We were all able to follow the trip day-by-day on tumblr.
10th- and 11th-graders visited the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Shirley in 2011 as part of a civil liberties class. Below is an article from our local newspaper, The Keene Sentinel, describing the trip.
Posted: Sunday, December 11, 2011 8:00 am
By Abby Spegman Sentinel Staff
Prison isn’t like the movies.
If you look past the barbed wire fence and watchtower, it’s a very different story inside. There are people who have made mistakes, know it and don’t want you to do the same.
“It was like, ‘We’ve already learned it. You don’t have to,’ ” said Gabe M. Shakour, 17.
Gabe was part of a group of 10th- and 11th-graders at the Monadnock Waldorf School in Keene who visited the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Shirley this week as part of a civil liberties class.
The prisoners ranged from young 20s to mid-40s, many violent offenders, some serving life sentences. But they also seemed like nice guys, and it was hard to believe they had done the things they did, the students said.
The men talked about serious crime — and the consequences that come with it — that is part of their everyday reality, which for students is unimaginable, said one student.
Will D. Henry, 15, said he was surprised at how casual the meeting was — there was no panel of glass separating the two sides, no jumpsuits, very few guards.
The trip was organized through Project Youth, which was started in 1964 by a prisoner who wanted to deter young people from criminal behavior.
Johanna A. MacIntyre, 16, said it was surprising how much the men seemed to care about the students, that they not make their same mistakes. Some of the men hadn’t seen their families or friends in months, she said, or had children growing up without them.
Many of their problems stemmed from drugs and alcohol, and they told the students not to go to the same lengths they did to “fit in” or “be cool.”
“When you’re studying the legal system, you’re really studying crime and punishment,” said Karl Schurman, chairman of the high school, who teaches history, social studies and English. “And we went to the heart of crime and punishment. Nothing can replace that.”
This sort of first-hand learning is customary at the Waldorf School, he said.
As part of their study on “Moby Dick,” students stay overnight on an old whaling ship and learn to throw a harpoon at Mystic Seaport. When they read “The Odyssey” in May, they’ll go paddling and camp along Lake Champlain, comparing their travails to the epic.
The trip to Shirley was part of a civil liberties class, which the students are either enrolled in or took last year. In it they talk about the rights of the individual versus the rights of groups, why the group may take away the individual’s rights and what is just punishment.
It can seem an unfair lesson to a 15-year-old, Schurman said, but it puts it into perspective when it comes from a man serving life in prison.
“They can’t just learn from books and yammering teachers,” he said.
Abby Spegman can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1409, or firstname.lastname@example.org
St. Mary's Monastery in Petersham, MA
The Tenth Graders began their block on Homer's Odyssey with a water journey. The Odyssey has been a nodal point in the Tenth Grade experience in many Waldorf schools. In addition to being one of the great pillars of western culture, this epic is uniquely suited to meet the soul journey of the developing individuality of the Tenth Grader. Odysseus must find his way home to Ithaka in a world that seems constantly on the verge of breaking apart. In this world, he must develop the capacity for inner sight to find and keep his way, contending with gods and monsters, temptations and enchantments, loss and despair. His story allows Tenth Graders to consider the value of self-restraint in the face of our world’s many monsters,temptations and enchantments as each seeks his/her own Ithaka. In partnership with Kroka Expeditions, the Tenth Grade, along with teachers will spend the first week of the block canoeing on and camping along the Batten Kill River in Vermont. Taking up their oars and journeying under their own power, the class will be navigating by map and compass and honing daily the skills necessary to meet their essential needs. The winding course of the river, the ceaseless current, the song of the wind and the rhythmic dipping of the paddles will provide the ideal backdrop to embark on an exploration of the world of Homer and the themes of the Odyssey.
“What is this New Man, this American,” asked Crevecoeur in 1751. The Ninth Grade explored that question in their American History morning lesson by examining the roots of the tree of liberty that grew into this nation. They began by studying Native American beliefs and values (notably by journeying to the traditional Mohawk community of Kanatsiohareke), specifically the Iroquois confederacy and its contribution to our Constitution. Students examined the footprints of the great powers on the North American continent in 17th century, whose legacies we still encounter.
They continued with stories of the settling of the southern and northern English colonies and the distinct cultures they produced, Loyalist and Patriot arguments for the Revolution, the failures of the Articles of Confederation, and early continental expansion up to the Mexican War. Through the rise of conscience in the 1830’s and 40’s (movements such as abolition, women’s rights, and others) that plays out in the Civil Rights era of the1950's and 60's, the Ninth Grade began to address the paradox embedded in the founding of America, that “all men are created equal…”
Students in Canajoharie Creek, the location of the cauldron rock formation that gives Kanatsiohareke its name, "The Cooking Pot that Cleans Itself."
The tenth grade took a field trip to the Museum of Fine Arts Boston as part of their ancient cultures block. Here are some examples of sketches made at the museum as well as art made for one of the original cultures created by the students.
(1. The tenth grade in front of the MFA, 2. Fish God of the Lkasha culture by Noah, 3. Assyrian guardian deity by Lili, 4. Noah sketches Gudea of Lagash)