Thursday, June 18, 2015

Trio's Exhibition: Good-Bye, Class of 2015

This collection of Legacy Projects was about alumni.

Aristea painted a tremendous two-walled mural showing visions of utopia and dystopia, connected by Elizabeth's foot-printed diaspora, on the move between the two. Nico created an electronic alumni newsletter, culled from the SK classroom blogs and built to become a biannual publication.

Mike gave SK alums the chance to wave a friendly goodbye. He mounted framed diplomas in the 5-6 commons. The prints you see below were created the day after graduation on the stairwell wall, joining those already printed there by our SK Classes of 2013 and 2014. In the future, every other SK alumnus will add a handprint to the wall.

Good-bye, Class of 2015.

Bird Hills Park

Our final PE venture of the year took us to Bird Hills Park, our favorite forest for hiking. This year we went there in autumn, winter, spring, and summer.

A few minutes into the walk, Nik and Jianmarco picked up a ten-foot log and carried it through the first half of our three-mile hike, you know, like you do.

First, they reenacted Iwo Jima with Margaret, Lee, and Matthew.

Next, Jianmarco and Nico roasted Nik.

Finally, they got all fourteen of the kids involved in a tug-of-war.


At SK Graduation, Joanna writes poetry for each graduate, and Karl writes prose, but the crux of the biscuit is the graduating eighth graders.

Mike and Isobel each write and shared heartfelt remarks. Jianmarco performed a little Shakespeare. Maya, Elizabeth, Trent and Nico sang and played music, with help from classmates. The seventh graders pitched in, too: Nik and Matthew played music for the processional and recessional. Karenna and Kaeli presented Joanna with flowers and a memento book. A few of the 5-6s joined in by contributing some of the artwork that was ghosted into SK's unique diplomas.

Aristea gave a lovely short speech. Here is a transcript.

This year seemed to be made of doors.
Whether they were closing or opening, locked or unlocked, the possibilities were always there, like evergreens in the winter.
At times it was scary, but I feel like I got what I needed from this year, and from this school.
And although we are most likely going down different paths, and may never see each other again, these memories are what will make us up. At the end of the day, all that's left of us is the memories of us that live in other people's minds, and I hope the part of me that you preserve is a person who will make you smile.
Like Ellen Degeneres said, “Follow your passion, stay true to yourself, and never follow someone else's path, unless you're in the woods, and you're lost, and you see a path. Then you should by all means follow that.”
All in all, just remember that the heart-- the heart is like a box. It won't be of any use unless it can open.

Quartet's Exhibition: Skeidelberg, Diaspora, Gardens & Alice

Matthew and Lee wrote a few notes on our first-ever quartet Exhibition.

For the last Exhibitions of the year, Karl had the 8th graders present their Legacy Projects, which are projects that they leave behind at Summers-Knoll, a new system or object to improve the school in some way. The 7th graders did “retro exhibitions,” where they chose a topic they had done before and revisited it with a new Project and Exhibition. 

We went to the Exhibition of Elizabeth's, Maya’s, Trent’s, and Jianmarco’s Legacies.

Elizabeth's Legacy Project was a mural in the upstairs space about diaspora. For our first Exhibitions of the year, Elizabeth started this mural for the Utopia/Dystopia/Diaspora theme, and now it’s her last Exhibition of the year as she finishes her massive mural. She painted the mural on the high wall that adjoins our classroom's ceiling. It was a painting of people of all different nationalities, represented by pictures of people wearing clothing made from their countries' flags. She also painted the bottoms of some shoes and put 70 footprints on the wall.  

Maya’s Legacy Project was using multitrack recording equipment to make an album of the music that we made for Alice in Wonderland, our school play this year. She and Elizabeth wrote most of the songs themselves. Maya showed us some of the music, and the process that she went through to record it all. Then, Maya made us sing “You are my Sunshine,” and record it.  

Trent’s Legacy Project was helping Chris out with gardening.  He walked us around the gardens, and told us about his and Chris’s plans for the future. There were three locations for Trent's work: the butterfly garden that he and Isobel planned on the west side of the school; Chris' garden by the southeast corner of the property; and a mobile raised bed.

Jianmarco’s Legacy Project was a fort that he made on the north end of the wooded playground, based on the Heidelberg Project in Detroit--hence the name 'Skeidelberg House'.  He wanted a treehouse, but there were too many regulations.  He told us his design process under Spencer and then Evan's tutelage, and showed us his blueprints. Then, we christened the structure by climbing on it. It will be painted this summer.

Monday, June 15, 2015

What We Did in School This Semester

Science Projectsdesign & pursuecomplete--------
Science Exhibitionsprojectsexhibitions--------
Athletics & PEbasketball & winter sportsbasketball gamesspring & winter sports; swimyoga & swimmingMile Week & hikesrun free
Work Crewssecond rotationcontinuecontinuethird rotationcontinuecomplete
Mars out of Timeselect characterThe MartianThe Martianplan missionsymposium--
Lit Publicationspost fairy talespromptspromptsrevise & selectdesignpublish
Detroit--Friends--EarthworksHeidelbergCity FC
Student Governmentset goals; surveyHappy WeekHappy Weekrights & responsibilitiesrights & responsibilitiesyear in review
Grapes of Wrath--------read aloud togetherfinish
Midsummermemorize & rehearserehearserehearse & perform------
American Booksassign booksread books--------
Transformation Projectsassign booksread booksplan projectsexhibitions----
Transformation Exhibitions----plan projectsexhibitions----
Assessmentsreview fall narrativesprep for March conferencefamily conferences----final narratives
Spring Tripweb research & arrangementsitinerary & budget; family communicationfinalize arrangementspacking listgo (and return)--
High School 101begin sessions after winter breakoverview & selectionsphilosophy & practicalitiesguestsguestsgraduate
Springtime Science----aeronauticsgeneticsmeteorologycomplete
Legacy & Retro Projectsselectpursuepursuepursuecomplete--
Legacy & Retro Exhibitions------prepareprepareexplain LPs
Accreditationmarauder's map of Summers-Knollwelcome letters & tour practicevisit & thanks------
Graduation------plan ceremonydiplomas & rehearsalsgraduate

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Kaeli's Retro Exhibition: Poetry Slam

Nico and Aristea write a brief account of Kaeli's final Exhibition of the year.

Kaeli's Retro Exhibition was on the topic of poetry. She explained the past of poetry slams, and how most people would do them. At her Exhibition she did her own mini-poetry slam. Kaeli, Aristea, KK, Margaret, and Lee each read one or two poems. She volunteered two judges, Isobel and Jianmarco. 

After each person read their poem, the judges would discuss and give a score. This is where it is a bit different from original poetry slams. Here, people were scored, but no one was eliminated. The scoring works on a scale of one to ten. It was very cool. (In competitive poetry slams, the elimination rounds would go eight-four-two or two-eight-four with one winner remaining at the end.)

Below are the three poems Kaeli wrote.

Is Spring Coming?
“Is spring coming?” he asked.
“Of course!” she replied.
“Don’t you see? The flowers are growing with the greatest ease.”
“What’s it like?” he asked. He had heard the song before but liked it.
“The sun is shining.” She sung, dancing.
“The rain falls.” He sings.
“And together they create a beautiful rainbow.” They sing softly together.

Yes. Just around the corner.
Singing in the rain
Pretty as a crystal
Relaxing in the warm breeze
 Incredibly beautiful and joyous
New and cleansing
Growing in great prosperity

The Rainbow
RED represents the most beautiful ruby red apples that grow with the
ORANGE tulips that sigh at the gorgeous
YELLOW sun that helps the emerald
GREEN grass that sticks up straight to the light
BLUE sky that helps shine light on the glistening
INDIGO grapes that grow in vineyards around California.
PURPLE, the final color that ends the beautiful rainbow in the sky.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Lee's Retro Exhibition: Gilgamesh Game

Kaeli wrote some observations about Lee's final Exhibition of the year.

As you probably know, we are doing our last round of Exhibitions. The 8th graders are showing off their Legacy Projects. The 7th graders did 'Retro Projects' where we decided on a topic from way back when and went from there.

For Lee's Retro Project, he chose to complete his Gilgamesh Game, which he started in fifth grade. Now he has thirty-two levels that are REALLY hard. The game itself is amazing. If you would like to play it click the link below.

The Exhibition was really well put together. He explained where the game came from and what he added to it. The game actually is built mostly from the script from our 2012 play, Gilgamesh, which is the world's oldest published story. We did it then because we had done Ancient Civilizations as a theme. I thought that it was really amazing how he was able to incorporate the script and still make it a challenging game.

Okay, back to the Exhibition. Lee put a lot of effort into making the Exhibition something to remember. He passed around the script and explained how he used it. Afterwards he had us all play the game itself.

Here are a couple of pictures of the game--and a link, if you're ready for the challenge.

Screenshot 2015-06-08 at 10.00.26 AM.png
Level Two: “The Dream”

Screenshot 2015-06-08 at 10.00.46 AM.png
Level Three: “Pushing the Boulders”


Karenna's Retro Exhibition: Oneirology

Mike shared a few notes on Karenna's dream lesson.

Karenna’s Retro Exhibition was on dream studies. (The study of dreams is called oneirology.) Earlier in the year, she had done an Exhibition on REM sleep disorder, and this one touched on that subject as well. For her project, she also made a 3D model of a brain cut in half, showing the parts of the brain that were stimulated during sleep. She then moved to an interesting presentation on different kinds of dreams. There were questions, which she addresses. Then, she took back the reins and led us into an activity, in which we made dream journals.

Karenna’s Exhibition was engaging and well done.

Inline image 1
Karenna's Prezi on oneirology.

Isobel's Legacy Project & Exhibition: Community Service

Elizabeth wrote up a little record of Isobel's Legacy Project and Exhibition.

For those who need it, here is a quick refresher about what a Legacy Project is. Every graduating eighth grader is charged with leaving an impact on the school. It can be a relationship between the school and another organization, a tangible project, or anything else that has a lasting impact on SK.  

Isobel decided to do her Legacy Project by making a connection between us, Summers-Knoll, and an elder home called Glacier Hills. The first time we visited Karl took all of us to get us acquainted with the place. Every other time he only took half the class, every other Wednesday. We would talk to the residents and play music for them.
For Isobel’s Exhibition she took Jianmarco, Nik, and me to Glacier Hills. Her parents met us there. We visited some of our favorite residents, including Evelyn and another whose name is Julia, but who calls herself Esperanza. They were excited to meet Isobel’s family and had a lot to say.
Then we headed to the Life Enrichment Center. There was a waterfall, a piano and some birds. We went into a room off the center and talked about our experience volunteering there. We talked about how natural it became to travel over to the facility and hang out with the residents. Isobel’s parents asked us questions and we discussed Isobel’s goals for the program in the future.
This was the first of the Legacy Exhibitions, and, especially for Isobel, it was emotionally charged, but the Exhibition was very good and it kicked off the final round of Exhibitions in a nice way.

Matthew & Nik's Retro Exhibition: The Grapes of Wrath

Jianmarco wrote some notes on Matthew & Nik's Exhibition.

This round of Exhibitions was different from any other. The eighth graders presented on their Legacy Projects and the seventh graders did ‘retro’ projects based on something they have done in recent years.
As a class we did a read-aloud of a play scripted directly from John Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath. Nik and Matthew read the characters Granma and Grampa. For their Retro Exhibition, Nik and Matthew decided to write and debut an additional prologue scene for Granma and Granpa. Their Exhibition began with a fantastic presentation by Matthew on his additional research on the Dust Bowl, the period in which The Grapes of Wrath is set.
After the presentation, they divided up the parts for Grandma and Grampa’s scene amongst the audience, and then we all read their script. It was fantastic and captured the spirit and fun of Granma and Grampa in well-written, playful banter. After that, they had us speculate on where Granma and Grampa’s relationship would go. We all then read several of their scenes from the Grapes of Wrath script, and learned how Nik and Matthew had connected the scene they had written to the script we had read as a class.
I enjoyed myself and learned quite a bit about the Dust Bowl and the people who lived in that time.

Image result for the grapes of wrath grandma and grandpa
Granma and Grampa (Zeffie Tilbury and Charlie Grapewin) from The Grapes of Wrath movie (1940).

Friday, June 5, 2015

Margaret's Retro Exhibition: How to Save a Dystopia

Karenna wrote a few notes on Margaret's final Exhibition of the year.

Instead of creating Legacy Projects like the 8th graders, the 7th graders of our class composed ‘Retro’ Exhibitions, in which we revisited previous projects, or exhibitions, and went deeper into the subject.
Margaret chose to base her Retro Exhibition off a story she wrote earlier in the year titled; “How to Save a Dystopia” about two characters transported to the world of ‘Doom’. In the story, they are trying to assemble their classmates, who have also been transported to Doom, in order to escape back to Earth.
She started off by telling us about the genre of her book. She differentiated between Dystopian and Dark Fantasy. Dystopian fiction takes place in a broken world, and Dark Fantasy is a form of creepy fiction that also involves magic and the supernatural. We then read the prologue of her story, and gave constructive criticism, similar to a Writers Workshop.
For the activity we each gave our opinions on what the first chapter should contain, the original first chapter having been turned into the prologue that we read. There were quite a few good ideas, such as showing the school day before the main characters were teleported, and going more into depth with the doors to other universes.
Overall the Exhibition was well coordinated, and I enjoyed all of it.

Toronto & Stratford Remain Part of the Dominion

The walking tour of Kensington Market could easily have been designed by SK staff. First, we took a little walk to a park to get the blood flowing. Our Harbourfront guide, Tim, asked for some background on immigration, which the kids were able to comfortably supply. (Hooray, diaspora study!) Then they were given a handout with a few really good questions and a map of the two-block area. The kids then toured the neighborhood--the most multicultural place in the world's most multicultural city--for an hour in small groups. Afterward, Tim facilitated a highly sophisticated conversation on controversial topics like graffiti, locavorism, and big-box stores. The kids were amazing! Very smart, expansive of mind, and articulate.

We walked to Trimurti, an Indian restaurant on Queen Street, for a buffet lunch. En route we stopped at the Dragon City Mall in Chinatown. After lunch we headed back to the university for a little R & R. Then it was back on the 510 Spadina Avenue streetcar to the CN Tower, where we spent a happy hour oohing and aahing at the city below and doing push-ups on the glass-bottom floor, a thousand feet above the city.

Back on the 510 uptown to the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, where we got a primer in First Nations history from Rozella Johnston, NCCT's cultural director, then joined a gathering that featured an Ojibway prayer, a men's Big Drum Circle, a women's Hand Drum Circle, singing, dancing, and a pot-luck dinner. This was possibly the oldest activity in Toronto. The name means meeting place, as both Tim and Rozella pointed out, and it wasn't hard to imagine the exact activities we observed taking place amongst a gathering of First Nations travellers on the same site four thousand years ago.

After a decent night's sleep and some trouble-free packing, we drove a couple of hours to Stratford for a fine Festival production of Hamlet. (The cartoons above are from Kate Beaton's Hark! A Vagrant comic. She has great stuff on the Brontës and Canadian history, too.) The kids were enthralled, even in the first act when I was a little bored (then again, I've seen this play many times). In this, as in every other activity on our trip, the kids arrived ready to find it interesting, and so they found it interesting. They were just as articulate and passionate in discussing Hamlet as they were about everything else on the trip. What an experience.

We drive over a different bridge, the Blue Water, after pizza and pop in Sarnia. Then we made it home. Then most of us slept straight through the weekend.

Toronto Is Still Standing

Jane Ash Poitras’ painting of The Contrary, 1999
The Contrary, Jane Ash Poitras (1999)

Yesterday, holy smokes! Busier than the day before. No one has been deported yet.

After a terrible breakfast at the dorm, we took a streetcar to subway to a bus to a beach. Toronto has a fabulous beach west of downtown with big boulders and a smoothed-out area for beach soccer and the coldest water I've ever tested. The nearby neighborhood is called The Beaches.

Back into the center of town and then over to Chinatown for an incredible dim sum meal at Rol San on Spadina, our home street. From there we caught the 510 streetcar, our home on wheels, to Bloor Street and the Royal Ontario Museum. Highlights there included dinosaurs (of course) and a wide range of amazing materials from First Nations peoples, especially some paintings from Jane Ash Poitras (above).

We walked back through the University campus and then relaxed for maybe half an hour before braving rush hour to get way up to Yonge-Eglinton and Sheila's Caribbean Bistro, a tiny place that we absolutely filled with our sixteen Americans. We ate roti, sahiena, phulourie, and jerk chicken, and bowed down to Sheila on the sidewalk afterward. Then we went to the movies, where everyone opted for Pitch Perfect 2.

Then we came home and fell into our rooms at one in the morning. 

Next: walking tour of Kensington Market, Indian lunch, time on Queen Street, CN Tower, Big Drum Social and dinner at the Native Canadian Centre. . . . .

Toronto Has Not Fallen into the Lake

Yesterday was busy and today promises even more Canadian action for the 7-8s.

The border crossing was uneventful. We stopped for a fabulous picnic at Pearce Provincial Park on bluffs overlooking Lake Erie, where we befriended a Jack Russell terrier called Nico. (Our Nico was honored.)

Toronto itself is abuzz with activity, and not just from us. Safely settled into the top floor of Wilson Hall at the University of Toronto, we bussed down to the Harbourfront, where our Voyageur Big Canoe tour of the Toronto Islands was guided by a young Toro called Trent. (Our Trent was delighted.)

After that, we strolled across Lake Shore Drive to the Rogers Centre, née Skydome, where we watched a comically haphazard game between the Blue Jays and White Sox. The kids drank nuclear-colored syrupy drinks from long twisty plastic cups. We didn’t stick around to the end because everyone was tired. Too bad--the Jays won it on a walk-off three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth.

We strolled out of the stadium to wait for the 510 Spadina streetcar. We waited and waited and waited and waited. By the time one came by it looked like Tokyo at rush hour. This did afford us the opportunity to hear sore-ee! about a hundred times as a thousand polite Canadians made their way through the car.

We all made it off at our stop. The kids turned in their electronics, frolicked for a few minutes, and went to sleep.

Next: The Beaches, Chinatown for dim sum, the Royal Ontario Museum, time at the University, Sheila's Caribbean Bistro for dinner, and the the movies at Silver City Theatre. Tomorrow: Kensington Market, Indian lunch at Trimurti, the Queen Street streetcar circuit, the CN Tower, and the Big Drum Social at the Native Canadian Centre. Friday is Stratford, Hamlet, and home.