Hudson Valley Sudbury School

School Status: 
Operational

The Hudson Valley Sudbury School (HVSS) in Woodstock, NY is an alternative, private school for students ages 5 to 18. HVSS is based on the educational philosophy first developed by the Sudbury Valley School in Framingham, MA in 1968.

Students who attend HVSS create their own curriculum; they exercise their rights and responsibilities as members of an active democracy and they develop the skills and qualities necessary to become a successful adult. A Sudbury school respects their students. This respect is demonstrated by the trust placed in the students to determine their own curriculum and to be part of the democratic governance of the school.

84 Zena Rd
KingstonNew York 12401
Phone845-679-1002

Articles Published by the School

Chemistry at Sudbury

Associated School: 

Every day, somewhere on the Sudbury campus, students are engaging in scientific pursuits. In the last couple of days this has included cooking in the kitchen, making homes for wooly bear caterpillars, tending the garden, pulling out a magnifying glass to get a closer look at “diamonds” discovered in an old broken brick (“No, that’s QUARTZ!”…“No, it’s a diamond!”)...

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Clued In: Behind the Scenes of the Theater Co-op's Performance

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I have been working in theater for the past 12 years (directing for 9), and in that time I have worked with numerous groups of peers and students of all ages. During those experiences a few habits of each group emerged that made the rehearsal process challenging. Yet, with the students at HVSS the challenges never matched normal group tendencies.

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Open Letter (rant) to Those Who Advocate the “Tough Love” of Traditional Schools

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One criticism of the Sudbury model that comes up again and again is that it fails to “prepare kids for the ‘Real World’” because Sudbury provides too ideal an environment.  Sudbury spoils them by daring to respect children and teenagers as full-blooded human beings.  In contrast, the Real World is anti-human and is going to disrespect, subjugate, and crush them as soon as it gets its hooks into them.

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Learning to Unplug from the Cultural Grid

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Upon entering the doors at the Sudbury School for the open house, I noticed that there was no one available to engage my expectations for the usual handshakes and prepared introductions. Instead, warm but non-intrusive faces said hello, spaciously waiting for a hint of what we needed as visitors. It also felt like no one owned the building, space, or school, but instead expected that you should fill it as you like, not with “egoic mentalizations” that reflect the proscribed culture and conditioning we are accustomed to. At once I felt that I had to allow myself more space. A short while later, I had the recognition that all that hand shaking and greeting I am accustomed to is actually a kind of “sell.” “Sell” is the norm of the culture I was brought up in. In my family and community and schooling, you sell yourself by becoming articulate, learning how and who to hang with and when to drop names and by adorning proper handshaking. This way you will let people know you belong to the “right” club, or are cut from a certain cloth. Hence, it was an old and recognized structure in me that felt the respectful peace and non-pressured atmosphere at Sudbury as a discord. But as I challenged my usual internal frame, I also experienced it as hugely relaxing and pleasurable. Here there was no one imposing their will on another. After a while of exploring the physical space and finding their own way around, the group assembled to answer questions for the visitors. Again there was a deep peaceful space that was palpable as I calmed my “ready to step-up and fill the void self” back down again. Instead, I was able to notice what I can only describe as the roominess to be.

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Images of Sudbury

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This year – my tenth as a staff member at the Hudson Valley Sudbury School – I have been given a gift; I get to follow my ever curious toddler as he explores campus and interacts with the big kids.

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Commencement Speech 2015

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I am really honored and flattered to be asked to speak again this year.  It’s always a pleasure for me to fabricate heady rhetoric. So, thanks guys.  But actually, you know, after they asked me to speak, I went to them - maybe it was just Kiran, and I asked him who he would really like to speak, and he said Steve Buscemi, of course.  I found Mr. Buscemi on americanspeakers.com and there was a form to request him as a speaker - the lowest fee you could offer was $5,000, so I offered that and added a note that really I was really only offering $250.  We didn’t get a response.  So you’re stuck with me.  

So, when I was working on this yesterday at school one of our youngest students approached me and asked if he could help, and I accepted the offer, and I’m going to begin with his contribution:

"Here ye, here ye, I am a pirate.  You will be missed.  Maybe see you on a visiting week."

Alright.  Here we are: you’re about to graduate.  Though, it’s a little weird to even call it “graduation” here, isn’t it?  Because - as we all know - at this school the curriculum is responsibility and the method is freedom, and so the content of what a student actually does here - what they “work on” - is different for each one; and ultimately, the curriculum is just their own person, their own genius.  

So - what does it mean to graduate here?  The transcripts we give you say that really only you can tell us.  When I was thinking about this I was reminded of a passage from the prologue to East of Eden by John Steinbeck, which I read over and over again in high school.  (I have done some slight editing to bring Mr. Steinbeck up to date politically.)  Goes like this:  A [person], after [they] have brushed off the dust and chips of [their] life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill?”

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Right to Remain Silent Law?

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I am a new staff member here at Hudson Valley Sudbury School.  I moved from Massachusetts with my wife Ana and our baby Susannah to be a part of this place, and this post is meant to offer some insight into why we would do that.  

Last Friday evening my friend Douglas called me up to ask how it was going.  We’ve both taught in public schools, and one way we liked to describe the atmosphere in those schools was “tense boredom.”  In was tense because we were charged with ensuring that at all times our students were behaving according to enthusiastically precise guidelines...

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The Qualities of a Sudbury Education

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]Last year I spent my afternoons tutoring students who came to me mostly from high-powered traditional private schools. I didn't do much during sessions; I spoke casually with the students, commiserated, encouraged, laughed, asked occasional questions, and tried to stay out of their way as they navigated the difficulties of compulsory performance. But the students, their parents, and the owner of the company all thought I was doing a lot, and they happily bestowed upon me the credit for improvements...

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Chase and Pursuit

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Recently, a staff member made a motion to put a defunct law called “Chase and Pursuit,” which forbids indoors chase games, back onto the books.  It passed to Second Reading, which means that it can be made into official school law at the following meeting.  But this law proved to be controversial, and the debate that followed revealed how in a democratic community even a seemingly simple proposition involves a complex web of implications.  In a small direct democracy, different perspectives inform and balance each other; it’s harder to get things done than in autocratic systems, but what’s done generally has more consideration behind it.

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Uncommon Core

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One of the biggest ongoing stories in education today is the debate over the Common Core, a set of K-12 standards dictating what students should learn and which has been adopted by 45 states.  Objections to the rollout of the Common Core have been numerous and vocal, but one in particular was highlighted for me at our Gift Sale on Saturday: having a "common" curriculum built around intensive testing is an attack on creativity.

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Giving

This week's blog is a joint effort from Staff Members Vanessa Van Burek and Matthew Gioia.  They both reflect on their recent experiences with gifts, giving and community.

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Perspective from an Alumna (Part 2)

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This blog is the second part of an Alumna's perspective on her HVSS education.  The first part can be read here: http://sudburyschool.com/blog/perspective-alumni-part-1.  This installment largely focuses on what Marina has done since graduating from HVSS.

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Perspective from an Alumna (Part 1)

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I am not the kind of person who is good at sitting around doing, “nothing,” and when I was younger I was even worse. After enrolling I suddenly had endless amounts of time during the day to…choose what I wanted to do? What a strange concept. How wonderful! How incredible! Okay, so, what do I do? Hmm…. Um, can someone please just tell me what I’m supposed to do? There’s got to be something that someone thinks I ought to be doing. Someone? Please? Anyone?  No? Okay, I guess this means I really have to think for myself. 

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Why are you sponsoring that motion, Matthew?

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Last Thursday as I put together the School Meeting Agenda I noticed that it was thin - it outlined what would surely be a quick and boring meeting.  I wanted something more interesting, so I thoughtlessly sponsored a motion to ban the use of smart phones, tablets, and similar devices at school, chuckling to myself.  I posted the agenda in the Lounge Extension, and went about my day.  Soon, students began addressing me, “Why the hell are you sponsoring that motion, Matthew?”

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State of the School

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I would like to suggest that perhaps - just maybe - if more of our nation's children had the freedom, trust, and responsibility that students at HVSS have, other addresses given this week assessing states of affairs might be able to be more honestly positive.  Perhaps, if children and teenagers were respected as complete human beings - inexperienced, but complete as they are at any age (imagine!) - many, many problems  assaulting our nation and our earth would begin to soften and diminish.

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Pursuing your Passion

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“Having space and time to develop and pursue a genuine passion” is one of the aspects of HVSS that gets a lot of airtime in our PR materials and Open Houses.  Yet, it can be a little misleading - it may give the impression that every student at school is constantly engaged in a specific and well-

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There and Back Again: through Sudbury's doors

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When I was seven, I found myself at the Sudbury Valley School, in Framingham MA, and knew I had found the perfect school for me. I spent the next four years there. During my time there I was the free to play and be a kid. I played all day, everyday. I learned by asking others for help when I needed it, by being in a social environment with peers of all ages, by being hands-on in the art room, and by participating in a fully democratic society. Whenever I tried to force myself to learn something because my parents told me I had to, the attempt inevitability failed.

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The Education of a Sudbury Staff Member

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One of the best things about a Sudbury School is Age Mixing.  This allows people of all ages to learn from other people of all ages - whether the person doing the learning is 5 years old or 30 years old.  Here is another episode in the continuing saga of one of our staff members "getting schooled".  One would thank that participating in a Milkshake sale would be simple, well one would be wrong...

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The Growth of a Sudbury School

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While we have not yet started to make a big deal of it (yet – just wait smiley), we are fast approaching the 10th anniversary of the first day of school in our building on Zena Road.   Between now and June 14th, I will be writing some blogs that will provide some history of the school.  In this first installment, I will discuss the school’s enrollment.  This particular topic is forefront in my mind because we are starting to face one those good news/bad news situations.  The good news is that we have the highest enrollment since the very beginning of the school.  The bad news is that is looks like we will have to start thinking seriously about how we handle a waiting list.

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Why So Many Song About Rainbow

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Perhaps it’s because rainbows operate in our psychology as a symbol of plenitude, especially for children, most of whom spend a great deal of their time under strict surveillance in secure pens called “schools,” which is ominously defined in Meriam-Webster’s online dictionary as “an institution for the teaching of children.”  Rainbow-land is where we will finally be free to do as we please and be respected as complete human beings.  But more on rainbows later.

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Can't Wait Until Music Night

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"This is the kind of gig I had in mind when I moved to the Hudson Valley." That's what Jason from the King of Rome said when he took the stage at the January 2014 Music Night, and everyone who has ever been knows what he meant: Music Night is suffused with the kind of intimate ambiance lent by the glow of warm embers in a friend's fireplace

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My Depression

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After a few months, my parents realized that grounding me was making it worse. I got new medication. They sat me down and asked me if I would like to try out a private school. A Sudbury school. A non-stressful, no curriculum, democratic school that lets its students choose how they spend their days, learning through everyday experiences and play. 

 

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It's Up to You

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"Claiming responsibility for your own life, for your own community, for your world is glorious.  “I am responsible!” That’s heart; that’s love. Something extraordinary is happening today, and we need responsible people."

 
Find out what else Matthew said at the 2014 graduation ceremony!

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Apprentice Learning

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One of the most effective ways of learning a new skill is through an apprenticeship.  This style of learning is essential to a Sudbury model school and is practiced naturally all day, every day.  This blog entry gives a couple examples of this style of learning in action.

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Math

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Shelley and Otelia doing math.I’ve worked at Sudbury for five years now and this fifth year is my nerdy dream-come-true. As a Sudbury staff member, we follow the students’ lead and engage in the activities they choose to pursue. Sometimes our personal passions are shared by students and we can engage in those activities together, and other times we might be waiting around for a long long while for something we love to catch on. Well, I love evaluating algebraic expressions, playing with geometric shapes, and puzzling out information about movement and time, and lucky for me this year I get to teach about these concepts every day of the week!

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HVSS Theater Co-op Presents "Spamalot"

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On April 8th, 9th and 10th the HVSS Theater Co-op presents their production of Spamalot
At Old Glenford Church
210 Old Rt 28, Glenford
To purchase tickets send an email to: theater@sudburyschool.com
 

A surprising thing happened this semester for the Theater Co-op. Once we chose our spring musical, Spamalot, many of the older members decided not to take part. Thus many of the new and younger co-op members received bigger parts than anticipated. At first this was a bit overwhelming and nerve racking for many of them since they were not sure they were ready for such a big jump. But with some reassurance they happily embraced the parts.

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Playground Build 2016

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Students building new playground areas.I have to admit that I was nervous last Friday morning.  We had really paired down our plans for build day because most of our project leaders were unable to come on the actual date, and only a few people had signed up to participate.  Then, during the week, lots of people volunteered to come, which was great, but I worried we didn’t have anything for them to do.  I imagined little groups of bored and despondent, formerly hopeful people milling around in hats and work gloves, wondering why I was so unprepared utilize their talents.  I imagined them packed into the kitchen while it poured outside, huddling over styrofoam cups of instant coffee, staring grimly at the muddied floor, kindly offering their seats to each other, maybe even taking turns weeping bitterly in the far corner.  I imagined patiently trying to explain to each person the predicament, why it turned out like this, but being received, like a foreign diplomat trying in vain to maintain favor after breaking a promise, with icy silence, stiff nods, and untrusting-yet-firm eye contact. 

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Welcome Back to the Real World

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Hark, the school year beginneth! The long, languid, dreamy days draw to a drier, crisper end. Time to get back to reality. How utterly gratifying to return to a school designed to support young people’s humanness. How invigorating to be able to focus on such a vital task, rather than on, say, sprawling tomes of byzantine standards. Hallelujah. Summer fades, yet my mood endureth.

You know, our school is often misunderstood (big surprise, I know). It’s true that we’re different, indeed we are the alternative to everything else. But sometimes we are accused of living in a kind of Rousseaun fantasy - summer forever. Time frittered away in reverie while the rest of everyone is busy learning how to dominate the real world. I mean the markets. Or whatever. Ideas like this might even pop into the heads of Sudbury parents from time to time, or staff, or even students. But this unimaginative thought ignores the complexity, the history, and the evolution, of our human reality. In fact, HVSS is the most real place I know.

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Know Thyself - Know Thy Fun

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Student readingLooking through children’s toy catalogs I’m always struck by the language. Scattered throughout the pictures of all sorts of toys, plastic or wood, bright colors or neutral colors, puzzles, trucks, dolls or whatever, there are special snippets of language designed to tell me something important. But what are they telling me? Phrases like “kickstart your child’s play,” “support your child’s development,” and “piano keys that play music and encourage creativity.” They make me suspicious. The first sounds violent, the next obvious, and the last sounds absurd. Since when did piano keys not play music or discourage creativity? Phrases like “helps your baby develop from a crawler to a walker through adaptive technology” are possibly reassuring to those concerned their children might instead develop from a crawler to a swimmer, or perhaps an orthodontist. Phrases like “differentiate among colors and sizes” make me imagine my toddler sorting white and brown eggs into large, extra large and jumbo sizes in an egg factory. 

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School Meeting Dispatch: Bathroom Rules

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And we’re off, almost into October, and Sudbury education is under full sail here at HVSS. I think of learning at our school as happening in three basic ways: formally - with instruction and structure, informally - with conversation, play, and individual pursuit, and communally - with collaborative problem solving in our Judicial Committee and School Meeting. Personally, I am most excited by the communal learning, and I think it’s a unique facet of the school. Here’s an example from September: last week, a motion to reserve one of the school’s bathrooms for the exclusive use of those aged 12 and up was brought before the school meeting, and a fascinating discussion ensued. Incidentally, I have a toddler, so potty humor is so hot right now at my house, has been for a while, and in fact I’m giggling this very moment, but I promise I’ll spare you, sophisticated readers, any ill-formed jokes in this post, although I will admit that the meeting was not similarly spared.

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This one tip from Sudbury could save American democracy

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The 2016 presidential election has delivered us many novelties and peculiarities, and its outcome will likewise be historically notable, whatever it is, and will surely deserve prime real estate in all of Ripley’s Believe-it-or-Not museums.  Many political scientists believe the candidates for the two major parties are, as a pair, the most disliked by the American citizenry in any presidential election to date.  This aspect of the election, however, is not novel, and people have been griping loudly about it for several decades already.

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School Meeting Dispatch: Sleeping at School

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Last week a motion to ban sleeping at school(!) came before our School Meeting.  Although sleeping isn’t a widespread practice here, it is common to see one or two students sawing logs at some point on any given day, and occasionally certain of the cozier nooks in the building become de-facto napping spots; it’s the “flipped classroom” concept taken swiftly to its apocalyptic  conclusion.  Anyway, there’s a feeling, at least amongst a few of the staff members, myself included, that there is something just a little weird about it.  While it’s true that our students have full responsibility for deciding how to spend their time, sleeping is unique among human activities because the sleeper is unconscious (and can therefore hardly be responsible for themselves).  Besides, sleeping is generally a private act, not a social one, and it comes wrapped in an aura of intimacy - and blankets, and all those blankets and limbs strewn about willy-nilly look sloppy; it’s a little hard on the eyes and it’s probably pretty bad PR.

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To What Will They Return?

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The best thing about working “in education” is, undoubtedly, the summer. Oh wait, I mean the kids - the best thing is the kids. Wellllll, no - sorry! - it’s the summer, as much as I do love the kids (at least when I’m not responsible for the choices they make, the lessons they learn, the things they say, and the thoughts they think!) For me, having this uninterrupted time to immerse myself in interests and friends old and new, deepen my connection to my home, neighborhood, and region, travel, keep hours regular or irregular, and be with family, is a treasure I guard most jealously; it is a great, fatty, nourishing privilege. For me, just as it is for many children, summer is the Land of Space and Time Enough, which really is the only land fit for human habitation. Each year, I have the space and time to connect with what’s really happening in my inner life; I can let the changes which constantly brew there wash over me. I can, like the flora, exult in a state of robust health and growth. Having significant time in which to direct my own activity makes me feel very, very rich indeed, and in possession of myself, or, to put it slightly differently, free

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What are They Doing?

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Well it’s the first warm day of March, and most people here are outside, climbing trees and rolling in the mud, building sandcastles and playing street hockey.  I just played a game a student created called, “Sharktooth.”  I lost.  I was also, for a time, the overburdened father of two very demanding young girls, busily making dinners to order (why do I let them get away with that?!)  while attempting to regulate their screen-time (the “screen” was a slab of bluestone) and mediate their conflicts (you’d have to be a saint to do this well, I assured myself). I had to quit that game after less than an hour.  People sometimes complain about “kids these days” preferring the virtual world to the outdoors, but I don’t think it’s true; when all the obstacles - obstacles that adults have created -  are removed,  they go outside.  A lot, and really in all weather, not only when it’s nice.  But the spirit today is more celebratory than usual.

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Sacred Acorns

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There are times that I stumble upon an activity at the Hudson Valley Sudbury School that make my jaw drop in awe of the brilliance of children: their creativity, their simplicity, and their ingenuity. Coming upon The Sacred Acorn Civilization was one of those moments. I stood at the edge of our natural play-scape wide-eyed as I surveyed several young barefoot boys busily collecting acorns, carefully balancing bark, and finding perfect natural tools to build a civilization. Set amongst several stumps on a gradual hill, were intricate acorn and stick sculptures – balconies, huts, stone paths, and walls, all perfectly set in miniature style. It was beautiful. And it was clear these boys had been there for hours, not only by the exacting work they had done, but also by the dirt between their toes, the seats of their pants, and the expressions of their faces – calm and focused. The language they were using sounded to be a different dialect, familiar yet foreign

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Happy, Healthy, Strong

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HVSS does not have an official mission statement; the closest we get is the text of our graduation process, which states that, in order to earn a Certificate of Graduation, a student must prove to a committee that s/he has gained the problem solving skills, adaptability, and abilities necessary to succeed in whatever they are going onto next. This is an imminently sensible goal, honoring as it does the natural richness of humanity by acknowledging that different people will want to live different kinds of lives, and they’ll have to do different things to prepare for it.

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Hudson Valley Sudbury Basketball School

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This past Tuesday at 9:00 it was 18 degrees here on campus, not factoring in wind-chill…. It was windy. Most of us were right where you’d expect us to be, huddled up inside the building, working and playing. Our new basketball team, however, was training…. Outside.

In fact, they were lined up in the push-up position, balancing on one hand while dribbling a ball with the other. I watched them from the office, shaking my head in admiration and disbelief, as I have so many times this year.

The coach - Noa, a student - was walking slowly back and forth in front of them, his lips soundlessly chanting incantations to the basketball gods. I went outside to get a little closer to the action - the team’s energy drew me out there, as it has so many times this year. When I reached the court, though, they looked so dialed in that I pretended I was just walking by on my way to the mailbox.

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Gaming, Parkour, and the Art of Moving Like Water

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Students playing computer gamesTake a peek into our “Lounge Extension Room One,” any hour of any day, and you’ll likely see a half-dozen or so 9-12-year-old students doing...something, intently on their laptops, often with eyebrows raised, mouths open slightly, and heads thrust forward, belying one-pointed concentration, unflagging determination, and ecstatic flow. So- what the hell are they doing exactly? What’s so darn engaging, and what’s it all about? Where’s the utility? Sometimes they appear to be collaborating, working together to defeat common enemies, and sometimes competing (fiercely) against each other. Other times they’re independently facing challenges, sticking it out as long as it takes to see them through, and still other times they aren’t competing at all, but are, rather, creating rooms, buildings, cities, and whole worlds. Their screens fill the room with bright colors, frenetic music, and a wickedly fast pace of activity, and to the uninitiated adult, the scene can be a little nauseating (this space is also noted for its stagnant air and organic-material messes; these students are indifferent to their immediate environment, as most people are when they’re buckling down to solve urgent problems). Sometimes one of them will bound into the office, spitting out a string of jargon that sounds to me like, “YAPBOPADOOBOPBIPBOPPA BAM!” and I don’t have a clue what they’re talking about, or even what they said, but the excitement is palpable, I can tell they’ve scored an epic win, and I’m happy for them. This is one of the most skilled, passionate, and engaged group at our school: the gamers.

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Introduction

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The Hudson Valley Sudbury School (HVSS) in Woodstock, NY is an alternative, private school for students ages 5 to 18. HVSS is based on the educational philosophy first developed by the Sudbury Valley School in Framingham, MA in 1968.

Students who attend HVSS create their own curriculum; they exercise their rights and responsibilities as members of an active democracy and they develop the skills and qualities necessary to become a successful adult. A Sudbury school respects their students. This respect is demonstrated by the trust placed in the students to determine their own curriculum and to be part of the democratic governance of the school.

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The Sudbury Model of Education

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The fundamental difference between a Sudbury school and any other type of school is the student's level of responsibility. In a Sudbury school the students are solely responsible for their education, their learning methods, their evaluation and their environment. In a public school, the state takes responsibility for most aspects of a student's education including curriculum and evaluation. The student is left with little responsibility except to learn what is taught, how it is taught, in the environment in which it is taught and then to reiterate it back at evaluation time.

In a public school, the state takes responsibility for most aspects of a student's education including curriculum and evaluation. The student is left with little responsibility except to learn what is taught, how it is taught, in the environment in which it is taught and then to reiterate it back at evaluation time.

In a non-Sudbury private school, the school administrators take a larger role in determining a student's curriculum than in a public school. In some private schools, the school takes responsibility for evaluation, while in others the school administers the state tests. In most private schools, as with public schools, a student has personal responsibility only for learning what someone else determines is important to learn, at a time they think it is important to learn it, in a way someone else has determined it should be taught, in an environment designed by someone else, and they must do this well enough to pass the evaluations written and graded by someone else.

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The Sudbury Conversation

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I was talking to the father of a newly enrolled student recently.  During the conversation he told me about his experiences telling his friends about having his son enrolled at the school.  He said the basic conversation goes like this:

Friend: “So how is your son doing?”
Father: “Great!”
Friend: “Where is he going to school?”
Father: “He just started at the Sudbury School.”
Friend: “Ooohhhhhh….”

Accompanying this sound is a rather quizzical look.  While not saying any words, the sound and the expression convey a lot of meaning: thoughtfulness, concern, incredulity, and a large dose of “I don’t know what to say about that”.

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Individual Growth

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What does a "normal" day look like at Hudson Valley Sudbury School?  This video answers that question and shows what students learn while they are at HVSS.

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The Individual in Community at Sudbury

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Last week we had a trial that raised some interesting questions about the age-old problem of individual rights vs. community - an intense philosophical, political, and metaphysical problem that still vexes human society and makes the news every day.

In a certain respect, Sudbury is an experiment in finding the balance between individual and community; individuals have freedom, but that freedom is limited by the freedom of others.  Sudbury thus hangs - like the rest of nature - in a delicate balance, and that balance is protected by our justice system.

Here’s what happened: the Judicial Committee needed a replacement member, and the next student on the list was asked to serve.  He was in the middle of something and initially refused.  This is a clear violation of the JC policies; service is not optional.  After a minute or so of haggling, though, he consented, and reported to the JC room in an angry huff.  He stormed in, did not answer a friendly greeting, plopped into a seat, and glared.  He did not vote on the first item that came up, and when he was asked if “this is the way it’s going to be,” he responded, “yeah, I’m pissed off.” JC then decided to replace him.  Later, he was charged with violating JC rules and procedures, essentially because he disrupted their process and ultimately refused to participate.  He plead Not Guilty.

 

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Community Responsibility

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The third in our introductory video series.

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Life After Sudbury

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Interviews with graduates of Hudson Valley Sudbury School.

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Back to Joy

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On Wednesday the third, the first day of the school year, the kids came streaming off the buses and nearly broke down the doors, even though they were unlocked. I myself had just set my personal record for my bicycle commute (still though, the rest of the staff were already there when I arrived). Kids were hoping out of cars all morning and racing towards the building like it was made out of gingerbread, or as if it were some kind of supercharged happy-magnet. Everyone was eager to trade the decadence of summer for the nourishing thrill of getting the band back together, reuniting the clans, and returning to work on the ten thousand projects of making a life. And of course everyone was off to work immediately - no need to ever wait around here.

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Why I Choose Sudbury

Associated School: 

I think it is now widely acknowledged that the U.S. school system was originally intended to produce lots of good factory workers – individuals who have basic literacy and are practiced at following orders and obedience to authority figures. And that college was generally intended for a minority of the especially intelligent or wealthy. I have been asking myself over the past year, what is the goal of our country’s school system now? I have found many answers to this question, in books, documentaries, articles, and in conversations with people of differing perspectives. I am no authority on the subject, but it is with a feeling of passionate interest that I share with you my opinion, my answer to this question, in the following paragraphs.

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Lessons of a Sudbury Education

As we sit in our school's main lounge, trying to write about the underlying lessons of a Sudbury education, we often find ourselves "off task." We are watching the bustling activity around us…Jeff, a staff member, and Sonya, a 14-year-old student, are working on math problems in order to move her closer to her goal of becoming a vet. (She's contacted Cornell University to find the best method of getting into their program.) Cody, age 11, and Madison, 15, are reading medicine cards for all who walk by. Eli, 5, and Kiran, 6, are comparing new Magic Cards and talking about the mysterious gum switcher—the spearmint and cinnamon gum from the School Store have seemingly switched bottles.  The Judicial Committee members file into the JC room to start the daily session but Natasha, 15, one of our JC clerks, has to find a replacement for the 5- to 9-year old representative to the JC who is out sick. Success—Sophie, age 8, is filling in. Lisa, a staff member, and David, age 16, are discussing whether or not putting "spring water" on a bottled water label ensures you aren't getting someone's random tap water. A man drives up attempting to deliver food to the Zena Elementary School, a public school down the road. While only a few miles away, the Zena Elementary School couldn't be more different then The Hudson Valley Sudbury School on Zena Road.

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An Educated Person

Author: 
Associated School: 

Eamon agreed to let us publish one of he recent college essays in our blog.  He talks about what it means to be an educated person.

Education is a misunderstood term. It is often confused with related concepts such as knowledge and school. Education sometimes happens at school (and sometimes doesn’t), and knowledge can be a sign of an education, but neither are education itself. Simply put, education is the willingness and ability to learn for the sake of learning. The truly educated person learns constantly without supervision or external reward. To truly define what education is, we must first look at what it is not.

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Sudbury and the Quarter-life Crisis

Author: 
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As most of you know, I am a new staff member this year, and I don’t know many HVSS graduates personally.  The school is still so new there aren’t many graduate anyway.  But, I did recently catch up with HVSS’s first graduate, Alex Delia, now 26, to see what he’s up been up to lately, and I wasn’t disappointed, to say the least.

Since graduating, Alex has started a successful recycling business - Mr. e-Waste, based in Hudson.  He says, “it was a crash course, really sink or swim kind of thing...and I’m swimming.”  When I spoke with Alex he was in Chicago at the airport, preparing to fly home from a business trip he spent working to identify oxidized metals in the waste-stream of a local company.  He thinks it could become a lucrative partnership.  He’s also trying to get Mr. e-Waste on autopilot so he can explore metal trading and recycling solutions.  Alex never attended a traditional school (though he has been inside of a few as a recycling contractor).  I asked him how - if at all - his Sudbury education was helping him succeed so impressively.  He didn’t mention any content he studied, or projects he worked on, or accolades he earned.  He said, “I learned how to be really present with myself, and therefore with others - to be open and receptive.  Basically, to communicate well.  I had a lot of opportunities to sit down with people, talk things over, and figure out how to work together to make things happen.”

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Vanessa Testimonial

Associated School: 

"When I pull in here, when I leave here, there are kids everywhere that are blossoming with energy and excitement.  I think to myself, 'wow, if I can send my kids to a school or if kids can spend time in a school for 13 years where they are happy and they want to go, that is huge.'  That is a huge chunk of their life that is setting up the rest of their life."

 

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James Davis - Director of Program and Marketing for Vanderkamp

Associated School: 

Working with the Sudbury School kids was amazing for me. I've worked with thousands of different children, and saw a few startling differences in the tendencies of Sudbury kids.  The first was a willingness to ask for help.  We did one ropes activity that requires the participants to traverse a long series of cables and ropes. The catch is that it pretty literally can not be done alone.  Every group I've worked with until this week struggled mightily at the section that requires help. Typically they will try to do it alone several times before asking if they might possibly be able to work together.  Many times people just want to give up.  The Sudbury group had no difficulty at all. 

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I am (not) Autism

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Associated School: 

When I was 15, I dropped out of school. It was more of a passive decision than an active one. I just decided I was sick of sitting in a classroom for an hour learning facts that I either knew already or didn’t need to know at all. I didn’t announce to my mom “I’m going to drop out of school”. I just didn’t go. I refused to.

This wasn’t unusual for me. I always had a history of hating school, since I was bullied since first grade and the school did absolutely nothing to stop it. But with college looming on the horizon in several years, I think the school district (and my parents) finally decided to do something about it. The district organized several meetings with my parents, the school staff, and my teachers from the previous year. I was never at these meetings, nor was I invited. But every month or so, right on schedule, my mom would come home with printed information and brochures on faraway boarding schools that specialized in disabled children

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Nami Bates

Associated School: 

Sudbury gave me the chance to work really hard on improving my art skills which is my biggest passion. If it weren't for Sudbury, I wouldn't be as good as I am today.   Getting 2 years straight to devote time to develop my art really made a huge difference. Since I live in Thailand now, its not easy getting a job unless you have a diploma. This isn't much of a problem for me because I've been making money by drawing for people.  Everything I do is through the internet, so I get clients from different places.

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Matthew Testimonial

Author: 
Associated School: 

When I wake up, I feel like every day feels like a saturday.  I look forward to coming to school, jut like the students do.

When students first come to school here, they expect the adults to be the authority figures.  It takes them about a year to realize that we all have equal authority.

You will notice that kids that have been here a long time are different than kids at other schools.

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In Praise of Yu Gi Oh

Associated School: 

Oh, how I like Yu-Gi-Oh. I am not a seven-year-old boy, but a 36-year-old mother. Since September my five-year-old son has begun his formal education at the Hudson Valley Sudbury School. One of the biggest learning tools he has embraced is that of Yu-Gi-Oh and I cannot sing its praises enough.

For those of you who do not know what Yu-Gi-Oh is let me give a brief overview. Yu-Gi-Oh is a playing/trading card system in which people duel each other based on the cards in their decks. It is similar to Magic Cards, but it is based on Japanese Anime. The cards have different values, actions and purposes. Alas, I will not try to explain how the game is played with my limited understanding. Instead, I suggest you get some hands-on dueling lessons from someone under twelve.

There are tons of Yu-Gi-Oh spin-off consumer items including everything from a television program to toothbrushes. The television show is a series in which duelers duel each other. And while most parents try to limit television time, the Yu-Gi-Oh show does teach those watching the powers of each card. New card packs come out every few months, of course, necessitating a significant monetary outlay. However, we have found that desire for new "booster decks" can create inspiration to earn and save money.

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Jeff Testimonial

Associated School: 

Jeff's testimonial.

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Kiran

Author: 
Associated School: 

From the time he was an infant, my son Kiran (now age 6) has had issues around feeling safe. Cautious, perceptive, and highly sensitive to other people's energies and emotional states by nature, he is generally slow to adapt to new people and situations. He has always shown an aversion to group activities, preferring the intimacy of one-on-one interactions with trusted individuals in familiar environments. Add to the mix his intense dislike of anything he perceives as compromising his sense of control over his own situation, and the result is a challenging child, to say the least. Monitoring his reactions to any given circumstance and making adjustments accordingly has long since become second nature to me. On more occasions that I care to remember, we have had to make a quick exit from social settings to avert a full-blown tantrum.

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Tim Testimonial

Associated School: 

Tim's testimonial.

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Alex's Testimonial

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Alex in the first graduate from HVSS.

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Contact Us

Hudson Valley Sudbury School

84 Zena Road
Kingston, NY 12401
 
Phone: 845-679-1002
Fax: 845-679-3874