Shaping Success: Exploring High School Physical Education with Marina Budrys and Liam Metzger

Shaping Success: Exploring High School Physical Education with Marina Budrys and Liam Metzger

by Melanie Ingler | Communications Coordinator

At WSP, we are fortunate to have two alums of our school serving as physical education teachers. Liam and Marina bring with them rich backgrounds in physical fitness and athletics, coupled with a deep passion for cultivating our students’ growth in these areas. Liam teaches our ninth and tenth grade PE classes, while Marina leads our eleventh and twelfth grade classes. They recently provided insights into WSP’s Physical Education that I am excited to share with our community. 

WSP’s PE curriculum is designed to enhance students’ understanding of movement and spatial awareness through age-appropriate activities, empowering them to apply these skills throughout their lives. Emphasizing a social component in these activities fosters self-awareness in movement, space, and group dynamics.

In ninth grade, the curriculum places a strong emphasis on activities that cultivate courage and inner focus by challenging students to overcome obstacles. With students coming from a variety of backgrounds and movement experiences, the class begins with simple activities to quickly engage everyone and transition into gameplay. A popular introductory game is “pillow polo,” resembling field hockey, which helps students enhance their hand-eye coordination. Throughout the year, students develop their concentration skills, enabling them to progress to more complex sports like volleyball, basketball, football, soccer, baseball, ultimate frisbee, and street hockey. An important element of this year is the principle of respecting each individual’s starting point, fostering an environment in which students unite to explore new experiences together.

Once students move into tenth grade, the classes revisit the sports introduced in the previous year, benefiting from an additional year of practice that enhances their hand-eye coordination and deepens their ability to focus and engage in each sport. With familiarity comes faster recall of the rules, enabling the group to dive into activities more swiftly and confidently.

In these first two years of the high school PE program, the goal is group work –  to learn how to be teammates while getting more comfortable with movement and coordination. 

Transitioning into eleventh grade, the physical education program undergoes a shift towards a deeper understanding of body mechanics. Students explore how muscles function and provide support, refine their breath control during exercise, and enhance overall body awareness. Alongside traditional sports, they delve into personalized activities such as yoga and weight training, aiming to strengthen the mind-body connection essential for lifelong functional movement. This foundation not only promotes current fitness but also helps them learn to prevent future injuries. 

In the twelfth grade the students participate in much of the same activities as the prior year, but with more confidence and experience. Now they will start to make more independent choices and create their own weight lifting routines. They also learn more deeply what movements affect their specific bodies and in what ways. 

In these last two years of high school, the students move from competing against one another to being their own competition. In most of our lives, people sit so much. We want our students to get outside, get their heart rates up and get moving. We hope that through these experiences they will learn what they enjoy, and take it forward into the next phase of their lives – both in being physically active, but also growing their social awareness. 

Like all of our programs, WSP’s high school physical education classes seek to meet the students where they are developmentally and support them in their growth. Over the four years, we hope our students will develop and strengthen their cardiovascular abilities, strength, mobility awareness, and individually improve in ways such that they find movement joyful and fun.

Windows on Waldorf: A dynamic open house experience

Windows on Waldorf: A dynamic open house experience

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a Waldorf student or why we say experience drives learning, come and feel it for yourself. At WSP we are intentionally differentso why would our open house be the same as all the others? Join us for a one of a kind event with demo lessons, interactive experiences and a High School student panel. 

Demonstration Lessons include:

  • High School Science & Humanities demo lessons
  • Eurythmy through Grades 1-8 (for parents/guardians only)
  • Developing mathematical thinking through Grades 1-8 (for parents/guardians only)
  • Scientific thinking through a botanical lens (for parents/guardians only)

WSP Curriculum Explorations include:

  • Blacksmithing
  • Stone carving
  • Bal-A-Vis-X movement
  • Musical performances
  • Fiber arts display

Join us for a one-of-a-kind event with demo lessons, interactive experiences, and a high school student panel.

This event is intended for all parents or guardians. Students entering 7th grade and above in fall 2024 are also invited and are encouraged to attend our high school demonstrations.
While infants in arms are always welcome, this event is not intended for younger students.

Advanced registration required.

Thanksgiving through the Advent Season

Thanksgiving through the Advent Season

by Ami Evergreen | Pedagogical Administrator, Nursery-Grade 8

A spiral of greens large enough for people to walk in-between them, lit by apples holding candles.

For the bountiful gifts the earth bestows upon us, for the gold hues that adorn the land, for the richness of each sunrise and each day’s glory in our valley–our attention to these details can be the heartseed of a family Thanksgiving festival, and sustained through the four weeks of Advent. The growing year has come full circle as the harvest comes in. Grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts fill the larders, imbuing us with a sense of completion and gratitude for the miracle of nature–if we take the time to turn our inner gaze towards these gifts.

The harvest season is universal; the harvest festivals are among the most ancient known to mankind. The Egyptians and Chinese gave thanks for well-filled storehouses. The Hindus held a festival for Gauri, the goddess of the harvest, where girls wore flowers in their hair. The ancient Greeks honored Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, while the Romans celebrated the festival of Ceralia, dedicated to Ceres, goddess of vegetation. The Hebrews celebrate the Feast of the Tabernacles, or Sukkoth. Native Americans celebrate the harvest by giving thanks to the spirits of the woods for wild game, of the lakes for fish, and of the fields for berries and nuts. At the traditional Green Corn ceremony, the fires of the old year were put out and new ones kindled. Everywhere on Earth the harvest kindles gratitude. During the Middle Ages, England and Europe kept the tradition of the harvest festival known as “Harvest Home.” The villagers went out to the field and decorated the last load of grain with ribbon and flowers. The people danced around it singing songs of thanks.

In that same spirit, a sixth grade student composed this poem:

In between Fall’s final harvest, and Winter’s first bite
comes a golden hour,
a time to mull things over
and feel thankful for all the good fortune that drifted our way
while we were too busy to notice.
Blessings!
My family, home, warmth, food, my friends, teacher, school, church,
animals, transportation, kindness–
my whole life!

To honor the kingdoms that give of their substance to support us humans in our endeavors, we offer one week to each in December. Minerals, plants, and animals fortify our lives with the yield of their lives. Each Monday in December on the Los Altos campus, the children will assemble to hear a story and sing, sharing in giving extra attention to each kingdom. On the fourth week–the week of humankind–we must ask: what is our yield, or the gift we as humans bring forth from our lives?

Below are the classic verses sung in Waldorf schools around the world:

The first light of Advent is the light of stones,
stones that live in crystals, seashells, and bones.

The second light of Advent is the light of plants,
roots, stem, leaf, flower, and fruit by whom we live and grow.

The third light of Advent is the light of beasts,
animals of farm, field, forest, air, and sea.

The fourth light of Advent is the light of humankind,
the light of love, the light of thought, to give and understand.

Rich Armstrong: Visionary Music Fanatic

Rich Armstrong: Visionary Music Fanatic

by Martha Groves Perry | WSP Alumni Parent, Former Board President, and Bay Area Musician

Like many in our community, I could not process Rich Armstrong’s recent passing. After receiving the phone call that morning, I walked around all day feeling like I had been kicked in the stomach. Finding a fitting way to fully articulate him and what he brought to the WSP community is impossible, but I will try.

I blogged about Rich’s influence on my musical life when I released my album in March 2020:
“In addition to a ridiculous measure of musical gifts (to list them would take up this entire blog post), Rich has the most sweeping and genuine gift of encouragement that I have ever experienced, musical or otherwise. Making music himself (his trumpet playing is swoon-worthy) may be the only thing he loves more than teaching and, most importantly, empowering others to make and love music.”

Rich’s passion for music was almost more than his body could hold. I saw him weep more than once with a blazing desire to make music himself and to bring music-making to his students. His prodigious, intensely imaginative and creative mind conjured project after project to utilize and develop the musical chops of those around him.

A middle school rock band, in which my son, Dillon (Schneider 2011), played the drums for three years, held annual concerts with national level music professionals such as Tony Lindsay of Santana – who were all Rich’s friends. The Soul Providers, a dance cover band originally composed of WSP parents, for which I was a lead singer, played for the WSP Gala for three consecutive years. The high school jazz band, the middle school wind ensemble, the most recent manifestation of the high school handbell ensemble, the Holiday Faire brass caroling ensemble, among many others, were all products of his visionary imagination and initiative.

My son once summed up his experience with Rich by saying that Rich treated him like an equal, musically speaking. Rich requested and expected Dillon, even at the tender age of twelve, to rise to the best of his drumming ability, as if nothing was impossible, and as if he had full faith that Dillon could do anything if he tried. Rich was exacting and relentless in his drive to bring his ensembles to a standard that did the music justice, and he had a firm, unshakeable belief that anyone who wanted to could and should not only make music, but make excellent music.

In the spring of 2009, I had decided never to sing again because of an unfortunate musical experience. That fall, Rich hauled me out of that musical pit when he recruited me as the lead singer of The Soul Providers. Later, he recruited me to go on tour with him, playing cello and singing back-up for Michelle Shocked. Not only did he believe in me and demand that I believe in myself, he reminded me that doing music is fun … insanely so. (photo at left of Rich and author performing with The Soul Providers at the WSP Holiday Faire in 2009)

Now, I have two releases of my original music (an EP and an album) with a new album coming in April 2023. I would absolutely *never* have had the audacity to do any of this without Rich’s direct influence. He was a fanatic for music, and I like to think that some of his intensity rubbed off on me. I know it rubbed off on many of you.

So whatever instrument you may have played with and for Rich, pull it out today and play or sing a song or two in his honor. And maybe do it again tomorrow. And maybe the next day, too. Rich would have liked it that way.

Rich Armstrong was one of the Bay Area’s most sought-after multi-instrumentalists, switching effortlessly between vocals, trumpet, percussion, and guitar. He had a storied career, having played, toured, and recorded with Boz Scaggs, Tony! Toni! Toné!, Thomas Dolby, Lydia Pense & Cold Blood, Lyrics Born, Train, and Josh Groban. He also did stints with Petula Clarke, Spoon, and Jody Watley, and most recently he was touring Europe with Groundation. He was a 15-year band member and musical director for the now infamous but still extremely talented Michelle Shocked, having toured almost every state and country with her.

Rich was the founder and band leader of one of SF’s most elite variety/pop/dance bands, The 415s, which received the “Best of the Bay” award from San Francisco Magazine. He was also a member of SF’s famed Jazz Mafia and a founding member of the Crossroads Live Music Experience that brought high level music to Burning Man for five years running. Rich Armstrong passed away in early October after more than twelve years teaching music at WSP. His daughter Anika is a WSP high school graduate, and his parents Peter and Akiko are long-time members of the WSP community.

Martha Groves Perry is the parent of two WSP high school alumni (Dillon Perry & Bryn Perry), she served on the WSP Board including one term as President, and she worked for WSP as Interim Publications Coordinator, Mountain View Campus Coordinator, and Interim School Administrator. Learn more about her music at marthagrovesperry.com.

The Lantern Festivals

The Lantern Festivals

by Ami Evergreen | Pedagogical Administrator, Nursery-Grade 8

Each little child will bring the light,
‘til all the world is warm and bright.

In many countries the Festivals of Light begin when our days grow short and nights grow long. In North America we first experience the cheery Jack-O-Lantern at Halloween, illuminating the night for a band of wandering cowboys, clowns, pirates, and flower fairies. In Waldorf schools worldwide, the two days following Halloween are set aside for All Soul’s Day in honor of the spirits of those who have died. Then, children take up the light they first kindled at Halloween, and with which they then illuminated the threshold between spheres in remembrance, and on the eve or day of Martinmas — traditionally November 11th, they carry a homemade lantern back out into the world (singing with their families), to their friends, neighbors, and community.

These festivals wonderfully express the spirit of man and nature at this time of year. All Soul’s and Martinmas have the quality of being a good follow-up to Halloween silliness in preparation for the Advent season. The external picture is one of the dying of outward nature; the leaves have fallen, the weather is cold, and the grim part of autumn has cast its spell.

Inwardly, the earth, and also the human being, becomes more spiritually alive. But, there is a danger of withdrawing too much within and cutting off from the rest of the world. The gesture of community of the children snaking their way through the darkness with their lanterns, searching to bring a little light and warmth from within back into the world, where there are those who are cold and hungry living in the darkness, is most fitting — and visually impressive. It is even good if the weather is a little bit on the nasty side. One feels the discomfort and the reality of what it means to be “out in the cold” and the effort it takes to walk through it and carry the lanterns.

At the end of Martinmas we partake of hot cider, soup, or breads with plenty of warmth and stories. The stories about Saint Martin helping the poor beggarman, who then reveals his own sacred nature to the Saint, take on a deeper meaning in this contrasted outdoor/indoor setting of activity. As the children themselves feel the bite of cold and the contrasting warmth of receiving the good food, drink, and soul warming songs and story, they develop the beginnings of the sense of what it really means to both suffer and receive succor: all very subtle, but concrete and real.

November Song
Golden light is turning grey, mists begin to rule the day.
Bare the trees their branches rift, clouds to dead leaves earthward drift.
Through the field the farmer pulls, seeds of ripened corn he sows,
trusts the earth will hold it warm, shelter it from cold and harm.
For he knows that warmth and light live there hidden from our sight,
and beneath a sheltering wing, deep below new life will spring.
Deep below, deep below, new life will spring.