Meet Coach Sarah

Meet Coach Sarah

by Melanie Ingler | Communications Coordinator

Coach Sarah Triolo comes to WSP with a background in kinesiology, fitness, sports nutrition, and enjoys working with people who are struggling with health issues. We are so excited that Coach Sarah has expanded her pre-pandemic WSP role from middle school volleyball coach to Athletic Director and PE teacher for grades 6 – 9.

During the pandemic, Sarah overheard her son’s high school Zoom PE class plod through Standards Tests and rote repetition. She was inspired to create a way to not only make movement and activity more fun, but to help students learn how to integrate overall wellness and health into other activities. She wants our students to learn that improvement, not an arbitrary number, is the goal.

In Sarah’s first year her primary goal has been to make movement and activity fun for students in hopes that as they grow they will gravitate towards recreational movement as an opportunity for relaxation and enjoyment. She wants them to build positive associations with physical activity now that will keep them active for years to come.

In middle school, the students have been doing relay races, but not as you might imagine. In addition to typical running, they also run backwards and skip. When they finished for the first time she told the students they had run ¼ of a mile and they were so surprised! The students had fun working up to one mile without even realizing it. One student even said, “Who knew running could be so fun?” Some of her classes have also played variations of Ultimate, where they have made up their own rules. The group went from many students learning how to throw a disc short distances, to the group using up nearly the entire length of the field at the park for their games.

Another way that Sarah is working towards this goal is to show the students various ways that are readily accessible to them, with little to no equipment or financial investments required. For example, she took a class to the skate park at Rengstorff Park to do parkour. Some students immediately said “I can’t do it,” but she said, “You can!” And they did! They challenged themselves and succeeded, improving a bit class by class. Parkour is an example of an activity which is really good for developing core strength without the typical repetitive drills or standard push ups, pull ups, squats. And all you have to do is just try.

She has also incorporated physiology into their lessons and focused on helping the students learn to listen to their bodies. They have found and measured their heart rates learned to calculate their maximum heart rate and learned the meaning of both. The classes spent several weeks doing yoga and working on breathing techniques and ways to lower their heart rates and relax. They discussed other times in which that could be useful, such as if they are stressed or nervous about something. Some noted they could use it before presentations in class, or during high-pressure moments in team sports, like a free throw. Sarah is also planning to work on practical daily movements such as the proper ways to lift objects and how to carry this knowledge into other areas of their life to avoid injuries down the line.

Looking ahead this year Sarah has planned for classes including rock climbing, which will encourage students to reach and stretch, a unit on wheels and balance where they will work with scooters, bicycles, roller skates and skateboards, and nutrition where they will learn about nutritional labels, and what “eating from the rainbow means and how each color provides different nutrients. In future years Sarah is even hoping to add some new league sports such as swimming and golf.

We are so lucky to have Coach Sarah creating such fun and meaningful athletics experiences that will serve our students for years to come.

WSP’s Roots and Branches in Full Bloom on GrandFriends’ Day

WSP’s Roots and Branches in Full Bloom on GrandFriends’ Day

by Marina Budrys | HS Faculty and GrandFriends’ Day Event Coordinator

chalkboard drawing of an adult with grey hair and two children with their feet in a streamOn the night before the Los Altos campus GrandFriends Day, I woke up many times. I’m no diagnosed insomniac but I definitely struggle to sleep when big events or new responsibilities are on the horizon. To my sleep-deprived 3AM self, welcoming 80 guests to our campus after a two year hiatus suddenly seemed totally crazy. I checked the weather and saw, to my dismay, that rain was predicted. How had I not thought of a contingency plan for this?

Fast forward a few hours, several raindrops fell. And that was it. Guests snacked on scones and croissants from Midwife and the Baker. Introductions were made. Conversations started. What followed was a lovely coming together of young and old. Generations met one another on the playground, in a circle, partnering for mathematical equations, and creating props for a play. I peaked over the nursery fence and saw GrandFriends holding hands with little ones, singing. My heart filled. What a special and unique experience this was. What an expression of what our community is. The following morning in Mountain View was just as special. GrandFriends reflected on their experiences being in the classroom. Some of their observations included the words joy, empowered, community, respect, super, and wisdom.

We are more than individual faculty, student, and parent. We are an extension of every community of which we are a part. Inviting and hosting the important roots and branches of our community allowed me to realize that this school is an ever shifting and living organism. Instead of a rigid structure, it reflects and is what the community is. My favorite quote from Rudolf Steiner is an oft used one but also appropriate for reflecting on this moment: “A healthy social life is found only when, in the mirror of each soul, the whole community finds its reflection, and when, in the whole community, the virtue of each one is living.”

WSP Hosts FIRST Tech Challenge Robotics Tournament

WSP Hosts FIRST Tech Challenge Robotics Tournament

by Melanie Ingler | Communications Coordinator

16 local schools competed in a FIRST Tech Challenge Qualifying Tournament at our beautiful campus in Mountain View earlier this month. For many teams, this was one of the first in-person competitions since the start of COVID.

FIRST Tech Challenge teams are composed of students from grades 7 – 12. They are challenged to design, build, program, and operate robots to compete in a head-to-head challenge in an alliance format. Each team is guided by adult coaches and mentors from their school or community as they develop STEM skills and practice engineering principles, while realizing the value of hard work, innovation, and working as a team.

The winning alliance from Saturday’s event was captained by team 12635, “Kuriosity Robotics” a community affiliate team, with their alliance partner from team 13216 “Deja Vu” from Santa Clara High School & 49ers STEM Leadership Institute (SLI). A full list of the award recipients can be found online.

As a host team, our robotics team, the Walbots, did not compete. They joined forces with 78 other volunteers who gave up their Saturday to make the event possible. Parents, students, alumni, faculty, staff, of the Waldorf School of the Peninsula, along with other community members served as judges, inspectors, scorekeepers, referees and more!

FIRST’s ethos of “Gracious Professionalism and Collaboration” was evident throughout the event. Participants from the 16 teams enjoyed the school’s campus, especially the massive garden. They took breaks from working on their robots to hold chickens, jump on tree stumps, play football, tetherball, or ping pong, and enjoy the rope swings hanging from a nearby tree. One participant said, “The whole event had a fun, chill, vibe and was so much fun.”

Due to covid, there have been a reduced number of in-person tournaments, and a limited number of teams permitted at the events. While teams are able to compete up to three times to attempt to earn a spot at the NorCal Regional Championships, this year many teams have been limited to just one in-person event, if at all. This inspired Walbots Team Captain Lysander Schmidt and Team Sponsor Dr. Lea Fredrickson to approach WSP with the idea of the school hosting, not just the school’s first robotics tournament but, their first tournament of any kind on their Mountain View campus. At the end of the day, the joy of this major accomplishment was emanating from all of the parent, teacher, student, and administrative volunteers; and of course the Walbots!

 

Lunar New Year Then and Now

Lunar New Year Then and Now

An interview with WSP Parent and Early Childhood Assistant, Yixin Zhang

by Christine McQuade-Hsu | Advancement Director

How did you celebrate the Lunar New Year when you were growing up?
I was born in China and grew up in China. Although we have many festivals, Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, has been my favorite festival since I was a young kid.

In my memory, when I was little, my parents didn’t have any days off except during Spring Festival. They stayed at home and the whole family was very busy shopping, cleaning, cooking, etc. My sisters and I were allowed to watch TV shows at any time without time restrictions.

The most important time during the long Spring Festival was New Year’s Eve. My parents usually spent the whole day preparing for the New Year’s Eve dinner. You could find almost all of the best food on the New Year’s Eve dining table, which were hard to obtain for daily meals, or foods with good meanings, ie. fish was a must-have, as it means “surplus”, having surplus year after year, surplus in money, food, and clothes.

New Year’s Eve dinner belonged to the whole family. The fireworks were the favorite activity for young children. My sisters and I were allowed to stay awake to see the fireworks at midnight. Every family fired the fireworks starting around 11 pm and continued for about one and half hours. The loud sounds of fireworks drowned out all of the other sounds: people’s talk, TV shows, etc. People enjoyed the noises and wished the best for the new year in the splendid flames of the fireworks.

My sisters and I were not allowed to get up late on the first day of the Spring Festival although we went to bed at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Another round of fireworks sounded violently again in the early morning.

Afterward, every family member changed to new clothes dedicated to the new year. My sisters and I bowed down to my parents to wish them a happy new year with good health. My parents sent the red envelopes to each of us, which was my whole year’s allowance. I usually spent the money on books and magazines.

Then, my favorite festival tradition followed: dumplings for breakfast, which was a tradition for the first day of the Lunar New Year, and particularly special compared to our everyday breakfast of porridge. When I was young, dumplings of all kinds were my favorite food.

We spent the entire first day visiting neighbors, friends, and relatives, with every pocket filled with candies. People in the streets had smiling faces and greeted each other: “Guo Nian Hao!”, which means “Happy New Year!“

Children were gathering together to show off their new clothes, and to compete for who got the maximum amount of candies and the best candies. Boys played with the small firecrackers which didn’t need a lighter but when slammed into the ground would cause a crisp sound to pop up.

What are some of your favorite ways to celebrate it now?
Now, I live overseas with my family. Usually, we have a simplified version of the Chinese New Year celebration. We keep the main elements of the traditions: dumplings, red envelopes, cleaning, visiting, and greeting friends, inviting relatives for the New Year’s Eve dinner.

Instead of spending time watching TV shows, we go outside to attend the celebrations in some museums. San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum is one of the places I recommend to everyone who wants to know more about the Chinese New Year.

The Lion Dance is also a good one. I had never seen it when I was in China because it was popular in the very South of China, and I was born in North China. My daughter Yumeng, who is a 6th grader now, was fascinated with the Lion Dances when she was little.

Could you suggest any activities, recipes, crafts for others to try?
If writing Spring Festival couplets in Calligraphy are too difficult for you, Paper Cutting is a craft that you definitely want to try with your children. You could follow this video to make a beautiful pattern for your windows.

Some people refer to the Lunar New Year as a Spring Festival. Could you explain?
The Spring Festival has a long history. It originated from the activities of worshiping gods and ancestors at the beginning and end of the year in the Yin and Shang Dynasties which was more than three thousand years ago.

In ancient China, the Lunar Calendar was used officially and popularly, like today’s solar calendar. The New Year’s celebration started on the 8th day of lunar December and ended at the night of 15th day in lunar January as the Lantern Festival. The peak time of the whole celebration was the first day of the lunar year to celebrate the coming of the spring and people would begin the farming tasks after the long winter break. People worshiped the gods for a smooth, happy, and good harvest year.

Spring Festival was another name for the Lunar New Year.

Do you have any new year’s wishes you’d like to share?
The British poet P.B.Shelley said, “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”

As 2022’s Spring Festival is coming on February 1st, the year of the tiger, according to the legend of Chinese New Year, the monster of “Nian” who ate people once a year during the beginning of the New Year, was scared by the loud noise of fireworks, the red staff i.e. red decorations including red couplets, red paper cuttings sticking on the window glass, red clothes etc. The “Nian” never comes again.

I wish the world will conquer the “monster” of the COVID-19, which will be going away soon and never come back, as what the wise ancient Chinese did to “Nian”. And that we will have a really nice spring without masks. Our beautiful smiles will be fully presented and we will be breathing freely the fresh air anywhere.

Happy Spring Festival!
Happy Lunar New Year!
Happy Chinese New Year!

High School Met Gala — An Experiential Review

High School Met Gala — An Experiential Review

by Rich Armstrong | WSP Music Teacher and HS Dance DJ

The High School Courtyard was magically transformed into a red-carpeted, paparazzi-infused tunnel that opened into an art gallery and dance hall. Much effort was made to give the students an amazing experience, complete with a snack bar and a “chill” room that featured table and dance video games. I was the DJ pumping tunes in the beautifully-lit dance club area, featuring literally thousands of lights, a welcoming dance floor, and four thousand watts of well-tempered sound.

I was immediately wowed by the amazing effort put forth by the dance committee. Students had helped set up throughout the day, and when I arrived after school to set up the DJ equipment, I saw a diligent team of parents, admin, and teachers working full-steam to get things ready for the dance. Final touches were being put on the “paparazzi” area, such as lighting and even stanchions to rope the paparazzi away from the future stars as they arrived. The red carpet was being double-taped to the floor, and you could tell a magical night was ahead, with all the lights that were carefully placed all around the fully tented outdoor area. At the 7 pm start of the dance, it seemed all of the finishing touches were just completed.

Everything looked amazing, and I noticed a really cool touch: an art area complete with framed paintings that were done by the students. It helped complete the vision of an art gala. Students started trickling in, dressed to the nines in ballgowns, suits, and even some costumes that were artfully fashioned with much imagination, echoing the amazing outfits you’d see at the actual Met Gala. Slicked-back hair, and bow ties were prevalent throughout the growing crowd. It was fun to see these young adults so dressed up and energized after taking tons of arrival pics with the “paparazzi,” expertly staffed by parents and teachers of the school.

It usually takes a while to get the students dancing, so I played some of my favorite chill music and then started in with some songs to warm them up. I knew the students had learned all styles of dance from Dr. Lea Fredrickson, so I asked her for a few requests to get the ball rolling. I played a few line dances to tempt them in, and some Bee Gee’s disco got them on the floor with the hustle. It was a joy to see them do the hustle and even swing dance. Having dance in their curriculum is really unique to this school (starting in middle school) and it really shows on the dance floor in shared joy and fun dance moves.

The requests started coming in and there’s no better way to get the students dancing than to play them. The dance floor grew to a frenzied singing mass and it was a joy to behold. At moments, the students were singing together, arm in arm, and at other times they were jumping up and down, making the tented outdoor area seem almost warm. Even though you could see your breath, it somehow got hot in there! Sometimes there were squeals of anticipation at a song, something that makes a DJ happy, and it was a joy to see the well-dressed crowd so engaged in each requested song drop. 

10 pm came too fast and ‘Forever Young’ was the final song, an appropriate slow dance to sum up the night. At the end, the students helped clean up, and the many participants made short work of this Herculean task. The 2022 WSP Met Gala was a total success and an amazing time was had by all.