Sunday, August 12, 2007

Kenyan Quakers Visit The Meeting School

On July 30th we enjoyed a visit from two African Quaker educators, Mercelline Milembe, the Clerk of the United Society of Friends Women (USFW) of Vokoli Yearly Meeting in Kenya, and Zelika Galava, Clerk of the USFW of Kaimosi Yearly Meeting, also in Kenya. They were traveling in the ministry to various Friends meetings throughout New England in between their planned visits to a major USFW conference in Indiana, the week before, and New England Yearly Meeting sessions in Rhode Island, the week following. At TMS, they stayed overnight at Thomas House, joined our Monday-morning summer Opening, had lunch at Helios House, and participated in a Teachers' Meeting where we discussed educational practices in Kenyan schools, in typical American schools, and at TMS. Mercelline currently runs a Friends primary school, and Zelika is a retired teacher. We discussed possibilities for future educational exchanges --and given the presence of other Quaker contacts in Kenya, such as Eden and Jim Grace from Boston's Beacon Hill Friends Meeting -- we might just find ourselves there next Intersession!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A new way to give money to The Meeting School

Here's a new easy way to raise money for The Meeting School. Start searching the web with GoodSearch. Just type in The Meeting School where it says "Who Do You GOODSEARCH For?" Select Meeting School(West Rindge, NH) and start searching. Each time you search the web Goodsearch gives a penny to The Meeting School.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Summer is here

We're now two weeks into the summer here at The Meeting School. Things have settled down since graduation weekend, and we're spending plenty of time in the gardens. The seniors planted our potatoes before graduating, and we've since planted onions, cabbage, lettuce, basil, and tomatoes. Next week we plan to get summer and winter squash planted along with pumpkins, cucumbers, kale, and possibly carrots and beets. Always plenty of work to be done in the gardens.
Things are starting to shape up for the 50th Reunion as well. With only two short months to go, registration forms are starting to fill up the mailbox. We're looking forward to seeing an estimated 300 people return for the weekend of the 17th, 18th, and 19th of August. You can find more information about the event at the schools website All are welcome to attend, but registration is required.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Senior Dinner a Night to Remember

This past Tuesday night the senior class was treated to a feast in the Thomas Dinning Room. In what has become a wonderful end of the year tradition the seniors made requests for several specific dishes to be prepared for them. The meal fell on Tuesday because it was the last day for seniors to hand in work, and serves as a celebration of the four years of hard work. After a work study of planting potatoes that will feed next school years community, they made their way to Thomas House dressed for the occasion. There were traditional requests for things like sushi, falafel, shish-kabobs, and chocolate mousse along with more eclectic requests for things like a marzipan bowling ball, and a "pound burger" that rounded out the menu. Several faculty members put together all the food for the meal, while two requested wait staff did all of the service. The meal lasted a little over two hours by which time all seniors had eaten their full. Coffee finished and dessert plates clean, they thanked all the cooks and waiters for the hard work before leaving to digest.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Meeting School Now Open to International Students

In an exciting development, we are beginning to look for a few
international students to add enrichment and diversity to our community.
Last week, the school became authorized under Federal law to enroll
nonimmigrant alien students. This new ability actually restores an old
program of ours which had become too bureaucratically difficult after
9/11/2001; in the 1990's we regularly enrolled a foreign student, often
from Japan, every year or so. Various faculty members speak Mandarin,
French, and Spanish fluently, and we would be able to provide cultural
support to students from Korea and Japan as well. It’s still too early
to tell what next fall will bring, but hopefully future years will see
international students on our campus, as a great complement to the
international trips that are already a regular part of our Intersession

Monday, May 14, 2007

Tibetan Parliament Official Visits Community Meeting

Usually, guest speakers visit the school on Saturday morning for our
Forum, but one of the virtues of small size is flexibility, and
yesterday the Quaker network provided an exciting opportunity for us as we opened our Community Meeting to a visit by a Tibetan official.

Tenzin Norbu is an Under-Secretary of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile in Dharamsala, India. The Tibetan Parliamentary Secretariat “undertakes the responsibility of the preparation of parliamentary procedures and practices and makes arrangements for recording the formal proceedings of the House,” according to the website of the Central Tibet Administration, the Tibetan government-in-exile. Norbu acts as the
Secretariat’s spokesperson, and works closely with the members of the
Parliament from throughout India, Bhutan, Nepal, Europe and the
Americas. He works on social, legal and political issues affecting the
Tibetan community-in-exile and on efforts by the Dalai Lama to find a
peaceful resolution of Tibet's issues. He is also knowledgeable about
the changing face of the Tibetan freedom movement.

In 2002, Norbu studied American legislative practices in the California
and Connecticut state legislatures, at Tulane University, and in the
U.S. Congress. According to a New York Times article about him at the
time, he and a colleague “were sent to the United States by Samdhong
Rinpoche, a scholar at the Central Institute for Higher Tibetan Studies
in Varanasi, India, who was elected the Tibetans' first exile prime
minister last year.”

Most of us didn’t know about his background as he walked up to join our
circle. This week’s Community Meeting was held outside, in the shade of
the orchard, and he was delighted to be able to join us sitting on the
grass, turning down a chair we offered him and explaining that sitting
cross-legged made him feel like he was back in India. He spoke for about
forty minutes, starting with an overview of the situation in Tibet and
of the Tibetan community in exile. He then spoke about some basic points
of Tibetan spiritual and ethical practice, sharing common stories from
Tibetan culture and introducing the Eight Verses for Training the Mind.
He took questions from community members about what nonviolence means to
the exile community, and about Tibetan beliefs about reincarnation and
future lives.

Tenzin Norbu also spoke at Franklin Pierce University earlier in the
day. Some Meeting School students and faculty attended his speech there,
which was part of the “Tuesday Briefings” series of the Marlin Fitzwater
Center for Communication

His visit to the area was arranged by Jackie Stillwell and board member
Nancy Lloyd (also a Franklin Pierce teacher and member of Monadnock
Friends Meeting
), working with Betsy Bragg, a Quaker from Wellesley
Friends Meeting
who has been helping Norbu make contacts in the Boston
area. He was in the Monadnock region in conjunction with a visit by the
Dalai Lama to Smith College.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Senior Minutes are a work in progress

Last week we began brainstorming ideas for departing senior minutes. Each spring after vacation we begin this tradition of sharing memories of each senior and their journey at The Meeting School. For those who don’t know a “departing minute” is each seniors diploma. The community brainstorms each senior to come up with a list of things that might be written in this departing minute. A smaller committee of two or three people then write a draft to bring back to the community for consideration, and edits. In final form, each minute is around 200 words long, lettered in calligraphy on a large piece of poster board, and has artwork done by a chosen community member. The minutes aren’t heard or seen by the seniors until graduation day when its read to them in front of family and friends. With 7 seniors to brainstorm and write minutes for this year we have plenty of time to do a wonderful job on each one. What makes these minutes so special is that every graduate from the last 50 years has their own unique diploma. Not only does it remember that senior, but it lets that senior remember the people that cared for them.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Spring Piglets!

Sunday morning Scott & Julie found Ginger, one of our sows, having her spring piglets. When she was done Ginger had managed to come up with 11 little pigs. Unlike other animals on the farm, these little piglets are up and walking around almost immediately after being born. This helps them get out of the way when mom lies down. Because of the weather Ginger and her babies were moved to the barn where it will be more comfortable and a bit warmer for a few weeks. The piglets, like the lambs we have, are sold or raised to supply the school with meat for the school year. We usually keep two or three of them to feed ourselves, and the rest are sold. If you‘re interested in buying an organic feeder piglet or piglets from The Meeting School please call the office at 603-899-3366, and we‘ll put you in contact with the farm coordinator. Pictures coming soon!

The end of lambing season

Saturday morning marked the end of this years lambing season at The Meeting School. Misty was the last sheep to have her two lambs adding to the five already born. She had two little rams around 9:30 in the Yurt field. This years lambs have had a tough spring with two snowstorms, and unusually cold weather but are looking healthy and happy. The only female will most likely be added to the heard to replace aging mothers while the six rams will be castrated and sold or used for meat at the school.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Next week Intersession will begin, and our students will travel all over the country, and world to gain new perspectives and discover new skills. Some of the projects I’m looking forward to posting here on the blog include relief work for Katrina Victims, WWOOF in New Zeeland, taking Art classes at the Sharon Arts Center, working with Spiral Q in Philadelphia, and volunteering for a children’s charity in Seattle. Students will return to school on March 11th, and begin giving reports to the community about their projects. Each person will be given 15-20 minutes to explain what goals they had, what they did, and what they learned. Check back for updates on some of the projects starting March 14th.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Its that time of year again. All of the students are working hard on papers for writing class, the term is coming to an end, and projects are due in other classes too. Students are making sure that plans are in place for Intersession, which begins at the end of this term. With all of these things due around the same time, a lot of students find themselves stressed out and overworked at this time of year. We celebrate this push towards the end of the second term, and the beginning of Intersession, which is such a satisfying time of the year. Learning to manage time, and burn the midnight oil in some cases is what this time of year is about. It’s an important life skill that students will learn from this short period in their lives. Right now it seems impossible, but when its done there will be a wonderful sense of accomplishment. We look forward to celebrating the end of another term, and to Graduation.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

This year is the 10th Anniversary of the Quaker Youth Leadership Conference, which is being held this year at Tandem Friends School in Charlottesville, VA. The conference is a place for leaders at each of the Friends schools to get together and talk about how things are done at their schools. There’s usually at least one workshop, a service project in the local community, and groups meeting with queries. The conference started over ten years ago when The Meeting School and Brooklyn Friends School exchanged students. It became such a good experience for the students at our schools that other schools started doing the same, and so on. As it became bigger, and schools had a harder time hosting so many students throughout the school year, the idea to turn it into a once a year conference was born. A High school conference about leadership for Juniors going into their senior year; a great idea for students, and schools. The location changes from school to school each year, up and down the east coast.
This year’s conference in Charlottesville, VA at Tandem Friends School was attended by two staff members, and five students from The Meeting School. We spent a night in Providence at Lincoln School, and left at 5:00AM on a bus with Lincoln School and Moses Brown School. The trip took about ten hours which was much faster than we had expected. The weather was remarkably similar to what we’ve been experiencing here in New Hampshire with temperatures in the lower 30’s, and predictions of snow.
Upon arrival we each received a t-shirt, folder with conference info, and lanyards with our names, school, and service project location on them. The Head of School, and conference organizers welcomed students from over 20 schools including the Ramallah Friends School in Palestine, and Friends Meeting School in England.
The Meeting School students had a great time at the conference, and are looking forward to spending more time with students from Lincoln School and Moses Brown. Next year’s conference is being planned and co-hosted by our three schools. Planning began on the bus ride back to Providence where we brainstormed ideas and things we want to do differently.

Monday, February 05, 2007

At The Meeting School faculty members invite students to live with them in their homes for the school year, making houses out of our New England Farmhouses. Students don’t have free reign in faculty homes however, so they have a kitchen in Red House where they can prepare food for themselves between meals. This way faculty members and students have their own spaces and can be responsible for the mess, or cleanliness of it. The Red House kitchen has had its ups and downs over the years, and this year its had an impressive record for cleanliness compared to recent years. Two years ago a new system for cleaning was proposed by a student that would share the responsibility for cleaning evenly among the student body. The system worked well last year, and we’ve continued to use it this year. Each morning at opening we make sure yesterday’s cleaning happened, and then ask the next student on the list to clean it. The system was designed to have each student who uses the kitchen clean their dishes throughout the day knowing that they wouldn’t want to clean up everyone else’s dishes on their day to clean. In the past what happened was just the opposite, and the daily cleaner would end up cleaning piles of dishes and spending nearly two hours to complete the job. In order to find a solution to the problem, Student Meeting and Community Life Committee took up the topic at meetings. Community Meeting also had a discussion about taking responsibility for ourselves, and how our actions effect everyone around us. All of this has led to the Red House kitchen having its cleanest week ever. We celebrated how well things went, and are continuing to discuss possible systematic changes that could make it easier to keep the kitchen clean.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Junior/Senior Peace Studies class took a field trip on Wednesday night, and Thursday to Montpelier, Vermont. The class left Wednesday after Community Meeting to make it in time to see Anais Mitchell at the Langdon Street Cafe. Anais is a friend of Sheila, the Peace Studies teacher, and a Young Adult Friend. During her show, she dedicated a song to Sheila and The Meeting School students. The show ended late, and the class stayed at Betsy Ziegler and Joey Klein’s house in Plainfield, Vermont. Betsy and Joey are parents of Jacob Klein ’04 and run an organic farm that donates storage crops to The Meeting School each fall.
On the way home, the class stopped in Keene to check out a free show at The Colonial Theater. “Ailey II” was giving a free workshop to educate people about modern dance. The show gave advice to kids who might want to take dance classes, go to summer dance programs, become a choreographer, or professional dancer. The group will be providing a show this Saturday at The Colonial that a few members of the class will be going to.

Recently Franklin Pierce College has been logging their land that abuts The Meeting School property. The operation is close enough to us, that our Head of School called the President of FPC to get an explanation of their intentions. The operation is a part of their long term plan for the forest, and will create a more diversified population of trees. While FPC didn't notify us that they would be logging right up to the property line they did agree to leave a 50 foot buffer along all of our fields, and main walking trail after talking with Jackie. This picture, taken from Google Earth shows The Meeting School's property as it was before the logging. The image hasn't been updated since the logging, but we're looking forward to seeing how the image will look once it is.

Several students have formed a Spanish club recently. This year we've not had a formal Spanish class, which is what led students to form the club. A few of our students, being the proactive thinkers they are, decided that despite the lack of a Spanish class they wanted to learn the language on their own. The idea of a Spanish club was born, and excitement started growing. Currently the club has met two or three times, and rumors are they have big plans for eating meals together and taking field trips. If the club members are able to meet a set of requirements set by the curriculum coordinator they will be able to earn a language credit. The club members are being encouraged by Jackie, our Head of School who lived in Guatemala for several years and speaks Spanish well, to meet weekly.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Student Meeting is in charge of deciding what they will do for Saturday Night Activity each weekend. The Student Meeting brings that proposal to Community Meeting for approval each Wednesday, where the faculty have a chance to ask questions that might have to do with money, travel, or safety. This year, the student body has often chosen to take trips to see new movies in Keene, or Gardner. This weekend however the students made a request to have a school dance in the Hayden Room. With some help from Scott, students set up the PA system and decorated the room for a great dance party. Saturday afternoon they baked cookies, brownies, and pies for refreshments, and walked to the store for soda. The dance began at 8:30 with a student DJ holding down the tunes for everyone.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Last week the morning long block classes had a field trip day. We dedicate an entire day to field trips for each long block class so that classes can travel to places that offer a better experience, and can spend more time there. Here's a brief description of what each of the classes spent the day doing:
- The Cooking and Nutrition class spent the day checking out three small food businesses. First they were given an overview of the cheese-making process at Boggy Meadow Farm by the head cheese makers, complete with samples! Right down the road from Boggy Meadow Farm is LA Burdick Chocolates, where the class got some of the famous hot chocolate, and shared a few chocolate desserts. Last stop on the Cooking and Nutrition field trip was Orchard Hill Breadworks where unfortunately they missed the bread bakers who had already left. They did however get to see the hand build brick oven that Orchard Hill uses to bake their artisan breads in.
- Wood Carving Class was happy to take the entire day and devote it to completing some of the work that they've been doing this term. They've completed several different carving projects during the term, like a 6-inch Santa type figure, and an angel ornament. During the day they were able to walk up to the land recently logged by Franklin Pierce College and glean some great pieces for a walking stick project. The walking sticks will have an intricate pattern at or near the top, and each one will be designed differently by the student.
- Theater class was able to multi-task as a class by splitting into two groups for the morning. One group traveled to the Salvation Army to volunteer time hanging, folding, and sorting clothes. In return for the volunteer hours, the Salvation army gave each student ten free items which they used to get costumes for the performance. The other group spent the morning building wooden platforms that they will stand on in the show. The idea is that this show will be fully portable, like street theater. So each person will have a platform to stand on, and when the show finishes they can pick up the platforms and move to another spot.
- The History class traveled to the Amoskeag Mills in Manchester where they toured the museum and learned about the mill's history and how it effected the city of Manchester.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Earlier this week Rosie, our biggest milking cow, was bred to a Hereford. After months of waiting for Rosie to show anything close to a sign of being in heat, and wondering if she was just never going to, she finally did.
The way we tell that a cow is in heat here is to keep a watch them. If the other cows wont leave her alone, she’s probably in heat. Usually other cows will try to mount a cow that’s in heat, and sometimes a cow in heat is the one mounting the others. So, as you can tell, this takes some observation time to see whose really in heat, and whose just being crazy.
The timing is important too, you see, because a cow is only in standing heat for 12 hours. Standing heat is the time period when a heifer will allow a bull to mount her, and stand for him which is where the name comes from. Luckily Rosie was caught at the right time and Megan was able to call the local artificial inseminator to breed her.
During her time at The Meeting School Rose has been primarily used to produce beef cows given her size, and breed. So it was naturally a good decision to breed her to a Hereford when it came time to make a choice. In the past she has been breed with Black Angus, and we’ve had good results also.
Stay tuned for the news of her birth which will be sometime in the later summer to early fall.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

It’s the middle of January and we’re harvesting enough salad greens to feed the entire community from our greenhouse. The abundance is all thanks to the Fall Gardening Class who worked so hard to plant it all back in October. We have rows of bok-choy, parsley, swiss chard, a few different lettuces, radishes, spinach, beet greens, dill, cilantro, claytonia, and mustard greens. it’s a wonderful mix, and such a treat to be able to have in the middle of winter. Just today at lunch we had a great big salad picked fresh from the Greenhouse.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Our winter theater class will be putting on a fully-portable street production of "Hedwig & the Angry Inch" this February (dates TBA). This rock musical tells the story of "internationally ignored song stylist" Hedwig Schmidt, a fourth-wall smashing East German rock n' roll goddess who also happens to be the victim of a botched sex-change operation.
Senior student Olivia chose ans is directing the play. Students involved have shown much enthusiasm. Emma is playing the Rent-obsessed back-up singer Yitzak and says the plays score is, "awesome." Meg is playing the suave American Luther and looks forward to incorporating the audience during performances. Devin is playing Hedwig in his early years and says hes excited for the rush of stage fright. Caleb, playing sellout sensitive boy Tommy, is excited about the shows creative directions. Lamont is playing Band the Angry Inch's groupie and is excited about the whole thing.
This is the first time EVER that "Hedwig & the Angry Inch" has been performed by a high school ensemble.
As we hear more about the dates and time we'll keep you posted. Sounds like its going to be a good one!

Has winter finally arrived? More importantly, is it here to stay? The Competitive Games exercise class hasn't had to have a game inside yet because there's been no snow to stop them from using the athletic field, and its January! Yesterday was the first "storm" we've had all year, and we didn't get any snow. A storm left the campus coated with a half inch of ice, and left us in the dark for 12+ hours. It looks like winter might hang around with reports of temperatures in the single digits tonight, and highs around 30 degrees for the rest of the week. These are big changes from just a week ago when you could catch some bulbs coming up in front of the Art Studio. Its seems like the bulbs will be fine as long as we don't continue to have such drastic changes. Some of our trees wont make it out as well. Two large branches cracked under the weight of all the ice last night, and several others could be heard falling in the woods. Luckily nobody was hurt from the falling branches, but we have some clean-up work to do at Work Study. Here's hoping that the winter weather stays around for a while, and maybe we can get a little snow!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Happy Dr. Martin Luther King Day
"I want you to go home and put down your weapons. We must meet violence with non-violence. We must meet hate with love." -MLK

The Meeting School students and staff are taking this day to remember Dr. King, and to participate in proactive activities such as letter writing, an random acts of kindness to our neighbors. There is also a film being shown. The plan was to attend a workshop in Northampton, MA for the day, but the weather forced us to use the almost better than plan A backup plan.
As is becoming the tradition, we began the day with a big brunch in the Hindmarsh Dining Room that included cinnamon rolls, hash browns, scrambled eggs, fruit salad, yogurt, and juice.
Students have split into three groups and are rotating through the three activities for the afternoon.
  1. In Thomas House Sheila is showing the movie Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin. The movie shows the life of Rustin and his work behind the scenes putting together the March on Washington of '63.
  2. In Bliss House Tracy is leading a Deliberate Acts of Kindness activity. Like last year this group is baking treats for our neighbors. At the end of the day a group will walk around and deliver the treats in hand made boxes with notes. Last year we received thank you notes from some of the recipients.
  3. Finally, in Red House Fredrick is hosting a Letter Writing Campaign. Students will have an opportunity to write letters to their elected officials on whatever topic they deem most important.
"I believe firmly that love is a transforming power that can lift a whole community to new horizons of fair play, goodwill and justice"
- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The school’s drum set has been repaired recently by the parent of a current student. With a lot of effort from Lex, and Devin in the form of fund raising, Meghan’s dad was able to repair the drum set to a usable state. Until the set was repaired there wasn’t anyone in the Music Studio this year. Now you can hear the drums being used throughout the day, and at night until curfew. Thank you to everyone who pitched in to help Lex and Devin get the money they needed for the repairs, and especially to Mr. Prouty for making it all happen.