Happy New Year!
I'll start by acknowledging that it has been longer than usual since publishing a blog post.
Since the beginning of my time at Rock Tree Sky, I have diligently published a blog post each month that RTS is in session... I don't recall ever before skipping a month.
But this year, when December came to a close, I was not in a headspace to write or reflect. Between multiple trips to the East Coast, several holiday celebrations, and a death in the family, I just needed the space to be present with everything as it was happening. And with that I have been actively gifting myself more compassion and trying to take more rest as I need it.
I share that because I believe that compassion and rest are necessary for navigating the winter season. It is frustrating to me that our culture doesn't exactly support us in in taking the time to slow down and sink into the rhythm of short days and cold, dark nights.
Instead, this society expects us to engage in numerous gatherings, celebrations, travels, and over- indulgence during the time surrounding the Winter Solstice (the shortest day of the year). It can feel taxing and chaotic to make time for all of that on top of completing all of our regular daily chores and responsibilities all with limited daylight hours to fuel our energy.
But I digress...
In this letter I will provide calendar updates for February and I will attempt summarize the highlights from December and January with a photo journal of the past two months. Please bear with me as I try to remember all that has happened over these jam packed two months.
Be Well, and Stay Curious
With love from Chrissy and the RTS Staff
Looking Towards February:
Friday February 10: RTS Dance 5:00-8:00 pm
Learners aged 8 and up are invited to attend an evening of music and dancing at the
Rock Tree Sky Dance. Learners are allowed to bring friends who are not enrolled at RTS.
$5 for RTS Learners
$10 for non-RTS Learners
Saturday February 11: 10:00am-12:00pm Parent Dialogue *
*Please stay tuned for a Google Sign-Up form.
If less than 10 families sign up for the Parent Dialogue, the discussion group will be cancelled.
Monday February 20- Friday February 24: RTS is Closed For February Vacation
Reflecting on December and January:
The beginning of December feels like a lifetime ago but when I scrolled through the photo reel on my phone I was reminded of some of the more exciting things that happened throughout the month.
After some autumn rains in early December, the learners in the Roots band were overjoyed to find a giant oyster mushroom growing from one of the inoculated logs in the garden. The kids wasted no time harvesting the mushroom which was as big as many of their five-year-old faces. And without hesitation the mushroom was brought to the kitchen to be cooked as an afternoon snack which was shared during closing circle. Each child enjoyed sampling the oyster mushroom and the only complaint was that there wasn't more mushroom to go around.
On the mushroom theme, mycology specialist, Omar Uribe, stopped by campus for an afternoon of inoculating substrate with reishi mushroom mycelium as an experiment in growing a "mushroom bowl."
Omar came back to campus late in January to work with the teens on reestablishing the mushroom cultivation program at RTS. Several teens spent the afternoon inoculating substrate with oyster mushroom spawn. The hope is that our teens will soon be selling oyster mushrooms at the Thursday Community Farmers Market. Stay tuned!
As a celebration of the end of autumn, learners spent time in early December gathering colorful leaves to make nature crowns, wreaths, and other crafts celebrating the season.
Another celebration that spurred excitement on campus was when many of our Friday learners staged a garden wedding in which Francesca and Jaxson were married by the rabi, Elon. The bride wore a white gown hand sewn and designed by her sister, Clementine. Homemade snacks including hummus and cupcakes were shared with those in attendance.
On another part of campus, cob specialist, Sage Stoneman, could be found each week in December working with learners of all ages as well as some RTS parents to complete the cob bench. It was inspiring to witness the collaboration and mixed aged participation throughout the course of this project. It is always fun to see folks both young and old work together to create something lasting.
Now, at the end of January, the bench is nearly complete and already being used and enjoyed by learners of all ages. Some of our younger learners have been found using the bench as a playscape, while our teens have used the bench as a location for a council meeting.
The excitement of December culminated with the Winter Solstice Exposition.
In the days leading up to the Expo, learners and mentors worked together to create decorations for the Hartmann Hall stage, arial silks learners practiced routines with dedication, the art room was transformed into an art gallery, and the campus was buzzing with anticipation.
On the evening of the Winter Solstice Exposition, community members were blown away by the talent of our young people. From the gravity defying silks performances, to the musical acts that showcased a range of instrumental and vocal talents, it was truly a night to remember. Some favorite moments included Elon and Ethan's tribute to Hamilton, and the debut of punk band sensation Monsta FUB.
Due to heavy rains at the beginning of January, we had a soft return to campus. Once the skies and the roads were clear however, learners returned to campus with full energy.
In fact, for a couple of weeks in January, learners enjoyed caring for baby goats that were separated from their mamma's during the heavy rains. RTS learners bottle fed the young kids, held them, and bathed them. I am now happy to report that each of the goat babies have been officially re-homed.
Textile arts was a major activity during both December and January. Learner of all ages in all parts of campus could be found sewing garments, sewing stuffies, hand sewing patches, embellishing clothing, block printing band merch, embroidering quilting squares, and more.
The ceramics program continues to thrive on campus thanks to dedicated ceramics specialist, Holland. It is fun to see the skills of the our learners develop through dedicated practice. Our learners are truly creating a beautiful collection of pottery.
Gymnastics also continues to be a favorite activity of many of our learners. Lately, learners have been developing choreography... I sense that we might just see some gymnastics skills showcased at our Spring Expo.
Cooking with Wadi has long been a go-to offering for our younger learners, and in January, RTS mentor, Casey, offered a day of Cooking with Casey. Casey taught some eager teens to cook burgers using the blacksmithing forge. More Cooking with Casey has been promised as we progress into 2023.
Peter has also been continuing with his rotating practical science experiments and challenges. Recent explorations have included wave pool exploration in the sandpit, a zip-line challenge in the design room, and of course, rocket launches have generated explosive excitement for many young learners.
I think I will leave it there for now. Thanks for reading! Please enjoy the photo reel bellow.