CSA Volunteers at Twilight in the Park

A traditional honoring, Twilight in the Park is an event sponsored by Hospice of Southern Maine that occurs every year in which people “celebrate life” by lighting a candle for a loved one who has died. The candle is placed inside a white bag with sand that bears the name of the individual being remembered. The bags are placed in Deering Oaks Park, and as the sun grows older, the candles are lit, creating a beautiful and touching memorial, showing love and compassion for “someone who has brought light into our lives.” To support this event, volunteers from Waynflete’s Community Service activity (CSA) and the parent community helped to fill and place each bag and later cleared them away.

In an email thanking the volunteers, CSA faculty advisor Breda White reflected on the event this way:

“Your efforts contributed directly, by all accounts, to the success of the event as a vital fundraiser for Hospice’s work. More important, however, was your role in helping grieving families and friends honor the life and memory of loved ones and /or to show appreciation for the caregivers who supported them through the end-of-life journey. As an Upper School community service maven, I was particularly delighted to see such a rich collaboration of Waynflete parents and students in the service of others. I hope we can have many more such joint efforts.”

All in all, a very beautiful way to spend a Saturday.

A.S.K. – ACADEMIC SKILLS & KNOWLEDGE

It’s not how smart you are that matters; what really counts is HOW you are smart.” Howard Gardner

Waynflete is offering a new program for Upper School students which will make academic coaching accessible to anyone wants or needs it.  Students who come to A.S.K. – Academic Skills & Knowledge – will have an opportunity to practice and master learning strategies using their own coursework, will identify personal learning styles, strengths, and challenges, and will set short and long-term goals for improving academic performance across the curriculum. In A.S.K., students will receive feedback to build on already-existing strategies and work habits.  Students will choose their own focus, with opportunities to strengthen organization, note-taking, time management/planning, memory, reading, writing and/or study and test-taking skills.  Students will be encouraged to take an active role in their learning through increased self-advocacy, self-reflection and metacognitive (learning about learning) skills.

Students may participate in A.S.K. on a voluntary, drop-in basis. They may come alone, or as a small group of peers who have similar goals. They may come once, or once a week for a year. Advisors and teachers may recommend that students participate. The Upper School Director or Dean of Students may require participation. There are many ways to benefit from A.S.K., but the most powerful results will come when students are self-directed, manifesting their own future success!

LOGISTICS
A.S.K. is run by Stacey Sevelowitz, Director of Academic Support. A.S.K. is being offered six times per week: all A-F blocks, each once per week, in the College Counseling room of the Student Center. Students will be expected to arrive with a specific task, question or skill to focus on.

The schedule is as follows:
A block: Mondays
B block: Thursdays
C block: Wednesdays
D block: Fridays
E block: Fridays
F block: Thursdays

From the Deadwaters of the Penobscot River to Middle Jo Mary Lake

I stood on a rock at the outlet of Lower Jo Mary Lake, watching Leah Grams and Chloe Williams wrestle with lining their canoe up the last section of the outlet stream. Three of our six boats were already safely secured behind me, and Leah and Chloe were almost there. So far it had been relatively easy, and they had obviously enjoyed the challenge of guiding their boat by hand against the current of the outlet stream that flowed from Lower Jo back into Pemadumcook Lake from where we had come.

But it seemed that Leah and Chloe were looking for more adventure than came with staying on the side of the stream and using the painters to guide the boat upstream. So, in the last section, they had waded out into the deeper water, where the current had grabbed their boat and turned it sideways. And there they stood, frozen in place, trying not to be swept downstream. With a mixture of excitement and uncertainty on each of their faces, Leah gripped the bow from the upstream side and Chloe held tight onto the stern from the downstream side. We called out instructions to them, which they could not hear due to the water rushing past them. After a few moments of uncertainty, they managed to overcome the force of the current and maneuver the boat back in line with it and then guide their boat into the shallow water and over to where their comrades and I waited.

As their faces relaxed in triumph, I looked past them to where James Jujaroen and Cecilia Pacillo were using their painters to maneuver their canoe upstream. James had hold of the bowline and leaned at an angle against the boat to hold it with his body weight. Just then, much to James’s surprise, Cecilia let go for a moment, and James toppled backwards into the stream. While keeping the canoe from slipping away, he pulled himself back up, flashing a big smile, and he and Cecilia moved the rest of the way up the stream without further incident.

Back in our canoes, we paddled a short way to a nearby island and pulled over to have lunch. Over more cheese, peanut butter and jelly, salami, carrots, and hummus than we would ever eat at school, the stories of each canoe’s journey upstream were enthusiastically told, some concurrently. Although they had all just made the exact same journey, each person related his or her unique perspective on what the experience had been like. They all agreed that it had been a highlight of the trip, and the two pairs that had had the most challenging journeys up the stream became the loudest proponents for going back down and doing it again.

Lining the canoes was just one part of my Outdoor Experience trip, on which Waynflete graduate Jason Chandler and I were fortunate enough to lead 10 high-spirited, fun-loving, and incredibly kind 11th grade students that journeyed from the deadwaters of the West Branch of the Penobscot down the river and across four lakes. We ran some light rapids. We portaged our canoes around the Debsconeag and Passamagamet Falls and paddled amidst gentle raindrops that literally danced over the otherwise still surface of the lake. We told stories and meditated by the lakeside at night, we camped on beaches and watched a remarkable lightning show way off in the distance that lasted nearly an hour. We explored deep into the ice caves above First Debsconeag Lake and afterwards jumped from the big boulders that line the lake into its refreshing water on a day that reached 85 degrees F.

We started the day of our canoe lining adventure by breaking camp, paddling the last few miles of the Penobscot River into Ambajejus Lake, and stopping off at the Ambajejus Boom House. There we had the pleasure of talking with Chuck Harris, who in the late 1960s had dropped out of art school to come north from Pennsylvania to work the log drives. When the river drives stopped in the early ‘70s, the workers all left except Chuck, who stayed and has lived in the foreman’s cabin ever since, dedicating his life to preserving the memory of the drives by turning the Ambajejus Boom House into a fascinating loggers’ museum and traveling the backwoods of Maine to paint as many of the old boom houses as he could reach. Chuck showed us around the museum and his cabin, and he even took out his guitar and played.

It turns out that there is nothing like a slide blues guitar riff in the morning to get you pumped up for the rest of the day. We left Chuck and the boom house behind and paddled 12 miles and crossed three lakes as the students sang songs from Les Mis and numerous other musicals. We arrived at our destination in the late afternoon. We had enjoyed a blazing campfire, eaten, and cleaned up before storms chased us into our tents. There, accompanied by the falling rain and howling wind, Cecilia told an unforgettable ghost story that was made even more haunting as we listened to her disembodied voice emanating from inside her tent.

You see, when we open the school year with outdoor experience trips, as we have for longer than anyone can seem to remember, we hope for beautiful views, adventurous exploration, the formation of new friendships, the deepening of existing connections, resiliency in the face of appropriate challenge, and a lot of fun. On this trip, all of that happened, and much more in our four days together. While our tents were wet on Friday morning, our spirits were un-dampened as we paddled across the last stretch of water to meet the bus that would take us home.

As we boarded the bus filled with ninth graders fresh off their own experiences at the Chewonki Wilderness Camp on Fourth Debsconeag Lake, we were treated to one last entertainment. With the gear stowed on the bus and most of the canoeists on board, Upper School Director Lowell Libby, who had been with the ninth grade, stooped over to pick up a single boot that had been left aside. When he asked whose it was, Jonas Maines, one boot on and one boot off, burst from the woods and regaled Lowell with a dramatic telling of a tale about being captured by ice cave bandits and his harrowing escape. As I watched Lowell laughing as he filmed Jonas telling his tale, I couldn’t think of a better way to have spent our first week of school.

See his next performance in The Franklin Theater as Reverend Hale in Waynflete’s production of Arthur Miller’s classic, The Crucible, which runs Thursday through Saturday, November 7, 8, and 9.

Important Parent Information from Lowell

Now that we have all returned from Outdoor Experience, I want to highlight some  information that you will find useful as we open the school year.  In the body of this letter, I have reviewed upcoming events.  In the information sheet that follows, I have summarized some important procedures and expectations.  Pay particular attention to your role with attendance.  Parental attention to the attendance procedure helps to ensure that our system is both accurate and efficient, which is essential to a school.  As the year goes on, information will be provided to you on the website and in the Waynflete Weekly.  In addition, I am writing to highlight information that you will find useful as we open the school year.
Open House
Open House for the Middle and Upper Schools will be held on the evening of Wednesday, September 25, running from 6:30 to 9:00.  This program is an important opportunity for parents to meet teachers and advisors and to learn more about the academic and advising programs.  By now you should have received a mailing on this event.
October Break
There is no school on Monday and Tuesday, October 14 and 15.  Seniors who do not have athletic obligations may wish to take this opportunity for college visits.
Calendar Reminder
As you make your plans for December break, remember that exams run through Friday, December 20.  In the event of bad weather, exams may be rescheduled to run as late as 3:00 that day or later for extended time exams.  Please make your plans accordingly.
I had a great time with the ninth grade on Outdoor Experience, which fuels my excitement for the new year.  I look forward to seeing you all at Open House.  Remember to review the enclosed handout carefully.  Call your child’s advisor, Lydia Maier (Dean of Students), Cathie Connors (Upper School Assistant), or me with any questions.

Highlights of Important Procedures in the Upper School
Parent/School Communication: Strong communication with families is fundamentally important to the School.  For matters pertaining to your child’s program, contact the advisor first.  The advisor will facilitate additional communication as needed.  For more general matters, contact Cathie Connors in the Upper School Office at ext. 1233.
Arrival at school:  Homeroom begins at 8:00.  All upper school students, except seniors with privileges, must report to homeroom by 8:05.  Seniors with privileges and first period free are due by 9:05.  Students arriving late must sign-in in the Upper School Office before going to class.
Attendance: When a student will be absent, late, or excused early, the parent calls the School or the student brings a note to the Upper School Office before 8:10.  If a student will be absent for an anticipated reason, s/he completes an Excused Absence Form and submits it to Cathie Connors.  Students missing school for a religious holiday should be called in absent, but they do not need to complete excused absence forms.
The School Day: Once students arrive at school, they are expected to remain on campus.  The bus is considered campus.  Seniors with privileges may leave during free time by signing out in the Upper School Office.   Other students may leave only to attend a school function or with permission from Lowell, Lydia, or Cathie.
The End of the School Day: Seniors with privileges may sign-out after their last obligation, even before the end of the academic day if they do not have an after school activity.  Other students must stay on campus at least through the academic day, even with last period free.  The duration of after school activities varies depending on the activity, the day of the week, and the season.  Please contact the faculty person supervising the activity for a schedule.  Students in a sport or play may have a time gap between the end of the academic day and the beginning of a rehearsal, practice or game.  Such students may leave campus and return for the rehearsal, practice, or game, unless their parents request in writing that they remain on campus.  Students with an I.A.P or who have completed their sport for the season may leave school at the beginning of the gym block on Tuesday and Friday, unless their parents request in writing that they stay on campus.
Student Messages: It is best to make arrangements for the day before school starts.  If you must contact your child through the School Office, call early so the message can be posted on the Message Board.  If you communicate by cell phone, remember that students may only check for messages during free time as otherwise they are asked to keep their phones off.  Please refrain from calling or texting your child during class time.
Driving Policy: If your child is in 10th grade or above, you should have already have completed the US Student and Vehicle Registration Form mailed this summer and linked herewhether or not your child will drive to school this year.  Update it as needed throughout the year.  Students must park as designated in the Handbook.  Students are not allowed, except with permission from the School or if they are seniors, to ride with or transport other students during the school day.   Students are allowed to transport each other to sports practices unless their parents have stated otherwise in writing to athletic director Ross Burdick.

Expectations for Behavior & Consequences for Misbehavior in the Upper School

Philosophical Assumptions: Waynflete’s approach to setting expectations for behavior and responding when expectations are not met follows from the belief expressed in the School Mission that responsible, caring, and contributing behavior “is most effectively encouraged in our students by according them trust and respect.”
Expectations for Behavior: Daily life at Waynflete is guided by the assumption that all members of the community will treat each other with mutual trust and respect.  Students are expected to behave respectfully and appropriately, attend school and class on time, and adhere to campus boundaries.  In the event that a student does not meet such basic expectations, the School responds with a problem-solving intervention.  Some behaviors, however, are so incompatible with fundamental community values that corrective strategies may not be appropriate.  In such an event, the offending student may be suspended, expelled, or placed on probation.   Such behaviors include but are not limited to:
  • Physical or verbal harassment
  • Possession of weapons
  • Acts or threats of violence
  • Use, possession, or distribution of alcohol or other drugs at school, during school events, or on school property
  • Stealing or intentional destruction of property
  • Academic dishonesty
  • Violation of probationary conditions
  • Repeated violations of basic expectations

Consequences for Misbehavior: The following outlines the School’s typical responses to misbehavior:
Violation of a Basic Expectation:
If a student violates a basic expectation, the faculty most closely involved engage in a problem solving process with the student to ensure that the behavior is not repeated.  Logical consequences are assigned as needed.  The plan and consequences are communicated as needed.  Parents may  or may not be involved in this process.
Violation of a Major Expectation:
If a student violates a major expectation, the first step is usually for the student to be suspended from school until a meeting can be arranged to include the student, the advisor, the student’s parents, the Upper School Director, and the Head of School.  The purpose of the meeting is to determine whether or not the student will be allowed to continue at Waynflete and, if so, under what conditions.  That decision is made at the sole discretion of the Head.  If a student is allowed to stay, s/he is placed on probation and the conditions of probation are spelled out in writing.

Opera Comes to the North Woods of Maine

An illustrated synopsis of 9th Grade Outdoor Experience 2013
By Lowell Libby, Upper School Director
It was an unlikely place and a less likely circumstance for Leah Israel, Waynflete ninth grader, when she took to the stage last Thursday evening.  By then, Leah and her classmates had already had a busy week.  Waynflete’s ninth graders left Portland early Tuesday morning and headed north to the Nahmakanta Public Reserve.  The Reserve, which is part of a giant swath of preserved wilderness in north central Maine that also includes the Appalachian Trail Corridor, The Nature Conservancy’s Katahdin Forest Project, and Baxter State Park, is home to the Chewonki Foundation’s Debsconeag Lake Wilderness Camp on Fourth Debsoneag Lake, which serves as base camp for the ninth grade Outdoor Experience program.  Divided into six groups that will meet weekly throughout the upcoming year for the ninth grade seminar, the students began their Upper School experience with four days of building outdoor and mindfulness skills and awareness, getting to know each other and faculty outside regular school activities, and having lots of challenge and fun in the process.

 

The Thursday of her performance, Leah and her seminar group woke up in their tents on the banks of Nahmakanta Lake, where they had paddled the day before.  After breakfast they broke camp, paddled back down the lake, and were joined by a second group of campers.  They then settled into an orienteering lesson lead by a Chewonki staff member and your faithful reporter.  The lesson began by asking students to look for clues in their environment to determine which way is north.  When asked to point north, the students’ vividly demonstrated why an orienteering lesson was in order as their theories varied widely.  Motivated by the news that they would be navigating the two miles back to base camp where lunch would be waiting, students paid close attention to the lesson and poured attentively over the maps as they learned the basics of how to navigate without a GPS.

 

Having arrived at base camp, the two seminar groups moved their gear into the yurts where they would staying and reported to the main lodge where English teacher turned master chef Lorry Stillman had prepared yet another nutritious and delicious feast.   After lunch, the orienteering lesson continued with a climb to the bald top of the steep cliffs that rise 800’ above the lake level to study the spectacular surrounding topography.  Back at the lake after their strenuous ascent, they were joined by two other groups that had been out on a day long hike, relaxed by swimming, and then reported to the lodge to help Lorry prepare dinner for the students and staff at base camp.

 

After dinner, two of the groups met with Dean of Students Lydia Maier for the evening program.  Each evening during the week, groups took turns circling up in a yurt and taking the time to consider the poignant moment of transition into the Upper School.  After role-playing various parts of the brain, students reflected on how fear can motivate or hold back active engagement with their lives and relationships.  Sitting in silence allowed the students to tune into their body signals for stress or relaxation.  They explored how awareness of emotions expands their options for positive and empathetic responses.  On that final night, the students sat in mindful silence for fifteen minutes as the first rain of the week fell and lightning lit up their circle in memorable intervals.  As they embark on their journeys into the Upper School, it was inspiring to hear how many students already practice self care, enhancing the likelihood that they will contribute to making a resilient Upper School community built on shared experience.

 

Meanwhile, the other two groups, including Leah’s, met in the lodge after dinner clean-up was complete for a hotly contested game of Minute to Win It hosted by science teacher turned game show host Neil Rice.  The competition included such events as juggling balloons, flipping and catching pencils, and moving Oreo cookies from the eye socket to the mouth without the use of hands.  The evening was filled with the thrill of triumph and the anguish of defeat.
The final event featured each team’s choice to show off a special talent.  The first contestant tried stand-up comedy, the second danced the Cancan (which we suspect hadn’t happened in the north woods for quite some time).  And then Leah stepped onto the stage, a modest cleared space amidst the dining hall tables. Accompanied only by rain pounding on the metal roof, she belted out an aria that filled the lodge, blew away the competition, and then, when she had finished and was high-fiving with her triumphant teammates, rolled through the surrounding hills and forest to the heavy clapping thunder.

 

And so ended another highly successful week for a ninth grade class in the north woods.  We returned to civilization the next day, carrying with us new skills and confidence, fresh and freshened friendships, strengthened connections to the natural world, and happy, vivid memories as we head into the school year.