School! Please help us bring this much needed school option to families in this area by donating whatever you can.

Our school offers a unique environment where kids are free to be themselves and find their passions.

Use your debit or credit card to donate… by clicking the orange ChipIn! button on the right sidebar.

If you prefer to donate by check, you can mail it to…
Sunset Sudbury School
PO Box 290944
Davie, FL 33329-0944

You can help us raise the money we need to install a new bathroom and fire alarm system required for us to open our doors this August. Donate what you can and then help us spread the word to others in your circle. Encourage them to ‘chip in’ to this very important cause.

Sunset Sudbury School is a non-profit organization. Your donation is tax-deductible. We appreciate your help!

Our new building, located at 4200 N 66th Avenue in Davie, features… 2,400 square feet of spacious and beautifully remodeled indoor space, a grassy outdoor space for playing tag, exploring, or picnicking, and a garden filled with native and exotic plants for having fun and learning in nature.

Grassy Play areaOutdoor Garden

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Cooking Begins for Denmark Trip Fundraising Dinner

Yesterday students Robert and Braden and their staff member mentor Mat began cooking for the dinner they will produce tomorrow. Today the intensity and duration of food and event preparations increased dramatically.

Mat and Robert chopping onion

Braden chopping basil

The dinner is one of the ways they are earning money for their two-month stay in Denmark while they attend Denmark's Sudbury school and explore that country and culture.

They cooked Gado Sauce, a peanut-based sauce that can be made ahead.

They also made a test batch of creme brulee. It was a test batch because they added some unexpected aromatic ingredients and wanted to find out how it would taste. I had the privilege of being a taster and I can testify that the creme brulee will be amazing.

Creme brulee ready for the oven

Creme brulee recipe (but without mystery aromatic ingredients). Click the image to enlarge.

Mat and Robert mixing creme brulee ingredients.
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Students Cook Fundraising Dinner for Their European Trip

If you haven't read about Robert and Braden's upcoming two-month stay at a Sudbury school in Denmark and how they will represent Clearwater at the European Sudbury Conference in Berlin this spring, do so now. They hope this trip will encourage more travel and student exchange between Sudbury schools around the world.

To earn money for their trip before they leave at the end of the month, they (together with staff member and cooking mentor Mat Riggle) will cook a sumptuous Asian-themed meal with dessert on Saturday, March 20 from 4:00-7:00 PM at The Clearwater School. If you would like to eat delicious food, enjoy good entertainment and support them on this adventure, please RSVP no later than March 18 to
The Clearwater School. The cost is $20 each for adults and $10 each for children. Please indicate in the RSVP if you have any diet restrictions and, if eating meat, whether you prefer pork or chicken.

Robert and Braden make Thai fresh rolls

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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.

End of post.

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Two Clearwater Students to Travel to Denmark This Spring

Robert and Braden, 15 and 17 respectively, have arranged with a Danish Sudbury school in Copenhagen, Den Demokratiske Skole, to visit and study there during the months of April and May. They will be staying with one of the founders and other school families during their sojourn. In addition, they have been invited to and will attend the International Sudbury Conference in Berlin at the end of May.

Robert & Braden

Braden has talked a lot about his desire to travel to other parts of the world. When he found out there are other Sudbury schools, including some in Europe and the Middle East, and that many of them welcome international students, he contacted the Danish school, a school in Belgium and one in Jerusalem. In emails to these schools, Robert and Braden described their interests, including cooking, traveling, juggling and spinning poi and how long they've been students at Clearwater. The school in Copenhagen replied first and their School Meeting approved a two-month visit. They have 18 students, including teenagers.

Robert and Braden have been emailing and skyping with the staff and students to hammer out the details, such as paying tuition, room and board. They are both actively earning money to finance the trip. Those of you in the Assembly have probably seen some emails from the two offering their services for a fee. They are happy to paint, clean out garages, babysit and move furniture, among other things. Please contact Clearwater if you would like to hire them.

Braden demonstrating his juggling skills

They are also organizing a fundraising dinner, to be scheduled in February or March. They will prepare all of the food, including an appetizer, three courses (including a vegetarian course) and a dessert. More details will be forthcoming.

Robert & Braden cooking at school

Both students can barely contain their excitement about the trip. Braden is working on learning some Danish, including phrases such as "Where's the bathroom?", "How much is that?", and "What does that mean?"

Robert is looking forward to going to school, hanging out with people and seeing everything, including a giant bridge he's seen photos of. He's also planning to do some skateboarding and poi spinning and check out some discos in Berlin.

Robert spinning poi

Braden is excited about meeting people and is especially looking forward to making contact with people from different countries at the Berlin conference. He hopes to go back to Europe next year, perhaps for a longer time at another school or two.

When asked how they feel about representing Clearwater in Copenhagen and Berlin, Robert said, "This is my shining moment for Clearwater," and Braden said, "I'm excited about it." One of the Danish school's staff member has asked if Braden and Robert would be willing to give a talk to Skole parents and students, and they readily agreed.

Copenhagen is a big city at 1.7 million people in the metropolitan area, so there will be lots of things to see and do. Berlin is even bigger, at 3.4 million people. It will be a great experience for both of them, even better than being tourists because they will be living and learning from natives. We are all lookiing forward to hearing the stories of their experiences when they return home in early June.

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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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The Return of the Chat ‘n Chew

It is wonderful to have a kitchen!

Last night marked the long awaited return of the Chat 'n Chew. The chew part needs no elaboration, but there was more chatting than chewing! After an hour of socializing a panel of four parents, all former staff members of other Sudbury schools, talked about their former schools and experiences there. It was a wonderful way for the whole community to warm up the kitchen (and test the smoke detector.)

The night before St. Patrick's Day, the Fundraising Committee held its Pledge Drive Phonathon, complete with Irish Coffee, mussels steamed in Guinness, Irish soda bread, and lots of people dropping by to pledge, lend a hand making a few phone calls, add to the music-making, or just enjoy the food and company. It was so much fun that we will be making it an annual event.

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