arts & Special Subjects
At MWS, the arts and special subjects are an essential part of a well-rounded education, bringing an experiential and artistic dimension to the Morning Lesson blocks for deeper academic understanding. Each student participates in every special subject, cultivating important aspects of the self as well as practical skills like adaptability, perseverance and creative problem solving.
Chorus & Instrumental Ensembles
Every student participates in the All-School Chorus, which meets twice each week. The repertoire is widely varied and includes classical and modern choral works, pop songs, American shape-note music and folk music from around the world. The group prepares for two concerts each year, in addition to various other performance opportunities at school events and festivals.
Students also choose an elective musical ensemble — A Cappella, Jazz Band, Chamber Ensemble or Folk Band. The first three ensembles are more advanced and require prior musical experience. The Folk Band is an opportunity for students without musical experience to learn to play an instrument (such as the drum kit, guitar, bass or ukulele) and experience playing in an ensemble. In order to maintain an effective program with a high level of performance, all students take private lessons on the musical instrument they play in their school ensemble and practice regularly during the week.
A wide variety of visual arts are taught each year at MWS. In the ninth grade, two-dimensional work is primarily in black and white, while the sculptural work deeply explores form, gesture and observation. The tenth grade year encompasses a thorough exploration of color through paint and pastel, as well as the creation of a portrait bust in clay. In eleventh grade, students use their accumulated painting and drawing skills in landscape painting and explore the whole figure in drawing and clay modeling. Twelfth graders see a synthesis of their skills as they paint an oil self-portrait, sculpt pre-imagined forms out of stone and model organic, abstract forms in clay.
The practical arts in high school focus on traditional crafts to create objects that are simultaneously beautiful and useful. Ninth and tenth grade blocks teach both carpentry and metalworking skills through projects such as folding chairs, dovetail boxes, copper funnels and bowls. In addition, the tenth grade learns to weave on a floor loom. Eleventh graders further the work they have done with metal by creating their own knives in the outdoor forge, while twelfth graders learn the craft of bookbinding. Pottery is offered to all students as an afternoon elective.
The tenth and twelfth grade class plays are an integral part of the high school curriculum and all students participate as actors and actresses, no matter how small the role, in order to experience what it means to intentionally and imaginatively step out of oneself and into another character. In addition, they take full responsibility for all the technical aspects — from costuming to graphic and set design — thus acquiring valuable executive and group skills. These plays are an intensive experience, rehearsed over the course of a four-week block.
Beyond the physical activity woven into the rhythm of the school day, MWS students take a movement class four days per week. Three days feature a rotating schedule of classes that include bothmer gymnastics, strength and aerobic training and blocks of soccer, circus or ultimate frisbee. (Students may also elect to complete this requirement through documenting their own independent activities.) On Fridays, everyone takes joyful part in a social dance class at the start of the day, learning dances such as the swing and the waltz.
Trips Week : Intensive Study in the Field
Twice a year (and often in conjunction with other Waldorf high schools), MWS students leave campus for a week-long field intensive related to their current subject area. These trips provide a unique opportunity for students to meet the world in a meaningful way and are often regarded as pinnacle experiences in their time at MWS. In addition to academic field study, Trip Weeks are full of physical activity like hiking, rock climbing and canoeing. Recent trips include:
- 12th Grade — Zoology students work in the tidal pools of coastal Maine
- 11th Grade — Parzival students spend time in a special needs community
- 10th Grade — Odyssey students undertake a water journey along the inland sea of Lake Champlain
- 9th Grade — Organic Chemistry students experience plant growth on a biodynamic farm