Monday, July 11, 2011

Oh, the places we'll go! (Part two...)

The Saturday before Graduation has become almost as big a tradition as the ceremony itself. Chef/Professor Clancy Wolf makes some ASTONISHINGLY delicious paella. Grads, Islandwood staff, friends and families were all in attendance - not only to eat the delicious paella - but to watch the spectacle of creating it! Clancy and Chris Agnew (one of the amazing IslandWood chefs) cooked the dish in several large pots over a couple of fires in the garden. If you were watching, you were probably helping too. Unless of course, the final step had been reached. 
Master of Paella - Dr. Clancy Wolf
Clearly, #9 is the most important step!
Many family members were acquainted before the party with some grad-facilitated challenges on the Teams Course. The experience was a highlight of the participants’ stay at IslandWood and turned out to be quite the ice-breaker, as many laughs and accomplishments were shared.
Grads' loved ones balancing Whale Watch
To think, they were strangers just before the Teams Course
Grads show 'em how it should be done!
The paella party was a potluck, so many delicious dishes from staff, grads, and families were sampled in addition to the epic dish. Families and friends chatted and shared a lovely evening, sipping on homemade sangria from Cathy Sanford :) The Forest Chorus delighted the crowd with lovely songs, and everyone watched that oh-so-famous video once again.
Paella was the star, but there were many delicious dishes to be had!
Good times with friends
Forest Chorus sings to the crowd
Graduation day was just perfect. The ceremony began with Ian, Clarissa, and Ali playing “Stand By Me”. Ali sang the song beautifully, and Ian’s stand up bass, as well as Clarissa’s guitar playing were flawless. The grads walked in and took a seat, while Clancy gave the best opening speech the grads could have asked for. Clancy’s words were genuine, humorous, and profound, and most of us could not hold back our tears for very long.
Ian, Ali, and Clarissa begin the ceremony
This banana slug cap was one of the many surprises in Clancy's speech!
Cornelia and Adam presented Karen Matsumoto with the Patsy Collins Award - an IslandWood tradition that recognizes an outstanding local educator from the community - nominated for the great work that they do and whose practices are in line with IslandWood’s educational philosophies. 
Cornelia and Adam introduce the recipient of the Patsy Collins Award...
Karen Matsumoto!
As each Grad crossed the stage, his or her mentor shared their mentee’s talents, triumphs, and qualities before adorning them with a lei made by Randy Komatsu and his wife, and presenting them with their certificates in Education, Environment and Community. Getting to know our mentors throughout the year and depending on them for guidance and support has been one of the most powerful parts of our experience at IslandWood. It was an honor to receive these gifts from one of the people who have had such a profound roll in our growth as educators. 
Ray shares his thoughts on Ms. Bonnie Anderson
Greg and Montana...pre-hug!
Brownie (aka Lauren Brown) and KareBear (aka Karen) share a celebratory hug
Danny read a poem that we created very early on in the fall. We all wrote our own “I am from...” poem during a diversity workshop, and at the end of the session we combined a line from each grads’ poem together to create one beautiful one - “We are from...”.

We Are From….

Straight out of the womb to the emergency room
A family of musicians
Spices and sports
A gravel road
Begging my brothers to take me along
An arranged marriage held together by catholic values
Chicken coops and boxcar children
Twinkle lights and swaying seas
You can never add too much cheese
A snapshot of memories
Lots of holidays with my entire family
Using love to end hate
Hard work and idealism
An amazing saving grace
A hike through the woods each day to work
A life of constant change
Feet that can’t sit still
I will do my best
Making mistakes, some bigger than others
A proud, unique hippie town
People who love me despite what they know
Poets and pickles, full of love and green kindness
Cramped closets and sunsetting stages
Leafy greens and sprouting beans
Big trees and a burning desire to belong
From nurture and nature
Those who will always have my back
Quilt-square cornfields and rusty ice smokestacks
I am a survivor, enjoying the ride

The “We are from...” poem preceded a similar effort more suited to the end of the year and our experiences at IslandWood. We created a “Where we’ve been...” poem encompassing what the EEC experience has meant for each one of us. Some contributions were silly and some were sad; the poem was beautiful in every way.

Where We’ve Been...

We have put our hands into the soil and, not knowing what might come of it, grown something so unbelievably beautiful – DM
Created a new home that may be far from our families and previous lives, but will last beyond this time and this place.- IS
We have lived!-ED
Smearing countless bananas across our faces - DS
Getting lost along the trails and helping each other find our ways again. - RN
We have found hope and a powerful optimism in knowing that the youth of our world are being taught by caring, passionate, intentional educators. - CA
Struggled with the same skills we teach to our students –JP
We have been through solo walks and thoughtful talks-Z
Shared smiles (and sometimes even angry eyes smiles) across our circles that only we really understand. - KC
We have cried, grown, and come together - AT
Helping each other when we weren’t feeling so great ourselves - CE
We have climbed to the top of very tall towers and crossed bridges to get there. - AP
Surviving a sea of struggles, rising up together and learning that our roots are stronger than we ever thought. -AD
We have seen rain and sun, wind and snow, all while building relationships that will continue to grow. - LB
Danced for the sheer joy of it. -CB
Experimented, educated, and excelled!! - KB
We have seen miracles and disasters, both always together.-CJ
Dove deep into the imperfect and beautiful reflective pools of our being. – LG
To a moon of green smiles, seedling friendships strong in the wind. -Cornelia
We have survived through hardships and challenges, celebrated the successes, reflected on experiences, and grown as learners and educators. -AC
Been broken down only to fight our way back stronger than before.  –BK
Known that no matter how the stars aligned – this is where we were meant to be - RV
We learned how to do the hula-hoop, that we are a firework, the majestic call of the trumpeter swan, and that Danc-ee-o-kee is a good way to let off steam - BA
Learned, laughed, and loved from our hands, minds and hearts. -TS
There are no endings, just new beginnings. PP
We have offered more of our selves than we thought wise, and received in return more wisdom than we can imagine. -KVM
The first welcome was a gift; the second was a blessing. -MT
In the bog, cathedral, and beyond; our roots go down.  -AZ
Reading our lines from "We are from..."
We each read our lines and then returned to our seats for Ashley to finish off our portion of the ceremony. She read the words from a legend whose works we have shared with our students throughout the year. There could not have been better words chosen to send us off than those from Dr. Seuss’ “Oh! The Places You’ll Go”.

Oh! The Places We’ll Go (adapted from Dr. Suess’ “Oh! The Places You’ll Go”)

Today is our day.
We’re off to Great Places!
We’re off and away!

We have brains in our head.
We have feet in our shoes.
We can steer ourselves any direction we choose.
We’re on our own. And we know what we know. And WE are the ones who’ll decide where to

Oh! The Places We’ll Go!

We’ll be on our way up!
We’ll be seeing great sights!
We’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.

We won’t lag behind, because we’ll have the speed. We’ll pass the whole gang and we’ll soon
take the lead. Wherever we fly, we’ll be best of the best. Wherever we go, we will top all the

Except when we don’t.
Because, sometimes, we won’t.

I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to us.

We can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And our gang will fly on. We’ll be left in a Lurch.

We’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that we’ll
be in a Slump.

And when we’re in a Slump, we’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping ourselves is not easily

No! That’s not for US!

Somehow we’ll escape all that waiting and staying. We’ll find the bright places where Boom
Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more we’ll ride high! Ready for anything
under the sky. Ready because we’re that kind of a gal or guy!

Oh, the places we’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games
to be won. And the magical things we can do with that ball will make us the winning-est winner
of all. Fame! We’ll be famous as famous can be, with the whole wide world watching us win on

Except when they don’t. Because, sometimes, they won’t.

And when we’re alone, there’s a very good chance we’ll meet things that scare us right out of
our pants. There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare us so much we
won’t want to go on.

But on we will go though the weather be foul. On we will go though our enemies prowl. On we
will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl. Onward up many a frightening creek, though our arms

may get sore and our sneakers may leak. On and on we will hike. And I know we’ll hike far and
face up to our problems whatever they are.

We’ll get mixed up, of course, as we already know. We’ll get mixed up with many strange birds
as we go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a
Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right
foot with your left.

And will we succeed?
Yes! We will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kids, we’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, we’re off to
Great Places!
Today is our day!
Our mountain is waiting.
So…let’s get on our way!

The words were so fitting for our special day and for the days that are soon to follow. We watched a slideshow of photos from the year and had a good laugh at a number of them. The Education Team at IslandWood surprised us with a revamped version of “Hey IslandWooders” -  the song that we sing to the students at each week’s closing Friendship Circle.
Ray introduces the re-vamped "Hey IslandWooders"
John adds some "pomp" to the "circumstance" during the closing speech!
It is hard to express how much the year at IslandWood has meant to us. This blog entry alone is way longer than most that we have posted - but it probably could have gone on for pages. All of us have been keeping in touch via an ongoing e-mail. While many of us are still in the same places (Seattle and Bainbridge Island) - some of us have moved away. Grads are in Maine, Washington D.C., Montana, California, Korea, Hawaii and beyond. Some will return in the fall to go to the University of Washington and finish their degrees. Some will go other places and move on to different things. We already feel nostalgic towards our IslandWood home and our IslandWood family and we look back at our experience with a fondness that will not soon fade. 
Oh, these two!!! Waterworks everywhere!
Environmental educators sure do clean up nicely!
Thanks for reading and keeping up with the Class of 2011! Good luck to next year’s class and may you enjoy everything that this amazing place and experience have to offer.

Love, Roxann and Bonnie