“In my freshman year, I was new and, admittedly, intimidated by the prospect of a change. What undoubtedly helped make the change smoother was an annual high school event called, “Open Week”. – SWSF Graduate
Open Week was established to help the four classes mingle and to help build bonds between the students and their new teachers. Open Week opportunities for the 2010-11 school year ranged from kayaking in Tomales Bay among the seals, otters and sharks; backpacking for 60 miles culminating in a summit of Mt. Whitney; a Zen Meditation retreat in the Trinity Alps; sailing in San Francisco Bay; a drama/poetry week-long intensive in Sonoma County; working on Jughandle farm in Mendocino County; and horse camping in Pt. Reyes. Not only do students gain new perspective and friends on these Open Week trips, but they are also given the great opportunity to explore the wonders of the world around them.
Mentors in the High School
Every Summerfield High School Student has a faculty mentor to help guide the them through the high school years. The mentor checks in with their students at the end of each school day and is available for questions regarding courses, schedules, extracurricular activities, school agreements, and social and personal issues. When the nature of the question exceeds the faculty member’s scope, the student is referred to the school’s guidance counselor. Every month there is a mentor meeting in which each mentor meets with all the students that he or she currently mentors, in a group setting. Discussions of issues such as studentship, plagiarism, and progress through the grades arise in this forum. Mentor groups are also responsible for working together to care for the classrooms and campus at the end of the day, including recycling. A mentor is intended to be an ‘elder’ for the student, a person to be there for him/her when needed.
Small Class Size
With a 6:1 student to teacher ratio, we know our students – what their passions, interests questions, and challenges are – and bring content that is rich and exciting to them. In this environment students discover that they are not just passively taking in information but are engaging with the content, dynamically working alongside their peers and teachers to deepen their understanding of who they are, how they learn, what they love, and how to overcome their own challenges. The students are well prepared for their post-high school path – our academically rigorous coursework primes them for selective colleges, a vocation of their choice, or an alternate learning path.
Sports at Summerfield – Go Mustangs!
Sports are alive and well at Summerfield Waldorf High School. Our high school is a member of the California Interscholastic Federation, which partners our school with other independent and public schools in the Bay Area to form the Small School Bridge League. Students who remain in good academic standing are eligible to participate in any sport, regardless of experience or ability.
The high school currently fields the following team sports: Varsity Soccer (fall), Varsity Basketball (winter), Tennis and Track & Field (spring). *If you are considering transferring into our high school program for your 10th, 11th or 12th grade years and interested in playing sports please contact our Athletics Director to further discuss eligibility. Email Mike Carroll at athletics(at)summerfieldwaldorf.org
High School music at Summerfield takes on a slightly different character beginning in the 9th grade in that, although students are encouraged to continue their lower school instruments, they are not required to do so. In addition to the high school orchestra we offer a high level recorder ensemble, an American Music class, International Music and an advanced choir. Our hope is that music in the high school has a formal life as well as a spontaneous life, as students frequently break out their instruments during morning break and lunch and enjoy playing together. We want to keep inspiring the students to play, to attain proficiency, and to continue to expand their taste in music as they mature as we to support, challenge and encourage our talented and music-career-bound students, as well as provide an environment that helps every student foster a life-long love for the art of singing or playing an instrument.
Music Programs include:
- American Folk Music
- Recorder Ensemble
- High School Musicals
Performing Arts (Drama) is a required series of courses at Summerfield Waldorf High School. All students in the ninth through twelfth grades prepare and perform plays, either for their classes alone (e.g. the ninth grade Tragedy and Comedy main lesson), or for the entire school community, as exemplified by the 12th grade play that is traditionally performed for the public at the end of school year. In Summerfield’s high school, dramatic productions are considered an important component of the academic program because their success requires both focus and intense personal commitment. Students are called upon to put forward their best efforts as they collaborate with their fellows in many ways: rehearsing, creating costumes, designing and building sets, acquiring props, and managing the myriad aspects of staging. Inevitably, the work the students undertake in the performing arts area of the curriculum helps to build the feeling of community within a class through the highly interactive tasks of theater production.
Visual and Practical Arts
The Arts Curriculum at Summerfield Alongside academics, both practical and fine arts are a fundamental piece of the Waldorf curriculum. There is always an eye towards stimulating the Will of the student to produce a beautiful, well-made piece of work, presenting goals that the student must strongly reach for to achieve. Some might assume from this that Waldorf schools graduates would largely become “artists” or “musicians”, which is not the case. The arts curriculum actually serves to illuminate the academic subjects in a way that enhances and brings more relevance to their truth and lawfulness. The artistic capabilities developed in the students build their confidence, aid them in all their life endeavors, and provide them with a connection to beauty and craftsmanship.
Arts programs include:
- Drawing: Black-and-White, Color, Life, Self Portrait
- Painting: Watercolor, Acrylic
Connection of the High School with the Younger Children
Having a campus where children attending preschool through 12th grade allows for the interaction and mentoring of the younger children by the older students. Summerfield has a 1st and 12th grade buddy system where on the first day of school 12th graders welcome 1st graders into the “grades”. Throughout the year high school students and lower school students (and sometimes early childhood students) do projects or activities together. The 1st-12th grade buddies maintain their relationship throughout the year, when on the last day of school the 1st graders send their 12th grade buddies off into the world as they graduate from their beloved school. Some buddy relationships are still maintained many years after students graduate.
The presence of younger children reminds high school students of their past, of their role in the culture of the school and their responsibility to be a role model. The presence of the older students for the younger children gives them young adults to look up to, and recognize capacities they can look forward to developing.