MINDFULNESS (Lisa Moore) Mindfulness is a class dedicated to supporting the student's meditation practice. We sit for :30 - :40 minutes per class, then do a simple art project to support our meditation. We experiment with different types of mindfulness practices so we can add what we like to our own practice.

INTERMEDIATE KOREAN (Jungsun Hyun) Our class move on intermediate course with updated new text book! This time period requires a lot vocabulary learning typically like numbers, dates, times, etc in Korean. Students are doing great so far, and we will repeat the new words together in the class.

SEX IS A FUNNY WORD (Kizzi Collier and Lexi Polokoff) In Sex is a Funny Word Lexi and I have discussed masturbation, done the euphemism game, played Sexpardy (topics including STI's/STD's, contraceptives, vocabulary, historical facts, and more.) and next week we are going to play our version of Clue to help with understanding different STI's and STD's. We have our "magic of the box," which is a box where students can write any questions, concerns or topics they'd like to discuss in class anonymously. 

HERBALISM 101 (Kizzi Collier) In Herbalism 101 I have been discussing what materia medicas are (basically, a collection of knowledge on a particular plant about its healing materials), vocabulary, been weeding and discussing the plants outside (such as sumac, autumn olive, mint, lemon balm, thyme and more), we have made fire cider and next week I am hoping to make a chai pumpkin pie with them. I always enjoy showing and discussing how herbalism is used in the kitchen every day. 

BEYOND HEAVING BOSOMS (Kizzi Collier) In Beyond Heaving Bosoms topics have included the structure of the romance novel, types of heroes, types of heroines, what makes a romance novel and we are currently reading (about to finish) the book Beast by Brie Spangler. This is a small class and I always enjoy the intimate group discussions that we have. 

BREAD (Loran Saito) Some of the breads we have baked in this period include Basic White, Basic Whole Wheat, Baguettes, Scones, Challah (oops, forgot the salt!), Pumpkin, Tutmanik (Bulgarian Cheese Bread), One-Hour Rolls, and Popovers. It’s exciting and fun when students bring recipes and ideas. Anyone can join this class at any time.

VOLUNTEERING AT AMHERST SURVIVAL CENTER (Loran Saito) This fall, we have dedicated most of our time to unpacking, bagging, sorting, and stocking fresh donations, with some work unloading trucks and organizing non-perishable donations. We’re looking forward to sharing a meal at the Survival Center just before the North Star holiday break and (before then!) baking 30 pies for the Survival Center’s annual Thanksgiving meal at North Star’s annual Bake-a-Thon. We currently have car space for one more volunteer in our regular weekly group (someone who is prepared to make a commitment of at least three months).

LOCAL HISTORY EXPLORATIONS (Loran Saito and Sage Lucas) So far this fall, we have taken a walking tour of Sunderland’s historic houses and visited the Riverside Cemetery to try to get an idea of patterns of settlement here. We have talked about the history of local indigenous peoples, and met with Sunderland’s oldest citizen, whose family has farmed here for 10 generations. We talked about the history of Pelham and visited the cemetery at Bishop’s Corner (home of Sage’s ancestors). We watched the film “Under Quabbin” to learn about the formation of the Quabbin Reservoir and the loss of the former towns beneath, and we hiked through a nearby Quabbin gate to view the reservoir. We have begun talking about Deerfield, and will visit Historic Deerfield soon. Next up: Florence!

FUTURE OF THE WORLD (John Sprague) Future of the World is a fun and dynamic class where we explore relevant topics and enjoy lively conversations. So far this year we have explored 1) the development and advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its possible roles, good and bad in determining the quality and features of our future; 2)  Ethics and human governance-- i.e. how do we make decisions and manage human society to the benefit of all  3)  the importance of learning to to trust each other. We are looking forward to seeing where our explorations will take us as the year goes on.

BAND (Josh Wachtel and John Sprague) We have a large group in band this year -- although not everyone is playing on every tune, and some newer musicians are coming mostly to watch.  We are working up a new set of songs for our first variety show, and having a generally fun time doing so.

EARTH AND SKY (Melanie Dana) We opened with a look at solar eclipses and what causes them as a way to understand the sun, moon and earth system. We then looked at the larger solar system and calculated the distances involved in creating scale models. We are currently working on a scale model that will hang from the Common Room ceiling. Other topics include: ellipses, the electromagnetic spectrum and the double-slit experiment, using a telescope, how a sundial works, and retrograde motion.

HISTORY OF ROCK & ROLL (Melanie Dana) We began with an overview of the various musical traditions in the US prior to and in the early days of recorded music including blues, jazz, folk, country, and religious music. Study of the music industry included sheet music publishing, radio, records and record charts. We traced the evolution of the “race” and “hillbilly” charts to “rhythm & blues” and “country and western” and the emergence of rock and roll as a reinterpretation of rhythm & blues music marketed to a teenaged audience in the mid-1950s and the associated styles of rockabilly and doo wop. We are currently examining the time period between 1959 and 1964 when a variety of pop styles vied for chart dominance including girl groups/Brill building, surf rock, Motown and soul. Additionally, we are studying the evolution of rock and roll against the backdrop of social and political change including the civil rights movement and second-wave feminism. Classes generally consist of songs, documentaries, video clips, handouts, lectures and discussion.

SOCIAL ISSUES (Ken Danford) Headlines of the week, including the mid-term elections, gun control, Saudi Arabia, international relations, economics, and more.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR (Ken Danford) Chimpanzees, Crows, Chickens, Snakes!  Students choose what animal we will learn about next.  Live specimens welcome.

TALKING SPORTS (Ken Danford) It’s a good decade to be a Boston fan, and a tough life being a Cleveland fan.  Beyond the headlines, there are serious issues of race, gender, politics, health, and economics to consider in contemplating this world.

THEATRE (Ellen Morbyrne and Rachel Hall) In Theatre we’ve been exploring various ensemble theatre techniques, primarily from the works of Tadashi Suzuki, Anne Bogart, and Rudolf von Laban. We’ve been exploring the recent histories and uses of interview-based theatre creation, and have begun to create our own work, both individually and collectively. The group has been so kind to each other, and is able to take real artistic risks. We’ve been to see Snowflakes, Or Rare White People at UMass and are going to see The Gondoliers at the Academy of Music this weekend. We have two additional field trips planned for later this fall and have more theatre creation to make happen in class as well!

LUNCH CLASS (Ellen Morbyrne) In Lunch Class we’ve been having delightful adventures in the realm of cooking lunch for large groups of folks with a variety of dietary needs and in a limited amount of time. We’ve made everything from cozy sesame noodles to fried tempeh with wilted greens to pizza to frittata to even a fabulous risotto! Pumpkin soup, veggie stir fry, rice pudding, tacos, veggie stew, fancy toasted sandwiches, entrée salads, pad thai, bean chili, onigiri – we’re running around the world and our palates! Students have learned a lot about cleaning a kitchen, vegetable preparation (especially onions and garlic – they’re all experts now!), and seasoning. We’re looking forward to the rest of the year!

WRITING YOUR LIFE (Susannah Sheffer) We’re at the “finding your material” phase of the year, during which members of the group are using the prompt or exercise offered each week to write their experiences, feelings, memories, thoughts, and to experiment with different ways of doing so. We’ve used postures or gestures as starting points, tried incorporating words that are outside our usual repertoire, worked with the idea of eavesdropping or overhearing, and much more. During these first weeks, we’ve focused on building trust within the group, getting comfortable writing and sharing work with one another, and developing the ability to offer comments on the writing that other workshop members read aloud.

HARM AND PUNISHMENT (Susannah Sheffer) We have spent these initial weeks reading or listening to material that introduces many of the core themes of the class, which we will continue to explore in various ways throughout the year. So far, we’ve focused on stories that show the impact of various kinds of harm; for example, we’ve listened to audio recordings from the National Center for Victims of Crime in which people who have been victims of robbery talk speak about their experience. We’ve read testimony from victims of more violent crimes as well. In all of this, we’re learning and thinking about questions like: who is affected? In what ways?  What do victims need in the aftermath of an experience of harm? Whose job is it to meet those needs? We mix the personal stories with discussions of laws and policies, and are just beginning to turn our attention to the “punishment” aspect of the topic, looking at motivations for removing people from a community, whether that means “time out” for a child or a prison sentence for an adult. The members of the class are impressively able to take up hard questions, absorb new ideas, and listen to one another.

MAKING WRITING EXCITING (Alex Hiam) In Making Writing Exciting, we have been exploring: Compelling opening scenes, plotting and story arcs, character creation, and especially, creative production—the fluid expression of fiction scenes from writing prompts. We have been using most of our class time to actually write scenes suggested by writing prompts. Participants have often volunteered to read their writing out loud and discuss each other’s work in appreciative critiques.

ESSENTIAL SHELTER (Jon Calame) In the “Essential Shelter” seminar we have spend the first two months looking at examples of successful and unsuccessful buildings from many cultures and periods. We have critically examined adobe houses of the Pueblo Indians in Acoma; the vernacular dwellings in Hyderabad, Pakistan; the hydrological city of Angkor Wat, Cambodia; the Inuit igloos of the arctic; the yurts of Mongolia, and the greatest hits of non-human architecture, like beaver lodges and termite mounds. From all this exploration and discussion, we composed a ranked list of the ten most essential elements of good architecture in relation to human habitation. Each participant contributed ideas and described priorities. If you are curious, ask your son or daughter about it. We will use this list as a guide and point of reference as we move into phase B of this course: the design and construction of our own structure on the North Star grounds. It is our hope that this structure will be the location of our final class session in the chill of December, and that it will reflect most of the elements we consider most vital and important.

DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY (Tova Haines) So far in class we have focused on a Photography Challenge Project https://expertphotography.com/30-day-photography-challenge/ We have targeted Texture, Self-Portrait, Rule of Thirds, Black and White, Low Angle. The most important part of the class includes stepping out into nature to shoot (when it doesn't rain). A future trip includes Chard Pond and a small waterfall in Sunderland. Here is a helpful photography website for the students: https://www.photographymad.com/