class of 2017

Alumni Voices: Grayson Sussman-Squires '17

Grayson is currently at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT.

"I don’t mean this to sound facetious, but I can’t imagine anyone graduating high school anywhere and feeling particularly prepared for college or the 'real world.' I certainly felt that I had a fine variation in skills and a fine education with which I could do well in college. However, I was out of the nest for the first time in a big way. It felt like my first night on exchange when I tried to settle into my new bed in Argentina and tossed and turned for lack of sleep, trying to wrap my head around the crazy adventure I was in for, thinking that there was no turning back now. That is as close a parable as I can get to how I felt coming out of GMWS.

The world grew a lot in those first months and I felt smaller and less significant than ever before. That’s how the transition into college began. I was one face in a crowd of three thousand, and compared to some of the institutions which my GMWS classmates now attend, my university is tiny.

At first, it was a little overwhelming to just comprehend the moment and live in the experience without allowing myself to get washed away in a torrent of newness. But Wesleyan University is not a place where one is easily washed away. I met my best friend on the second day here. And I continued to meet the most extraordinary people during those first weeks.

I am sociable and enjoy a good time, so making friends, although of course stressful, was fascinating and fun. I understood early on that those first friendships aren’t and shouldn’t be binding. I let my true friendships blossom and grow without hard feelings toward those that withered at the onset of class and the continual learning of others’ interests and passions. I now have wonderful friends from across the country and from all around the globe. Like-minded people, yes, but friends who push me to be my better self constantly too.

School work had its bumps in terms of transitioning too. I had to use technology more than I ever had in my previous education, but that didn’t hinder me. My school, and especially my fields of study (government and environmental studies), are heavy on reading and writing, which GMWS prepared me for extensively.

I am reading a ridiculous amount, but I love it. And my ability to formulate articulate written arguments has advanced me in my academic standing without a doubt. I attribute these two skills to my education at GMWS.

The capacity for which I am most thankful for fostering at GMWS, however, is definitely the ability to speak publicly and to clearly express my thoughts, opinions, and feelings. I have come into contact in my life with very few people who could not clearly articulate themselves. I found it quite astonishing how rampant this problem is at my university, which is considered one of the foremost in the country. In fact, my capacity to speak in public or private circumstances has defined me most at this institution, for much of the out-of-class learning comes through conversation and rhetoric. I found so much success with speaking, I joined a debating society, the Wesleyan Political Union, a non-partisan group of student that convenes to debate contemporary political, philosophical, economic, and moral issues.

The quality I value most from my Waldorf education is my well-roundedness as a person. At GMWS, I was very academically minded; I took every science elective, did well on block tests and wrote fine papers, but I never pushed myself in the arts. I never pursued music with any seriousness. My Main Lesson books were always complete and beautiful, but I never prioritized them. When I arrived at Wesleyan, I found how untrue all my conceptualizations of myself as unartistic or as 'only academic' were. I am very well-rounded. And so I finally found the importance of liberal arts.

I am a liberal arts student, for I derive joy and fulfillment from studying just about anything. I push myself academically, but I am also active artistically, musically, and rhetorically. I finally comprehended how well-adjusted and balanced my Waldorf education made me. It brought that better self to the fore. Only after leaving GMWS did I fully understand just what went on there. I was a lab-rat freed, only to find out the lab-technicians in their experiments had not altered me in some sinister way, but instead, had set me free.

I’ll close with this anecdote, this experience: as I write, about a week ago, on a wet day at the start of March, I sat atop Foss Hill and looked out on campus below me. The American flag whipped in the winds of an oncoming Nor’Easter, billowing out from its position at half-staff. I smelled the sea on the breeze and I pondered the date. Early March, I thought. Four years ago, on a Monday morning, I arrived at Green Meadow and entered the English classroom of the high school to find Mr. Wulsin standing in dead silence. On the board, a message told my 9th grade class to follow Mr. Wulsin in silence. We did. He led us on a rambling walk through the stretches of woods and fields, down into the hollows and across the streams of Chestnut Ridge. We reached the Red Barn and silently took seats scattered about the barn; I sat on a low rafter near the hayloft. Mr. Wulsin drew out a small, weathered paperback book, turned to the first page and read “Call me Ishmael...” He read the first chapter of Moby Dick to us. It was only in that moment atop Foss Hill that I realized what happened on that day. We were all Ishmael that day (the crew of the Pequod even) and we followed our captain blindly as they did in pursuit of that leviathan, that greater truth. I won’t spoil the end, but, happily, our ending was different from the book’s ending. We achieved what Ahab could not.
I began to reread Moby Dick that night a week ago, almost exactly four years to the day from when I first set forth on that same voyage. I want to tell you one thing about Waldorf very briefly: in the moment you might think, 'what on earth are we doing?' A lot of people do and and many of them never complete their Waldorf education. But, if you stick with it, it all becomes clear in the end. Just like Moby Dick and John Wulsin’s silent, wet March walk to the Red Barn."

The Class of 2017 Commencement

 

Green Meadow Waldorf School's Class of 2017 will celebrate commencement this Sunday, June 18 at 11am, in Rose Hall, in our Arts Building.

The 22 students in the class return today from their class trip to Vieques, Puerto Rico, and begin preparing tomorrow for the ceremony.

For their Senior Projects, one student built a tiny house, another wrote a novel, a third studied midwifery (attending two births alongside a Certified Nurse Midwife). Others researched and presented on Finance and Investing, Politics, Photo Journalism, and more. All the presentations are available on the school's YouTube channel.

We are so proud of this class. Many of the students have attended our school since Kindergarten, and those who joined in later years have enriched the class greatly. We are so pleased at who they have become and all they have accomplished, as a class and as individuals.

Students were accepted to schools including Cornell University, Mount Holyoke College, Sarah Lawrence College, Hampshire College, Kenyon College, Skidmore College, and the prestigious Commerce Program at Queen's University in Canada.

The full Class of 2017 College Acceptance List can be found here.

Congratulations, seniors!

Senior Projects (Part 9 of a series)

Senior Projects finished up on April 6. We have been introducing a senior to you each week in this short blog series, which wraps up today with this post. (See our April 14 blog post for the first installment in the series.)

This week, I'd like to introduce you to Billy Chen. Billy joined the Class of 2017 in Ninth Grade and has lived with the Olson Family since moving to the US from China, to attend Green Meadow. (Matt Olson's senior project presentation can be seen here and was profiled in an April 21 blog post).

Billy gave a moving presentation on his experience of kendo, a modern Japanese martial art whose relative is kumdo, a Korean interpretation of the sport. Billy shared with us that as a child, he read comic books featuring a kendo master, and that his dream was to study the art when he grew up.

Watch the kendo demonstration featuring Billy (in white) and his mentor (in black).  

Congratulations, Billy!

Senior Projects (Part 8 in a series)

Senior Projects finished up on April 6. We have been introducing a senior to you each week in this short blog series. (See our April 14 blog post for the first installment in the series.)

This week, I'd like to introduce you to Olivia Oswald. Olivia started at Green Meadow in Kindergarten, following in the footsteps of her uncle Patrick (Class of 1995) and her dad Brendan (Class of 1992). Her mother Jessica is a Kindergarten teacher here, and her two siblings attend the school as well.

Olivia presented on midwifery, and had the incredible opportunity during her project to accompany the midwives (Green Meadow alumni parent Valeriana Pasqua-Masback and Class of 2005 alumna Nuranisa Rae) on pre-natal visits and to attend two home births. (In fact, one of those births ended up conflicting with some babysitting she was planning to do for my daughter, and after an excited early-morning text exchange, I released her from her obligation to come to my house!)

Hear more about Olivia's experience.

Congratulations, Olivia!

Senior Projects (Part 7 in a series)

Senior Projects finished up on April 6. We have been introducing a senior to you each week in this short blog series. (See our April 14 blog post for the first installment in the series.)

This week, I'd like to introduce you to Tiffany Salguero, who gave a presentation on Investing in the Stock Market. Tiffany joined GMWS in Ninth Grade, and distinguished herself in my Practical Math class last Fall with her interest in personal finance. Her senior project showed an ongoing evolution of her business acumen, and she shared that she learned about her risk tolerance through the project, as well as how to choose a theme for her investing, when to buy (low) and sell (high), and how she plans to spend her earnings.

Watch Tiffany's presentation.

Congratulations, Tiffany!

Senior Projects (Part 6 in a series)

Senior Projects finished up on April 6. We have been introducing a senior to you each week in this short blog series. (See our April 14 blog post for the first installment in the series.)

This week, I'd like to introduce you to Simone Graham, another Green Meadow student who has attended our school since Kindergarten.

Interested in human psychology and behavior, Simone studied Lie Detection for her senior project. Simone showed us examples of how to tell if someone is lying (hints: watch where they look when they answer you, and be alert for fidgeting and/or passive language) and offered a demonstration by a fellow student who was most definitely not telling the truth.

Watch a portion of Simone's senior project presentation.

Congratulations, Simone!

Senior Projects (Part 5 in a series)

Senior Projects finished up on April 6. We have been introducing a senior to you each week in this short blog series. (See our April 14 blog post for the first installment in the series.)

This week, I'd like to introduce you to Emily Lauer. Like Utchaa, featured in our last post, Emily has been at Green Meadow since Kindergarten. A do-er, Emily is involved "in almost every extra-curricular activity there is," and is a go-to person on campus, for everything from helping to run a fundraiser to running the sound and lights in Rose Hall.

For her senior project, Emily studied American Sign Language (ASL). She told us a little bit about the history of ASL, taught us to sign "hello, how are you today?" and signed a story about herself.

Watch Emily present on ASL, with interpretation for a hearing audience by her mentor.

Congratulations, Emily!   

Senior Projects (Part 4 in a series)

Senior Projects finished up on April 6. We have been introducing a senior to you each week in this short blog series. (See our April 14 blog post for the first installment in the series.)

This week, I'd like to introduce you to Utchaa Williams, who presented on High-Performance Motorcycle Riding. Utchaa has been at Green Meadow for more than 13 years, since Kindergarten.

After convincing his father and the school that his project was a safe and reasonable thing to do, Utchaa purchased a bike and took classes to learn to ride responsibly. His presentation taught us a bit about the physics of riding a high-performance bike, and also showed how it can be done safely, by a beginner. (Tip: control your speed!)

Watch an excerpt from Utchaa's presentation.

Congratulations, Utchaa!

Why Waldorf? (Part 5 in a series)

In this series, we have been introducing you every week to a teacher, parent, or student who shares something about why they love Green Meadow and Waldorf Education. Today we hear from Emily Lauer, a twelfth grader who has been at Green Meadow since Kindergarten. She is currently on her senior internship (as is the entire Class of 2017).

Click on the title of this post to see a photo of Emily Lauer's morning view of the Brooklyn Bridge.

I am lucky enough to have two internships in NYC! One is working at Walter Pictures, a video production company. The other at the Allouche Art Gallery. So far I have had a wonderful time at both. Walter Pictures is mostly responsible for making music videos and I was lucky enough to be able to shoot with them in the first week of my internship. At the art gallery, I have been able to take part in many different aspects of the business, including helping put together a gallery opening.

I could go on and on about what I've been up to but I’ll save that for another time. The real question is how on earth has my Waldorf Education prepared me to go out into the world, start working, and have some clue about what I'm doing?

Two things come to mind:

Waldorf teaching really develops a well-rounded person, someone who is ready for anything and has both the skills and the brains to do it all. That is part of it.

I also believe that the social interactions that we practice in school, such as the way that we treat each other and how much importance we place on respect for our teachers, emanates through our work and is cherished in any work space.

I think anyone who has been through a Waldorf Education will have no trouble finding and fitting into any career or job that they choose. 

 

Senior Projects (Part 3 in a series)

Senior Projects finished up on April 6. We have been introducing a senior to you each week in this short blog series. (See our April 14 blog post for the first installment in the series.)

This week, I'd like to introduce you to Dylan Manning, who came to GMWS when she was in the Lower School from Rye, NY. Dylan has many interests, including storytelling (she loves The Moth Radio Hour and was a student teller in 2016 at the Rockland County Storytelling Festival, which was sponsored by Green Meadow), stand-up comedy, triathlons, and writing.

Dylan said that one of the most satisfying parts about writing her novel was having it printed and holding the manuscript in her hand. She also loved character development, sometimes forgetting that her characters were fictional. 

Congratulations, Dylan!

Senior Projects (Part 2 in a series)

Senior Projects finished up on April 6. We have been introducing a senior to you each week in this short blog series. (See our April 14 blog post for the first installment in the series.)

This week, I'd like to introduce you to Matt Olson. Matt joined Green Meadow in Sixth Grade, after moving to the US from Canada (when his mom, Ruth Olson, accepted a job as a Class Teacher at Green Meadow).

For his senior project, Matt designed and built a tiny house with the help of his mentor, GMWS alumnus Michael Scharff '77. Concerned about the environmental and financial costs of a traditional home, Matt set out to build a small, efficient house that he could donate to a family or organization in need when he was finished.

Read more about Matt's project in our local paper, The Journal News; see him on News 7 NY; or watch a short video of his senior project presentation. You can also watch the full-length presentation

Congratulations, Matt!

 

Senior Projects Make the News!

Matt Olson '17 built a tiny house to donate to a family or organization in need for his senior project. Here's a short video and article about Matt's project.

Congratulations to Matt and all our seniors! Watch clips of senior project presentations.

Senior Project Presentations, April 3-6

Senior Projects are a hallmark of many Waldorf schools and a beloved tradition at Green Meadow. All seniors conceive their own independent senior project in May of their junior year, and then work with an outside mentor as well as a faculty mentor throughout their senior year until their school presentation in April. Join us for this memorable and moving week.

This year’s Senior Projects include Building a House, Photojournalism, Midwifery, Finance, Writing a Novel, Fashion Design, Roller Derby, SCUBA diving, and Luthier Training.

Hear directly from four seniors about their experience: take a look at pages 14 and 15 of the March/April issue of The Bulletin.

Click here for specific presentation times during Senior Projects week.