The Best Dance Ever

For many years now a Halloween dance has taken place in the barn. Wearing a costume is optional but most people come wearing something funky, beautiful or amusing.
The dances are totally organized by students, while staff serve as chaperones who are willing to lend a hand when asked but do not affect the way the dance is run.

Every year the ambiance is unique: the decorations are different, the music chosen by the DJ is different, and the people attending are whoever wishes to come. On the other hand firm traditions have evolved over the years of which I will name just a few. The age range of the kids is from five to twenty, and they all observe and comment on each others outfits, join in the dancing and participate in the Limbo Contest. It is so lovely to see how kids of all ages and sizes attempt to pass under the pole without touching it or falling, until the two who hold the pole are down on their knees and all but one person manages to get through it.

This year it was Ansel who was grinning with happiness when his nine year old brother Leander hugged him in delight. Another tradition is to have prizes for all kinds of things like scariest costume, most original one, best dancer, and more. Each winner gets a fun gift and wild applause and good natured taps on the back. I for one was horrified when these “competitions” were first introduced, but the kids love them and it seems that no hard feelings happen or bother any of the kids, so this tradition is here to stay.

Kids these days like their music loud, very loud. I myself am bothered by loudness, and I was very touched when the DJ came over to me to ask me if the volume was too high for me. Often the younger kids are bothered as well, and compromises are made with the hope that all will be able to enjoy the dance. (This year one four-year-old had to leave early because of the volume, but all the rest remained.)

The whole event was exuberant, and fostered a sense of caring and community.

The dance lasted from seven to ten, at which time the organizers sent me home, refusing my help, saying that it was their responsibility to clean up, not mine. I came home elated by what I experienced with these students, many of whom came to SVS as young kids and have grown to be amazing teens: they are good organizers, they know how to work hard while having lots of fun, and above all, by never losing sight of the big picture, see to it that the event is a success.

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A New Year Message

By: Menachem Goren

 An Introduction, by Hanna Greenberg

“In Israel, where I come from, there are two “Sudbury” schools, and both are thriving.  One is in the heart of the city of Jerusalem, and the other, Kanaf (which means “wings”) is in the Golan Heights, in the North. 

We, at SVS, often exchange our writings with them.  The following is a translation from the New Year’s message that Menachem Goren, a staff member as well as one of the founding staff, of Kanaf sent to their families.  I think it is inspiring, deep and beautiful.” 


In September 1994 we celebrated the first (Jewish) New Year in our school.

Today, we are celebrating the New Year for the 24th time, with an apple, a pomegranate, and honey, as is the traditional custom.

We started the year with smiles, with joy, with sparkling eyes, with an abundance of activity, and with an explosion of creative energy in our students, who are privileged to live in a community in which they are responsible for themselves and for the way they conduct their lives.

What wishes should we make for ourselves and for the school community – aspirations that are not often-used cliches?

* that we will continue to meet boredom and to experience the black hole of emptiness – because in this era of increasing leisure time it is essential to learn to welcome boredom with open arms.

* we will learn that it is permissible – and desirable – to make contact with the monsters within us, and we will continue to examine them with care; because in that compressed, repressed and shuttered realm lies the fiery core of our life force.  For it is in places of terror, of emptiness, and of boredom that creativity and action flourish.

* we will know how to observe reality with wide open  eyes, without deluding ourselves and those around us, and without viewing hardships, sorrow, suffering, anger, hatred and enmity through pink glasses; because when we are able to plunge our hands into the fermenting dough of life to overcome fear, boredom and emptiness, we create the opportunity to take responsibility for building a new community and creating a new culture, founded on something that is true, honorable, and whole.

* we will know how not to take ourselves too seriously – and that no matter how strongly we believe in something, our belief doesn’t turn us into gods.

* we will know how to fall, cry, and get up.

* we will find in ourselves the courage to hear what our critics say about us, and the strength to listen to our own inner voice (the most severe of all critics), and nevertheless to find within ourselves the capability to carry on (and, from time to time, to pause for a respite).

* we will enjoy our progress and recognize its dangers; enjoy what is, and know how to let go of things.

* we will, with open ears and a loving, smiling heart, experience fear but never stop creating.  We will talk things over with others and then proceed to act; we will encounter obstacles, barriers, and opposition and, paying them due respect, we will overcome them and continue on our path, all the while remaining aware of the reactions of others around us.

* and perhaps most important of all: that we will be able to find as many occasions as possible to take a deep breath, get off the treadmill, and realize how what we are doing is unique, magical, moving and extraordinary.

* may this year be a good one – interesting, fascinating and enjoyable, at least as much as past years have been.

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Two Apple Stories

A Fall Apple Picking Excursion
Hanna Greenberg

New England has the perfect climate for growing apples.  There are several orchards in the school’s vicinity where people can pick their own fruit.  You pay an entrance fee, get a bag and you are allowed to fill it and take it home.  It is a popular activity for many families to go and spend the day in the beautiful farms.  So it is  not surprising that a student asked me to organize a field trip to a nearby place.  I asked her why we should do it when so many students go with their parents and her answer was that going with friends was a different kind of experience and would be lots of fun.

A sign was put up announcing the trip and twenty-two students signed up.  We got a big yellow school bus to take us the ten miles to Honey Pot Hill Orchard. The age range of the participants was about five to fifteen, a situation that at SVS is common and welcomed.  The older kids are looked up to by the younger ones and conversely, the older students enjoy having the adorable younger people around, which is the most natural human interaction in any community.


The weather was a glorious typical New England clear fall day and just perfect for being outdoors.  The trees were laden with beautiful apples that were accessible to even the youngest kids and in no time our bags were full.  We got to go on a hay ride, to walk a big maze, to eat an apple cider donut, and to buy treats at the store.

All in all it was great fun.

Apple Crisp                                                                                                                        Lauren Ligotti

This time of year, at Sudbury Valley, might be my favorite. Everyone is excited to be back at school. Students are playing, laughing, and planning activities. The staff are busy welcoming everyone back, organizing the school, and event planning. The weather is cooling down, making it amazing to be outside all day. The campus is gorgeous with all the leaves changing to vibrant reds, orange, and yellow. The energy level is high and infectious to anyone coming onto campus.

This year is particularly special because it is our 50th anniversary! For our first family event of the year, we wanted to do something a little different. Instead of serving the usual snacks, we spiced things up a bit with apple crisp!

Who knew making apple crisp would be so much work? Mimsy and a few helpers started at about 10:00 am. The hardest part was prepping the apples. So, they created an assembly line a few people peeling apples, a couple of people coring, and a couple of people slicing. This might sound mundane, but it wasn’t. Everyone enjoyed each others company, talking, telling jokes, or just peeling quietly. They were able to have fun while completing a tremendous task!

To be honest, Sudbury Valley is such a happy place to be anytime of year! People of all ages working together and getting things done!

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