We are hitting the road this year to celebrate 68 years with VVS Alumni! Head of School, Paul Amadio, and Alumni Engagement Coordinator, Jenae McCarroll, are co-hosting lively events across the country, with class agents and VVS ambassadors. Check out the events coming to your area and save the date in your calendar, today. Make sure to contact us to let us know you are coming, or if you would like to help do outreach or host an event. Hope to see you all very soon! Continue Reading…
Sean Fagan ~ Director of Admissions
Our Director of Admissions, Sean Fagan, recently spent a three-week stretch in China visiting with prospective students and families, current Verde Valley School families, international and Chinese schools, agents and educational consultants. The cities he visited included Beijing, Jinan, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Dalian.
Many Chinese value the “western” educational approach (i.e., the emphasis on critical thinking, experiential learning, collaboration, smaller class sizes, etc.) and thoroughly enjoy learning more about a unique school like VVS. They are very appreciative that a boarding school experience can offer a Chinese student cultural immersion, a sense of independence, a higher level of English proficiency, and help prepare them for successful college/university study in the US.
Currently, there are approximately 38,000 Chinese secondary students in US schools and some 350,000 in US universities and colleges.
“The demand from the Chinese for a US education is strong,” says Fagan. “Education in China is very focused on testing and preparing for annual national exams. Many families are looking at US schools as an alternative. They also value the reputation of US colleges and universities.”
Sean was able to meet with, and interview, eight prospective students in China, and presented to six educational consultancy groups on his trip. He visited three schools (one international and two Chinese) to discuss possible future collaborations. Current families eagerly expressed their happiness with the experiences their children are having at VVS.
VVS also recruits in Europe. Associate Director of Admissions, Shannon Jakes, has recently returned from a recruiting in tour in Germany that took her to school fairs in Munich, Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Duesseldorf, Hamburg and Berlin.She was able to talk with 15 different German families throughout her week of travel. She found that the students and families she met were eager to experience a school, such as VVS, with an emphasis on experiential and outdoor programs. She also observed that the VVS International Baccalaureate curriculum aligns well with the German curriculum, allowing achieving students to study in the US and return to Germany on track for further university study in Europe. When Shannon met German VVS alum throughout her trip, the thing that students said they missed the most about their exchange is the student teacher relationships as well as the tight knit community this school offers.
Admission staff have also been busy in the US attending various school fairs in Arizona, California, Utah, Texas and Nevada. These fairs are a great opportunity to meet prospective families and educational consultants and to visit “feeder” schools in the area.
Admissions is organizing more recruiting trips in the spring of 2017!
Congratulations on supporting your child through the mid-point in the school year. The students at Verde Valley School have adapted well to the rhythm of their classes. They have learned to juggle sports, study hours, extra help sessions, class functions, dorm time and their social life.
The effort and level of engagement made by our student body has been spectacular so far this year. Your children are passionate learners who strive to try new things, test out ideas and conjectures, seek evidence from credible sources, and essentially stretch their wings in both the classroom and during independent study. And our teachers are exceptional: their instruction and care for your children is something the students remark on constantly.
Overall we have seen the highest GPA in the past several years for the senior class for the fall trimester. This is a remarkable achievement given the addition of SAT/ACT and college applications that are added to this time period. Our junior class started the IB Diploma Programme with enthusiasm and an ease I have not seen yet. Transfer students and the new freshman class joined Field Trips and carried out group projects in each of their courses in December. In the process they made a place for themselves in the classroom, and became a thread in the fabric of our community. Many of our new students have been learning English as they take their classes reading, writing and listening to a foreign language all day and performing at a very high level each day. That takes commitment and perseverance!
With Trimester 1 behind us, the students all have a foundation of the skills needed for their full-year courses. Each course strives to teach each student specific study habits that lead to success in either that course (for example field research methods for Anthropology), or in school in general (such as taking notes from a primary source article). We share the benefits from these skills by building on them in other courses and throughout your child’s years at VVS, making it possible to teach in greater depth and expose the students to a wide variety of experiences.
Decembermester allowed the students to create student-designed projects and pursue those plans with independence and self-direction. What a wonderful time of year where students are expected to immerse themselves in their work and see the pay-off of persistence and ingenuity.
Winter Break will provide a much needed holiday from the rigor and pace of life on campus. Please help your child enjoy the holiday by promoting rest and time away from academics. We hope you and your child can savor time together for the next few weeks so they are energized when they return in January.
Thank you for allowing your child to attend Verde Valley School!
Throughout the day on Friday, November 20 VVS field trips will return to campus, heralded by the traditional horn honking as groups arrive on the quad.
Field Trip return day has a pretty unique magic to it. Students and faculty will see many friends they haven’t seen – or had much social media contact with – for two weeks. They relish catching up on and sharing adventures. Throughout the coming week families will also get the opportunity to share in these adventures through stories told by students on break and through photos posted to the VVS website and social media sites.
Traditionally the Grand Canyon trip is one of the last to return as they will hike out of the canyon today. Trips will begin to arrive on campus as early as 9:00 am.
This evening the entire community will sit down to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at 5:30 pm. Due to space restrictions, we’re afraid we cannot extend a dinner invitation to local parents. Students will be ready for pick up after dinner by about 7:00 pm. Earlier pick ups can also be accommodated.
Visit the VVS galleries page for field trip photos we’ve received during the last two weeks.
Greetings and Happy Thanksgiving,
In September 1620, a merchant ship called the Mayflower set sail from Plymouth, a port on the southern coast of England. Typically, the Mayflower’s cargo was wine and dry goods, but on this trip the ship carried passengers: 102 of them, all hoping to start a new life on the other side of the Atlantic. As a child growing up in Massachusetts – the heart of where the first American Thanksgiving Day took place – I was fortunate to visit the places that the “Pilgrims” first discovered, including as a college student working at a restaurant in Plymouth where the Mayflower set their anchor. Though many competing claims exist, the most familiar story of the first Thanksgiving took place in Plymouth Colony, in present-day Massachusetts, in 1621.
While today, Thanksgiving in the United States consists of the Macy’s Day Parade, football, and turkey dinner, the first Thanksgiving Day was actually, just that. Those hearty souls and their families giving thanks to the Native Americans (Wampanoag Indians), who helped them learn to sow the fields of the rugged New England landscape and harvest and source local herbs and berries, and teaching them to grow corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants. A couple of interesting facts that have stuck with me from my primary days. The first Thanksgiving Day’s feast consisted of “lobster, seal, and swan.” While no record exists of the historic banquet’s exact menu, the Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow wrote in his journal that Governor Bradford sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for the event, and that the Wampanoag guests arrived bearing five deer. This alliance with the Wampanoag Indians lasted for fifty years, and sadly, it remains one of the only examples of harmony between the European Colonists and the Native Americans in our country.
The other fact that I recall is that Sarah Josepha Hale, who wrote the children’s poem, Mary Had a Little Lamb, and was born in New Hampshire, campaigned for thirty years to recognize Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday and finally, more than 200 years after the first New England Thanksgiving, President Abraham Lincoln declared the final Thursday in November as a national day of thanksgiving. Congress finally made Thanksgiving Day an official national holiday in 1941.
I mention these facts for a couple of reasons. Historians have suggested that the menu from that first Thanksgiving were prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods and those “handed down recipes were shared with the Pilgrims.” That resonates with VVS history and our guiding principles. After all, we have always been a school that believed that world citizenship and cultural understanding were critical skills that all students from every corner of the world needed to hone and craft. All of us at VVS are also blessed with our partnerships and relationships with our nearby nations. The TEWA Coats for Kids Project, and the years of Field Trips, comes to mind. We are richer and better because of the lessons we all learn from one another.
The second reason is that when the Warrens took their visionary leap and started VVS after World War II, they did so with a belief that all of us were better together – better students for certain, but also better human beings. That as a “community of like minded people” we could change and better serve the world. To me, that is the modern day meaning of Thanksgiving. Being in community – sharing stories – cooking together – and stepping back long enough to recognize that we are all blessed and better by being together. So, while I am certain, my family will continue the tradition and watch the Macy’s Day Parade, and we may catch a little football, and eat too much turkey with friends, we will also give thanks to our school and our alumni, students, faculty/staff, and families who together all make for a better world and a promising tomorrow.
On Sunday, November 7, 92 students and 20 teachers packed up and set off on 10 different field trips, travelling to California, Utah, Colorado and all over Arizona. One week in, we’ve heard updates from many, but true to one of the objectives of the trip, many students are away from electronics and even a place where they can get a reliable signal.
This week we heard from the California Biomes trip as they reached Ventura harbor to board their ferry to the Channel Islands after a 4:00 am departure from Joshua Tree National Park. While on the island they are looking forward to camping, hiking, picking up fishing litter and surveying local birds for four days. Joshua Tree was great! They worked on a two day project to improve a trail around the Cholla Gardens to make it wheelchair accessible, and they moved four tons of gravel with wheelbarrows and tamped it down into place. The weather was cool but not too cold; ideal for working!
The Ecology and Spirituality trip (formerly known as Crestone) just finished their service work building earthships in Taos and are headed to the spirituality center in Crestone, Colorado today. They are all doing very well and excited to start the spirituality and reflection leg of their trip.
Students spent last week reviewing for trimester exams, and will sit exams beginning Monday, November 2. Breakfast begins later this week – 8:15 Monday through Thursday – and students should be seated in Brady Hall by 8:50 for their exams.
Sunday, November 8 students and faculty will depart the VVS campus embarking on trips around the desert Southwest and California as part of the school’s historied Field Trip program.
Preparing for last year’s trips we found an article which was printed in the March 22, 1971 edition of the Prescott Courier that needs mentioning again as our students are about to venture out on another – or first – field trip in their VVS experience.
“From the school’s beginning through the Field Trip program, the most unique and significant venture we undertake, we affirm our basic values. Travel can be the most rewarding form of introspection, taking us not only outward, but inward as well. Education can be a blend of reflection and action, study and experience, thought and feeling.”
While the trips have changed a bit over the years – we’ve had to put our Mexico trips on hiatus and trips are now two weeks rather than the 25 days they were in 1971 – what has remained the same, to quote VVS’s second headmaster, Denny Salzman (who was paraphrasing anthropologist Clyde Kluckhohn), is that “these early field experiences provide students with a great mirror in which they are better able to see themselves.”
You can read through a list of trips offered this year at http://vvsaz.org/field-trips/
Those of us heading out on a second, third or even fourth field trip know the preparation drill, but for new students and their parents it is important to know that Field Trip packing day is a day that students, including day and 5-day boarding students, should be on campus from 11:00 pm until 5:00 pm, or until their entire trip has packed for Sunday’s departure. Should you have any conflicts regarding this preparation, please contact Dean of Students Joanna Horton at email@example.com as soon as possible.
Trips return on November 20 and students will be greeted with a community Thanksgiving dinner. Due to space limitations in the dining hall, we’re afraid that we aren’t able to host parents at Thanksgiving dinner. You may pick up your child at any point of the day on the 20th.
Upon the students’ return we will post photos of each trip in the galleries section of the VVS website – www.vvsaz.org/galleries.
This Friday the faculty and staff take on the students for our fall Mission: Impossible.
The mission for students (should they choose to accept it) is to gain access to the heavily guarded fortress of the patio of Sears Hall by either the front archway or the rear laundry room. The mission for faculty (should they choose to accept it) is to catch the intruders before they can reach the fortress. Catching a student means correctly identifying him or her by name or gender.
Students, dressed in black with the objective of trying to trick teachers as to whether they are male or female, will begin their mission at the barn Friday night at 7:00 pm, trying to make their way to the Sears arch. Along the way faculty, encamped at dedicated quadrants, will try to call out students’ names or gender. If they are right, the students must return to the barn and try again. The students have one hour to get at least one student through the Sears arch, which will be heavily guarded by faculty. Faculty, however, cannot stand within 20 feet of the arch or the laundry room, nor can they stand closer than 20 feet from each other.
The winner gloats at the arch for a few seconds and then runs to the chapel to ring the chapel bell with more gloating to follow . . . for days, months or years even.
This impossible mission is put forth twice each year – in the fall and the spring. Last fall the faculty had their first win in years . . . and, yes, they are still talking about it. Best of luck to all competitors. Be sure to check back here for photos on Saturday.
The most festive place to be in Sedona this halloween has to be Verde Valley School!
Halloween festivities start on Saturday at 12:30 with pumpkin carving on the quad hosted by Mike Spielman, followed by pumpkin judging by Mike at 2:30. We begin a scary movie marathon in the library at 2:00 and don’t turn off the big screen until 9:30 when everyone is sufficiently frightened. From 3:00 to 5:00 students can get help in Brady Foyer with face painting from VVS theater teacher Bridget Broomfield and theater students. More than 10 faculty families open their homes (made to look much more frightening than usual) to students and faculty children from trick-or-treating (see the trick-or-treat list by clicking here . . . and remember, no costume equals no candy) from 5:30 – 7:30. Theater students will be busy scaring everyone with their annual haunted house (enter through the Brady east door by the big yucca) from 6:30 – 8:30 and hosting Halloween carnival games in the Brady Foyer from 7:30 – 8:30. Vural will deejay this year’s zombie prom/abandoned pumpkin patch dance in Brady from 8:30-10:30 and Bridget will host the costume contest on the Brady stage starting at 9:30.