Jon's Weekly Update 1-23-17

posted Jan 23, 2017, 8:55 AM by Cynthia Friedman
Tues, Jan 24, 3:15-4:15:                    TRUE Rehearsal
Thurs, Jan 26, 3:15-4:15:                  TRUE Rehearsal
Mon, Jan 30                                        **NO SCHOOL: Professional Development
Tues, Jan 31, 3:15-4:15:                    TRUE Rehearsal
Thurs, Feb. 2, 3:15-4:15:                  TRUE Rehearsal
Fri., Feb 3                                           Grandparents Day
Tues, Feb 7, 3:15-4:15:                      TRUE Rehearsal
Thurs, Feb. 9, 3:15-4:15:                  **NO TRUE Rehearsal--Jon & Carrie visit A3 High School
Thurs, Feb. 23, 7pm                          TRUE PERFORMANCE: Whirrled Pies (With NEHS)
Thurs, March 9, 7:30am                   TRUE PERFORMANCE: COSA ELL Conference
Thurs, April 27, 6pm                         TRUE PERFORMANCE: OSLP Fundraiser, Sam Bonds Foundry

Mon, June 5-Thurs, June 8              Adventure Trip 2017
Fri, June 9                                          **NO SCHOOL--Middle School ONLY
Wed, June 14, 6-8pm                         8th Grade Graduation

Dear Middle School Family,

We're almost back!  This year's transition back from Winter Break has been unusually rough.  We've had two weeks in a row of broken routine.  Thank goodness we're back to business as usual next week.  Continuity is important for growth and learning.  We're having to re-establish positive work habits.  The teachers, too!

It's gotten me to thinking a lot about how "un-natural" school is. It's not something that simply happens organically. It is something we humans have designed with a great deal of care and intention to make sure our children are prepared for their Future in society. Our collective Future. This is serious, important work we're engaged in.  We're doing our best to balance the students' immediate and future needs.

Worthy Work
We strive to make sure the students' work is Worthy.  We don't just prepare them to be successful at school.  We do our very best to engage them as critical, responsible, engaged, compassionate human beings.  Both in the front and the back of the building!

In the back of the building, your student gets individualized writing instruction.  They learn to deeply read and analyze the validity of information.  They learn to challenge arguments, to point to specific assertions and discuss them.  They learn to take care with their words, and their punctuation, and use them both with intention and purpose.

They're learning how to participate in government from their shoelaces up.  As in, we're lacing up our shoes and doing some organizing.  We spent part of class two days last week watching President Obama's Farewell Address with the transcript in front of them.  I asked them to annotate the transcript as if it was an "Article of the Week."  

I asked them to consider the President's words in the context of our Community Action Projects.  How do his words about Civic Responsibility relate to the work we're doing to create better systems for traffic flow, campus groundskeeping, waste management, and student leadership?

This week, we talked about their reactions for a bit, and the students wrote responses to specific assertions in President Obama's speech.  There was a lot of information to digest; the speech was an hour long.  Here's a short summary of what they got out of it:

Democracy for Some is not Democracy at all.  Our government exists because of the will of the people, to protect the pursuit of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness of ALL of our Citizens.  Government isn't just a bunch of arguing. It's not just ideas and laws. Government is the system that we've agreed upon to get the work done.  It's why our roads are clear and our power is on.  Left to our own devices, with no organization, no Government, we'd still be at home in the dark after these storms, instead of in these bright, warm classrooms...

We're building World-Ready Citizens at Ridgeline, is what I'm trying to say.  It starts in Kindergarten.  In Middle School, we get to put their awesome into action.  

Enrichment Opportunities
We have a rigorous Academic Core program for Math/Science and Humanities/Communications. And the work is Worthy. We also work hard to have fun together.

On Mondays and Wednesdays, your student is either learning to play ukulele and sing with 23 other students, or playing board games, or playing role-playing games for almost an hour.  On Monday and Wednesday afternoons we play together.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, your student is either working in a small team outside doing landscaping and gardening, or deeply examining and deconstructing the Media, or creating Art in a multitude of mediums.

On Fridays, your student is making short movies, or playing games, or making art, or making and selling cookies and popcorn.  We focus Fridays on playing and working together to build community.

Your student has PE twice a week for 45 minutes, and studies the language of their choice with Rosetta Stone for 45 minutes, twice a week (More if they want!  At home, or anywhere!)

Every student also plays music with their Humanities/Communications Block class Monday through Thursday for 30 minutes!

All this pretty much sums up why I'm not a fan of long breaks from school, and certainly not a fan of losing school days to bad weather.  We love the work we get to do every day. We love your kids.

It's good to be (almost) back.  Next week will be even better.

Jon & Maizzy