National Alumni Events 2017

We areverde valley school 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…

Field Trips Return

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.





Decembermester Begins


IMG_1449 copyVerde Valley School’s third Decembermester begins on November 30 (some years the calendar favors us with a December start; some years it doesn’t).  Decembermester came about as a way to confront that sometimes awkward time on our calendar when students and teachers have just returned from two-week field trips and a week of Thanksgiving vacation and look out a little over two weeks and see Winter Break on the horizon. It could be a challenging time to get students fully committed to class.
Keeping with our dedication to project based learning, we now present a highly anticipated, dynamic session of collaborative, kinesthetic learning designed to support off-campus trips and large-scale projects.  We throw the regular daily schedule out the window and focus in on half day and full day blocks devoted to each class. Scroll down for the complete Decembermester schedule.
Some examples of this year’s projects:
  • Students in English 1 will write their own tragedies based on the theater of ancient Greece, create their own masks and perform their pieces for the school.
  • Intro to Spanish classes will collaborate with two local elementary schools to teach Spanish to students who are also new to the language.
  • French 2 students will use their knowledge of the language to dub a silent film, while IB HL French students will create a US cultural guide for French speakers.
  • Anthropology Peoples of the Southwest will visit many cultural sites around Northern Arizona including Walnut Canyon, Montezuma Castle, Sunset Crater and Wupatki for first hand study of time periods, terminology, and major themes in the prehistoric archaeological record of the Verde Valley.
  • Physical Science students will learn physics through the ever popular Barbie bungee competition, while Chemistry students will learn quantitative chemical reactions assessed via a physical response by shooting potatoes across campus in the spud gun project.
  • Interactive Math Program 3 mathematicians will explore probability and learn how to play and facilitate many traditional casino games, presenting a “Casino Night” contest for the VVS community.
Much more is on tap and you can check back to the VVS website throughout Decembermester for updates on projects.
Day students who have free periods are not expected to be on campus on those days, however parents must call into the office in the morning to excuse those students each free period day.  More detailed information will follow in a day student email.
Click below for the Decembermester 2015 schedule:






Thanksgiving Message from Paul

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.


Happy Thanksgiving!


With gratitude,






Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving comes a little early to Verde Valley School.  On Friday, November 20 at 5:30 our community will sit down to a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner before we depart for Thanksgiving break on Saturday morning.


As in past years, our dinner will feature greens, pumpkin and squash grown in the VVS garden. Chef Mike Briggs started slow cooking the pumpkin for homemade pumpkin pie earlier this week, and yesterday afternoon the students from the Shixi semester program picked the various varieties of lettuce still growing in the garden for the Thanksgiving salad.


Dinner begins at 5:30 and all VVS students are asked to attend. Parents, if you will be picking up your student for break on Friday please consider doing so after dinner. If that isn’t possible, the school can definitely accommodate earlier departures. Due to space restrictions, we’re afraid that only students and staff can attend the dinner.




Field Trip Update

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.

The Climbing and Leadership trip arrived in southern Arizona on Sunday after a day of very easy driving and found a beautiful little campsite in the midst of oak trees. For the first two days, they woke up leisurely, made breakfast and then climbed straight through until sunset. The group dynamics are fantastic so far, climbers are passing their belay tests and improving their climbing every day.
After a few days of service work on the rim, the Grand Canyon dropped into the canyon on Thursday. We’ll hear from them again in 9 days!
Students on the On the Edge trip had their first snowfall of the year and are seeing the beautiful sites of Moab, Utah this week.
To see the photos we have so far you can visit






Trimester Exam Schedule Announced

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.

Group 1 (Studies in Language and Literature) exam is scheduled for Monday from 9:00 – 11:00 am with free time and exam review on Monday.  Work jobs will begin at 3:45, followed by Student Body Meeting at 4:35 pm.
Group 5 (Mathematics) exam is scheduled for Tuesday from 9:00 – 11:00 am, followed by the Group 3 (Individuals and Societies) exam from 1:00 – 3:00 pm.
Group 4 (Science) exam is scheduled for Wednesday from 9:00 – 11:00 am, followed by the Group 6 (Arts) exam from 1:00 – 3:00 pm.
Group 2 (Language Acquisition) exam is scheduled for Thursday morning from 9:00 – 11:00 am.  Students who have schedule conflicts for these exams will make up any pre-arranged exam on Thursday afternoon from 1:00 – 3:00 pm, followed by a final field trip meeting from 3:00 – 4:00 pm.
Click below to see the full week’s schedule.



Field Trips Depart Sunday

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.

In the article John Huie, who served as Headmaster from 1970-1974, said:


“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

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  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 –



Mission: Impossible

This Friday the faculty and staff take on the students for our fall Mission: Impossible.

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Faculty map out their quadrants for the fall 2014 Mission: Impossible challenge – their first win in many years. They’re determined to rack up a second win this Friday.

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.




Halloween at VVS

The most festive place to be in Sedona this halloween has to be Verde Valley School!

Halloween 4 websizeHalloween 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.