senior projects

Senior Projects: May 2019

In early May 2019, every 12th grader at Green Meadow Waldorf School presented a Senior Project. These presentations were the culmination of a year-long inquiry into a particular topic, chosen by the students themselves.

Senior Projects are a beloved tradition at Green Meadow and take place every year. The projects offer students a chance, during a busy and often stressful senior year, to work on a project of their own choosing, to get outside the world of homework and college applications and do something, often with their hands or bodies.

Students find that Senior Projects are an “out-breath” for them; this aligns with the rhythms of a Waldorf school where, throughout their day and the school year, students are used to a balance of focused academic work (in-breath) and artistic work or movement (out-breath).

No matter the age of the child, a typical day for a Waldorf student follows a rhythm that breathes. From quietly and attentively listening to a story in the Nursery or Kindergarten to participating in a critical discussion of Dante’s Inferno in the High School, there are moments during the day where students will be applying deep focus and concentration, or breathing in. Those moments will balance to breathe out in activities like open-ended play, recess, games, and artistic classes like handwork, woodwork, metalwork, drawing, and painting. This balance optimizes learning, diminishes stress and fatigue, and allows the students to move through their day in a healthy way. 

At a Waldorf school, during Early Childhood (preschool, Nursery, and Kindergarten), learning occurs by facilitating self-initiated exploration through play. The Lower School engages the vivid imaginative nature of the child through a program where academic learning is intertwined with and supported by storytelling, the arts, music, movement, and practical activity. And the High School delivers a rigorous curriculum that fosters critical, independent thinking, artistic expression, and hands-on experience.

In the early years, an emphasis on coordinated bodies, strong imaginations, healthy social interactions, and a love of work and play lays the foundation for academic excellence as students experience the beauty of language arts and literature, the culture of the world's civilizations through history and language, and the empirical qualities of the scientific and mathematical disciplines through a lively and engaging curriculum that introduces increasingly complex and sophisticated subject matter as the students grow and mature.

When children learn in a way that honors their unfolding development (without trying to rush or speed up the process), they gain a quiet confidence, a mastery of skills, and a sustained interest in the world around them. Waldorf students experience the journey of childhood without having their curiosity and creativity extinguished. Senior projects are the capstone on this experience, and showcase the well-rounded people that a Green Meadow Waldorf School education helps produce.

This year, students presented the following projects:

Motorcycle Restoration

Digital Photography

Game Design

Writing a Novel

Building a Tiny House on Wheels

Rebuilding a Jeep

Research Paper: feminism

Reimagining Flight

Standup Comedy

Being Human: self-care and self-knowledge

Photography

Bicycle Mechanics

Biodynamic Farming

Tumbling

Dollhouse Design & Build

Kickboxing

Woodturning

Pottery on the Wheel

Poetry Book

Geneology

Meditation & Yoga

Videos of each project will be available soon; watch our blog for links!

Photo by Jordan Dyniewski: The Class of 2019 performing their class play.

What to look for in a school: a series

In this short blog series, we'll be helping prospective parents navigate the process of choosing an independent/private school. This week, we'll talk about some general characteristics of a good independent school, and in the coming weeks, we'll focus specifically on how to choose a preschool, lower school, middle school, and high school.  

What are some general characteristics of a good independent school?

  • Accreditation
    Look for a school that is accredited by a regional, national, or international body aligned with the school's philosophy. This guarantees that a school goes through a rigorous self-study and outside evaluations on a regular cycle, ensuring best practices and ongoing growth. Green Meadow is accredited by the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA), the NY State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS), and the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (WECAN).
     
  • Curriculum
    Is the school aligned with an particular educational philosophy? A guiding philosophy helps the school stay focused and true to its mission in a world where the educational landscape shifts constantly. Green Meadow is a Waldorf school, founded on a tried-and-true, developmentally appropriate, interdisciplinary philosophy developed in 1919 by Rudolf Steiner and constantly evolving to meet the needs of today's students. Read about Waldorf graduates here to see the outcomes of a Waldorf Education, and stay tuned: a new survey of Waldorf graduates from 1990-2017 was just completed and results will be published in the coming months.
     
  • Facilities
    Does the school have ample space for students in classrooms and outdoors? Is there good natural light, and beautiful spaces that inspire contemplation and learning? A gym and field for games, sports, creative play, and other movement? Practice rooms for private instrument lessons? An auditorium for concerts and plays? Lab facilities for science classes? A quiet, inviting, well-ordered library? Spaces for students to gather informally? Take a look at Green Meadow's facilities here. You can also see a gallery of classroom photos on each of these pages: preschool, lower school, and high school.
     
  • History, traditions, and unique programs
    How old is the school? How many teachers and staff have worked there for 10 years or more? Do students stay at the school from preschool through 12th grade? Are there traditions that build a sense of community life and belonging? At Green Meadow, the Rose Ceremony that opens and closes each year, curricular trips including the Third Grade Farm Trip, community events such as the Eighth Grade Talent Show, and unique opportunities including senior projects, senior internships, and our international exchange program are just a few aspects of campus life that excite and engage our students. 
     
  • Spirit of inquiry
    Do you feel a buzz on campus, an excitement about learning? Are there campus lectures and other cultural events for students and parents? Is there a school newsletter or newspaper that showcases current events, discusses the school's philosophy, and alerts the community to what's happening on campus? Green Meadow has a full annual calendar of community education events, brings speakers to campus frequently for conversations with students, and publishes The Bulletin bimonthly and the Alumni Magazine twice a year, along with an annual yearbook and an annual student-produced literary magazine, The Burning Bush.  
     
  • Teacher qualifications and engagement
    Are teachers at the school required to be certified beyond state teaching certification? What percentage of teachers are actively engaged in their field outside of school? Do the teachers lead clubs, coach sports, offer office hours for students, or engage in other after-school activities? How accessible are they to parents? At Green Meadow, several of our faculty have advanced degrees, all have received training and/or a degree in Waldorf Education, and they are actively engaged with students and parents through community activities like service learning, outside the school day. 

Photos from today's Senior Projects

Join us this week for Senior Projects! (Full schedule here.) 

Two of today's highlights were Quilting by Sophia Dunn-Fox and Millinery by Miana Johnson. 

Quilt by Sophia Dunn-Fox '18

Quilt by Sophia Dunn-Fox '18

This photo & two below: hats by Miana Johnson '18.

This photo & two below: hats by Miana Johnson '18.

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Senior Projects are coming up!

Senior projects are a beloved Green Meadow tradition, in which each 12th grader presents on a topic they have been immersed in, independently, for a full year. See the full 2018 Senior Projects schedule.

See excerpts and full senior projects from 2017 on our YouTube channel.

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 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!

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 (Part 1 in a series)

We just finished Senior Projects Week. The 22 members of the Class of 2017 all shared their amazing projects, which you can see on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram. We are very proud of all of them.

I'm a Green Meadow staff member and parent, and I have had the privilege of teaching a senior math class for the past two years in the Fall, so I get to know our seniors fairly well and I'd like to introduce several of them to you in this short series.

First up is Grayson Sussman-Squires, who presented on photojournalism.

Grayson came to GMWS in Ninth Grade after attending elementary school at Mountain Laurel Waldorf School in New Paltz. Grayson is an environmentalist and activist who was published in The Huffington Post in January 2015, when he was a sophomore at Green Meadow.

Watch Grayson's presentation on his photojournalism project, excerpted here.

You can see more of his photos on his blog.

Congratulations, Grayson! 

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.