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.

Wonders of Blacksmithing

Wonders of Blacksmithing

by Phil Dwyer | HS Teacher

Most of what we use in our modern world can be traced back to the fires of a blacksmith’s forge. Most crafts and trades either began or evolved with the forming of hot iron under the blacksmith’s hammer. The most fundamental impact, of course, was on food production. With the introduction of iron farm implements crop yields increased, which enabled the dense population clusters of cities, which in turn gave birth to urban trades. The flip side also included ever increasing capacities of weapons production and usage. Thus the twin threads of our heritage have come down through the ages: progressive creative collaboration along with destructive conflict and confrontation.

Just a handful of generations ago our entire modern world was crafted, created, and maintained within the fire-breathing realms of smithies (blacksmith shops). As recently as the American Civil War, steel products were still manufactured at the ends of blacksmiths’ hammers. Not long ago our hometowns, villages, and city blocks were populated with the industrious and critically important smithies. It is mind boggling that what was so incredibly prevalent not many life spans ago became nearly extinct almost overnight.

In recent years there has been a renewal of blacksmithing, especially in the artistic and architectural realms. Waldorf high schools have long known about the many wonders of the craft. When students take up the hammer and thrust iron into the flame, they do more than just make a metal gadget. They step onto the primal path of our very being as modern humans. Every time high school students move heavy steel anvils, forges, and tool racks, they do more than just set up the shop. When they approach the fury of the forge to place their cold iron in it, stand beside it to monitor its heating progress and remove the iron glowing bright orange, they do more than just simply heat iron. When they pick up the cross peen hammer, lift it high over their heads, and forcibly swing it down to strike the searing steel, they do more than just pound metal. When they reheat the iron as hot as they can without letting it burn, they do more than just watch for the right color. When they take blazing metal and clamp it into the solid upright post vise to twist and bend it, they do more than just shape it. When they render these activities, blacksmith students join the ranks of ancient alchemists and crafters as well as modern technicians and artists.

High school blacksmith classes are considered practical and applied arts courses. Students apply their academic studies in practical ways in the smithy. The sciences are obviously at home there, such as thermal dynamics, mechanics, and chemistry. So too, are the arts and the aesthetics of function and form. The humanities with their cultural and historical context are equally at home in the smithy. Perhaps even more so, but a bit less obvious, the physical, psychological, and inner lives of blacksmith students are well exercised at the forge and anvil. Blacksmithing supports and strengthens physical body growth, coordination, and agility. Students gain a practical understanding of and appreciation for metal, as well as develop skills and confidence with tools and basic machinery. To craft a piece of raw steel with one’s labor into a functional item of beauty is a nourishing activity in other ways, too.

To work directly with the four most basic of “elements,” earth, fire, air, and water, not only has drama and excitement, it has power and danger! To transform one’s fear of danger into respect and confidence through one’s own disciplined efforts is a noble and worthwhile deed. The firsthand knowledge and experience of having made such a transformation—from the daunting to the capable—lives on in the students. The ability to develop capacities gives students navigational ballast throughout life. Additionally, awareness and mindfulness are two more capacities that are imperative for students to develop in the smithy. Sharing a workspace safely while swinging hammers and wielding hot steel compels students to be awake to self and others at all times. This is undertaken as a social deed with one’s classmates.

Making hard steel malleable with jets of air and fierce fire, shaping searing steel with anvil, hammer, and hand, quenching forged steel in water, sizzling and hissing, students become smiths of iron in parallel with the forging of their very selves! It is quite moving to behold their progress from hesitant, tentative work to bold, eager, and skilled execution. After all, it is no small feat to stand steady in the midst of the mighty forces of intense forge fires in tandem with hormonal surges and blooming neural networks. Our high school blacksmith students do it with aplomb and merit our applause!

…Thus at the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought.
— from The Village Smithy, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Welcome New Board Member Vikrant Batra!

Welcome New Board Member Vikrant Batra!

Vikrant Batra is joining the WSP board as our newest trustee. He shared an enlightening conversation with alumna board member Alyssa Woodman to introduce him to the wider community.

What drew you to WSP?
We’ve been a part of Waldorf schools for the last eleven years. In December 2018, I had the opportunity to move from San Diego to the Bay Area for work. Being part of a Waldorf community was vital to us – WSP’s presence and reputation in the community helped us make the decision to move and live here. Through the admissions process, we had the opportunity to speak with several members of the staff, faculty, and board and came away very impressed with how well the school operated. Most importantly, during the shadow week, our kids immediately felt at home and the “new Waldorf school” experience was comfortingly seamless.

Your children Dante and Sahar are in 8th and 5th grade, which of their classes would you have most wanted to join this year?
I would have loved to join their strings class – one of my biggest regrets is not being able to play a musical instrument! When I see Dante play the double-bass or Sahar playing the Cello, I am always fascinated at how easily they can create amazing music.

What aspect or goal of our board work in the coming years most excites you?
I feel we’re experiencing a time in the world when Waldorf education is more relevant than ever. The school has weathered the ups and downs of COVID quite well and is now ready to emerge stronger and grow. I am most excited about the opportunity to work with the rest of the board and the administration to enhance the awareness and understanding of Waldorf education in our communities and grow the footprint of our school.

Do you have any new year’s resolutions or past-year reflections you want to share?
Resolution: Track what makes you feel good and bring more of it into your life. Notice what makes you feel lousy and do less of it.

What has been a favorite project you have led or participated in?
Right at the beginning of COVID, along with a couple of close friends, we decided to import organic wine and incorporate a company. It all started as something interesting to dabble in on the side while we were all stuck at home, but has turned into a lot of fun. We now have four organic wines that we source from Spain and Italy and are starting to pitch retailers. It’s been a fun “weekends project”. We created easy-to-drink, under $20 wines with fun brand names. If anyone wants to sample Pink Wink, Blanc Check, or Glorious Rascal, give me a call!

Do you have any heroes? Thich Nhat Hanh, Winston Churchill
Favorite environment? Seaside
Last book you read? Four Thousand Weeks: Time management for mortals by Oliver Burkeman
What would you sing for Karaoke? “We’re not gonna take it” – Twisted Sister 🙂
How many/which languages do you speak? I speak Hindi & English and can understand Punjabi
Can’t-live-without tool/gadget/toy? Corkscrew
Do you collect anything? Wine

Please join us in welcoming Vikrant as our newest WSP board member.

Congraulations Walbots!

Congraulations Walbots!

by Lea Fredrickson | HS Faculty & Walbots Sponsor

On Sunday December 5th, just one day after hosting the Fairebot at the Winter Faire, the Walbots participated in their first qualifying tournament of the season. The team and their robot did very well, making it to the semifinals!

The robot performed particularly well during the endgame portion of the matches, where it reliably turned a wheel to bring many rubber duckies into the field of play.

The Walbots participate in FIRST Tech Challenge tournaments. Each year the parameters and challenges are set by the league and announced just as the school year begins. Here is a video describing this year’s game.

 

 

We have some exciting news: for the first time in Walbots’ history, on February 5th the team will host a Qualifying Tournament at the Mountain View campus! We will be looking for many volunteers to help us with this event. We will need people who can help the event run smoothly as well as people with technical knowledge who can evaluate robotic team performances. 🙂

GO WALBOTS!!!!

 

Kite Paper Sun Catcher

Kite Paper Sun Catcher

by Yasuko Inoue | Apple Blossom Nursery Lead Teacher

Add some color and cheer to your winter windows with this simple suncatcher craft.

Supplies:
assorted colors of kite papers (6-7 inches square), glue, scissors, string, and tape

Directions:
1. Cut a square kite paper into 4 small squares.

2. Take one small square, and fold in half to make a crease in the middle and fold back.

3. Fold the bottom half up to the center line and fold back.

4. Fold the bottom up to the second line and fold back.

5. Put the glue on the shaded area and fold up the bottom to the second line again to secure.

6. This is how it looks like now.

7. Do the same thing with upper half part.

8. Turn the paper by 90 degrees and fold in half again to make the center horizontal line.

9. Repeat 4 and 5 for the bottom and upper parts.

10. Now the basic shape is done.

11. Make more with different colors of small squares.

12. To attach, put glue on the shaded area and place top part of another base shape on top.

13. This is how it looks now.

14. Repeat as many times as you want.

15. Attach a string and hang it in front of the window.

16. You can also make multiple catchers hung together, or attach to your window directly.
image of kite paper suncatcher

Enjoy beautiful colors by your winter windows!

Kite Paper is available for sale in a variety of colors from our Heart’s Delight Gift Store. Call 650.209.9411 or email them directly to check for store hours.