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During Thanksgiving week, we had the opportunity to view Twelfth Night at the Space Theater in Denver. The play was a line for line reenactment of Shakespeare’s original, and the students were high-spirited, engaged, and curious as they strove to understand the plot’s humorous twists and turns, all delivered in Shakespearean English. At intermission, they gathered around unprompted to ask clarifying questions and to identify their favorite elements of the play. In our wrap up session the following morning, students recognized the theme of deception and trickery rampant throughout the play; shared observations about viewing the play in the SpaceTheater’s round-theater setting (similar to Shakespeare’s Globe Theater); and expressed gratitude. It was a beautiful lead-in to the Thanksgiving holiday and to our in depth study of Twelfth Night that will end our semester.
While we were in Denver, we stopped by the Museum of Nature and Science. Its special exhibit highlighted extreme sports such as mountain biking, rock climbing, and kayaking. A few Link folks tried their hand at some of the excellent interactive displays while others meandered about the rest of the museum checking out space and rocks and birds and generally absorbing science. Science never stops! We all were fortunate to see a movie narrated by Russel Crowe, A Turtle Odyssey, tracking the life of a green sea turtle from its birth through its time as a gravid female – a great warm up for Baja.
Here’s a little taste of what one of the English classes was working on in October! It’s a mini-project as part of our rhetorical analysis unit. The students were to work together to compile a “Dictionary of Rhetorical Devices.” They had to decide together what terminology would be included and which students would take on each device. They completed their pages individually.
Written by Joel, Science Instructor
It’s been a couple weeks of labs here in the grand Science Department at Link. We played with cabbage and flatworms, but not together.
This round of labs started a few weeks ago in the Biology class when we first took out the pipets and sucked up planaria to relocate to a petri dish of spring water. Buena Vista High School lent us a few stereo microscopes, and we were off and running observing these little 3mm critters.
Think leech, but without the parasitism or the Stranger Things mouth. They are flatworms, of the phylum Platyhelminthes. The three groups were assigned a particular pattern by which to incise their respective planarian. Some down the middle, some across, some partly separated.
Over the weeks, we watched their little neoblasts in action as they regrew auricles and eyespots. Several divided into multiple organisms through asexual reproduction. A couple pieces disappeared.
Meanwhile over in Ecology, the students busied themselves with blending cabbage and testing to see if the flavors it has can be used to test acidity. We had two different colored red cabbages, one certified organic and the other conventionally grown. Blending yielded a rather beautiful purple or blue water and thick pulp. The pulp was discarded and the liquid then could be added to various household products. Apple juice turned a red-brown. Baking soda turned a royal blue. One was acidic, the other alkaline. Shampoo, lemon soda, hand sanitizer, vinegar, dish soap, and a couple other liquids were tested, turning a spectrum from red to purple. All in all, cabbage can be used as a general pH tester, although results varied and there were plenty of limitations.
Two observations the students made about the difference in the cabbages were interesting. First, the organic cabbage was a rich purple color; the conventional was blue. Second, when added to hydrogen peroxide, the organic cabbage produced considerable foam, up to and out of the lip of the container; the conventional produced about a third of the foam, perhaps indicating a difference in chemical imbalance. There are some hypotheses that emerged about the two cabbages, and we will not be testing these but simply pondering potential implications.
Both were good introductory labs for the courses and will help establish protocols for how to behave during future work, including the remaining investigations pending this semester. We are still working on how to write a proper lab report.
At Link, when we go on a field program, there is almost always an academic focus.
We take the opportunity to write creatively or reflectively, read carefully, think critically, discuss intelligently, etc. The two exceptions are usually our first and our last trips of the year. Usually, the focus of our first trip is community-building, setting the tone, and getting to know each other through reflective journaling and discussions. While we did have some amazing discussions and enjoyed laying the foundation for an incredible year with this unique group, we also found ourselves with a little time one afternoon to practice the skill of observation, which would prepare students for a fruitful year in Science class
The students and science teacher, Joel, gathered to look together at a few natural occurrences at our base camp. (Ask Joel about his great lichen and fungus joke.) Then, the students were released to wander and observe. They were asked to do a 3-part activity, as many times as possible (the goal was 20). They were to “see” something, “notice” something related, and then hypothesize about why. (“I see… I notice… Why?”
Afterwards, we re-gathered and got to hear what the students were seeing, noticing, and hypothesizing. Students noticed things like Spanish moss hanging from dead trees, roots spreading far and wide because of the shallow, rocky soil (or lack thereof), and piles of sawdust teeming with carpenter ants – to name a few.
We have some strong observers and thinkers!
It will be a solid year.
After Colombia, our next trip was to a backcountry hut, The Lost Wonder Hut, for a class on avalanches. It was a perfect example of what we strive for — connection from the classroom to the field and back again. Students started preparing for the trip in Science class, where they studied the physics of snow and avalanches. Topics included avalanche climates and terrain (i.e. how the terrain features determine the motion of avalanches), slope, tensional, compressional, and shear strength of snow, and digging a snow pit to examine layers and perform tests on its stability.
While at the hut, we had a mixture of indoor, “classroom” time and outdoor time making observations and practicing companion rescues. The content felt so relevant, as we were surrounded by steep, loaded slopes and could hear avalanche charges being set off just over the mountain at Monarch Mountain. We learned about alpha angles for avalanches, snow morphology and crystallization, the anatomy of an avalanche, types of avalanches, causes of avalanches, classification, identifying avalanche terrain, and much more. The goal was not to scare students or encourage them to stay inside all winter, but rather to help them enjoy the snowy mountains intelligently and equip them to know what to look for to make informed decisions.
Upon return to school, students are continuing the study by exploring destructive force, distance traveled and displacement, and speed, velocity, and acceleration.
With our upcoming trip to Colombia in January, we have been studying about Latin America this semester and specifically how US foreign policy and US intervention has impacted individual countries and Latin America as a whole. The class has been primarily lecture- and discussion-based, and the discussions have been strong.
The final exam was a series of essays to hear from the students on issues such as communism, US aid, regime change, and foreign investment. Here is an excerpt from the exam of a student. The question asked them to put into writing their thoughts and ideas about governance if they were given the power to decide US policy relative to Latin America.
“Many Latin American countries are very unstable and are mired in poverty. A lot of this is due to corruption and organized crime within the country. These issues lead to the big problem of immigration. The people of Latin America see our country as the very safe, stable county filled with opportunity. Due to instability in their countries, the people of LA will naturally want to come to the US. I would not work to build a wall to keep them away but rather to hit the problem at its heart and focus on making the Latin American countries more stable and less violent so that the people do not have the thought that they need to flee the country. In order to make this happen, I would work with the countries in a very diplomatic way in order to curb corruption/ dictatorship…. Latin America being our closest set of neighboring countries, the US would really benefit having them as strong, dependable, and non-corrupt countries.
To fight off the organized crime and their products entering our country, the US might fight corruption in Latin America. Organized crime groups take advantage of the fact that the country is poor and easily manipulated. By working with the local governments on first making sure that the governments themselves aren’t affected by the corruption, eventually it will open the gate for easy help from the US to provide support and eventually stabilize LA.
In the end, everything connects to the idea of the goal to stabilize LA, step by step, in order to create a better, more diplomatic environment on this side of the world.”
The following is in response to the prompt to write about articulating strong and positive influences that US citizens and the US government have had on Latin America:
“…US foreign policy has contributed to Latin America by standing by its 5 basic pillars: Advancing social services, supporting (renewable) energy future, multilateral engagements, economic expansion (US- Mexico agreement), education (US visas), and ensuring a democratic future (which is the United States’ idea of the most successful government for all).”
It has been fun to see the students’ level of thought, awareness, and global citizenship.
Hello! It has been a busy semester with a lot of solid academic work. Teachers have been pushing students, with our staff’s collective goal in mind: develop students’ critical thinking skills. It has been such fun to see students discover themselves as strong thinkers and communicators, and we have a lot to build on, going into our Colombia trip.
The end of the semester is a time to celebrate, so I wanted to share some academic honors that we recognized on our final day of the semester. In Spring of 2018, we implemented two different types of academic awards. One type is given every week, and it is called the “Teachers’ Award.” Recipients of this award are nominated by the teachers for their demonstration of engagement, effort on a particular assignment, or anything that made them stand out that week. Each time a student earns this award, he or she receives a $5 gift card to our local coffee shop!
The other is a semester award called the “Honors Library Award.” This is given to students who earn a 3.5 GPA or higher for the semester. Students who earn this award are gifted a book from the teaching staff and also get to choose a book to be added to the Honors Library in their honor (along with getting their name added to a plaque).
We were excited to have FOUR recipients of the Honors Library Award this semester. Their names and the books we gave them are below. (Stay tuned to hear what books they decide to contribute to the library.)
Santiago Doutrich: On the Ridge Between Life and Death, David Roberts
Avery Holshouse: Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides
Becky Smith: A Wolf Called Romeo, Nick Jans
Kelvin Elrick: The River, Gary Paulsen
We are so grateful to all of our students for their persistent effort towards a strong, growth-filled semester.
As the semester comes to a close, we have been celebrating the academic growth students have experienced so far this year. In particular, we are excited to share some creative writing that demonstrates students’ understanding of a writer’s tone, voice, and overall style. After reading Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem, the students were asked to write an essay about a real person, place, or incident in a way that mimics Didion’s style.
They all challenged themselves, and here are a few highlights:
This is the story about love and truth in an overwhelmingly white mansion of Forest Hills, Durham, North Carolina. In a seemingly typical home, owned by a seemingly functional family, later to be anxiously bought by a New York psychic. This curious woman was just one of the many people who followed up on the tragedy that took place at the end of a staircase in 2001. The controversial murder of Michael Peterson’s wife, Kathleen Peterson. The reason why this single murder is such a big deal is because the Petersons perfectly fit the American depiction of a perfect family. And this cookie cutter family depiction was adored by media and admired by wine sipping magazine moms. But this same prosperous and seemingly spotless family just so happened to turn into the perfect American tragedy.
-Avery Houlshouser: “Steps to Incarceration”
The name Len Bias never came across my mind until a couple weeks ago. I have no understanding why this name has been the drug on my mind lately. It has taken over my thoughts, much like the fungus ophiocordyceps unilateralism does to an ant. Making the ant steer in any direction it would like it to go. Making me feel like I am not in control of my own thought whatsoever, controlling my brain, taking over the power I have.
-Beka Petersen, “Len Bias: The Prevalence of Cocaine”
Ashima Shiraishi is one of the best rock climbers in the world. She started climbing when she was seven years old. No she is climbing routes that she would never think would be possible. Little by little she became the person that she always dreamed of. Within her climbs she symbolizes the women’s movement by persevering.
-Brian Burr, “Achieving the Impossible with Ashima Shiraishi”
A few days before August 28, 1963, the weather in Washington DC was quite nice. There were temperatures around 75 degrees, with no rain surprisingly. Then a few days later, on August 28, the weather was nearing 90 degrees, with high humidity; the world knew that something had been boiling and it was about to spill over. 250,000 were gathering around the Lincoln Memorial, dipping their feet into the reflection pool, trying to cool off in the tentative atmosphere, and millions were watching at home across the country in their homes. They were desperately anticipating what was about to happen. Something incredible was about to arise, disgust, empower, enrage, and delight millions for decades to come.
-Bryce Marmolijo, “Martin Luther King Jr.”
Dave and his crew fully rebuilt the transmission, upgraded the engine, fixed the power steering, shocks, tires, light bars, winch and some other things for a $60,000 upgrade. This is very moving because it shows how one man sees another man’s problem and does his best to fix it. When there is something that we can do to help another we should do that because it is spreading kindness and you never know what will happen from that experience, like the person that you helped may help you in a time of need.
-Eric Trevor-Roberts, “Dave Sparks”
In 1907, the United States of America fell into a “panic”. The New York Stock exchange had fallen 50% in the last year, and Wall Street was in chase (History). The crisis was saved by John Pierpont Morgan, America’s millionaire.
-Santiago Doutrich, “Capitalism through J.P. Morgan”
We are in week 2 of Semester 2 after a wonderful trip to Peru. Makenzie’s English classes started this semester with a creative project from the books the students were reading while in Peru.
Here is the assignment:
Develop a creative or interpretive work based on a section of your reading that you feel is particularly significant. You may choose to represent a scene or character. Present information about this scene or character in an unconventional way that creates a feeling – empathy, anger, curiosity, etc. – for the viewer. Your creative interpretation might be an illustration, a poem, a sketch of events (like a comic strip), song lyrics, or something else!
Include with your creative work a written reflection/explanation paragraph that answers these questions:
Why have you chosen both your content and your method of interpretation?
What specific quote or quotes supports or relates to your interpretation? (Include page numbers.)
What do you intend the viewer to feel?
What do you like about what you’ve created?
And here is their work!
Our study hall proctor, art teacher, and yoga instructor (all one person) facilitated our school’s participation in an international program called “ArtLink.” We are grateful for the opportunity for the students to tap into their artistic side! Below is some background she provided, as well as some of the students’ artwork.
Creative Connections is an “international cultural education organization” which has facilitated the ArtLink program since 1996. ArtLink exchanges artwork between the USA and sixty countries on six different continents, which is produced primarily by elementary and high school students. This program allows students the opportunity to share their culture and way of life through creating and trading their artwork. The ArtLink curriculum helps students expand their world view to build both Global Competence and 21st Century Learning Skills.