Our SWS Picnic Helps Introduce the New Students to the Community!

On Wednesday, 29 May, the SWS community welcomed its new members with a lunchtime barbeque at Eisenhower Park. The weather cooperated and the event went off without a hitch. The current SWS seniors hosted the rest of the community, providing an excellent meal with a multitude of delicious options. SWS faculty helped grill the food and serve the students.

This annual tradition provides seniors with a chance to give back to the community. Additionally, some SWS alumni stopped by to pitch in and check on the community. This year, SWS is welcoming 30 new members. At the picnic, they were broken into groups and got to know current SWS members.

Thanks to Steph Clarfield, I am able to share some terrific photos of the event!

SWS Urban Studies Class Reflects on 9/11 at Ground Zero

On 21 March, Pat Clarke’s SWS class, New York City: Urban Studies took a trip into the 9/11 Memorial and Museum at Ground Zero. As a class, the students decided that they wanted to devote time to looking at the history of the Twin Towers and what happened on 9/11. Through a variety of readings and documentaries, the class became familiar with how the Port Authority eventually decided to build the world’s tallest buildings. Additionally, students confronted the brutal realities of what happened on 9/11, trying to process why the attacks occurred and the impact they had on New York City, the country and the world.

The day of the trip was rainy and gloomy. However, the experience of visiting hallowed ground and the museum was enlightening. For our students, who were all born after the attacks, the museum brought this relatively recent history to life. They were moved by the stories and the intimate portraits that the museum has so carefully curated. Although it was a somber day, the students came away with a much better understanding of this essential piece of New York City history.

[Thank you to Pat Clarke for the write-up and the photos.]

“The Moth” Stops by SWS!

This quarter, Wheatley’s School Within-a-School Program (SWS) has been offering two sections of a class, “Facing the Unknown,” in which students write and tell stories modeled on The Moth, a not-for-profit organization that focuses on the art and craft of storytelling. Founded by American novelist George Dawes Green, “The Moth” is a popular radio show and podcast.

During the first section of the class, students shared stories about their own personal experiences. These stories included tales of first arriving at Wheatley from China, attending a diabetic summer camp, and learning to ski.

In the second section of the class, we had the pleasure of hosting an actual Moth Storyteller! On Monday, 11 March, the SWS class hosted Maris Blechner, the grandmother of one of our students. Mrs. Blechner shared her story about the joys and misconceptions surrounding adoption. She also explained how she ended up on the program and offered some valuable tips about storytelling. We thank Ms. Blechner for providing this wonderful experience for our students.

[Thanks to Patrick Clarke for the write-up and the photos!]

Wheatley Students Attend Dodge Poetry Festival!

Students from Wheatley at the Geraldine R Dodge Poetry Festival on Friday.  We joined thousands of attendees at this celebration of poetry—listening to poets from Sandra Cisneros and Elizabeth Alexander to young spoken word poetry artists read and perform their work and discuss their craft.  Students were inspired by the wide variety of poets they encountered, including former US Poets Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winners. On this special day, high school students have an opportunity to interact with working poets from a diverse background.

Two dozen 9th through 12th graders were chosen to attend, including Vintage members, students from an SWS class studying these contemporary poets and other student writers who simply love poetry.

It was an exhilarating day for all in attendance!

[Thanks to Mr. Collier for the write-up and the photos!]

Students Replace SWS Planting Beds during our Day of Service and Learning!

Wheatley’s School-Within-A-School is a democratic, student-run learning community that provides innovative learning and leadership opportunities for students. Many

A number of years ago, SWS began a garden unit and created plant beds for organic farming. Those planting beds were made of repurposed wood and served the school well for the past eight years. As part of this year’s Day of Service and Learning, students built new planting beds to replace the original ones that were simply worn out. Additionally, new soil was added to the beds, and the entire area was cleaned.

A huge “thank you” to Mr. Clarke, Mr. Storck, Mr. Dunn, Mr. Henao and Mr. Chisholm for their leadership of what proved to be an incredibly productive group of students!

(Thanks to Pat Clarke for some of the pictures!)

SWS Comes Together and Shares Cultures through Food!

On Wednesday, 3 October, our School Within a School (SWS) community engaged in a community-building activity focused on allowing students to share their own cultures with each other through food.

In SWS, each member, including the teachers, is assigned to a Family Group. On Wednesday, each Family Group had a potluck lunch. Students and faculty brought in a wide assortment of food: falafel, empanadas, scones, soda bread, chicken wings, spanakopita, meatballs, Persian rice, Danish ice cream, pesto pasta and potato latkes. Of course, there was also all varieties of desserts.

More important than all the great food was the time and sharing each group was able to engage in during the afternoon. This activity was inspired by a class taught in SWS last year by Steve Collier and Jason Craven called Cultural Connections. We plan to continue this type of activity throughout the year.

Thank you to SWS Faculty Advisor Pat Clarke for the write-up and photos!


SWS in the City of Brotherly Love!

An important part of Wheatley’s SWS Program is its annual retreat at the beginning of the year. This year’s trip was to Philadelphia, PA, where students enjoyed a visit to Independence Hall, the Eastern State Penitentiary, a hike at the Wildlife Refuge and a visit to the Franklin Institute.

In addition to spending time learning about our nation’s culture and history, the students had time during the trip to forge the types of bonds that make for a strong and successful democratic organization.

Thanks to the SWS faculty who accompanied the students on the trip: Mr. Pat Clarke, Mr. Stephen Collier, Mrs. Gena Topping, Mrs. Birthe Seferian, Mr. Michael Dunn and Mr. Todd Henao.

[Thanks to Mr. Clarke for some of the photos!]