Thursday, February 26, 2009

Students Hear About The Woolman Semester Experience

This week Kathy Runyan from The Woolman Semester visited our school along with Wellsprings graduate, Max, who attended the program last year. Thirteen students gathered in the art room to hear a presentation by Kathy and Max plus watch videos of projects done by young people who attended the school in northern California.

The Woolman Semester is a high school semester studies program for juniors, seniors, and 1st year postgraduates. During their four-months of study, students live in a circle of eight cabins and explore the Quaker values of simplicity, peace, equality, integrity, community, and stewardship together. Their classes focus on world issues, peace studies, environmental science, and humanities and ethics.

Every semester begins with a wilderness trip for a week. Max noted that some of his fellow students who came from all over the country "had never been in the woods and were scared by the dark nights in the forest." Students also do a service learning trip during the semester. Max spoke about going to a small town in Mexico, saying it was "an 'insane' experience seeing the level of poverty in a different culture. It was enlightening to see how happy people were to see us and meet us. I worked on building walls of a clinic while we were there."

Kathy said a "food intensive offers another interesting experience for students. They read Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma and visit an organic farm, a slaughterhouse, an industrial organic farm or factory, and an industrial monoculture farm. At the end of the class, students prepare a dinner together made from local foods."

At the end of each semester, students complete projects that document what they have studied. Max worked on a sustainability project with another student, rehabilitating a solar panel which is now atop the meeting house at the school. He was also involved in a peace studies video created by a group of students.

Asked if his experience had changed him, Max said "I've become calmer and more patient. You have to when you live away from home with other people!" He said going to Woolman was "a great experience and I grew a lot from from it."

Before watching videos creating by students, Kathy answered questions about costs to attend the school and suggested ways our students could get financial aid to attend a semester. We look forward to hearing from other Wellsprings students who have the opportunity to experience Woolman in the future .

Thanks for coming back to share your experience, Max! And thank you, Kathy, for coming to Eugene to talk with our students about the school (and home) you dearly love.

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