Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Being a New Student

by Ben McKenzie (‘12)

I am a 15-year-old sophomore, who has just started at Wellsprings. Last year I went to a large public school. I was overwhelmed by the class size and workload. I had a friend who went to Wellsprings so I decided to visit.

I was turned on by the idea of small classes and minimal homework. I am very dedicated to extra-curricular activities like biking and white water kayaking, and I feel this school supports my interests.

Being part of a small school creates a sense of community that did not exist in public school. The small classes give you opportunity to have more one-on-one with the teachers and create an atmosphere where you can learn at your own pace.

Since coming to Wellsprings, I am much more engaged with what is going on in class. Chanci’s “Small Group Communication” is really cool, and I love the philosophical discussions in Tyler’s “God Who?” class.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Photos of the Week

It has been an extremely cold week in Oregon (8 degrees!) and more students are wearing warm hats to school. In Morning Circle today, Jessica topped everyone with her "find" on eBay.

And Alex looks like she wanted to get extra close to the furry hat (or take a bite of it!).

We're looking forward to a warm-up this weekend that will bring back our winter rains to Western Oregon. Next week .... soggy hats!

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"Why Wellsprings?"

By Michayla Todd

Before I started high school -- before I came to Wellsprings -- I never had much trouble with academics; in fact I generally excelled in my classes. I was a reader at the early age of three, and entered kindergarten at the age of four. For the majority of my elementary years, I participated in a program known as TAG (Talented and Gifted), in which I took some classes at a higher level than the standard of my grade. So, though I never had to struggle to keep up with the rest of my class -- quite the opposite actually-- I always felt I was held back by them. I also moved around a lot, which made the participation in this program increasingly more difficult, and I strained to keep the few friends I had made.

I entered my eighth grade year as a new student yet again, and struggled with social connections throughout the school year. Though I wasn’t popular I did still finish the year with a strong 4.0 and my teachers were sure that I would succeed in high school, though they might have overestimated me a bit. As I stepped into my freshmen year at Willamette High, I became quickly irritated with the average of thirty kids per classroom, and the lack of individuality. I quickly fell victim too the all too easy routine of ditching classes. For the first time in my life, I hated school.

After being dropped from Willamette High, due to ten consecutive days of non-attendance, I discovered Wellsprings. From briefly reading a bit about the school environment I was convinced it was the place for me, this conviction was only strengthened by my visit at the school. Due to the school being full, however, I was not able to start attending until my sophomore year (last year) which was my most memorable year of school ever.

For the majority of my life, I have loved school, and been eager to learn; these feelings quickly came back to me upon entering the Wellsprings environment. I quickly fell in love with welcoming community atmosphere, and of course the fascinating course subjects that are offered. Not only did I have a whole new world of academics at my disposal, but Wellsprings also has a way of helping kids learn more about themselves, and grow in a way that encourages individuality.

Because I had been through a bit of a rough emotional year before coming to Wellsprings, I really discovered more and more about myself with each day, and each rich conversation I engaged in with both students and teachers alike. I found myself emerging from out of the school year with an entirely new attitude about myself and the life I want to live.

So after spending the majority of my freshmen, and some portion of sophomore, years partying with peers, with the help of Wellsprings and my own inner drive, I am now fully dedicated to school and writing. I am eager to learn all that the world has to offer; Wellsprings has help to open my eyes and see just how much is out there, all I have to do is reach for it.

My transition in attitude could not have been made any easier without the help that I received from all of the staff at Wellsprings. For that I want to thank everyone for truly caring about our youth and making it possible for kids who struggle with mainstream education, to have an alternative way of learning and preparing for the rest of our lives.


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Friday, November 20, 2009

Celebrating Sexism Day

By Michayla Todd

For the first of this year’s semi-annual tradition of the ironically named Sexism Day, the girls enjoyed a peaceful day at the Cougar Hot Springs Reservoir.

Every year, typically twice a year, we split up; all guys and all girls, and we each agree on an activity that we can all enjoy, and use to bond with our community members of the same gender. This trip I was lucky to get to experience the beauty of the natural hot springs, set in the green forest of Willamette Valley.

The guys enjoyed a relaxing morning of video games and music, with a deluxe breakfast prepared by our very own Wellsprings Chefs, Bob and Tyler. They then grabbed a bus to see the new production of Zombieland. I can’t speak from personal experience, due to my being a female, but I have been told that they all enjoyed the day.

Now, I can speak for us girls. We had a great time! We were lucky enough to have the pools nearly all to ourselves, except for a couple of short time visitors. Quite a few of us, including myself, enjoyed a natural mud facial, and a few dare devils dunked in the freezing water before returning to the hot spring water. In my opinion though, the best, was the cave. There was a decent size opening in the rocks that fed the hot water down to the ladder of pools. A bunch of us girls were able to crawl up into the cave that it opened up to, where the heat was magnified so much, we could see steam lingering around us, but there was also a constant trickle of cold water which balanced the heat out wonderfully. It was probably just about one of the coolest things I have done in years.

I think that sexism day is definitely a fun and influential part of the Wellsprings experience. It is just another way that Wellsprings helps to become comfortable with your self as a part of a community. By partaking in these kinds of activities, it makes it easier for us all to develop a connection, or some kind of relationship with our classmates and teachers alike. I think that this is very important, and I feel like we all benefit a lot from these unique connections. I am looking forward to our next sexism event. I’m sure it will be a blast!

Celebrating Sexism DaySocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Presentation on Homeless Youth By New Roads

Last week we had the pleasure of three visitors from the Looking Glass program, New Roads. New Roads is a center for at risk youth that offers a variety of services, for youth, ages 16-25. Some of things that New Roads offers are support in job searches, assistance in improving a living situation, case workers for homeless teens, personal counseling, drug and alcohol counseling and even a high school credit recovery program. This visit however was specifically focused on homelessness in youth.

Speaking from personal experience, being a teen runaway is not fun. I feel like a lot of our students at Wellsprings can also say that they have had that experience. I am sure we can all agree that programs and places like New Roads help a lot more than people might think. I can definitely say that I was fed by New Roads numerous times when I needed to be.

I think that the overall presentation went really well, and they definitely had an appropriate and appreciative audience. It is really important to have people like this in our community: dedication to the improvement of troubled teens lifestyles. I would like to thank New Roads for being willing to come and speak to us. I'm sure each of us got at least a little something out of it. I know that I did.

Written by Michayla Todd


Presentation on Homeless Youth By New RoadsSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, November 6, 2009

Squid Make Appearance in Science Class

This morning, teacher Eva's science class learned all about squid ... outside and in. Student's identified the exterior parts of the six squid ... from head to tail, eyes, funnel, tentacles ... and counted their pods. And no one could ignore the distinct smell that penetrated the room (and their human nostrils). Lots of conversation and questions during the class.

Here are a few photos taken before any cutting began.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Creatures Invade Wellsprings on Halloween

Along with a vegetarian vampire, a diverse cast of other creatures appeared at school last Friday morning. Morning circle didn't quite look the same but silent meeting remained eerily silent (no blood-curdling screams or sounds from the ghosts and goblins in the circle).

Students enjoyed the morning baking cookies and carving pumpkins, then watched ever-so-horrible horror movies in the afternoon. Teachers Bob and Tyler once again manned the barbecue "pits," cooking burgers for lunch. All and all, another great Halloween at Wellsprings.

Take a look at some of our Halloween creatures (click on a photo to enlarge for better viewing).

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Interview With A Vampire

Today at school we were visited by many remarkable people, and School Head Dennis had a chance to sit down and talk with one visitor in particular.

DH: Welcome to Wellsprings, Mr. V.
We are a non-violent community here. You look pretty scary. I hope you won’t do anything…unpleasant.

MrV: Oh, no, don’t be afraid!
I am a vegetarian vampire! I don’t drink human blood. I get blood from ...TURNIPS …TOMATOES … TOMATILLOS …

DH: That’s a relief.
A lot of us are vegetarians too. And we have an organic garden. Perhaps you could volunteer to help us with that?

MrV: Sure.
You know, in fact, I don’t sleep in a coffin—I sleep in a greenhouse.

DH: Wow, that’s awesome.
How else are you different from those other vampires?

MrV: Well, you know sometimes people try kill my vampire cousins with a silver bullet or something, but that doesn’t work
on our branch of the family. Please don’t tell anyone, but the surest way to kill a vegetarian vampire is to drive…a t-bone steak, right through the heart! Just kidding. But if you force us to EAT a steak, we keel over dead in minutes.

DH: I’ll be sure to keep that a secret, Mr. V., though veggie vampires aren’t the only folks to be hurt by too much red meat…
Anyway, is there any other thought you’d like to leave us with today?

MrV: Everyone knows the saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover.”
And please don’t judge a vampire by his fangs.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Wellsprings Family Reunion: Celebrating Our First 15 Years

On a cool, sunny Saturday afternoon, over 100 people came to school for our Family Reunion -- past graduates, current students, parents, and friends. Together with teachers and staff, everyone celebrated Wellsprings first 15 years and looked forward to our next 15 as an alternative learning community for high school students.

Past graduates visited with their friends and teachers while enjoying a lunch that included burgers and hot dogs cooked on the grill by teachers Bob and Tyler. Several current students and parent volunteers helped with the set-up, lunch preparations, and clean-up of the school as well as gathered "Share Your Wellsprings Story" information from attendees.

Head of School Dennis Hoerner moderated a program that honored three special people who have served the school over the years -- Helen Park, founder of Wellsprings, and Board members Hanna Still and John Etter who've been on the Board of Trustees for all of the 15 years the school has existed. Helen Park told the story of her inspiration to start the school and shared memories from the early years. And past graduates, a parent, Peg Morton, and teacher Paul, shared their experiences of being at Wellsprings. Our teachers and Dennis were given a round of applause for their contributions to the education of students and the life of the school.

Here are some photos of students, teachers, staff, and volunteers getting ready for the reunion.

Additional photos feature many of the people who joined us for the celebration.

Thank you to everyone who made the event a rousing success and a special thanks to Yancey for all of her work in preparing for our second Wellsprings Family Reunion. We look forward to continuing the tradition!

Wellsprings Family Reunion: Celebrating Our First 15 YearsSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, October 23, 2009

Photos of the Week

This morning in preparation for our Wellsprings Family Reunion tomorrow, teacher Chanci and several students baked cookies for the event. Here are a few photos of students at work (and the finished "products"):

Macaroons in progress.

Mixing the chocolate chip batter.

Baked and ready to bake chocolate chip cookies.

Cheering on the macaroon makers!

Join us tomorrow from 12 to 3 p.m. for the reunion (and taste a cookie or two!).

Photos of the WeekSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Photo of the Week

Fall colors are gracing our school this week. And student bicyclers are staying dry (at least for the time between the rains!).

Photo of the WeekSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, October 9, 2009

Progress in the Garden

This week students did more work in the school garden, planting garlic and winter vegetables. It was a sunny (and chilly) morning for digging up the dirt and doing the planting (click on the photo to enlarge for better viewing).

Progress in the GardenSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Thursday, September 24, 2009

School Family Reunion Planned for October 24th

The second Wellsprings Friends School Family Reunion is going to take place at the school from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm on Saturday, October 24. Anyone who has ever been connected in any way to the school is invited to come! We hope to see you there!

Wellsprings opened its doors in 1994 with a couple dozen students. Over the years hundreds of young people have come through those doors and found their lives profoundly changed. With class sizes limited to 12, creative and well-grounded teachers who like teenagers, an 8:1 student/teacher ratio, lots of field trips, regular all-school activities, and the support of many folks in the broader community, Wellsprings has been thriving.

The very first Wellsprings Family Reunion was held on June 2, 2007, and over 80 people attended. It would be wonderful if double that number came this time!

There will be plenty of food, music, and a lot of happy re-unitings. We are also planning to have a brief program starting at 1:00 o’clock. Our theme is “Looking Back, Looking Forward,” celebrating our first 15 years and envisioning the next 15.

Please come and join us for an exciting and delightful day.

School Family Reunion Planned for October 24thSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, September 18, 2009

"The King" Reappears Before Our Silent Meeting

Our morning circle was graced by the rare reappearance of "The King" himself, dressed in baby blues and looking better than ever. He came to sing to Clyde, our student who celebrates her 17th birthday today.

The King sang five of his classics including "Teddy Bear" while he gave Clyde a little teddy bear. He concluded with his sweet "Fools Rush In" as he kneeled and extended his hand to Clyde and kissed her hand.

At the end of his gig, The King asked everyone to sing "happy birthday" to our birthday girl and the whole circle joined in song. And he quietly slipped out of the room before the start of our silent meeting. Wonder if we'll ever see him again?

Click on the photos in the slideshow below to enlarge for better viewing.

Quite the "warm up" for our 15-minute silent meeting this Friday!

"The King" Reappears Before Our Silent MeetingSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, September 14, 2009

2009 Graduation Photos Available

For our 2009 graduates, their families, and friends, photos of the graduation ceremony are available to view and order prints. Find them at Northwest Exposures website.

Enjoy the photos. And best wishes to our graduates! Come back and visit when you can.
2009 Graduation Photos AvailableSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, September 11, 2009

Farm to Table Class Works on Garden

On a beautiful sunny morning in Oregon, teacher Chanci's "Farm to Table" class went to work on clearing a garden space for planting a fall garden. Here are a few photos of their experience today (click photo to enlarge for better viewing):

We'll keep an eye on the progress of the garden throughout the fall term. And look forward to eating some of the produce at lunch time in months to come!

Farm to Table Class Works on GardenSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Thursday, September 10, 2009

First Day of School 2009

This morning we had a great start for the new school year. Opening circle was overflowing with energy from the 54 students and 11 teachers and staff people in attendance. Teachers Chanci, Paul, and Judith (returning after teaching during the early years of Wellsprings) led introductions and exercises that got everyone involved (and laughing).

After a break, each teacher described the classes they would be teaching during the first term. Then each student met with their advisor/teacher to sign up for classes. What followed was a hot dog and burger lunch (cooked on the grill by teachers Bob and Tyler) which included potato salad and other goodies. The afternoon was devoted to our first community meeting of the year.

Here are a few photos taken during the opening circle (click on image to enlarge):

Welcome new students and welcome back to our returning students!

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Thoughts of a Wellsprings Poet Laureate

By Michayla Todd

"A poet laureate is defined as a specially recognized and distinguished person deserving of distinction for poetic merit."

As the 2008-2009 school year came to a finish, Wellsprings students, new and old, teachers, friends and family of the Wellsprings community, all gathered at Armitage State Park for an end of the year, barbecue celebration. With the day of nerf gun wars and water filled piƱatas coming to an end, we all gathered around for one of the many, much loved Wellsprings traditions.

Teachers took turns giving a short speech about each student and assigning a painted rock, inscribed with a nickname that they have agreed fits the unique personality of each individual. I personally, especially around the Wellsprings community, have become notorious for my love of writing. I have developed many fulfilling relationships with some of the wonderful minds at Wellsprings, through our common passion for literature. This hobby of mine landed me with the Wellsprings rock label, of the Poet Laureate.

With my newly found passion for writing growing and expanding throughout my first year at Wellsprings, I have gained the support of all of my beloved friends, the educators of Wellsprings. They have all done more than I could have hoped they would, going the extra mile to support and cultivate my talent and passion. They have truly shown that they genuinely care about the youth of our society, and are making an effort to help in any way they can.

Knowing that I have solid plans to go to college and work towards a future in journalism, a few of the staff arranged for me to have this personal column on our community blog page, to help me gain experience. With this arrangement coming at the end of the school year, I won’t be posting regular pieces until the start of next year in the fall. However, I did feel that I should give a bit of a preview of what to look forward to in the 2009-2010 Wellsprings blog.

My blog posts will mainly be a personal description, from a student’s point of view, of the events and activities that occur at Wellsprings Friends School. I will keep readers updated classes are being offered, upcoming events, and the details of our school field trips. I will interview fellow students and teachers, asking for their personal opinions and input on current life at Wellsprings. Hopefully, both the community and my input will help Wellsprings supporters understand from a student’s point of view what the school is doing for my generation.

I anxiously look forward to sharing the experiences of our community with people looking to help and support our school. Congratulations to all the graduating seniors, class of 2009. As for the rest of Wellsprings Friends, I will see you in the fall.

Thoughts of a Wellsprings Poet LaureateSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Essay by Will Branscomb

The following essay was written by 2009 graduate, Will Branscomb, for a scholarship application:

"From the first day I visited Wellsprings Friends School, I felt very at home there. Instead of walking around with their heads down, ignoring each other, I saw students actually acknowledge and greet each other. They even came up to me, introduced themselves, and offered to show me around the school. There was a real sense of community, which is something I never found at public school. The teachers and students had respect for each other, and actually valued their opinions. While there were some groups of students that hung out with each other more than others, there was none of the clique mentality I was used to. I had finally escaped the automaton production line of public school, and found a group of kind, unique, real people. Instead of trundling down the public school cattle chute to a middle management slaughterhouse, I had stumbled upon a wide open pasture of whatever opportunities I cared to chase.

I had gone to a small alternative elementary school from kindergarten to second grade that had a similar philosophy and values. But in between, while I was in public school, life had become increasingly difficult. In kindergarten I was TAG-identified, but by sixth grade in public school, I had a new diagnosis: Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I always felt confined in school, trapped behind my desk, being forced to write things I already knew over and over again. In my freshman year of high school, there was so much pointless work that I didn't have time to do anything else. At the time, I had no career goals, or any aspirations really, other than to finish my homework.

At Wellsprings, I've been able to research various careers–and finally determine that I want to be a mechanical engineer–all while learning about things that interest me. I started Wellsprings in tenth grade, and within six months, I also started attending classes at Lane Community College. I went from having no credits and no basis for grades in my last term in public school, to a cumulative high school GPA of 3.75, and a college GPA of 4.05.

My self esteem went through a parallel transformation. I went from feeling like “that weird kid who never comes to school,” and from letting all the negative criticism make me even harder on myself, to feeling like an accepted and respected member of the community. I had absolutely no self confidence in public school, but through Wellsprings, I discovered my strengths and learned to believe in my abilities.

Wellsprings has given me an education that few schools can – an education not only in the academic sense, but also in a more down-to-earth way. The people I have become friends with there are some of the most interesting, and unmitigatedly genuine, I have met. No matter their background–whether it be growing up with wealthy parents and aspiring to be a fashion photographer, or growing up not knowing where they'd be able to sleep that night or if their food stamps would last through the week–they would always listen to you, respect your opinion and give you theirs, and they truly cared about each other.

Wellsprings has been like a family away from home, and growing up with them is an experience I will treasure for the rest of my life."

–Will Branscomb (2009)
Essay by Will BranscombSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, July 6, 2009

Graduation Day - Class of 2009

For our twenty-one seniors, graduation day began with a rehearsal at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 17th. Students picked out their caps and gowns, choosing from a colorful selection selection on black, green, red, cranberry, light blue, purple, and white. Everyone gathered on stage and the photographer asked people to assemble in two rows by height for their class graduation photo. After some arranging and rearranging, students were in place for the photo (with the photographer balancing on a chair to shoot the photograph).

Next came practice for "the slow walk" down the aisle. The seniors moved in their rows from the stage and walked two-by-two up the aisle to the back of the room and down the hallway from which they would emerge in just eight hours.
Then teacher Eva (standing in for graduation marshall, Ethan Perkins) led the students slowly down the aisle back onto the stage. After one more practice "round," the seniors removed their caps and gowns and placed them in the hallway, ready for when they returned at 6:30 p.m. for the graduation ceremony. Teachers and students mingled after the rehearsal to discuss plans for the evening and "things to say" during the upcoming ceremony.

Here are more photos from the practice session (click on a photo to enlarge):

At 7 p.m., the music of "Pomp and Circumstance" brought the audience of friends and family to their feet as twenty-one seniors began their graduation walk down the aisle. On stage, the students basked in the cheers and applause before taking their seats for the celebration.

Head of School, Dennis Hoerner welcomed everyone and introduced the members of the Wellsprings Friends School Board. Susan Goodyear then played Chopin's Nocturne in G Minor on the piano before Dennis introduced Jon Garlinghouse who delivered the keynote address to the students.

As always, the highlight of our Wellsprings graduation ceremony is the presentation of the graduates by their teachers. Each senior is called to the podium by a teacher who tells a story about their experience with the student and offers words of encouragement for their life "beyond Wellsprings." It is a time of laughter and tears as teachers express their love for each graduate and embrace them with a "send-off" hug.

Next, a "meeting for sharing" in the Friends (Quaker) tradition gave everyone present an opportunity to stand and share their memories, hopes, and wishes for the graduates. Out of the silence, many family members and friends spoke about "their graduate," expressing their love for the young person as well as appreciation for the teachers at the school who have made a difference in the students' lives.

Then, as each student's name was called by Dennis Hoerner, the awarding of diplomas was made by James Fox, Clerk of the Board of Trustees. Cheers came from the audience as each student received their diploma, his words of congratulations, a handshake and an embrace. Once every student had their diploma in hand, the graduates had a time to express their "thank you's" to family members and to teachers. Choking back tears (or letting them flow), several students spoke from their heart about the meaning of "this moment" and about their wishes for their graduating friends, their teachers, and for Wellsprings.

The celebration ended as the graduates of the class of 2009 made their recessional "march" to the driving sounds of "Beat It!" by Michael Jackson.

Here are several photos from the graduation ceremony (click on a photo to enlarge):

May each young person be blessed with all the best that life offers and with learnings that shine the light of their hearts and minds on the world!

Graduation Day - Class of 2009SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Last Day of School - Our Picnic in the Park (Photos & Video)

Our picnic at Armitage Park on the last day of school was a time of celebration and reflection about the year together at Wellsprings. Our new yearbook was distributed and students and teachers enjoyed writing notes in each other's copy. Then it was time for games and eating hot dogs, cheeseburgers, veggie burgers, chips, and cupcakes for lunch. Teachers Bob and Tyler ably did the burger and foot-long hot dog cooking on the grill (with only a few mishaps involving burgers falling into the coals).

(Click a photo to enlarge for better viewing)

Following lunch, we had our traditional ceremony of gifting painted rocks to every student. Teachers paint the rocks with students' names along with a word or two that are symbolic of a particular quality the young person conveyed to the school community during the year. The presentation of a rock to each student brings rounds applause for everyone, lots of laughter, and many hugs between teachers and students (see the full 31-minute presentation in the following video):

Next came a battle between students and a couple of pinatas created by fellow students. Today, the pinatas definitely got the best of the baseball bat (see the video to learn how one pinata became a soccer ball and the other, a big baseball that got the best of the hitter):

All and all, we had a great time together on a beautiful day of sunshine mixed with a few clouds that kept us comfortably cool as our students and teachers. Tomorrow night, graduation time for 21 seniors. We'll miss them at next year!

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Friends Enjoy the Last Friday of the School Year Together

With school winding down for the year, students and teachers enjoyed Friday afternoon playing miniature golf together. It was a beautiful, breezy sunny day at Camp Putt in Glenwood. And there was lots of laughter and several "hole-in-one" cheers from the Wellsprings friends. Here are a few photos taken during the afternoon (click on photos to enlarge):

Everyone had a great time on and off the mini-golf course. Until next year . . . enjoy fun times with your friends!

Friends Enjoy the Last Friday of the School Year TogetherSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

An Energetic Class Teaches Students About The National Sport of Thailand

When students learned that our teacher Dante was involved in Muay Thai, the national sport of Thailand, they asked if he would do a class this term to share his practice of the sport. He said "yes" and several students signed up for the course.

In contrast to so-called "soft" martial arts such as Aikido, Muay Thai is considered a "hard" martial art using force against force. It is referred to as "The Art of Eight Limbs", as the hands, shins, elbows, and knees are all used extensively in this art. The sport requires a high level of physical conditioning and skill.

For the class, Dante and his friend, Nate, focus on teaching students how to defend against attacks as well as demonstrate other elements of the sport and its traditions. Most weeks, the class meets at the Big Foot Gym (located a few blocks from school) where Dante and Nate are students of Khun Kru Mike Walrath.

While Dante says the class is likely a "one-time" offering because of the nature of the sport, students have enjoyed learning the structure and discipline it requires -- great lessons for their future lives.

Here is a video taken of a class lead by Nate while Dante was away for a week:

NOTE: Last Sunday, Dante and Nate passed their test to become teachers of Muay Thai. They are now officially Khun Kru teachers of the sport. Congratulations Dante and Nate!

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Challenging Math Class Project

Sam Smith, our volunteer extraordinaire (who has spent his mornings over the past eight years teaching advanced mathematics and assisting in our math classes), offered students an opportunity to work on a some amazing polyhedron building projects.

"These projects provide a change of pace for students," says Sam, "they offer a tactile, see it, feel it, experience of great mathematics. And they teach geometry in a way not usually taught in most schools."

Among the many students involved, Madeline and Alex went to work cutting pieces and gluing parts together to create a rhombidodecadodecahedron and a compound of five tetrahedra respectively. Over a period of several weeks during a school term, the students demonstrated their skill (and patience) in creating their projects.

Sam Smith notes that "students don't just learn how the pieces fit together, they also learn constraints. There are lots of life lessons involved in this form of mathematics."

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Peace & Justice Festival 2009

On Saturday, May 16, Wellsprings sponsored our 7th annual Peace & Justice Festival. The four-hour event included speakers from our community, music by our teachers and a community choir, and a panel discussion. Two of our teachers, Eva and Tyler, planned the program and served as co-leaders of the event.

Eight students helped with various tasks during the afternoon and teachers Chanci, Bob, Paul, and Tyler provided music to open and close the festival. In addition, songs of peace and justice were sung during the program by local choir, In Accord. Information tables were staffed by people from Beyond War, the Eugene Mennonite Church, CALC, Counter Military Recruitment, and the Student Peace Alliance.

The program was dedicated to Sali Grace Eiler, a former Wellsprings student who championed many peace and justice causes during her young life (she was murdered in Mexico last year just two weeks before her 21st birthday).

Speakers included Sali's mother, Barbara Healey, Katherine Bragg from Friends Peace Teams, Eileen & Phil Hanna from Beyond War, Peg Morton spoke about nonviolent direct action, and Rose Barber offered a Mennonite peace perspective. After a panel discussion by parents and students on "what helps teens and parents communicate," Sophia McDonald spoke about justice for the homeless and Tod Schneider discussed sustainable violence prevention in our community.

Here is a slideshow of photos taken during the festival (click on photos to enlarge):

In addition, a video of Peg Morton's presentation is included for your viewing:

Thank you to everyone who attended and participated in our Peace & Justice Festival!



Story by Peg Morton from the Eugene Friends Meeting Newsletter (May 31, 2009)

"I was honored and delighted to be invited to participate in the Wellsprings Friends School Peace Festival that took place on May 16th. Members of EFM were scattered throughout the program: Katherine Bragg gathering us into a circle. She spoke of her experience teaching alternatives to violence with Friends Peace Teams in Guatemala, in a structure with dirt floors and open to the elements -- no windows. She briefly introduced us to AVP using one of its exercises. Jen Frenzer Knowton, accompanied by her daughter Olivia, participated in a panel of teachers, parents and students discussing teen-parent relationships. Jill Burge sang with the peace chorus, In Accord, which sang beautifully. I spoke of personal experience with direct active nonviolence.

We also heard the heart-breaking yet amazing story of Marcella 'Sali' Eiler from her mother. Sali, who had been a student at Wellsprings, was raped and murdered last fall at the age of 21. She had sat in trees to save forests, helped with Food Not Bombs, helped distribute water and aid to immigrants struggling across the desert, and traveled to Southern Mexico to support the struggles there. Her mother never knew what she was going to do next, but supported her with love. We heard from Beyond War, a local (and national) peace organization, and we learned from people who are working and advocating for the homeless here in Eugene.

It was an informal time of sharing with and learning from each other. I was glad to be a part of it and recommend it for others in upcoming years."

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Wellsprings Prom Night: Photos/Video

Saturday night was Prom Night for students at Wellsprings. With a dress-up theme of black, white, and red, students looked dazzling in their attire for the evening. Everyone enjoyed lots of food, music, and conversation (much about each person's mode of dress). But, did anyone dance?

For your viewing pleasure, here's a slideshow of photos taken during the evening (click photos to enlarge):

And here's a video "walk-around" to show the decor for the event and what was happening during just 8 1/2 minutes of Wellsprings Prom Night:

Thank you to all of the students, parents, grandparents, and friends who helped with the prom. You made it a memorable experience for our students.

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Storyteller Visits Our School

This morning, we were honored by the presence of storyteller, Motoko, who is visiting Eugene to participate in a Multi-Cultural Storytelling Festival. For nearly an hour, our students, teachers, and staff were mesmerized by her telling of a tale about her grandmother (who always said she was 57 years old), a story about her experience as a mom to her son Charlie, and a playful mime of going into her sleeping teenage son's room.

Motoko taught us to sing in a chorus in Japanese, the "animal" years (and how to calculate someone's age), and to say "thank you" in Japanese. She also answered questions from students and staff about her life as a storyteller. Although we videotaped her stories and mime, Motoko preferred not to have the video on YouTube. However, a brief (and a little shaky) video of her answering questions at the end of the session offers a sense of the joyful presence she brings to her audiences.

Thank you, Motoko, for sharing time with us and for sharing your wonderful stories with groups throughout the country.
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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Community Service: Another Successful Wellsprings Friends "Free Sale"

Last Saturday, we had our second "Free Sale" of the year -- offering hundreds (maybe even thousands) of household goods, clothes, toys, and other items for free to anyone who showed up.

It was a beautiful sunny morning in Oregon unlike the snowy day we had for our December sale. Once again, Yancey pulled it all together and the school was ready for people who began arriving before 9 a.m. Here are a few photos of what the school looked like a half hour before the sale started (click to enlarge photos):

Just for fun, after people began arriving, we did a video of the event which includes an interview with Yancey:

Yancey reports that the sale ended up being "the best ever" of the six we've done over the years. Lots of people came, leaving less to store for our next event. And several helpers came to help put things away and restore the school for Monday classes.

Thanks to students and friends who helped with the "Free Sale" and to everyone who showed up on Saturday morning. We hope you enjoy everything you received for your family.

And, dear Yancey, we deeply appreciate the many hours of work you do to make this community service project possible and for all you do for our students and for Wellsprings!
Community Service: Another Successful Wellsprings Friends "Free Sale"SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, March 30, 2009

Geoff's Story: Why I Go To Wellsprings

For me, Wellsprings is not an escape from public school, but a safe-haven from the stress of being in a high school that pushes its students so hard. My everyday life in public school was not so bad. I had great teachers and even better friends. But the stress was too much for me. Everyday I would be assigned hours of homework, on top of the difficult classes I attended everyday. I had no life outside of school.

After a while, the stress built up, and I broke. I dealt with a variety of illnesses, from migraines to horrible coughs. My constant illness caused me to miss months of school. And every year seemed to get worse. Multiple hospitalizations and surgeries convinced me I need to escape the terrible cycle I was in.

So I went on an adventure to find a new school, and discovered Wellsprings. Wellsprings stood out from the other schools. The people at Wellsprings were all kind to me, probably because everyone had also had some sort of bad experience that leads them to Wellsprings. The tight-knit community offered new ideas to me that enticed me. So I found myself going to Wellsprings.

Wellsprings still offers me much to learn. Everyday, I learn the basic knowledge needed for life, like math and literature, while at the same time enjoying myself. I learn other things. Everyday I am learning important life lessons. How to treat others and how saying something jokingly can be offensive to someone else.

I also learned new things about myself all the time. I have learned that when I accept who I am, others will be more respectful of me, even if I am a nerdy, video game playing teenage boy.

So Wellsprings draws me back everyday, offering me a safe-haven from stress, and new things for me to learn everyday.

-- Geoff ('10)
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Rebecca's Story: Why I Go To Wellsprings

Why I go to Wellsprings is that I wouldn’t make it socially or academically in a public school. In middle school I only passed math because my teacher was standing over me helping me with every problem and forcing me to do homework in class. A lot of times I felt like an outcast and that I didn’t belong anywhere except when I was alone in my room.

In 8th grade I started reading books so I could escape. Everything in my life sucked even if it was for a little while. But since coming to Wellsprings I have mostly A’s. I want to come to school which is weird for me. My math is doing better than it ever has for the first time in my life.

I feel like I have a place where I belong now and get along with people. I actually like and get along with my teachers. I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time. And I learned that I can get along with people if they want to get along with me; that if they don’t, I don’t even try to get along with them.

My life has really turned around since I started going to Wellsprings Friends School.

-- Rebecca (’12)
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