Hi, my name is Jack Walker and I am a junior here at Springhouse Community School. When I first arrived here I would not have taken any risks and I would have most likely sat back and observed. However, since I have been here, I have learned to take risks and do things that I would have been afraid to do when I was first here. For instance whitewater rafting is something that I would have never thought about doing. I did it on our Experience Week trip on the New River and enjoyed it. I have also learned to be more open while at Springhouse and talk about things that seem private to me. This year, I actually read a poem that I wrote about my imagination, which is something that I probably would have never done even if I really wanted. Springhouse has changed the way I think and is helping me grow into young adulthood slowly (although it could just be me that is growing slowly).
Bridges is an after school program of Springhouse Community School that serves adolescents and adults.
The mission of Bridges is to offer programming to teens and adults in the Floyd community that awakens and cultivates creativity and connection.
The goals of the program include providing soul-centered programming that:
The teens programs include a coming-of-age program for boys, Ridgelines, a coming-of-age program for girls, Tides, and a performing arts program, On Stage. Bridges also offers adult programming that provides a space and community for personal development including a sacred dance class, a class that gives participants the opportunity to explore one's shadow, and a class for parents of adolescents, Raising Teens, based on adolescent development research out of MIT.
If you are interested in learning more about Bridges and registering for next semester, click here. The registration deadline is December 18th.
When writing this speech I found myself struggling to find words to express my feelings about moving forward and looking back. I’m not exactly sure what life will look like once I part ways with the container that is Springhouse Community School. Most of my memories stem from the experiences and growth I have had inside this community. Springhouse isn’t a place you can go and hide from what is real for you, Springhouse is a place where you can find support, guidance, community, and, as is often the case, a push towards what you are scared of, and a push towards showing up more fully and authentically in the world. For me, Springhouse was, and continues to be, a place where you go to explore and open, delve deeper and reach higher, a place to find your own ground and leave behind masks.
Springhouse has been a place that has held me, but has never held me back. It has been the kick in the butt that I often needed to remind me what I’m capable of, and also the grounded reality check when I started to lose myself in the other direction. Being here has showed me a different way of being and showing up in the world, and it has opened me up to parts of myself that used to terrify me, but that I am now ready to embrace, with curiosity and love. When I was younger, maybe even just last year, the future terrified me. It really did. I didn’t know how I was going to exist once I became an “adult”. I was terrified to walk into the world and lose myself completely, in the day to day existence of a humanity that’s losing touch with itself. But, somehow, I don’t feel like that now. Springhouse has shown me that, if you really work for something, you truly can be the change you want to see in the world, and the tools that I have found here are ones that I will carry with me for the rest of my life, no matter the path I follow. And if there’s one piece of advice that I can give to those staying at Springhouse, it is this: Don’t take it for granted.
Recently, I have heard people say that they’re excited to see what I will do next, and, now, I finally feel like I can say: I am too.
Camille Terrill graduated from Springhouse Community School in May 2017. She is headed off to Binghamton, NY. for a grand adventure. We wish her the very best and send heaps of love with her as she goes!
My Grandson Eric, started at the Springhouse Community School this fall. I have been very delighted at his progress so far. A little background on Eric. He has hated school for several years. At the end of last semester at a public school, he hated school, and "humans because they can be so cruel”. The Springhouse Community School “popped up” on my social media one day. How it got there, who knows, but I thought I would do some research. I liked what I read. We applied, interviewed and was accepted into the school. The second week of school was their first “Experience Week”. Eric was excited and nervous, as he had never been on a trip away from home except with family. On one of the planned adventures, he decided he did not want to go. Eventually he decided he would go, with hesitation. He enjoyed the adventure. He came back with a smile on his face; a smile I have not seen in a very long time. He comes home with a smile on his face most days now. Some days are challenging for him, but he is making progress. The acceptance and love from the staff and fellow students has been more than I could ever hope for and is wonderful.
A thankful grandparent.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela
Before I joined the Springhouse Board, I taught a criminal justice class at the school. The
student’s final project was to participate in a mock trial at our local courthouse. Two students were teamed up as prosecutors, two represented the defendant who was charged with a minor drug offense, and one student served as the judge. Each team of lawyers was responsible for finding and preparing its own witnesses, all of whom were either students or teachers at the school. The young man assigned the role of judge was required to create his own script for running the trial. Students and teachers who were not selected as witnesses agreed to serve as jurors.
On the day of the trial, the entire Springhouse community gathered in the courtroom. The
students involved in the trial had transformed themselves. Shirts and ties replaced tee shirts and shorts. Preparedness supplanted playfulness. My students were awed by the courtroom and thrilled with the presence of court personnel who treated them like professionals. Barely visible above the bench, the seventh grader who was assigned the role of judge looked so natural in the position that it was hard to imagine he had not done it before. When the trial was over, I was struck by the power of experiential learning, something that defines the Springhouse experience. I was also moved deeply by what these students now saw as possibilities for themselves. “Wow”, Ben said when the courtroom had emptied. “Maybe I’ll be a lawyer someday. That was really cool.”
Kim O’Donnell is a retired judge and is currently the Chair of the Springhouse Community School Board of Directors.
Springhouse is offering summer camps this year! Come and learn the practice of yoga, or dance and create in community with other girls, go on an adventure, or hike with some great boys and men! If you have any questions or would like to register, please email us!
Being able to clearly and truthfully articulate your thoughts and feelings is an important skill to have as one enters young adulthood. At Springhouse, students practice this regularly. This past month, students read the book Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. They also studied writers like Jack London and Henry David Thoreau. After their study, students wrote about the adventure of the main character in the book. Check out these thoughtful essays on Chris McCandless' journey and how these students wrestled with what adventure has to do with living a meaningful and purposeful life.
Romance in Nature by Leah Pierce
A Journey of Inner and Outer and Us by Jack Walker
Transcendentalism by Andrew Finn
A Springhouse Community School 7th grader placed second in the First Amendment essay writing contest this past weekend. Community members gathered at the Floyd Ecovillage to celebrate the First Amendment through writing, poetry, and song. Read this student's essay here and check out this piece on NPR about the gathering.
As (mostly middle class) Americans, we rarely, if ever, think twice about meeting our basic physical needs. These needs, along with all our wants, are readily met by the push of a button or a quick trip to a nearby store where we have nearly unlimited access to products (food, clothing, entertainment, you name it) from all over the world. In this state of satiety, our senses are dulled and our values are dictated to us by a consumer culture that makes sure we never have, or are, enough. We are losing touch with our bodies and the body of the earth. We are losing the ability to connect with others in meaningful ways.
In response to this challenge, Ezekiel Fugate is teaching a class where students have the opportunity to develop an intimate relationship with the world around them by learning and practicing wilderness survival skills and by critically exploring the theme of survival in literature and film. This week, students are learning how to build a fire with a bow drill. Students, and participants in the Springhouse Well program for young adults, are collaborating and responding with excitement and determination to this new challenge!
Jenny Finn, Director of Mentoring, and Skyler, 7th grade SCS student are attending the social media workshop sponsored by the Community Foundation of the New River Valley and the Foundation for Roanoke Valley. We are learning about how nonprofits can use social media to expand their reach generally and in-depth strategies on how to make the most of social media for online giving days.
Located in the small town of Floyd atop the Blue Ridge Plateau in southwestern Virginia, Springhouse Community School is a private, learner-centered secondary school built on a progressive, developmental model of education. Springhouse was founded in 2014 in response to a clear need - a need for a secondary school experience that empowers learners to actively engage with their education in the context of long-term mentoring relationships. The result is an innovative, rigorous, and truly transformative learning environment that helps students to connect with their passions, to navigate the complexity of adolescence, and to step prepared into their young adulthood.