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High Mowing School enewsletter  masthead -- HIgh Notes

FALL 2012    ISSUE 16

students gather outside the front door of the main building on the first day of school

students and alumnae attend a national conference on education

students build a shelter in the forest during Fall Focus Week

 school calendarpast issues


EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR LETTER

From the Executive Director

Rea Gill, High Mowing School Executive Director

Welcome to the first High Mowing School newsletter of the 2012-2013 school year — a year that will see the graduation of our 70th class! We could not ask for a more solid group of young people than the Class of 2013 to mark this special time in High Mowing School’s history.

With this first newsletter, you will notice a new format and a new name. Both most accurately reflect the content and purpose of the newsletter and describe how we experience the activities at High Mowing School….as truly High Notes

70th anniversary sealThere are many high notes that High Mowing School will sing to you in this and subsequent newsletters throughout the year. Today you have the opportunity to read highlights in the School News and Student News sections, as well as updates on what the students and teachers have been doing in the classroom — and in the gardens, fields and woods — since school started.

As I leave behind my inaugural year as the Executive Director and begin my second year, I would also like to share a few of my own high notes. Last year we saw a transformation of the social-organizational structure of the school. The Student Council led the way by adopting a new democratic model for their student government. A few students even had the opportunity to co-lead a workshop about their new government at the Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO) Conference in Portland, Oregon last August (read more about it in this newsletter).

The teaching and administrative staff followed their lead when we designed and implemented a similar structure for the rest of the school. Teachers and administrators (with some Student Council participation!) worked for many hours during professional development days in June and again in August to transform the existing structure. Our new structure is cutting edge, elegant and sophisticated, inclusive and transparent, and most importantly….effective. You will hear more about this as time goes by. Better yet, the school, the programs, the teachers and students, and community members connected to us will experience the benefits directly as it evolves and strengthens.

The other high note that I would like to share with you is that we have officially adopted renewed vision, mission and values statements. Most of you, along with other community members, had the opportunity to contribute to the creation of these statements. After an intensive and comprehensive community process, the teaching and administrative staff, and the Board of Trustees approved the following statements:

Vision – Mission – Values

Vision: 

At High Mowing School we recognize and nurture the highest potential in each person. We are a community where students discover who they are and develop the capacity for living fully into the future as it unfolds for them. We aspire to be a model for Waldorf education in the 21st century, and a catalyst for positive change in the world. Our graduates are confident, innovative leaders in diverse pursuits, reaching their goals and contributing to a sustainable, compassionate and peaceful future.

Mission:

High Mowing School is a Waldorf high school for boarding and day students, where talented and experienced teachers draw on the wisdom of Waldorf education, and nurture the interests of today’s young people. We utilize an approach to learning that is based on an understanding of the developing human being and the changing world around us.

We offer an experiential and vigorous program of arts-infused academics within a small and friendly school community, where young people and adults have the opportunity to form authentic and meaningful relationships. We provide a complete program of humanities, math, science, world languages, fine, practical and performing arts, diverse movement education and individual interest electives -- all immersed in and surrounded by nature.

Values:

For all members of our community, we value:

    • Imagination and creativity
    • Learning through multiple intelligences
    • Joy, freedom and self-direction
    • Meaningful work that challenges and inspires
    • Balance in work, play and life
    • Excellence in academics
    • Mastery through practice
    • Innovation and tradition
    • Social justice and environmental sustainability
    • Healthy, local and organically grown food
    • A safe, welcoming and diverse school community
    • A friendly and supportive social environment
    • The celebration of the uniqueness in each Individual
    • Deep, authentic and lasting relationships
    • Individual and collective responsibility
    • Kindness and compassion

I am very excited about our new vision, mission and values statements because, with a considerable number of the objectives of the 2008 Long Range Plan accomplished, we are now making plans for the next three to five years. These statements provide unshakable guiding principles upon which to develop our next Long Range Strategic Plan. Teachers, administrative staff and trustees are working on goals and objectives using these statements to guide their work in four areas of focus: curriculum development and program design and delivery, campus improvements and developments, community and resource development, and infrastructure development.

We are proud of our school and our student body, and what has been accomplished over the past seventy years. We continue to graduate confident, innovative leaders who reach their goals and ultimately contribute to a sustainable, compassionate and peaceful future for the benefit of all of society. Time has shown that High Mowing graduates go on to accomplish their goals and make a positive difference in others’ lives. We look forward to the year ahead as we strive to recognize and nurture the highest potential in each of the young people who are on campus. And we watch in awe as our students discover who they are and develop the capacity for living fully into the future as it unfolds for them.

— Rea Gill, Executive Director

OPENING DAY

Opening Day

On September 5, 2012, High Mowing began its 70th year by welcoming students, parents, faculty and staff back to campus. Seniors returned the day before to help faculty and staff prepare activities for the first official day of school.

Students gathered in the main building to pick up registration packets and re-connect with friends. Meetings, activities and games on the lawn followed, as well as a delicious lunch in the dining hall for students and their families.

The day culminated in a school-wide assembly, which found the Big Room at full capacity. Wendy Bruneau, HMS Humanities’ teacher and Pedagogical Administrator for Programs, opened the event by thanking parents for entrusting us with their sons and daughters. Pat Meissner, Director of Admissions, then created a snapshot of this year’s student body. “Our students hale from fourteen states and ten countries,” she said. “We have roughly 60% boarding and 40% day students, and our total population has slightly more boys than girls this year.” In a lively exercise that had students bounding from their seats, she illustrated the long-standing relationships at High Mowing: seven families have more than one son or daughter here this year, and sixteen students are the brothers or sisters of alumni/ae. “Four students this year are the children of alumni/ae,” she added.

After Mark Ferguson entertained those assembled with his piano rendition of Nocturne in F# Major by Frederic Chopin, Wendy addressed the students again. She began her remarks with a reference to Faust, describing the rainbow as a symbol of permanence and change. “A rainbow looks like one thing,” she said, “but it is really many things comprising a whole. Those things, bits of water and light, are constantly changing.” At High Mowing School, we also change. “The array of classes and opportunities for growth continue to evolve. Each September, we welcome our students to a brand new year,” she said. “And we ask, ‘How will you be a part of the rainbow this year?’ ”

Executive Director, Rea Gill, introduced faculty and staff members. Her introductions were followed by an address to new students by senior Sam Bernstein. “Today, I want to welcome you to the first of many High Mowing traditions. Several traditions date back 70 years. Some are fun, some are inspiring, but none are boring!” said Sam. “Our school is not just a location, it is a community. Traditions connect us to that community and make us who we are. Please join us, because we are happy to share our school with you.”

The event closed with another tradition that takes place daily at High Mowing School, with Dean of Students, Cary Hughes, announcing roll call. Each class assembled as student names were read after which parents, faculty and staff applauded. This was followed by everyone gathering into one large circle in the Big Room as is done every morning throughout the school year by students, teachers and staff and the opening verse was spoken from memory:

I gaze into the world
In which the sun is shining,
In which the stars are sparkling,
In which the stones repose,
Where living plants are growing,
Where sentient beasts are living,
Where human souls on Earth
Give dwelling to the Spirit.

I gaze into my soul
That lives within my being.
The World Creator weaves
In sun light and in soul light,
In world space there without,
In soul depths here within.
To thee, Creator Spirit,

I will now turn my heart
To ask that the strength and the blessing
To learn and to work
May grow within my inmost being.

students enjoy some free time by playing frisbee on opening day

ORIENTATION TRIPS

Orientation Trips

There was excitement in the air on the morning of September 6, as freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors collected their gear, made hasty sandwiches, and boarded the buses that would take them away on their class orientation trips.

The freshman class headed off to Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain in New York. They crossed the lake at the car ferry in Shoreham, VT, and headed off to a campsite west of the fort in Paradox, NY, arriving mid-afternoon. Tents popped up quickly, and almost as quickly the heavens opened and soaked just about everything. Fortunately, there was an hour of sunshine remaining before nightfall and students were able to dry themselves and their gear to various degrees — and get some sleep.

Juniors enjoy a view of the White Mountains

The next morning, it was off to Mount Defiance, which overlooks "Fort Ti" and offers a great vantage point — a major reason its position was so strategically important in the Revolutionary War. A visiting historian, practicing for a lecture the next day, entertained the group with his knowledge of events before, during, and after 1776. It was a short drive down to the fort, to be followed the next day by a more comprehensive look at re-enacted life after the British re-claimed it from the Americans. There were, among other things, musket demonstrations and a trip through a corn maze!

Back at camp, the freshmen got to know each other better while swimming in the nearby lake, canoeing, eating, cooking, and endlessly cleaning up after themselves. By Saturday morning, they were sad to leave but happy to be returning to real beds. Luckily, they left Paradox just ahead of a dangerous eastward-moving thunderstorm — though that did not prevent them from stopping at Burdick's in Walpole, NH, for some outstanding chocolaty items.

Sophomores at Pawuckaway State Park

For their orientation trip, the sophomore class traveled to Nottingham, NH, and the wild woods of Pawtuckaway State Park. They camped for two nights under the great pines that border a pristine lake. New and returning students formed bonds that will nurture and sustain them as a class. Their original plan to visit the Strawberry Banks settlement in Portsmouth was foiled by an unannounced visit from President Obama and the First Lady. Not to be undone by such life events, students spent the day at Hampton Beach where they swam, walked the beach, and ate ice cream. The class mentors (Michal, Robert, and Keith) found the class to be happy, focused, and excited about the challenges and opportunities facing them in the coming school year!

Meanwhile, the junior class traveled north to the White Mountains to camp at White Lake State Park. Students and mentors set up their tents quickly as all were motivated to get to the beach to swim in the crystal clear lake at the foot of Mount Chocorua. The class rose early the day after they arrived to prepare for their climb up the mountain! It was not a brief excursion; the quickest group returned to the trailhead after six hours of climbing and descent. The magnificent view from the summit, the chance to chat with old and new classmates and the resulting sense of accomplishment made the arduous trek well worth the effort.

The seniors travelled to Nickerson State Park on Cape Cod, MA. Their campsite was next to a clear, deep pond where they enjoyed many long swims. Several students did some impressive distance swimming. The group made two visits to the ocean, one on the bay side during low tide. On this excursion, students were able to walk far out into the shallow ocean water where they found a number of large crabs and some very tiny ones. At a different beach on the ocean side, the group watched the sunset and some brave souls went swimming. Seniors took a side trip to Provincetown on their last afternoon, where they enjoyed shopping, sightseeing along the docks, and fabulous ice cream. At night, they spent time around the campfire talking and singing before heading off to sleep.

The Junior class in the White Mountains

PARENTS WEEKEND

Parents Weekend

Parent/Teacher Conferences and class visits brought many families to campus this year for Parents Weekend, October 19-20, 2012. But, the opportunity to connect with other families and friends, attend jazz, eurythmy, and chorus performances, and experience High Mowing first-hand were the hallmarks of this annual event. High Notes asked Nancy Wight, parent of Naylani Halpern-Wight ’14 and Board of Trustees member, to provide a parent’s perspective of the weekend:

“The theme that came to mind again and again during this year’s Parents Weekend was Inspiration. I was inspired by the answers parents gave when asked how their children were doing this year. Invariably, I received the same answer: “My child is so HAPPY here!” One parent explained what High Mowing had done for their son — a student in his second year — as a “miracle.” Through my own profession, I know that research suggests students cannot learn if they are stressed. At High Mowing, this abundance of happiness sets the stage for learning, where acquiring new skills can more easily take place.

I was also inspired when a sophomore boy stuck out his hand while I was waiting in the lunch line, introduced himself, and made polite conversation. I was inspired again while listening to the questions posed by juniors in Robert and Wendy’s class during a discussion of Dante’s Divine Comedy. When it was mentioned that people can feel the angelic qualities of a baby, one student said, “But the baby is not inherently good, because it hasn’t had a chance yet to do good deeds (to prove its goodness). I think a baby is somewhere between good and bad.” Another student replied, “How you feel about this depends on whether you believe that human beings are inherently good or inherently bad.” Parents were then treated to the artistic representations of Dante’s Inferno each student had prepared. Two students made nine small cakes, representing the nine circles of hell, decorated with Lego people and creatures!

Amidst the flurry of teacher conferences, wonderful music provided by the students, amazing artwork on the walls and in the halls, and great food, there was the yearly glimpse of what makes High Mowing teachers so special. This year, the teachers had sixty seconds to describe what inspires them about teaching at High Mowing School. Their responses included:

Wendy: The responsibility of who we have before us. If I have the courage to teach, this will inspire students to have the courage to learn.

Kathy: The incredible individuality — the bright light in each student.

Kim: My inspirational colleagues: a group of people willing to work together to push for the truth.

Brad: Inspire means “to breathe in or breathe upon;” the incredible opportunity to work with young people in the natural world inspires me.

Walter: Students taking charge of their own education.

Stephen: The experience of the unexpected — and students doing above and beyond what is expected.

Eunice: When Alumni/ae say to me “What you gave us is simply irreplaceable.”

Karen: The sense of community.

Robert: Students making important discoveries; not giving up on difficult subjects — coming to breakfast for tutoring!

Pat: the spirit of love and compassion; it enables transformation.

Judy: The interconnectedness of a small learning community, where the line between teaching and learning is blurred.

Keith: The questions students bring to the quest of becoming full human beings.

Rachael: Doing what I love.

To witness our young people grappling with the deep questions that live somewhere inside each of us, being inspired by teachers who teach not only from the intellect but also from the heart, is an experience that fills me with gratitude and hope for our future generations. That’s what Parents Weekend meant to me." — Nancy Wight

the entry-way to the school is decorated with seasonal offerings for parents weekend


FESTIVALS!

Festivals

While food, clothing and shelter are essential for physical survival, the human spirit also has fundamental requirements. We feel a deep need for connection and a sense of joy and warmth when we experience a link to something bigger. We require connection to other humans, connection to the natural world around us, and connection to deeper meaning and purpose in our lives. When we celebrate the seasonal festivals of the year, these rituals serve to strengthen and deepen these ties and create a sense of being “at home” in our community and in the cosmos.

When students and parents tell us what they love about our school, they almost always speak about community. At Senior Chapel service in June, many students share fond memories of our seasonal celebrations — with all the rituals and traditions they entail. We create these festivals together, often honoring and repeating 70-year-old traditions. But, as a school, we also look at time-honored holidays with a more contemporary vision. As our community becomes increasingly global, we encourage celebrations that reflect this growing diversity.

students celebrate Michaelmas, all dressed in red

The festival of Michaelmas (September 29) arrives near the autumn equinox, just in time for the beauty and clarity of autumn days. This is an ancient festival celebrating the Archangel Michael who is honored in Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions. Michael is associated with courage, inner strength and initiative. Rudolf Steiner, who provided the inspiration for Waldorf Schools, drew a parallel between the iron of the meteor showers in autumn with the “inner iron or steel” that we must cultivate to act with courage in the face of fear and anxiety.

In the lower schools, pageants are created in which a colorful dragon is subdued by the sword of a brave and shining St. Michael. We take this out of the “picture” realm for our high school students and have conversations and artistic presentations whose themes include courage and initiative in the face of passivity, ignorance and fear. On the day of our festival, we dress in the color red and celebrate mid-morning with music, food and games. In the afternoon we leave campus to go into the broader world and perform acts of service. For many years we have sent crews of students and teachers to clean Abbot Hill Road. This year we also pulled weeds and decorated parts of downtown Wilton, as the city prepared for fall celebrations and the coming winter.

students decorate downtown Wilton window shops with seasonal window paintings

The ever-darkening days of late November and early December lead us into the festivals of light that surround the winter solstice. We will celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas with a number of traditions that Mrs. Emmet, High Mowing School founder, created in the early years of the school. By far, the most beloved and revered is the Nativity enactment. A simple, yet profound dramatization of the birth of Jesus Christ, this artistic presentation is offered without words. Beautiful choral and instrumental music, eurythmy, and rich, traditional costumes combine to portray the sacred moment at which a new light came into the world. Most students and teachers are involved with some aspect of creating the Nativity each year. As with all of our traditions, the experience and the memories become a treasured part of being at High Mowing.

Nativity is a 70 year old tradition at High Mowing


HIGH MOWING STUDENTS JOIN THE EDUCATION REVOLUTION

High Mowing Students Join the Education Revolution

What do you get when you add two west-coast seniors to an east-coast contingency from High Mowing School? The result is a well-rounded group capable of describing all aspects of our school and its new Dynamic Governance structure. This was exactly the case at the AERO Summer Conference, “Finding the Catalyst for the Education Revolution,” held in Portland, Oregon this past August. Seniors Allison Hill and Sydney Oliver joined faculty members Cary Hughes, Kathy Boss and Deb Abrahams-Dematte at the 5-day event. High Mowing Alumnae Sophie Abrahams-Dematte ’08 and Julia Geaney-Moore ‘11 rounded out the group.

Conference attendees ranged from infants to adults in their eighties, from parents concerned with their children’s futures, to heads of school and teachers looking to gather and share groundbreaking ideas on education. A major theme of the conference focused on finding alternatives to the industrial approach to education that is so prevalent today. Attendees explored ways to meet the needs of young people in the world today with schools and educational alternatives that tap into creativity and connection to nature and encourage curiosity and a love of learning. “Alternative education is on the rise,” said Syd Oliver. “As a topic I find it to be exciting and relevant.”

At the conference, Allison, Syd, and Cary joined consultant and author John Buck, to present a workshop called “Make Real Decisions, Take Real Action: Student Leadership and Self-Governance in a Waldorf High School.” More than 50 people attended the workshop, where they learned about High Mowing and were introduced to the Threefold Dynamic Self-Governance structure adopted by our Student Council last year. Participants formed small groups and, led by the students and alumnae, practiced techniques such as elections and rounds. The workshop was valuable and informative. At the end of the conference, it was noted in the post-evaluations as a highlight of the week!

“We wanted to describe our experiences with Dynamic Governance,” said Allison, “so others could share it at their schools.” As members of High Mowing’s Student Council, Allison and Syd were introduced to Dynamic Governance last year at a similar workshop with John Buck. After an intense weekend of training and discussion, members of the Student Council decided to adopt this form of working together. “Adopting this structure made us feel organized and empowered,” added Allison. “We wanted others to have the same opportunity.”

An additional highlight of the conference was a talk by Sir Ken Robinson, speaker and author on creativity and learning. His entertaining and thought-provoking keynote address had the audience crackling with energy, nodding in agreement and volunteering as agents for change in 21st century education. Sir Ken is famous for his Ted talks — one of which asks “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” — with an estimated viewing by 200 million people in over 150 countries.

The structure of the conference also allowed for ad hoc offerings to be put on the schedule. Alums Julia and Sophie offered a workshop on juggling and how it supports learning, using oranges as juggling balls —and snacks when they were through! Sponsored by the Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO), headed by Jerry Mintz, the conference brought insightful thinking and diverse resources together to discuss the future of education.

High Mowing students attend national conference on education

STUDENT ELECTIONS AT HIGH MOWING

Student Elections at High Mowing

In a real-life opportunity to continue “making real decisions and taking real action,” students at High Mowing recently chose representatives to Student Council for the current school year. On October 8, class meetings were held and the different grades elected their representatives. The freshmen chose Cordelia Schiller, Maija Massey and Lila Johnson to represent their class.  Sophomores elected Madeleine Blansfield for a second term and added Jack Budd and Jeffrey Searls. The junior class re-elected Tristen Rodgers, Erin Grebenev and Hunter Moore as its representatives, and added Nyssa Sky. The senior representatives are Sam Bernstein, Allison Hill, Sydney Oliver and Nina Duggan.

The work of this year’s Student Council began with a reorientation for past members and an orientation for new ones. Following last year’s adoption of the Dynamic Governance structure, the group will have regular meetings and split into three distinct sections. Each section will focus on and accomplish specific tasks.

Congratulations to all our Student Council members — your work in the coming year will be valued by the entire school.

students created self-portraits in art class
Student Self-Portraits from a Spring 2012 Art Class.

NATIONAL MERIT COMPETITION SEMIFINALISTS AND COMMENDED STUDENTS

National Merit Competition Semifinalists and Commended Students

Congratulations to Claire Bradham ’13, Fiona Graham ’13 and Allison Hill ’13!

All three have joined the ranks of gifted students to be honored by the 58th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Fiona and Allison have been chosen as Semifinalists by the scholarship program. Each year, based on PSAT test scores from the previous autumn, Semifinalists are designated on a state level. Approximately 1.5 million juniors entered the 2013 program. Fiona and Allison join a nationwide pool of roughly 16,000 Semifinalists, representing less than one percent of current U.S. high school seniors.

These academically talented students now have an opportunity to compete for over 8,000 scholarships worth more than $32 million dollars. To become Finalists, Fiona and Allison must fulfill several requirements. Each must have an outstanding academic record, be endorsed by High Mowing School’s Executive Director, and earn SAT scores that support their previous PSAT scores. They must also submit an application, which includes a written essay and documents leadership roles and community service undertaken in high school. About 90% of the Semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and more than half of the Finalists will earn the Merit Scholar title.

Additionally, Claire Bradham has been honored as a Commended Student by the 2013 National Merit Scholarship Program. Out of 1.5 million student entrants, only 34,000 students throughout the nation earned this prestigious title placing Commended Students among the top five percent of those who entered the competition. “The young people recognized as Commended Students,” said an NMS spokesperson, “represent some of the best and brightest minds in the country.”

Congratulations Claire! Best of luck, Fiona and Allison!

Claire Bradham, Fiona Graham and Allison Hill recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Program

FALL FESTIVAL AT BEAVER BROOK ASSOCIATION

Fall Festival at Beaver Brook Association

Congratulations to sophomore Alexandrea Farquhar, who entered several pieces of art in the Annual Fall Festival exhibit at Beaver Brook Association in Hollis, NH. Alexandrea’s three pieces, “Appletime,” “The Gift,” and “Fall Feathers,” were executed in pencil and chalk pastels. She was awarded first and third place ribbons in her age group. This year’s theme, Dreams of Autumn, included work from preschool-age to high school students in the Young Artist category. The exhibit ran from September 29-30. Beaver Brook Association is a non-profit organization that fosters land stewardship awareness and education, promoting a sense of appreciation for the natural world. Congratulations Alexandrea!

Are you a student with an accomplishment you would like to share with us? If so, please contact Nancy Tichanuk, High Notes editor, at ntichanuk@highmowing.org. We’re happy to spread the word!

FALL FOCUS WEEK

Fall Focus Week

A typical day at High Mowing School is rich and varied, filled with everything from literature, science, history and art, to sports, dance, eurythmy, music and more. This integration of activities exposes students to a broad array of subjects and accommodates a variety of interests and learning styles. During extended periods of focus — when students are working together and engaged in a particular project — a different and equally important kind of learning takes place.

A few weeks ago, from October 8–12, we offered Fall Focus, a program that gave students a full week to work with classmates and teachers on a project that delved into issues of ecology and sustainability. On any given day one might find students designing a meditation sanctuary, studying alternative housing, or taking an inventory of maple trees for future syrup harvesting.

These weeklong projects began each day after block class, with track classes suspended for the week. Nearly all projects initiated during this year’s Fall Focus will be continued over the course of the next few years, allowing students to participate in various stages as the projects evolve.

During the Gym Renovation Project, students were introduced to the concept of architectural longevity and the importance of ongoing maintenance. They used their imaginations and elbow grease to clean out the gym and make it a more welcoming place. Scattered equipment was consolidated, and the climbing wall was dismantled. Painting walls and murals, wielding floor sanders and mops, this group of students used the week to improve the High Mowing School gym.

students renovated the gym during Fall Focus week

 

Students in the Costume Attic Renovation Project cleaned, organized, and renewed the costume attic above the Dean of Students’ office. In addition to tending to the costumes themselves, the team learned about environmentally friendly ways to protect them from sunlight and other damaging factors. They caulked the old, leaky windows for heat/cold insulation and made curtains to block light. A central idea was that if the costumes are organized, students could find what they need when they needed it, and not buy or make something new — thus utilizing available resources more wisely!

 students renovated the costume attic, and here are a few of the costumes

 

In the Art of Wandering Project, students learned to identify edible and medicinal plants from the fields and forests around High Mowing. The goal of this project was to enhance the students’ knowledge of local plants and to increase their botanical and ecological understanding. Students spent several days collecting specimens. These included acorns, which they shelled, ground and made into flour. They used the acorn flour and the earthen oven built by HMS naturalist students to create loaves of tasty, nutritious bread.

 Students explored local areas during the Art of Wandering project

 

The High Mowing Maple Project began with a survey of maple trees capable of production. The group then created a map so the trees can be found again in February, when the landscape is covered with snow and the sap is about to flow. Clearing access to the trees took much of the week, as well as assessing the resources necessary and available to cultivate the sap. Taps and buckets will be hung near the end of winter on these amazing trees.

 during Fall Focus week, students explored the possibilities of making maple syrup from trees on school property

 

The greatest number of students participated in the Alternative Housing Project. Here, students studied different types of housing used throughout human history and the physics of house construction. After receiving inspiration from a visit to an off-the-grid straw bale home, and building a primitive cabin in the woods on campus, students created sustainable design plans for their own ideal living quarters.

The group then began an Alternative Housing Guidebook for the Souhegan Valley. The guidebook will include information about the climate, growing zone, topography, building resources, building codes and possible energy alternatives for the local region. Students also prepared a questionnaire — which they will distribute to the campus community — seeking suggestions for an alternative-materials building for the campus. Students will continue to meet throughout the year to create detailed design plans based on the suggestions from the survey. A community-wide vote will be taken when the plans are finished, and one design will be chosen to be built during next year’s Fall Focus.

 students explored alternative housing during Fall Focus week

 

The Art through Environment Project allowed students to develop an artistic awareness of the beauty of our campus and surrounding countryside, while deepening their drawing and painting skills. Students chose an outdoor site to render in graphite or charcoal and, then, in pastel or watercolor. Though the weather was not conducive for much outdoor artwork, students found ways to bring nature indoors and continue their work on the wettest days. Finished artwork is on display for the community.

 students explored our local environs while deepening drawing and painting skills

 

The Carving Signs for Campus group worked to develop a system of signs that would offer a welcome and informative experience to those visiting the High Mowing campus. Students began the week by learning what it means to visually “brand” a school, so all elements work in harmony. Next, they determined the needs of the campus, in terms of signage. Time was spent selecting the appropriate typeface before work began carving numbers to label and identify our buildings.

 students develped a system of signs welcoming visitors to campus

 

Students learned about the importance of seeds in the Seed Saving Project. Work in the High Mowing School fields was supplemented by field trips to other sites, as students learned about breeding and selecting seeds that perform well in the changing New England climate. A field trip to Hollis, NH, involved planting ancient Einkhorn wheat at a trials field. See the related article, Seeds are Life, in this issue.

 students learned about how to breed and select seeds for the New England climate

 

Students in the Energy Inventory Project learned about energy, focusing on energy needs and resources at High Mowing, and exploring the possibility of conducting an energy audit for the school. The group then considered the problem areas of our campus as a whole, such as light bulb replacement and insulation gaps. The group will continue to meet over the course of the year to follow up on some initiatives, such as offering community service hours to students who would be interested in shutting off community lights and computers at the end of the day. Students accomplished two tangible tasks during the week itself, posting “switch-off-lights” signs all over campus and creating an amusing but pointed video to remind students and teachers alike to conserve energy wherever possible. The short film was shown at roll call.

 

Students initiated the creation of a sanctuary in the Meditation Sanctuary Project. The focal point will be a labyrinth through which visitors may walk, quieting the mind and opening the heart. Developing and maintaining the sanctuary will be an ongoing initiative for Fall Focus week and the High Mowing science program.

student created a meditation sanctuary, but first had to remove all the poison ivy!

SEEDS ARE LIFE

Seeds are Life

The Horticulture Program and The Cabin, High Mowing School’s student-run club for peace and social justice, have joined forces to begin saving seeds. As part of the Fall Focus program, a group of students led by Brad Miller, the Horticulture teacher and farmer, and Rachael Johnson, Art and Foreign Language teacher and faculty support member of The Cabin, launched this exciting new project. In their vision, seeds saved from the High Mowing gardens will be sold back to biodynamic seed distributers and members of the community who wish to buy high-quality, organic and biodynamic seeds. Their rationale is simple: saving seeds is a way to become better stewards of the land around us. Saving seeds also has the potential to connect High Mowing students with other seed-saving communities around the world.

Seed-saving is the practice of gathering seeds from open-pollinated vegetables, grain, herbs, and flowers for use from year to year. This is the way in which farms and gardens were traditionally maintained. In modern times, there has been a shift toward purchasing seeds from commercial seed suppliers, and to hybridize or clone plants that do not retain the parent plant's characteristics from seed. Much of the grassroots seed-saving activity today is the work of home gardeners. However, it is gaining popularity among organic farmers, permaculturists and environmentalists.

The High Mowing School gardens were started by Naturalist teacher Keith Badger many years ago, and they have grown with the support of Robert Sim, through the Horticulture Program. Both teachers have long-standing interests in helping students develop deep connections to the earth. Now, through the additional work of Brad Miller, High Mowing School has a flourishing farm where we raise animals, bees, herbs, vegetables, and flowers! As an artist interested in inner and social health, Rachael Johnson has been exploring ways in which The Cabin and the Art Department might dovetail with the initiatives at the farm. Saving seeds appears to be the key.

During Fall Focus week, the first steps were taken towards establishing a long-term seed-saving operation at High Mowing School. In addition, Parents Weekend featured an interactive and artistic informational activity designed by students to help spread the word about the importance of seed saving. Students in the School’s Horticulture Program and The Cabin plan to continue their work of saving seeds and educating the community about seed saving. Students will harvest and sort bean seeds, which Brad has been cultivating for several years. They will also set up an infrastructure for growing, drying, sorting, and storing seeds and recording data.

“Seeds are life,” said Rachael. “Without seeds, there would be no life on this planet.” To meet the program’s objectives, Rachael has a list of items she is hoping to receive as donations. She adds, “With this request for materials, I warmly extend this invitation to all to join with us in the spirit of fostering life through gardening, eating good food, saving seeds, and working together! Feel free to come by anytime and see what is happening at the farm, where High Mowing students save seeds as a way of connecting to the earth both locally and globally!” Anyone interested in making a donation should contact Kathy Boss at 603 654-9408 ext. 105.

List of materials needed

Wood: chemical-free, recycled wood to be used for building shelves, storage bins, and sorting stands — preferably easy to dissemble if containing nails and screws.

Wire mesh and screens: with small openings, to be used for drying and sorting racks.

Chest freezers

Solar panels and associated electrical hardware: to power chest freezers for seeds.

Wind-powered equipment: same reason as listed above.

Laptop computer: for creating an online filing system for tracking seed varieties.

Digital camera: for visual documentation of seed crops.

Netting: to put over seed gardens and prevent cross-pollination.

Fencing: fencing material to put around seed gardens and drape netting over, to keep bees and insects out.

Shovels: to open up beds for seed gardens.

students explored ways to establish a seed-saving operation at High Mowing School

BLOCK CLASSES NOW IN SESSION

Block Classes Now in Session

Several Block classes began last week. Here’s a look at what students are currently doing in the classrooms:

Grade 9
Comedy + Tragedy / with Judy Wachler, Jonathan Northrop, and Sturdy Knight

Through the polarity of tragedy and comedy, freshmen are exploring the world of drama, from the earliest Greek theater to contemporary American plays. Drama exercises help to align the life of feeling and intention with body language, gesture, stance, and use of space. Along with reading and study, we are using improvisation and guided exercises to prepare for a performance of The Importance of Being Earnest (A Trivial Comedy for Serious People) by Oscar Wilde. The play will be performed on Thursday, November 15, during the school day and in the evening. The evening performance, which parents are encouraged to attend, will be at 7:00 p.m. in the Big Room.

Grade 10
Ancient History I / with Cary Hughes and Walter Manny (Integrated English 10)

The objective of this course is to understand the elements that constitute and condition civilization. To achieve this we are studying a variety of ancient civilizations. These include ancient China (where we met Lao-Tzu and Confucius), ancient India (during the formation of Hinduism and the life of Buddha), ancient Egypt, and the various aspects of the Babylonian and Assyrian empires of ancient Mesopotamia. We are exploring the development of writing in Sumeria and Egypt and the development of secular laws through the Code of Hammurabi. We are studying Ancient Egypt as an excellent example of a civilization almost completely controlled by a central authority. We will then examine the relationship between religion and state, along with the pervasive effect of religion on the daily life of Egyptians.

 

Grade 11

Atomic Theory with Lab / with Casey Attebery

 

This block is a continuation of the study of physical reality, expanding on concepts and ideas introduced in the sophomore Electricity and Magnetism block. Students are exploring the chemical composition of the world around them, as well as within their bodies. Through experiments, they are discovering the phenomena of constant composition, definite proportion, and multiple proportions, as well as the properties of several common elements found in our daily lives. Through this process, they are developing a concept of the atom — believed to be the building block of matter. Our study of reality is enlivened by discussions and definitions formed by experiential consensus. Students are learning to write and balance chemical reaction formulas and become acquainted with Mendeleev’s periodic table of the elements. In this block, students are immersed in the chemical world, with an emphasis on adding new experiences to the Textbook of Experience created in their Motion and Forces block.


Grade 12
Biochemistry with Lab / Kim McCormick

In this three-week block students are exploring living aspects of the physical world — the chemistry of life. We will examine how substances are brought into living beings and transformed to serve metabolic processes such as respiration and digestion. We will compare and contrast several animals to discover how organisms are intimately tied to their environment through life processes, blurring the line between our inner and outer worlds.

seniors studied cell biology by modeling various stages of development

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