Updated: Sep 15
Monday September 14, 2020
I sit typing this version of The Bridge underneath a tree. Across is a group of socially distanced students & staff arguing about the merits of bananas, Batman, and Ironman, over our lunchtime break. We are tired, hot and so excited to see this vision come to fruition: outdoor school at our new home shared with The Shambhala Center in the Highland Park neighborhood of Pittsburgh. This first week has brought with it adjustment: learning the sun's patterns so we can migrate to shade; hydrating appropriately; appreciating ants crawling over our feet; finding the best way to speak with volume over lawn mowers and air conditioners. While this is not part of our stated curriculum, it quietly puts into practice the broader ethos we hold for the school, to decenter what learning looks like, where it can occur, and become attuned to the Earth as a whole.
Welcome to our 2020-2021 school year! Internship dreams have been explored, advisor groups have been created (with a slight competitive edge: a kindness competition), and the time capsule for 2020 has been opened (to be sealed on Monday). We had virtual ball tosses at our morning and closing circles, a coffee cup "mugging" ceremony (wherein each student received their own mug for the duration of the year), cooked a meal over the fire with Fitzhugh Shaw while talking about community through food, and our first meditation with Adam Lobel.
Human Centered Design stays central to our mission, as we asked students to identify and ideate their learning environment and what shifts we can make this year. Other classes we've begun include Utopia in Literature & History, Stories of Culture, and Interdependence: Sustainable Cities. Students also met for their language and math placement and we are hurriedly collaborating with other schools to meet the overwhelming student desire to learn ASL.
This year's group is amazing.
We've also used a lot of hand sanitizer.
News & Events:
If you are a long-term community member, you may notice a tonal shift in the newsletter and social media. As the new Director of Community Engagement I'll be updating you monthly on our happenings, student work and community events. Never to fear! Randy will have an impermeable spot in The Bridge; I'll just be lightening his load as Head of School (Piano Mover, Curriculum Designer, Head of Fundraiser, Boat School Captain, etc).
In addition I'll be serving as our quarantine contact. Please direct all questions, concerns or other COVID-related discussions (such as when to return to school, alerting us of positive symptoms, etc.) to firstname.lastname@example.org or 732.687.6092. I have attached our guidelines and community agreements, for any who might have missed the All Community Meeting or earlier email.
Stay tuned for an email announcing the date of our Family/Community meeting! We decided to shift back a week to get our bearings a little more.
As we adjust to outdoor school we have a few asks of our community:
If anyone can help us move a few last things out of our old space we would greatly appreciate the help. We need to be out by the 30th and are getting close!
Do you have an outdoor (weatherproof) speaker, a nice megaphone, a mic, or a tent sitting around, collecting dust? We would love to borrow those for the time being as we trial different methods of outdoor school!
A note from Randy:
The Bridge was one of the first ways City of Bridges began to stretch its wings. The first issue was sent out in the late summer of 2017 before we had a building, before we had any educators and most importantly, before we had any students. The start to this school year was not what we expected, but this school and this community was designed to deal with the unexpected, to find solutions to problems and help young people to chart their paths in life. It seems to me that fostering a learning community in these challenging times is in many ways an ideal opportunity for high school age people to explore a problem and strive to design solutions. I want to personally thank the returning students for being so welcoming this week and I want to thank the new students for being so amazing. Thank you also to all of the parents, supporters and community members who have helped this school thrive. (And of course Justin and Jess for being there every day to make the magic happen.) I am so excited about this school year and for all the learning and laughter that will surround this community.
Thank you and be well,
Jess, Randy & Justin