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Commencement Exercises, 2011 - Graduates Take Wing!

Class of 2011: Alexa Perkins, Leif Anderson, Ben McCrave,

Phineas Samuelson, Jeremy Colson, Rebecca Wildes


      Last Saturday, June 11, in a celebratory, yet intimate ceremony, Merriconeag’s second graduating class received their long-awaited diplomas. As is quickly becoming the tradition, each senior entered the Community Hall to live music he or she had specially chosen, from African drumming to a solo vocal rendition of the Beatles’ “Blackbird.” After introductions by various faculty members, each of the graduating seniors then gave a short address about one valued aspect or another of their education. Leif Anderson spoke about memorable class trips; Jeremy Colson about the arts and crafts they learned over the years; Benjamin McCrave characterized the importance of participating on the athletic teams, and how his experience abroad helped him understand the connection between language and culture; Alexa Perkins shared her experience of coming to a Waldorf school from the public sector; Phineas spoke about the challenges of learning German and Russian; Becca Wildes gave “appreciations” to each of her classmates, and extolled the virtues of attending a small school.
      After receiving their diplomas, Leif and Benjamin announced that for their class gift, they would donate the proceeds from their senior play to the fund begun last year by the first graduating class. The aim of the fund is to help finance a new high school on the Desert Road campus within the next few years.
      The keynote speaker, Jonathan Moore, former ambassador to the United Nations, invited the graduating seniors and the audience to consider the merits of public service. He offered several anecdotes from his many decades of work as a diplomat as evidence that, with the proper empathy, we can begin to heal the world.
      High School German teacher Eva McVicar, in her introduction of Phineas, shared a poem by Christopher Logue that perfectly captured the import of the ceremony.

Come to the Edge
Come to the edge.
We might fall.
Come to the edge.
It's too high.
And they came,
And he pushed,
And they flew.

Submitted by David Sloan


Merriconeag's Graduation Key Note Speaker, Jonathan Moore

     Jonathan Moore has worked for over 50 years in humanitarian action, publlic service and education. In Washington he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Counselor to the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense and Associate Attorney General in the Justice Department. He served as Director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. As U.S. Coordinator and Ambassador at Large for Refugees, he directed U.S. assistance, resettlement and repatriation programs world-wide, concentrating on Indo-Chinese, Mozambican and Palestinian Refugees. As Ambassador to the United Nations and Representative to its Economic and Social Council, Ambassador Moore led negotiations against South African apartheid and to support African economic development.

    Jonathan Moore is currently Associate at the Shorenstein Center for the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School and is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Naval Analysis in Alexandria, Virginia.

It was after hearing Jonathan Moore speak at one of the high school forums this year, that the seniors invited him to be the key note speaker at their commencement. 

Key Note Address:                                                              


     Good afternoon. I am excited to be with you all on this wonderful day. It is a privilege for me and I thank you for my being here.
      In the early days of the popular uprising in Egypt, a demonstrator in Tahrir Square, in Cairo, a forty-year-old electrician from Alexandria, exclaimed: “All I cared about before was making a living, but now people have started to care about each other. I feel like I have been born again!” Another surprised and elated revolutionary, a citizen of Adabaneya, Tunisia, observed: “The crisis gives a real sense of unity.”
      Hearing these voices brought two thoughts to mind. These brave resisters not only were fighting to throw off entrenched dictatorship and oppression, but in so doing, in the midst of their ancient differences and separations, they were discovering solidarity and caring which stemmed from mobilization in common cause, for mutual interest. And I recognized this was something U.S. politics lacked right now—a sense of unanimity and consensus characteristic of societies which are committed to inclusiveness and accommodation, and which are seeking some cohesive whole by respecting the opinions and addressing the needs of its various parts. Not factionalism, negativism, division, polarization. And not by giving up individual and group rights and freedom. But comity, not anomie. . . To read the complete transcript of the remarks, please click here.




Congratulations to the Senior Class:

A big thank you to the Senior Class for their gift of the The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail. It was a real treat to see so many characters played by only six students creating scenes that were humorous and but also involving deep transcendentalist dialogue. Each senior shone in one of their final experiences at Merriconeag. Thanks also to Mr. Barham and Ms. Dettmer for helping the senior share this gift with us.  Submitted by Jeff O'Brien



A “Mystic-al” Experience:
      To culminate their study of their final block of the year—The Novel—the ninth and tenth graders traveled to Mystic Seaport last week. Just as they were finishing Herman Melville’s epic novel Moby Dick, the students had the opportunity to go aboard the only remaining whale ship in the world: The Charles W. Morgan, in dry dock at the Seaport shipyard. They received a guided tour from one of the country’s foremost Melville scholars, Mary K. Bercaw Edwards; they were able to go below deck to the cramped cubicles of the mates’ quarters, the blubber room, the forecastle where the common sailors shared a dank and crowded existence. They also went on a “knowledge scavenger hunt,” and in the process had to discover, among other indispensable facts, what a cooper’s “shook” is, and what the “W.” of the Charles W. Morgan stands for.
      As a fitting complement to the Mystic portion of the trip, the classes then drove to Gloucester, Massachusetts where, the next day, they went whale watching and spotted a humpback whale, feeding unusually close to land. Many students agreed that one of the highlights of the trip was the surprising moment that the humpback surfaced literally next to the boat.
      Many thanks to chaperones Regine Whittlesey and Johanna Flath, to the Cape Ann Waldorf School for allowing us to sleep in two of their classrooms, and to Jessica McCurdy’s parents, Bob and Judy Benton. They not only hosted all 18 of us the first night of the trip; they prepared a delicious lasagna supper, as well as a pancake and sausage breakfast the next morning. We couldn’t have been better treated at a four-star B and B! If you’re ever in Connecticut with 15 teenagers and looking for superb accommodations, I know the address. . .   

Submitted by David Sloan



Congratulations to the Merriconeag Ultimate Frisbee Team!  At the State Championship Meet on Sunday the Merriconag Ultimate Team made it all the way to semi-finals (the final four). They won an extremely hard-fought victory over Greely High School to make it to the final four where they lost a gutsy game to Fryeburg. In the game against Fryeburg, Merriconeag Ultimate (MU) did not give up! They were down 7-1 early and fought hard and with a lot of heart to end the season with a 15-10 loss. Best of all, for the second year in a row, Merriconeag won the Spirit of the Game award! Congratulations to Coach Young and MU for a great season.


To view a gallery of photos from the State Championships, please click here.



Poster by senior Jeremy Colson

Senior Class Play: The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail

This Thursday, June 2 & Friday, June 3, 7:00 PM

Community Hall

Admission is $5 at the door

On Wednesday, June 1, there is an open dress rehearsal at 9:30 AM in the community hall.

Grades 4 -11 will be attending. Parents and friends are most welcome to attend.



Senior Class Play: The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail

Thursday, June 2 & Friday, June 3, 7:00 PM, Community Hall

Admission is $5 at the door

     Merriconeag Waldorf School’s senior class is enthusiastically preparing to perform Jerome Lawrence & Robert E. Lee’s classic play, The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail. The play is a dramatic representation of a vital moment in our history, where the 29 year old Henry David Thoreau’s ardent refusal to pay his taxes- in protest to the United States government’s involvement in the Mexican War- landed him in prison in his home of Concord, Massachusetts. This famous act of civil disobedience- daring and unprecedented as it was- is merely the departure point in this celebrated drama. As the play progresses, we come to understand what motivates this brilliant, independent and ever-unorthodox writer and thinker.

     Written and first produced in the 1970s the play is a story of protest as well as of enlightenment. By turns wise, funny, perplexing and sad, The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail is much more than the ruminations of one man in one place in one night. The play explores the crossroads of responsibility, conscience and democracy: the self, the choices we make as human beings and the dilemmas we face as members of society.

     George Oppenheimer in Newsweek Magazine called it, “A Superior play, a literary work as well as a theatrical experience. Scene after scene moves you to laughter or close to tears.”

Submitted by David Barham


Seniors Present Fruits of their Internships:

     This year's seniors may be Merriconeag’s second graduating class, but they were the first students ever to go on three- or four-week internships. And did they ever go! Four of the Class of 2011 took advantage of the opportunity to travel—to Nevada, France, even Tanzania in Africa! Last Friday, these pioneering seniors shared their experiences with the rest of the high school. Leif Anderson spoke of his memorable time working at a Creperie in Divonne-les-Bains, France and living with long-time friends of Madame Whittlesey. For months before the actual internship, Alexa Perkins spent many hours fund-raising over $1000 for an orphanage in Tanzania. In mid-April, the entire Perkins family spent nearly a month at the orphanage caring for the children. For his internship, Phineas Samuelson worked at the Catholic Charities in Portland, assisting immigrants in obtaining employment. Jeremy Colson also remained local, writing an online user's manual for a local computer programmer who is writing software for bank managers. Benjamin McCrave and Becca Wildes each flew out to Nevada; Ben interned at a ski resort, and Becca worked at an animal shelter.
      From their presentations, often accompanied by photos, the audience could appreciate the richness of each senior’s experience. Next year’s twelfth walked out of the talks abuzz with possibilities for their own internships!

Submitted by David Sloan


Sophomore Brian Watko's oil pastel, Seascape 6: A Visual Opera of Soothing Delirium, to be exhibited in Augusta: The Maine Arts Commission, in partnership with First Lady Ann LePage, the Maine Art Education Association and the Maine Alliance for Arts Education issued a call for student art for inclusion in the Spring 2011 Maine Youth Excellence in Art exhibition at the Maine State Capitol Complex in Augusta. Brian Watko's oil pastel was submitted and chosen to represent artistic excellence from a K-12 student. Selected works will hang in various locations including the Capitol Building, The Burton M. Cross Building, and the Blaine House from late May until September/October. Selected artists, their families and teachers are invited to an opening reception at the Blaine House on Tuesday May 31st from 2-4:30 pm where student artists will receive a certificate and medallion in recognition of their artistic excellence. Congratulations, Brian!


An Electrifying Evening:
Congratulations and thank you to the 12th grade for giving us a wonderful evening of senior project presentations. The selection of projects this year ranged from the local--Leif Anderson's portrayal in photos and prose of the residents of Libby Road in Pownal--to the global--Ali Perkins' fund-raising and trip the an orphanage in Tanzania. Two projects worked with the idea of communication: Becca Wildes learned American Sign Language, and Phineas Samuelson started his studies in Russian. The remaining two projects presented last Thursday evening were Benjamin McCrave's work at Maine Huts and Trails, and Jeremy Colson's homemade Tesla Coil that convincingly displayed the transformation of 120 Volts to over 50,000 Volts. Great job seniors! Submitted by Jeff O'Brien


From Pinch Pots to Pageant: The High School's contribution to this year's May Celebration and Medieval Faire was a great success. Students acted in the pageant, helped with games and archery, provided music, and made and sold pinch pots. The Faire was enlivened with high school energy and humor.

     A big thank you to Mr. Barham for spearheading the pageant and to Ms. Burwell for her coordinating the making and selling of pinch pots.







Merriconeag Poets Honored at 2011 Poetry Festival

     Maine’s newest Poet Laureate, Wes McNair, visited Merriconeag on Sunday, May 1, to pay tribute to the twenty student finalists he selected for Merriconeag’s Fourth Annual Poetry Festival. Students from ten different schools received recognition, but only perennial “poetry powerhouse” Scarborough and North Yarmouth Academy fielded more multiple honorees than Merriconeag’s three finalists. Seniors Leif Anderson and Jeremy Colson were joined by freshman Emma Rhodes-Armstrong in yet another strong, host school showing. In fact, since the Festival began, only Scarborough and Merriconeag have had multiple finalists every year! Leif was a repeat finalist; he was awarded second place two years ago.
      Many thanks to Deeda Burgess, Gina Sawin and Johanna Flath for organizing the elegant reception after the program, to Christine Sloan, Lyn Baird and Greta Parsons for their invaluable assistance, to Jack Pierce, Skyler Samuelson and Ben Tindall for providing music both to begin and end the program, to alumnus Jake Lyscars for taking photographs, and to Matt Rawdon for once again volunteering his time to create the festival booklet and poster.
      To read Leif’s, Jeremy’s and Emma’s winning poems click here.

Submitted by David Sloan


High School Coffee House Soars on the Wings of “Merriconeag Air”
      At the Friday night Coffee House, a large and enthusiastic audience was treated to a delightful evening of entertainments aboard Merriconeag Air. The introduction by flight attendants, Liza Simmons and Tyler O’Brien primed us with its ingenuity and humor. Their recommendation to buckle up, partake of the savories and enjoy the performances to come was eagerly accepted.
      What followed was a truly inspiring illustration of the talent that fills the high school. In the tradition of a true variety show, there was poetry, prose, song, dance and eurythmy. Group poems were presented in German by students studying that language and in French by ninth graders. It was impressive that so many students in all grades had individual offerings with many sharing their talent on more than one occasion. Brian Watko’s Interviews With Brian scored a much sought after interview with Rudolf and Marie Steiner (channeled by Liza and Tyler), had the audience in stitches and has Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien concerned about their job security.
      There is a wealth of talent in this small school and it was evident Friday night. What we heard and saw (and ate) were a treat to mind, body and spirit. If this unfortunately brief summary of the evening’s events does not stimulate a measure of regret in the minds of those who did not attend, well, it should. Thanks are extended to all the faculty and parents who organized the event and especially to the students that created a memorable evening. Book your seats early for the next flight on Merriconeag Air.  Submitted by Jeff Tindall


Congratulations to the class of 2011!
The class of 2011 has received a record number of acceptance letters this year. Colleges do seem to be very interested in accepting Waldorf educated students as they try to build diverse freshman classes. The list of colleges that have accepted Merriconeag High School seniors has grown to 36 schools which is very impressive considering we have only had two small senior classes!

Colleges and Universities that have accepted Merriconeag seniors: Alfred University - School of Engineering, Antioch College, Bard College, Becker College, Bennington College, Centre College, Champlain College, Clark University, Colby Sawyer College, Colby College, Endicott College, Evergreen State College, Franklin Pierce College, Gettysburg College, Goucher College, Guilford College, Hampshire College, Hobart and William Smith College, Husson College, Kalamazoo University, Lasell College, Lewis and Clark College, Johnson and Wales College, Skidmore College, St. John’s College, (NM), St. Lawrence University, Roger Williams College, Rochester Institute of Technology, University of New Hampshire, University of Maine – Orono, University of Maine – Orono, School of Engineering, University of Maine – Farmington, University of Southern Maine, University of Puget Sound, University of Vermont, Warren Wilson College.


High School Students Garner More Literary Glory! 

       Two Merriconeag students have had their poetry accepted in a regional poetry contest sponsored by The Telling Room in Portland.  Junior Evelyn Pennoyer and senior Alexa Perkins, whose essay also recently won the high school division of the Slow Food Writing Contest, will be honored at a celebration of all of the contributing young authors at the Portland Public Library on Thursday, May 5, at 7pm.  Their winning poems follow:

Sailing by Evelyn Pennoyer

I sit, tied to the dock,
Waiting for someone to come along
To step into me and pull the
Ropes hanging from my mast,
To untie my bowline
And push me out onto the cold water.
To feel the slap of the waves beneath my stomach,
The wind, filling my rising sails,
Feeding them till they grow fat and
Dipping and gliding and leading me between
Geysers of white spray,
Letting the wind push me over and the water to
Bear me under, to hold me tightly,
Only to roll back up into the
Cold wind,
Pulled back up by the weight of a sailor
On my centerboard.
And then,
I would spread my sails out like a
Gull drying its feathers in the breeze and
Take flight.


11 Stages of Play by Alexa Perkins

Cheeks are inflated,
Then stretched out from
The sides of a face.
Gooing and Gaaing,
Mommy stands over
The giggling baby below.

She searches mom’s closet.
Finding lace ankle-long dresses,
Sun-stained straw hats,
And a pretty pink parasol.
She struts the empty kitchen
A simple game of dress up.

Sandals and sun hats,
Lay in four corners
Of the well kept lawn.
Daddy tosses a
Puppy gnawed baseball,
With a WHACK!
It’s gone.

Sit bones perched
On a cold rusted
Fold up chair.
Both feet flat on the floor.
She plucks away at a
Violin, until notes meet applause.

Crinkling of paper programs,
Lights beat three times in warning.
Then all is dark.
Until the maroon corduroy
Curtains reveal her.
She stands in costume,
Ready to portray a part.

Her vein-laced eyes, hold
Packed bags
Below them.
Clicking and shooting sounds
Fill the living room.
A crunched-up potato chip bag
Lies dead on the carpet floor.

Fingers text.
Her pink bedazzled phone
Vibrates a town away.
The rest of the body
Sits between two
Short-skirted school girls.
And the eyes wink
At floozies flaunting by.

Ping-pong balls fly
Through the dorm room,
Kur-Plunk into plastic red cups.
Hoots howl
From boozed breaths
And baked brains.

Sitting at a park bench,
She unclips the leash.
Chasing each other,
Nipping at ears,
The hounds
Bark in laughter.

Super bowl Sunday,
She sits beside her beau.
His voluptuous stomach,
Reaches towards a beer.
Cheering they watch the
Absorbed in the game.

Taking her time.
Her aged hand shakes
As she twirls the spinner.
With grand kids
And husband beside,
She plays the Game of Life.


Dartmouth Model UN Conference, April 1 - 3

     Twelve students in the Model UN class headed out a day early and beat the snowstorm to Hanover, NH for the Dartmouth Model UN Conference 1-3 April. The students took advantage of the extra morning to have “skype” conversations with international experts in Geneva (on Sudan), Berne (on Swiss history), Nairobi (on the Horn of Africa and Uganda) and Costa Rica (on Panama and Trafficking in Women), and to finalize position papers for the event. The good folks at the Chieftain Inn turned over their common area to us (including the kitchen, living room, dining room and at one point the office!), and it became our own personal “delegates lounge”!
      The students all were engaged and did a fantastic job representing their countries, or their roles in special committees. They spoke clearly and well and maintained “decorum” throughout the whole event. They participated in the Disarmament and Security Committee (DISEC), the Social, Humanitarian and Culture Committee (SOCHUM), and the Legal Committee of the General Assembly; a special historical simulation on the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the Mosul Arbitration debates in the League of Nations; the World Trade Organization (WTO); the 17th Conference of the Parties on the environment (COP17); the International Court of justice; and special “crisis committees” – the United States Cabinet (as Director of National Intelligence) and the African Union.
      With over 400 student delegates from 27 schools, it was a challenging and exciting weekend, and the students did a great job! They participated in nine different committees, and out of the 16 awards given, they received four of them:

  •  Devon Murphy Anderson won Best Delegate, the golden gavel award, for her work in in SOCHUM (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee)
  • Andrew Hastings was given an Honorable Mention for his work in DISEC (Committee of Disarmament and International Security)
  • Cyrus Fenderson was named Outstanding Delegate in the AU (African Union)
  • Wyatt McCurdy was named Outstanding Delegate for his work in the WTO (World Trade Organization)

     And best of all, in the words of one of the delegates, everyone “had a blast”. From all reports, the Delegates’ Social on Saturday night was good fun, too!
      Special thanks to Johanna Flath who accompanied and assisted throughout the weekend with warm humor and efficient touch, as well as considerable culinary expertise.
      It was a fine weekend, and a fitting to this year’s Model UN Elective!  Submitted by David Whittlesey


A Student View of The Dartmouth Model UN Conference by Sophomore Brian Watko

       This past weekend, twelve MWHS students participated in the Sixth Annual Dartmouth Model United Nations Conference in Hanover, New Hampshire. Phineas Samuelson, Tyler O’Brien, Sophie Simmons, Cyrus Fenderson, Devon-Murphy Anderson, Wyatt McCurdy, Emelie Chace-Donahue, Connor Beckett, Carson Davis, Ben Tindall and I made up delegations of Uganda, Switzerland, Panama and Sudan in eight committees as well as a judge on the International Court of Justice and President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence.  

     Our journey began abruptly Thursday evening. Although we were scheduled to set off on Friday the 1st around midday, an unexpected April blizzard threatened to prevent us from reaching our destination. Taking the initiative, our fearless chaperones/supervisors David Whittlesey and Johanna Flath refused to risk the elements and instead brought us to the Dartmouth area the night before. By morning, the snowless New Hampshire landscape was transformed into a snowy scene straight out of winter. Friday was spent on the rapid completion of unfinished position papers, with trips to the college’s library and video conferences with subject experts around the globe.

     At six o’clock, all the participants convened in the Hopkins Center building. Representatives from twenty-five schools hailing from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, California, and Osnabrűck, Germany were in attendance. After an opening speech by the University of Michigan’s Political Science Professor, Allan C. Stam, DartMUN was called to order. Soon, the crawling mass of students in Western business attire flooded the sidewalks of Hanover to reach their committees.

     The next three days were spent by all members of our two-year old club in fierce debate. Alliances were formed, rivalries brewed, resolutions were written, passed and failed. While the average hustle and bustle of any Model UN conference went on in General Assemblies, those in one of the two Crisis Committees had to deal with a new kind of stress. Delegates were “kidnapped” by men in black suits, received death threats via video conference and e-mail, , and were pitted against the inevitable outbreak of what was essentially a third world war.

     Andrew Hastings ‘14 received an Honorable Mention for his

representation of Panama in the Department of International Security, Cyrus Fenderson and Wyatt McCurdy, both ‘12, made out with the Outstanding Delegate award for their portrayals of Uganda in the African Union and the World Trade Organization, respectively. Finally, Devon Murphy-Anderson, ‘13, received the Best Delegate award (along with the prestigous Golden Gavel) for her representation of Panama in the Social, Humanitarian , and Cultural Commitee. All in all, it was an excellent turnout for all who participated; and not too shabby for a club that’s only two years old.


Merriconeag Poetry Festival Finalists Selected: Three Merriconeag Students are among the twenty finalists that Wes McNair, Maine’s new Poet Laureate, has selected from ten area high schools, in the contest portion of the Fourth Annual Merriconeag Poetry Festival. Freshman Emma Rhodes-Armstrong and seniors Jeremy Colson and Leif Anderson will be honored with the other student-poets at an awards ceremony and reception in the Community Hall on May 1. This is the second time Leif has been selected as a finalist during his high school career.
      The event, from 3-4:30 p.m., is open to the public and will feature the student-poets reading their prize-winning work. As Festival judge, Mr. McNair, nationally acclaimed author of eighteen books, will read his own work as well and speak briefly on the power of poetry. He will also reveal the first, second and third prize winners, whose poems will be displayed on a poster to be distributed to all high schools in the region. All finalists will receive gift certificates and a festival booklet containing all the selected poems.
      The Festival, announced in late January, invited all public and private high school students in Cumberland, Androscoggin and Sagadahoc Counties to submit their work, which could be on any subject and in any poetic form. It was a “blind judging”; entries were only identified by titles, so the judge had no idea about the identity or school affiliation of the poet. Of the schools whose students were selected as finalists, North Yarmouth Academy, Merriconeag Waldorf High School, Scarborough, Falmouth and Gorham High Schools all had multiple winners. Ex-Merriconeag student Aldis Gamble, currently a student at North Yarmouth Academy, is one of the finalists.
      The Festival was made possible, in part, by generous grants from the Maine Art Commission and the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, as well as by donations of gift certificates from several local bookstores, including Longfellow Books in Portland, Sherman’s in Freeport, and Gulf of Maine Books in Brunswick.
Submitted by David Sloan



Congratulations to Zoe Chace-Donahue who was named to the Maine Sunday Telegram All State Girls High School Nordic Ski Team. To see the list, click here.

The Western Maine Conference All Star Boys' Nordic Team featured Merriconeag's Jack Pierce. The girls' team included Merriconeag's Emelie Chace-Donahue and Zoe Chace-Donahue. Congratulations to all of our all-stars for a job well done! Read the article in the Forecaster.


Monday, March 28th was the beginning of new Morning Lessons. We have two guest teachers for the next three weeks. Connie Gerwin is teaching "Probability" to the 9th grade and David Levi is teaching "Rise of the West" to the 11th grade. Mr. Sloan will be teaching Greek History to the 10th grade.

The 12th graders have embarked on their three week internships. Becca Wildes is working at an animal shelter in Nevada. Benjamin McCrave is job shadowing with the ski patrol in the Rocky mountains. Leif Anderson is learning how to flip crepes in France. Ali Perkins will be at an orphanage in Tanzania. Phineas Samuelson is working with immigrants in Portland. Jeremy Colson is programming computers locally. We are looking forward welcoming them back and hearing of their experiences. They return after April vacation.

What Does it Mean to be Free? Theme Week, March 21 through March 23:  Last week our high school students spent their second theme week of the year in a variety of activities, contemplating the question, What does it mean to be free? Teagan Wu (10th grade), Emma Rhodes-Armstrong (9th grade) and Wyatt Dowling (11th grade) write about their experiences below.

"There Is No Easy Walk to Freedom Anywhere” by Teagan Wu
     For theme week the high school explored the topic: What does it mean to be free? On Monday, we had the privilege of hearing a keynote speaker from the Universalist church in Yarmouth named Jennifer Lentz. We engaged in a deepening discussion on what it really means to be free. Freedom has always been a struggle, for as Nelson Mandela once said, “There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere.”
      We all agreed that with freedom comes responsibility. We were able to look inside ourselves and think about how freedom affects our lives and those around us. How is it living in a world where the media tries to control us? In the afternoon, a man named Drew Wing gave a workshop on the media and how it affects our freedom.
      Early Tuesday morning we drove to Boston for an exciting trip to a medium security prison. We had an inspiring and truly amazing talk with ten inmates from the prison. Throughout our discussion, we found that each prisoner was able to talk straight from his heart, despite their very difficult backgrounds. It was amazing how much they cared about educating young adults. We walked away from the prison with a greater appreciation for the people we love, and the freedom we have each and every day.
      In the evening, we enjoyed an exciting musical production of Hair, which gave us a picture of life as a hippie in the late 60’s. Not boring! After a long day, we stayed overnight at the Massachusetts Bay Waldorf School. Getting into the vans the next morning, all of us drove away with a new view of the world and a greater understanding of freedom.

Are We Really Free? by Emma Rhodes-Armstrong
      During this Theme Week, the topic we were looking at was freedom. What does it really mean? It is such an ambiguous term; it could mean physical freedom, psychological freedom, freedom to express oneself, freedom to do what we like… it means something different to everybody. On Monday morning, Jennifer Lentz, a Unitarian Universalist minister spoke with us about what freedom means to her, asked us questions, and had us debate related topics. Later, we split into groups and held brief discussions before lunch, after which another speaker, Drew Wing, talked to us about freedom within the media. He presented a short slideshow and part of a film about women and the ways they are portrayed in the media. He also brought up some questions. Are we really free? Are we really impervious to external influences telling us who to be, what products to buy?
      The next day we drove down to Shirley, Massachusetts and visited a medium-security prison. We spoke with ten of the inmates, heard their stories, and asked them questions. It was an amazing experience. While many of these men had been convicted for murder, they were incredibly insightful and aware of what they did and where they are now. It was very interesting to hear what freedom meant to them, and to hear the advice they had for us. Later that evening, we went into Boston to have dinner, and watched a fantastic production of “Hair.”

  Many of these experiences, particularly the visit to the prison, changed our views of what freedom can mean, and made many of us reconsider the truth of our preconceptions. Overall, from discussions and debates to prisons and musicals, the Theme Week has been an eye-opener, and a great success.

Enlightened Inmates by Wyatt Dowling
     For our second theme week of the year, we discussed what it meant to be free. On the first day, we heard from a couple of speakers and held discussions on what freedom meant to each of us. On Tuesday we drove to Massachusetts to visit a prison and to speak with a few of the inmates. This was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. There we were, sitting just a few feet from men who were serving life sentences for horrible crimes, and they seemed more enlightened then almost anyone you would meet out in the world. Now that they had lived out some of their punishment, some even for taking the lives of others, they had a stronger understanding of life than anyone I have ever met before.
      After this incredible experience, we went to Boston for another, very different one. We attended opening night of Hair, which has become my favorite musical, by far. The week as a whole was an unforgettable time. It makes me appreciate going to a school where we take time away from our studies to do things like this. This may have been the best theme week yet; I cannot wait for the next one.








Essayists impress in Slow Food Portland's inaugural Young Food Writers Competition: As we mentioned back on March 1, Merriconeag Senior,

Ali Perkins won the Grand Prize in the grades 9 - 12 Slow Food Portland Young Writers Contest. We are also pleased to report that Merriconeag Fourth Grader, Wilson Haims received Honorable Mention in the contest. Ali read her essay at a gathering at Space Gallery in Portland on March 10 and she was featured in the March 16 edition of the Portland Press Herald. To read the article which includes Ali's essay, please click here.



Model UN Conference in Wilton, NH:

On 19 March, 14 MWHS students participated in the High Mowing School Model UN Conference in Wilton, NH. The students made up delegations from 7 different countries, three in the Security Council Session that debated “ the situation in the Middle East: the Palestinian-Israeli Peace process”, and “UN Security Council reform”; and four in the General Assembly that tackled “making International Aid more effective” and “improving the International Criminal Court”.
      The students did an excellent job addressing the issues and representing their country positions. They were active in drafting, sponsoring and supporting resolutions to respond to the issues, and in debating the drafts that were presented. The students worked very well in pairs, and were at the heart of the conference the entire day.
      Special thanks to the High Mowing School for hosting the Conference,

and for making us welcome for the night as well. After dinner and the conference closure, we joined some of the High Mowing students around a fire pit for “s’mores” under a huge full moon. We closed the long day watching the movie “Inception” – all in all, a fine day!

Submitted by David Whittlesey




High School Forum - Ambassador Jonathan Moore
      Last week, the high school was very honored and privileged to host Ambassador Jonathan Moore who came, invited by M. David Whittlesey, to participate in the Model UN class. We took advantage of this opportunity to invite Ambassador Moore to our monthly Forum as well as have a conversation with the 9th grade class who had recently studied US government.
      Ambassador Moore came through to the students as a man of high probity, in quest of truth and integrity through his understanding of world affairs. He approached his talk with kindness and lucidity, explaining for example how everything is interrelated such as pessimism and optimism, when it comes to world affairs. Read more.

We are so grateful for the visit to Merriconeag School by this highly respected international diplomat!
Submitted by Regine Whittlesey

A Student Perspective on the forum:   Don’t let his age fool you. Ambassador Jonathan Moore’s mind is sharper than most others you will encounter. This becomes clear as soon as he begins speaking and presenting his ideas coherently, lucidly and without hesitation. In addition to, and perhaps because of, his great experience on both the domestic and international level, Ambassador Moore provides startling insights of our world today and what steps must be taken to live in a healthy and sustainable manner. One of the most surprising parallels he drew was between the rich-poor gap and the speed and ease at which information travels. He pointed out the effect on poor people of having ready access to images and videos depicting lives of opulence and waste. This appears blatantly obvious but it is an aspect I, and I know most of my peers, never thought of before. Ambassador Moore’s main point, one he came back to again and again, was that we Americans, as individuals and as a nation, need to accept a role of responsibility, not entitlement. We as individuals rely on all the members of our community, whether it be our family, neighborhood or the planet, and we must think of our communities in return, not only of ourselves.
      Many thanks to Ambassador Moore who took time to travel to Maine in order to speak to the Model UN class and to the whole High School in our Forum. Ambassador Moore also shared some insights with the 9th grade class after their work on US governement. We all profited greatly from his wise and interesting insights.

Submitted by Ben Tindall, Grade 10


The following thank you letter from some of our students in our high school's Model UN Club recently appeared in the Maine Chapter of the United Nations Association Newsletter:

On January 15, it was a great a great pleasure for us to attend the luncheon and talk by Edward Elmendorf which was part of the UNA annual meeting. The four of us are part of a class of 14 students at the Merriconeag Waldorf High School in New Gloucester who are participating in a Model UN class, and will attend MUN Conferences at High Mowing School and Dartmouth later this year. This was a real opportunity to get a first-hand view about the role of the UN from someone who has been directly involved for several decades, and to meet and talk with UNA members about the UN today. (We also had a delicious meal for which we are most grateful!)
      The Model UN process is exciting and informative, as it brings us face to face with many of the difficult issues facing the world today, not from our somewhat isolated perspective from small towns in Maine, but by putting us in the shoes of delegates from countries around the world and debating in a setting that closely follows the United Nations reality. In addition, meeting and discussing with people who have personal experience with the UN, including Mr. Bradley Babson and Ambassador Jonathan Moore who will be joining our class in March in addition to Mr. Elmendorf, makes the experience that much more real and alive.
Again, many thanks to UNA Maine for inviting us to attend!
Cyrus Fenderson, Wyatt McCurdy, Phineas Samuelson and Brian Watko




David Sloan has more poems published:

     As you may recall, David Sloan, Merriconeag High School’s Humanities and Drama teacher, is an accomplished poet. He recently had two poems, The Spaces Between and The Fire Starter published in the Winter 2011 edition of The Cafe Review.

   In the fall, David's poem, Lines in Algonquin, won Honorable Mention in Carpe Articulum Literary Review’s 2010 Poetry Competition. David has also had poems

published in the Northern New England Review, and was a prizewinner in the Friends of Acadia Nature Poetry Contest.


Merriconeag Waldorf High School Cross Country Coach, Tom Ryan has been named Coach of the Year by the Maine Track and Cross Country Coaches Association. This is in addition to his being named Girls XC Coach of the year by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram in November. Coach Ryan will be presented the award at the annual luncheon of the Maine Track and Cross Country Coaches Association on March 19th. Congratulations, Coach!


Merriconeag Girls are Class C Nordic State Champions

     At the Class C State Championships in Rangeley last week, Merriconeag Girls came in first to become the Class C Nordic State Champions. Placing the top four in places 1-7 in the classic race was a real accomplishment.

     Zoe Chace-Donahue became Class C State Champion in both Classic and Freestyle. A great performance!

     Emelie Chace-Donahue and Teagan Wu raced well with Emelie runner up in both races and Teagan getting just blocked out of a third place in the classic race. Carlin Tindall saved her best race for the classic to seal the win for the girls. Strong performances by Sierra Jeffers and Lily Tupper rounded out a great week in Rangeley for the Girls Team. Congratulations to our State Champs and their wonderful coach, John Tarling!


High School Nordic Skiing


Merriconeag High School's Nordic Ski Team in Rangeley on Thursday

     Congratulations to our Nordic Skiers! The High School Nordic Ski Team capped off another successful season last week. At the Class C state championships in Rangeley, the Girls came in first to become Class C State Champions and the boys team also skied very well finishing 4th in Class C (out of 14 teams).

    Jack Pierce, the boys pace setter all season, scorched the freestyle with a second place finish and was close to a number of racers in finishing eighth in the classic race. Eli McCurdy skied two solid races. Ben McCrave had a solid skate race and John Burgess had his best race all year in the classic race. Ben Tindall closed his first year at MHS in fine fashion and Phineas Samuelson closes his last year out with two hard efforts.

     Our seniors, Phineas Samuelson and Ben McCrave were the first skiers when I came on board and we owe them much appreciation for hanging in as the team developed. Their hard work and dedication to the team will be missed.

     We thank Soren Donisvitch for attending the States as an alternate in place of Brian Watko, who was unable to attend due a schedule conflict. Brian earned a spot as alternate but, unfortunately, could not be with us in Rangeley. Hadi Jacobs also earned a spot on the girls team but was unable to be there as well. Soren, Brian and Haydi all played an important role and contributed to the team's year long success.  Coach John Tarling

     For high school race results, go to Maine High School Skiing.




Merriconeag Senior Wins Grand Prize in Writing Contest: Congratulations to Senior Ali Perkins whose essay won the grand prize for grades 9 - 12 in the Slow Food Portland Young Writers Contest. Ali won a full CSA share (up to $500 value) for her family from the CSA of her choice for the 2011 growing season. She has been invited to read her essay at the upcoming Slow Food Writers Night Event at the Space Gallery in Portland on Thursday,March 10. Ali's essay will also be published in an upcoming edition of the Portland Press Herald.

Congratulations, Ali!


High School Nordic Skiing


Merriconeag High School's Nordic Ski Team at Starks Hill in Fryeburg on Saturday

The Western Maine Conference nordic skiing championships were held this past week. The skate race was last Wednesday in Gray and the classic race was Saturday in Fryeburg. All of our skiers skied very well. The boys finished 6th overall (3rd in class C). They finished ahead of Greely, Waynflete, Cape Elizabeth, and Gray/New Gloucester. The Girls finished 3rd overall (1st in class C). They finished ahead of every school except Yarmouth and Falmouth.

From Coach Tarling: We were very fortunate to have two great days of racing for the WMC Championships. Saturday at Starks Hill in Fryeburg was cold at the start. First up the boys race: The boys have been working hard all year and given the youth on the team they can look forward to a bright future in HS Skiing. Saturday the team was again led by Jack Pierce. He has led the team all year and finished again in 12th place, matching his finish in the skate race. Eli McCurdy and Ben Tindall continued their season-long battle and Eli ended up just edging Ben. John Burgess and Phineas Samuelson both skied with effort and helped the boys to a respectable 6 place. Considering the teams ranked behind the boys, this is a good sign for the future.
      For the girls: their 3rd was not really a surprise, they have showed good form all year competing with the top girls teams overall. Zoe Chace-Donahue showed she is rounding into form at the right time with a podium 3rd place finish, followed closely by Emelie Chace-Donahue in 6th and Teagan Wu in 16th. Teagan had trouble on one of the downhill sections yet she was able to get up and finish strong. Carlin Tindall has proven to be the dependable fourth skier for the girls team followed by Sierra Jeffers, Hadi Jacobs and Lily Tupper. The depth on the girls team is improving as the newer racers are gaining experience each race start.

     The food on Saturday was a real treat, thanks to all who pitched in with food and transportation. This week we will ski Tuesday, skate, and participate the the Yarmouth Fun Relay (skate again) at Pratts Brook on Wednesday.

    A special thanks to Adele Espy for all her waxing help and support on Friday and Saturday. Her help is greatly appreciated.

The team will be participating in the Class C State Championships in Rangeley the week of school vacation.
For race dates and maps, visit our website's Google Calendar. For high school race results, go to Maine High School Skiing.




Recap: Geezers Versus Students II

Student Version by Brian Watko:    

     Last Friday, a frenzied crowd of basketball enthusiasts watched as a conflict of epic proportions unfolded before their very eyes. Two teams met on the court for the second time with some unfinished business. Only two years ago, a squad of intrepid geezers clashed with a horde of vicious high schoolers, only to depart the Freeport Junior High School Gymnasium crushed. A debt unpaid, both sides were ready to play once again, and this time it was personal.

     Eager to retain their glory, the students put together a commendable force of high school players: Cyrus Fenderson, Sophie Simmons, Tyler O’Brien, Devon-Murphy-Anderson, Connor Beckett, Emma Dolan, and Wyatt Mccurdy. If this wasn’t enough, an equally powerful lineup of middle schoolers joined the team, to ensure certain victory: Jacob Haldeman, Natalie Murphy, Joe Armstrong, Bekah Rhein, Lincoln Samuelson, Phoebe Dolan, Josh Dow, Anna Evans, Hugh Voorhees, Lily Kolle, and Gaby Gaspardi. Prior injuries kept Haley Johnson and Peter Watko from playing, but their teammates were trained to the peak of perfection by coaches David Sloan and Richard Evans. Read more.

Geezer Version by Michael Fenderson:

     Merriconeag's faculty basketball team, warmly dubbed "The Geezers", came back in the final minutes to pull out the winover the students in the second annual Student-Faculty Basketball Game. The non-stop action was, according to many an appreciativefan of both teams, great fun and a 'most amazing game'! The student team, made up of high schoolers and players from 7th and 8th grades, coached by David Sloan and Assistant Coach Richard Evans, led most of the way and kept the scrappy, well seasoned Geezersguessing right down to the last baskets. 

     Cheering the efforts of all players, the gym resounded with "Go Students" and "Go Geezers" throughout the contest. Both benches were filled with many new players this year but in the end, it was Nancy 'Downtown' Roderick, the Geezer backcourt specialist who sank final running jumpshot. Read more.


High School Forum — 350 and Counting: The 2011 High School Forum season opened with a conversation on

Climate Change. Jesse Pyles, sustainability director at Unity College and a Senior student, Jean, came to our High School Friday January 28th to talk about 350.org.
      The number 350 is what scientists say is the upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The planet faces both serious human and natural disasters if atmospheric concentrations of CO2 remain above 350 parts per million. At the present moment, the number is about at 388 and is on the rise. 350.org is an international campaign that tries to inspire and unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis.
      Jesse and Jean talked with great enthusiasm to our students about the road trip they took last year from Unity College in Maine to Washington DC. They were planning to return solar panels that Unity College had bought from the White house after the Reagan administration had put them in a warehouse. The intent was to encourage the present administration to put solar panels back on the White House, thus being a model for the whole nation. Their visit inspired the White House to plan the re-installation of solar panels.
      The students were impressed with Jesse and Jean’s passionate and determined enterprising spirit as well as their strong motivation to make a difference and have an impact on the future of the planet. We hope our students will follow their lead in taking action for their future! Submitted by Regine Whittlesey


Don't Miss Merriconeag's Only Basketball Game This Season!
     The Second Student-Faculty Basketball Extravaganze is just days away - this Friday, February 4, 6:30 p.m. in the Freeport Jr. High School gym. The student team, led by wily high school "veterans" Cyrus Fenderson, Tyler O'Brien, Connor Beckett, Wyatt McCurdy, Sophie Simmons, Devon Murphy-Anderson and Emma Dolan, will be ably reinforced by eighth graders Jacob Haldeman, Lincoln Samuelson, Natalie Murphy, Anna Evans, Gaby Gaspardi, and Lily Kolle, and seventh graders Joe Armstrong, Phoebe Dolan, Josh Dow, Bekah Rhein and Hugh Voorhees. Fortunately for the faculty, Haley Johnson will be away, and Peter Watko won't be able to play, due to a broken digit.
      Will the faculty find that old magic, when they were younger, fleeter, friskier? Can they overcome gravity, rust, creaky joints, oxygen deprivation? There's only one way to find out--Come to the game! Game? It's going to be a spectacle!
      Admission is free, but donations at the door will be gratefully accepted. With the proceeds from admissions and the refreshments for sale during the game, the high school hopes to raise funds for its Model UN program. Be there, or be square! Submitted by Coach Sloa


Our Town - Our Community

      The high school plays are always a highlight of the year, a time when we join together as a whole school and see old friends. It is a time when we open ourselves up to being carried into another world. I find that I don't want to miss a single performance.
      How did those boys turn into men, those girls into mothers? How did they gain the capacity to change a mood from a hectic morning to a moonlit night; from an important encounter at a soda shop to a scene from a world very near and yet very different from ours? The eternal was present in our Hall. The mood was rich and warm with the presence of friends and teachers - Diane Geist, Cynthia Taliafero, Ron Richardson and Pat Siviski - who joined many others in our hearts. The children constantly change and grow as they go through the school, and we continue to grow our Merriconceag Waldorf community year after year. Submitted by Barbara Richardson  


Our Town is Coming to This Town

     Merriconeag’s freshman and sophomore classes are enthusiastically preparing to perform Thornton Wilder’s classic play on Thursday and Friday, January 27 and 28. Wilder sets his masterpiece in a seemingly undistinguished, small New Hampshire town at the beginning of the twentieth century, but he fills the play with the vast, heart-wrenching themes we all encounter in life. As the all-seeing Stage Manager/Narrator says, explaining why he’s going to bury a copy of the play in a time capsule, “People a thousand years from now’ll know a few simple facts about us. . .this is the way we were: in our growing up and in our marrying and in our living and in our dying.”
      The play chronicles a more innocent time in American life, when boys really could grow up and marry the girl-next-door. Wilder’s great innovation is how he makes the everyday lives of Grovers Corners’ residents so universal, even as he follows those lives over the threshold of death. Nearly seventy-five years after the play was first produced, we still recognize the truth of Wilder’s vision about the human condition.
      In addition to the evening performances, for which tickets will be available at the door for $5, the cast will be offering an Open Dress Rehearsal on Tuesday, January 25, as well as daytime school performance on Wednesday, January 26.


Is There Life After Waldorf: Alumni Panel Discussion


Friday, January 7, 7:00 p.m., Community Hall

Is There Life After Waldorf? On Friday, January 7, meet four fascinating Alums from Waldorf high schools across the Northeast as they relate how Waldorf education made a difference in their lives. By popular demand, Dr. Trevor Braden, a veteran our last Panel Evening two years ago and graduate of Garden City Waldorf School in Long Island, NY, is back! He will be joined by Leila Forman, Theodore Groh, and Brooke Adams, who submitted brief autobiographical sketches below. The evening begins at 7 p.m. in the Community Hall, and any current or prospective parents and students are invited. Bring along any friends who want to know more about Waldorf high school education!

Theodore Groh was born and raised on a organic/biodynamic farm in Wilton New Hampshire and attended Pine Hill Waldorf School, and High Mowing Waldorf high school. Theodore just finished a run for the New Hampshire State Legislature, and is currently pursuing a degree in Political Science from Saint Anselms College in Manchester New Hampshire.


Brooke Dennee-Sommers attended Lake Champlain Waldorf School in Shelburne, Vermont from pre-school ("morning garden") through eighth grade and High Mowing School in Wilton, New Hampshire for eleventh and twelfth grade. Brooke currently works as a project manager for a health research consulting company in Boston, Massachusetts.



Leila Forman attended Green Meadow Waldorf School in Chestnut Ridge, NY from 6th grade through senior year of high school. She loved her experience in the Waldorf school and felt like it was her second home. So much so, in fact, that after graduating from college with a degree in French Literature she decided to return and spent a year on the faculty teaching French to 10th-12th graders.
Today, twelve years after graduating from Green Meadow, after a brief career as a french teacher, a lot of worldwide traveling, and a Master's degree in Nursing, she has settled in Cambridge, MA where she works as a Certified Nurse Midwife at Mt. Auburn Hospital.


Food Drive this Week

The High School is sponsoring a food drive to benefit area food pantries. Please bring in donations of non-perishable foods. Collection boxes have been placed in the upper grades building, the lower grades building, the early childhood center, the office, and the community hall. The food drive ends this Friday, December 17th.


Fall Cross-Country Kudos Continue: An article David Sloan submitted to the national AWSNA

site about the girls' cross country championship is running on the front page of Why Waldorf Works.org.

Click here to read the article.

Fall Cross-Country All Stars Honored: Merriconeag runners were in the news again as the Forecaster reported on the fall cross-country all stars. The Western Maine Conference boy’s first team featured Merriconeag’s Jack Pierce. Zoe Chace-Donahue qualified for the girls’ second team and Phineas Samuelson was included in the the All-Academic team line up. The Maine Track and Cross Country Coaches All-State boys’ team named Jack Pierce as an honorable mention. Congratulations to all! To read the article in the Forecaster, click here.


The Race to Nowhere

December 2, 7:00 pm, Community Hall

Click on image below to view the movie trailer.

     Merriconeag Waldorf School proudly presents the Maine premiere of the documentary, The Race to Nowhere. Tickets are $10 and available only online at rtnmerriconeag.eventbrite.com.  This movie is being promoted to the general public, so be sure to buy your tickets soon.
      Vicki Abeles, a concerned mother turned filmmaker, aims her camera at the high-stakes, high-pressure culture that has invaded our schools and our children's lives. Race to Nowhere points to the silent epidemic in our schools: cheating has become commonplace; students are disengaged; stress-related illness and depression are rampant; and many young people arrive at college and the workplace unprepared and uninspired. Race to Nowhere is a call to action for families, educators, and policy makers to challenge current assumptions on how to best prepare the youth of America to become healthy, bright, contributing and leading citizens.

    Please help us promote this movie far and wide. Who should see this film? Anyone who shares a stake in the future of education, which means everyone! The film is appropriate for parent groups, school faculties, student groups, participants in education conferences, PTAs, health care organizations, universities, business groups, faith-based or interfaith organizations,media/film centers, civic groups and policy makers. The film can raise powerful conversations and lead to action among these groups. Following the showing on December 2nd, there will be a discussion of the film fascilitated by David Sloan and David Barham.

Please note that the movie is PG13. We believe it is appropriate for high school and up.

See the reviews and praise for Race to Nowhere.

Shepherds Play: The play, usually performed by members of the faculty and adults in the community, will be presented with a unique twist this year. We warmly invite the entire community to join us at 11:00 - 12:00 on December 17, 2010 in the Community Hall to witness this simple, yet profound offering which speaks to what it means to be truly human. Read more. Submitted by David Barham



Au Revoir Jehan et Constance:

     Friday night, ninth and tenth graders and their families gathered at the Murphy-Anderson’s Community House in order to say Au Revoir to our French exchange students Constance Fayol and Jehan Foulke, returning to their home in Lyon, France, after 3 months at Merriconeag Waldorf High School. A delicious,s generous potluck was shared, followed by piano duets with Devon and Constance, (who had just completed her first 3 months of piano lessons with M. Seavey!), and Augustine Hoffmann our French Student recently arrived from Avignon. Augustine delighted us with her self- composed French song and guitar solo.
      Judging from the number of hugs and kisses exchanged, I gather these students were well-integrated and well-loved by their American peers. Both Jehan and Constance had tears in their eyes as they bid farewell, hearts full of gratitude for the wonderful care and love they received both in their family and at school. Jehan is Emelie Chace-Donahue’s French brother and Constance is Devon Murphy-Anderson’s French sister. Devon will go to the Lyon Waldorf School in March, 2011, and Emelie will leave in April to go to the same school.
      It will be their turn to experience a home away from home, strange food, new school rules and the challenge to do homework in a language they haven’t yet mastered. But they will have the comfort of meeting again their foreign siblings who will understand well where they come from!
      As our High School students recently explained to Merriconeag Middle school students, our Foreign Exchange program, open to any tenth or eleventh grader desirous to try it, is an opportunity not to be missed. It opens new vistas; it helps students mature and learn independence, master a foreign language, understand a new culture from daily living and open hearts to others. Merriconeag education is spreading peace and tolerance, one exchange at a time!  Régine Whittlesey


Québec City, S’il Vous Plait:

     From the ninth to the thirteenth of November, 2010, our eleventh graders said more often “merci, excusez-moi, and s’il vous plait”, than “thank you, excuse me and please!” That’s because they were living in the Francophone world of nearby ancient Québec city.
      The whole junior class, French and German students together, went to discover the history, culture, gastronomy and way of life of this 400-year-old North American City, where most everyone speaks French. Accompanied by Madame Whittlesey, Frau Mc Vicar and Svenja Dettmer, our Amity intern, the students quickly learned their way through the cobblestone streets of the old city, as we stayed in the Auberge Internationale, conveniently situated within the ramparts, near the busy rue St. Jean in the old town. Daily activities ranged from historical museums and cultural teachings, to a visit of the imposing Château Frontenac, where a lively “200-year-old” chambermaid guided us through the secrets of this famous historic hotel (did you know there are three third floors in the Château?). Outdoor excursions took us once on a fiercely windy day to the Plains of Abraham and the ancient Citadel; on a lovely, sunny, (almost) warm day, we drove to the Montmorency Falls and pondered about the force of nature from a suspended bridge over the raging waterfall, which is 30 meters taller than the Niagara Falls!
      Another visit invited meditation and reverence as we strolled through the magnificent Neo-Romanesque Basilica of Ste Anne de Beaupré, a resplendent cathedral built on the site of a 1658 chapel. Magnificent mosaics and stained glass windows, carved stones and an exact replica of La Pieta by Michelangelo are some of the treasures our students respectfully admired.
Free time left students to go enjoy a variety of activities in small groups—ice skating on the public skating ring in front of the illuminated ramparts, dancing on ice to loud French Music, shopping in the numerous boutiques of the old town or just sitting at a warm café drinking sumptuous hot chocolate while eating flaky pains au chocolat or croissants. What choices! No wonder we did not hear any complaints!
      We spent one evening with a Quebécois musician-storyteller, Pierre Leclerc, who engaged us all in call and response French Québecois songs, foot tapping, spoon playing and spontaneous dancing. As he said himself: “C’est l’fun!”
      At our last elegant dinner in the Basse Ville restaurant “Chez Rabelais,” some students rose to give toasts of thanks for the wonderful time had by all. Now tenth graders look at the photos of our trip displayed in the high school and dream … Will we also go to Quebec with our class? I certainly hope so!  Régine Whittlesey


Fair Composting

The high school composting and recycling team under the guidance of Cordelia Lane, Lucy Ahearne and Ian Gamble composted 69 pounds of compost at the Fall Fair and recycled 21 pounds of waste. There was still 61 pounds of trash. So 60% of our waste was either recycled or composted! This is a great first step as we explore ways to reduce our waste at events. Special thanks to Cordelia, Lucy, Ian and students and parents from the high school for making this an easy and fun task.





High School Theme Week 2010 - Maine Diversity

       For three days, October 25th-27th, the High School lived “to the beat of a different drummer”…literally! Our eighth grade guests joined high school students in learning skills quite different from what Merriconeag usually offers. Under the umbrella theme of Maine Diversity, the students were able to choose two workshops from a wide spectrum.

       The week started with a presentation by Adelaide Manirakiza, a war widow refugee from Burundi now living in Portland and working for Living with Peace. This non-profit organization helps orient immigrants, recently arrived in Maine, to various social, economic and cultural aspects of life in Portland and Lewiston. Mrs Manirakiza brought a family portrait of her four daughters whom she succeeded in bringing to Maine out of war-torn Burundi after she herself received her asylum. She talked of her struggles as a war widow who eventually succeeded in changing the status of war widows and orphans in her own country. She talked of the importance of learning the new language of her host country, and of her strong faith, both helping her to slowly put her family life together and find a job in Maine.

After this strong and moving presentation, the students went to experience their workshops. The first set of workshops offered a choice between improvisational drumming with our ever energetic Rick Cormier, learning the technique of Shibori Japanese stitching and dyeing with Kelley Barham, carving wood totems with local craftsman Eric Ritter, or experiencing the joyful movements of African dance with Regina Kusche, accompanied on the drum by Annegret Baier.

        The second set of choices led some students to practice Capoeira, offered by Mastre Joao Carlos Bordallo from Brazil. Capoeira is an ancient Brazilian martial art/dance initially started by the slaves. Other students chose wall mural painting with our very own artists Rosemary Burwell and Johanna Flath. In another workshop, Colombian Maine resident Adelaida Gaviria invited the students to understand the tragic effects of the Drug Trade on Columbian families as well as American families. Shamou, an impressive Persian drummer renowned in Maine musical circles, led his workshop acquainting the students with Samba rhythm.

       For three days the very full High School vibrated with colors, movements and music coming from all directions. Huge thanks to all the workshop leaders for their wonderful participation in our Theme Week!   Regine Whittlesey, High School French                                                                                       

Knock, Knock, Knockin’ on Steiner’s Door…

      It might seem like a stretch from reality, but even the brick high school building at Pineland seemed to come alive with an ancient, tribal air last week in Rick Cormier’s drumming class during Merriconeag High School’s International Theme Days. A truly devoted musician who heads the Different Drummers Drum Circle in Yarmouth, the agelessly energetic Rick Cormier has been teaching improvisational drumming at Merriconeag since the high school’s establishment. The group was a varied one: some members had been practicing percussion with him for up to four years, while others had hardly ever drummed in their lives. Yet skill level does not prevent one from drumming; as Rick was told was by an eminent African drummer, all drumming consists of is “finding a beat, losing it, and finding it again.”

     In order for an improvisational drum circle to sound complete, it needs three components: the heartbeat, embellishment, and a lead. Of these three, the heartbeat is the most crucial; a simple, spacious beat of few notes. The spaces left by the heartbeat are filled by the more elaborate embellishment beats. The lead beat goes over these two, connecting them while also creating a totally new sound.

During the three days with Rick, the group also practiced creating the varied tones of the drum and the different playing styles of various cultures. Everything was incorporated in the group exercises, most often taking the form of alternating triads, which were then performed for the pleasure of the whole high school community. Brian Watko, 10th Grade



Capoeira—Cartwheels for Kicks


I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the Capoeira workshop. I knew a little bit about Capoeira, but not much. Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian art form, which combines elements of dance, music, as well as martial arts. It was created by African slaves in Brazil, with the purpose of teaching other slaves how to fight, and in doing so, escape. However, the slave’s masters did not let these slaves train, so the

slaves disguised their training as a dance. Many of the moves use the feet; there is, in fact, a style of Capoeira in which arms and hands are not used at all in order to replicate bound arms. Several moves we learned involved cartwheels, spins and other acrobatic moves. The result is a very beautiful, very fun art form. By the end we had all learned a lot and were very, very sore. Tyler O’Brien, 11th Grade


African Dance and Drums

     I could not have been happier that I chose to do the African Dance elective for this year’s “theme week.” It was a very energetic fun class and all the participants seemed to really enjoy themselves. We learned some traditional dance moves, starting with the right posture, then adding steps and arm movements. For the second two days we had a live drummer accompanying our dance routine, which added so much. We also learned a children’s game and song that seriously challenged our multitasking skills. A big thanks to our teacher, Regina Kusche, and our drummer, Annegret Baier, for such a fun part of our “theme week.”  Evelyn Pennoyer, 11th Grade



Another Reason to Say No to Drugs

        In nearly all drug talks that are given by parents, teachers, policemen or social workers, the reason not to become involved in any sort of drugs is all about you.  Don’t do drugs because they are bad for you.  Don’t do drugs because you could become addicted.  Because they could lead you to harder, more dangerous drugs.  Because you could get suspended or expelled.  All of these scenarios, which are recited countless times every day to teens around the world, deal with all the reasons drugs can ruin your health, reputation, etc.  In our workshop on the Colombian drug trade, Adelaida Gaviria gave us a different perspective on drugs and reasons to refuse to participate in the use of these drugs.  Adelaida grew up on a farm in Columbia and experienced drug violence first hand as did many, many other individuals just like her.  Two of her friends’ brothers were killed as teenagers after becoming involved in the drug trade.  Her neighbor was killed for refusing to cooperate with the drug lords and her old boyfriend was killed for refusing to stash cocaine in flower packages being sent to the United States.  

       This view is one that the vast majority of drug consumers never dream of; that their actions have consequences thousands of miles away.  That buying a joint in Freeport, Maine directly contributes to violence and death in places like Colombia.  Only a small percentage of drug money goes to the actual product; the vast majority goes towards buying weapons that incite fear in those who oppose the drug trade.  The hope is that when we are in a situation where we may be tempted to buy or accept drugs from someone, may it be a friend or not, that we will think not only about ourselves, but also of the lives of people we could save by refusing. Ben Tindall, 10th Grade                                                                  

Shibori—An Art to Dye For   

      Shibori is the Japanese art of stitching and dyeing fabrics. The result of Shibori looks very much like an intricate form of tie-dye. During the High School Theme Week, Kelly Barham guided a group of students through the process to eventually dye beautiful kerchiefs, shirts, bags and pillowcases. The group started by making their own brew of indigo dye. We then stitched patterns into the cloth and pulled tight. String was also used to wrap tightly around sections of the cloth. After we dyed and rinsed the cloth, we took out the stitching and the group was able to exclaim over the beautiful patterns that we had  created. The Shibori group also came up with song lyrics and other words that reminded them of blue, further expanding on their three-day-long study of the color blue, indigo and dyeing cloth. Lily Tupper, 9th Grade



The Colors of Diversity

    During Theme Week at the high school, each student from the high school and eighth grade chose two workshops to participate in.  One that I chose was the “Wall Murals” workshop.  I don’t consider myself the best artist (despite going to a Waldorf school) but I enjoy painting so I thought I’d give it a try.  The workshop leaders’ (Rose Mary Burwell and Johanna Flath) goal was to create a full six-panel wall mural in a meager five hours spread out over three days.  The first day, all 15 people who were taking the workshop sat down at a table together to discuss what we wanted to do with our time.  Since the theme of the week was “Ethnic diversity in Maine,” we decided we wanted something at least somewhat representing this idea.  We agreed upon some common factors that needed to be in each panel, such as a railroad, some overarching themes such as going from dull colors to bright colors, and we decided to leave the rest up to smaller groups.  We divided these groups randomly and started sketching out what would go on the murals.  After the first hour, we were given the plywood that the finished product was to be on.  We began to try to find ways to connect our ideas at the edges.  The second day, we started right in with paints and experimented with mixing and matching different colors.  Each group worked separately on their panel.  By the end of the session, we could see where this whole project was going and I, for one, liked what I saw.  The third day was a frantic rush to finish everything in just one hour.  Much of the time was spent on making the continuity between panels work out.  With completely different color schemes used by different groups, this part proved difficult indeed.  With the paint still wet and finishing touches being added on the fly, we presented our artwork to the rest of the high school on the third day.

Cyrus Fenderson, 11th Grade


High School Theme Days Celebrate Ethnic Diversity in Maine: The high school students are enjoying a 3 day week of theme days entitled, Ethnic Diversity in Maine. The eighth graders joined the high school for this session which began on Monday and will end at 12:30 on Wednesday.

     The keynote speaker for the Theme Days is Adelaide Manirakiza. Mrs. Manirakiza is a war widow from Burundi. She works for an organization called Living with Peace. Living With Peace addresses issues and concerns that affect the ability of immigrants to acculturate to their new lives in Maine and to successfully orient to the social, economic and cultural aspects of life in Portland and Lewiston. Living with Peace is a dynamic, community organization that seeks to invest in the future of our immigrants by building and sharing resources with a coalition of support providers. Living with Peace is a network of resources to ease and smooth the way in this new world for all newly immigrated people to Maine from any country.

     In addition to the keynote speaker there are eight workshops with an international theme (each student will be taking two). The workshops are:

  • Carving Totems with Eric Ritter (Art Room)
  • Improvisational Drumming with Rick Cormier (French Room)
  • Shibori, Japanese stitching and dyeing, with Kelley Barham (Science Room)
  • African Dance with Regina Kusche and AnneGret Baier (Sage Room)
  • The Effects of the Drug Trade on Columbian Families with Adelaida Gaviria (Science Room)
  • Capoeira (Brazilian Martial Art) with Joao Carlos Bordallo (Sage Room)
  • World Drumming with Shamou (French Room)
  • Wall Murals with Johanna Flath and Rosemary Burwell (Art Room)


Seniors Study Transcendentalists: As part of their study of the American Transcendentalists, the senior class sauntered down to Concord, Massachusetts on Sunday, October 17 through Tuesday, October 19. Meeting up with their senior compatriots at the Waldorf High School of Mass Bay, the students explored the haunts and homes of two of the more famous of the nineteenth century writers, Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. 

              Stepping into the recreated cabin in the parking lot of Walden Woods on Monday morning, the students were instantly transported back to the year 1846 and a young Henry David, one year into what would become his two year, two month and two day sojourn at the pond, met them and engaged them in discussion and question answering. We followed Mr. Thoreau into the woods and to the actual sight where his cabin had been built 165 years ago. At that point the historian playing Henry broke character and answered a wider range of questions about Thoreau and his times. This was followed by the reading of a children's book at the actual cabin sight (Henry Builds a Cabin by DB Johnson) and a period of quiet contemplation and journal writing. Few things in life are as pleasant as a walk along the shores of Walden Pond on an autumn afternoon... To read the whole article & see more photos, please follow this link.



Passamaquody Lives:  In our first high school forum of the year, students had the great honor to welcome Passamaquody Storyteller, Allen J. Sockabasin, author of An Upriver Passamaquody  and of the delightful children’s book Thanks to the Animals.  Mr. Sockabasin started by showing our high schoolers a 30-minute film on the history of Native Americans, particularly of the Passamaquody people of Maine, stressing the importance of language preservation. The Native Americans for centuries lived in villages that depended on subsistence living through gathering, hunting, fishing and working in the woods, with an emphasis on sharing and helping one another. They met many hardships through racism and dubious “progress” that brought an end to their traditional way of life, especially their language, their religion and their self-governance.

       Mr. Sockabasin’s spoke with great sadness as he talked to a subdued audience about his life-long struggle to try to preserve the traditional language and cultural way of life of his Passamaquody ancestors.

     After an hour of reflecting and answering numerous questions asked by the high school students, who seemed

very moved and keen to understand his struggles, Mr.Sockabasin grabbed his mandolin and invited our students to join in an impromptu musical fest... To read the whole article & see more photos, please follow this link.


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.