Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy Holidays from The Meeting School

Monday, December 18, 2006

Dan and Ruth Holmes, former farm managers at school, just sold us a ram! Dan (picture at the right) and Ruth are managing Sunnyfield Farm in Peterborough, NH which is a part of Crotched Mountain School. Unfortunately we didn’t have a ram this fall to put in with our sheep so we couldn’t have lambs in the spring, or meat in the fall next year. In what turns out to be a funny coincidence Ruth was needing to get rid of a ram she thought was too beautiful to be taken for slaughter. The ram is a black Icelandic with great curling horns that Ruth says will loop around a few times and be stunning. He also comes from a great line that is parasite resistant and has great fleece (both great qualities!). The new ram’s name is Luke, which was given to him by Dan and Ruth when he was born at Sunnyfield this spring. Luke is currently getting to know all of his new lady friends here at school along with two weathers (castrated rams), and four baby cows that keep the flock company. We’ll have an update in the spring on how well he‘s been doing.

Recycling has always been a work-study job here at school. Each Tuesday a crew gathers all of our recycling, sorts it out, and brings it to the Rindge recycling center. This year things are different though.

The crew has decided to no longer use gas to complete their job. At the beginning of work study they gather everything, separate it, and stuff it into backpacks, smart carts, and bike trailers. Everyone carries what they can, and begin either walking, or towing the recycling. At first the idea wasn’t too exciting for the crew that had to make the trek, but now after three months they run a smooth operation. There are a few things that are just too big to bring without a van, so twice this year they have needed to fill up the fifteen passenger van. This lifestyle change is another way that The Meeting School is choosing to be more ecologically sustainable. The picture above is the typical crew heading out.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

With only two days left before our Holiday Party, and the beginning of winter break, the campus is busy working on final gifts for their Secret Friends. Before everyone left for Thanksgiving Break we chose names out of a hat to see who our Secret Friend would be. Since returning from that break smaller gifts have been given here and there, all leading up to the final gift that will be given at the Holiday Party on Wednesday night. Everyone brings a gift with their Secret Friends name on the outside, and puts it under the Christmas Tree. One by one each person opens the gift with their name on it, and on the inside, when they see the gift, they also get to see who has been giving them gifts the whole time. So as everyone continues to work on that final gift, we’re hoping it will all be a secret until that final moment.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Friday afternoon the eleven remaining piglets from the spring were brought to a local butcher. The mother pigs might be the ones most ready to see them go, but also happy to see them go are those doing chores each day. There are now only four pigs to feed on campus instead of 15. Its always difficult to send the animals away, but its part of the unique learning experience our farm provides for students, and staff. Its important to know that the pork, ham, and bacon we will be eating this year was raised right here, and to know that all the hard work in moving, feeding, and watering them was for that food. The next day Professor, our boar, returned to the sows to ensure more piglets in the spring, and the beginning of another cycle.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Last night Thomas House hosted a European Salon for the community. The house turned their dinning room into a warm, welcoming environment with a fire in the 300+ year old fireplace, and pushed the table aside to make room for more seating. There were cookies, pomegranates, and tea too. A small crowd listened to Alex read the story of Sisyphus, which led to great discussions of the Greek Gods. Afterwards Lex and Regina played music with guitar and cello. It was a very relaxing evening for everyone. Thank you Thomas House for putting on a great celebration.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Senior student Devin has been working on redesigning the school sign originally painted by Megan Lyons in ’91. This is a project for his Junior/Senior Peace Studies/Health credit, but the plans started at the end of school last year in Sociology class. The Sociology class brought a proposal to change the sign to Community Meeting at the end of last year. With the understanding that the signs original designer would need to be consulted, along with an art teacher, and possibly the Town of Rindge, Community Meeting approved the proposal. Devin’s plans for changing the sign include centering the words, using lighter colors so its more visible, changing the location slightly, and possibly changing the material so it might last longer. He hopes to have the sign done by the end of the year because he’ll be graduating and going on to bigger, and better things.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

An interesting fact about The Meeting School: We usually have the highest percentage of Quaker students among all Quaker schools. Its easy when your student population is no more than 30-35 students on any given year, but what’s interesting is how those students who come to school not knowing a thing about Quakerism learn to appreciate its offerings. This school year we have three students from Quaker families which is lower than years past but is still around 13% of our student body. There are another four students who are not from a Quaker background, but exploring the possibility of becoming more involved in it. One student is considering a Quaker college as the right choice for him after graduating in the spring. Another senior has attended Cambridge Friends Meeting, Monadnock Meeting, and WeareFriends Meeting recently with the thought of becoming a Friend. We don’t encourage students to become Quaker, but to engage in conversation and ask questions about all religions. We welcome all spiritual beliefs, and expect all members of the community to respect those beliefs.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

This morning, after first long block classes, our two calves Boulder, and Bignette were taken away from there mothers to live with the sheep for the winter. The calves have had a few months of their mother’s milk and are ready to be weaned away from them to start eating grass and hay. The next few days are sure to be filled with loud moos from the mothers and babies across campus. Its funny to see the sheep and cows together at first, but after a while the cows almost become part of the flock. Come summer time the baby cows will be bigger and ready to join the heard again and hopefully (knock on wood) will be successfully weaned from their mothers milk. It has happened in the past that a mother allows her calf, after a winter of being weaned, to continue drinking her milk. When that happened there were many techniques to try to stop the baby from nursing, but only keeping them apart really worked.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Olivia, one of our seniors, announced that she created a Wikipedia page for the school, and that we should all add to it. Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that allows everyone to edit and add information that’s reviewed by users. The school’s page currently has a brief history and some of our Philosophy and Purpose on it. Not being a Wikipedia user myself I’m not sure how to go about adding information, but if those people who know The Meeting School well (alums, parents, current students faculty, and former faculty) were to add more to the page it would help others understand what our school is all about. Olivia says its hard to add something because other users correct grammar meticulously. Give it a try!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Monday night is no longer just the beginning of another week at school now. No, on Monday’s there are regular trips to the contra dance in Nelson, NH. Our head of school, Jackie, has spearheaded the movement to go to these dances by offering to drive. The contra dance in Nelson is said to be one of the oldest dances in New England, and is becoming popular with a younger generation of dancers. The school has taken trips to Nelson here and there in years past, but this year its becoming a regular activity on Monday night. After dinner everyone piles into a van and goes dancing for the night, usually getting an exception to be late for curfew (the dance goes until 11:00). The dance in Nelson is over 200 years old, and there are some relatively famous people playing music for the dancers. Bob McQuillen(inset) plays the piano and accordion, and has done so for the past 50 years. This picture is significant because, as Bob is explaining, its the first time he's worn a tie to a contra dance in his life! Mr. McQuillen is also an internationally recognized contra dance musician for his songs and style.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Biology class has finished collecting data from their observations at the bird feeder in the woods and concluded that the male Red Breasted Nuthatch will store its food higher up, about 10-15 feet, whereas the female stashes her food at about eye level. There wasn’t a conclusion to why they store food at different heights though. Do you know?

Friday, December 01, 2006

This years parents weekend was a great success. We had an impressive turnout of friends and family, who came from all over the country. Work on the famous Thanksgiving Meal began in the morning with two turkeys, and picked up after lunch with Work Study. The baking of over 20 pies, and several side dishes including stuffing, mashed potatoes, squash, green beans, cranberry sauce, and rolls were all completed. The tables were set with decorative centerpieces made from pine bows, pumpkins, and high bush cranberries. Soon parents had arrived and food came out of the ovens. Everyone made there way to the dinning hall ready to feast on the fall harvest. The meal was well received, however dessert stole the show once again with several different pies to choose from including apple, pumpkin, a cheesecake, and tollhouse. When clean up finished from the meal, which is no small task, Coffee House began. This years performances were highlighted by a group of faculty and staff singing rounds, Mark’s dad clogging (inset), and a post Coffee House sing along led by former faculty, and parent, Ron. Many parents participated in this years coffee house, some by surprise, which added to the fun of the entire night. We look forward to graduation weekend in May when we’ll all get together again for the next dinner, and Coffee House.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Community Meeting received a minute from the Board of Trustees this fall regarding ecological sustainability, and its place at TMS. The minute reads:
Earlier this year the Board of Trustees set a goal to renew focus on sustainability in the school community especially as it relates to the physical plant, land, and purchasing. We reaffirm that it is important for us to bear this in mind, and keep it as an active conversation. While the Ecological Sustainability Committee is still being formed, we also need guidance from everyone as we shape its agenda.
Therefore, we ask the Board and the school community to address these questions:

  • What does Ecological Sustainability mean?
  • What would it mean for you to live sustainably?
  • What would you need to learn, in order to identify and take the next step toward that goal for yourself or for the school?
  • Why is it so hard to talk about this?
When these questions are discussed, we ask that some record be taken, and then shared with the Board and school community.
Since receiving this minute from the Board our community meeting has talked about ways to answer the broad questions best. We plan to continue working at answering these questions and have a minute we can agree on to send to the board for their next meeting.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Students have shown interest in learning how to help out with the milking process at school recently. Not only does this help free up faculty members to do other things, but it’s a great opportunity to learn a skill that most of us in the wider word would never have the chance to. In response Megan, our farm manager, has trained and plugged some of these students into the regular rotation. The afternoon shifts seem to be more popular than the early morning for good reason, but one student would rather wake up early for the chore. Right now three students are in the rotation with others showing interest. One student said, “ My hands still aren’t used to it, and they cramp up quick.”

Monday, November 20, 2006

This fall the Research and Performance Art class put together a festival of the arts with a focus on reflections of place. You may have read an article in the Monadnock Leger Transcript leading up to the event with a big picture of the class on the front page of the arts section. The festival, called: Four Day Café, was a Wednesday to Saturday event in downtown Jaffrey, NH at the Women’s Club, and across the street at the Civic Center. Both buildings had events scheduled for each night, which were all organized and put on by the class.
Wednesday the Women’s Club was open to view local artist’s work that was set up around the room, including some projects done by members of the research and performance art class, the drawing class, and faculty.
Thursday night at the Women’s club several speakers presented papers to an audience of Meeting School students, and local visitors. Frederick, our history teacher gave a paper on Thomas House, and its history before being a part of The Meeting School. Alex, a member of the Research and Performance Art class read his paper about his experiences and observations of place in and around The Meeting School. The final speaker’s were Howard Mansfield and John Harris talking about their book,” Where The Mountain Stands Alone: Stories of Place in the Monadnock Region.”
On Friday night the Women’s Club provided a meal of soup and bread made by Meeting School staff with ingredients from the farm. Following the meal was an open mic which turned into a concert later in the evening when Lunatic Fringe took the stage. Over at the Civic Center several singing groups performed including the Jaffrey Grade School, All Saints Choir, Franklin Pierce Gospel Choir, and Monadnock Chorus Chamber Singers.
Saturday at the Women’s Club there were performance art pieces and a featured performance by Kazu Nakamura. At the Civic Center Dan Hurlin, performance artist, presented six performances of "The Day the Ketchup Turned Blue", a 12-minute toy-theater piece followed by discussion.
On top of planning and running a smooth show each night members of the Research and Performance Art class did their own project that reflected on place. Andy researched the program Second Life and its effect on people and their place. Alex wrote a paper about his experiences with place and the woods of The Meeting School. Devin made a card game that is based on the research of early civilizations. Olivia put together a collection of short clips that played during the Four Day Café, and helped Scott in the management of the event. You can check out the MySpace page that the class put together as part of advertising for the event.

Friday, November 17, 2006

This years Fall Gardening class has been hard at work all over our campus, and it shows. The flower beds are edged and mulched, we have over 300 feet of new strawberries planted for next year, the vegetable gardens are being put under for the winter, and our greenhouse is alive with greens, herbs and flowers for the long winter months. Thank you Fall Gardening!!

Biology class made a bird feeder from galvanized pipe, and hung it in the woods behind Helios House. Their objective is to observe how the Red-Breasted Nuthatch stashes seed for the winter. Although the Red-Breasted Nuthatch is what the class is looking to observe, many different species can be seen collecting seed from the feeder throughout the day. The class is just beginning to collect data from observations, and hopes to check in with their results later.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Saturday Night Activity this week went to the Secret Hideout in Keene, NH for Worldwide Game Day 2006. Game day is a chance for people from all over the world to get together in gaming stores, and many other venues to play Dungeons and Dragons all day and into the night. There are prizes, and a scoring system for players to compare themselves with another player who could be playing in Argentina, or Japan. Students didn’t quite get to play for the entire day as the “Game Day” title would lead you to believe, but they did fight a long four hour battle. The game was hard fought, and TMS students were outmatched in the end by a Hellcat (inset) while trying to save a Monastery controlled by a Fire Cleric. One student described the game as, “The most intense D&D I’ve ever played!”

Saturday, November 04, 2006

For Forum today students and staff took part in a fruit harvest. Picking up apples and pears from the ground and all that could be shaken from the tree. It was hard to believe how much fruit our trees had produced. In all we collected over 14 bushels! After lunch all the fruit was brought over to Darling Hill Community Farm in Greenville, NH to be pressed for cider. We are excited to have our own press this year with only apples from the school. Everyone looks forward to drinking the cider for the Thanksgiving meal at Parents Weekend.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

This is the first post on The Meeting School's brand new weblog!