Tuesday News - June 16, 2015

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Commencement Exercises 2015

The Class of 2015

(l to r) Lars Gundersen, Isabella Pignatello, Lincoln Samuelson,

Samantha Pierce, Graham Roeber, Fiona Chace-Donahue,

Zachary Neveu, Jesse Saffeir

     All graduations are special, but the ceremony at Merriconeag Waldorf School is unique. Because our graduating classes are small, each student gets to put his or her personal stamp on the proceedings. To start with, each student enters onto the stage to live music of their own choosing.
      After a brief welcome from Christine Sloan, the Faculty took to the stage and sang “Homeward Bound” (Marta Keene) to the graduating seniors. Each student was then introduced by a faculty member of their choosing and every one of the eight faculty introductions were one of a kind - as unique as the student being introduced.
After their introduction each student spoke about meaningful experiences from their years at Merriconeag and the many ways the school had touched their lives.
      This year’s graduation speaker was alumnus Matthew Ritger whose wonderful keynote address is included below. Other highlights from the ceremony were the Fifth Grade's offering of "Hitori" and the High School Chorus singing "Gone, Gone, Gone". The graduates ended the program with “One Day” by Matisyahu.


Merriconeag's Commencement Key Note Speaker,

Matthew Ritger

     Matthew is a writer, teacher and researcher. He is currently a PhD candidate at Princeton University, studying literature of the English Renaissance. Previously he taught courses on Shakespeare and creative writing workshops in the English department at Cornell University, where he also received his MFA. Matthew's literary criticism appears regularly in the Los Angeles Review of Books. He is at work on a first novel.

     Matthew is an alumnus of Jill Fox's first class; he graduated from the eighth grade in 2002. Matthew's brother Ben graduated from Merriconeag Waldorf High School in 2011, where his sister Julia is now a junior and his brother Davis a sophomore. Matthew's stepmother Suzie Peirson is currently the school's sixth grade teacher.

2015 Key Note Address

     Thank you Mr. Sloan, for that introduction, and thank you all, I just want to say what an honor it is to be back here today at the American Eagle Waldorf School. Did I get the name wrong? Let’s try this again. I’m so humbled to return today to the Lynn Thurrell and Lynn Thurrell’s Husband School for Waldorf Students. No?

     For those of you who might not know, after almost thirty years, Merriconeag has decided to rename itself. Welcome to The Phillips Andover Waldorf Academy.

     Now look, I know you’re all tired of Grandma and Grandpa making their tuition checks out to the American Legion. And I know some of you are tired of explaining the difference between Abercrombie, American Eagle, and Merriconeag.

     But I know a lot of you were thinking what I was thinking when you first heard the new name: Who is Maine Coast and what kind of a donation did he have to give to get the whole school named after him?

     One of the things I began to learn at this school is how to make meaning, and how much meaning a word can bear. Even so, I can only imagine the care and thought and love with which the original faculty must have considered their branding strategy, all those years agowhen they chose the word Merriconeag, and decided to make our mascot the Fighting Sand-dollar. 

     Not fighting, excuse me. The non-competitive Sand-dollar.

     Then again, maybe I’m not so sorry to see the name go, and not just because choosing to use a transliterated Native American place name seems oddly close to choosing cultural appropriation, but because those

transliterations are so often slippery. Consulting Ahbenahki dictionaries, I did find that Merriconeag means “place of safe passage,” which is lovely, but also “place of easy portage” as well as “place of lazy portage.”

     Having survived many of Miss Fox’s canoe trips along with my friends Tica and Page who are in the audience today, I can assure you that this is not a place of lazy portage.

     In any case, congratulations to the Maine Coast Waldorf School on your new name. I hope you like it.  

     And congratulations to the final high school class to graduate from the Merriconeag Waldorf High School, and thank you, as well, for scraping the bottom of the barrel so thoroughly as to invite me here today. I have to admit that when I first got the call I thought: Wow, what an incredible opportunity to embarrass Julia and Davis.

     And then I thought: Me?

     Even when I consider only my own fellow graduates of the eighth grade class of 2002 as other possibilities, I’m amazed at how accomplished, and how much more interesting than me they are: My friend Charlie started his own company, called Flowfold, which makes wallets out of discarded sails. My friend Jean lives off the grid in Tanzania. How many of you can say that your fifth grade girlfriend now lives in a mud hut in Africa?

     Franklin is in business school in California and Dylan is in law school in Vermont. Tica is getting a masters in divinity while making music; Page is getting a masters in education while teaching high school. Several have even done things I thought only grown ups could do, like get married.

     And by the way, I can assure you that I know all of this because I keep in close touch with all my former classmates, and not because I just looked them up on Facebook last night.

     I’m making this digression into the many successful paths of my former classmates for two reasons, but not really for the sake of the seniors before you today: Waldorf graduates, especially these ones, are confident, and curious, and need little reassuring that they will find their way in the world. Waldorf parents, however, tend to need a lot reassuring. That’s one reason.

     The other is for the graduates: I start by giving you lots of other examples because I do not want you to think that I am the example, just by virtue of my being up here today. That was your folly. If I ever “make it,” if I ever publish the novel I’m writing or get the professorship at the college I dream about, maybe then I’ll be able to give graduation speeches about “Doing what you love,” but until then, all I can tell you is: Don’t do what I love.

     Okay. So my talk today is a tough one, and not only because I don’t think I’m qualified to give you any advice, but because I don’t really believe in advice. I believe in poetry, which is never good advice, even when it sounds like it: Poetry is always asking you to question, to think critically, to reconsider.

     So that’s what I’m going to give you today: Poetry, in the form of some lines from Shakespeare. Most of these are not famous lines, in fact, most come from his least famous works, but thinking about these words has stuck with me, and helped me, and I hope the same will be true for you.

     Also, remember that if it does sound like I’m giving you advice, what I am actually giving you are very aggressive mis-readings of Shakespeare. You can always go and find these lines for yourselvesfragments which are themselves the process of a textual archaeology ongoing for the last 400 years. Read more. . .


Upcoming Events


HUP HEY!  DOORS OPEN AT 5:00 PM - with hula hooping, juggling and many raffles!

http://www.merriconeag.org/parents/images/NEW-PortlandShellHome-WEB.jpgOur annual FLATBREAD COMPANY benefit evening is today, June 16: Support Freeport’s Circus Smirkus Magic Matinee Program and see many friends for this fun filled evening.  There will be hula hoop and juggling contests, plus raffling off many items from the "Close Buy" catalog, Monkey C, Monkey Do family passes, and a BIG whoopie pie - see you there! (Take-out flatbreads will help as well!)

 Mary Martin, Freeport Circus Coordinator, 207/865-3900, x113, events@merriconeag.org.


Roses and Sashes Assembly

On Friday, June 12th our 8th and 12th graders were honored with a ceremony of roses and commencement 
sashes at our annual assembly in the Community Hall.

The Eighth Grade Class of 2015:

Front row: Jennie Bakewell, Carolline Odlin-Brewer, Alec Eames, Tarek Ihaddaden, Charles Wilson

Back row: Lindley Saffeir, Olivia Bradbury, Tillie Munro, Madelaine Panici, Maya O'Leary-Cyr, Maya Andreson, Charlotte Joseph, Veronica Tarr, Isabel Konstantino, Wilson Haims, Jill Fox



From the Administrator

     Last year, when the poet, Richard Blanco presented at the Merriconeag Poetry Festival, he described poetry as a way of finding miracles in the most commonplace occurrences. He used William Carlos Williams’ poem, “The Red Wheelbarrow” as an example of how the most common image can portray a limitless story.

The Red Wheelbarrow
By William Carlos Williams, 1883 - 1963


so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

We can all see this picture…it is just the beginning of a rich imagination, a story.

     As we bring this school year to an end, and say goodbye to the name that has been part of our school story for 30 years. The name “Merriconeag” is now filled with special meaning for all of us. It’s origin comes from the Abanaki People who used this word to convey a place of easy and careful portage, identifying an inlet on the coast of Maine nearby, that was the wisest choice for making a safe crossing. A beautiful imagination for our school!

     Though the meaning of Merriconeag has become something personal for each one of us, it has remained a challenging name for folks to understand, and pronounce. We wanted to find a name that would tell a story for everyone. The poet, Mary Oliver, said, “When you write a poem, you write for anybody and everybody.” We wanted that to be true for the name of our school…we wanted to take away the mystery of how to say, spell and remember our name. We wanted a school name that would speak to everyone and yet not lose the magic of our setting and our work.

     So in September, after your summer holiday, we will be welcoming you all back to Maine Coast Waldorf School! Can you see the rocky coastline and the sailboats in the bay? Do you see the pine trees, the fog, our beautiful woodlands and fields? Can you picture the new sign as you turn down the driveway on Desert Road?
Maine Coast Waldorf School!

     We will need to honor the name, Merriconeag as an important part of our school’s story. Many members of our community can share stories of the early years of the school when Merriconeag was chosen as a place name with deep symbolism for the founding families. We would like to find an appropriate way to place this name on our campus. Please share your thoughts on how to best keep Merriconeag as part of our heritage. As we build our new story – we don’t want to forget our past.

     On Wednesday evening, at a lovely celebration with our 8th graders, the parents of the class each shared their thoughts about their sons’ and daughters’ journey through Waldorf education at Merriconeag. They shared their depth of gratitude for the teachers of this class, the community of families who have become their friends, and the education that has nurtured their children.

     This journey at Merriconeag would not be possible without the support and commitment of our dedicated parents. Many of you have been serving the school community for well over 15 years. You have attended countless meetings, events, and prepared endless meals and baked goods! You have been class coordinators, committee members, board members. You have helped build bridges and buildings through fund raising and with your own hands! Without you, the work of this school would not have flourished as it has.

     Thank you, dear parents, and have a beautiful summer in Maine with your family and friends!

Faculty Changes this year….
      This is also a time of change for three of our teachers. Two are moving far away, Kristin Agudelo to New York City, and Kevin Reynaud to France. We wish them the very best in their future work. Ursula Leonore, will be in Maine, and we trust that even though her work with this year’s fourth grade has drawn to a close, she will remain closely connected to our school community. Our deepest gratitude goes out to them for the many contributions they have made through their teaching and commitment to the life of our school.

     As you know, Ms. Peirson will be taking next year’s first grade class, Mrs. Thurrell will be next year’s seventh grade class teacher, and Ms. Fox will be next year’s fifth grade class teacher. In addition, two new faces will be added to our faculty. Monica Vegelj will be joining the faculty, working primarily in the upper grades with math and sciences and Dasha Polzik will be joining the high school faculty, teaching humanities. Kacie Breault has already been busy developing our gardening program on Desert Road and will play an active role in teaching agricultural arts and bringing biodynamics and permaculture to the gardens and “places in between” our buildings.
      We will be providing more detailed information regarding the new teachers, the schedule and exciting plans for next year in a later summer mailing. Christine Sloan, Administrator


From the Admissions Office

Summer Admissions: Just wanted everyone to know that the admissions office doesn’t close in the summer. In fact, July and August are typically quite busy.

     If you know of families who are still searching for a school for September, please refer them to me. We currently have a few kindergarten spots for 5 & 6 year olds. Our nursery classes are full but we’re happy to have parents apply for a waiting list.

     We also continue to consider applicants for elementary, middle and high school grades. Please have families call me for more information.

     Thank you for continuing to spread the word! Lyn Baird, 207-865-3900, Ext.103, admissionsdirector@merriconeag.org


From the Development Office



Annual Appeal – only two weeks left to get your gift matched: If you make your gift before June 30, the first $12,000 in new gifts will be matched dollar for dollar by an anonymous donor. Your gift will help us make this campaign successful.

     We are doing well – nearly 200 Merriconeag families or friends have made generous donations to the Annual Appeal, totaling over $167,000! However, we still have not reached our goal of 100% participation in any one class (a homemade decadent dessert next fall will be your prize). Nor have we reached our financial goal of $175,000.
Please make your gift today -
You can make your donation in one of 3 easy ways:
• Check, made out to MWS, submit in remittance envelope and drop in safe (main office)
• Online giving, on the donate button above or on the home page of our website: www.merriconeag.org
• Credit Card: fill out the remittance envelope with the appropriate information
• Gift of securities: Call Barbara Guffin or Lynne Espy for information about stock gifts

     Please help your class, and all the students, by submitting a donation to the Annual Appeal today.
In gratitude, Lynne Espy, developmentcoordinator@merriconeag.org, 865-3900 Ext 116


From the Circus Coordinator




with our own high school student, Sarah Norden,

as part of the amazing cast!

Monday, August 3 & Tuesday, August 4, 1:00 & 6:00 pm

Grade School Campus, 57 Desert Rd, Freeport


2014 08 circus smirkus atlantis 61 smallthumb
VOLUNTEER AT THE EVENT! We need your help!

Join the fun before the performances! You can be part of the circus fun and volunteer to work a shift at one of our shows. Click here to check out the on-line sign-up page. (Ushers do not need a ticket to see the show.)



From the Business Office

Did you know there are many ways you can support Merriconeag just with your every day shopping? Did you know there are many ways you can support Merriconeag throughout the summer just with your every day shopping? We have gift cards for Hannaford/Bow Street, United Scrip gift cards for hundreds of local retailers and restaurants, Amazon Smile, Target and CLYNK bottle return. We also take Box Tops for Education located on a wide variety of products (not just boxes of cereal). I will be reloading Hannaford cards all summer (perhaps not as frequently). Just mail in your check or stop by the Farmhouse to drop it off. Check out our flyer for more information. Contact Melissa Hoy in the Business Office (ext. 151) with any questions.


News from Early Childhood

Ice Cream Social Gratitude: In the Early Childhood we are so thankful that the ice cream

for our social social was supplied by the generous donation of homemade all natural ice cream and fresh berries from Morsels by Anne Taylor, LLC. (www.morselsbyannetaylor.com) Thank you so much for making our last day so special with such a delicious offering!



School Community Updates

Future Alumni Breakfast (FAB):  On Thursday, June 11th, the senior class and joined alumni committee hosts for a delicious breakfast in the gallery of the Community Hall, to celebrate their new status as alumni. We discussed how to best keep in touch with these wonderful young men and women and how to keep them connected to the life of our school. We also had a conversation about what has brought them joy in their time here and what they would like to see change. It was delightful to hear their enthusiasm for Waldorf education and their genuine desire to give back to the school. The deep caring, self-confidence and the wisdom they carry into the greater world, will surely serve them well. We look forward to hearing how this Waldorf journey will influence their lives, and we encourage them to share these stories with us, so that we may learn from them. We hope they will visit often.


Preparing to welcome a class to First Grade is rich in small things. One is the matter of crayon pouches. What is the best way to hold an expanding array of beeswax crayons? Sticks and blocks. There is no Waldorf standard issue, but each class has its teachers and its angels, talented and willing parents, in unique combination. So it was that nine years ago 26 pouches, deep violet with lavender ribbons and embroidered names came to the desks of Ms. Hill’s First Grade. (Thank you, workshop of Lisa Gamble.) They were well used for four important years, until time came for colored pencils and other artistic media. Last year’s Eighth Grade helped clean, sort and mend the best of the used crayons and refilled the pouches with a promise that they would find their way out into the wide world, into other young hands.
      They have, and by an unpredictable path: Ms. Hill’s daughter and son in law, Kate and James Myall, carried them to Africa in the beginning of June, with a note explaining from where they had come. The intention was to deliver them to the Nairobi Waldorf School in Kenya, but attempts to contact the school were confounded. Bulky pouches and crayons inclined to melt jogged along two safaris, with no word from Nairobi. The safari guide’s grandchildren attend a school in Mombasa that was happy to have the crayons, so Kate made the donation. Days and hundreds of miles later, don’t ask about hours spent on a train absent its locomotive, Kate finally connected with the Nairobi school, though by then the crayons had found their place in Mombasa. Just think of that! Ms. Hill


Here is a PDF of the school wide events and holidays calendar. A full calendar will follow in August.


Foundation Studies in Freeport: Just what is it that draws us to Waldorf Education? This program is designed for anyone wishing to understand the underlying philosophical basis for Waldorf Education. It has been offered in school communities from Blue Hill, Maine to Orange County, California. Participants have varying levels of experience with Anthroposophy. Participants have included: Parents, teachers preparing for Waldorf training, board members, community members, teaching assistants, volunteers - and alumni!
      In our all too busy lives this program is designed to be manageable. It is offered in our own community, close to home, on a part time basis and at a reasonable cost. A minimum of 15-18 people are needed to form a “cluster”. Participants bring their life, work and parenting experience into the content of anthroposophical inquiry, thus finding new meaning behind the phenomena of daily life. Shared questions, presentations and artistic renewal help develop a support network for both our Waldorf school and the evolving adult relationships within the community.
Recent participants reflected on the experience:

“I did not know what to expect but it was much more than I would have imagined - the philosophy, the people, the friendships, the handwork, singing, eurythmy and potlucks.. I found it very centering. Once every two weeks was just right.” "I loved these classes so much. There was so much material to work with and think about; such rich themes and interesting discussions. I love the depth Steiner brings to my thinking process and the poetic nature that I feel I access when reflecting on what he is talking about.”

Click here for the information session document. For more information, please contact: Barbara Richardson, Foundation Studies Coordinator, 207/865-6482 Email: brichardson@centerforanthroposophy.org

Tricia Toms Photography: Thank you, friends, for helping raise funds for your school. The site has raised $250 for the tiered tuition fund, to date. When you purchase imagery, all profit is given to the school for the fund. This is an all volunteer effort, so order today!



Both galleries have the same password. If you do not already know it, please email Tricia at triciatoms@gmail.com to request the password.

PLEASE NOTE: ALL OLDER IMAGES (PRIOR TO SEPTEMBER 2014) WILL BE COMING DOWN OFF THE SITES AT THE END OF THE WEEK. For security purposes, purchasing downloadable images has not been enabled. If you are interested in purchasing a hi-res file for personal use only, please contact Tricia directly at triciatoms@gmail.com. Downloads are available for $10 each or 10 for $90. Thank you for supporting your school. Tricia Toms


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