Monday, March 21, 2016

Overnight Yurt Trip

  The first thing that we did when we arrived on the site was meet this dog that was black and white and had two different colored eyes- one blue and one brown. Then we met the lady that told us where we needed to go to see the animals and where to go to be at our camp site. We than went and visited with the pigs for a few minutes. Once we arrived at our yurt, we first set up our stuff and ate lunch. After lunch we went for a hike that lasted about an hour and a half. Later that night we watched the sun set over the mountain tops and sat quietly for about fifteen minutes just taking in all of its glory. To wrap up the day we ate dinner and played cards. 

The second day I woke up and went outside and watched as the sun rose. We ate breakfast and had some time to pack up our things and to have some personal time. So in my free time a few of us went on a hike. We ended our trip by eating lunch and had some reflection time and a chance to pack the rest of our things.

This trip was an incredible experience and it meant the world to me to stand in an open field on a high elevation and watch the sun rise and set. The weather was pretty great the whole time that we were there. The view that was in front of our Yurt was just breath taking. There was a spot that I would go to just watch the view and to think about anything that was going on. At times I had too much time to think but it felt good to just feel the breeze over my face. This trip meant a time to just get away and to just enjoy life.            

Written by Sam

"What I'm Thankful For..."

When we were having our Thanksgiving breakfast out in the woods, each and every one of us spoke for a few moments about what we are thankful for.  I think that our willingness to talk about what we are thankful for shows how we are comfortable with one another and how we are kind of like a family. It is great to see and feel how connected we are when we are having fun and things are good. There may be some hardships, but we are able to work through it.

I liked best how people were able to open up and share.  I am grateful to experience the effort and kindness people show when they really want to, even if it isn't easy for them. We all had a great time, and I think we all had fun.

Written by Justin

Friday, March 18, 2016

Passion Project #2

 A Passion Project is something that we do each quarter at the STAR Program.  Whenever we start learning about a certain time period in history, each one of us will have to pick a topic that we are passionate about, but that still connects to what we are learning.  These projects are very open ended, which means that we end up choosing things that we can make, cook, carve, and build. One of the main points of this type of learning is to see what it was like to live in an earlier time and what it would be like for us to try to learn those ways.

It is also an opportunity for us to see how hard life was and to know how much work they had to do to get one simple thing, like a wooden fork or spoon.

What makes this Passion Project so much better than other projects is that it is a hands on and not just a Prezi or something like that. We get to learn how to do things for ourselves, and not just having a teacher doing it for us.  Also, once we learn our skill or craft, we can do this when, and wherever we feel like it.

It is also really important that you get to choose what you want to learn about and present.  All of the normal research project components are there, but it’s actually fun when we get to do something that we really care about. A great part of the Passion Project is that sometimes you can work together if someone else wants to do the same project as you, or if you've chosen something that is big or time-consuming.  This helps to develop team building, which is important, but you can also have fun with your partners while you're working. 

Written by Robby


During the second quarter of our school year at STAR, we have done a range of activities that have taught us things that are important to our education. One of the most eye-opening things that we learned about was the true significance of Thanksgiving and the real story of how it came to be.

The myth of Thanksgiving as we know it is a lie.  While the Pilgrims and natives did get together to eat a meal, it was less of a friendship and more of a "political alliance".  In many ways, the Pilgrims didn't really contribute to the meal; they were struggling to survive and were dependent upon the support of the natives.  After the first Thanksgiving, many years passed before it was celebrated again.  This time, the  reason we celebrated it was to celebrate several massacres of native people by European settlers.  It wasn't until Abraham Lincoln declared it a national holiday during the Civil War, in an attempt to bring people together, that it became the holiday that we know it as today. It is important to learn about the history of these holidays. What we are taught when we are younger about these holiday are much different then what we are learning today these historical events.

With this being said, there is still nothing wrong with enjoying a nice meal with friends and family, especially if you take the time to be thankful for everything that we have.  That is what we do in the STAR Program.  On the last day of school before Thanksgiving break, the STAR Program spent a morning up in the woods making a thanksgiving breakfast. As a team, we each took jobs and made this delicious meal. Some of the jobs were doing dishes, cooking, videotaping, maintaining the fire, and collecting fire wood. The food that we prepared consisted of bacon, eggs, hash browns, and hot chocolate.

It is nice to have a nice breakfast with a group of people every once in a while.  This is especially true if they are people that you don’t eat a nice meal with often. Eating together makes it so that we are a more united group and can help to forget some of the stress that may be going on in our individual lives at that moment. It also gave us an idea of what it was like to cook an entire meal outside. Down at the regular school, never once did we have a day to just cook a meal and enjoy a sense of what it was like to take a break from sitting at a desk all day long. Making delicious food engages more than sitting in a class room and being talked to for an hour and receiving home work at the end.

Coming here to STAR and doing some of the things that we do gets me excited to come. The only time regular school was this exciting was when we would go on a couple field trips a year.  

Written by Sam

Spoon Carving

We made wooden spoons this year in STAR. It was one of my favorite things that we have done this year. We made them while studying the American Revolution because, at that time in history, most spoons would have been made with wood due to the fact that metal was really expensive and hard to come by. At this time, only the rich people had metal spoons.  Wood, on the contrary, could be found anywhere. They also used wood because it was easy to work with and it lasted a pretty long time.
To make a spoon, you first get a piece of wood that you like.  This is a bit hard to explain, but it is easiest to start with a piece of wood that is already split and has a consistent, straight grain.  When you become more proficient, you can take on funkier wood "blanks" that have more "character", but are harder to carve.
  In the next step, you draw out how you want your spoon to look.  It is smart to do this first with a pencil, and then to go over the outline with a marker. Once you have a design that you like, you can start using a knife to whittle away the excess material. When you are carving it, make sure that you are carving away from yourself that way you don’t get cut.
In the end, it you will have to use sand paper to make a nice smooth finish. And take your time... it will pay off. That is all that you need to do to make a nice wooden spoon.

Written by EJ

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The STAR Sugar House

For years, the STAR Program has talked about building a sugar house.  This year, we worked with the Construction Management class from Norwich University to make it happen.  After some early days spent at Norwich, we spent a day hauling the different parts of the final product to the woods below the STAR Program house.

Early on, we had a lot of help from Norwich, but eventually they had to move on to a different project.  That left us to do a lot of work to finish the house up.  From what other students said, this project allowed STAR students to do more of the building than we had in past projects.  Most of us were very excited about that.

This project had something for everyone!  There was digging, raking, hauling materials, hammering, screwing, putting on a roof... You name it, we did it!  I learned how to put a window in and how to hang a door- two things I had never done before.

Now we have our own sugar house and we are excited to make maple syrup in the spring.  We are all very proud of how it turned out!

Written by Zachary

A Cemetery Story

 A couple of  days before Halloween, we did a creative writing project that required us S.T.A.R students to go to the cemetery right by the school, in order to walk around and make some observations about the history of our town.  In walking around, we visited multiple graves and eventually choose one grave to write a story about. We could right about anything- the possibilities were endless.  The only requirements were that you make the story realistic, and use the information on the headstone like dates of birth and death, as well as their names.

We did this as an exciting way to get in the Halloween spirit, where we could use our imaginations and creativity.  We also were doing a bit of work along with it. The number one reason, though, why we did this project was to understand, and to really think about what it was like hundreds of years ago for people.  By thinking about their lives, we had to imagine how they lived and about their lifestyle; how difficult and different it must’ve been. Through this project, we also thought about all that we can be thankful for.

For example, I found a grave with two people who were born in the 1880s (females), and I decided to write a story about two women who were lesbian and living in that time and what it might have been like. There was a quote on the grave, “Until the dawn of morning”, which I added into my story.

This was a pretty interesting and fun assignment to write about, learning about what different time periods were like and how they had to live compared to us now.

-Written by Heaven