Wednesday, October 30, 2013

For the Upattinas Community, October 16, 2013

When Upattinas School began in 1971, the one thing we were clear about was that we did not intend to create an institution. We intended to create a model that might/could influence the public schools to create a better way to "educate" young people. We hoped that the three districts from which our children came in that first year would take a look and see that they could provide such places, perhaps not to take the place of their offerings, but to supplement them - offering an alternative to what already existed. We agreed that we would exist for as long as it seemed that we were needed in whatever place we were. Said by Jasper Brinton at the time - "We are an idea, not a place... a fertile playground...."

The time has come to take a hard look at this original idea and the realities that we face today.

  1. After graduation 2014, we will not have enough young people to sustain our school.
  2. At this point of the school year, unless the budgeted grant comes through, we do not have enough money to carry us into another year, indeed to the end of this year.
  3. Selling the property would "bail us out", but is not an indicator of our reality.
  4. Current staff is working at lower wages and for more hours than we can fairly pay them. We thank them and truly appreciate their dedication.
  5. In general, our people are struggling to pay the tuition, and our tuition cannot really go any higher. We are not an affluent group and we can no longer support the diversity that we have always hoped to represent.
  6. There are now many resources and alternatives to "regular public school" out there; and within many public schools there are more forward looking programs to serve those who need or want them. These are all either free or at very low cost.

It is time for the celebration of what we have been and of the legacy we leave to those who will go on to share what they have learned here, out there, wherever they are in the world. I think of so many who are teaching - breaking their hearts against the establishment for children they love. I think of those who are highly educated, writing courses and doing the kind of math I cannot even imagine in service to a better world. I think of all those young people I've known who are raising children with joy and peace in their families, passing on the ideas they learned here. I think of those who are giving of their lives in service to others who are in need; and I am grateful. And the artists - oh the artists - how much music and beauty are they sharing wherever they are? We must celebrate them all and remember that Upattinas has been an amazing and wonderful place for 43 years and will live in all of us forever.

But we must let go with grace and determination, so that the mourning and pain can have its place and be supplanted with that celebration, as we end this year. Of this, I am very sure:

It is time for Upattinas as we know it to close its doors.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A+ School Rewards and more

Beginning October 6, through March 22, 2014, Upattinas School will once again have the opportunity to earn cash through Giant A+ School Rewards Program! If you have a Giant BONUSCARD, you can log on now to giantfoodstores.com/aplus to register online, or call 888-448-4642 to register your card over the phone. The code for Upattinas School is ID # 05976.

After you register your card, each shopping trip at Giant using your BONUSCARD earns cash for the school! Each month, the amount of cash awarded will be updated on the Giant website. You can track the amount of points you earn for our school by checking your grocery receipt. Our school will receive a check at the end of the program, and the money can be used for any of our educational needs.

Remember, even if you registered your card last year, you must re-register this year for our school to receive credit. Don't forget to encourage your friends and relatives to do the same!

Other easy ways to help the school:

  • Apply for a Target REDcard and sign up for Take Charge of Education, and 1% of everything you spend at Target (and Target.com) will be donated to the school.

  • Clip Box Tops for Education from the products you use every day and send them in to us in the office. If you've already been saving them, please bring them in by the end of the month so we can meet the first submission deadline of the year. You can also create an account on the Box Tops site and visit daily to enter sweepstakes and play games which can earn even more for Upattinas. Finally, visit the Box Tops Marketplace to earn eBoxTops while you shop online!

Last year, Upattinas earned over $300 through these three programs, which we spent on supplies, field trips, and other fun (and necessary) stuff!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Celebrating Autumn at Upattinas School

Autumn has come to our school!

The leaves have fallen. They cover the ground with warm reds, yellows, oranges, purples, and browns. We (the Lower School) rake them into enormous piles and jump into them from the branches of the Monkey Tree.

In class, we drew, painted, and traced the symmetrical leaves for 2D and 3D artwork. In Language Arts, we read Robert Frost's poem October together and wrote poems about this colorful and amazing season.

We love autumn and don't want it to leave!

Click here to see more pictures!!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Play dough

Written by the Lower School...

The Upattinas Lower Schoolers made play dough. We worked long and hard, for hours, through blood, sweat, and tears to make this play dough. Just kidding! The recipe only took 10 minutes and it was fun and simple. One of the things that we learned was to not use too much food coloring, since it changes the consistency of the play dough, and it dyes your hands. The dough will last for 2 weeks in the refrigerator. We recommend you try this recipe too! It makes a great gift.

Recipe:

4 cups of flour
1 cup of salt
1½ cups of water
6 tablespoons of oil
Food coloring

Combine and knead well.

~ ~ ~

In science we experimented with the ingredients of play dough and found out that:

  • Salt makes the dough sticky
  • Water makes the dough even stickier
  • Flour makes the dough less sticky

We also found out that water is very dense and makes the play dough very heavy. And we found out that there is water in almost everything! Did you know that play dough is an amorphous solid? That is a solid that is changeable.

Click the pictures to enlarge!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A+ School Rewards and more

Beginning October 7, through March 30, 2013, Upattinas School will once again have the opportunity to earn cash through Giant A+ School Rewards Program! If you have a Giant BONUSCARD, you can log on now to giantfoodstores.com/aplus to register online, or call 888-448-4642 to register your card over the phone. The code for Upattinas School is ID # 05976.

After you register your card, each shopping trip at Giant using your BONUSCARD earns cash for the school! Each month, the amount of cash awarded will be updated on the Giant website. You can track the amount of points you earn for our school by checking your grocery receipt. Our school will receive a check at the end of the program, and the money can be used for any of our educational needs.

Remember, even if you registered your card last year, you must re-register this year for our school to receive credit. Don't forget to encourage your friends and relatives to do the same!

Other easy ways to help the school:

  • Apply for a Target REDcard and sign up for Take Charge of Education, and 1% of everything you spend at Target (and Target.com) will be donated to the school.

  • Clip Box Tops for Education from the products you use every day and send them in to us in the office. If you've already been saving them, please bring them in by the end of the month so we can meet the first submission deadline of the year. You can also create an account on the Box Tops site and visit daily to enter sweepstakes and play games which can earn even more for Upattinas. Finally, visit the Box Tops Marketplace to earn eBoxTops while you shop online!

Last year, Upattinas earned over $300 through these three programs, which we spent on supplies, field trips, and other fun (and necessary) stuff!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Back to school!

During back-to-school conferences, students kept telling us the same thing: That they couldn't wait to come back! So for the Lower School's first writing class, we asked them to collaborate and tell us why. This is what they had to say:

School is Better Than Summer

Upattinas is different than most schools. Our campus is great because we have woods, a climbing tree and a gym.

We all play and take classes in the same stone farmhouse.

At Upattinas, our voices are heard. We have a share in the decision-making and we all care about each other here.

During the summer we all missed school. We got out of school on June 1st and wanted to be back on June 2nd!

Even though summer had some fun moments, it wasn't long until we were bored.

Thank goodness we are back now and we can't wait to learn!

-Written by Upattinas 5th to 7th graders

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Moving forward

Upattinas has big news to report, and we think that it's good news: We have decided to place the Upattinas campus on the market. (If you have been to any meetings lately, you may already know this, but please read on anyway.)

So why is this good news? First and foremost, because we are taking this action because we want to, not because we have to. To be frank, there was a point last year when our finances were such that we thought we might be forced to sell our property. But then we took several steps that turned things around: We consolidated all students to the Stone Building. We cut costs to the bone. We (very reluctantly) cut staff. We obtained $196,000 in grants. Those steps allowed us the breathing room to decide where we wanted our future to be. It took a couple of years of research and consensus-building (this is Upattinas, after all), but we decided that it's time for us to move. You are part of our family, so we'd like you to know our reasoning:
  • We no longer need a campus this large. Our student population is in the 40-50 range now and is unlikely to reach 100 again for several years. The Great Recession has impacted enrollment at most private schools, and we are no exception. School districts are making greater efforts to keep students in their home schools. Homeschooling, charter schools, cyber schools, a la carte online courses (e.g. Khan Academy, MIT Open Courseware) and other options offer cheaper alternatives to private school.

  • The real estate market is favorable. While it's not a seller's market, it's a great time to buy or rent. Prices are low, and so are interest rates -- a rare combination. We had the property appraised at $1.2 million over the summer. Even if we don't get a full-price offer, we should make enough to pay off our $300,000 mortgage and buy or rent a new, smaller campus.

  • Our current campus is very expensive. While "homey," it's drafty, leaky, and environmentally unfriendly (we heat with oil). We'd need hundreds of thousands of dollars to do the necessary repairs, maintenance and landscaping to truly shape up our school. Upattinas has no maintenance department. The teachers and office staff spend countless hours just trying to make the school habitable. This takes a toll on them and their students.
The prospect of moving is daunting, but also very exciting!
  • We can move to a more visible, accessible location, with a higher concentration of potential students (and maybe even near a train stop).

  • We can move closer to a downtown, with greater access to parks, cultural institutions, stores, restaurants, recreation and educational partners.

  • We can move closer to an area with a more culturally diverse population.

  • We can have a safer, greener, more attractive, lower-maintenance setting.

  • We can house the students, office, art, and music programs in one building.
And we can use this defining moment in our history to shape our school exactly the way want it to be in the years ahead.

We hope that you can now agree that this is wonderful -- if somewhat daunting -- news. Rest assured that the Board, students, staff, and parents are all in agreement on this momentous decision. There's no question that we will be sad to leave our home of the past 30-plus years. But we realize that Upattinas is not simply a place; it's people, and an idea, and a spirit. And those will endure, wherever we are.

It's likely to take a while to find a buyer for the school property. When we do, we'll insist upon moving when school is not in session (the summertime). We certainly don't expect anything to happen during the current school year. But we are putting out feelers to potential buyers and have contacted a real estate agent. When the time comes that we receive an offer that we feel is a good one, we will consult the community before accepting it. In the meantime, we’ve already started looking at possible new locations.

Our Upattinas community can look upon the past 40 years with great pride. We will carry our proud history with us over the next 40 years and beyond. We ask you to join us in this adventure.