Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Aidan's New Blog

Aidan, who is 12 and has attended Clearwater for 6 years, recently started a blog called The Rest of the Iceberg. He describes the focus of the blog this way: "Whatever happened to the rest of the iceberg? Underneath the tip of it you'll find bite-sized short stories, rambling rants, inner thoughts and strange musings."

He'd thought about starting a blog for a little while. One night when he couldn't sleep, he decided to go online and see if he could set one up on his own. Voila!--The Rest of the Iceberg. He sometimes has insomnia and discovered that writing down what's in his head helps quiet his mind. 

Aidan's first post is a short story called, "Cogs and the Lack Thereof", which takes place in a dystopian future and is a delightful commentary on creativity and its ability to change the world. Another post, "Creative Evolution", features a character he created while playing World of Warcraft. He describes that story as "the first thing i ever wrote, unedited complete with no punctuation and general painful-to-read-y-ness."

With Aidan's characteristic gutsy-ness, he publishes it raw in the blog. Later in the same post he reveals what happened to that first story after he spent six more months working on it. In my interview with him, he quoted Oscar Wilde, "Books are never finished, they are merely abandoned." Although, he doesn't enjoy re-reading his past work, he recognizes that he is always learning more about writing by doing it.

When Aidan began writing, he read several writing blogs to get other writers' advice on the craft of writing. He said he waits for inspiration to strike and like many writers feels like he knows his characters personally.

He admires Neil Gaiman, Lemony Snickett, Jasper Fford (Shades of Grey, One of Our Thursdays Is Missing) and Robert Kirkman (writer of  the comic series The Walking Dead and Invincible).

Aidan incorporates links to music in some of his stories. So far he has written two posts featuring Victor Jerami, the titular unorthodox demon hunter, who slays demons by playing rock music. Each post has links to specific songs used to dispatch the monsters. One of Aidan's inspirations is the Joss Whedon TV series, Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. The title character of that series is not-so-subtly alluded to in the second Victor Jerami post, "Unarmed and Unplugged."

He does not have a posting schedule for himself and warns there may be long dry spells, but also times when he posts several entries at once.

At this point in his life, he is interested in becoming a career writer of fantasy and science fiction novels.

Aidan's mom, Alicia, announced his blog on her Liberating Kids facebook page and noted, "He was never formally taught to read or write." Aidan told me he started learning to read when he was three or four. He used some reading software initially, and reads a lot. He taught himself typing by using the online chat function while playing World of Warcraft.

I look forward to reading more of Aidan's writing.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The dish fairies failed me.

In the film Voices from the New American Schoolhouse, about the Fairhaven School near Baltimore, a student remembers being written up on her first day of attending, for having failed to wash her lunch dishes. "Did you think the dish fairy was going to do it?" she recalls being asked, with a laugh.

Last Monday I arrived for my half-day of volunteering, and Gabriel asked me, "Did you see Robert wrote you up?" What? Written up? For what? I was at a loss. "Dunno," Gabriel shrugged. "I think you didn't wash your dish or something." I thought he was kidding. I conjured up a mental image of the water going over the plate and silverware. Did I trust my memory? In the Judicial Committee's box, I found the paperwork. Sure enough, in black and white: "Bryan didn't wash his pan." Ohhhh, the pan! Um, yeah. Now I remembered, the pan I'd cooked up my tempeh in. I almost never use the stove top. Of course I'd forgotten.

I was, oddly, sort of excited to be written up; it had taken me about three years.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Clearwater's First Fall Festival

On Saturday The Clearwater School hosted our first Fall Festival. Most Clearwater families spent a beautiful, sunny fall afternoon eating delicious potluck food, playing indoor and outdoor games, carving jack 'o' lanterns from more than 70 pumpkins grown in Clearwater's garden (thanks, Tim!), and generally enjoying each others company.

The Clearwater Singers performed to a full house in the Active Room, and Christine and Chris played a lot of great Irish music (joined at one point by Bob on djembe).

On Friday, staff and students worked to set everything up for the following day, and we had lots of help on Saturday cleaning up after the event. Thank you to everyone who came, and to those who worked to organize, set up and clean up.

It was a fun and wonderful day!

To see lots more photos go to Clearwater's facebook page (like us if you haven't already) or to Clearwater's flickr account (if you're not on facebook).

Pumpkin carvers

Simon and Pearl--in costume? You decide

Chris and Christine

Mat, Steve and Simon

Meghan, steampunk girl

Meghan, Maddy and Gregory

Delayney, Niya and J.R.

 Lily, Meghan and Jacy


Gabriel and Joey

Bob, Chris and Christine

Maddy, Alise and Jacy

Corey and Robert

Susan, Susan and Ginger

Zoe (the little zombies are the scariest)

Jesse and David

Zoe and Chris

Lily and her pumpkin

 Niya and Maddy



Niya and her pumpkin

Justin and Jackie

Bryan and his pumpkin

Jason (Yoshi) and Hidy

Jesse and his pumpkin

 Clearwater Singers

Lily, Alise, Keenan and Jacy

Monday, October 24, 2011


Last Monday I played a very, very long game of Mao with Maddy, Lucas, Jacy, and Alise. Mao is a card game, more or less like Uno, complicated by a few unspoken rules which players must learn solely by observation and deduction; by watching others keep the rules, or by figuring out why someone penalized them. At the end of a round (when a player successfully discards her or his last card), the winner gets to make a new (secret) rule, and the game goes on.

For some reason, our game seemed to take a record-breaking amount of time. Players would get down to their last card, and then be unable to play it, winding up with ten or more cards coming into their hand. Frustration was running high. Several times people stood up and slammed the table or muttered "I  %#@* HATE this game!"--and then kept on playing. (They had to complain under their breath because it's against the rules to speak during Mao.) Lucas finally did quit in exasperation, but the rest of us doggedly kept at it (mainly at Maddy's insistence) until someone--anyone!--finally won. The relief in the room was palpable. I don't even remember who played the final card.

I figured that I'd have a hard time convincing anyone to play Mao with me again, and the next time I was driving up (that Friday), I mentioned it to the students in the car. "Yeah, I doubt it," said one. "They're sick of that game. They've been playing it all week!"

Which teaches me, once again, that I don't always understand what it means when someone expresses frustration.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

DIYU, Edupunks, and the Changing Face of Higher Education

Two summers ago I read Anya Kamenetz's eye-opening book DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education and intended to write a summary to publish here, but never got beyond the research point. The book is incredibly content-heavy, and I'd already summarized Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work.

Fortunately, much of the content of this book is now available online, and if you are interested in what our kids are going to face if they want to continue their educations beyond Clearwater (or beyond anywhere, for that matter) you owe it to yourself to visit the DIYU web site. There was also a great article published in the Sept. - Oct. 2011 edition of Utne Reader, but the link to the article wasn't working when I tried to view it.

Our kids are especially prepared to navigate this quickly and dramatically changing industry, and if they are going to be savvy education consumers they will need up-to-date information.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Summer School Theme Song

This video is being posted by popular demand. The footage is from last year and includes; parts of a documentary by Leo, rough footage from the making of an unfinished short film, a game of Mafia, and some other random shots (there was limited footage available at the time of editing). The song is "Victory Dance" by My Morning Jacket and was played loudly on the bus during the many summer school field trips. The video is kind of silly, the song absolutely rules!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Cosmos: The Graphic Novel

Samadhi has been a student at Clearwater for 9 years--he enrolled when he was four and is now almost 14 years old. He has been drawing since he was six and began making comics two or three years ago.

This year he started writing and illustrating a science fiction graphic novel series titled Cosmos. He has completed 16 pages in the first of seven planned books in the series. Book one is subtitled "Sol System", and will be around 200 pages long. He is using Adobe Photoshop to color the comic.

Samadhi has another comic series in mind, also science fiction. He maintains he cannot make a comic series without outer space in it. He explained that the humor in his comic is inspired by Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which combined sci-fi and comedy so well.

Many graphic novels fill Samadhi's shelves at home. Some of his favorites are Bone, Usagi Yojimbo, Amulet, Missile Mouse and Lackadaisy. He admires the last one because it is well drawn and combines comedy and drama.
Without further ado, here is Cosmos. Many pages are followed by Samadhi's comments. Click on each image to enlarge for reading.

Comic Prologue page 001

Comic Prologue page 002

Page 003 Shipslicer!
(click to embiggen)

Page 004 The Vanishing...
(click to embiggen)
And, now The Title Page!

(Click to embiggen and discover the name of this Opus)
And The first page of the actual comic!

(Click to check out those awesome night time effects close up)

Page 007 (Sodalicious!)

Page 008 (Suddenly, better shading! Wow!)

Page 009 (Lamps with eyes are the best kind of lamps. I’d totally buy that lamp.) 

Page 010 (Oh wait no that’s no lamp. Shocking twist. What is even this guy’s deal with these lamps.)

Page 011 (PLOT!! That’s a sound effect that needs to be used in comics more often.)

Page 012 (Shocking twist #2. Man Lekku what is even up with your mane in that last panel. Brush strokes eternal.)

Page 013 (Motion blur always. I have to draw those couches so many times i will just drop a spaceship on one, which just actually happened. Oh wait now it’s harder to draw. Dang)

Page 014 (See, when you cut something with a sword that looks like a peeled banana it clearly can’t be fixed. This is what happens in my world.)
How many couches CAN I destroy???????? Next on Cosmos!

Samadhi's comic was first published on his mother Roseanne's blog, Breaking Sod, in three installments: one, two and three. 

End of post.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Video "First Day Morning, 2011-12"

On the morning of September 13th (the first day of school) I walked throughout the school shooting video. Later that day I found Leo, Cass, and Lucas improvising music and quickly started recording. The result can be heard as the video's soundtrack. The piano in the beginning is by Delayney. The school year is off to an inspiring start and I feel truly lucky to be a part of this community. Thank you. - Matt G

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Classic Rock Quiz

It's the first day of school and everyone is so excited to be here and see each other again. 

Thirteen-year-old Thad created a classic rock quiz on Sporcle and has invited several people to play it today at school. Thad graciously agreed to share his quiz with Clearwater's blog followers. Join us in the excitement of the first day by testing your knowledge of classic rock lyrics by typing the correct title in the Can you name the Verbose Classic Rock Songs? quiz.

Sample Question
Queen - Are you prepared? Are you prepared for what is about to transpire? Has your body shifted to the borders of your sitting area?
Leave a comment with your percentile and how many you answered correctly. Begin!

Thanks, Thad!

End of post.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Great Blog Post on Offbeat Mama

Clearwater parent and writer Amanda Klein has written a wonderful post as a guest blogger at Offbeat Mama. Her story of her family's experience with Clearwater is warm and personal, and she does a great job of touching on some of the key aspects of the school and the model.

Read the post now!