Friday, March 24, 2017

Students leading the way! IRACE, PI Day, Robotics, Ultimate

Students leading the way! IRACE, PI Day, robotics, ultimate - the environment we have prepared and the leadership that students are bringing to the forefront of our school!

Hello community, and happy spring Break! 

This week marks the turning officially into spring, with our equinox on March 20. So many wonderful things are taking place here this month, preparing for the coming spring season and finding the fruits of the year of planning.

What is remarkable to me is that each of the following activities, clubs, highlights and events are organized by student leaders. Also, these events have carried on for more than 6 years at great river school, demonstrating that a culture of sustained student leadership is present at the school and successfully passes on organizational wisdom from one older class to the younger students. Irace and Pi Day are events, robotics and ultimate are sustained team activities, and each demonstrate the level of excellence that students push themselves and each other through intrinsic motivation and ambition to do well because students are passionate about the projects. 

A few of these student highlights, in case you missed them from the month!

- PI day celebrated the mystery and sometimes silliness of the irrational number PI! Students grades 4-10 took place in a celebration, if able to recite 15 digits (3.14159265358979) then a piece of edible pie would honor the reciter! 
- A new school record was set by Louisa Weston, who recited 1,234 digits of Pi! (see link here to video)

Robotics and Ultimate are overlapping for one short month  now, with the FIRST robotics team wrapping up it's competition season as well as pursuing our second trip to nationals in 3 years. See the team 2491 website here! This team is student-led, student-sustained, and students are the main presenters in the fundraising the team does each year of over $50,000 worth of sponsorship from local STEM companies to build each year's robot. Ultimate starts competition in April, and our Women's varsity team is seeking a repeat of their two consecutive state championships! See Stars Ultimate website here

And we also saw another amazing organizational effort for our annual IRACE day. For 6 years, this has been a day where students have invited scholars to come to Great River School and discuss Identity, Race, Awareness, and Cultural/Community Education. The day again emphasized that our students are on the cutting edge of discussions about justice and society, and many of the speakers, scholars, and community leaders who attended commented that this is the kind of workshop that usually is only seen at high-quality University or Graduate school programs. As our keynote speaker for the day - Dr. Arnoldo Curiel - said to the 300 7th-12th grade students "Use this day and the opportunity to reflect on what's comfortable, what's right, and what you'll do in your life to act on the difference between those two experiences." 

In honor of spring and the remarkably thoughtful and well planned experience at IRACE this year, I offer this poem, but Imtiaz Dharker - I believe our Montessori mission is to create a world that is more fair, just, and humane for all human beings, and the feeling of being a 'foreigner' is especially prescient for adolescent students: 

‘MINORITY’ BY IMTIAZ DHARKER

I was born a foreigner.
I carried on from there
to become a foreigner everywhere
I went, even in the place
planted with my relatives,
six-foot tubers sprouting roots,
their fingers and faces pushing up
new shoots of maize and sugar cane.
All kinds of places and groups
of people who have an admirable
history would, almost certainly,
distance themselves from me.
I don’t fit,
like a clumsily-translated poem;
like food cooked in milk of coconut
where you expected ghee or cream,
the unexpected aftertaste
of cardamom or neem.
There’s always that point where
the language flips
into an unfamiliar taste;
where words tumble over
a cunning tripwire on the tongue;
where the frame slips,
the reception of an image
not quite tuned, ghost-outlined,
that signals, in their midst,
an alien.
And so I scratch, scratch
through the night, at this
growing scab on black on white.
Everyone has the right
to infiltrate a piece of paper.
A page doesn’t fight back.
And, who knows, these lines
may scratch their way
into your head –
through all the chatter of community,
family, clattering spoons,
children being fed –
immigrate into your bed,
squat in your home,
and in a corner, eat your bread,
until, one day, you meet
the stranger sidling down your street,
realise you know the face
simplified to bone,
look into its outcast eyes
and recognise it as your own.