This evening, the lights went out at Verde Valley School. I was just getting home and “a white light” flashed in the sky and then everything was eerily quiet. No electricity? I was immediately perturbed. How could I finish the work I just carried home? How could we make dinner? How could I catch this new Netflix show later on? Heavy was my burden! Poor, poor me! I decided to just sit and breathe. I would try and enjoy a little solitude. It was a fast passing storm and soon it began to clear to the northwest and I watched with fascination as the natural light began to take shape and the shadows of the setting sun danced across Cathedral Rock. This was a gift. A forced slow down. I embraced it. After all, we happen to live on one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes with a multi-million dollar view. And still, no electricity. So, I sat and thought about sitting and thinking.
Ceramics featured above by Harris Truong ’17
Kingston Robinson (Senior, Trombone)
The VVS Jazz Ensemble had an amazing opportunity to participate in the NAU Jazz Festival on Friday, February 24th. About 60 different bands from schools from all over Arizona played at this event. To prepare for the Jazz Festival, we practiced once every week since everyone returned from Winter Break. During this time, we practiced three new songs, Evil Ways, Don’t Get Around Much Anymore, and Garota de Ipanema. We performed these songs along with our previously learned pieces On Broadway, Don’t Know Why, and All About That Bass.
From the moment we stepped foot in Ardrey Auditorium, I knew that our ensemble was unique. Before our performance, we had the privilege of listening to three other high school bands. They all wore black slacks and shirts with ties and had saxophone, trumpet, and trombone quartet sections accompanied by drums and piano. In other words, these schools had classic brass bands. They didn’t have woodwinds, strings, or a singer. But we did!
When it was time to perform, we were led through the hallways to a warm-up room as we waited for the stage to become available. I was happy to practice one last time, relieving some of the anxiety I assume all of us experienced. It was quite an interesting perspective seeing the 1,300 auditorium seats from the stage we were watching just moments earlier. Our performance was great! There weren’t any problems as we played our six contemporary pieces.
After the performance, we attended a clinic where we were given feedback on our performance. We were asked questions like “What is jazz?” or “Who are your favorite jazz musicians?” with the intention of teaching us about the history and elements of jazz. As we replayed a couple of our pieces, our clinician suggested specific improvements and taught us techniques such as subdividing the beat, making it easier to capture the “groove” of the song. After this session, I felt like I had a better understanding of the “essence” of jazz.
At the end of the night, we were treated to a concert by the NAU Jazz Band and guest professional trombone and saxophone players. The concert opened with a fusion combo that had an electrifying solo guitarist who made playing fast seem easy. Then, the trombonist and saxophonists each played solos before playing with the NAU Jazz Band. These musicians played perfectly. The skill required for the range, speed, and complexity of their rhythms was quite inspiring. I hope to one day be half as good as they are. I’m grateful that our ensemble was able to play in the festival and experience what jazz music is really all about. Not too bad for such a small school!
One of the Verde Valley School Guiding Principles is Environmental Stewardship – nebulous words that can mean many things to many different people – person to person, family to family, and culture to culture. When I volunteered to take on the role of Sustainability Coordinator here at VVS it was because I didn’t want to lose the gains made by a group of people tied to the school. We had made progress despite nearly constant disagreement about the path forward.
Sean Fagan, Director of Admissions
Verde Valley School recently welcomed 19 educational consultants to our campus. These consultants work primarily with international families looking for a US or Canadian boarding school placement for their children. The group was touring VVS and a number of other west coast boarding schools. The consultants, representing some 12 countries, paid close attention to our student panel as they described their reasons for choosing VVS and their experiences here to date. When asked to describe VVS in three words, a senior answered, “Mesmerizing, challenging, and loving.” This seemed a particularly gratifying description of all that we try to accomplish here.
According to The National Association of Independent Schools, the average percentage of international students enrolled in their member schools is 17.1%. At VVS, the number is over 50%. This is intentional and aligned with the original vision of our founders, Ham and Babs Warren, when they started the school in 1948. The value of world citizenship always has been, and remains, an essential ingredient of the VVS experience!
In other news, re-enrollment contracts for next year were sent out in late January. VVS typically retains over 93% of students offered re-enrollment.
And on a final note, 40 eighth grade students from Mountain View Prep in nearby Cottonwood, AZ recently spent a few hours at VVS — meeting our students, touring the school, enjoying lunch and attending Community Meeting. MVP (grades K-8) offers the IB curriculum and we are working closely with leadership there to better position VVS as a logical next step for their families.
Verde Valley School is excited to announce its first-ever, non-competitive 5K fun run on March 25th. The 2017 VVS Dream Run will begin and end on the school campus, located at 3511 Verde Valley School Road, Sedona, starting at 9:00am, and is open to all ages and abilities.
The event is a fundraiser with all proceeds going toward tuition fees for Native American students at Verde Valley School. The registration fee is $30 per person and includes an attractive dri-fit t-shirt featuring the iconic Dream Run logo. There is also a reduced fee of $20 for students 19 and under. Registration details can be found online HERE, or by contacting Dream Run organizer, Leigh Carter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 520-234-6881.
We are continuing our travels across the nation to connect and celebrate 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 with outreach or host an event. Hope to see you all very soon! Continue Reading…
Verde Valley School Announces College Launch AZ for Summer 2017
With generous support from the Arizona Community Foundation, Sedona-based Verde Valley School will host its inaugural College Launch AZ June 19-25, 2017. College Launch is a tuition-free, week long residential College Application Workshop for twenty high-achieving 10th and 11th grade students from historically underrepresented communities in the Verde Valley and throughout Arizona. Continue Reading…
Mike Spielman ~ VVS Farm Manager
We planted garlic the other day. It went into one of the first beds we ever dug back in 2013, just to the south of the gate between a fading amaranth and the frozen stems of a Roma Olorode. I remember the three students who helped chop that dirt for the first time: one from California, another from South Korea, and the other from Saudi Arabia. We wondered if life was more like a circle or a spiral. We had no answers. Only wonder.
December is my favorite time on the farm. Cabbages and greens are tucked beneath their winter sheets. The leaves of the fruit trees have blown into their wells. The Osgood Greenhouse is full of banana plants, mangoes and peppers. Seeds are drying. Squash are cured. The field is laid bare and we can begin to dream about next year’s design.
Walking around the new expansion I remember that this time last year it did not exist. There was no greenhouse either. The fencing for the southern expansion is now more than half done. Last month we ordered 57 fruit trees. Fifty seven fruit trees! Eleven pears. Seven peaches. Six plums. Sixteen apples. Persimmons, nectarines, quince and sixty grape vines too. A lot of holes to dig between now and March!
We are back at the Sedona Farmer’s Market. Please stop in and say hello if you are local. We are selling heirloom beans, winter squash, dried peppers, and Jerusalem artichokes. Most of the greens right now are going to the Yavapai Food Council. If you are a gardener and live far away, drop us a line. We’ll send some seeds.
A thousand thank you’s to all who have supported us this year! We are honored and blessed and as always, excited to get back to work.