Photos by Marcy Stamper Susannah Bacon explored the Community School’s fort, which is adorned with garlands of dried flowers and peppers.

Photos by Marcy Stamper
Susannah Bacon explored the Community School’s fort, which is adorned with garlands of dried flowers and peppers.

By Marcy Stamper

The Methow Valley Community School started its 17th year on Tuesday (Sept. 6) with 19 students enrolled in kindergarten through fifth grade.

The school has planned two separate themes for its learning expeditions this year — the 10 younger children (kindergarten through second grade) will focus on stories, and the nine in the older group will study geology, looking at regional and global rocks and land formations.

The two groups will also work together to explore the tradition of storytelling, looking at stories told by people as well as those revealed by the land. Through that exploration, the students will develop an understanding of human history and culture and of the earth.

Photo by Marcy Stamper Gannet Fisher and William Halpin (with his back to the camera) launched their academic year on the first day at the Community School.

Photo by Marcy Stamper
Gannet Fisher and William Halpin (with his back to the camera) launched their academic year on the first day at the Community School.

The school welcomes a new teacher this year — Michael Wilbur is teaching kindergarten through second grade. Wilbur taught at Little Star Montessori School in Winthrop for two years, and at Montessori schools in other regions. His academic background includes social and political studies, evolutionary biology and psychology. In his spare time, Wilbur enjoys the outdoors, books and baseball. He is the head baseball coach at Liberty Bell High School.

Returning instructor Sabrina Freedman teaches the older crew.

The school is also enhancing the play yard adjacent to its classrooms at the Methow Valley Community Center, creating a natural landscape that will provide opportunities for both structured and unstructured play, said Crystal Bacon, the school’s executive director.

The community school follows an expeditionary learning approach, based on the idea that children learn best when they are actively involved and engaged in hands-on learning. In addition to standard academic subjects, they have weekly outdoor learning activities, art and music, and an emphasis on character development. Classrooms are multi-age.

The school anticipates additional enrollment in grades kindergarten through six as the school year gets underway, according to Bacon. For more information about Community School programs and scholarship opportunities, call 997-4447 or visit www.mvcommunityschool.org.