Head Of School Journal: Faculty Reflections From Camping Trip 2018

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Dear Waring Community,

We have now just begun our official classes (what most schools would mark as the “start” of year), but we have also just come off a wonderful week at Northwoods Camp in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. This journey into the outdoors is where the Waring year really begins.

Waring’s relationship with Northwoods YMCA Camp began in the mid ’80s. Several on the Faculty have attended over 25 trips to Lake Winnipesaukee, with veteran teacher Jim Watras, for example, holding a record of somewhere around 30 trips… including his years on sabbatical. This year, we are particularly grateful for teacher Edith Fouser, who, just returning from her own sabbatical, took on the role of lead organizer of the Camping Trip, facilitating a flawless schedule of events and promoting a culture of all hands on deck.

Waring’s Camping Trip is much more than a simple tradition. It is anything but perfunctory: each year, we revise the program, offering different outdoor experiences and setting a tone for a culture of student- and faculty-led experiences, mixed-age activities, discussions of summer readings, and an evolution of what will define that year for Waring School. The trip is an entrée into what we are and who we are in any given year. The students and faculty enjoy some continued traditions — such as singing with inspirational song-leader, Nick Page, living in cabins as a Tutorial, eating meals all together, engaging in community service in Wolfeboro — as well as creating spontaneous activities. The leadership of the Senior class becomes even more evident and powerful: this Class of 2019 set a tone of inclusion from the outset, leading us in all-school games on Tuesday, coordinating a Coffee House on Thursday night with an orientation toward full-school sing-alongs, and capping off the week with the ebullient traditions of Tutorial games.

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But don’t take my word for it.

Please hear the following words of Faculty and Staff who recently shared these souvenirs from last week:

Delighting in seeing the personal growth in some students that occurred over the summer, such as seeing a student who had been shy and reserved last year proudly greeting new students and acting as an ambassador: introducing them to others and making sure they had a place where to sit.

The joy of reading my cabin to sleep with stories from When the Sea Turned to Silver.

Group 1 went into Wolfeboro and interviewed residents about the upcoming elections: liberals, conservatives, undecided, and those that didn’t even know that there was an election coming up. Group 1 also visited the Wright Museum, learning all about WWII, the homefront and the Pacific & European fronts. The docents at the museum were impressed with us. On the way home, some asked, “Can we keep doing this kind of hands-on learning?”

 
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I smile to myself when I think about our Tutorial laughing and playing a fun fact-guessing game in the cabin while it rained – it was the best way to get to know each other!

Seeing John Wiggs walking quietly towards the lake upon his return from the Arctic with kids all running around the quad and him just taking it all in; and the standing ovation upon his return at Thursday’s dinner…

One image that sticks with me is a Group 3 student tearing up as I told her that she’d been chosen to do community service for the infants at the Wolfeboro Children’s Center. (When I asked her about it later, she said that working with infants is her “dream job” and that she’s been a mother’s helper since she was 8!)

I always love camping trip. Whether it’s catching that North Woods sunset in the 5 minutes between dinner and Nick Page, whether it’s noticing how many more stars there are when you’re really in the dark, whether it’s cheering on the Cross-Country runners as they descend into Wolfeboro after 6.3 miles – I would happily exist on camping trip far beyond our short 4 day trip.

Listening to and watching our Tutorial’s senior earnestly guide her fellow tutees on their writing prompts in our cabin was a highlight for me.  

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Oh, how marvelous to work in a place that provides the space to be lying in the dark under a clear and expansive night sky, stargazing and pondering the immensity of our universe (and how small we are within it) with a thoughtful and articulate 7th grader. In that moment we are in it together, learning from each other and our rich, vast surroundings.

Theatre on Camping Trip this year felt particularly successful. We started with our seniors taking Senior Sports Option talking about their plans for the season, and also how they would still involve themselves in the fall play. […] Yes it was hot as all get out, and there was rain, and when I looked at the kids on Thursday afternoon they had positively melted, but my takeaway is how welcoming our current students were to our new students. Having the luxury of time to explore craft, experiment, and get to know each other is really a gift. Our ensemble ebbs and flows over the course of a year, and it’s so gratifying to begin from such a place of warmth, strength, and shared vision.

Star-gazing with John Wiggs’ Tutorial: unforgettable! We had never seen so many shooting stars and our ages ranged from 12 to 45!

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I was sitting in the dining area at night with our new calculus teacher, Anton. The door opened at the other end of the hall.  Anton asked, “what was that?”  I said, oh, just someone looking in, I guess. Anton was not satisfied with leaving the mystery unsolved. He walked to the end of the room then came back and said, “A skunk came in then left when it saw me. It was black and white; it had to be a skunk!” I replied, “Yes, but don’t you want to work on your Calculus?”

We lay on our backs and caught a shooting star. We sat up and read our fears out loud. We watched them curl in the flames until nothing was left but a single swoop of orange. Then that too disappeared like the Cheshire cat’s smile. 

We now venture into the equally exhilarating business of Waring’s “regular” class schedule. And yet, we carry the spirit of Northwoods in our every endeavor, each day adventuring, each day creating the experience of all voices… and of one Waring School.

Best wishes!


Tim Bakland
Head of School 

P.S. For more Camping Trip photos, click here!

Eight Reasons Why Waring Endterm Rocks

This spring, Waring students built a skiff, interviewed political candidates, created a video game, wrote novellas, sewed rompers, travelled to Canada, designed theater sets, programmed robots, studied the World Cup, recreated historical photographs, and pondered the good life as part of a three-week Endterm for grades 6-10. The term is intensive, experiential, and often involves off-campus or travel experiences.

What makes it great? Why does it fit Waring’s core philosophy?

In their own words, eight Waring students explain why:

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1. Follow your passion
“If it’s something that you really like, that you’re passionate about, you’re able to do that thing every single day, all day, for three weeks. Having more time to focus on your passion–it feels really good to be able to get it all out.” – Kira Baxter ’22

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2. Learn with professionals
“We had this chance to go and use Harvard’s machines in labs that so many people want to go to. We got to go there as high school and middle school students. It was a really unique opportunity.” – Phoebe Holz ’20

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3. Work as a team
“You don’t see all the progress that has been done in one day because you’re just focused on your one part. But at the end of the day, when we put everything together, you can really see the boat coming to shape. It’s a super cool experience because it’s not just you building a boat. It’s a group of people working together to build a boat.  – Cole Ferguson Sauder ’21

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4. Develop new skills
“In regular school, you’re working for one hour on humanities, an hour on writing or math, but now, during Endterm, it’s one category for the entire three weeks. It’s really fun to see yourself develop in that field a lot in just a short time.” – Benny Weedon ’20

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5. More experiences, less tests
“Instead of ending with finals or more classes, we end class early and have this intensive, which I think is very Waring. Instead of ending with a bunch of standardized tests, we focus in on a different topic and you can go explore it.” – Henry Symes ’20

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6. Learn by doing
“We try and figure it out on our own. They let us make mistakes and let us learn from them. It’s a really awesome way for me to learn, and it’s taught me that in the future, when I want to teach people things, this is a really awesome way to do it. – Claire Rhyneer ’21

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7. Discover new talents
“When I was in sixth grade and just starting Waring, I was very tentative to try anything artsy, but Endterm helped me discover my strengths and interests. I realized there was a lot more to art than just black and white pencil. I realized my strength was actually poetry and watercolor. Knowing that made me realize that there is a lot more to art and writing that I had no clue about and that I might actually be very talented in.” – Ilaria Bardini ’20

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8. Promote camaraderie between groups
“Endterm is mixed age in a similar way to Tutorial. It’s to promote camaraderie between a sixth grader and say a sophomore… It’s only in these settings that a sixth grader could get critiqued on their work by a freshman – or the other way around.” – Campbell Boisvert ’20

Earth Science at Singing Beach, by John Wigglesworth

170621c-waring-0202.jpgWaring is a school that thrives on the challenge of blending innovation with tradition. The things we do such as, Camping Trip, All-School Meeting, Tutorial, and Soirées are part of our past but equally critical to our future if we are to remain true to our soul and culture as a school. To keep these programs fresh we continually try to think differently about them, cautious of the status quo. All areas of our program are in the constant effort to be innovative with tradition; and one example is the Earth Science Program for Group 1. This fall marks the 15th year of the Singing Beach Project. In that Earth Science helps students understand how the spheres of the land, the ocean, and the atmosphere interact to make our planet function as it does, studying the impact of seasonal weather on the profile of Singing Beach has been a tradition of the Group 1 science for many years. What better place to study to the interaction of land, ocean and weather than the beach?

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In September of each year since 2002, Group 1 science sections use their lab period to conduct a transect study of the beach from the backshore, across the berm, to the waters edge. Along their transect they measure the change in elevation of the beach at 2 meter intervals. Using the computer lab at school and Excel spreadsheets, the students use their measure of the cumulative change in elevation to graph the profile of the beach. In addition they collect sand at the berm and use the Wentworth Sediment scale to evaluate the size and composition of a 100 grams of the sample. In April, students replicate their transect, graph a spring profile of the beach, and collect a spring sample of sand. Students compare and contrast the Fall to the Spring data in a formal lab report and poster presentation. Year after year, the Singing Beach Project gives the 8th grade students the opportunity to participate in authentic research. “What is the effect of seasonal weather on the profile of the beach?” is a real research question. Conducting transects imagejpeg_2on the beach is collecting real data and making sense of the weather conditions over the school year is an ongoing effort to blend observation of the sky with interpretation of weather maps and weather reports. Collecting, organizing, displaying, interpreting, and presenting data is the goal of any statistics course.

Over the years, I have observed the pattern of the beach profile to be consistent with the concept of winter and summer beach; that is, each winter, weather and wave energy is such that it tends to erode the berm and transport the sand offshore and in the summer the more gentile wave energy tends to transport sand toward the beach and build up the berm once again.

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The Singing Beach Project is a Waring tradition and after 15 years of bringing innovation and energy to the project to keep it fresh, I am pleased that The Waring Industrial Park (WIP) has become a reality. The WIP will offer new opportunities for this right of passage within the eighth grade science program.

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Not only can we simulate winter and summer beach with our wave tank, we can also use our 3D software and printers to make a model of the beach that will complement our 2 dimensional profiles.

Blending innovation with tradition, thinking differently about how to do the same thing, and doing real work is something that I see happening in every room and in every nook and cranny of the Waring campus. It is exciting to be a teacher here.