Tuesday News - December 7, 2010

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

Snow Days and Unexpected School Closures


     As the winter weather season begins, please remember: if school is closed, MWS evening events are cancelled. There are three ways to check on school closings (this information is printed on the inside cover of your school handbook/directory):

· Radio stations WGAN-AM (560), WMGX-FM (93.1), WYNZ-FM (100.9), and WPOR- FM (101.9)

· Local TV stations, Channels 6, 8 and 13

· School answering machines: Freeport Campus (EC- G8) 865-3900 and Pineland Campus

  (High School) 688-8989

General Guidelines for Merriconeag EC - Grade 8 Desert Road Campus:

- If Freeport Public Schools are open, we are open.

- If Freeport Public Schools are closed, we are closed.

General Guidelines for Merriconeag High School, Pineland Campus:

- If Freeport Public Schools are closed, the High School is closed.

- If Gray/New Gloucester is closed, the High School is closed.

- If Freeport is open and Gray/New Gloucester is on a two hour delay, van riders will be dropped off at the Freeport Campus at 8:10, have supervised study hall in the Community Hall, and then be shuttled to the Pineland Campus for a 9:20 class.
      If an excessive number of cancellations occur where Gray/New Gloucester is closed while Freeport remains open, the high school will arrange to hold classes on the Desert Road Campus.

   WCSH 6 TV is also offering an automatic text alert for you computer or wireless phone, at the following website: http://www.wcsh6.com/weather/resources/text_alert/default.aspx


From the Development Office

2010-11 Annual Appeal Update:
      Thank you so much to everyone who has already sent their donation to the 2010-11 Annual Appeal. I am pleased to announce that in this first month we have received 43 gifts or pledges, and have raised $24,550 toward our goal of $60,000. Our other goal, of 100% participation, has been successfully met by the board, and we hope to have 100% participation by faculty soon. Generous gifts from grandparents, parents and friends of the school are arriving daily, and each week

I will give an update on the total amount raised and participation levels.

     Many of the gifts have been larger than the previous year’s gifts, and we have a number of first-time donors – a heartwarming demonstration that, even in these challenging economic times, parents recognize the importance of their support, and the important role that Merriconeag and Waldorf Education plays in their lives. If you haven’t made a gift to the Annual Appeal yet, please do so today – gifts of any amount help us reach our goal of 100% participation. You can make your gift in any of these easy ways:

• Check, made out to MWS, submit in remittance envelope and drop in safe (main office)
• Online giving, on the first page of our website: www.merriconeag.org or click the "Donate"

  icon at the bottom of this page
• Credit Card: fill out the remittance envelope with the appropriate information
• Gift of securities: Call Shannon Combar for information about stock gifts
Thank you for your generosity! Lynne Espy, Development Coordinator


From the Admissions Office

     Coming up next week is another opportunity for parents to observe our high school classes. This is a first step for many prospective Waldorf parents and for families already at Merriconeag, it can be a helpful way to learn more about what lies ahead.
Tuesday, December 14, “Walk through Grades 9 – 12,” 8:45 – 10:30 a.m.
Observe our high school students in a range of classes: science (Nerve, Skin & Bone), humanities (Dante), and calculus. Time for questions. Adults only, please.
      We ask parents to pre-register for these events so please refer potential new families to Lyn Baird or contact her yourself if you’re interested in joining one of these tours. admissionsdirector@merriconeag.org or 865-3900, Ext.103.



Race to Nowhere

     It was a special and important moment when over 225 people, many of them from outside the Merriconeag community, gathered together last Thursday, December 2, to view the documentary Race To Nowhere. The film is a frightening portrait of a world where students, especially those in high school, find themselves stressed, depressed and sometimes even suicidal as they face an educational system gone mad. In this world, which is the one we have been creating since the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act, standardized testing and preparing for Advanced Placement exams have replaced true learning, getting into the “best” college has become the end all and be all of the high school experience, and the fullness of a student’s humanity has been robbed to make space for countless hours of (often) pointless homework and other scheduled activities.
      It was remarkable to have all of those people- parents, private, public & Waldorf educators, daycare teachers, adult and community instructors, school board members, the founder of the Institute for Humane Education, a number of our own high school students and many more drawn together by their concern for the endangered kingdom of childhood- gathered together in our beautiful Community Hall. David Sloan and I helped introduce the film and guide a short discussion when the film was over. What a remarkable feeling to be in a room with our allies- other members of this ongoing struggle against the forces of dehumanization in modern schooling. How wonderful to know that we have these resources- a perfect space to hold such a gathering, as well as teachers, staff, board members, and parents committed to changing the frequently frightening reality faced by our young people. The magic of the night was seeing that while our community strives to create a vibrant Waldorf school, others are working to humanize education in their own schools and towns. This night reminded us of the strength in collaboration. And we will need all the strength and courage and sense of responsibility we can muster because transforming our educational system from the way it is, to the way it needs to be, is an enormous task.
      It is my great hope that our school will continue to serve the larger community as a gathering place for those who share our ideals but work out of different ideas and inspirations. Waldorf education most certainly has a tremendous amount to add to the conversation about making schooling more humane. Let’s keep the doors open (the doors of our buildings and our hearts), let’s keep the dialogue moving forward, and let’s work with everyone around us ready to roll up their sleeves and work hard at this most vital task.
      The message and meaning of the film, of our own school and especially of the gathering last week was clear: the transformation of education is the beginning of the transformation of the world. Submitted by David Barham   

Race to Nowhere Showing Update: Friends School of Portland and Falmouth High School are planning to present the film at Falmouth High School on January 25th. Please keep checking the Race to Nowhere website for details and we'll keep you posted as we learn more.


Spirals of Light, December 3, 2010

     On Friday morning the Early Childhood children had the magical experience of walking the Spiral Garden. Each child carried their light into the darkened space and placed it along the path guiding the way for others.

     The First and Second Grades had their annual Advent Spiral on Friday night. Darkness enveloped the parents as they entered into the room silently, finding seats using senses other than sight. The children gathered with their teacher in the gallery in a tiny space created by the lycra screens and lit with candles. Parents waited patiently while the children sang advent songs and gathered themselves together, the children's voices sounding far away and, of course, heavenly. At last the children entered with their teacher and took their seats. The teacher then beckoned to the oldest child who came to receive an apple with a white candle in it. That brave young soul walked, alone, through the evergreen spiral to reach the center. There he lit his candle, taking a spark from a tall white candle, and brought this light back out through the darkness to place it in just the right spot along the evergreen boughs. Each child walked in turn, slowly but surely lighting the room with a flickering glow. Siblings were also given a turn; and so toddlers joined high schoolers and grade schoolers in experiencing a pause. A pause meant to allow them to connect with something eternal and renewing to the spirit at this, the darkest time of the year. I think the adults felt it too.


Other Upcoming Events

Craving a handwork workshop? If so, mark your calendar for Wednesday, December 8 in the farmhouse kitchen after drop off until around 10....we'll make adorable doll vest and crown sets out of plan dyed wool felt with embellishment options. Cost for the workshop is only $7 to cover materials. If interested, please contact Aly Fullagar at 522-1293 to "register" so she knows how much material to plan for. Coming after the Christmas Break: King Winter Table Puppets!

Grade Eight Circus, Clowning, Magic, Mime & Mayhem, Wednesday, December 8, 11 a.m., Community Hall

Emerson and the Modern Path of Initiation by Rick Spaulding, Sunday, December 12, 2010,

3:00 p.m., Community Hall
     Rick Spaulding’s talk will focus on the first three trials of initiation once called the lesser mysteries of antiquity. Rudolf Steiner’s descriptions of these trials in Chapter 3 of How to Know the Higher Worlds will form the basis for an exploration of their appearance in the biography of Ralph Waldo Emerson, as well as their presence in our own lives. Group Eurythmy by Barbara Richardson will also be offered.

Rick Spaulding worked as a high school English teacher for thirty-four years in Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Waldorf School. After retiring, he took up his research on the

spiritual background of America and its history by writing several books and lecturing in various Anthroposophical venues.
Barbara Richardson, eurythmist, is Foundation Studies coordinator at the Center for Anthroposophy and teaches eurythmy at Merriconeag.
      This event is part of the Foundation Studies Program in Anthroposophy and the Arts offered by the Center for Anthroposophy at Merriconeag.This event is open to all. Call 207/865-6482 for more information.

“Walk through Grades 9 – 12,” Tuesday, December 14, 8:45 – 10:30 a.m.

Observe our high school students in a range of classes: science (Nerve, Skin & Bone), humanities (Dante), and calculus. Time for questions. Adults only, please. Call 865-3900, ext.103 or email, admissions@merriconeag.org to register

All School Winter Assembly, Thursday, December 16, 5:30 p.m., Freeport Performing Arts Center
      Our annual Winter Assembly will be held at the Freeport Performing Arts Center (30 Holbrook St. Freeport) on December 16 at 5:30 PM. All students in grades 2 through 12 are performing and all are expected to be at the Freeport Performing Arts Center no later than 5:00. To the extent that you are able, please observe the following requests for dress: students in grades 5 through 12 should wear black and white; students in grades 3 and 4 should wear festive assembly attire in colors of your choosing; students in grade 2 should wear their Santa Lucia attire. Upon arriving, students should bring instruments and music backstage and then should join their classmates and class teachers in the audience. Sections of the audience will be designated for each class. Again, please, be sure to have your children at the FPAC no later than 5:00 PM.
      Please contact me for answers to any additional questions you might have. I look forward to an evening of festive, seasonal sounds! Jordan Seavey, 607-3057

Shepherds Play, Friday, December 17, 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon, Community Hall: 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 to witness this simple, yet profound offering which speaks to what it means to be truly human.

Why you might want to come out to see the Shepherd's Play -

by David Barham

    It is quite ironic that I am the one writing this article, directing this year’s production of The Shepherds Play and urging all of the adults in the community to come to the Community Hall at 11:00 on Friday, December 17 to see the performance.
      Let me start at the beginning with a short, personal anecdote.
      Many years ago, when I was doing my Waldorf teacher training at Antioch New England Graduate School in Keene, New Hampshire, our teachers tried to get us to perform The Shepherds Play as part of our studies. My class was known as a rebellious class and we actually refused to take up the play because we felt our teacher’s could not fully explain how this Medieval drama was something more than a Christian tale for Christian families. Our pressing questions went unanswered. So instead, my fellow students and I pulled together a Revels style celebration with elements from pre-Christian winter solstices celebrations (including a spiral of greens with candles), the Jewish traditions of Chanukah, and aspects of Christmas as well. The celebration was meaningful and satisfying and I thought I imagined I would have little to do with the Shepherds Play as I moved into my Waldorf teaching.
      A few years later, I was involved in a study of the Christmas season and the Shepherds Play and what Rudolf Steiner had to say about both. . . Read more.

Caroling in downtown Freeport, Monday, December 20, 6:00 p.m., gathering in front of the L.L. Bean boot:
Come spread the holiday cheer and represent the Merriconeag Community in downtown Freeport with an evening of caroling. Last year, an impressive group of Merriconeag students, friends, and parents (dare I estimate, 70+) journeyed up and down the streets of Brunswick, caroling for any and all who would listen. The evening was such a great success that we have decided to continue on with the tradition, this year taking our seasonal strains to the streets of Freeport. We will gather in front of the L. L. Bean boot on Monday, December 20 at 6:00 and proceed about town. Caroling books will be provided. If you are able to attend, an RSVP sent to Jordan Seavey, jordan.seavey@maine.edu would be appreciated. Thanks.

We hope to see you there!

News From the High School

Alumni Panel Evening, Friday, January 7, 7:00 p.m.  Is There Life after Waldorf? Save the evening of Friday, January 7, to find out! Merriconeag Waldorf High School has invited a number of Waldorf alumni from a variety of Waldorf schools in the Northeast to speak about their Waldorf and post-Waldorf experiences. In the past, such Alumni Panel Evenings have proven both informative and compelling. Panelists range in age from college-age to (almost) middle-age, and they will all be present to address the questions you bring about high school life and beyond. The panel discussion will begin at 7 p.m. in the Community Hall. While the entire school community is welcome, the faculty would especially like to invite seventh and eighth graders and their parents, as well as current parents of high school students. David Sloan

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.


School Community Updates

Wreaths are ready: If you pre-ordered a wreath, the 8th graders have decorated one for you and it is tagged with your name and awaiting pick-up outside the upper school building. If you ordered beeswax candles, an email will be sent to you when they arrive next week. Extra candles will be available for purchase in the office prior to winter break. Thanks to all for supporting our class! The 8th Grade


Class Photos went home last week:  If you did not receive your photos, please let Lisa know.


From the Remedial Office

     I recently attended a conference in Cambridge on Learning and the Brain, bringing neuroscientists, educational psychologists, and educators together to look at how the latest research points to changes in how we teach and learn. Many of the presentations challenged the notions of standardized testing, and offered instead a vision of a non-competitive learning environment rich with story, music, movement, and the arts. In the film, Race to Nowhere, shown here last week, the horrors of perpetuating this system of “rigorous standards’ were made all too clear, and there is sound science to back up the alternative.
      It is easy, however, to sit in such conferences and through such films and somewhat smugly claim to have escaped all that pressure by promoting Waldorf education, where such an environment is carefully protected by our teachers and parents. I believe that the reason many of us are here goes beyond our concern for our own children to, as Ron Richardson put it, a desire to change the world.
      How can we take what we know about the things we have been doing in Waldorf Education (for nearly 100 years) and promote them as an antidote to the high-pressure, cram-test-and-forget mentality that is seriously undermining the health, enthusiasm, and creativity of our country’s children? One way is by educating ourselves about the science behind the alternative. Below in "Read This" is a link to the DANA foundation, one of the sponsors of the conference mentioned above and at the forefront of creating a more humane education. Then we need to do what we can to make this possible for, not only our own children, but those with whom

they share the future. David Beringer


Read This

Home is Where the Arts are too: Implications of Arts Learning for Families and Parents

By Susan Magsamen, November 19, 2009, The Dana Foundation News

For links to recent articles about technology and brain development, etc. click here





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