Tour of the International Space Station

Many thanks to Mark Clarke for taking us on a tour of the International Space Station. We learned about being an astronaut. We were weightless for a microsecond as we all jumped into the air! We also made “rockets” that were propelled with our own breath.
Click on an image to start the slideshow.

ISS logo

ISS logo

Space Station

Space Station

Nick

Nick

Rockets

Mark helps with the rocket assembly.

Molly and Carl

Molly even got some cuddle time with baby Carl!

Piper and Jake

Piper and Jake

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Tour of Disc Golf

Many thanks to Billy Mitchel for taking us on a tour of disc golf. We had a grand time!
First, he led the group in warm up activities and gave instruction for gripping, throwing, and course safety. Then we headed outside to try out our new found skill. Turns out, there’s a perfect tee-box at UUFM! It was hot, but we had a good time. Cool-down included disc-shape cookies! Billy graciously gave everyone a disc from his own collection so they could continue their new-found skills at home. Yay!
Click on an image to start the slideshow.

Warming up

Warming up

tee box

Tee box!

putting

Putting on the green

Arthur

Arthur experienced course safety first hand

 

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Cluster

May 12-13 UUFM welcomed many teens from across Kansas for the Spring UU Youth Cluster. After 22 hours of togetherness everyone still looks energetic!

 
 And on Sunday we dedicated some of our youngest members.

 

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Easter

Easter puzzle

We hid puzzle pieces inside the eggs. Looks like there are a few more eggs to find!

Easter RE

Lots of smiling faces in RE on Easter Sunday.

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April 2

The K-2 class explored our transforming world on Sunday. We talked about what a transformation is and ways that the world is constantly transforming around us. We are sprouting some wildflower seeds with the hopes we can see them grow and transform this month along with us! We observed new growth around the fellowship and made predictions on how it will transform in the coming weeks.

The 3-6 class…This week, among other topics, we talked about why elephants don’t wear monocles, the practicalities of space station construction, superstitious behavior in general and sports in particular, why some religious groups might be opposed to the education of women, and the use of gold in both electronics and dentistry.  We had a rather freewheeling discussion on mysticism, and the desire to perceive and apprehend the world in different ways.  We talked about shamans, and their role as intercessors into supernatural realms, and three broad categories of such realms: the gods, the land, and the dead, and why communities might seek to reach such entities.  We spoke of Greek mystery cults and oracles, why hermits isolate themselves, and the use of techniques and paraphernalia to reach an altered state of perception and find a sublime truth.  Our playlist this week included: “Abyss of the Farplane” – Noriko Matsueda and Takahito Eguchi; “Be Thou My Vision” – Jennifer Haines; “Chop Suey!” – System of A Down; “Euphoria” – Cirque de Soleil; “Heaven” – Shoju Meguro; “Living With God” – Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Dream Circus; “One Vision” – Queen; “Prayer of St. Francis” – Sarah McLachlan; “Sufi Medley” – Ali Jihad Racy; “Way of the Shaman” – Steve Gordon.

 
The 7 and Up class… continued Peace Experiments with a focus on interpersonal conflict. We started with the assumption that in any given situation one person’s hopes, wishes and expectations would not match another person’s hopes wishes and expectations.  That means that interpersonal conflict is natural! We each took a scenario (dating, teasing, jokes taken too far) and then escalated the conflict step by step. Using the same scenarios we took a downward path of ignoring the issue to an unhealthy outcome.  And then we talked about a middle way. We discussed the STABEN method of talking through an issue (example website here: http://crumpet-thinking.blogspot.com/2012/06/calm-down-and-staben-on.html). As we ran out of time we did a quick self-inventory about how frequently we use different strategies when faced with conflict.

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Risk

Lots of fun in the PreK – 2nd grade room with art from recycled materials… necklaces, drums, robots, and more! Click to view larger.

The 7th grade and Up class did some brainstorming and word association for how we might define and describe peace. We did the same for war/conflict as well.

Peace

Talking
Communication
Calm
Being nice
Understanding
Cooperation
Mutualism
Love
Friendship
Community
Nature
Wisdom
Pacifism
Selfless
Balance
Yin/Yang
Restful
Naive
Family
Growth
Sharing
Light
Zen
Buddha
Happy
Slow
Hugs
Safe

 

 

 

Conflict/War

Disagreement
In-Groups and Out-Groups
Fighting
Hate
Violence
Xenophobia
Craziness (not calm)
Danger
Dark
Aggression
Fascism
Selfish
Fear
Imbalance
Discrimination
Segregation
Instability
Lasers (weapons)
Vulnerable
Ares – Dogs of war
Red
Blood
Murder
Death
Greed
Scary
Ignorance
Unknown
Human-made disaster
Destruction
Hunger/famine
Poverty
Pestilence

Haikus
1.
Peace is a panda
Zen like a Buddha smiling
As a pacifist
2.
Communication
Love and understanding reign
People feel their place

3.
When ignorance hurts
It gives us false motivation
Injustice and death

Group-written Sonnet
Childlike naivete, openness and hugs
I was unknowing but smiling, sharing
Loving the world like an optimistic pug
Moon-faced and so wide-eyed, spoiled like a king

Now I leave the warm embrace of my safe home
I go forth with hope in myself and all
I am searching for the good as I roam
Continuing on, I know I won’t fall

But the world can’t harbor a safe bubble
No longer will I believe my own lie
One day all that will be left is rubble
Know now that in the end we all will cry<

Humanity can bless and damn without design
Only with clear intent will there be a lifeline

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Sandinsky Circles

The kids from Pre-K through 2nd grade had lots of fun creating their own special art on Sunday.

Each student is unique so each piece of art is unique! Click on either picture to view larger.

 

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UUSC Guest at Your Table

Here are two stories about the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) and how its Guest at Your Table program is raising support and awareness of its work to advance human rights.

1

Bulelwa Panda

“Through my journey I’ve found out that God loves me the way that I am and that being LGBTI isn’t a curse but a gift from God.”

Bulelwa Panda knows the devastating power of hate.

Hate directed at her from strangers and lifelong neighbors alike. From her family. Even perhaps from her God.

Bulelwa was 18 when she first felt attracted to other women — in South Africa, a country where lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender identity remains a deeply taboo subject.

At first she tried to hide her sexuality by dating men, but in 2003, when the deceit became overwhelming, she decided to tell her parents. “They believed it was a sin and tried fixing me with traditional rituals of slaughtering animals.”

Although her parents slowly grew to accept her before they passed away, she remains completely estranged from her sister, the sole remaining member of her family.

And when this former Sunday school teacher was first struggling with her sexual identity, she turned to her church — but found no comfort, no solace, no acceptance.

As difficult as those days were, Bulelwa knew they paled in comparison to what other members of the LGBTI community suffered. Beatings. Rapes. Killings.

Which is why, as Bulelwa became more comfortable with her identity during the early years of this century, she also opened up her modest, two-room home to vulnerable and ostracized LGBTI individuals in desperate need of shelter and a kind word.

Today, that same compassionate spirit gives Bulelwa a crucial role in UUSC’s new Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Rights in Africa initiative. Just a few streets over from where she used to welcome people into her small home, Bulelwa now manages the iThemba Lam (“my hope”) LGBTI safe house.

Under Bulelwa’s guidance, iThemba Lam offers health, legal, and psychosocial counseling to LGBTI individuals from across Africa. Most have been disowned by their families. Many have been beaten or suffered so-called “corrective rapes.” All are deeply grateful for the comfort and security they find under Bulelwa’s roof. Bulelwa manages iThemba Lam under the auspices of Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM), one of UUSC’s grassroots partners in our SOGI Rights in Africa initiative. IAM works across southern Africa to confront religious-based homophobia by building faith communities that welcome LGBTI individuals.

UUSC launched this initiative because sexual minorities in Africa are among the most marginalized communities in the world. Our work is particularly important because much of the rising persecution of LGBTI groups in Africa is driven by right-wing religious extremists in the United States who actively aggravate homophobic sentiment that already exists across most of the continent.

Shifting deep cultural traditions is not a quick project. Victory comes one step at a time, one year at a time, even one generation at a time.

But Bulelwa, who learned early in her life about the devastating power of hate, has great confidence today in the transcendent power of love and acceptance.

 

2

Mathurin Azma

It was because Mathurin Azma wouldn’t stop crying that the soldiers used an electric taser on him.

But what else would you expect a 13-year-old boy to do when a military truck screeches to a halt in front of his home and soldiers leap out and race toward him? When they grab him off his front porch and muscle him into the back of the truck?

And when they drive him across the border from the Dominican Republic into Haiti and abandon him, a stranger in a strange land?

That was the afternoon Mathurin became one of los afectados— residents of the Dominican Republic who were born to undocumented Haitian parents and are now being forcibly deported “back” to Haiti in a dragnet as brutal as it is heartless:

“The soldiers beat everyone. They take us anywhere and anyhow. They prevent us from grabbing any item or stuff we have in our house. They force us to leave behind everything, including money, clothes, tools, and foods. In one afternoon, I lost all my friends in the D.R. I don’t even know where my family is in Haiti.”

That’s because Mathurin had spent all but the first two years of his life in the

Dominican Republic. He lived there with his adoptive mother, who spent long, hard hours working as a cleaning lady to earn enough money to take care of Mathurin and pay his school fees. After school, Mathurin would sometimes meet his mother at her workplace to help her finish her work.

But on the day he was abducted by the soldiers, he was home alone. His mother was given no information about what had happened to him. Like most afectados, he had no one waiting for him in Haiti. No home, no known family, no friends. Many can’t even speak the language.

And children, many of them younger than Mathurin, are especially vulnerable. They arrive traumatized and hungry but are met with — at best — indifference by the Haitian government.

UUSC rapidly responded to this emerging crisis by partnering with Zanmi Timoun (“Friends of Children”), a grassroots organization in Haiti, to help provide forcibly removed children like Mathurin with everything from hygiene kits and clothes to psychosocial support, recreational activities, and assistance locating possible family members in Haiti.

That’s why, when Mathurin was released, “there was already a young lady waiting there. She talked to me and asked about the trip. She guided me to an office where I got water to shower and clean clothes and food. I needed to talk to my mother in the D.R., so they gave me a phone. I called … and let her know that I was deported to Haiti.”

A few days later, Zanmi Timoun was able to locate family members in Haiti and eventually reunite Mathurin with them. Although he still misses his adoptive mother in the Dominican Republic, he is regaining hope for his future.

He wants to complete his education, but he hopes above all that if he ever has children they will not have to go through the ordeal he has survived — because “we all are human … like everyone else in the world.”

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Holiday Crafting

A good time was had by all at the holiday craft and cookie decorating event. Here are just a few of the folks who came. Many thanks to Carolyn, Austin, and Katherine for staffing the tables.
Click on any picture to start a slideshow.

Jocelyn

Jocelyn and her snowman

Everyone ponders a project

Everyone ponders a project

William

William

Lea

Lea

Austin

Austin

Robert, Sally, and Zoe

Robert, Sally, and Zoe

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Michael Servetus Academy

Here are the details which the 7th grade and Up class discussed (and discussed some more and discussed some more) about the forming of the Michael Servetus Academy. OPTIONAL was a huge theme in our discussions with students wanting to offer choice in most situations. Choice in activity participation, choice in electives, choice in dining, choice in lodging. But there was a lot of agreement regarding that the basic structure a school should take. In the end we agreed that nothing we’d planned should conflict with the seven principles and much supported them! (Talk to your kids about these details and how our discussions went.) If desired, you can download the details as a PDF michael-servetus-academy-1
– Molly

Michael Servetus Academy
A Unitarian Universalist School

General administration
Boarding school with many room options (dormitory, private, pets, no pets, etc.) – 12-month boarding will be offered particularly for students in need, summer enrichment camps will be offered for these students with others welcome to attend
Parents allowed to visit once or twice per semester
Classes will be mandatory and will be offered on a traditional academic calendar
Classes will open each day with the pledge of allegiance (sans 1954 “under God” addition and optional if students do not wish to participate)
Athletics will be offered and teams will participate in local leagues
An array of dining options will be available which include options for vegetarian and vegan diets
Teachers will be professionals with credentials
School administrators will be elected from the teaching ranks by fellow teachers, student government and the school governing board
The student government will have significant input in decision-making
Evenings and weekends will be filled with enrichment opportunities and physical activity

Core classes
Time will be allowed each day for prayer/meditation.
Time will be allowed each day for work on interpersonal communication/discussion skills.
Subject area core classes:

  • Social studies
  • Health/Our Whole Lives
  • Math
  • Science
  • Language arts

At the junior high level core classes will cover basics. At the senior high level core classes will be more specific and class selection will be offered.
The Servetus Academy does not track students as college preparatory or offer themed instruction.

Electives
Many electives will be offered and will change based on student interest. Examples include:
Band, Choir, Orchestra, Design, Architectural design, Art, Sculpture, Photography, Drama, Creative writing, Modern languages, Video production, Film, Debate, Technology, Coding, Culinary, Business, Martial arts, Dance, Gymnastics, etc.

Student Assessment
Students will be assessed on meeting learning outcomes for courses.
Grades will be based on graded assignments, exams, and teacher perceptions of reaching learning objectives.
The Servetus Academy will participate in state testing but it will not be a focus at the school nor will it relate results directly to individual students. Results will be used only as one element of measure for overall learning.

School Assessment
The Servetus Academy will be assessed on:

  • Sanitation/Hygiene and Facilities Maintenance
  • Comfort/Climate for Students
  • Teacher Satisfaction
  • Breadth of Curriculum
  • Quality of Instruction
  • Graduation Rates

Traditional measures of student outcomes pre- and post-graduation will be used with caution. While ACT/SAT standardized test scores and entrance into college are one indication of success, other measures should be employed. Students will be surveyed before graduation. Graduates will be surveyed annually after graduation. Graduates will be asked about their happiness, their connections with others, and their contributions to their communities.

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