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The Bridge 4.1

Thursday November 5, 2020

Hello friends of City of Bridges!

We've officially gotten Block II underway, shepherding in new classes (Economics, Media, Law and Justice, Chemical Reactions, Financial Literacy) and a panorama of trees with falling leaves, surrounding our whiteboards. It's been a beautiful transition to fall here in our community space, witnessing the leaves changing and admiring them (or rippling them up) during our afternoon appreciations. We're officially 1/6th of the way done with the school year.

Other stats:

  • 3 rainy days

  • 2 extra-special days (one for the Election; one for Tropical Storm Zeta)

  • Less than half of a tree used for our daily fires.

News and Updates:

Most of our students have started their internships, spreading out around the city to places like Helvak (a vegan owned & operated local clothing business), a fire station, Sprezzatura (a local Italian restaurant); shadowing a professional photographer, ceramicist or writer (Very Awful Pictures, Next PGH, PGH Post Gazette); or working at design firms, businesses and nonprofits (Temper & Grit, BMW, Sarah's Pets and Plants, Planned Parenthood).

At the tail end of Block I we had our first block project presentations, wherein students told us about their ideal utopias, unpacked what 'culture' means to them, explored systems, and taught us about how one item of food holds power. We then celebrated with our first expedition week of the year. On expedition weeks, the whole school comes together to explore one topic; this fall we dove into herbalism and agriculture. Our week consisted of an Herbalism 101 class from a practicing herbalist (students were big fans of sampling tinctures), dyeing shirts with natural dyes, making comfrey salve, eating and learning about tumeric from a local chef (Jay of Popping Mustard Seeds), and spending two days at Mildred's Daughters Urban Farm. There we made personal tea blends, planted garlic, and played with goats. It was a beautiful time establishing a connection both with the land and our local community...which dovetailed beautifully with our larger values and goals.

A note from Randy:

I am writing this note while our country is still waiting for the final results of Tuesday's national election. The current projections are that approximately 65% of eligible voters participated this year, either in person or through mail-in ballots. According to The Washington Post, if this percentage proves to be true, it will be the highest voter participation since 1900. The vast majority of City of Bridges students are not old enough to vote in this election, but I am so proud of their engagement with and knowledge about the processes and civic responsibility of voting. This week we had students volunteering at polls with their parents or guardians, making infographics about provisional ballots (which were widely shared), and engaging in a teach in about elections, access and justice. I am so proud that our students are learning about the ways in which they can engage in the democratic processes of this country. I have often wondered what schools would look like if the metric by which they are measured was not standardized test scores, but by the civic participation of their graduates. I am confident that if this group of City of Bridges students were measured in such a way, their scores would all be advanced. I want to thank you all for supporting a high school where engaged citizenship is more than just a spoken value, it is also a practice in action.

Looking forward:

  • Winter: We are excited for what the winter holds, and planning to flex the agility our small school size allows. We have plans to continue outdoor school until December, and then transition to micro-pods for the winter, inspired by local sister schools. We're also drawing inspiration from our community members who are offering their tents, professional outdoor experience, and time to help our Warm Team keep us safe, fully hot cocoa-fied, and warm as the temperatures chill. We are also emphasizing that same solidarity as a school, encouraging mental health, community building and political empowerment as we, nationally, stand by to see the election results.

  • Support Us! We are truly appreciative for our community that makes this small, progressive, caring school possible-- where we can explore herbalism, put wellness at the forefront when realities of the world demand it, and get out students out into the community with professional practitioners to explore their passions. If you are not yet already, we'd love for you to subscribe to our Patreon where you can get more frequent updates, meet our students, and (coming soon) see some of our lessons/curricula.

  • Mark your calendars! We also ask you to please reserve December 12th on our calendar. We'll be kicking off our Annual Fund Drive on the heels of the Day of Giving, with the first set of workshops from our City of Bridges Folk School. For those who have been supporting us since the beginning, you will remember that this is an essential aspect of City of Bridges High School...a larger community learning-space. We're thrilled to finally get this in motion and hope to see you there! Stay tuned for details.

Till next time...thank you and be well,

Jess, Justin & Randy

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