128 to be exact
We sewed and sewed 'til our fingers exploded!
We made our home out of paper bags
But not from skins of buffalo
We Ralphed and Gelsoned and Trader Joed it.
We used twine instead of sinew
Metal needles instead of bone
Leave your matches outside when you
Step into our paper home:
- from The Tipi Song
It is definitely not a project for the fainthearted! Picture desks covered with piles of brown paper grocery bags and a roomful of children threading needles, measuring seams, and sewing bags together in groups of two, four, and eight. The challenge of creating a completely handmande, life-size tipi over 6' high and 12' in diameter seems daunting - but somehow it all works!
The Willows' very first tipi was created in 1997. A rainy El Nino winter and bad weather forced the children inside during recess and lunch day after day. (Remember, this was when there was only one building and no gym where kids could blow off steam!)
"Let's make our own tipi," suggested one third grader. Together, they discussed the materials needed (we can't use buffalo skins, so why not paper bags?) and the steps to take (let's make small rectangles and piece them together into bigger rectangles).
That morning, the students also presented the very first performance of "The Tipi Song," a staple of The Willows "songbook" that third graders have sung at every Step-Up ceremony for years.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
"Our traditions are important," says Lisa Rosenstein. "These are the moments when we can gather as a community to enjoy each other's company and celebrate our shared purpose of educating children."
Founder and former Board member Mark Solomon recalls how these traditions were established during the early years, "We knew we wanted to anchor the calendar with some events, but we wanted to be sure they would be meaningful to families and help them feel connected to each other."
The Willows Auction was one of those early first events. "I remember at our first auction, we collected what we could, and we had all this stuff out there for bidding," recalls Mark. "My son Jake, '01 had come to the auction, and about an hour into the event, (Founder and Board Member) Gary Yale taps me on the shoulder and tells me, 'You better go check inside -- your son has bid on every piece of art from every kid he knows!' By the end of the night, we ended up with the funniest collection of art you've ever seen. It cracked me up, but it also spoke to me. Even in the 3rd Grade, my son loved The Willows -- and he loved the art that the other kids were doing enough that he wanted it in our house!"
Parent volunteers are at the very heart of The Willows' traditional events and have worked tirelessly over the years developing and producing these successful events.
Kudos to the Willows Parent Association, whose efforts over the years have made these and many more events possible:
THE BOOK FAIR (coming up this year on December 6th) - established the first year to fund the library and provide curricular books for classroom use.
BIG SUNDAY, a city-wide day of service in which Willows families gather together to support the larger community through a variety of hands-on projects.
THE PIER EVENT (this year on May 6th), a family FUNdraiser at The Santa Monica Pier.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
During 5th grade, Eden presented an original poem at Poetry Night. With the help of her companion, she danced while a classmate read her poem aloud.
Where Do Leaves Go?
Orange leaves blowing
in the wind
on a gray
The sky's dimmed light
But the leaves
the sound is music
to my ears.
Where do the leaves go?
Do they get lost?
Do they ever find
their way home?
As I watch the leaves
do a little dance,
and feel so at peace.
Eden Cipolla '05
"We did contact improvisation," recalls Eden, describing how Dona assisted her move onstage to the rhythm of the words. "I had so much fun onstage, and it felt wonderful to dance and have everyone watch us. My favorite part about Poetry Night was seeing so many different kinds of performances and seeing so many of the students' families there supporting everybody."
Eden reflects, "The Willows meant so much to me! I have beautiful memories from my three years there, and every time I have gone to visit, I've had such amazing and touching experiences. The last two times were especially amazing because at the time, I was having a very hard time at high school. As soon as I go to The Willows, I just feel surrounded by so much love. I felt safe enough to just let go of my stresses, and I felt like everyone was there to give me the support I needed at the hardest times of my life. When I was at The Willows, I could totally relax and just be myself."
Eden recently returned to The Willows as an alumni poet, and at the 2007 Poetry Night one of her original poems was read aloud.