Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Discovering the Power of Their Voices

by Shawna Lee, Clearwater staff member

When I was seven years old, I was a chatty person--so chatty, in fact, that my 2nd-grade teacher told me over and over again to stop whispering to my friends in class. My chattiness was such a problem that she pointed it out on all four of my report cards that year. When I was 10 years old, I helpfully corrected my 5th-grade teacher when she said something that was contrary to information I had heard from my dad just days before. Apoplectic, she told me in no uncertain terms that my father was not the teacher.
Johnna (7), Zoe (8) and Krista (18) spend a lot of time making art together
I learned powerful lessons from both of those experiences. First, that it was imperative to figure out what teachers did and didn't want to hear and behave accordingly; second, that my thoughts and experience of the world were neither welcome nor important.

Johnna with her LEGO sculpture of a Minecraft creature
A stark contrast to my schooling experiences and one of the many things I love about The Clearwater School's community of students and staff is that every day we talk about and listen to each other's thoughts, opinions, experiences, crazy ideas, knowledge, rants and stories. Student voices are no less powerful and important than adult voices.

Ceilidh and Kallisti hanging out
Hundreds of times each day students of every age state their opinions in collective and individual matters, tell someone to stop being annoying or unsafe and are usually obeyed, eat and go outside whenever they feel like it, hang out with people they choose, initiate activities and projects, decide how to spend their time, and constantly define together and individually what it means to be responsible. In short, because they alone are in charge of their lives and their learning, they find out quickly that using their voices is essential to achieving whatever is important to them.

Samuel and Jaime
This sampling of photos and anecdotes illustrate the ownership and relaxation Clearwater students experience at school, and how they develop the power of their voices.
  • A 13-year-old, who's been at Clearwater since he was small, runs for the position of School Meeting Chair because he wants to more actively contribute to Clearwater as a whole. Although he's never held a high-profile leadership position before, we've all known him for years and have personal experience of his calmness, intelligence and interpersonal skills. He  is elected and competently runs the meetings, continuing to gain experience wrangling agendas and discussions that include 40+ people.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Learning not to bust

By Bryan

A game that's been making the rounds at school for the past week is Chinese Poker. I play a lot of card games with students at school, but I came to this one a little bit late. Gregory was the first student to teach me.

Each player is dealt thirteen cards, all face-up (five cards to start with, then eight more one at a time) with which to make three poker hands (two of five cards and one of three). Once you have put a card into one of the hands, it cannot move. Each of your hands competes against the corresponding hand of your opponent, so it's possible to win once, twice, or three times per round. But the hands have to be stacked with the highest-scoring hand at bottom and the lowest one on top; otherwise, you bust, and lose points instead. While Gregory was teaching me, I lost.

As with most games, the rules sound more complicated than the play actually turns out to be. In fact, playing the game is fairly simple, but the strategy of the game takes a little practice to learn; you are looking at all the cards out on the table and you have to figure the odds fairly quickly of getting the cards you want. The day after I learned it, I joined a game that had been ongoing for most of the day with a rotating cast of players. I stayed for a couple of hours until I gave up. I had busted every round but one.

Fortunately, Gabriel, who had been playing most of the game, took me under his tutelage. "No one at that table was playing sanely except Maddy and me," he told me. "Everyone was being way too aggressive." Since he and Maddy were the second- and first-place winners, respectively, I figured he was right; besides, he plays so many games and thinks about strategy so much, he probably was seeing things about the play I hadn't even considered. He and I sat down to practice. He patiently walked me through the game-play and coached me as I tried to reign in my flailing strategy. The first round went pretty slowly, but by the end of our 45-minute lesson I hadn't busted once.

As I thought about it later, I realized that I can remember only once been taught a game by a student during the ten-plus years I worked in a public school. They were always playing -- computer games, board games, make-believe games, playground games -- but although I looked over their shoulders regularly and joined in often enough, I never really undertook to learn from them. As far as I know, it never occurred to them that they could teach me, either; but then, I didn't ask; and my guess is they didn't think they had permission to offer. I can't help but wonder what I might have done to make it clear they could have. 

This question just doesn't arise at Clearwater, and it's not because of anything I do. From Clearwater students, I have learned Magic the Gathering, Line Ball, and quite a number of computer games (not always very well). Admittedly, I live with one of these students, but I don't think that's the main difference.

I'm looking forward to the next game of Chinese Poker. I think I stand a good chance of not coming in last.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Lily - Composer & Lyricist

by Shawna Lee, staff member

Lily, who is almost 13 and has been attending The Clearwater School since she was five years old, has been passionate about music for a long time. (Her other great passion is chickens!) Her dad, Matt (a staff member at Clearwater), is a musician and songwriter. For a few years she was an enthusiastic part of the Clearwater Singers, the small choir at school, but her interest in group singing has waned and this year she decided not to be part of the choir.

Now, Lily is working on solo singing and composing songs. She has written musical phrases before, but this year she began writing songs in earnest. "The tune often comes first," says Lily, although with her latest song, "the tune and words came together." She often works out emotions she's feeling in her lyrics. She played around with a tune for months, but the song with the working title, "When I Walk" really came together in the late summer when she felt sad and frustrated, missing her dad who was on a week-long trip.

Lily is working with Matt to make "When I Walk" and another song, "Whispers", better. Just this week she decided to change a line in the verse of "Whispers" to make it more original and more compatible with the guitar accompaniment. "It's a lot better now." She often seeks me out to get my feedback on her latest tune or modification. I love seeing her passion, process and creative joy, as well as her commitment to reworking her songs to make them better and better.

Singer-songwriter and Grammy winner Taylor Swift is a major inspiration for Lily right now. Lily knows Swift's songs backwards and forwards and she's learned a lot about what she likes and how to construct songs from her exhaustive listening. For instance, Lily likes Swift's use of verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus song structure. For a while, "bridges made me feel stuck," Lily said. "But I kept trying out different things until I figured them out." She likes bridges because "they make songs longer and more interesting. I don't like short songs."

There are samples of three of Lily's songs on the video in this post. The first one, Lily abandoned because she just didn't like how it was working. The second one is about her love of rain and the third is "When I Walk". Her next goal is to finish and polish five songs and make an album--something she plans to do in the next few months. I know I'm looking forward to hearing the early incarnations of her next songs and watching what she does with them.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Hide & Seek

By Bryan

As I was leaving campus early one afternoon, I passed by a six-year-old student standing still, facing away from the school, eyes closed, counting aloud to a hundred. The unmistakeable sign of a game of hide-&-seek. Clearwater is an excellent campus for hide-&-seek, with more likely hiding-spots than you can possibly use in a day. The game combines so much: it's a back-and-forth between individuation and group-identification. It resonates with so many stories of hairs-breadth escape, cunning and skill. While playing hide-&-seek, you can imagine yourself as a anyone on a long list of characters; Robin Hood, Katniss, James Bond, Bilbo Baggins.... It seems a safe bet that the game taps into ancient tracking and hunting instincts. And it's a game that is discouraged, or even not allowed, at a number of schools. 

I worked for ten years at an after-school program that did not allow hide-&-seek. The rationale was straightforward: If your friends can't see you, the teacher can't see you; and you have to be somewhere where the teacher can see you. I repeated these words many, many times over a decade, whether inside or out, to kindergarteners and ten-year-olds. The requirement for constant supervision trumped this most venerable of kids' games. 

Whenever I explained this, I could not help but feel that I was saying something else. Not: I want you to be safe, but: Stay where I can see you. And week after week, year after year, this rule along with many others that all entailed never, ever letting a child be by him or herself except in the bathroom, drilled a message home: You are not trusted. 

This isn't the message my co-workers were trying to send. While I do think that there is a widespread reluctance among mainstream educators (and society at large) to think of children as capable of responsible decisions, my coworkers were mostly motivated by sincere concern for safety, compounded by deep anxiety about worst-case-scenario legal liability. Worst-case-scenarios about hide-&-seek are not hard to find: kids who go missing for hours and hours, kids who get trapped in the refrigerator or some other ingenious and fatal hiding spot. You hear these stories and a part of you can't help but feel the itch to rule out every danger factor, however small. I know these students, and I know they know the school rules, and I trust them to be reasonable and safe, but of course I can imagine a freak accident. Part of my trust of them is that I know that they can too. But it's easy, and good, to see that that isn't what's preoccupying them as they scan the buildings and bushes for the perfect cover. 

A fine mist was starting to come down as I walked away from campus, the voice of the student behind fading, still counting towards Ready Or Not. Two and a half hours later I walked back. The rain had begun in earnest by then, not a downpour, but constant. As I walked up, I heard another voice over the sound of rain, saying, Eighty-two, eighty-three, eighty-four.... There was another student standing in the same place, oblivious to his wet hair and damp clothes. Off behind him I caught a glimpse of a couple of other darting bodies slipping into concealment. 

About five minutes later, the round was over and all three of them were standing by the fence. I came up. "You guys were playing hide-&-seek when I left," I said. "You been playing this whole time?" 

"Oh, yeah," they said. "It's fun." That was all I needed to know.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Clearwater Profiles - Mara

This is the first in a series of profiles of Clearwater students. Clearwater students range in age from three to eighteen, and include kids who've attended since they were three and others who've enrolled later in their schooling.

by Shawna Lee, Clearwater staff member

Mara and I arranged to meet at 1:00 PM and talk about her life at Clearwater. When I tracked her down she was deep in a game with two other girls (10 and 12 years old). All of them were wolves, and Mara was on the hunt for caribou and winter bunnies.

Mara turns 11 in three weeks, and has been at The Clearwater School since she was four years old. This year, she plays a lot of what she calls character and skill games. In character games, she and other players take on different personas, from magic users to animals to warriors. Skill games require the participants to follow clues and solve puzzles in scenarios they create together. Tag games are also a favorite.

Mara, Vera, Jesse and Will

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Computer room redux

The kitchen is back to normal. For over a week at Clearwater the computer room was closed for a serious overhaul. All the computers and furniture was removed. The carpet was torn up, the baseboards pulled off, the concrete floor beneath stripped of linoleum, washed and re-sealed, and given some fresh layers of paint. Meanwhile, nearly all online gaming migrated (via laptops) into the kitchen. 

"It is so loud in here!" Meghan said to me one afternoon in the kitchen, as we looked over at the six students gathered around four laptops playing and watching a multiplayer game. It was indeed loud; there were yells of alarm or triumph as foes advanced or were routed, and a general atmosphere of noisy camaraderie. But it was even louder in the computer room, where Gregory was working by himself (sometimes) with a machine that looked like a lawn mower and felt (according to Gregory, who used it a lot) like a jackhammer to operate. It sounded like a jackhammer too. It included a wide blade that pried up the linoleum. The flooring came up in broken strips that looked like thick pieces of peeling paint. It was slow going; the linoleum had been there a long time and was stuck down hard. 

When they weren't gaming in the kitchen, most of the students who usually use the computer room would take turns doing jobs in the remodeling. The linoleum stripping was actually the second or third step of the process. The first had been the tearing out of the carpet. "The carpet was ugly. It looked nasty and smelled nasty," said Gabriel. Was it hard to pull up? "The carpet, No. The linoleum, yes." That took two or three days of hard work with the jackhammer-lawnmower machine. Periodically Mat R., the staff who also serves on the computer committee, would re-sharpen the blades with a spinning stone that sent bright sparks flying, and made its own noise. At times, there were five or six students in at once, washing, ripping out carpet nails, All in all, a loud set of jobs. 

Once the floor was uncovered and washed, and a crack the students discovered was re-sealed, it was time to paint. Students used long-handled rollers and laid down two coats on the floor, then let it dry before hauling all the desks, chairs and computers back in and re-connecting them. (Later, still another coat was added, accompanied by another trip of all the furniture in and out.) After routine de-bugging and de-fragging, the computer room was at last declared open for business again. It had taken seven days of work. Gabriel brought chocolate chip cookies to thank everyone who had pitched in to do the labor. Now that the room is re-opened, it is almost as if it has always been this way. The floor is shiny, the chairs roll over it smoothly; no one misses the old ugly carpet. And the kitchen is quiet again. Sort of.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Learning Music at The Clearwater School


Singing, playing instruments and listening to and talking about music have been a big part of people's lives at Clearwater for many years. A changing group of girls have been members of a small choir for several years. A few students have become proficient at guitar or drums. A few poke around on the piano or take a few lessons.

Maddy and Jacy

This year, enough people are interested in learning to play guitar and drums that staff member and musician Matt Garrity has set aside two mornings a week for scheduled lessons. Four girls are learning to play the guitar and, in addition to their weekly lessons, spend time practicing on their own and learning to play guitar and sing at the same time.

Cass, Matt and Leo

Two teenage boys spend hours each week with each other, alone or with Matt on drums, playing electric guitar and bass. A couple of girls are writing original songs with music and lyrics, consulting with Matt. There have been some piano lessons this year, too.

 Guitar lesson with Matt

Some of the girls who are in the choir are also taking guitar and piano lessons. What they are learning about playing instruments adds  to their understanding of how music works and deepens their singing skills.

Aidan and Matt

It is rare for the music room to be empty for extended periods. Usually, someone is taking a lesson, practicing in a group or alone, or jamming.

Watch this video sample of some of the music making at Clearwater over the past several weeks. The video shows people not performing, but practicing--working to get better at playing an instrument, to create rhythm, melody and harmony, to compose a song which was later discarded, to play the same chord progression or improvise something new together, and to help each other increase their skills.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Growing into Literacy - Guest Post

It is often a challenge for parents who enroll their children at The Clearwater School or other Sudbury schools when their children choose not to learn to read until they are 9 or 10 years old or even older. With the permission of Abbe Vogels, a founder and staff member at Rising Tide School, our sister Sudbury school in Olympia, we are reprinting her blog post about how she handles her own fears around this issue. This post was originally published on her School It Yourself blog on October 2, 2011.
The photos in this post are of Clearwater students and were not part of Abbe's original blog post.

Growing into literacy

As the parent of self-educated children, I often come up against fears about their development. The core of the fear is: ”Maybe what I know in my heart to be true about learning is actually false, and the dominant educational paradigm is right. What if I’ve totally screwed up!” Pretty normal fear for anyone walking a new road, but scary just the same.

For me, and other Sudbury parents, it often comes up around reading. I fear that by supporting my kids to read when they’re ready, they’ll never learn, or they won’t read well. I’ve been very happy that I’ve stared down this fear so far, as I see tremendous benefit to my kids as they grow into literacy in their own time.

Before I had my own children, I worked as a paraeducator in a local school district. That’s when I first became aware that many people can’t read, or can’t read fluently, even when they’ve been schooled their whole lives, and even when they’re of an age where we’d expect reading ability (11, 12, 13 years, and even older). Because reading is the skill upon which all academic schools are based, reading difficulty prevents a person from participating in classroom activities, and was accordingly surrounded by a great deal of fear, worry, and extra work for the kids who weren’t comfortable readers.

The older these children were, the more that the fear surrounding their non-reading caused them deep shame. Their lack of reading skill became something to hide and deny. And the more they hid and denied, the less likely they were to be curious about reading, interested in learning how to do it better, or comfortable asking for help. To me, the situation often appeared hopeless–some students seemed more likely to drop out school than to brave the shame of learning to read at age 13 or older. Completely understandable, given the environment!

Monday, November 12, 2012

A painting from a bus rider

Last Monday as I opened up the bus for people to board, Johnna handed me this painting.

"I painted it for you," she said. I felt both happy and honored to receive such a gift. We spent some time looking at it together as she explained some of the choices she'd made in painting it. "The purple is really blue and red," she told me. "I had to paint over a few times." Yellow also shows underneath the large green patches too giving it a kind of glow. I did not ask what it was, but when we got back to her stop at the end of the day, I did ask her to add one detail at the bottom: her name.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Two New Chickens at Clearwater

There are now two new members of the Clearwater community. Poppy and Pebble are Silkie chickens, sponsored by the Chicken Committee: Lily, Jurr, Jackie, Max, Stevie, Tommie, Delayney, Vera, Tarka, Zoe, Gryffon, and Mikey.

 Poppy and Pebble

The story of Poppy and Pebble is a good example of how students can make things happen at Clearwater. Adults’ resistance to an idea is not an immoveable obstacle if there is vision, commitment, and follow-through from students. Early on, the chickens were not expected to be permanent residents at Clearwater. A number of staff and students were doubtful about how well it would work, remembering a previous chicken experiment. "The last time Clearwater had chickens, the staff had to take care of them because none of the students wanted to," says Lily. "So they were skeptical." Lily has chickens at her house, and another student had said he wished he could have pets at school. So, Lily said, why not chickens at school again? But how to persuade the school?

 Lily (with Pebble), Gryffon and Brandon (with Poppy)

"We went to school meeting and had a discussion, but everyone said they didn't think it was a good idea. They said we'd have to raise money for the chickens ourselves, and then keep the chickens away from school over the summer." But that was something students were willing to do. "We raised them at homes across the street from the school at first. They were very cute. We named them Poppy and Kiwi." After Kiwi unfortunately met a cat, Poppy was very sad -- young chickens can actually die of loneliness, Lily says -- so Pebble was acquired by the chicken committee. "Once they got old enough to go outside, we asked permission again to keep them at school."

The committee made their case to the interim Summer School Meeting. "The chickens were cute enough to persuade them to say yes," says Jurr. But students had all responsibility for care of the chickens; it wasn't staff's job. Lily, Max, Stevie, Jurr, and Jackie cleaned their coop, gave them food and water, held them, and free-ranged them during the whole summer. What does it mean to free-range a chicken? "You put them out in the grass to walk around by themselves, eating and scratching and taking dirt baths," Jackie and Jurr explain. "We have to watch them to make sure they don't run away, or get killed by a predator like a hawk or a cat." (Lily clarifies though that once chickens get old enough, most cats don't mind them).

 Gryffon, Poppy and Nikos

Once summer was over, the committee still needed School Meeting's permission to permanently keep them at school. "We asked again, and by this time they thought we were responsible enough to look after the chickens; it wasn't hard to get it approved," says Jurr. But another obstacle arose when the committee had to consider the requirements of the Health Department regarding livestock at schools. Poppy and Pebble had to wait another two months before the committee had made the proper arrangements and School meeting approved the plan.

The agreement is that the chickens can be housed at the school; the chicken committee is responsible for buying their food, taking them to the vet, making sure they are safe in their coop, watching them when they are out. But most of all, Jackie adds, "we like to hold them." Anyone may hold the chickens if they like, supervised by a member of the Chicken Committee. "They are cuddly and nice, and they don't mind you holding them. They’ll even fall asleep sometimes in your hands. If you move them gently, they will ruffle their feathers or move their tails. Poppy has some wicked tail moves," Jurr says. "And Pebble is adorable."

 Lily, Arlo (with Pebble), Gryffon and Nikos (with Poppy)

While holding the chickens it is recommended that you wear gloves, and after holding them, it's important to wash your hands with soap. This is because it's possible (though unlikely, Jackie adds) to catch salmonella from a chicken. This was the most serious issue the chicken committee had to face when addressing requirements from the State Health Department. Stevie explained that the chickens also have to remain in an enclosed area even when they are not in their coop, and that staff supervises while the coop is cleaned.

As a breed, Silkie chickens are small, with puffy feathers. They are recommended for kids because they are usually nice and calm. Poppy (white) is a hen and after a period of guessing we are now sure that Pebble (black) is a rooster.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Clearwater Hosts Weekly Play Days

The Clearwater School's Play Days program provides an opportunity for toddlers, preschoolers and their families to experience our ground breaking model of education. Join us for open-ended play and parent education every Friday, from 9:30am to 12noon. No reservations are required and the program is free.

At The Clearwater School learning happens through active exploration. Play Days allow young children to freely explore a safe environment. By following their own impulses, they can totally be themselves as they grow and develop friendships with others.

Each Friday we include a discussion time so parents can learn the underlying philosophy and practice of Clearwater's approach and gain parenting support.

 Students meet with staff to organize Play Days

A highlight of our program is the involvement of Clearwater students and many opportunities for visiting children to observe and interact with them. For families considering future enrollment in our school, Play Days is an opportunity interact with older students and observe their well-honed decision-making and problem-solving skills. Twelve students signed up to  host, provide information and play with visiting children and their parents. They will alternate with each other every week so everyone can be a part of the program.

When asked what attracted them to participate in Play Days, students had this to say.

Thirteen-year-old Maddy said she likes building relationships with kids and parents. She thinks it's easier for parents to enroll their children at Clearwater when they know people here. Eleven-year-old Nikos said he likes playing with younger kids.

Thirteen-year-old Alise loves kids and knows being part of Play Days will be a fun experience. Fifteen-year-old Gregory enjoys small children and said he learns how to be a better person by being with young children. Thirteen-year-old Michael loves reading to and teaching kids stuff. He also likes watching kids grow up.

Twelve-year-old Lily believes having this program will help the school grow, something that is important to her. Matt, the staff member coordinating this program, said students who participate in Play Days are taking leadership roles and giving back to the school.

Play Days organizing meeting

If you are interested in attending, there's no need to call ahead--just show up at 9:30am any Friday morning. (NOTE: Because of Clearwater's holiday schedule, there won't be Play Days on November 23, December 21 and 28.)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Clearwater's Table at GeekGirlCon a Success

Brenda, Gabriel, Kallisti and Meghan at booth with cosplaying attendee

As mentioned in last week's post, The Clearwater School participated as an exhibitor at the second annual GeekGirlCon. Thanks to a great design by Clearwater parent, Brenda Conken, and Clearwater staffer, Mat Riggle, plus silkscreening and booth art by Clearwater parent, Elrond Sheppard, our booth looked great! We were sandwiched between Sakura-Con and a Lego jewelry booth.

Awesome Clearwater students Meghan, Maddy, Alise and Gabriel

Table staffing duties were shared by Clearwater students (Gabriel, Meghan, Alise, Kallisti and Maddy), parents (Brenda, Kelley Sheppard, Susan Milton and Amanda Klein) and staff (Shawna Lee). It is common for exhibitors to hand out swag (appealing trinkets or edibles) to attendees. Brenda thought Tarot cards were a memorable handout at another con and suggested handing out single cards with Clearwater's name, URL and phone on the back. Kallisti also donated a bunch of fortune cookies of different flavors to  give out.

A lot of people came by the booth for a Tarot card or fortunate cookie, and a good number of those wanted more information about the school. The con was also fun for Clearwater table staff. Several of them took breaks from staffing to take advantage of panel discussions on various topics, including "Steampunk Sewing", "Really Make Your Own Videoblog", "The Last 'Outsider' in Popular Culture - Disability", "Spotlight on Purple Reign", "Comedy Web Series: 'Standard Action'", "So You Want to Write (and Finish) a Novel", and "Writing for the Young Adult Geek".

Booth design by Brenda Conken and Mat Riggle

In short, it was a fun event to be part of, and we got the word out about The Clearwater School to a great audience. We hope to be a part of GeekGirlCon again next year.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Clearwater at GeekGirlCon This Weekend

The Clearwater School will have an information table at the second annual GeekGirlCon, Saturday, August 11, 9am-6pm, and Sunday, August 12, 9am-5pm, at the Conference Center, in downtown Seattle across the street from the Washington State Convention Center.

This is the fourth event this summer where students, staff and parents have staffed an information table at a large public event. In June, we had a table at the Fremont Fair and Seattle Pridefest. In July, we were at the Mill Creek Festival.

A few students and their parents attended the first GeekGirlCon last year and thought it would be a great opportunity to publicize Clearwater. We are excited to be a part of it. Mat and Brenda have designed a great booth display that includes a 10-minute looping video of still photos and student-created movie trailers, in addition to some other large graphical elements. Several Clearwater parents and students will represent the school at our table.

In addition to information tables, there are panels, guest speakers, cosplay (people dressing up as their favorite characters), a masquerade and a venue for connecting and networking with women who are professionals in science, video games, comics, television and more. Tickets are available online at GeekGirlCon's website. You may also still be able to get discounted tickets at your local comic store.

We hope to see you at GeekGirlCon!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Clearwater School at Fremont Fair This Weekend!

The Clearwater School will have an information booth at the Fremont Fair this weekend, June 16 and 17, 2012. Watch the fabulous and amazing Solstice Parade at noon on Saturday, June 16, and then stop by our booth and say 'hi'.

If have friends, neighbors and coworkers who are looking for a great school for their kids, encourage them to stop by our booth and talk to us.

Clearwater students, parents and staff will be on hand to answer questions and talk about their experiences of Clearwater on Saturday, June 16, 10am-8pm, and Sunday, June 17, 10:30am-6pm. Our table is near the rocket in delightful downtown Fremont.

The Fremont Fair is an event for the whole family that includes four music and performance stages, over 300 arts and crafts vendors, an art car blowout, food booths and wine and beer garden.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Meghan's Warcraft Story Continues

Here are two more chapters of Meghan's original story set in the Warcraft world. If you haven't read or don't remember the story so far, be sure to check out Chapter 1, Chapter 2Chapter 3, Chapter 4 and Chapter 5. The story is told from the point of view of Salith, a female half-elf, half-troll rogue

Chapter 6

Salith fell into a horrified silence as the undead shoved Varawien towards the wall beside Salith. Rowna must have seen the look on Salith's face, because she fought viciously against her chains “You horrible son of an ogre!” she screeched, before the pain of her chains became too much. Varawien sniffled softly as the strange purple chains wrapped themselves around her wrists and ankles.

Salith continued to stare hopelessly at her friend as the undead shambled away, cackling. Tears began to form in her own eyes as she thought of Delaralas. The stupid know-it-all, with his stupid magic and his stupid, mysterious rambles about dragons...

Dragons! That was the key. To what, Salith didn't quite know yet, but she felt compelled to raise her head and look at Varawien, who was full-on sobbing by now.

“Vara, how did Del die?” Salith demanded, unable to be gentle due to her sudden need to figure something out.

Varawien drew a great breath through her nose, which resulted in a great snorting noise. Then, with a sniffle, she spoke.
“He....he had killed the man who had stabbed you, and he....he turned around and looked at me with this ridiculous grin on his face, and then....” Varawien choked up. Salith suddenly felt horrible and began to try and set it straight.
“Its going to be alright, Vara. Trust me. What happened next?” she coaxed, gently.

This time, Varawien swallowed hard, then continued.
“He erupted in blue flames, and fell to the ground, charred beyond recognition. With that grin still stuck to his face. The undead who was just here was standing behind him, and....he was.....he was......smirking.” Varawien said the last with such venom Salith wouldn't've been surprised had she spat poison.

Varawien collapsed into silence as Salith pondered this. Dragons....Fire....Delaralas....Suddenly, she whipped her head around to look at Rowna, who she had guessed was a mage, due to the way she smelled.
“Rowna!” Rowna perked her head up, revealing the bent lump that must have once been her nose, in great detail due to the glowing of her chains.
“Aren't all Dragons resistant to fire!?”
Rowna looked berwilderd for a moment, then thoughtful “Well, depending on the kind...”
“What about Demonic fire?”
“You'd have to be extremely skilled to kill a dragon with Demonic fire.”

Salith's spirits soared. She threw her head up and let out a battlecry, shocking both Rowna and Varawien. She then looked over at her tear-swept friend and grinned the goofiest and most ridiculous grin she could.

Varawien looked worried “Are you alright, Sal? You're scaring me....”

It took a moment for Salith to reply because she was so overcome with triumph and joy.
“I'm more than alright, Vara. Delaralas is still alive!!”
Rowna twitched her arm slightly, as if to hold up a hand.
“Woah, hold up, how can you be sure?”
Salith looked a little more serious for a moment, but was still smiling “I just know.”

Chapter 7
Change of Pace

Delaralas gingerly flexed his jaw. It had hurt to keep that grin long enough for those foolish humans and their irritating undead overlord to take Varawien and Salith. He had hated to let them, but it was a necessary sacrifice. After all, they couldn't know he was a dragon--not yet.

He forced himself into a crouch and then began focusing all his energy on transforming. Slowly but surely, his limbs elongated, his face morphed into a snout and horns grew from his ears, spikes sprouted from his spine and a tail wiggled out of his tailbone. His wings forced themselves into being and grew until they where full length and flapping. Scales materialized all across his body. And just like that, Delaralas had become Delaralstrasz, a great bronze behemoth of a dragon.

With a flap of his wings, he rose into the air and began his journey towards his captive friends and their elusive captor, the notorious Elzaer. A beautiful and deadly force to be reckoned with.

~ ~ ~ ~

“The preparations are almost complete, Milady. Soon, the Half-breed will meet her fate at the hands of the great Ol'kai.r”
“Wonderful. You never cease to amaze me. Cerader”
“Thank you, Milady.” The death knight bowed. “As do you.”

Elzaer waved a clawed hand and the image of her pawn vanished. She was growing weary of his simple flattery, but he was an ideal pawn for he thought that he was in control. He was arrogant enough to believe that he was the king and that she herself was merely his pawn. But, of course, he was foolish in thinking so. He could barely be called a knight, let alone a bishop or castle. King was completely out of the question.

Besides, every sensible person knows that the real power lies with the Queen.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Clearwater goes Hunger Games...

Many Clearwater students have participated in their own version of the Hunger Games. Alliances are formed and broken. To decide the damage of a strike the battlers count to three and put out a number of fingers, if the total is even the strike hits, if the total number of fingers is odd the strike misses.