High School News - Archives, 2009 - 2010

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New High School Boarding Option with Tuition Discount

If you live too far away to commute to Merriconeag Waldorf High School, call the Admissions Office today, 207-865-3900 Ext. 103, to find out about this exciting new offer for the 2010-11 school year.

Auto Mechanics at Portland Motor Club was a Hit

     A group of students from Merriconeag Waldorf High School chose what must have been one of the coolest electives ever at a Waldorf school — “Introduction to Auto Mechanics” taught by Portland Motor Club owner, muscle car enthusiast and Merriconeag parent, Bill Waldron. Read more at the Portland Motor Club Blog.

     To learn more about Portland Motor Club watch their new video.

Merriconeag's Historic First 12th Grade Graduation

James Black Lyscars, Lily Call O'Brien, William Baxter Morse, Norajean Ferris and Zakary Asher Konstantino

     Merriconeag Waldorf School’s celebration of 25 years as a Waldorf school culminated on Saturday, June 5, 2010 with the historic graduation of its first 12th grade class. As the first seniors walked down the aisle in the Community Hall, they realized the dream of the school’s founding board and parents who shepherded the school through humble beginnings in 1984 and nourished the seed that has flourished and grown into an accomplished Early Childhood through Grade 12 school.

Thoughts From a Parent on our First 12th Grade Graduation

     As with so many aspects of Waldorf Education, Merriconeag's historic first high school graduation was far too beautiful to put into words.  As each student entered into the community hall, to music chosen by him or her self, we all realized that this was going to be an extraordinarily special graduation.  To give one example, each graduating senior was introduced by a different member of the faculty.  The introductions were incredible.  The teachers truly knew these students, cared about them, cried for them.  What a gift it was for these students to have these faculty members in their lives. To have teachers that knew them so well, could speak about them so eloquently, is a truly unique gift that Merriconeag has given to these students!

     The Key Note Speaker, Douglas Gerwin, spoke of the “fork in the road” and the choices that lie ahead for our graduates. He used the Robert Frost poem, “The Road Not Taken” as his inspiration, and during his talk gave each of the graduates a compass to help them “chart their course.”

     William Morse and Lily O’Brien presented their Class gift to the school at the end of the ceremony. They spoke of the strength of the Merriconeag Community, the depth and richness of their Waldorf High School experience, and their longing to see the whole school united on one campus. They bore witness to the fact that a Waldorf School is committed to the education of the whole child, from Kindergarten through 12th Grade. They have a dream of seeing the two campuses united on Desert Road, and as their gift, the Class of 2010 has started a building fund for Merriconeag High School.

It was an honor to be present at the graduation and it is a gift to be part of this community.  Margaret Samuelson

"Bridge School"

     Four of the five graduating seniors on stage, last Saturday, were in the original “Bridge School.” They were a hopeful group of about 9 students and their parents who started a 9th grade class in 2006, trusting that the Merriconeag Waldorf High School would be forming the following year, and that somehow their class would be incorporated into a combined 9th and 10th grade. There were no guarantees or promises that this would come about as they hoped. Many people discouraged them from holding on to the idea of a combined 9th and 10th

grade start to the new high school. It was a huge leap of faith for those pioneering parents and these students.
      It reminds me of the signs near bridges in the winter…
                                                             “Warning! Bridges Freeze before Roadways”
Bridges can be risky…they often span rushing water or deep gullies; they can be quickly covered in ice, or enveloped in fog. They take imagination, ingenuity, and courage to build. They need extra maintenance! But

they do allow one to travel from where you are to where you aspire to be.
      These five seniors were asked a last week, what gifts their Waldorf Education had given them. One replied

that being a pioneer had taught patience…everything was for the first time, you were part of the creating, and

you had to respect the pace that each one needed, in order to get to where they needed to go, together.
      In their 12th grade play “The Good Doctor” by Neil Simon, these five seniors portrayed over 20 characters

in seven delightful vignettes, beautifully staged, impeccably timed, with rich characterizations. But what stood

out for me was the amazing ensemble work that one usually sees in well rehearsed repertory groups. This can

only be accomplished with the deepest trust, understanding and appreciation for each other. This class has

built more than a bridge; they have built a community and pioneered a high school.             Christine Sloan

The Doctor Is (Finally) In!

     The Class of 2010 has a full plate this week. Today after school they will meet with faculty members to receive Rudolf Steiner's "leaving verse." On Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Community Hall, they will perform an open dress rehearsal of Neil Simon's The Good Doctor, which students and their parents are invited to attend for free. The seniors will also perform the play on Thursday and Friday evenings at 7 p.m. The suggested donation for those performances is $5 ($15 for families). However, two scenes in the play involve the theme of seduction and a "lady

of the night," which might not be suitable for younger children. The play runs just under two hours, with a ten-minute intermission.
      On Saturday, the school community is invited to attend Merriconeag's first high school graduation. The Commencement Exercises will begin at 2 p.m. in the Community Hall, with Douglas Gerwin serving as the keynote speaker. A reception will follow the ceremony. David Sloan

A Thing of Beauty

     The Community Hall is the gathering center, the performance hall, the festival host, the celebration heart of our campus. This past weekend, another amazing addition, thanks to the generous and artistic contributions of Cindy Thompson and Matt Rawdon, was designed and installed on our stage.
      Our stage has been enhanced for years with Cindy’s beautiful fabric stage pieces created by Transformit. The hope had always been to include a proscenium arch and stage curtain to enhance the space and create more theatrical options in the room. Thanks to extra 8th grade class funds over the past five years, and Cindy and Matt’s extraordinary gift of design and installation, we now have a magnificent setting for future plays, concerts, talks and performances.
      Please don’t miss a chance to pop into the Community Hall this week…maybe see the 4th grade strings concert, (Tuesday evening), the 12th grade play, (Wednesday dress rehearsal and Thursday and Friday

Productions at 7:00), or the 12th Grade Graduation on Saturday at 2:00! Or just slip in at the end of school

and see the magnificent change to our stage!
      Thank you, Cindy and Matt, and the families of the past five eighth grades, who have made this improvement happen in the Community Hall. Look for fresh paint in the Hall and Gallery this summer! Christine Sloan

The Doctor Is (Almost) In

     Merriconeag’s first senior class warmly invites the school community to attend performances of The Good Doctor, by Neil Simon, next Thursday and Friday evenings, June 3 and 4, in the Community Hall. The play, loosely adapted from several Anton Chekhov short stories, is really a series of vignettes related only by their Russian character. Although none of the scenes contains objectionable content or language, parents of children younger than sixth grade or seventh grades should use discretion; one vignette is about the world’s greatest seducer of married women; in another, a father’s birthday gift to his nineteen-year-old son is an encounter with a “lady of the night.” Tickets will be on sale at the door for $5. One other opportunity to see the play will take place at a free “open dress rehearsal” on Wednesday evening, June 2, also at 7 p.m.

  Ultimate Team Receives Spirit Award   

     Congratulations to the Merriconeag Ultimate Frisbee Team for competing in the Maine High School Ultimate Frisbee Tournament. The team had a very unlucky draw having to play last year's champion Cumberland and perennial powerhouse Brunswick very early in the tournament. Despite the unlucky draw, the team won two games in the tournament (last year they only won one game). The team however did not come home empty handed, the Merriconeag team received the Spirit Award for the Tournament for their joyful play and outstanding sportsmanship. In my humble opinion, this award is more valuable than a state championship as it recognizes the true value of athletic competition. The foundation for high school athletics at Merriconeag is laid by Mr. Saccone with the fifth grade pentathlon where students compete with grace and beauty for pleasure. This tradition continues to live in Merriconeag students and is fostered by the middle school and high school coaches. It is great to see our students recognized for this principle which our whole school so highly values.

     Seniors Make the Most of Montreal

     Merriconeag’s soon-to-be graduating twelfth graders class found Montreal the (nearly) perfect setting for their senior trip. Norajean Ferris, Zak Konstantino, Jake Lyscars, William Morse, Lily O’Brien and their chaperones Ms. Buck and Mr. Sloan enjoyed three sunny, unseasonably warm days as they biked up to the top of Mont-Royal, sampled a variety of international meals, ooh-ed and aah-ed at the impossible theatrics/acrobatics of the Cirque du Soleil, visited the Botanical Gardens and Biodome, and rehearsed their senior play in a conveniently empty amphitheater in the Parc du Fontaine. The only small shadow over the trip—aside from Lily being questioned by the metro police after she innocently jumped one of their non-working turnstiles, and nearly losing Norajean when the metro doors closed prematurely, which would have left her on the platform—was the huge, jackhammering, monster machine that workers used to tear up the sidewalk directly beneath our hostel windows. . .at 6:30 a.m.! All in all, le voyage a été magnifique! David Sloan

Monday, May 17: Final Morning Lesson Blocks of the Year Begin

 9th Grade: Probability & Statistics, taught by Mrs. Connie Gerwin

10th Grade:  Embryology, taught by Dr. Douglas Gerwin & Ms. Buck

11th Grade:  The Rise of the West, taught by Mr. Levi

12th Grade:  Senior play block for Neil Simon's The Good Doctor

 

Tyler O'Brien Published

Tenth grader, Tyler O'Brien's writing is included in The Telling Room's 2010 anthology: Can I Call You Cheesecake?: 35 Stories & Poems about Food. The young authors were celebrated by the greater community at the newly renovated Portland Public Library on Tuesday, May 11, at 7 pm.

 

Cafe Plate to Open in The Commons at Pineland

     On Wednesday, May 5 a new tenant at The Commons at Pineland, Cafe Plate, will begin serving breakfast and lunch on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Since there will be no food served on Mondays and Tuesdays, and The Market is not equipped to handle a large volume of people all at once, students will need to bring a lunch on those two days. The current plan for Mondays and Tuesdays is to eat the lunches from home on the lawn outside of the high school or in the Sage Room if the weather is messy.

Zak Konstantino Runner-up in Poetry Festival

     For three consecutive years, Zak Konstantino's poetry has earned him a place among the finalists in Merriconeag's annual Poetry Festival, a feat no other student in the entire region has replicated. Last Sunday, however, judge Gibson Fay-LeBlanc announced to the over 100 people in attendance that Zak's peice "Uncle Billy's Funeral" had been selected as the second place poem in this year's competition. In addition to receiving a gift certificate from a local bookstore, Zak also had his poem displayed on a poster-- alongside the other two top prize-winning poems--that will be sent to all of the more than forty public and private high schools in the Mid-coast area.     Two other Merriconeag student-poets were among the twenty-one finalists. Tyler O'Brien, also a finalist last year, was chosen for his poem about the phases of life entitled "Growing." Skyler Samuelson, the only ninth grader selected to be a finalist, was honored for her poem "The Crime." Skyler also played a cello piece to begin the program, and the "Bluegrass Boys," comprised of Jack Pierce, Juan Mesones, Jacob Kolda, Dan Pierce and special guest Ben Tindall concluded the ceremony with some rousing, foot-stomping music. Many thanks to judge Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, Regine Whittlesey, Rose Mary Burwell, Sarah Buck, Greta Parsons and Eva McVicar for helping welcome invitees and prepare a delectable reception. Special thanks to Matt Rawdon, who donated his time to design the Festival booklet and poster. David Sloan

           Uncle Billy's Funeral by Zak Konstantino                  

The disaster it was, on my tenth birthday,

When you walked in holding that ice-cold beer.

party hat and smile slanted when I opened...

three blind mice?

a smile, a wink.

It wasn't the last, you taught me everything.

"Now this is how a professional does it"

even the little things, the weird trick with

arms like you're receiving a hug.

my first cigarette, I credit you

and the right way to drown.

Though sometimes I was probably

a good reason you don't have a gun.

In the end, friend. I never forget the

day I turned ten.

Another Senior Moment

     In 1985, a senior at Green Meadow Waldorf School in New York, asked me to be her mentor for her senior project. She wanted to act in a one woman show, “A Lovely Light” the story of poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay. We spent months meeting on Sunday mornings, to explore the poetry and life journey of this amazing poet from Maine. Debbie is now 43, lives in Germany, the mother of twin girls, and is a radio journalist, writing and broadcasting in German! We are still friends.
      Over 20 years I watched many senior class projects that ranged in interests as diverse as building boats to sky diving, from dancing the Tango to demonstrating Tai Chi, from designing and constructing shoes to performing aerial acrobatics. The common thread through all these years has been sharing the excitement of a young adult ’s individual exploration of a subject or experience.
      On Friday night, Merriconeag ’s first graduating class, all five of them, presented their projects to classmates, teachers, mentors, parents and friends. The range of interests covered five unique areas of life pursuits….Culinary Arts and Photography, Writing and Drama, Aeronautic Engineering, Social Service and Artistic Movement through Eurythmy.
      Driving home after the event, I was struck by the rich variety of interests in this delightful and articulate group of seniors. You couldn ’t have intentionally designed a more diverse set of presentations: William Morse’s almost airborne glider, Jake Lyskar’s photographic presentation of food preparation at his workplace, “Pat’s,” Zak Konstantino’s community service at “Jump Start,” Norajean Ferris’s writing and performing in her own one-act play, and then finally Lily O’Brien’s penetrating description of the art of eurythmy using Sun Bow students to portray the sounds and gestures…a Waldorf dream come true!
      Thank you, Senior Class, for collectively presenting your individual pursuits, passions and insights and beginning, what we hope will be a long tradition of Senior Projects at Merriconeag.      Christine Sloan

 

Monday, April 26 - New morning lesson blocks begin.
  9th grade
has Geology with Mr. Thurrell in the Sage Room

10th grade has The Odyssey with Mr. Levi in the French Room (Mr. Sloan will be teaching until the Italy trip            returns)
11th grade
has Cell Biology with Ms. Buck in the Art Room
12th grade
has Optics with Mr. O'Brien in the Science Lab

Friday Night Lights—See Merriconeag’s Seniors Shine

     Merriconeag’s first graduating class will present their senior projects on Friday, April 30, at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Hall. Each of our pioneering twelfth graders will share a slice of their intensive work over the past year: Norajean Ferris has written, acted in and filmed a short one-woman play; Zak Konstantino will speak about becoming a mentor in Jump Start, a program for at-risk youth; Jake Lyscars will share his experiences—through photography and some sample cuisine—of working at a Portland restaurant; William Morse will enlighten the audience about how to build a robotic glider; and Lily O’Brien will perform—with the help of Sunbow—eurythmy she has choreographed. The entire school community is invited, most especially sixth, seventh and eighth graders and their parents. David Sloan

Merriconeag Reaches Out Through Poetry

     Three Merriconeag high school students—Skyler Samuelson, Tyler O’Brien, and Zak Konstantino—will be among the twenty-one finalists to be honored at the Third Annual Merriconeag Poetry Festival this Sunday, May 2, in the Community Hall at 3 p.m. For Zak, this is the third consecutive year he has been selected as a finalist—a feat matched by no other student in the region! What makes his streak even more noteworthy is that each year a different Maine poet has served as judge. Tyler was also a finalist last year.
     The Festival is one of the school’s biggest outreach events of the year; each of the past two years, more than a 100 poetry lovers from outside the school community have come to hear the finalists read their work. This year’s judge, Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, Executive Director of the Telling Room in Portland, will also read some of his work and announce the top three prize-winning poems. All finalists will receive gift certificates from area bookstores, as well as a booklet with all of the finalists’ poems. A reception hosted by the high school will follow the program. All community members are warmly invited to attend—especially those who love the Word!
     The Festival is being funded, in part, by a generous grant from the Maine Arts Commission. The bookstores contributing gift certificates include Longfellow Books in Portland, Sherman’s and Annie’s Book Stop in Freeport, and Gulf of Maine in Brunswick. David Sloan

Local Ultimate Frisbee Clubs get Free Press

     Click the following two links to read the Tuesday, April 13th article in the Sports Section of the Portland Press Herald entitled League of their own. The article includes several photos of Merriconeag Waldorf High School students. League of their own page one.  League of their own page 8.

 

Merriconeag's Historic First Twelfth Grade Graduation

     Merriconeag's historic first twelfth grade graduation will take place on Saturday, June 5 (NOT June 12, as previously noted on the Community Calendar) at 2:00 p.m. in the Community Hall. All members of the school community who feel a strong connection to this pioneering class are warmly invited to attend both commencement exercises and the reception to follow.  The five graduating seniors--Norajean Ferris, Zak Konstantino, Jake Lyscars, William Morse, and Lily O'Brien, will each give short addresses as part of the ceremony.  Douglas Gerwin will be the graduation speaker, a fitting choice since he has served as long-time mentor of Merriconeag Waldorf High School, and since he was the keynote speaker at the high school dedication ceremony when it first opened its doors in September, 2007.

It is that time of the year when seniors are hearing

admission decisions from colleges...

     So far, members of the Merriconeag Waldorf Class of 2010 have been accepted to Colby College, Warren Wilson College, Mount Holyoke College, Franklin Pierce College, University of Vermont, Merrimack College, University of New Hampshire, Bennington College, Colby-Sawyer College, and the University of Southern Maine. Congratulations to our Seniors. We will keep you posted as we hear more.

Ultimate Frisbee practices start this week.

     The first practice will be on Thursday, April 1st from 3:00-4:30.  The tentative practice schedule is that practices will be after school on Tuesday, Thursdays, and Fridays. There is a game every Wednesday after school at the Cumberland Fairgrounds starting next Wednesday, April 7.

High School Week - March 15 - 19th

     We will be suspending many of the classes and holding workshops and having speakers all of which fall under the theme of the week "Ways of Seeing". 

     Our keynote speaker will be Greg Rec who is a photojournalist for the Portland Press Herald.  Greg has covered Iraq, Afghanistan, and most recently Haiti for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.  While living in Missoula, Montana, Greg also captured the first photos of the unibomber. He will be speaking on the morning of Tuesday, March 16th.

    We will be offering five workshops. Each workshop meets on 4 days and meets for 90 minutes each day.  Each high school student will be participating in two workshops.  Electives, music and movement classes will continue to meet during high school week.

     The five workshops being offered are:

               Yoga - developing inward and outward seeing

               Stage Combat - The Art of Illusion

               Astronomy - How to see the planets constellations, black holes and super novas

               Film – Seeing how the language of film has evolved

               Graphic Design - seeing through advertising and creating a personal logo

     In addition to the workshops and keynote speaker, Thursday, March 18th will be a day dedicated to Field Trips.  The high school will be taking the train to Boston. There will be a choice of field trips within Boston. The MIT Museum, Harvard Museum of Natural History, the Fogg Museum at Harvard, Museum of Fine Arts, Isabella Stuart Gardener Museum, Aquarium, Science Museum, The Atheneum, and the Freedom Trail are all possible field trip choices.

     On the afternoon of Friday, March 19th, there will be "a sharing" as each workshop group and field trip group shares its experience with the greater high school.

Successful Second Annual Coffee House

     The High School musical, literary and culinary talents were on display last Friday night at our second annual coffee house.  Thank you to the standing room only crowd, who purchased an abundance of overpriced baked goods raising over $700 in support of Haitian relief, as well as a student scholarship to the Siddhartha School in Ladakh, India.

Merriconeag High School Welcomes New Exchange Student

We welcome our newest exchange student from Germany, Rafael Schiafone. Rafael comes to us from the great city of Freiburg, Germany (close to the French and Swiss border).  Rafael will be joining the junior class. He is staying with the Kolda/Gillespie family until early/mid May. Jake Kolda will be going to Germany to stay with Rafael in late May through July. Welcome, Rafael!

Teagan Wu, Juan Mesones, Ian Moore, Emelie & Zoe Chace-Donahue Qualified for the State of Maine J2 Nordic Team at the Sassi Race

on Saturday, January 30, 2010

  

    Twenty-five teams, including 293 boys and 167 girls from schools across the state, competed this past Saturday in a 5 km Nordic skate race at Black Mountain, in Rumford, ME, and there was great representation from both Merriconeag middle school and high school teams.  Under the direction of our high school Nordic coaches (John Tarling and Henry Heyburn), with the high school team skiing in their new, beautiful spandex racing suits, Merriconeag skiers definitely made an impression on the many spectators, and the experience of skiing in such a large race on a very challenging 5 km course, under frigid conditions, made an impression on the skiers!  Merriconeag boys placed 14th overall and the girls placed 13th.

     This race also served as the qualifying race for Maine's J2 Team (skiers aged 14-15) that will compete in a 3-day event in early March in Jackson, NH, against the best 14 and 15 year old skiers from VT, NH, MA and NY.  Five Merriconeag Nordic ski team members qualified for this prestigious State of Maine J2 Nordic Team. They are: Ian Moore, Juan Mesones, Emelie Chace-Donahue, Teagan Wu, and Zoe Chace-Donahue. Congratulations to the 2010 J2 Team and all of the other Merriconeag skiers, each of whom demonstrated strength, speed, and endurance: Ben McCrave, Phineas Samuelson, Tyler O'Brien, Brian Watko, Kellan Humphries and John Burgess.

    For more results and photos you may visit: mainehighschoolskiing.com and click on Sassi Race, Black Mtn, Rumford.   

Poetry is in the Air

     Poetry seems to be everywhere in the high school these days.  Students are actively preparing to share original music and verse at the high school Coffee House on Friday, February 5.  Sweet songs, sweet words, and sweet desserts will "feed" everyone present.  Part of the proceeds will benefit the student that Merriconeag sponsors at the Siddhartha School in Ladakh, India.  The rest will go to help the relief effort in Haiti.

       A second poetic event took place last week, when the ninth and tenth grades participated in the nationwide Poetry Out Loud recitation contest.  Our representative to the state regionals next month will be Skyler Samuelson, who earned top honors with her renditions of "If" by Kipling and Shakespeare's sonnet "Let Me Not to the Marriage of True Minds."  Tyler O'Brien was a close second, and will serve as Merriconeag's alternate.

        Finally, last week students in fifty public and private schools in Cumberland, Androscoggin, and Sagadahoc Counties were invited to submit their work to the Third Annual Merriconeag Poetry Festival.  The contest portion of the Festival ends on March 1, and the Festival itself will be held in early May.  This year's Festival is being funded, in part, by a generous $1000 grant from the Maine Arts Commission.

      This year's Festival judge, Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, is the director of Telling Room in Portland.  He will be speaking this Thursday to the high school students about the work of his organization, which encourages literacy and storytelling among youth, particularly among the immigrant population.  David Sloan

Exchange Program Update

     Our pioneer students, Liza Simmons and Cyrus Fenderson, MWHS grade 10 students, say "Bonjour!" from Paris, France, where they are presently attending class 10 at Ecole Perceval, the oldest Waldorf School in France. They are doing very well, both with their French family and with their classes. They get a lot of help from Babeth Johnson, the local teacher in charge of the Exchange Program over there. She is most pleased with them both and praise their wonderful attitude, work ethics, level of French language preparedness and happy disposition. Ms Johnson said to me that she goes around her school praising this Merriconeag High School which has such wonderful, well prepared students. She is looking forward to future exchanges. Quite a few French students are in the starting block for future exchanges, especially now that they hear about Liza and Cyrus' positive and exciting experience. Here is an excerpt from one of Liza's recent email letter:
     "My French family is very fun to live with! My parents are always very cheerful, happy and excitable!! My brothers like to try to speak in English to me, so I am not the only person who gets laughed at for talking and you will meet my sister Estelle, who is absolutely wonderful!
      We all eat dinner together every night which is generally very loud as they all like to speak at once and have very strong political opinions. But it's still very fun. My mother makes all the food and usually I do not know what it is but it always tastes amazing. We always have a salad and cheese after dinner, there is a huge platter of cheese that they have, and they all like to eat yogurt and fruit for dessert.
"

     On this side, Adrien Strasburger is very much enjoying is own experience in Maine living with Ben McCrave's family. He is enjoying the beauty of the snowy landscape and plans to learn cross country skiing. He recently did a presentation for the advanced French class, presenting modern French music to his peers. Merriconeag parents should feel free to invite him in your homes for a visit or a dinner, so he gets to have different American home experiences. Contact Ben Mc Crave or Susie Peirson.  Régine Whittlesey

High School Nordic Ski Team News

    There are two nordic ski races this week. On Wednesday, at 3:30 the girls and boys teams race at Pineland.  On Saturday, they travel up to Rumford to participate in the Sassi Memorial Race (Girls at 10:00, Boys at 12:00).  If you have never been to the Sassi race it is a great event at a site that is very rich in Nordic Skiing History.  Very few people know of the rich Nordic skiing tradition in Maine. There is a downhill skiing facility at the site so if you are a downhill skier come and watch the nordic race between runs down the mountain. I believe we are looking for a volunteer to drive the van. Let Greta know if you are available.

     For more news and updates about Merriconeag's High School Nordic Ski Team, you may visit the Merriconeag High School Nordic Ski Team Blog.

01-06-10 News Flash from Anchorage, Alaska, Nordic National Championships

Two Merriconeag Alumni Make the Nordic World Junior Team


     Adele Espy and Sam Tarling

      Adele Espy and Sam Tarling (who are both 8th grade graduates of Merriconeag’s Class of 2005) made the Nordic World Junior Team tonight at the National Championships held at Kincaid Park in Anchorage, Alaska and they will represent the US Ski team in Germany in late January.

     Adele and Sam will be heading to southern Germany next Sunday for 2 weeks of races with the best junior skiers in the world. Only six men and six women in the Junior Class (age 19 and under) qualified for this team.  Adele and Sam are the only ones from Maine - in fact, they’re the only New Englanders on the team.  

    Adele and Sam, both 19, first skied together on a middle grades team at Merriconeag. Sam's dad, John Tarling, was their first coach and is now the nordic coach for Merriconeag's high school. Last spring Sam graduated from Burke Mountain Academy and Adele from Waynflete High School. Adele is currently taking a gap year from Middlebury College and is training full time with the Sun Valley Nordic Olympic Development Team and Sam is a freshman at Dartmouth College.

     Congratulations, Adele and Sam!  We wish you all the best in the coming weeks. We'll all be cheering for you.

 

Waldorf International!

      Never has it been truer that Merriconeag Waldorf High School is part of a vibrant, international movement.  Merriconeag's exchange program is breaking new ground this winter, beginning December 30 when Liza Simmons and Cyrus Fenderson become our first-ever exchange students to France.  They will attend the Ecole Perceval in Chatou, near Paris, for a two-month sojourn, and then will host Amelie Martineau and Estelle Douchet this spring.  In addition, when we return from the holidays, Benjamin McCrave and his family will host Adrien Strasburger until mid-March, at which time Benjamin and Adrien will travel together back to France, where Benjamin will also attend Ecole Perceval until late May. 

    Then in February, Jacob Kolda's family will be hosting Rafael Schiafone for three months, after which Jacob will fly to Germany towards the end of the school year and spend much of the summer with the Schiafones.  Another German student--Axel Richert--will be following in the footsteps of his sister Frederike, who visited Merriconeag last year. Axel will be staying with the Waldrons, who are once again generously sharing their home from February into April.  Finally, Tyler O'Brien, whose family hosted Maurizio Bundgen last year, will spend three months in Germany from mid-February to mid-May.  This flurry of exchanges is, we hope, only the beginning of ongoing opportunities for future generations of Merriconeag high school students to experience the riches of another culture first-hand. 

David Sloan

Merriconeag Waldorf High School Students Partner with the Franco-American Heritage Center in Lewiston on Oral History Project

     Eleventh and twelfth grade French class students at Merriconeag Waldorf High School have just completed an oral history project.  In the context of their semester-long study of French America, the students have learned the history of the Acadians, of Quebec (including a 5 day exploration of Quebec City) and then focused on the history of the Franco-American population in Maine.

      Thanks to Rita Dube at the Franco-American Heritage Center in Lewiston, the students were able to pair up with a person of Franco-Canadian origin. Each student met twice with their generous and willing partner and interviewed them, in French, on their family history. What started out for the students as a simple, though unusual, class project quickly turned into a very personal, often poignant testimony of personal history lived by French Canadian families. The Franco-American partners talked about how their families moved to Maine from Canada in the early 1900’s to work, most often in the textile mills and shoe factories. Their French way of life was challenged and very soon most of them changed their language and customs in order to better integrate in their new homeland. The students heard some sadness as their partner talked of early childhood French upbringing that was not passed on to their children or grandchildren.

     This project offered not only an unusual  linguistic challenge for the students, but also allowed for a very personal, affectionate connection to arise between each young students and an older Franco-American happy to share some of their interesting history.

     Much credit for this successful venture goes to Rita Dube who facilitated these encounters, to the students for their respectful and attentive attitude and their excellent follow-up work and, most particularly, to each Franco-American partner who kindly and patiently shared a bit of their lives with the students.

 Régine Whittlesey, Merriconeag Waldorf High School French teacher.

 

Khen Rinpoche Geshe Kachen Lobsang Tsetan Returns to Merriconeag

        We were honored to have Khen Rinpoche Geshe Kachen Lobsang Tsetan, whom we affectionately call “Rinpoche,” return to Merriconeag's high school for a forum in November. He is a Tibetan Buddhist monk of the Geluk-pa lineage (same as the Dalai Lama) with the highest degree of Tibetan Buddhist metaphysics and philosophy. He is also the founder of the Siddartha School, serving over 200 children in Ladakh, India.  After Rinpoche's visit last year to our school, our students were so impressed  that they decided to sponsor a child.  A dollar a day is what it costs to offer a complete year of education, housing and food for a child at the Siddhartha School.

        Rinpoche's most respectful audience of 8th to 12th graders was captivated and charmed by his communicative smile. The students were encouraged to fully appreciate the enormous opportunity education offers them and to not squander it. Rinpoche's concluding words were that in order to bring peace to the world, we must first bring peace to ourselves.  

 

Merriconeag Runners Take Fourth in the State!

Merriconeag Ninth Grader, Jack Pierce

        At the beginning of Maine's Class C Cross Country Regional Championships held last month, the announcers didn't know how to pronounce “Merriconeag.”  They called our school “Mur-RICK-cuh-neag,” and “Merri-CAHN-egg,” and other jumbled variations.  However, by the end of the event, they, and everyone else in attendance, knew how to pronounce the name of the tiny school that had played David to a number of Goliaths, as Merriconeag's fledgling team finished runner-up to powerhouse Freeport.  In the process, led by our two gritty freshmen—Jack Pierce, who finished fifth, and Juan Mesones, ninth—Merriconeag defeated ten other far larger and more established programs, including Boothbay, North Yarmouth Academy, Monmouth, Telstar, and Waynflete. 

        At the State Championships, Jack and Juan both finished in the top twelve as the team raced to a stunning fourth place finish.   And while the girls never had enough runners to compete as a team, Teagan Wu and Zoe Chace-Donahue both placed in the top fifteen at the state meet.  With fellow freshman Emelie Chace-Donahue joining Teagan and Zoe as the foundation of next year's team, the girls are excited about prospects for the 2010 season.  Congratulations to them, to Coach Tom Ryan and to all the members of the  boys' team, who improved dramatically over the course of the season: Phineas Samuelson, Tyler O'Brien, Jacob Kolda, Cyrus Fenderson, Wyatt McCurdy, Wyatt Dowling and Benjamin McCrave.      David Sloan

                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Big Strides for Tiny School

A new Cinderella has emerged in Maine’s high school cross-country running competitions.

Read the article in The Times Record.

High School Teacher, David Sloan, Featured

   in the 2009 5th Annual Belfast Poetry Festival     

  

     David Sloan will be among fourteen poets, ten visual artists, and four performing artists who will participate in the 5th Annual Belfast Poetry Festival, October 16 and 17, 2009 in downtown Belfast, Maine. One of the only community-based, non-academic poetry festivals in the country, the event features established, professionally recognized poets and artists from throughout Maine along with emerging poets to create a lively mix. A unique feature of the Festival all five years has been the Gallery Walk, in which the audience moves among seven downtown galleries to view the collaborative exhibits by artist/poet teams and hear the accompanying poetry.

     David Sloan helped found, and is the lead teacher at Merriconeag Waldorf High School - Maine's only Waldorf high school. He graduated from the Stonecoast MFA program in poetry, and is the author of two books on Waldorf education—Stages of Imagination: Working Dramatically with Adolescents, and Life Lessons: Reaching Teenagers through Literature. He has also had numerous articles published in Renewal, and poetry in Western Poetry Quarterly and Infinity Limited.

     Please click here for more information on the festival: Belfast Poetry Festival.

Eleventh & Twelfth Graders Travel to Quebec City

     Bonjour! We are now back from our 4 days in Québec and I want to say that I just keep being impressed, over and over, with our high school students! Everywhere we went, they behaved with great poise and polite demeanor, appreciative of what was offered to them and grateful for any new experiences. Every one of our 11th and 12th grade students proved to be a pleasant, fun, responsible and easy travel companion.

     On arrival, Wednesday evening October 7th, after settling at the very well kept Youth Hostel (Auberge Internationale de Québec) conveniently situated in the heart of the old town, we walked down the Rue Ste Ursule to a lovely crêpes dinner served by a lady in traditional Brittany costume. A very efficient crêpe chef was admired by all, especially by our own professional crêpe-making Leif.

     The next morning, gorgeous sunshine greeted us on the boardwalk of the Promenade des Gouverneurs, in front of the spectacular Château Frontenac, overlooking the majestic St Laurent River with its barges, tugboats and cruise boats. The light was beautiful and the view lifted all our spirits! We attended a historical presentation at the Musée du Fort which gave the students an introduction to Québec’s 400 years of history.  Our tradition of picnic lunches began on top of the Plains of Abraham where at 12:00 sharp, we all jumped to our feet at the firing of cannon a few feet away from us! Mid day is celebrated seriously there.

     We then separated in language groups to walk around in “Deutsch” with Frau Mc Vicar and Mr. Levi or “Français” with Madame Whittlesey, before reuniting at the Auberge for quiet time, journaling and reading.  After a delicious Italian dinner where many students practiced ordering in French, we walked back to the Basse Ville. There, in the vaulted stone cellar of one of the most ancient Quebec houses, la Maison Chevalier (1752), we reunited with musicians Guy Bouchard and his wife Laura Sadowski . They both work for the Centre de Valorisation du Patrimoine Vivant and their web site Thirty Below is devoted entirely to promoting and distributing traditional Québécois folk music. They gave the students a musical workshop: fiddle tune learned by ear, call and response French Quebecois song, foot tapping and countra-dancing: 2 hours of wonderful music and fun! Our students proved to be rapid learners and energetic dancers. Guy and Laura complimented them!

     To ease our tired feet, we climbed back the cliffs of the old town in a couple of minutes thanks to the “funiculaire”, a steep glass elevator built in 1879, originally steam powered. We got back to the Auberge, singing and dancing along the way, even serenaded by our own upbeat musicians along the road!

     The next day led us on an excursion about 30km away from Québec. The softly rainy day found us trotting through the magnificent fall foliage of the forest of the Canyon of Ste Anne.  In 1999, Canyon Ste-Anne received the award of ''Responsible and Durable Tourism'' for the quality of its investment and development in a spirit of ecological and geological preservation of the natural beauty of the St Anne river’s gorge.  The students were in awe of this magical and spectacular site as they walked on suspended bridges balancing over raging waters.

     On the way back, we visited another wonder, built by humans this time, the Neo-Romanesque Basilica of Ste Anne de Beaupré. We admired silently the series of beautiful mosaics in the high central nave and in the vault as well as the numerous stained glass windows.   It was a day charged with beauty and reverence that brought some tears of emotion to some overwhelmed students....

     The last full day in Quebec was indeed a full day!  After a delicious breakfast in the Basse Ville where unfortunately the steady rain prevented us from playing music at the foot of Louis XVI statue as we would have loved, we walked around discovering the ancient low town, its Place Royale, the oldest church in America, Notre Dame de la Victoire (renamed Notre Dame des Victoires after victories over British troops), the huge Fresque des Québecois  (mural fresco) painted by French “ trompe-l’oeil”  artists . We decided to take a ferry boat across the river to explore the quiet town of Levis and admire Quebec from the river.  In the afternoon, the Musée de la Civilisation kept us for hours exploring different exhibits especially one on the 11 First Nations. A certain huge birch bark canoe, a splendid 11-meter long rabaska is on display. A video shows its builder at work, the late Cesar Newashish of the Atikamekw Nation. This will probably stay imprinted in our memory together with the impressive making of an igloo by a couple of efficient Inuit builders.
      Our last dinner "Chez Rabelais" was memorable! Delicious food, lots of laughter and when suddenly the Quebecois hymn  “Gens du Pays” resonated, sung by restaurant guests, Merriconeag students immediately joined in, proudly, as they had all learned the words to the chorus. What a great improvised moment!

     As we left Chez Rabelais and night was engulfing the city, a tall gentleman awaited us. Dressed in black, with a tall hat and a black cape, he was holding a lantern and invited us to follow him.  Some trembling girls were not too sure about this, right Ali? Lily?…  We proceeded to follow this story teller who took us around the old cobble streets, on the quay of the old port and in ancient courtyards, telling us with his deep dramatic voice REAL stories of ghosts and past murders. Brrrrr…We ended up in an old church, lit only by the vacillating flame of his lantern and the diffuse lights from the street coming through the stained glass windows to hear the last tales about this haunted church. I have to admit it was really creepy... I was eager to get out! Certainly a memorable way to end our Quebecois discovery!

     I believe our students have been greatly enriched by this cultural, historical and linguistic experience. Cultural ?  For example, while crossing the border, a 1st time experience for some students. The US border can certainly be an experience as we found out on our return to the US! While walking in an ancient French city where signs and stores are revealing a different culture and way of life; while watching the Quebec people walking around, in their city clothes where people wear elegant winter coats and not parkas and women wear boots with high heels; while shopping in the oldest grocery store in North America offering a fabulous display of goods; while eating and dining in restaurants where food is reverently handled and served…

     Historical? For example while walking on 400 year old ramparts; while hiking through the site of ancient battlefields that are the Plains of Abraham; while visiting the oldest church in North America; while walking on ancient cobble-stone streets that spoke of years passed; while observing medieval looking shop signs; while listening to the dramatic historical events depicted by the story teller.

Linguistic? While hearing and reading the French language everywhere; trying to communicate in stores, restaurants and in occasional encounters with this language they have been exposed to for years, making it real and useful.

     Many students fell in love with this beautiful city and its way of life and a few are already dreaming of returning there soon; hopefully, they can serve as guides to their families if they do that!

     I would like to sincerely thank every one of our students for their cooperative, positive and pleasant behavior during our Quebec trip; I also would like to thank Eva Mc Vicar and David Levi, my colleagues and friends for their efficient and helpful chaperoning skills. I could never have done this trip without their help. I also would like to thank Greta for her invaluable help with logistics, paper work and her constant positive support while preparing this trip. A big hug to all!  Gratefully yours, Régine Whittlesey, High School French Teacher

High School Community Service Trip

     On Thursday, October 8th, the ninth and tenth grade piled into three cars and a van and headed north to do some community service as is our tradition around Michaelmas. After an hour and a half drive we pulled up to a mysterious wooden sign on a dirt road that read “Koviashuvic Local Living School”. We walked about a quarter mile down a path that ran into the woods, after a short while we emerged from the woods into a large clearing. Here we met Chris and Ashirah Knapp, their two children, Owen and Bonnie Bee, and two apprentices, Ethan and Deborah. They took us on a tour of their homestead which they have been clearing and building for the last five years. They live off the grid and grow all their food themselves. Their school includes a root cellar, a green house, a cabin, a yurt, and a large garden. After the tour we ate a quick lunch and proceeded to get to work. Two groups stacked wood, while another moved stones. After a few hours of work we brushed ourselves off and walked back to the cars, wondering what it would be like to live off the land.      Tyler O'Brien, Tenth Grader

Smooth Sailing

     The Merriconeag High School Sailing Program, now in its second year, is off to a great start!  We've had beautiful weather and nine enthusiastic sailors. We are sailing in two groups; one group is focused on learning the skills of recreational sailing, and the other group is focused on racing. The recreational sailors are learning knot tying, rigging, sail trimming, tacking, jibing, and, yes, capsizing! The racing team learns all the rules and techniques of fleet and team racing. (Sometimes they capsize too!) Several team members have had the opportunity to race in weekend regattas. More regattas will be held in October.
   Also, in October we will have a fund-raising dinner at Flatbread in Portland and half the proceeds for the night will benefit Sail Maine/ MWS Sailing program. Come support our sailors and sailing in Maine. You may visit MWSSailing.wordpress.com for more information.

High School Students Camp, Hike, Canoe, Laugh, Eat, Sleep (Sort Of)!

     As we have done each of the last two years,  Merriconeag's entire high school went camping last week to mark the opening of the school year.  Mt. Blue State Park was this year's locale as the high school students hiked Tumbledown and Bald Mountains, learned how to rescue capsized canoes and canoeists, and participated in a uniquely Merriconeag tradition called "The Wilderlympics."  Seniors planned, announced and judged such creative events as a "human-knot-untying" contest, a Frisbee "Tip-it" competition, and a "Fairy House Building" challenge. 

       Another Merriconeag tradition has been the high school's deepening commitment to community service.  Towards the end of the trip, the students and teachers alike provided over sixty people-hours of assistance to the Mt. Blue rangers by staining amphitheater benches and picnic tables.  Many thanks to our newest colleagues--to Sarah Buck for securing tents for our whole high school, and to David Levi, who cooked a delicious chili dinner, made granola from scratch and, with Regine Whittlesey, also prepared a delectable variety of salads for lunch.  Thanks David, Sarah, Regine, Rose Mary Burwell, and Jeff O' Brien for chaperoning with such a sense of fun, finesse, and flair!  David Sloan

 

NEWS FROM OUR 2008-09 SCHOOL YEAR:

Merriconeag High School Wins its First Interscholastic Athletic Competition

    Merriconeag High School Untimate Frisbee Team participated in the Maine State High School Championship Tournament on Sunday, May 24th. After playing five games in eight hours, the team finished sixth in the state.

Association of Waldorf Schools of North America Film Project

     Merriconeag Waldorf School has been chosen by the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) as one of three schools to participate in their video project to promote the vocation of Waldorf teaching. This project has been in development for two years in an effort to make more visible the remarkable life path of working in a Waldorf school and to interest individuals in becoming teachers. AWSNA intends to use this video as part of a series of community evenings in schools across the continent and to make it available to audiences through their web site and other web locations.

     Merriconeag Waldorf School was chosen based on the beauty of our campus, the quality of our faculty and the overall atmosphere of our school community.

     Karl Schurman, our high school history and social studies teacher and a veteran filmmaker, will be doing the filming for this project. The focus of the filming will be on the teacher and their collegial life in the school, and will include an interview with them, a view of their work with their students, and a view of their work with their collegial group.

Scarborough Students Take First, Third Place at Merriconeag Poetry Festival

     Over 100 people gathered at the Second Annual Merriconeag Poetry Festival on Sunday to witness two Scarborough High School students receive top honors for their poems.  Tenth grader Caitlin Sackville earned first place for her poem “Speaking of the Wind,” while Ryan Mancini took third prize for “Waitress.”  Merriconeag sophomore Leif Anderson won second place for “The Ship.”  

     The event, held at Merriconeag’s Community Hall in Freeport, celebrated twenty-one high school finalists from six different public and independent schools in the area, all of whom were selected by Festival judge Betsy Sholl, Maine’s Poet Laureate..  Despite the “blind judging”—the submissions had no identifying features other than titles—Scarborough and Freeport High Schools placed seven and five students, respectively, among the finalists.  Three other schools also had multiple winners:  Yarmouth High School, Windham Christian Academy, and host school Merriconeag Waldorf High School.

     During the program Festival judge Betsy Sholl, Maine’s Poet Laureate, encouraged young poets not to rely on contests or critics to unduly influence their sense of self-worth as writers.  “Nobody can decide better than you whether you can write or not,” she said.  “Don’t give that up to anyone.” 

     

Scarborough and Freeport High School Poets Dominate Merriconeag Poetry Festival

     Twenty-one high school student-poets have been selected by Maine Poet Laureate Betsy Sholl as finalists in the Second Annual Merriconeag Poetry Festival.  Five area high schools qualified multiple finalists, led by Scarborough High School’s seven honorees.  Five Freeport High School students also earned finalist slots, followed by three students each from Yarmouth High School and Merriconeag Waldorf High School.  Windham Christian Academy had two students’ work chosen, and Greely High School one. The Festival will culminate on Sunday, May 3, from 3:00 – 5:00 p.m., at the Merriconeag Waldorf School Freeport campus (57 Desert Road, off I-295, exit 20), to which the public is cordially invited.

      At the Festival, finalists will read their winning poems and receive gift certificates from area bookstores.  Betsy Sholl will also read some of her work and announce the top three prize-winning finalists, whose poems will appear on a poster to be distributed to all area high schools.  She will also conduct a brief “seminar” with the audience on the “Power of Poetry to Effect Change.”  A reception serving light refreshments will follow the readings.

      The 21 finalists include, from Scarborough High School: Alex Colville, Melanie Grover, Natalie Jones, Sophia Malayev, Ryan Mancini, Kevin Philbrick and Caitlin Sackville; from Freeport High School: Amanda Adaime, Erin Dillon, Hannah Melville-Weatherbee, Mia Taggart, Greg Townsend; from Yarmouth High School: Erica Paul, Anne Strand, Phoebe Walsh; from Merriconeag: Leif Anderson, Zak Konstantino, and Tyler O’Brien; from Windham Christian Academy: Connor Briggs, Joe Trefethan; and from Greely High School, Nikola Champlin.  Hannah Melville-Weatherbee and Zak Konstantino are repeat finalists, having been selected last year as well.

      The Second Annual Merriconeag Poetry Festival was financially supported, in part, by a generous grant from the Maine Humanities Council, and by a number of area bookstores that donated gift certificates, most notably Longfellow in Portland, Books, Etc. in Falmouth, and Gulf of Maine in Brunswick.

Forging Ahead: Blacksmithing at Merriconeag Waldorf High School by Dereck Glaser, Director of the New England School of Metalwork

    Although often overlooked in today's world, only 100 years ago the blacksmith was the most common craftperson around, long known as the hub or center of communities, and responsible for the success and development of every other craft in our society. Consider the items which not only ordinary citizens needed (nails, hinges, latches, etc), but those needed by other craftspeople - carpenters and woodworkers, mechanics, agriculturalists, manufacturers and many others all relied on the blacksmith to furnish them the tools and equipment for their jobs.

     With manufacturing providing all craftspeople with an ever-increasing amount of the metal items necessary for everyday tasks, why do we still hand-forge? It's simple: it is the core craft, and it needs to be sustained and passed along. Crafting metals transcends that of crafting all other materials in its ability and characteristics to move between utility and art, utilizing all of the core elements of our planet. We use earth both in the form of iron as well as coal (to heat), fire to make that metal malleable, air to make the fire hot and the power of water to cool the heat-treated metals. As with many other manual crafts, some of which I practice on a daily basis (woodworking, leatherworking, etc.), blacksmithing forges connections between hand and mind - I like to refer to it as hand-mindedness. This working union, in real time, results in a kind of bio-feedback to oneself, and is the strongest trigger for developing coordination and dexterity. Blacksmithing pulls us inward, to the depths of our being, drawing the elements of nature into the realm of crafting and working with a natural material.

     That is why we introduce blacksmithing to 9th grade students - the fire lures some, moving metal intrigues others. It's not for everyone but, once exposed to blacksmithing, there is no denying the internal satisfaction that students derive from crafting something out of metal. Strong relationships are created in each individual young person exposed to blacksmithing. Even with these students practicing this craft for a brief amount of time, one can see the connections forming between: their minds, processing amazing amounts of information, pulling knowledge forth from every aspect of past academic skills (physics, math, chemistry, art); their eyes and ears, watching and listening for the cues and hints of how things are going; and their bodies like a choir directed by mind and senses into how to move and how strong or gentle to be. It's a craft all-inclusive of self. Bring into the mix sharp points, jagged edges, skin-blistering heat, flying ash, filthy conditions and sustained physical demands tiring out muscles students never knew they had, and it's obvious why they can't stay away from it.

     It is in a human's very nature to craft; to use natural materials and our hands - directed by our minds and senses - to fashion something we need. Even a brief moment spent with any craft yields a lesson that will last a lifetime. Who knows, perhaps another craftsman will be born to forge ahead?

Ninth Grade Art History - a Gem in the Curriculum by Alex Christofides, a visiting Morning Lesson teacher from Green Meadow Waldorf School in Chestnut Ridge, New York

     This block is one of the many gems in the crown of the Waldorf high school curriculum. One of its purposes is to maintain a "balance of soul" by presenting the developing adolescent with the beauty of art, offering a counterpoint to the students' developing intellects. For the young person looking out into a complex, troubling world, or with new eyes and attitudes into their own developing selves, the richness, truth and timelessness of great art thus may provide some solace in the face of new uncertainties.

     It was a pleasure for me to share this block with Merriconeag's 9th graders from March 30 - April 17. Their excellent artistic skills and their collective senses of curiosity and wonder have made them a delightful group to teach. We began in the Paleolithic caves of Lascaux and caught a glimpse of Impressionism before the third week was out; we took quite a voyage through time, as well as undertook a substantial inquiry into the mysteries of artistic creation.

High School Hosted Holocaust Survivor, Judith Isaacson, as Part of Monthly Forum Series

     Merriconeag Waldorf High School and Eighth Grade students had a rare and wonderful opportunity when Judith Isaacson visited on April 3rd. Ms. Isaacson, a resident of Auburn and former Dean of Students at Bates College, is a Holocaust survivor and author of the memoir, Seed of Sarah.

     Judith Isaacson was born Jutka Magyar in Kaspovar, Hungary. On July 2, 1944, after years of increasingly severe restrictions placed upon Hungary's Jews, and the day before her 19th birthday, the Nazis gave Jutka and her mother, two grandmothers, and two aunts four hours to pack and be ready for deportation. They were then herded into horse stables. The men in her family had already been taken to German army labor camps, hostly at the Russion front.

     On July 5th, packed with 74 others into railroad cattle cars, the women departed for an unknow destination which turned out to be the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in southern Poland. There Jutka spent 3 weeks before being transported to a forced labor camp.

     Jutka was officially freed from the Hessisch-Lichtenau section of the Buchenwald concentration camp on April 20, 1945 after 8 months of forced labor in an enormous underground munitions factory. Less than one month later, she met among her liberators a young U.S. Army captain from Auburn, Maine. On her 20th birthday, one year after her deportation, they became engaged and in 1945, married and settled in Auburn. Jutka did not return to Kaspovar fro 33 years.

     With the opportunities to hear directly from eye-witnesses to this horrific era rapidly dwindling, Merriconeag students were fortunate that Ms Isaacson agreed to come share her moving story with them and to read from her book.

The Jabberwock Electrifies

     The ninth and tenth grade students joined forces in late February and March to work on an exceedingly complex production of Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee's Jabberwock, a period piece set during World War I, focusing on the wacky antics of the Thurber family in Columbus, Ohio. Written during the Viet Nam war, this otherwise light and breezy comedy also carries a strong anti-war message. Students read the play in English class, had two or three weeks to learn their lines, and then plunged into an intensive three-week rehearsal schedule. As has become the tradition here, students were not solely actors during this process; they also assumed responsibilities for much of the complicated technical work behind the scenes - costuming, lighting, props, sound effects, sets, etc.

Love Thyself, so You Have Love to Give! by Karl Schurman

     On March 6th, Oscar Mokeme, the Director of the Museum of African Culture in Portland presented a lively and fascinating program of West African masks, the traditional values they embody and the message those values carry for modern western culture. For two hours he enthralled the high schoolers and eighth graders. Gently and with much good will and humor, he challenged the students with a vibrant give-and-take. In all his words and in the beauty and power of his art and his very being, Oscar provided us with a glimpse into a sacred and mysterious world, one he warmly invited the students to explore for their own self-knowledge. Among his many messages was: Love thyself, so you have love to give abundantly!

      Two weeks later, the High School had the opportunity to repay Oscar for the gift of his time. Having recently suffered some serious water damage at his museum in Portland, students worked painting walls, cleaning, and moving and storing artifacts.    

High School Receives Grant for Poetry Festival

     For the second year in a row, the Maine Humanities Council has awarded Merriconeag Waldorf School a $1,000 grant to support the second annual Merriconeag Poetry Festival. The grant will help to cover the administrative costs associated with this spring's competition and festival.

     Merriconeag invites high school students from Cumberland, Androscoggin and Sagadahoc Counties to submit poems for review by Maine's current Poet Laureate, Betsy Sholl. The due date for submissions is March 1, 2009. The Festival, to be held at Merriconeag's Freeport Campus on May 3, 2009, will culminate in a reading of the winning entries by the 20 finalists, as well as selected works by Ms. Sholl. All finalists will receive gift certificates and a booklet of the winning poems.

     For more information on how to enter the competition, please contact David Sloan, Merriconeag Waldorf High School Faculty Chair. Mr. Sloan can be reached at 207-688-8989, or by email at highschool@merriconeag.org.

Waldorf Alumni Panel Supreme

     An audience of over 60, including a healthy number of seventh and eighth graders, braved the snow on Tuesday, February 3rd, to hear Waldorf alumni share perspectives on their high school education. After introducing themselves, the panelists responded to a number of probing, audience-generated questions, ranging from how they would describe eurythmy, to how prepared they felt for college, to what they believed was most distinctive about their Waldof education. When asked for impressions of the panelists, audience members pointed to their "fearlessness," as well as their "global sensibility."

     Many, many thanks to the panelists, one of whom drove six hours to participate in the event - to Christina Mesevage, who works at the Space Gallery in Portland; to local physician Trevor Braden; to Ian Chittenden, Waldorf class teacher at the Bay School in Blue Hill; to Bates sophomore, Danielle Scherer; and Marika Ramsden, a student at the University of Saint Andrews, Scotland, for their thoughtful, articulate, appreciative remarks about their education. They certainly lent credence to the adage that the best advertisments for Waldorf education are the graduates themselves!

David Sloan, High School Faculty Chair

High School Visited Green Meadow Waldorf School in New York, January 19 - January 23, 2009

    The high school visited Green Meadow Waldorf School in New York for a week of activities that focused on the theme, "How Do We Find Common Ground?" In addition to watching the Presidential Inauguration, they visited the Metropolitan Museum of Fine Art, attended a Broadway show, heard from a global activist, and participated in a variety of workshops: Global music, belly dancing, Arabic calligraphy, activism, and Chinese culture.

The Story of Drama by David Sloan

     Drama plays a key "role" through Merriconeag's curriculum, from the imaginative play of the

Nursery - Kindergarteners to the culminating senior play. However, dramatic productions are not the only avenues open for students to learn about the theater.

     The ninth grade spent the month of December exploring the Story of Drama. They read three plays, Oedipus the King, by Sophocles; Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream; and A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry.

In addition to tracing the development of the theater from Ancient Greece through Elizabethan England to the modern day, students were also introduced to the key elements of classical tragedy and comedy. They participated in dramatic readings from the plays, composed their own block books, and had the opportunity to artistically represent some aspect of the course for a final project.

     Many of the projects were extraordinarily inventive. Liza Simmons sang an original song inspired by one of the lovers' scenes from Midsummer; Haydee Jacobs, Evelyn Pennoyer, and Sierra Jeffers created theatrical masks; Owen Deady, Wyatt Dowling and several classmates reenacted the death of Oedipus' father in a Monty Python-esque video; Will Fischman painted an impressive, large-scale "Oedipal eye"; Wyatt McCurdy and Carson Davis created homemade reproductions of a Greek amphitheatre and Shakespeare's Globe, respectively; Cyrus Fenderson and Alden Porter made a video of themselves impersonating stuffy theater critics reviewingOedipus; and Tyler O'Brien used stick puppets to perform a fairy scene from Midsummer. It was a rich harvest of ninth grade creativity!

Beethoven Backwards by Nancy Roderick

     High school students and faculty were treated to an intimate chamber music performance when Maine's DaPonte String Quartet performed for them in mid-December. The Quartet was formed in Philadelphia in 1991 and came to Maine in 1995 on a rural residency grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The group fell in love with Maine and has been here ever since. The group performed beautifully, taking students on a musical journey through time, playing works of Henry Purcell, Haydn, Bach, and Beethoven.

     Chamber music is a small musical ensemble in which players perform one to a part, generally without a conductor. At the heart of this art form is a spirit of collaboration. Chamber music demands that each individual engage in a close musical dialogue with the other performers, even breathing together at times. When asked if the Quartet could perform as well without seeing each other, members agreed to experiement by playing a movement of Beethoven facing out with their backs to the other three musicians. Incredibly, the group not only stayed together, but also truly wowed their audience with their musical excellence.

Roger Doiron and "Eat the View!" by Karl Schurman

     The incredibly energetic and motivated Roger Doiron, who founded Kitchen Gardeners International, generously spoke at the high school's last forum in 2008. With humor, he presented his "Eat the View" campaign. It seriously urges the Obamas to make a statement by replanting a large organic Victory Garden on the First Lawn, with the produce going to the White House kitchen and to local food pantries.

     Roger found a receptive student audience for his message that we all need to plant home gardens. When done with care and love, they are truly a gift that keeps giving: to the planet (1/3 of human-related greenhouse gas emissions are due to our long-distance, large-scale, industrial agriculture system); to our families and neighbors who get to share in their many healthy flavors, colors, and natural wonders; and, of course, to the gardener who finds comfort, peace and healthy recreation in them.

     Be sure to visit Roger's fascinating and useful website, www.kitchengardeners.org, and to vote in the campaign while there!

Community Service: Wayside Soup Kitchen by Karl Schurman

     In November and December, the high school worked in several ways with Wayside Soup Kitchen in Portland. Just before Thanksgiving, high school students and faculty prepared and served 325 meals to Portland's most needy, sorted and stacked in the food pantry, and heard presentations from the staff about hunger issues in Cumberland County. Students served with smiles, interacted with clients, and tackled enormous piles of dishes with determination and focus.

     In early December, high schoolers led a successful school-wide food drive, collecting and delivering over 1800 lbs. of food to Wayside's pantry, which in turn serves over 40 other pantries throughout Cumberland County. The food filled 66 banana boxes.

     Despite a mid-December ice storm, another small group of students and faculty returned to Wayside to help serve their traditional holiday meal of turkey and stuffing. Again, we received far more than we gave.