Riehlife Poems of the Day from Sequoyah School, Pasadena, California

The Wildflowers Were In Bloom (photo by Sequoyah School)

My goddaughter Jennifer Delaquil’s son R. attends Sequoyah School in Pasadena. On my last trip out to Southern California, I visited them there. Josh Brody, Director Sequoyah School, sent out some wonderful poems and photos from a student outing in their newsletter called “News from Beyond the Log.” He kindly gave me permission to reprint poems and news of their learning adventures here. Here, then, is a Sequoyah Flash. Josh Brody says, “We went down to Anza Borrego. I went with you and you came with me! The Burrow, Backyard, and Bamboo Forest Students had a trip to the desert filled with learning and fun that I share with you in the following images and poetry.”—JGR

Copyright 2008 all poems and two photos by Sequoyah School

Poetry by Backyard Students

Slish-Spash Frog


I saw my friend
I saw my friend walking
I saw my friend looking
Looking for a frog
Looking for a frog to catch
Then there it was
My friend reached in
Reached in the water
Picked up a frog
No thanks thought the frog
These hands are too dry
And it jumped
Back into the water

Desert Moon (photo by Sequoyah School)

Opening my eyes
Late at night
I saw a light
A bright light
Close to the mountain
A bright light
Right in front of my eyes
More than half a circle
It was the desert moon


On the trail
on a leaf
Green insects with horns
Eating leaves
Coming and going
Eating leaves
Growing bigger
Eating leaves
One day
They will fly away


A. CESAR CHAVEZ Michelle (Spanish Specialist): “We need to help students and parents cherish and preserve the ethnic and cultural diversity that nourishes and strengthens this community and nation.—César Chávez

On April 11th, Sequoyah celebrated the life of César Chávez, but studying about his life started weeks before, with the Over There connecting its democracy curriculum to the notion of how disenfranchised people accomplish change nonviolently. Students made political posters, and recognized marches, fasting and strikes as means of expression within a movement.

Students created a timeline and read their poem connecting parallel and significant events of the civil rights movement and the farm workers’ struggle, containing the refrain, “¡Sí se puede!” Yes we can!, the slogan of the farm workers. Students sang De Colores, a farm workers’ song, and enjoyed learning about and watching Aztec dancers perform. Remembering César Chávez and the farm workers’ achievements certainly nourished and strengthened our Sequoyah community.

From Emily (Treehouse): In the week before spring break, Treehouse students finished their posters illustrating their findings about, and proposals for, water use on Sequoyah’s campus. They presented their research and proposals to the Sustainable Campus Committee, a group of teachers, administrators and parents working to make Sequoyah a more sustainable institution. It was a smashing success! In the debriefing afterwards, students said that they felt proud of their work, that it felt good to be able to teach others about what they had researched, and that they were excited that actual change could come out their work. The committee asked questions that will help students decide which proposals they should present to Student Government next week. Hopefully by the end of the year, the Treehouse will put some of their ideas into action, changing the way that we all use water at Sequoyah!

C. Backyard students sold fruit from the local farmer’s market on Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22.

D. MAPPING CAMPUS. How did the Treehouse students get involved in mapping Sequoyah’s campus? Sequoyah parents Alice Fung and Michael Blatt are working closely with Sequoyah’s facilities advisory committee to draw up a long range facilities plan for the Sequoyah Campus. Treehouse students are learning the metric system and how to draw to scale. A partnership was born. Treehouse students are now helping the architects make their map of the campus more accurate and as detailed as possible.

On day one students watched the modern classic film “The Powers of 10” by Charles and Ray Eames, to see what happens to your perspective of the world when you add another zero to the end of the number that determines scale. In this film produced in 1989, every ten seconds the viewer sees their starting point ten times farther out until the milky way is visible as one galaxy among many. The film reverses direction until the viewer is returned at a rate of ten times more magnification every ten seconds . Following a similar path, Treehouse students then zoomed into the Sequoyah campus from google earth.

On day two they looked closely at the unfolded large campus map prepared at 1:200 scale by Fung & Blatt and superimposed with 10m x10m grid. Teams of two students had each been given a schematic map of a portion of the campus drawn at twice that scale. Armed with meter sticks and measuring tapes, they checked on the accuracy of their maps, identified points of reference, details, materials and noted what was missing. Back in the classroom they recalled everything from stumps to sprinkler heads. They thought about how to represent physical things symbolically so that they could be included in a key or legend.

On day three, they illustrated their maps with colors and textures. The maps are now pieced back together to complete the full campus map at 1:100 scale. The next step is to record cultural observations for their sector. Asking themselves “What happens where?” students will write everything down from conversations to birdsong. The idea is to relate what they observe in their section to the larger questions of how we use spaces and why. They will draw up a list of interview questions and survey those people they find inhabiting their space.

Finally the students will be asked to dream “If you can change this area to make it better what would you do?” Architects Alice and Michael will take all this information, from reference points to wild dreams, back to their studio. They will use the information to inform what improvements might be made to the campus that will complement our open classrooms, create opportunities for project based learning and maintain the integrity of our historic site.

“Dance is action and shape designed in space and time to express feelings and ideas.” —Bill T. Jones

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