Letter from the Clerk (An Ode to Compost)

compost bucket

In middle school, compost gets a bad rap. True, most middle schoolers probably never think about compost, but the ones at Arthur Morgan School definitely do. Every day at chores they take our food scraps to the chickens and compost bins. It’s not the least popular chore (that would be pre-wash), but it isn’t the favorite either. I think that’s because it means dealing with the school’s waste, that which seemingly no longer has value.

I like compost, and it’s not just because I am also the school’s gardener. There is so much life hidden beneath the surface! Even in these cold winter months, where almost everything else in the garden is hibernating, compost is a place of warmth and transformation. You might not be able to tell from the outside, but within the piles life is hard at work. Teeming with worms and other organisms, compost turns last year’s waste into next year’s growth.

two middle schoolers conspiring

Life Happening Everywhere

That is how I always feel about the start of the spring semester at AMS. From the outside our campus might appear quiet and still. The courtyard, filled with student activity in October and April, is now unusually quiet. Lethargic from the holiday break, students are more excited to sit near one of our many warm wood stoves than labor at chores or work projects.

Beneath the surface though, lots of excitement is brewing. Eavesdrop on their conversations during snack and you will hear them preparing their skits for Octopus’s Garden (on February 2nd!). Winter is a popular time for sneak outs and raids, and its not uncommon to find a small group of students huddled in a corner scheming a late night adventure.

Exciting Moments Ahead

Enter one of our classrooms, and you will find a group of students exuberantly planning their 18 day field trips. In just six short weeks, the whole school will hit the road, traveling across the country.

middle schoolers and teacher looking at map

One group is studying the science and social implications of robotics. A second trip is looking at the history and current efforts of the LGBTQ movement. While they explore these topics in class over the next several weeks, the students are also contributing to the logistics to make the trip happen. We are still in planning mode, but both trips will be offering a plethora of exciting opportunities for students to meet with experts, engage with relevant service work, and experience these topics first hand.

New Faces

We also have an exciting change this semester. We welcome new staff member Brad Archer, his wife, Mary Ellen, and their three year old daughter, Maisy to the community.

Brad has almost 20 years of social studies teaching experience in a variety of settings: Ecuador, California, and most recently Vermont. He also has experience working with the American Friends Service Committee, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. He has a masters in Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs from American University. We are excited for the depth of knowledge, experience and passion Brad and his family will be bringing to our community!

Spring Is Not Too Far Away

Just like the garden needs the nutrients created from compost, our community is nourished by these first few quiet weeks of winter. The seemingly slow pace won’t last long at AMS.

On the farm, it will soon be time to start seeds and till the beds in preparation for the spring planting. The garden will contain a bounty of green, luscious life in just a couple months. Similarly, our students will be out in the courtyard, running from activity to activity, relishing every last minute of AMS before their summer break.

For now, we are going to appreciate these last few weeks of winter and the gift they give us–a time for reflection and nourishment before our big adventures ahead.

-by Kavita Hardy