High school retreat adjusts to meeting virtually

By Dylan Lee, S. Z. Nishan, and Sohei J. Wu

The high school retreat is a yearly tradition. Every year, one week before school starts, the students and faculty pack their bags, hop on a bus, and set out to “Redwood Glen” in Lomar Mar, a remote getaway in nature. To welcome new high schoolers into the community, the retreat focuses on building a lighthearted atmosphere, allowing students to spend more time with their peers and to get to know their teachers. This year, however, the Waldorf School of the Peninsula had to modify the retreat to follow public health protocols concerning Covid-19, thus creating our school’s first virtual retreat. The school faculty and senior class worked together to adapt to the mandates, making six teacher-led workshops where students joined and participated in various artistic activities.

Yoga and Meditation

Instead of just sitting here and reading this, let’s do something! Place all of your weight into your right foot. Using your hands, draw your left foot into your right thigh, with your knee facing out to the left. Congratulations, you are in vrksasana (tree pose)! Too easy? Try doing that without using your hands. Still too easy? Try doing it with your eyes closed and see how long you can hold it. Repeat on the other side and notice if there are any differences.
This workshop may have been in the morning, but we experimented with some tools that come in handy at night. Many people find it difficult to relax at the end of the day and can get caught up in swirls of thoughts and worries. Taking time to notice the breath can be an effective way of slowing the heart rate and reducing stress hormones. Following the teaching of one of the greatest living Zen Buddhist teachers, Thich Nhat Hanh, try this adaptation at bed time: first, lie in a comfortable, supported position with your spine straight and your neck relaxed; as you inhale, say to yourself, “breathing in, I am aware of my body,” and feel your breath fill you up; as you exhale, say to yourself, “breathing out, I calm my body,” and feel yourself relax. Repeat this ten times. If you lose count or get distracted, simply start over.
In the Yoga and Meditation workshop, we experienced different ways of both moving our bodies and being still in our bodies, including drinking tea and balancing all the weight of our bodies exclusively on our hands. Movement and stillness are key components of health and wellbeing, and these days, we probably don’t get enough of either. If you want more, be sure to sign up for the PE elective with Mr. Haughness and Madame Davis!

By Madame Davis

Zentangle

Ms. Oran led a Zentangle workshop!

Painting

Ms. Uludag and Dr. Frederickson led this group in creating their own versions of the same painting. With inspiration from Bob Ross, the group painted northern lights, mountains, and happy little trees.

Cooking

For this workshop, the themes were hot, cold and sticky. Ms Pinkerton and Ms Budrys led a cooking workshop focusing on knife skills, cooking techniques and the “magic” of eggs. Hand whisking meringues was a workout!

Poetry

This workshop had several aspects to it: each member made individual poems in addition to the fun word games they played at the beginning of the meetings. On the first day, the word game was a poem constructed by the whole group—each person said four words, and the next would build on it. Here is the result:

Slowly they crept down / into the dark cellars / there was free ice-cream / and kittens for sale / and they wanted both / so they absconded all / cause they were mischievous / and they wanted kittens / scratch mew and meow / the kittens were aggressive / and ate them quickly.

The individual poems created by the members were blackout poems. Blackout poetry, or erasure poetry, is a style of poetry where one takes a piece of already-written work and picks out words from the writing to create a new poem. Each member of the workshop created one blackout poem from the Introduction and/or Afterword of the book Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, and some people were able to create more from various things such as pages from books or their own writing. 

the stars / are sparkling / within / my heart. -A blackout poem from our Morning Verse by Sohei J. Wu (10)

“it was an enriching creative atmosphere that helped us get to know other writers in our school and expand our poetic skills, plus it was a lot of fun to open up the year with something fun and artistic!” -Emery Sculley (10)

“Another with queerly pale eyes / Falling stars mapped the earth / Skin dark and covered in white scars / Exceptional eyes sparkling with curiosity / Will you conjure us a fantasy? / A myth to pacify imaginations / A world to consume in chiseling stone” -An excerpt from a poem by Emery Sculley (10)

Mobius Clay

Ms. Staub led the group in sculpting intriguing mobius figures out of clay.

Flashlights and Stories

At 9 pm on the second day of our virtual retreat, the school gathered over zoom for an hour of music and storytelling. Teachers and students alike dimmed their lights and brought flashlights and candles, imitating the light of a campfire that we all would have gathered around in another time. Mr. McGregor set the mood for the night by playing a soft tune on his guitar. Jerry Falek, passionate guest storyteller, brought his stories to life with a prop, animated gestures, and lively accents. Short breaks of music played by Mr. Falek himself filled the time between stories, such as the tale that quickly captivated the audience of a curious encounter that never quite left an old Scottish man. After an hour, the meeting came to a close and we finished the night with a lullaby played by Mr. McGregor.

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