From the Winter 2010 Caller
Catlin Gabel students are a fascinating and inspiring group of young people who manifest their engagement with the world in equally fascinating ways. We spoke to students from 2nd to 12th grade about the pursuits they really, really love—and here are excerpts from what they said about where their interests take them, and how Catlin Gabel teachers support those interests and help feed their curiosity. Explore their stories below.
Catlin Gabel's Upper School robotics Team 1540 won the prestigious Chairman's Award at the Oregon regional competition for their extensive support of other teams. Check out the three-minute Chairman’s Award video created by Tucker Gordon and Henry Gordon http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxPocQQC5Cs.
The Chairman's Award qualifies Team 1540 (the Flaming Chickens) to compete at the world championships in Atlanta, April 14–18. This is the fourth consecutive year Catlin Gabel’s robotics team has qualified for the world championships, the most of any team in the Northwest.
Junior Henry Gordon ’11, marketing manager, fabrication co-manager, and Middle School FIRST LEGO league coach, was one of two finalists for the Oregon regional FIRST dean’s list for student leadership and commitment to the ideals of FIRST, as well as for contributions to his team and community. Henry is in the running for one of 10 FIRST dean’s list awards granted at the World Championships.
Congratulations, Flaming Chickens!
By Lark P. Palma, PhD, Head of School
From the Winter 2010 Caller
Animals were my first great passion—and my parents allowed me to have them if I cared for them well and showed responsibility. I was filled with the same passion when I first played school in my room, lining up all of my stuffed animals and dolls, assigning arbitrary grades from A to F and relegating some to smart status, some not so smart. At school I watched with rapt attention how my teachers would teach us. At home I would either try to do it the same way or try to modify the techniques that didn’t work for my little class.
It was not until I became a teacher myself that I understood that, as someone with a passion for teaching, I could go beyond what’s expected and work with students to realize their own personal goals and passions. I finally saw that the very best model for teaching and learning centers on the relationship between the student and the teacher. What happens collectively as a class is important, but the one-on-one time a student and teacher have together is the most critical element.
It was a breakthrough for me when I realized that and learned—thanks to Roland Barthes, John Dewey, and others—that children are not receptacles for knowledge from adults, but teeming petri dishes of their own ideas and imaginations. How little my teachers in the fifties and sixties understood that—although teachers in Ruth Catlin and Priscilla Gabel’s schools certainly did get it.
Catlin Gabel is a school where teachers are drawn to teach, and we select them to do so, because they understand how children’s minds work, and they want to be surrounded by colleagues who feel the same.
This Caller is filled with stories of alumni and students who have pursued interests, passions, and yes, even obsessions. Graduates who fall into this category are legion, and the students and alumni represented here are just a small sample. Why would a school of this size produce so many people who lead with their passions and know themselves well enough to do that?
For one, Catlin Gabel provides an unfettered, free-ranging approach to solving problems, approaching assignments, and celebrating process over product. I learned to be a good rider because I studied my horse, paying heed to her temperament and the look in her eye, and treating her in a way that reflects that knowledge. In the same way, the students profiled here, whether involved in a sport, an academic pursuit, or an art, learn the value of deep concentration and focused attention. For example, visual artists, like the ones you’ll read about, see relationships among all disciplines, in color and in shapes, and takes those elements to create an original. But mostly, we at Catlin Gabel encourage students fully and unabashedly to follow their passions. And of course, there is the child herself, who has the gift inside. Parents, teachers, and the overarching ethos of the school only undergird those passions.
Alumnus, alumna, or current student, their uniqueness binds us all together and makes for a very, very interesting place to teach. Enjoy these stories.
We set out for the mountain on a warm, sunny Saturday morning, ready for anything. We arrived at Teacup Lake, packed our day-packs, and slathered on sunscreen. Who knew summer arrived in February?! There were several beginner skiers and they all picked up the sport easily, quickly wanting to take the most difficult trails and ski down hills. The first big hill we went down was intimidating at first, but we all skied down it, and were proud of ourselves at having accomplished that. We lunched in a sunny patch with a spectacular view of the mountains.
Invitation for young people in Kathmandu to meet with visitors from Catlin Gabel School in Portland, Oregon, USA
If you have anything to say about the arrival of corporate food culture in our city, take part in a discussion with youth from the country where it all began—United States. Exchange points of view and discuss the recent coming of KFC and Pizza Hut to Kathmandu with youth from Catlin Gabel, a high school in Portland, Oregon.
Portland is well known for being a progressive, environmentally conscious city where all things local, organic, and fairly traded thrive. While fast food outlets exist there, a growing number of people actively support locally owned restaurants and farmers, as well as the globally renowned Slow Food Movement.
The Slow Food Movement was founded in 1989 to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.”
Is fast food something American young people support? What role does fast food play in their lives? What kind of food choices do their families make? What kind of image do fast food companies portray through advertising? Is fast food especially popular among their friends? Is it popular with any particular segments of American society? Would they like to work at a fast food chain?
On March 6, prior to the discussion, we will screen the movie, Food, Inc., which examines how today’s “food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment.”
Since the recent establishment of KFC and Pizza Hut (both owned by Yum! Brands, “The World’s Largest Restaurant Company”), people in Kathmandu have quickly embraced them open arms, not addressing any of the major concerns voiced by people who have been eating fast food for decades. So let’s ask some questions.
Do Nepali consumers really know what they are getting? Why have people been lining up to eat at KFC and Pizza Hut? Is fast food cool? Is it a status symbol? What does it mean to Nepal’s culture now that it is here? For our environment? For our health? For our local farmers? Who is making the profits? Why should we care? What can we do?
Join us on Saturday, March 20, 9 a.m.–noon, at Today’s Youth Asia venue at Babermahal Revisited for a fun, informative conversation with youth from the United States. If you are 15-18 years old and interested in taking part, email us as soon as possible at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will screen the movie on Saturday, March 6, at Crehpa (time to be decided). Nepali participants are required to attend the screening prior to the program on March 20.
Questions posed to Nepalese student applicants:
Do you know where your foods come from?
What is your diet like? What do you wish it was like?
What do you think about KFC and Pizza Huts’ presence here?
What is your perception of America and from where have you gathered this perception?
Which TV channels do you prefer to watch and why?
Global trips have served as an extremely powerful experience for the lucky children and adults who get to go but have had limited value for the rest of the community. The students who traveled have an amazing memory that is difficult to explain to their peers. Their assembly presentations often feel disconnected, out of context in the daily life of the school. The students who stayed home have little understanding of what happened during the trip. Beginning and Lower school students are only vaguely aware of the experiences of their older peers. What if our entire school community could participate in each trip that goes out, even though they were not traveling themselves?
In recent years, Catlin Gabel’s global trips have become increasingly “academic,” with students seeking to better understand specific topics through travel. Students have studied history, culture, language, comparative religion, and natural history while abroad. The trips slated for 2010-11 make this trend more explicit and specific, exploring topics such as …
These topics provide experiential subject matter that directly relate to the current subject matter in many of our classes. What if we integrated the current year’s global trips into our courses? All students would participate in a shared, compelling learning experience. They would learn how the typical school content and skills relate to real-world issues in international locations. They would have first-hand contact with peers who travel to these destinations and either virtual first-hand or second-hand contact with individuals in those countries.
The traveling students would serve as school ambassadors for a collective learning effort, carry their questions to the destination country, and report back to the community what they discovered, either live or after the trip. They would experience their trip in the context of a schoolwide effort rather than in isolation.
We hereby invite you to integrate instruction on next year’s trips into your lessons, enriching your courses and our whole community through these travel experiences.
Both the blue and white mock trial teams had a great day at the 2010 regional trial. The Blue Team advances to state to compete against the best teams in Oregon. This year’s case, State v. Lane, is a criminal case where the defendant, a rap artist, is charged with inciting a riot and arson.
Congratulations to Catlin Blue team members Talbot Andrews, Conor Carlton, Becky Coulterpark, Eli Coon, Nina Greenebaum, Andrew Hungate, Grace McMurchie, Kate McMurchie, Megan Stater, and Leah Thompson.
Catlin White team members include Rohisha Adke, Amanda Cahn, Rachel Caron, Audrey Davis, Layla Entrikin, Brian Farci, James Furnary, Mira Hayward, Thalia Kelly, Jackson Morawski, Grant Phillips, Charlie Shoemaker, Henry Shulevitz, Curtis Stahl, Lynne Stracovsky, Terrance Sun, Karuna Tirumala, and Michael Zhu.
The world looked on in horror when the January 12 earthquake rocked Haiti. Immediately, Catlin Gabel students of all ages got to work organizing fundraisers to help the devastated island. Alumna Caitlin Carlson ’00, communications officer for Mercy Corps, came to campus to talk to about the essential need for cash in the coming months. We set up a web page aimed at inspiring students and consolidating our community efforts. Student-led bake sales and the Lower School read-a-thon raised $28,000 for Haitian earthquake relief. Our contributions will make a difference in Haiti: $16 provides a child’s "comfort kit” that includes a blanket, sketchpad, crayons and toys, $43 buys 110 pounds of rice, and $75 equips a Port-au-Prince resident for two weeks of recovery work.
Recorded at the upper school assembly of February 18, 2010.
Paulina Lake XC Ski, February 2010
An ambitious trip (with inauspicious beginnings) hits big!
This past Valentines Day, a group of eight students and three trip leaders met at Catlin for an adventure into the snow and wilderness. It started with a drive to Bend over Santiam pass. There was no snow on the road and we were concerned that there would be little snow at Paulina Lake. Fortunately, we were able to score some firewood from a dentist who served lemonade (long story).
We stopped in Bend to rent XC skis, boots, and poles (note for the future: purchase insurance--more later). We drove to Tenmile sno-park, 30 miles south of Bend where we donned our skis and headed off into the snow at around 2:00pm. There were, unfortunately, a great many snowmobilers. The students were not impressed by the snowmobilers.
We skied until near dusk on a fairly difficult trail. Though a couple of students were challenged, most of the skiers were successful, despite relatively heavy packs, and we made a decision nearing sundown about whether to continue. Our namesake was the deciding vote in pushing on, and we made easy mileage to the lake along the groomed trail. Once at the lake, we again had to make way over challenging terrain. Darkness was following and our leaders made a wrong turn and there was some heated debate as to how best to proceed. We turned around and made our way back to the lake where there was easy skiing along the shore. Once the going got difficult again, we decided to make camp in a gorgeous stretch along the frozen shore.
We made an extensive camp with tents, a kitchen, and a fireplace with benches. Food was warm and spirits were high. A few extra jackets and layers were distributed and everybody was warm. We debriefed and, though most lows were about our time on the wrong trail, students were happy. We went to sleep around 11pm with students assuring me that they were warm with hot water bottles, dry clothes, etc.
Monday morning was about 30 degrees and very pretty. It took nearly three hours (!) to pack up camp. We then skied back to the groomed trail and made a push toward the Paulina summit. Students happily self-distributed among like skill levels. There was a very competitve race to the highpoint. The trip leader did not win this race. We then all turned around and raced back down the hill. The trip leader did win this race, though the assistant trip leader believes that it may not have been as fair as she wold have liked.
A long ski down brought us back to the bus where we were once again greeted by the "power sledders." We drove back home over Santiam pass. The students were happy and excited the whole way home. When we got back to campus, we had the whole group help clean up the gear and put materials back in the OP shed. Students were dismissed at 7pm and all went home to warmth and coziness.
So put on a mix tape and watch the slideshow!
The moment you’ve all been waiting for has arrived. We have decided on a cell phone “policy.” Throughout all of our discussion, the experiments, and the survey, we have always sought a solution that would preserve and improve the social atmosphere on campus. We have also sought a solution that could be accepted by everyone and embraced so as to work not as a top-down rule that required enforcement, but as an organic initiative. We believe in the responsibility of students here and we also believe their opinions matter, because they define the culture of the school. When people wrote in the survey that they need their cell phones during the day in order to manage their calendar and call their parents and organize their carpools, we took that into account. When other people said that they enjoyed the decreased use of cell phones during the first experiment, we listened to that also. Combining all of these sources of input and keeping our original goals in mind, we came up with a policy.
First of all, there can be no use of cell phones in the classroom. This is already an established rule, but must be acknowledged and upheld by students in order to prove our level of responsibility with cell phones and also to prevent cell phones from interfering with the educational productivity of the school. There also are no cell phones allowed at assembly as a common courtesy to the presenter and to everyone present.
Cell phones also cannot be used in the library in accordance with the rules set by the librarians. The library is a place for studying and the potential of cell phones to disturb others is great.
Cell phones cannot be used in the science building either. The science building does not contain any common (lounge) spaces and so students in the science building are in class (where cell phones are not allowed anyway).
These four restrictions are not new, but they must be adhered to in order to preserve our responsibility for our own cell phone use. The new aspect of our policy is to restrict cell phone use at school to practical purposes only. If you need to use a calendar that’s okay, if you need to call your parents that’s also okay, if you need to find a friend who you’re supposed to be meeting with to work on your history project that’s okay too. However, cell phones cannot be used for social purposes. Don’t text your friends who are elsewhere when there are so many interesting, amiable people around who you can talk to face to face. Don’t abandon a conversation with the person in front of you in order to take a phone call from another friend who is elsewhere. And when you are utilizing your cell phone for a practical purpose, use it conscientiously. Don’t text your parents while you’re talking to someone else. Don’t talk on your cell phone in a place where people are trying to study or talk or sleep. Basically, don’t be rude. During the school day you can use your cell phone when you need to, but do so in an unobtrusive way that doesn’t hinder your own or anyone else’s ability to enjoy their surroundings and this school.
If everyone embraces this idea of having a healthy social community, this plan will be a success. So only use your cell phones when you have to (for non-social purposes), use them discreetly, and encourage your friends to do the same.
Thank you in advance, everyone, for making this endeavor a success.
(Catlin Gabel Student Association)
The Information Technology department now has an Amazon Kindle available to families for overnight checkout to evaluate whether or not they might wish to purchase one. The IT office is located in the upper level of the Vollum Humanities Building. Please email IT@catlin.edu if you wish to reserve the Kindle.
At this time, we do not anticipate formal school adoption of the Kindle or other electronic book reader, but we would like to support families that are interested in them.
Some Kindle features
The Kindle and other e-readers use a new kind of screen called "digital ink." As opposed to conventional display screens, digital ink screens do not use a backlight. The screen is easier on the eyes than a laptop screen and remains visible in bright daylight. Because the Kindle is not backlit you can't use it in the dark without an additional light source.
The Kindle does a good job increasing text size, changing screen direction, and altering the number of words displayed per line.
The Kindle can store up to 1,500 books at one time. It can display documents in the Amazon, Word document, HTML, text, and PDF formats. It can also play MP3 and Audible files. Some file formats require conversion through Amazon's email system.
The Kindle can read the text on the screen aloud but it does so poorly and really isn't useful as a text-to-speech tool.
The Kindle includes some bookmarking and annotation features.
Note taking was difficult. It was uncomfortable to use the small keyboard to add text.
The battery lasts a long time—up to two weeks if you don't make extensive use of the wireless browsing capabilities.
The Kindle includes a web browser and wireless connectivity that uses the same 3G network used by cell phones. There is no charge for the wireless connectivity at this time. The Kindle must be registered in order to use the wireless capabilties.
Books sold by Amazon for the Kindle are sold in a proprietary format that can only be read using Amazon software. Currently, that software is available for the Kindle, Apple's iPhone, and Microsoft Windows. Amazon is working on software to read Kindle format books on Mac OSX and Blackberries.
Once you register your Kindle device with Amazon, you may purchase additional texts with one click. This could be a liability if you lend your device to someone else.
Some colleges, including Reed, have experimented with using these devices in their instructional program. We do not yet know whether these colleges are planning large-scale adoption. Read about Reed's experiment.
Other e-readers include the Barnes & Noble Nook and the Sony eReader. Reviewers suggest that they each have their pros and cons.
The Kindle may prove useful to students who seek the convenience of an e-reader or benefit from the additional features such as changing text size. These devices are an example of an emerging technology, and we will watch their capabilities as the technology matures.
Larry Hurst will deliver the Esther Dayman Strong Lecture on this topic on Tuesday, Febraury 16, at 7 p.m. in the Cabell Center. Free and open to the public.
On Saturday Catlin Gabel’s Science Bowl team won 2nd place in the BPA Regional Science Bowl. Our team of Yale Fan (captain, senior), Brynmor Chapman (senior), Benjamin Streb (senior), Vighnesh Shiv (junior), and Terrance Sun (freshman) lost a closely fought final to the winner, Sunset High School, which will go on to the National Science Bowl. The Catlin Gabel team beat out 59 other teams from all over Oregon and Washington and pushed Sunset to three games before conceding. In addition, Yale Fan was one of seven students (out of more than 250) to be honored as an "All Star" for answering the most questions during the first four rounds of the contest. Congratulations to the team from Sunset, and congratulations to all our team members for excellent game play and grace under pressure!
Winter Overnight in a Fire Lookout, January, 2010
Arguably too much fun. Dufur. "Power Sledding." Off trail. The Lookout. Group photo. Dumbwaiter. Adventure. Our version of "Power Sledding." Jumping over trees. Or almost. Chopping wood. Fear. Bananachocolatemess. Snowball ambush. "Just Married."
We left Catlin Gabel at 8:30 am. Our original plan to ski in and out was foiled by almost complete lack of snow. We cancelled our rental skis and just walked in our boots. A couple of eager students examined the map (with a questionable degree of success) and decide how we would get there. The initial route took us through some deep snow in the flats near eightmile campground. Once we started up the hillside we beat our way through brush then wandered over to the old growth forest. I think it took less than two hours (with lots of stops) to get all the way up to the lookout.
Once at the lookout we suddenly found ourselves with an entire afternoon to fill, and an egergetic group of kids. We went on an adventure, hugging the ridgeline west of the lookout. Only two of our students had ever chopped wood, which is an abomination that needed remedy. We had a clinic and safety talk about chopping wood. Then we chopped an enormous amount of wood. We spent the rest of the evening playing games and making dinner. Cleanup was a little long and difficult. We prepared a lot of warm water from snow. A lot of warm water.
That night three girls slept on the bed (winner of rock-paper-scissors) and one on the cupboard. Three boys slept on the floor, one on the deck, and one kooky leader slept wonderfully under a tree next to the lookout. It was roomy and warm inside, though our porch-sleeper experienced wind and cold and did not sleep well.
On the second day we had a leisurely breakfast, cleaned the cabin, and headed back to the bus, sneaking up on the third group for a snowball fight. The pictures are good, but somewhat incriminating. Check out the slideshow!
In his plot for Noises Off, English playwright Michael Frayn plays on the concept of a play within a play, in this case a dreadful sex comedy titled Nothing On—the type of play in which young girls run about in their underwear, old men drop their trousers, and many doors continually open and shut. Nothing On is set in "a delightful 16th-century posset mill" that has been converted to a modern dwelling for which renters are solicited; the fictional playwright is appropriately named Robin Housemonger. Each of the three acts of Noises Off contains a performance of the first act of Nothing On. (Wikepedia)
Click on any image to start a slideshow.
Science News, February 13, 2010
(photo courtesy of the Oregonian)
CONTACT: Bill MacKenzie
The Catlin Gabel community—students, teachers, staffers, parents, alumni, trustees, and friends—began working together to figure out “What’s Next?” at a meeting on January 23. (Join the conversation on our website forum.)
The group of more than 100 met in the Barn for most of the day to figure out what was important to them and to the school and wider communities through self-reflection and a series of various group discussions led by past trustee and parent Mindy Clark. In addition, the event was streamed live on the website, and those off campus were able to participate online. Every idea and contribution was given respectful consideration at all times as the group worked towards final consensus at the end of the meeting. From smaller to larger groups, and then to the group as a whole, participants brainstormed ideas for what’s next, given a set of basic parameters. The final products were a list of events or activities that all agreed on, a list of what was agreed to be common ground, and a list of ideas that not every one agreed to, but that were important to some. No idea was thrown away, however—all ideas were captured and will be kept for future consideration.
Common ground—values that all thought should undergird what’s next—included attributes of multiple generations, physical activity, a learning component, a local connection to the community, a service component, financial sustainability, ability of students to run or organize the activity, and a way for the school community to bond or connect.
Projects, activities, or events that drew consensus were something to do with gardens, farms, or growing food (what one called a “Honey Hollow Farm resurrection”); a “Barn Raising” as a metaphor for building and working together on a specific project on or off campus; one specific event; a Catlin Gabel service corps; and an annual Campus Day connected to a worldwide day of service so that those who don’t live nearby can take part.
Members of the What’s Next steering committee will consider all the input and come back to the entire Catlin Gabel community with proposals for consideration. Whether it be one event, or many, or what shape it will take, remains to be seen. But what’s definite is that the community will decide, and try it out, and see what works. A new tradition may be born, or it may take time, but we will do it together.
Susan Koe, co-chair, parent
Don Vollum '84, co-chair, parent, trustee, alumnus
Stephanie Broad, parent
Li-Ling Cheng, faculty MS, parent
Roberta Cohen, former faculty-staff, parent of alumni
Annette Cragg, parent
Spencer Ehrman '68, alumnus
Qiddist Hammerly, student
Herb Jahncke, faculty LS, parent
Karen “Kitty” Katz '74, staff, alumna, parent
Debbie Ehrman Kaye '73, alumna, parent of alumni
Ted Kaye '73, alumnus, parent of alumni
Art Leo, faculty US, parent
John Mayer, faculty LS
Heather Renjen, parent
Robin Schauffler '68, alumna, former faculty member
Colleen Shoemaker, parent
Tom Tucker '66, faculty MS & US, alumnus, parent
Peg Watson, former faculty, parent of alumni
Patrick Wheary, parent of alumna, current grandparent