Tuesday News - November 9, 2010

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All submissions for the Tuesday News should be sent to publicrelations@merriconeag.org by Friday at 3:00 pm.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE IS NO SCHOOL ON THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 11th. We are closed for Veteran's Day.

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.  (A very limited number of tickets will be available at the door the night of the show for $15.) 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.



2010 Fall Fair and Open House

     In our second year of combining the Fall Fair with an Open House, it is clear that this event is a tremendous outreach event, as well as a celebration of our wonderful community and school.  Each year we try to listen to your feedback and make appropriate changes, while giving the coordinators creative license to keep it fresh.  This year the crafters were grateful to be back in the Community Hall, the 8th grade graciously offered delicious take-home dinners, the café served new items like hot canapés and fresh popcorn, and the high school highlighted their foreign language programs with the new and very popular German currywurst and French crepes. Keeping true to our ideals, we took up recycling and composting on a big scale. The favorite “standards”, like hot soup lunch, pocket people, squirrel’s attic, outdoor games and children’s crafts were anything but standard – each activity was artfully presented and well run, creating a celebratory and joyful fair ambience.

     As always, there are so many of you who contributed to the success of this event. We thank our Fair Steering Committee Co-chairs, Melisa Walker and Victoria Stefanakos, for their leadership, positive energy, relaxed and fun sense of humor, and creative ideas. We also thank our talented activity coordinators for their courage to take a leadership role and their devotion and willingness to lead their groups through many weeks of preparation to the end of fair day.

Indoor Children’s Crafts          Julia Dodge and Sarah Barmby                    

Waldorf School Supplies         Mandy Andreson and Melisa Walker        

Café                                             Carina Wishman Freedner and Melissa Hoy                     

Outdoor Games                         Drew Tieman

Outdoor Decorations                Wendy Akerlind

     and Pocket People                                                                        

Lunch   Setup                             Anna Deutsch            

Lunch Provisions                      Katy Neveu, Barbara Kappelmann,

                                                      Lisa Gamble and Diane Campos       

Preview Night                             Linda Kelly, Rosita Moore, & Valerie Konstantino

Staffing                                         Pat Sanford     

Squirrel’s Attic                            Aly Fullagar, Maleah Parker and Sarah Currie

Independent Crafters               Tracy Libby

German Currywurst                  Oliver Kinzer, Eva McVicar and Svenja Detmier

French Crepes                           Regine Whittlesey and Sarah Buck

8th grade take home meals     Richard Evans, Shannon Combar and Lisa Mainella

Compost and Recycling           Lucy Ahearne and Cordelia Lane

     Our gratitude extends to all of you - parents, students, and faculty - who, in the midst of your extremely busy lives, contributed hours, food, goods, physical strength, busy hands, and goodwill to the success of this year’s Fall Fair and Open House.

     Our roaming entertainment highlighted our music curriculum. We thank all the musicians, especially David Barham and David Beringer for kicking off the music jam. Thanks to the Early Childhood Faculty who presented the much acclaimed Prince Autumn puppet story. Thanks to Lucy Ahearne, Cordelia Lane and Ian Gamble for instituting the inaugural recycling and composting plan.

     Just when we start feeling like our lives are too hectic, and we don’t have time for one more event, we are reminded not to take any of it for granted.  A visitor, who stopped by the school on a whim, was amazed at the scene before him, took photos, and said “what isn’t there to like about this place?”  On Saturday, our community worked together and the children and many visitors benefited from our efforts. Lynne Espy and Deeda Burgess

Green Books: Coordinators, please update your green notebooks with detailed notes that will be understandable to the next coordinator. Return them, along with  an electronic copy if possible, to Lynne or Deeda.

Yard Signs: Please retrieve any yard signs you kindly placed for us and return them to Deeda for recycling.


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


From the Development Office


Cynthia Taliaferro Tree Dedication 

Thursday Nov. 11th, 1:00 – 2:30

On Veteran’s Day, Thursday Nov. 11th, from 1:00-2:30, at the Desert Road campus, we will have a ceremony dedicating the linden tree that was recently planted near the early grades play area, in memory of Cynthia Taliaferro.  Any friends of Cynthia (adults and former students) who want to attend this ceremony are warmly welcomed.  Feel free to spread the word to other families who are no longer on our Tuesday News mailing list.  Please rsvp to developmentcoordinator@merriconeag.org so we can plan for the numbers. Note: there is no school on this day.

Submitted by Lynne Espy, Development Coordinator

Annual Appeal Mailing – incentives attached: This month you will receive a letter by mail explaining our Annual Appeal and how you can help with its success.  If the concept “Annual Appeal” is foreign to you, then it is imperative that you carefully read the letter and call me if you still have questions. I will be posting regular updates in the Tuesday News and following up with each family in person, in the hopes that together we can meet our Annual Appeal goal of raising $60,000 by the end of December. If you remember nothing else about the annual appeal, remember this:  Every Gift Counts, and we want to reach 100% participation by all board members, faculty and parents.  Incentives (aka chocolate desserts) will be used.

     Remittance envelopes will be included in your letter, and are available in the offices. There are 3 ways to make a gift to the Annual Fund:

  1. Submit a check in the remittance envelope, and mail or bring it to the main office
  2. Easy online giving through our website: www.merriconeag.org
  3. Make a gift of securities – call Shannon Combar, finance director for directions 

United Way / Live United: For those families who make a charitable gift to Live United (United Way), please consider designating Merriconeag as your charitable organization – this brings United Way dollars our way!

Matching Gifts from Your Employer: Some employers will match your charitable gifts, or provide employee charitable giving incentive programs.  Ask your employer – and let us know if they participate in this way.

      Any questions about the annual appeal or the ways in which you can donate or help with this effort, please contact Lynne Espy, Development Coordinator, at Ext. 116 or developmentcoordinator@merriconeag.org

Thank you in advance for supporting the school with your generous tax-deductible gift.




School Community Updates

Curious about Waldorf High School? For parents interested in getting to know more about grades 9 - 12 at Merriconeag, we are offering a High School Information Night, Wednesday, November 17, 7:00 PM, in the Community Hall on the Freeport campus. Our teachers and high school students will describe what is unique about the Waldorf approach to high school and answer your questions. This event is open to the public -- please tell your friends about this opportunity.

The Critical Need for an Artistic Education, Early Childhood - Grade 12

A conversation with Patrick Stolfo

Thursday, November 18, 1:30 pm

Farmhouse Conference Room

Please plan to come to our first parent coffee of the year. Bring your questions and join in a lively conversation with our guest speaker, Patrick Stolfo.

     Patrick Stolfo has been at Hawthorne Valley School in Ghent, N.Y. since 1987, teaching high school main lesson blocks in Art History and the History of Architecture. Other courses have included Sculpture (in clay, wood & stone), Drawing, Modern Art History, Anatomy for the Artist, along with Social Studies and Philosophy as electives. He has taught woodcarving, clay modeling, and ceramics in the middle grades as well.

      Over the years, Patrick has been active as a freelance artist via gallery shows and private commissions in sculpture, 3d design, drawing, graphic design, and lazure wall painting. He has also been commissioned to carry out large scale, indoor and outdoor sculpture in England, Sweden, California, and New York.

      Patrick has been a visiting instructor in various Anthroposophical programs and trainings in North America. He is one of the founders and core faculty members of the Alkion Center for Adult Education (Foundation Studies and Teacher Training) at Hawthorn Valley and regularly teaches in the summer intensive programs of the Antioch, New England Waldorf Teacher Education Program and the Center for Anthroposophy in Wilton, New Hampshire.

    Patrick is currently at Merriconeag Waldorf High School as a visiting instructor, teaching Art History to our Ninth Graders.

Viral Video Embedded: Our viral video, Free Range Children (previously known as We're No Chickens), is now embedded on our website. Take a look. Enjoy the show!

Cross Country Ski Rental: Once again we are happy to offer the opportunity to rent ski equipment for the upcoming season.  This will happen on Tuesday, November 23th from 3:15 to 4:30pm in the Community Hall.  Boots will be on hand to try on, as well as a couple of MWS Middle School Nordic  coaches to help size equipment.  Please do not guess about sizes.  Your child needs to try them on with a warm pair of socks.  We also need your child's height in inches.  The price is $55 for the season, payable to MWS.  These are waxable combi skis and need care and maintenance.  They are not recommended for students in Grades 2 or 3.

     Our in-house ski season begins in January for Grades 2 - 8, during their regular movement classes.  Now is the time to get your equipment together.  If you have any questions, please contact John Saccone.

NEASC Survey:

If you were unable to complete our NEASC survey during parent/teacher conferences, forms are still available in the office.  Right now, our response rate by grade is:      



                            Nursery/Kindergarten     27%

                            Grade 1              53%                     Grade 7              29%

                            Grade 2              67%                     Grade 8              74%

                            Grade 3              48%                     Grade 9              78%

                            Grade 4              56%                     Grade 10            45%

                            Grade 5              46%                     Grade 11            73%

                            Grade 6              54%                     Grade 12            50%

It certainly would be wonderful if we had 100% participation.

     In order to get the fullest picture of our school’s parent body and your feelings and views about our school, it is critical that we receive a completed survey from every family.  If you would like to receive a survey via email or have any questions, please contact Barbara Guffin at 865-4488 or  bjguffin@yahoo.com.

     Thank you very much for your time, your candid comments, and your important participation in this survey.

Shepherds Play: Each year just before students leave school for the holiday vacation, they witness a performance of the Medieval drama, The Shepherds Play. The play comes from Oberufer, an island in the Danube River, east of Vienna, Austria and close to the borders of Hungary. This island was settled by farmers from the Lake Constance region sometime in the 15th Century, and due to the relative isolation of island life, their traditions and folkways remained intact for centuries.
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

Portland Ovations Circus Arts Master class with world-renowned Circus Artist Jamie Adkins: Friday, November 12, 2010, 6:00–7:30 pm, MWS Community Hall, $15 per person. ONLY 3 SPOTS LEFT! Class limited to 20 students (Ages 10 and up). An alumnus of the famed Pickle Family Circus, Cirque Eloize and a featured soloist with Cirque du Soleil, Jamie Adkins’ clowning and acrobatic pedigree is unparalleled. Jamie will come to Merriconeag to give a limited number of intermediate and advanced circus arts students the chance to increase their skills with a focus on character and narrative development. For more information and to register, contact Trace Salter at 207.756.9212, smirkus.freeport@yahoo.com

Circus INcognitus:  Saturday, November 13, 2010,1 pm & 3 pm, South Portland Auditorium at SPHS, South Portland, Maine, $10/person for general admission seating. Buy tickets. Appropriate for all ages.

Children and adults alike will revel in his unforgettable one-man comedy, Circus INcognitus, which brings to life the story of a man who has something to say, but can’t quite get it out. Whether precariously balancing upon a slack wire or deftly maneuvering a jaw full of ping-pong balls, Jamie Adkins leads audiences on a thrilling, humorous and ultimately inspiring adventure about having the courage to try new ideas, pushing them to their limits, and not giving up when all goes wrong. Jamie Adkins Circus Incognitus Show. Infinitesimal acts of imperceptible genius. — The New York Times. Submitted by Trace Salter


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