Tuesday December 15, 2020
Hello friends of City of Bridges!
Strangely, I am writing this edition of the newsletter indoors, finishing out the virtual day while Randy & Justin fold tarps over at the school. With a 30 degree difference in temperature, we are rounding out 1/3rd of the school year in two places: inside our heated homes and around our well-used fire pit.
This edition of The Bridge comes to you during the last days of the first Trimester. Last Friday we celebrated the end of our first round of internships and two successful blocks of outdoor/virtual schooling. Yesterday, we kicked off the second of three expedition weeks we'll hold this academic year. We can't be more excited to delve into a new topic, exploring the history and production of zines (pronounced 'zeens'), before we relax into a two week winter break. We've also been busy at the strategic planning level, creating systems for parent involvement, and different Board committees to explore alternative economic systems, enrollment, diversity, equity and inclusion, and future homes, for the school.
We are incredibly heartened by the resilience that our students have shown, in not only tolerating, but embracing the cold weather. They've brought joy to school, alongside their sleeping bags, tents and snowballs...and quite honestly, hope for the future. We joked about how we are inspired by the outdoor schooling that took place during the 1918 pandemic, and have been amazed to see its success in these tech-heavy, modern times. This ethos has also grounded our school in our mission to be connected to real-world learning. This December in particular, we moved from recreating a classroom outside, to embracing our surroundings as the classroom itself: be it walking to the park while reviewing Economics or sharing our Personal Learning Plans around the firepit. In this sense, we are grateful for how the pandemic has pushed us, beyond our learned constraints.
Many of our students have also chosen to work with us to reformat what 'online' school can be. We are exceptionally proud of them for creating a school day that is unique for each and every one of them. We've learned that virtual school operates best separately from snow school, yet we've always held a morning meeting to maintain community. Alongside a few traditional classes, virtual students have been spending extra time at their family's farm, working on their fashion portfolio, and digitizing their art pieces. While we are not an online school at our core, we are grateful to lean into this path-oriented direction, and make joyful school accessible from the comfort of our students' homes, as well.
A note from Randy:
The short days and cold weather this time of year provides us with an opportunity to slow down and reflect on everything that we have accomplished this year, and to look forward to what the new year will bring. 2020 has been an unexpected, challenging and wonderful year for City of Bridges. This time last year COVID-19 was not yet in the news and our vision for 2020 was vastly different than the reality that came. We came together in March to imagine a personalized and fruitful virtual school, we came together in the summer to move our school outside, we came together in September to welcome new community members and we are coming together now to again envision the future. I am so proud of everyone who is a part of the City of Bridges family; 2020 has been a year unlike any other and I am so excited to see what 2021 brings for City of Bridges and for everyone who is part of this community. I hope you all have a wonderful break and a Happy New Year.
As we look towards the winter, we are excitedly brainstorming our micropod projects. Borrowing from expedition week, we will be dividing the school into 3 pods: two in-person and one virtual. Each pod will spend two months working on an interdisciplinary student-driven collaborative project. Thus far we're looking at a business plan for a COB food truck and a play about a tiny town. Stay tuned for the third mystery project, to be revealed in the next newsletter!
As the holidays near, we want to wish our greater community a time of rest, joy, and peace. This has been an inexplicably unique academic year and we know the holidays will be equally memorable for us all, as well. Thank you for being a part of our community, and for the ways you celebrate with us as we grow.
Be well! Till next year,
Jess, Randy & Justin