|Feelin' the Spirit! |
|Winter Arts Evening with WHS All-School Chorus|
“I always thought I was a bad singer. I had limited experience trying to sing in elementary school,” explained Sean Ramsure, a senior, who sang a solo with our all-school chorus in this year’s Winter Arts Evening. “Over time, being in Mr. Claus’s chorus, I refined my singing voice, actually, my voice in general.”
We hear from Mr. Claus, “My first job is to convince students that everyone can sing. Often, something tells them that they can’t.”
Obviously, Waldorf High School’s choral director Chuck Claus can convince even the reticent student to sing. Every student in the school is actively engaged in our all-school chorus and, once again, the performance at the arts evening was spectacular. The program included, “Every Time I Feel the Spirit;” “Be Like the Bird;” “A la Nanita Nana”; and, as is traditional at our Winter Arts evening, “Carol of the Bells.”
Mr. Claus, who is also one of our math and science teachers, goes on to explain, “Just as students sometimes think they can’t do math but they know more than they think they do, the same thing happens in singing. My job is to help them stretch in singing without breaking, without failing. . . .to provide them the confidence that they need as singers until they can take over themselves with self confidence.” Mr. Claus is able to do that, in part, because he is in relationship to them as a teacher in other classes as well.
Mr. Claus listens to each student when they first come to the high school so he knows how to place them and this he does based on their natural voice -- their speaking voice. This helps them begin to feel comfortable in the chorus. “Singing is a natural extension of purposeful breathing.”
More than average time is given to “warm-up” or, really, vocalizing and technique building in the chorus rehearsals. Through this vocalizing, the chorus moves from nearly fifty individual voices to one ensemble with one composite voice at the end of the session. The reward, more than applause and acclaim, is for students to hear the big four-part chord, and with the help of our acoustically friendly rehearsal space (our auditorium!), they can hear the reverberations of that chord.
Mr. Claus chooses the songs and arrangements carefully. “I want students to be impressed with their achievement so the songs and arrangements have to be worthy of them and of their investment in them. For every song, there is a point in the rehearsal when the students hit the “tipping point” -- when they have that self-confidence to sing it. It is always an identifiable day when that happens. Then, we know the song is ready for polishing.”
Mr. Claus also likes to highlight individual talents in the chorus. It may not be just that they are the best, rather how they have grown in confidence. This is the first year that he formed a Chamber Choir at Waldorf High School. This select group is able to take on greater challenge and work on a piece during extra rehearsals, several during their lunch hours. The Chamber Choir sang the Southwestern Christmas Carol, “A la Nanita Nana.”
We are grateful for our all-school chorus, which remarkably accomplishes what they do with a tremendous amount of hard work supported by the talent and great will of our choral director. Bravo!
|WHS Parents Offer Matching Gift |
|Annual Fund Campaign for Waldorf High School|
Teresa and Dan Raizen have graciously offered Waldorf High School parents a matching opportunity to double their gifts to the WHS Annual Fund. The Raizens will match in full all first time gifts by a parent or relative of a currently-enrolled student, and any increased gift from a parent or relative who has previously donated to the Annual Fund, to the extent of the increase. We are grateful to the Raizens for their generosity to our school, faculty and students.
Teresa and Dan are the parents of Claire Raizen in the eleventh grade and of two alums, Nathaniel who graduated in 2005 and Benjamin who graduated in 2009.
“Our children are the reason we make WHS our top priority in charitable giving,” says Dan. “They are the proof that WHS develops capacities of intellect, compassion, imagination, and desire to be of service to their communities and the world at large,” adds Teresa.
The WHS Annual Fund makes it possible to offer educational programs, extracurriculars, and financial aid so that Waldorf High School can be the best it can be in helping our students become all that they can be.
Thank you to all of our generous donors.
|Douglas Gerwin to speak at Waldorf High School |
|"Tango on a Tightrope -- Youth on the Way to Freedom"|
Waldorf High School is sponsoring a public lecture by Douglas Gerwin, a renowned Waldorf high school teacher and Waldorf teacher educator, as well as lecturer, on Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 7:30 pm in our auditorium.
The title of Dr. Gerwin's talk is "Tango on a Tightrope -- Youth on the Way to Freedom." The time in which a child approaches adulthood can be a tenuous one for parents and teachers alike. Dr. Gerwin outlines the distinct developmental stages of the young adolescent and the challenges that parents and teachers face in dealing with this age group. In light of these physiological and psychological changes, the unique features of the Waldorf high school curriculum take on added significance, since they are custom designed to meet the needs of this often difficult time.
In addition to the evening lecture, Dr. Gerwin will be the featured speaker at a luncheon that Waldorf High Schoool is hosting for high school placement and guidance professionals from independent and charter schools in Massachusetts to become acquainted with each other and share perspectives on their profession. Dr. Gerwin's talk at this event will be, "Who are the New Teens of the New Millennium." Teachers and therapists -- but also advertisers and social volunteers -- report that the present generation of adolescents is bringing into the world today extraordinary gifts along with strident and sometimes alarming needs. How are we to address these crucial needs while fostering their vital gifts? This question was the focus of a recent research conference attended by around 100 teachers, counselors, and physicians. Dr. Gerwin will highlight the findings of this conference as well as outline some of the innovations that Waldorf high schools are introducing to meet the needs of this new generation.
Douglas Gerwin, Ph.D., is Director of the Center for Anthroposophy – including Chair of its Waldorf High School Teacher Education Program – and Co-Director of the Research Institute for Waldorf Education. Himself a Waldorf graduate, Dr. Gerwin has taught for more than 30 years at university and high school levels in subjects ranging from biology and history to German and music. He is editor of four books related to Waldorf education as well as author of various articles on adolescence and the Waldorf curriculum. He currently resides in Amherst, Massachusettswith his wife Connie, a Waldorf high school teacher of mathematics.
|Seniors Ponder, "What Does the Future Hold for the Middle East?" |
|Arab Spring: A Multidisciplinary Main Lesson for Seniors|
|For four weeks this fall, the senior class at Waldorf High School was immersed in an in-depth, interdisciplinary study of the Arab Spring movement. Again this year, the teachers created a new main lesson focused on a current “hot topic,” (last year it was the Gulf Oil Spill), integrating the humanities and sciences. Since the twelfth grade curriculum as a whole is about synthesizing the “big picture” and preparing to step into the world as an adult, taking up a current event theme is a natural way for the students to experience this with a group of teachers in a deeply holistic way.|
Waldorf High School humanities teacher Barret Fabris is directly involved in the current day to day operations of the Arab Spring as the senior research analyst and international affairs advisor for the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. In this position, he has had the opportunity to speak with both foreign press and domestic and foreign leaders in the region. Moreover, in conjunction with the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and other political parties in the country, he recently wrote an in-depth study on the human rights abuses seen in Bahrain during the Arab Spring, which has been presented to foreign dignitaries in the United Nations, United States and Western Europe. He began the Arab Spring study with a detailed look at the current events and recent history of several key areas of the Middle-East, including Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Bahrain, Syria, Palestine, and Saudi Arabia, and other politically and economically linked countries. Students watched a number of documentary interviews, news reports, and commentaries and discussed them in the context of the overall picture of evolving events in the region. Mr. Fabris set the tone and context of these discussions by placing them in the larger picture of Middle Eastern history and the changing relationships between the area and the West.
The roll of social media and other new communications technologies during the revolutions was a topic of special attention and lively discussion. Students also took a hard look at the changing economics of the world, from the middle-east and Europe to our own nation, including wealth distribution and the specific economic causes of unrest and ongoing change both at home and in the “cradle of civilization.”
Cedar Oliver stepped in during the second week to focus on the science of oil and its technological and social context in modern history and the Middle East in particular. To understand how energy comes from oil, students built molecular models of hydrocarbons, both with traditional “ball and stick” modeling tools and with their own bodies in motion. They then looked in depth at three phases of the industrial revolution, from the coal-based energy and print-based communication systems of the nineteenth century, to the oil-based economy and telecommunications of the twentieth century, to the emerging renewable energy movement and global Internet. Along the way, they examined some of the social products of the industrial revolution, including large hierarchical corporations and governments and discussed how more laterally organized energy technologies are altering those structures both on the Arab peninsula and worldwide.
During the third week of the main lesson, Chuck Claus led the seniors in examining the diverse religious history of the Middle East, including a special focus on understanding Islam in its multi-faceted role as the cultural and spiritual center of the Arab world. As countries in the Middle East move toward greater democracy, many claim they will become increasingly Islamic, whether moderate and reform-oriented or theocratic and fundamentalist. Ramifications of these outcomes and the impact on United States and Western interests were explored and debated.
As the main lesson came to an end, Mr. Fabris took the seniors to New York City as invited guests for a discussion at NYU about the Arab Spring and its implications for the future of the region and the world. Students were able to engage with several of the guest speakers including the former U.S. ambassador to Egypt. The trip concluded with a tour of the United Nations. (In the photo above, seniors are in front of sculpture, "Non-violence" at the UN.) Fortuitously, a new student from Saudi Arabia, Montasir, also joined the senior class as an international student that same week. We are excited to have Montasir as part of the Waldorf High School community for the rest of the year.
Wrapping up the four-week main lesson, the seniors brought together all their experiences, discussions, and studies into a cohesive set of work. Along with the world, they asked, “what does the future hold” for the Middle East and what inspirations and or cautionary lessons will we take from the Arab Spring for our own generation in the future?
|An Experience in Nantucket |
|From the 12th grade main lesson, "Hamlet and Astronomy"|
The cover of Kate Graham O'Regan's main lesson book for Hamlet and Astronomy depicts the circumpolar constellation Cassiopeia in which Tycho Brahe discovered his Super Nova in 1572. It shone for 16 months; some say it shone even in the daytime. This is the "strange star to the west of the Pole" referenced by Shakespeare in the mysterious opening act of "Hamlet."
The following is an account by Claire Raizen of the trip that the 11th grade took with their teacher, Mrs. Wells, to Nantucket during this main lesson.
As we boarded the ferry going to Nantucket, I was excited to broaden my knowledge of the stars and finish reading Hamlet. During the trip I was able to accomplish both of these things through interesting and unique experiences.
When we arrived at the island I was reminded of how much I love Nantucket. Going to the bike shop and riding to Beary Quaint brought back beautiful memories from our ninth grade class trip.
On the first night, we went to the Maria Mitchell Observatory. There, Vladimir, a knowledgeable astronomer, taught us to identify many constellations. The night was so clear that we could see the Milky Way soaring across the sky in its forked path. Jupiter was also shining brightly over head. That experience at the observatory was one of the best parts of the trip for me. I loved being able to identify all the constellations and learn some of the stories behind them. Before, the sky had always been just a confused jumble of stars, seemingly thrown together in random ways but after Vladimir’s demonstration, the sky became an accessible map that I could easily explore. It was also an amazing experience to be able to look through the telescope there. It brought the mysterious and distant stars right up to my eye in intimate and fascinating ways.
We were able to explore the life of Maria Mitchell in a more personal way when we visited her house. I loved seeing the period furniture exactly how it was when Mitchell lived there. It was also nice to learn interesting details about Mitchell that I hadn’t known before. We also heard a presentation about the scale and size of the universe. This helped me put the universe, which is such a big concept, into perspective.
One of my favorite experiences was going to the beach in the middle of the night to look at the winter constellations. It was so peaceful to lay in the sand, under the stars, and listen to the waves lap against the shore. The moon that night was shining so beautifully and Orion was laying underneath it as peacefully as we were laying on the beach. I loved seeing Orion’s belt so clearly and the Seven Sisters as well, which has become one of my favorite constellations.
The next night we woke up early in the morning. At that hour we could only see a dusting of faint stars, but they still looked beautiful against the back drop of the lightening sky. Later, we biked into town to watch the sunrise and greet the morning.
The next day we had to say good-bye to our dear little island. We got on the ferry and waved to Nantucket, which had shared with us the beauty of its night skys. We also left with a sense of accomplishment: We had finished Hamlet, reading it together dramatically as a class. Later, as I lay in my own bed, I think I could still feel the rhythm of the waves rocking me to sleep and the moon, shining through my window, gave me a kiss good night.
|Giving Matters: Annual Report 2010-2011|
We are grateful to the many individuals, families and organizations who contributed to Waldorf High School's Annual Fund during 2010-2011. Click on Giving Matters to see our Annual Report for 2010-2011.
|Save the Date! WHS Auction and Dinner |
|Saturday, March, 24, 2012|
Please join us at our Spring Auction and Dinner, a fundraiser for Waldorf High School programs and financial aid. If you have something you would like to contribute to the live or silent auction, please contact Virginia Buhr
|"O Great Spirit" |
|Native American History main lesson|
Katherine Sandy wrote this poem as her artistic project for the book, Black Elk Speaks, in the ninth grade Native American History main lesson.
A soft wind brushes past
An eagle soars above
O Great Spirit do come to me
Overhead the sun beats down
To bring to me a world safe and sound
O Great Spirit do come to me
A deer prances abroad
A light of happiness in this darkened world
O Great Spirit, do pray for me
Come to me when I am sick
Forgive me when I have wronged
Protect me from this world Great Spirit
Do come to me.
|Seniors Visit Walden Pond |
|Transcendentalism Main Lesson|
During their main lesson on Transcendentalism with Mrs. Wells, the twelfth grade went to Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts to walk the land that Thoreau walked.
A passage from Sasha Miller's journal reflecting on Thoreau's Walden:
"What would Thoreau think of time now? He sees already that people rush, but in this day and age, everyone is so used to speed that they expect things to be instantaneous. Thoreau would be so amazed by society today, not so much by its 'accomplishments,' but by how unconnected people are to each other, to society, to nature. People have become individualistic . . . but not in the way that Thoreau would have imagined. Or maybe he did imagine that, and that's why he was so proactive in getting his ideas out there."
|Evan Tutill, Class of 2001|
Evan Tutill '01 is teaching at Waldorf High School! He is substituting in the Spanish classes for Kai Matson '03 while she is on maternity leave. He is also teaching three science main lessons this year. In addition, to his studies in Spanish, Evan has a degree in Plant, Soil and Insect Sciences with a minor in Microbiology from the University of Massachusetts - Amherst.
|Laura Bliss, Class of 2002 and Adam Curtis, Class of 2001|
|Laura Bliss '02 and Adam Curtis '01, who began dating at Waldorf High School, announced their engagement December 6th!|
|Colin White, Class of 2002|
|Colin White '02 married Laure E. Bugner of Dalton, Massachusetts on November 5. The wedding party was a star-studded alumni event including Laura Bliss '02, Adam Curtis '01, Soren Gabrielson '03, John Fraden '02, Mike Valenti '01 and Maeve White '05. Congratulations!|
|Kai Matson, Class of 2003|
|Kai Matson '03 and her husband Jose Vargas welcomed their baby girl, Nissa, on September 6th. Kai is our Spanish teacher at Waldorf High School.|
|More alumni news?|
|Calling all alumni! We would love to hear from you. Please let us know "news" in your life that we can share in the Comet. Send it to Virginia Buhr, Director of Development.|
|Support WHS's Program and Financial Aid |
|Annual Fund 2010-2011|
|You may make an on-line your contribution to this year's Annual Fund. Or, you may send your contribution to Virginia Buhr, Director of Development, Waldorf High School, 160 Lexington St., Belmont, MA 02478. We are grateful for your support.|
|The Comet |
|Waldorf High School Newsletter|
|The Comet is edited by Virginia Buhr. Contact Virginia with comments, suggestions, or submissions.|