Village School

A Lesson in Shooting Stars

By Tracey K., Parent

Reflections on Walden West 

After weeks of record-breaking rain and storms, the sun emerged just in time to welcome the 5th grade class of 2017 to Walden West. It’s an understatement to say that Mother Nature was kind to them the week of February 13–17, providing a narrow pocket of mostly sunny weather between flood-inducing storms.

Months of fundraising and years of anticipation brought them to this point. In the days before the trip, when I asked students what they were looking forward to, most couldn’t narrow it down. “Everything!” was the most popular answer.

After meticulously reviewing packing checklists, gathering at school for a quick group photo, and getting speedily dropped-off by slightly nervous parents, students were off to find another wonderful surprise waiting for them at science camp.

Former Village teacher, Sherry, also known by Raven (her camp nature name), was their Field Teacher for the week. Sherry retired at the end of last year, and her former students (the 4th graders from last year’s combo class, the Mystical Mountain Lions) were over the moon that she’d come to share this special week with them after all. Sherry worked full time for Walden West prior to coming to Village and still works occasional weeks at Walden West during her retirement in order to continue sharing her love for nature and science. Needless to say, the students were excited and delighted to spend time with her again.

At home, parents dealt with their own emotions regarding a slightly quieter household, awaiting updates from teachers and chatting back and forth in the courtyard and on social media. Said one parent “I’m an empty-nester!”

But as teacher reports came in daily, it became clear to most parents that their kids were doing just fine on their own. Photos shared of relaxed, smiling kids punctuated that point. Parents expressed pride, relief and gratitude for our teachers as they witnessed from afar a great milestone for our children. Kids enthusiastically took charge of leadership roles and camp jobs, settled into their cabin teams, bonded with others, and clearly had the time of their lives.

Talia and Michele experienced Walden West for the first time as teachers, joining the veteran, Jill. Teacher Michele said that her favorite part of science camp was at night, when she checked in on each student before they went to bed. Although the group felt strangely small without their 4th grade classmates, this reduced class size also gave Michele and the other teachers a unique opportunity to get to know each child that much more. That personal touch was clear at the closing ceremonies, where the teachers’ pride in the kids and the growth they had made during the week clearly showed in all of our teacher’s faces.

The week closed with hugs all around and a dash to the car as a new rainstorm made its way back to our region.

As a personal postscript, our family was reminded once again just how wonderful our community is, and how small the world is.

For those not yet familiar with the tear-jerker (and lovely) song “Shooting Star,” it’s this song that traditionally closes camp at Walden West and at Village’s 5th grade graduation. The theme of the song is friendship, and how people pass through our lives — like the special magic of shooting stars.

My daughter made a new friend in one of her cabin mates from Noddin – the other school at Walden West sharing the same week as Village. As the Noddin bus pulled away at the end of camp, both girls were in tears as the emotions of the week and the thought of never seeing each other again caught up with them.

As it turns out, Kaiya (from Noddin) has been friends with Snowboarding Snow Leopard Layla since they were babies in daycare together. A connection was made, a reunion was arranged, and Kaiya sweetly and thoughtfully wore her Walden West sweatshirt to the meeting. Sometimes Shooting Stars — “the ones we won’t forget” — pass through our lives once more. Thank you, kind winds, for making that possible.

Shooting Star Lyrics

Please won’t you catch a shooting star for me
And take it with you on your way
Though it seems that we’ve just met
You’re the one I won’t forget
Hope some kind wind blows you back my way

And I was thinkin’ maybe somewhere later down the road
After all our stories have been told
I’ll sit and think of you, the dear friend I once knew
Shot through my life on a shooting star

Sometime I know that a part of you will show
Deep in my eyes or in my smile
There’ll always be a part of you deep inside my heart
And I’ll know just when to let it go.

You are so dear, you’re my bright and shining star
You brighten up my each and every day
You are so near, but soon you’ll be so far
So why not just hold my hand today