Friday, June 20, 2014

Next Year's Themes and Next Year's Plays

After some weeks of weighing in and great conversations at our year-end faculty meetings, we have settled on themes for the 2014-2015 academic year, and have made related decisions about the two major theatrical productions.

Magic and Journeys will be our twin themes for the year.

Though there will be several sub-themes for the younger students, amongst the 7-8s we will build all of our priorities and activities around these two. Over the summer, we will build our plans, class-wide projects, and reading lists. I can say that we will spend some time in the fall looking at utopias and dystopias--wonderlands and their opposites.

Speaking of wonderlands, here are our plays for 2014-2015: an original Alice with music, tentatively titled Go Ask Alice, which Karl and Josh will direct; and A Midsummer Night's Dream, which Joanna (hooray!) will direct.

SK on TV!

A crew from a show called Better Mid-Michigan, which is produced by WNEM, TV-5 in Saginaw, joined us for three hours on our spring trip.

Their first video, aired on June 9, gives an overview of our voyage aboard the schooner Appledore IV on Saginaw Bay--the first adventure on the four-day trip.


The second video, aired on June 20, digs a little deeper into one of the exercises conducted on board with our group by Bay Sail volunteers, and more thoughts from our kids.


They think we are 'Summers Middle School', and that we have a student named 'Jiam Marco Barbo', but other than that they captured some great stuff from our trip--even a reasonable explanation of how Summers-Knoll works, what we value, and what place-based education is.

We Really Did A Lot

Hello, friends--

This is an update on the massive chart that has been on the northern whiteboard wall since January. For a treat, read through each row. We did awfully well, and I even added a row (the penultimate one).

We'll have a fresh one up when we open the year in September to preview the fall semester.

winter-spring 2014status2014-2015
Identity Projectscompleted in Feb & MarchCulture Day
Identity Exhibitionscompleted in February--
Athletics & PEPE continued; visit from FriendsFriends, Upland Hills; AALC?
Place out of Timecompleted in Aprilwinter-spring 2015
Lit Publicationsissued in Junewill repeat
Work Crewscompleted in June; Saul's LPwill continue
Americanswe didn't do a formal project, just promptsutopia & dystopia unit!
Student Governmentachieved stated goalselections in October
Detroitrelationships built with four city institutionswill continue
Cities Bookscompleted in March--
Cities Projectscompleted in Aprilsee 'Detroit'
Cities Exhibitionscompleted in April--
High School 101met in April, May & Junewill repeat
Theater 2014-2015Alice is coming!Midsummer too!
Graduationperformances & unique diplomas preparedwill repeat (duh)
Maker Faireparticipation postponedparticipation expected
Mythology Lit Circlesconducted in April & May--
Mythology Projectscompleted in May--
Spring Tripwe went!diaspora and utopias?
Math AssessmentsSam did theseand he will again
Legacy Projectsall eighth graders completed themwill sustain and repeat
Final Exhibitionsconducted in May & Junethey'll come eventually

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Lake Superior

All the Pictured Rocks cruises were cancelled because the ice floes rendered them too dangerous.
We got a good look, though, from Miners' Point.  

Glaciers create magnificent art.

We made our own little cruises to one of our favorite places, Tahquamenon Falls.

We played in the Lower Falls.

Karl lost a shoe at the foot of Lower Tahquamenon. It later surfaced by the rowboats.

Upper Tahquamenon, from an unwonted distance.

We conquered the Great Lakes.

Falling Water

On Thursday night, we hiked into the woods north of Hancock and Houghton to the three-tiered Hungarian Falls.
The Lower Falls run below a fenced-off dam.
Mike admires the Middle Falls, half a mile up.
We played above the Upper Falls and hiked back to the bus in the dark, returning at 11:00.
On Friday morning, we cleaned out our rooms at Michigan Tech and headed for Chutes & Ladders, just east of campus.
Jayonne went on this slide and screamed the whole way down.
She survived the ordeal. Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

We liked this park, and we liked Houghton.

Lake Superior

Mark explains the history of the Keweenaw Waterway.
We are aboard the SS Agassiz,  one of the vessels Michigan Tech runs out of its Great Lakes Research Center.

We are headed northwest out of the Waterway toward the open lake.
That's the Portage Lake Lift Bridge, which links Houghton and Hancock.

Captain Roblee and Terrianna instruct Denali, Ryan and Jonathan on the usage of the ten-thousand-dollar instrument that measures depth, temperature, and oxygen content of Lake Superior.

The kids take down the data for later reference in the limnology lab at the GLRC.

Terrianna is casting for phytoplankton and zooplankton.

The kids sift through samples they've dredged from the lake floor, forty-six meters below.

In the limnology lab, Trent and Ryan dissect fish stomachs.

Julia reviews the Great Lakes food web, which differs from lake to lake.

What's in there?

To her extreme delight, Isobel found a wriggling bloodworm in one of the lake samples.


Wednesday night we headed out to a state park to watch the sunset. This photo was taken at about 10:30 pm.
The next morning we went way underground at Quincy Mine.
This photo was taken about 365 feet below the surface; the mine goes down another 9,000 feet.
Once they passed the era of three-man teams, two men holding a spike in place and the other bashing it with a twelve-pound sledgehammer in near darkness, these were the tools they used to get the copper out of the peninsula.
Miners get tired.

They had to cut this steel drum into thirty-two pieces to get it into the wheelhouse in 1918.
It's the axle for a four-mile-long pulley, pulling men, equipment, waste, and ore out of the ground.
The day was about to get colder.