Thursday, October 15, 2009

Marshes, Music, Marching and Meows at TMS

In addition to learning, community building, harvesting produce, pig and cow wrangling, and other exciting experiences, the first month of school has been marked by increasingly chilly temperatures and beautiful fall foliage.

In the classroom, students have been spending some time out of class. The Environmental Science course has been focused on "the tragedy of the commons," or what the overuse of resources is doing to our shared environment. In addition to looking at resource wars and exploitation in the Congo, junior student Andrew chatted with TMS Blogger about a recent class field trip down Bean Hill Road to study the ecosystem in our backyard. (Andrew ended up knee deep in the marsh studying the characteristics of the surrounding trees, cattails, Indian cucumbers, and peat moss, to name just a few of the florae.)

Thanks to board member Nancy Lloyd, on September 16 students had the opportunity to visit the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music in Nelson, New Hampshire, and hear the Apple Hill String Quartet play a piece called the Third String Quartet by the Czech composer Viktor Ullmann.

The quartet was written in 1943 during the two years Ullmann spent in the Nazi concentration camp, Theresienstadt. Ullmann was a student of Arnold Schoenberg and was a prolific composer, writer, and critic before he was deported to the camp, although sadly, only thirteen musical works remain from that time. In October 1944, Ullmann was transferred to Auschwitz where he was killed in the gas chambers.

The quartet itself is written in two movements. The piece is only about 12 minutes in duration, but it encompasses a range of colors and moods, from lush romanticism to wildly intense characters to complete desolation.

TMS senior student Stephen reflects on his experience: "It was awesome - the four musicians were captivating and incredibly talented, and explained the piece in detail." Another student, Charlotte (who is a cello player herself) liked the experience of meeting the musicians and watching them practice.

On October 1, five students and two faculty members participated in the annual New England Pilgrimage for Peace They met up with the walkers between Dublin and Peterborough and continued with them to the Peterborough United Church of Christ church where they had supper and participated in the evening program. In the sharing circle virtually every adult praised the students and said how important it was that they were there. The walkers said it was one of the best days they'd had, just having TMS energy to boost them.

Finally, Jackie Stillwell, the Head of School, has a new kitten named Rufus, whose namesake Rufus Jones was one of the most prominent Quaker philosophers, historians, and theologians of the 20th century. Kitty Rufus has some big shoes to fill; in the meantime, he's busy chewing on the plants in the office and being very cute.

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