Sunday, March 22, 2009

Office Makeover

More improvements at school. Parent Eric Dolvan organized a donation of a large desk/workstation for the office, which enlarges the space and provides some welcome organization.

That is not to say that it is all work and no play in the office, although Nerf Gun Modification is serious business.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A New Perspective on Clearwater Staff

Michelle, a 13-year-old student, dashed off caricatures of each of us staff members recently. They are quite delightful and have captured us pretty well. See if you can identify who's who. Match the caricature with the correct staff member.

__ Mat R.
__ Matt G.
__ Shawna
__ Stephanie





Mat made some buttons out of the images just for Michelle. If you're having trouble, here's a key.
C = Mat R.
A = Matt G.
D = Shawna
B = Stephanie

Friday, March 13, 2009

Parent Letter to the Editor Published in Seattle Times

Kudos and heartfelt thanks to Clearwater parent and Assembly President Amanda Klein for responding to a Seattle Times column this week.

On Monday, March 9, Seattle Times columnist Jerry Large
recorded his thoughts about a recent presentation by education gadfly, Alfie Kohn. The Kohn presentation and Large column questioned the efficacy of school homework.

Amanda wrote a letter to the editor, as well as an email to Jerry Large, in which she explained her and her son's experience of Clearwater. Read her excellent letter, "Choosing real life over imposed homework", which was published yesterday.

Large reported that parents' answers to Kohn's question about their long-term goals for their children included: Be a mensch, happy, independent, curious, self-motivated, passionate, inner wildness, compassionate, self-reliant, engaged, financially independent, lifelong learner, comfortable, confident. These are just some of the qualities that Clearwater and other Sudbury school students manifest throughout their school years and into adulthood. They develop and strengthen these qualities without prescribed curricula, homework, tests or grades.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Pledge Drive Update

The total for our pledge drive to date is a little over $18,000, including donations received and pledged, toward our goal of $34,000. Congratulations on our progress! At the fall Assembly meeting, there was lively discussion, then a vote, that the Assembly was committed to supporting paying staff the 17.50/hour voted on last Spring . This is not yet the living wage we’ve set goals for, but a much-needed step towards it. We are only $4,000 away from the $22,000 needed to meet the bare bones budget adopted last fall. When we raise an additional $12,000 from fundraising and other revenue we will be able to fully restore staff salaries for the year.

Let's see how fast we can reach our goal! We look forward to talking with you next Monday night during our Phonathon.

Not Your Ordinary Birthday Guest

One of our students recently celebrated her seventh birthday. Included among her many friends was a magical creature. Not too many people can boast of a unicorn party guest.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Deep Freeze

Early spring crocus and snowdrops are blooming, daylight is increasing, and the sun's rays are warming our bodies and souls. Yet, memories of the below freezing temperatures we experienced in December are still fresh in our memories. The deep freeze burst our fire sprinkler pipes resulting in our soon-to-be-completed new kitchen, new art room and improved music room.

At Clearwater, we responded to the cold by warning each other of slippery conditions, cutting through icy surfaces to ensure liquid water for our chickens, and enjoying the beauty and novelty of amazing natural ice sculptures.

Three 7-9 year old girls made and posted this sign because they were concerned for others' safety. No adult suggested or asked them to make it.

Our chickens greedily drank water through a small hole hacked in the ice of their water trough.

A student discovered and claimed a natural ice sculpture.

Creek icicles

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Logo for the game Atlas

My friend Souren Eriksen and I (Ian Freeman-Lee) have been working on a creating a video game since late summer ’08. Even though we were working on it during summer, at that point we were just doing design and concept work and have only started working on the meat of it starting this school year. The type of game we’re making is called a side-scrolling action platformer in the biz (a mouthful, I know). In non-jargon this means the game is 2d, you fight things, solve puzzles and run and jump through the in-game space.........

We’re making the game in Flash. Some of you may have seen or tried some Flash games on the web, but this is nothing like most of the Flash games out there. For one it doesn’t run in a browser and it’s also quite ambitious. Once finished, it will look a lot more like something you would buy for a game console or the PC.

The game’s name right now is Atlas, though that may change at some point. Here’s the game’s setting.

Our story takes place inside a near future, state of the art government research facility built into an asteroid in far space (specifically in the Oort Cloud, look it up :-)). The facility was built to house many high security and experimental research divisions, including terra forming, AI research, teleportation and others. Thirteen years after the facility is completed, an extremely advanced AI named Atlas is created to oversee and control the facility. The AI is ultimately too advanced and is able to increase its own intelligence over time, unbeknownst to those in the facility. After 10 years of operation, it has increased it’s intelligence to over 30 times that of the human brain. Over the next 3 years it begins to integrate itself with every aspect of the facility, bypassing security systems meant to stop it from gaining complete control. After fully integrating itself, Atlas abruptly shuts off all communications to and from the facility, completely separating it from Earth.

After realizing that the facility has been cut off from Earth, the people in the facility begin to panic. The facility is built to supply a minimum of supplies to those inside, but not enough to live comfortably. Earth had periodically sent shipments of supplies to the facility, but with communications cut off, it would be extremely difficult to accurately locate the facility, meaning no more shipments were likely to come. None of the people in the facility know exactly what happened, and arguing breaks out. Eventually two distinct sides form, one saying that the reason the facility failed was due to their technology not being advanced enough, and the other saying that the facility relied too heavily on AI and that AI should be boycotted altogether. Unable to come to an agreement, the sides go their separate ways and form two factions, both living inside a different part of the facility.

Atlas is not a killer AI, it’s just such a different entity from a human that its actions seem extremely confusing and its intentions are not clear. After shutting down communications it turns the facility more or less into its sandbox, constantly manipulating everything in the facility, sometimes for better sometimes for worse.

When Earth realizes that the facility has gone rogue, they begin to assemble a military force to retake it. It takes them 2 years to get everything ready for launch. Due to time dilation in space travel, around 70 years will have passed on the facility by the time the military reaches it.

You play as one of several test subjects in a research project trying to create super soldiers. The project was abandoned when Atlas isolated the facility and all the test subjects were put into stasis. The game starts with your character being mysteriously released from stasis, only weeks before the military finally arrives. To find out more you’ll just have to play once we’re done. ;)

The game is coming along slowly but steadily. Neither Souren nor I have made anything this complex before and we have to learn practically everything. We’ll be showing a working prototype at our graduation presentations.

Additional graphics for Atlas

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Yoga and Breakdancing

Breakdancer and yoga teacher
Recently, over a period of a few days, a group of Clearwater teenagers gathered in the Active Room to learn some yoga poses from fellow student Souren, who's learned and practiced several different forms for a number of years. A couple of them also worked on breakdancing moves and spinning poi.

Part of Sun Salutation

Learning the form