Jon's Weekly Update 1-15-13

posted Jan 15, 2013, 11:07 AM by Cynthia Friedman
Thursday, January 10, 8:50-11:50am: Jordan Schnitzer Art Museum Field Trip
Friday, January 11, 7pm: Ukulele Performance at Cozmic Pizza
Tuesday, January 15, 3:15-4pm: Uke Group Rehearsal
Tuesday, January 22, 3:15-4pm: Uke Group Rehearsal
Tuesday, January 29, 3:15-4pm: Uke Group Rehearsal
Tues-Fri, March 19-22: MS Adventure Trip to the Snow! 

Dear Middle School Family, 
Happy New Year! It was quite a treat to see your happy children bouncing off the walls this Tuesday. It was a joyous reunion, to be sure.   

We started the week off, as always, playing music together. Still bouncing! So, rather than fight the energy, we rolled with it and broke out the Moonballs and started the week off right: working in teams to keep beach balls aloft. It's harder than it sounds! Especially if the goal is maximum participation, not just points.   

We had some great discussion about how keeping a beach ball aloft is a lot like everything else we do in teams: "Winning" is great, sure, but the true reward is knowing that my hands, my talents, my contributions were valuable (and recognized and valued). We work in teams not to win, but to help each other exceed our expectations of ourselves.   

We're going to keep coming back to this same important process question: How are we helping each other exceed our expectations of ourselves? 

Humanities Projects
We're focusing on Humanities this Cycle. We're going to work to demystify the "Middle East." We're using the "Five Themes of Geography" that we started with in the Fall to help frame our understanding. In this case, we're particularly focusing on Region: How is a region defined? Who defines it? What are the unifying characteristics of a region? Ultimately: What is life like for someone my age in a community roughly my size in a country the other side of the world?   

Carrie and I have some friends in the local community that we're hoping to bring in to share some personal perspectives about growing up in Palestine or Iran, for example. If you have any connections that could help make this unit more real, please let me know! We're going to focus on the region between Turkey/Egypt to Afghanistan/Pakistan (including these countries).   

Current Events 
This Cycle Current Events need to center on events in the Middle East. 

Our goal is to humanize the "Middle East," to put some perspective and compassion into place to balance the baffling noise of the media. 

Creative Expressions classes are starting up again next week. If you have a creative passion you'd like to lead our students' exploration of, please let me know. We have two more sessions after this one, and the more classes we have, the smaller, and more intimate the classes can be. The next session runs on Wednesdays, 2:15-3:15pm, from February 27 until April 10. Right now, groups are about 8-10 kids. We're painting, drawing, acting, singing, writing stories, knitting, papier mache-ing, moving with Tai Chi, cheerleading! Holy cow. Grades 4-8, all mixed up. It's a blast. 

Adventure Trip Fundraising! Help! It's going to be here before we know it. Cost per student right now is $125. I don't have any back-up funds right now. Every $300 we raise reduces the cost for everyone by $10. HELP! Car Washes? Snack Cart? My goal is $2100. That would mean only $55 per family for 3 days and nights in the snow. HELP! 

Ukulele Performance Group Our second big performance this school-year is this Friday, January 11, at Cozmic Pizza. We're on at 7pm, opening for North Eugene High School's Uke Club. Thank you to the families that have made the after-school rehearsals possible. The kids are sounding pretty terrific. Come and have dinner at Cozmic and enjoy the show. This is a fundraising event to support our uke programs (ours and North Eugene High School's). North Eugene invited our group to participate, and we're so very grateful to them for the opportunity.   

There will be more gigs this year. If your student would like to participate in our public performances, please encourage them to stay after school on Tuesdays for rehearsal. (Sorry for the change in day, folks.) Every Tuesday for now. We'll do more rehearsals when we're getting ready for a show. Please contact Jon if you have any questions. 

Occupations Projects are struggling. They would work if all the pieces and systems were in place, but Carrie and I, as dirigibles, have taken on too much to get these programs off the ground. If you have time to commit to helping these students organize a school lunch program, a major landscape architectural project, or a school library, let me know. The Occupation Projects will be the heart and soul of our middle school program once we've got the nuts and bolts in place. We are pioneers. HELP! 

We're so grateful to have your kiddos back in our company. Your children help me exceed my expectations of myself every day.  

Jon and Carrie