The Power of Cooking

The school year has started with a bang! Students and staff are excited for activities and work to begin. The amount of fundraisers we recently had is a good indication of it!

Now that it is the beginning of October, all of the corporations for the school have met. The students are thrilled to start having baked sales in order to make some money for the projects they want to do or places they want to see.

rice-krispie-treats-crew832The Arts and Crafts Corporation met within the first two weeks of school. The students attending wanted to generate some money for extra supplies. They wanted to have a fundraiser where they would have fun and make the most profits. They quickly decided they wanted to make rice crispy treats. Their brainstorming proved to be right, they made a decent amount and had a blast doing it!

Next, the Celebration Corporation met and had the same mind set, only for a different reason. How can we make the most money for a moving on ceremony? They decided to bake chocolate chip cookies and sell them with milk. They bought enough products to be able to do two sessions of cooking and selling a few days apart. Sure enough, they were able to make some money to set aside for their party.

There has been homemade pizza and most recently, homemade macaroni and cheese. Watching some students organize themselves and create events is intoxicating to other students who figure out how to do the same things. It is causing an awesome domino effect. Students are realizing their power and place in the functioning of the school and are excited about it.

It is not an easy task to run a fundraiser. Students have to go through many obstacles in order to achieve their goal of making a profit. They have to buy products, find a certified person to help them cook, deal with money and discretionary checks, and figure out the school’s accounting system. Oh, and clean up the kitchen so that everything is put away and it is cleaner than when you started! And then get that cleanliness inspected. But, most importantly, they need to make sure their products will sell! However, they do not worry about these difficulties. They work through them and with ease!

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“The Trial of Alice in Wonderland” A Musical at Sudbury Valley

cheshire-cat935Musicals and plays happen at all schools. It is always a big deal to produce them, what with numerous rehearsals to arrange, costumes and props to procure, and finding the talent in the student body to perform all the roles, big and small. What was unusual about the performance last Spring, was that it was all organized, financed and coached by the students themselves.

Twenty two students were in the production, ranging in age from five to nineteen. Georgia was the producer, and Brenna was the singing and acting coach, also responsible for the staging, and co-directed every aspect of the show. They went around the school asking people whether they wanted to participate in the show. They arranged auditions and settled who will be the cast of the musical. All the participants committed to come to three rehearsals a week, and to stay for about an hour and a half each time.

opening-number930Every Wednesday, I do the mid-day census of students under eight, so I would have to make my way to the barn in rain or shine to find the children who were there for the rehearsal. It was remarkable to see everyone’s quiet focus on what was being discussed. No attention-seeking by the participants, nor was any cajoling needed by the older students. Everyone was equally attentive and cooperative. They prepared for about four months, and the results reflected all the hard work.

The cost of putting this show on was about $600. All of the money was raised by the participants, who sold goodies that they had cooked at school or brought from home. The rights for the play and the books cost $300, and the costumes and props cost $300, either bought at thrift stores or built for the show. The result was stunning in appearance and impressive visually.

alice942An hour before show time I went to the barn to look around. There was lots going on but no frenetic activity, no nervous energy or irritation, something usually expected before a show everywhere. Students who weren’t in the show were setting up the chairs and the music apparatus, others were applying make-up to all the eager faces and helping the actors adjust their costumes.

Finally at one o’clock sharp the show began and lasted for an hour. The singing was really excellent, the staging superb, the costumes beautiful, and the whole performance totally delightful. The packed house showed its appreciation repeatedly throughout the show.
Next day I asked Georgia why she undertook this huge project. She said that she believed that she could be a good director and so she set out to prove this to herself. I inquired what qualities she thought a director needs. This was her reply:

“Vision; Firmness; Perseverance; Knowledge of acting and singing; Organizing abilities; and Understanding that all kids are different and have to be treated accordingly.”

little-alice-and-tea958My last question to her was:”Did you feel it was a success?” and she answered:”Yes, it was more than I hoped for.”

For me too this kind of tour de force executed by so many students on their own was more than I ever imagined would emerge from the freedom and respect for children that SVS offers to everyone.

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A Renaissance at SVS?

Imagine my delight when I was contracted by the Physical Plant Committee’s representatives to help in the massive restoration project this summer at SVS! In the words of a founder, “It’s the biggest renovation we’ve ever done . . . even bigger than when we opened in 1968!” The roads were retarred; new boilers were installed – a very sophisticated system; and, oh, there’s wifi in the barn!!!; every bit of the landscape was gone over; Rick has been doing some serious things at the millhouse and dam, though I never made it down to see; Kevin had thirty projects going, and was sending people left and right; we had some seriously great help from present students and staff; and Mad Matt was wowing us with his cleaning prowess. I’ve never seen someone clean an attic ceiling before!

My task was to renovate the Music Corp’s assets which had been put into the hands of the Physical Plant Committee by the School Meeting. The Music Corp seemed to be going through a vacuum of power! I felt a bit like Jacques Cousteau or a forensic scientist in going through these assets. The layers of history are a continuing fascination. Who designed the five walled large rehearsal room with its opening tube structure? Who bought 6,000 watts worth of power amps!!?? We have a Zither? Really???

Trombones and cymbals were polished, guitars were polished, oiled and restrung, amps were soldered and rewired, walls were painted, we restored and stained the rehearsal room ceilings which are a beautiful hardwood. Note the ceiling trim Kevin and Randy put in! We hung all the instruments around the walls. We dusted off the flutes, violins, clarinet, sax, accordion, banjo, mandolin and all the great stuff that this place has accumulated over the years. Ready for action, once again.

In the quiet of summer when there are no yelps outside the window, you wonder if the work you do will have an impact, and you wait for the creative spark of the kids to guide you…with great anticipation!

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