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Class 3-4 Trip to Beech Hill. By Class Teacher Robert Kaczor

snowy-owl-landing-quebec

It was a damp, foggy, almost springlike day on Friday, January 17, when the Grade 3-4 class left campus to hike Beech Hill in Rockport.  We had been studying local geography and it was my hope that we would be able to see and sketch some of the islands and mountains the students had been learning about.  It was obvious even before we left campus that the low clouds and thick fog were going to be a hindrance on this endeavor but I decided we would go for it anyway.

Though my plan would certainly need to be modified, the students seemed unperturbed by the conditions.  As we hiked/ran/splashed/trudged up the dirt path to the top of the hill, the students sang, talked, and joked with one another in high spirits.  As we looked out the blueberry fields faded away into the fog and, before us, the path itself seemed to disappear into nothing.

“It looks like we’re walking off the end of the world” one student observed.  I was feeling the same way.  I was determined to find some worthwhile experience from this trip since my original plan for the day was being swallowed by the ubiquitous fog so we took a moment to imagine that we were at the edge of the world.  Then I let the student run to explore the stone Beech Nut “hut.”

In the first local geography block, I start in concentric circles from our immediate surroundings, the classroom, school building, campus, and gradually work to the range of the furthest students’ homes.  Though not very tall or difficult to hike, Beech Hill offers a view of just about that distance and certainly manifest the character of the Camden Hills and Penobscot Bay.  The fog however, was forcing us to focus back in on our immediate surroundings so we explored the grounds of Beech Nut and identified some of the plants and trees that we found; black spruce, blueberries, bayberries, wild rose, etc.

“An owl!” called one student excitedly.  More enthusiastic echoes came from his classmates.  I hurried over to see.  About 50 yards from us, almost our total visibility, perched a large bird with a bright white head.

“A bald eagle perhaps?” I suggested.

“No, it’s turning its head like an owl.” Indeed, it was, and, it had the unmistakable face of an owl.  But what kind of owl?  White face; grey plumage; LARGE body.  We observed it as carefully as we could but it had already assessed us far better.

It decided that our romping around was either going to scare up some critters or convince them to stay in their homes.  With a few wide flaps it took off into the air and circled right over our heads to see if any of us were small enough to carry off; we stayed bunched together.  As it flew directly over us, it was clear to me what we were seeing.  From below the owl was as white as the fog it was carving through.  Had it not already been reported in the area I might not have known that it was – a snowy owl.

It circled above us for a few more silent moments before disappearing into the fog.  I felt my eyes well slightly at such a rare and beautiful sight.  The students also seemed to sense the significance of what we had just seen and began to dance and play and recount the experience to one another.

The rest of our visit to Beech Hill was as stimulating as I had hoped it would be.  We walked the forest paths and identified any and all of the local flora and fauna that we could.  By the time we made it back to the hut for a snack, the sky had finally cleared enough for us to look out and take in Penobscot Bay and the Camden Hills.

Our trip to Beech Hill was not as I imagined it would be.  The paper I brought to make sketches was damp and we didn’t have a lot of time to identify all the geographical features around us, though we named many.  However, the real lesson that I took away from that day, and hope the students did too, was perseverance; we could easily have rescheduled our trip for a nicer day but we stayed committed and were rewarded for it.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

-William Hutchinson Murray, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition

Martinmas Celebration

lantern walk

Early Childhood
On Friday, November 15, our Rosewood Kindergarten class joined with Mr. Clough’s first and second grade for a truly magical experience. All week we had been working on our lanterns for this event, speaking of it, telling stories and singing songs. Anticipation was in the air!

Earlier that day, the first and second graders and I placed lights along the path to illuminate our way. The children worked diligently to gather wood for the fire pit, piling twigs, branches, and logs into wheelbarrows and wagons, metal tubs and baskets. They showed great industry and willingness. Thank you, children, for your help!

Mr. Clough lit a bonfire as the moon rose in the mild November night sky. The grades children performed songs, depicting in lovely gestures the story of St. Martin. Mr. Clough captivated all with his telling of St. Martin stories.

The moon was full and bright as we lit the lanterns. Ms. Ursula led the way and off we went on a completely silent lantern walk. This was the first silent–and the most reverent–walk in my experience! What a lovely sight to see the lighted lanterns silently winding their way through field and forest! Picture a full moon, silent and purposeful walking, and only the whispering of leaves under many feet. All went home in silence, and we thank you for that! This festival was a gift. May all of you carry the light within you through the cold, dark nights of winter.

-Ms.Beth

First and Second Grades
The stories of great human beings who have touched the lives of those around them inspire us and remind us of the highest virtues we, too, possess. Martin of Tours, who later became St. Martin, is one example of such a human being. He was forced to join the army against his will, but even as a soldier he found ways to care for those less fortunate than himself. On a cold November day he stopped to help a freezing beggar. He cut his cloak in two and gave half to the beggar. St. Martin went on to become a monk who lived his life in service to the poor and less fortunate.

We celebrate Saint Martin’s deeds with the festival of Martinmas. In this time of year when the nights are growing longer we make lanterns to light our way through the darkness. Our small lanterns illuminate our path and symbolize the flame of kindness and compassion in us all.

-Jeremy Clough, First and Second Grade Teacher.

Annual Pumpkin Carving

Every year Ashwood Waldorf School students create jack-o-lanterns for our All Hallows’ Eve Walk. Click one of the images for a slideshow.

Ashwood to Offer “How to Talk About Waldorf” Workshop

Join us for a Parent Ambassadors Workshop on Monday, November 4. With veteran Waldorf educator and school consultant Kathleen Young, we will explore the hallmarks of an Ashwood Waldorf School education. This workshop will be tailored to the interests of participants, and may address such questions as:

  • How do I explain Waldorf education to my family and acquaintances?
  • What can I say to people who seem misinformed about the values, accomplishments, and mission of Ashwood Waldorf School?
  • What resources are available for busy parents to learn more about Waldorf education?

Designed for current Ashwood parents and grandparents who want to improve their ability to articulate their school choice to others, this workshop is also open to any community member interested in learning more about the value of a Waldorf education in Midcoast Maine.

When: Monday, November 4, 6:00–8:00 p.m.

Where: Ashwood Waldorf School, Grade School building, garden level

Register at info@ashwoodwaldorf.org or call 207-236-8021 for more information.

Ashwood Alumni to Perform in Camden Hills Regional High School Musical

“Shrek, the Musical,” based on the Oscar-winning film, is this year’s Camden Hills Regional High School fall musical. Several Ashwood Waldorf School alumni are cast in this show, so don’t miss the chance to cheer on our talented students!

Duncan Hall ’10, plays Lord Farquaad, while Fiona Hall ’13 turns in a performance as one of the Three Pigs, along with her cohort Chloe Isis ’13. Jamie Oshima ’12 plays a Singing Knight, while Jonas Eichenlaub ’13 rounds out the ensemble.

“Shrek, the Musical” will run Fridays and Saturdays, November 8, 9, 15, and 16 at 7:00 p.m.; and Sunday, November 10, at 2 p.m. in the Strom Auditorium, Rockport. Advance ticket sales are $12 reserved and $10 general admission; $6 for students and senior citizens. There will be a special Family Show on Wednesday, November 13, at 6:00 p.m. with the reduced ticket price of $5, all general admission. For more information: 207-236-7800, ext. 282 or stromtickets.com. Link

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Kim John Payne to Offer Workshop/Lecture on Simplicity Parenting

KimJohnPaynePublicityPhotoRecentCopy“Using the extraordinary power of less to raise calmer, happier & more secure kids. Learn how to simplify toys, books and clothes, meals and bedtimes, schedules, and filter out the adult world.”

Kim John Payne is an Australian who has, for 27 years, worked throughout the world as a counselor, consultant/researcher and educator of both children and adults. He has been helping children, adolescents and families explore issues such as social difficulties with siblings and classmates, attention and behavioral issues at home and school, and a range of emotional issues such as defiance, aggression, addiction and self-esteem. He regularly gives keynote addresses at international conferences for educators, parents and therapists and runs workshops and trainings around the world. He is on the faculty at Antioch University New England. His book Simplicity Parenting (Random House) has received international media attention and has been featured in Time Magazine, Parenting Magazine, NPR & BBC, ABC, NBC, & CBS television.

  • Lecture: November 1, 7-9 p.m.; $15
  • Workshop: November 2, 9 a.m. -1 p.m.; $45
  • Combined Lecture & Workshop: $50
  • Location: Seacoast Waldorf School
  • 403 Harold L Dow Hwy (RT 236), Eliot, ME 03903
  • FMI: 207-439-7911 or website

 

Jack Petrash to Speak at Merriconeag

Waldorf educator Jack Petrash will be at Merriconeag Waldorf School in Freeport, Maine for two events:

Dynamic Schooling to Meet the Future:Jack Petrash photo
A Public Talk by Jack Petrash
  • Friday October 18, 7:00 p.m.
  • 57 Desert Road, Freeport
  • Suggested donation: $10 at the door

To meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world our children will need to be resilient, imaginative, determined, disciplined, kind and clear thinking. Jack Petrash will explore how we can develop these essential qualities and instill in each child a reservoir of strength, the capacity for creative thinking, and a healthy sense of self.

The Art of Raising Strong, Resilient Children
A Workshop with Jack Petrash

Parenting is not an easy assignment in our complex, modern world. We are often good at holding our children close OR at letting them go. The challenge is to hold both of those polarities simultaneously and doing so is an art that we will explore in our time together.

The Spirits of Halloween

This article by Eugene Schwartz gives an explanation of why we try to keep All Hallows’ a scare-free experience for our youngest children. Please read and comment. 

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For the younger child, this festival reaffirms the goodness of the world. Eons ago, as they looked upon the mists that wove around their fjords and heaths, ancient Europeans had a particular experience as the days grew shorter. Toward the end of the month that we call October, they perceived the souls of all of those who had died in the past year gathering and preparing to ascend to their heavenly home, making a space for the souls due to be born in the year to come. But before they could assume their place in the ethereal realm, the departed souls had to sweep away all the detritus of the life just past and cast it to the earth. Thus the popular image of witches riding on their broomsticks is a misperception: in reality, the brooms are sweeping away the witches!

At the time when the child is in fourth grade, a sense of human mortality begins to dawn within her. Children of this age are rightfully and healthily drawn to all of the frightful and gruesome aspects of Halloween, and they look forward with trembling anticipation to visiting a haunted house, watching an horrific form arise out of a swamp, or, if only through a well-told story, being scared out of their senses!

For the younger child, however, the situation is different. The spirits and creatures with whom the younger child communes are not those created by human error, but rather those in whom the innocent and wise powers of Nature reside: gnomes and undines, fairies and elves, the spirits of stones and streams, sun and wind. For young children to be exposed only to the dark and demonic qualities of Halloween is to deny the unspoken conviction that they carry in their souls that the world is good.

— Eugene Schwartz

Middle School Trip to Gulf Hagas

Gulf Hagas, the “Grand Canyon of the East”, is a three-mile-long slate gorge located in the mountains of central Maine. Last week Ashwood Waldorf School’s Middle School students enjoyed a two-night camping trip to the area crowned by a day-long hike along the rim of the gorge. It was an amazing trip: waterfalls cascading through narrow passages, sheer slate cliffs, crisp fall colors, and even a moose on our way home. Our profound thanks go to all of the parents who helped make the trip possible by cooking and shopping and providing equipment. We’d also like to send a big shout-out to our chaperone/guides: Buck O’Herin, David Ray, and John Luft.

Amy Watson, Seventh Grade Teacher, and Laura Purdom, Sixth Grade Teacher

Photos by John Luft.

 

Ten Beautiful Mornings with Your Child

0DEM0537In honor of our Ashwood Waldorf School’s upcoming Parent-Child classes, we offer you this quote from the 19th-century American humorist, Josh Billings:

“To bring up your child in the way he should go, travel that way yourself once in awhile.”

We think our Parent-Child Classes offer the perfect way to “travel that way yourself.” For 10 beautiful mornings this fall, join a group of dynamic parents, their young children (18–36 months) and Ashwood’s veteran early childhood educator and awesome Waldorf mom, Cherry Short-Lee.

The children engage in creative play while parents may engage in child-led play or work on a craft project, help with snack, or discuss a reading on an aspect of parenting with Miss Cherry and other thoughtful parents.

The morning ends with a walk through the woods and time to climb and swing on our playground. A goodbye circle completes the morning.

Ashwood’s Parent-Child program nurtures the whole family and provides a bridge from home to school. When ready, the young child may transition to the mixed-age Early Childhood classroom.

Parent-Child 2013-14 Schedule

  • Weekly on Thursdays, September 19–November 21
  • Weekly Thursdays, January 9–March 20 (with no session on February 20)

For more information or to receive an application form, please contact the enrollment director at 207-236-8021 or info@ashwoodwaldorf.org.