Monday, October 19, 2009

Curious Epicures: The Feast was Fabulous!

I want to send huge thanks out to all of you who attended or helped with the North African Feast for our Curious Epicures event yesterday. It was a glowing occasion, full of laughter, warm light, mesmerizing music, exotic flavors and aromas, beautiful art and most of all, you. The community of SK families, alumni, friends who were there is very special to me; I can't describe the feeling I get when I think about you all together sharing this amazing experience in support of our kids and our school.

There are many people whose hard work made this event the runaway success that it was. Alex Young, the master chef behind Zingerman's Roadhouse, worked with our children to produce the phenomenal meal and was unfailing sweet, kind, warm, generous, and just plain adorable throughout. Thank you, Alex, for making this such a special experience for these children. I know for a fact that it is a memory they will carry with them. My own two boys have worked with you twice now, and you have semi-divine status.

(So go to Zingerman's Roadhouse, people, and if you see Alex, thank him again. And while you're there, have lunch, or dinner, or coffee - the food is pure poetry.)

Julie Martin provided henna art, and she was the sensation of the evening. Upwards of sixty children surrounded her and she decorated them with elegant, exotic designs, and treated them all with her wonderful, warm, gentle sweetness. If you ever want to treat yourself or your friends to a beautiful henna tattoo, her web site is here. Thank you, Julie!

Laith Alattar played the oud as you might hear it in an Arabian Nights story. Our very own Summers-Knoll children followed with singing, playing and dancing from their North African music classes. The wonderful Jan Biliti led them, and Jesse Metcalf-Burton and Renata McAdams danced sumptuously. It is such a treat to work with faculty that have so many varied and fascinating talents! Thank you, Laith, and thank you to all our children and teachers for the gorgeous entertainment.

Thank you also to our sponsors and donors, who made this event possible. Our deep gratitude goes to the following organizations: please thank them by patronizing their business. You can reach their web sites by clicking on their name:

Eat Local, Eat Natural

Whole Foods
Mighty Good Coffee
Weber's Restaurant and Hotel
Invisible Engines Design
Main Dish Kitchen
Tantre Farms
Maplewood Lanes
Aladdin's Market (no web site for this one, but it is a great little grocery store at 3188 Packard, Ann Arbor 48108)

And of COURSE, Zingerman's Roadhouse and Arbor Henna.

Huge thanks also to our wonderful volunteers:
Students of Pioneer High School
Christine Moellering
Robbin Hitchins - and the amazing support team she brought with her
Anthony Nitsos
The SK faculty

And last but absolutely not least, I want to give a huge shout-out to the incredible team that brought this whole event together. Heidi Robb, Fran Loosen, Karen Bayoneto, Linette Lao, Ruth Marks - your dynamic energy, constant attention to detail, forward-thinking, ability to collaborate and problem-solve, and fantastic good will and generosity made this event happen. You are the Power team, goddesses all. Thank you so much.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

SK Graduate in the News: Congratulations, Katie!

Sometimes people ask me what happens to our students after they graduate from Summers-Knoll. Of course, they go many and varied routes and do many and varied things, but right now Katie O'Brien, a Summers-Knoll middle school graduate and currently a senior at Community High, is part of a team that works on the Communicator, the Community High School student-run newspaper. Katie and her fellow journalists recently found out that their work is up for the highly prestigious Pacemaker award, and they will be going to Washington DC for the ceremony. As Katie told me, 'We are 1 of 7 news-magazine style school papers up for the Pacemaker award which is considered the Pulitzer of scholastic journalism.' There is an article about it here.

Katie told me how she found out about it:

"A few weeks ago, Tracy, our adviser for Communicator, pulled up the web page for National Scholastic Press Association to talk about our upcoming trip to D.C. There is a convention ever year where they hand out awards. So we are looking through the pages of different awards and when she gets to the Pacemaker she starts scrolling really really slowly then stops and we see the cover of the Communicator and we're all really excited. She had known for a while but was pretending she didn't. It surprised all of us, because the Communicator has never been up for this award! She was a good actress, because some people thought she hadn't known and were asking why NSPA wouldn't contact her."

So, congratulations, Katie! I'm so proud of you! I can't help thinking back to the days of our 'Gorgeous Writing' EBs, when you really started writing with joy. Remember the hot chocolate? Have a great time on your trip to Washington DC, enjoy the awards ceremony - and whether the Communicator wins or not, know that your hard work and creative spirit have paid off and you have made a difference. I can't wait to see what you do next!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

'Moon Wolf' update

I want to share a little bit of news with you about the book our children created last year. Today Susan Carpenter sent me a response from a preschool teacher friend in Boston, to whom Susan had sent 'Moon Wolf' some time ago. She says:

I wanted to let you know that we are introducing our moon curriculum next week and we are using Moon Wolf to do that. We are learning about pumpkins this coming week and then turning to the moon. Rosh Chodesh is a jewish holiday that comes once a month and celebrates the new moon. Thanks for sending the book to me.

Our SK children have created curriculum for children in Massachusetts! One small step in our quest to take over the world. ;)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Preparations for the Summers-Knoll Eco-Fair

The end of October is approaching fast, and I want to alert you to a great SK tradition: Eco-Fair! This is the Summers-Knoll version of Halloween, and it happens like this.

Between now and October 30th (a Friday) the children need to spend time with you at home, making costumes to wear for our festivities on the 30th. We hugely encourage costumes to be made out of re-used and recycled materials - a big part of this is helping the children understand the fun and satisfaction that can come from earth-friendly practices. It also encourages creative thinking, problem-solving, out-of-the-box (or sometimes inside the box, in the case of Maria's tree costume above) strategizing, as well as a host of practical skills. As you can see from the photos above, pretty much anything can play a role in creating a fun costume - they don't have to be extensive or sophisticated; it's the children's input that makes them special. (I wore a white sheet and was Mount Everest...)

On October 30th, we hold our Eco-Fair. Details will come later through the classroom teachers, but as an overview I can reveal that there will be different stations throughout the school where the children can participate in a range of ecological activities - hands-on making, experimenting, discovering, creating - that encourage the students to think about the value of the natural world and things we can do to help sustain it.

There will be healthy and earth-friendly snacks. If your child has allergies, please send a special treat for him or her on this day.

More information later!