winternews JAN-FEB2018 Reading Parzival and Exploring Homelessness BY FRANCESCA BAS, GRADE 11
Struggling. Struggling every moment of your day, sometimes for an extended period of life. Where do I eat, sleep, bathe? How will I keep myself safe? All these are things that most of us have probably not given much thought. Sometimes, we hear stories: the military veteran who spent his life fighting for his country and who is now without a home, freezing in the streets; the family who struggled with too many bills; the poor kid who got kicked out of foster care on his 18th birthday. Now abandoned, without a home, these are not all just stories: these are lives lived by real people, every day. We just turn our heads. We hear voices that are begging for money or for food. Sometimes, we don’t even turn our heads anymore since it has become normal to just walk by them and to stay in tunnel vision. This is not normal. In a country whose slogan is “The American Dream” or “The Country of Opportunity,” people should not be dying of starvation or neglect. This main lesson has perhaps been the most important block I have had in my high school career. In connection to the message of the book, [Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival,] we have been learning about houseless people, and
11th Grade Overnight Sleeping Spot. Photo| Wibke Fretz
recognizing that they are not “just” all drug addicts or that they all just made a huge mistake. One cannot cramp millions of people into one stereotype, into one single story. In the beginning of our field trip, I was a bit in doubt and scared of what might happen if someone lashed out. What should we do if they are bitter and act resentful towards us, mean, or are on drugs? I did not want to believe this stereotype that was sounding in my head. We started our journey in downtown Portland after school was over. It was getting dark, cold and rainy when we arrived in the Old Town. My class had been divided into three groups and given a list of questions that related to obstacles unhoused people face every day. In order to find the answers, I took this list and started talking with houseless people we met on the street. I cannot remember the last time a stranger was so kind and open to help! We went to a women’s shelter and addressed a couple of women who were waiting outside for it to reopen, so that they would have a place to sleep that night. These women told us their stories and their struggles.
One cannot cramp millions of people into one stereotype, into one single story.
They were all so kind and optimistic! Then we met Regina, or Queen Sheba (her street name). Regina is an older woman who radiates like the sun. The entire time that I was talking to her, she kept telling me just to be happy, to spread joy, to always be kind and make people laugh. She was a strikingly beautiful soul. When we went to the Blanchet House (a soup kitchen) for dinner, we sat with the unhoused people and they shared their stories with us. Many of them were so kind. It struck me how these people who practically have nothing, are still so positive. They have so much hope. That is something we should learn from them. After our afternoon in downtown, we returned to our school around 8pm and began to set up camp. We were only allowed a sleeping bag and cardboard for the night. We had chosen the entrance of the school as our spot. I was very
winternews/PORTLAND WALDORF SCHOOL cold and received permission to sleep in my car, instead. The next morning, I felt very sick and went home. I got sick in my car after only one night. I cannot imagine what these people go through, sleeping outside, in tents or under tarps every night. It is so inhumane. Nobody deserves to have to live like that.
school a way to observe the biology of salmon, steelhead or trout, and participate in the life cycle in a hands-on way” according to the ODFW website. Sixth grade parent Matt Malmsheimer first heard about the program through a fishing seminar, and brought it to that year’s fourth grade class, who graduate from 8th grade this year. Since then, the activity has become an anticipated element of the fourth grade year.
4th Graders read poems and well wishes to their salmon friends. Photo | Meghan Hof
11th Graders spend a winter night on campus. Photo| Wibke Fretz
Food, shelter, water: all basic fundamental needs should be a right. We are one of the richest countries in the world, yet we still have people dying in the streets. We have people sleeping over manholes to keep warm. We need to stop pretending that this is normal. It is not, and it breaks my heart to know that people have to go through these struggles every single day.
This year’s fourth grade released their little fish out into the Willamette River late last fall, after observing their transformation from eggs to little salmon in the redd, or nest habitat set up in the classroom. Fourth grade parent and Board member Genevieve Angle is a wildlife biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and came to class to teach the salmon life cycle, which relates closely to the study of humans and animals, and of local history and geography, both hallmark blocks of the fourth grade curriculum.
I am so happy we got the opportunity to have this block, to talk to these people, and to learn about their different stories and struggles. Thank you.
Fourth Grade Raises and Releases Salmon Eggs This year marks the fifth time a PWS class has participated in the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Fish Eggs to Fry program, an educational opportunity that “gives students in classrooms from kindergarten through high
Releasing salmon into the Willamette River. Photo | Meghan Hof PAG E 2
winternews/PORTLAND WALDORF SCHOOL The students were then able to apply the lessons from class to their care for the salmon eggs. Fourth grade teacher Ms. Webber shared: “The children really did care for the eggs. They were excited to test the pH levels each day—I never had to remind them to do so. They were able to experience first-hand, through observation, how the salmon develop and grow. They really felt that they were the caretakers of the salmon and they took their jobs very seriously. They didn’t want to release them when the time came and begged to keep just one, leading to further discussion of the unique life cycle of the salmon.”
Waldorf Students in the World This past month has brought exciting news of two former PWS students out in the world!
KYLE WILSON PROMOTED TO CHEF AT LOCAL RESTAURANT BETHANY’S TABLE Kyle graduated from PWHS with the Class of 2008, and received a job offer on the merits of his senior project from alumni parent David Bowles, who was in the process of opening a restaurant with his partner Janet O’Connor. In the years since, that restaurant, Bethany’s Table, Photo | Bethany’s Table has received numerous local accolades and employed a number of PWS graduates. David proudly shared news of Kyle’s promotion to Chef with us last week. Check out the announcement in its entirety on the Bethany’s Table blog. Congratulations, Kyle!
MICHEL MACEDO MAKES BRAZILIAN OLYMPIC TEAM FOR 2018 GAMES
Saying goodbye pre-release. Photo | Meghan Hof
Ultimately, the students set all the salmon free in the Willamette River just a few blocks from campus. They shared well wishes and poems they had composed for the occasion, and sent the small salmon off to continue their journey in the salmon life cycle.
Michel attended PWS from early childhood through 6th Grade, along with older brother Tobias and younger sister Clara. In the years since, he has won acclaim as a young skier, setting records and turning heads at snow sports events where Photo | Confederação Brasileira de Desportos da Neve he often competes against or alongside his brother. In the 2018 Olympic Games, he will be competing in Men’s Alpine Skiing. Check out his athlete profile for links to follow his Olympic Journey over the next weeks. We’ll be cheering for you, Michel!
Students release salmon into the Willamette. Photo | Meghan Hof PAGE 3