Thursday, March 1, 2012

North Haven HS News Column

Though I'm not blogging enough, I am writing this column for the North Haven News. It's (mostly) what's happening.

Mostly the days at North Haven Community School tick over like they do anywhere, at most jobs, in most industrialized countries. Like most people who work inside buildings, we have meetings, lots of meetings. This month, in addition to our usual meetings about policy, students, schedules, standards, and some other things I have certainly forgotten, we had meetings to meet the candidates for next year’s open principal position and meetings to discuss said principal candidates. Thankfully, the eventual news of our new principal, Amy Marx’s hiring came not in a meeting, but in a universally, at least as far as I could tell, well-received e-mail. Her warmth and intelligence swayed us all, and her wish to find the best place in the world to raise her children seems an excellent fit.
Like most teachers, we also spend most of our time with children. In the high school,  though they may be adult-sized, our 13 students remain children, even the seniors. Sure, we give tests,  grade papers, and monitor behavior, but we work hard to demonstrate the respect, even love, we have for the subjects we teach, on the off chance that these children will emulate our curiosity and desire to learn. The good news is, often they do, and their willingness to focus on Knowledge Fair, rolling toward us on the not too distant horizon, proves it.
Whether it is the relatively high adult to student ratio, the manners demonstrated at home, Fresh Pond’s water, or some ineffable quality I am too new to notice, our children grumble, yet they do their work. Though some do it easily, some struggle, some downright resist, I trust that come the Ides of March, every student will present an exploration of his or her topic in at least one tangible way. Here in the high school we have students studying a broad range of subjects, from a 1970s U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding Amish education to American courts’ definitions of mental health; diesel engines to modern warfare; testing in schools to WikiLeaks; bass guitars to hydroponic systems.
Advised by high school teachers Courtney Naliboff, Louis Carrier, Janis Jones, Kristen McGovern , Terry Goodhue and me, as well as Librarian Kate McQuinn and Principal Barney Hallowell, students study, write, paint, glue, and draw in the pursuit of discovering what is worth learning about the subjects they are studying. Though long term projects have become de rigueur in many schools, this will be my first experience with one that encompasses the entire student body. The project’s common purpose seems a rich bonding force among both teachers and students and I look forward to seeing these projects fully fruited and on display for the town.
Closer on the horizon looms the Maine Principal Association’s One Act Play Festival, Saturday and Sunday, March 9 and 10 at Strom Auditorium in Rockport, home of Camden Hills Regional High School.  Led by English and theater arts teacher Courtney Naliboff, the NHCS cast members, Kennedy Cooper, Adam Murphy, Craig Waterman, Gina MacDonald, Samantha Sparhawk, Caleb Mao, Maddie Hallowell, Leta Hallowell, Megan Goodell, Natalie Carrier and Adrianna Ames,  have been rehearsing play called “Mostellaria” by the early Roman Plautus wherein the boys play the girls and vice versa. The plot turns on a sociable young “man” whose father leaves the youth in charge of the family home. Apparently young people have been throwing parties in their parents’ absence for more than 2,000 years, and young Tranio is no exception. The parties continue until the father returns and creates the central problem of the play. The house and, in particular, a friend are in such a state that the young people decide to convince his father that in his absence ghosts have come to haunt his house. This ruse proves problematic and a classic picaresque, replete with knaves, rogues, and adventure, ensues.
    Apparently, there has been a plot afoot for years to keep residents of North Haven from attending the One Act Festival, as it is, according to Principal Barney Hallowell and One Act Director Courtney Naliboff, always scheduled during North Haven’s town meeting. This year, the curtain rises on our play at 2:30 p.m., just enough time to make it to Rockport from the middle boat, and the town meeting starts at 9 a.m. Oy.