In this video, juniors and seniors at Community School are participating in a Moot Court on current laws (some from Idaho and some from other states) restricting a woman’s constitutionally protected right to a previable abortion. Attorney teams of two students present their oral arguments and nine student Justices can interrupt them at any time to have their questions answered. Students stand and deliver in the same manner experienced by constitutional attorneys and Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The subject tried to experience life an hour a day as a bird. The subject lived during that time as she would live in her house, except the subject was on the roof. The subject perched on steep shale sides in search of bird neighbors, saw the world from a higher aspect, felt the breeze the her hair (which the subject called “feathers” during her bird transition) and had the opportunity to just listen–to everything”
As the first trimester comes to a close, it is a time for reflection, not just for students, but also for teachers. We teachers package all that we have taught in tidy, thick exams. We ask students to evaluate our courses online and let us know what they liked and what we could do better. Classes have ended. Instead, kids mill about in the hallways, eagerly drilling each other before each exam, spouting out chemical formulas with confidence or trepidation, repeating important historical dates over and over again, grabbing a passing teacher and asking desperately, “Is the exam hard?” Things are coming to a close. It’s tangible.
Imagine having the opportunity to speak French and learn Creole in our school in Sun Valley, Idaho, thousands of miles away from the country of Haiti! Community School French students recently had the opportunity to speak with Father Constant from Haiti, who is the director of the Haiti Micah Project for children.
Grit, or the willingness to engage in a long-term commitment and potential failure with the idea of eventual success, is at the center of Community School’s education. Students recognize that short-term failure does not always mean that they have failed, or that an entire project has failed; failure in the moment simply means that students must try and try again until they succeed.
Community School’s focus on tenacity led to our being selected as one of thirteen schools across the country to be part of the second version of a University of Pennsylvania study of non-cognitive skills at the Duckworth Lab. More will be shared as the study evolves, but Angela Duckworth’s work strikes a chord with me as I root on my beloved Boston Red Sox, leading three games to two in the World Series.
Gunner’s fourth grade class is making their own desks this year. Not only are they learning math, carpentry and collaboration skills, they will also be the proud owners of their learning environment.
Why are these three words at the core of the Community School blog? Because it’s what happens every day, at every grade level and in many different ways.
- Create-Create something, create opportunities, create solutions, create beliefs, create an identity, create a plan
- Explore-Explore academics, explore nature, explore boundaries, explore yourself, explore understanding, explore your goals
- Challenge-Challenge your thinking, challenge yourself, challenge each other, challenge your limits, challenge convention, seek a challenge
While there are many other descriptors of a Community School experiences, these get to the heart of our mission. We look forward to sharing what it means to be part of a special school, located in a special place.
It was one of those surreal moments when I realized how lucky I was, but still couldn’t quite believe it. I was sitting on the floor in a seventh-grade classroom, and Alexandra Fuller — noted journalist and memoirist — was teaching me and two dozen students how to listen.
“I was doing an interview with Alex White Plume, this American Indian man,” she said. “I sat down with him in his home, and he looked at my notepad and pen and said, ‘You don’t trust yourself, do you? The only story worth writing is the one you remember after this interview is over.’”
On the first day of school this year, Elliot Jacobs mentioned the tenth grade Coast Trip at the Upper School assembly, and my heart fluttered with nostalgia and jealousy. “It’s a great trip, and…wet,” said Elliot. For me and so many others, I would say that “great” isn’t an adequate descriptor….“wet,” absolutely.
When anyone asks me what my favorite trip was, I don’t hesitate before saying, “Coast Trip.” Not that the others aren’t amazing, challenging, and bonding experiences…There’s just something about the Coast Trip. I know that it changed me in a sort of romanticism revelation kind of way.
For my first bike ride to school this week, I was joined by my daughter Chase. Our ride is just over 3 miles and starts with a steady uphill leading to Elkhorn Springs. At this point, the road divides and Chase needed to make a choice….short and steep? Or longer and gentler? Or wait for Mom to come by and pick us up?
This is a choice we often face, whether riding our bikes or making larger decisions. The long haul can sometimes be intimidating; it requires a deeper, marathon-like commitment and is longer to endure. Short and steep can be painful, and more difficult to start, with a greater risk of failure. Choosing to opt out of a challenge can give us short-term comfort, but often leaves us with a hollow feeling of disappointment and regret — what could we have accomplished, with just a little more determination?