December 10, 2020
Dear Families, Friends and Alumni,
What a year this is for everyone. I hope this finds you well.
The challenges to the school brought by the pandemic have been many, and yet we are fortunate to be going strong. We closed in early March along with all the other schools in Vermont, and transitioned to remote learning. This of course was a wild time for the staff, students, and parents as we learned how to make distance learning work for each age group, in ways that most closely approximated what Red Cedar is all about. We stayed closely connected as a community, and had a productive spring. But it wasn’t ideal and we couldn’t wait to be back in person again.
As soon as the school year ended, we jumped into preparations for reopening in the fall. We made the decision to base our operations largely outside. Based on what was understood about the virus, we knew this would be the safest way to go, and would also be the least restrictive. Under the guidance of parent and builder, Cory Malzac, we put up two large metal-frame, poly covered greenhouses. These structures are immensely versatile and well suited for outdoor classrooms. We created other outdoor spaces for classes as well. The students have camp chairs which raise them above the ground, and storage tubs for their belongings which can double as desks. Some groups have sleeping bags they snuggle into as they do their work. We circle around hot fires to warm us body and soul, and we alternate between seated and high energy movement activities. Never-ending tag and stacking wood are perfect ways to warm up! We are all becoming professionals at dressing for the weather, right down to our five-year-olds. And, of course, we are all wearing masks, physically distancing, and practicing frequent hand hygiene. We use the building to some extent, but we are mainly outdoors.
While being outside has its challenges, for sure, it has enabled us to be together in person every day, and has provided so many other benefits as well: a safe space for a wide variety of social interactions and play; freedom of movement; less anxiety and much joy. Academics have remained relatively strong. Students have adapted impressively and settled quickly into our new normal. And they love being outside!
Longtime teacher Brendan Collins expressed it this way recently in a message to parents: So, the rhythm of the days, weeks, and even the seasons feel a bit different this year. Being outside most of the day, students (and teachers) are immersed in the natural cycles as well as the many meteorological faces of Vermont. Fog one morning, wind the next, migrating birds another, sun and moon, crickets, frost, more wind, corn harvest, hawks overhead, circling around the fire, autumn colors, falling leaves, rain and snow on the peaks. Without walls, the world of ideas and their possibilities seem more tangible than ever. Horizons are no longer out the window but just over the hill.
We are fortunate indeed that this is far from a lost year at Red Cedar. The staff has risen remarkably to the many challenges of teaching in this time. We’ve had extensive support from parents, grandparents, and community members who have contributed expertise, time, and moral support to help us reopen. We are also grateful to our parent community for all their efforts and sacrifices to stay safe and keep the virus from entering the school.
This fall we have also been privileged to welcome a wonderful new teacher, Megg Del Giacco. We have also created an administrative coordinator position and found an ideal, highly talented person for that role, Hannah Billian.
In addition to sharing our news updates, we want to ask if you will consider making a donation to our scholarship fund at this time. Our need for financial aid has grown this year as some families struggle because of the pandemic. Your generosity in the past has made a significant difference in our ability to provide assistance for students who might not otherwise be able to attend Red Cedar. Thank you for thinking of us again!
We miss you, hope that you are well, and would love to hear from you.
With warmth and gratitude,
“Red Cedar School is helping our kids live conscious, meaningful lives with their eyes wide open and their hearts soft.”
— shared recently by a parent