A Monthly E-newsletter Providing Useful Information to Caring Parents of Enrolled Students
© Copyright 2017 April 2017

wb00727_The Child and the Environment

by Duna Strachan

It was now more than four decades ago that I sat in ecology class and heard for the first time about global warming. The professor made predictions which have now all come true. I left the field of Environmental Zoology because I couldn’t handle the habitat destruction I had to face day to day whether in the field or when talking to colleagues. Even now I can’t read a whole Greenpeace or Sierra Club magazine. I recently heard that one of my former students is having the same problem in college – the field of environmental studies is just too grim. The salient point that stayed with me from graduate school was that environmental policies come and go, but education is what makes a difference in the future of our planet.

Although the news is depressing, there are more and more success stories. At last global warming is being addressed by most. Many say it’s too late to make a difference, but others say maybe not. Everyone is recycling, composting, using their own grocery bags and switching to more efficient cars. Park City adopted a “No Idling” ordinance largely due to the initial efforts of Soaring Wings mom Mary Jacquin. Disney is making movies about our Earth. A few years ago I got to visit a California condor breeding program that my nephew supervised in Oregon. I was amazed at the advances in technology since I worked in the field. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the condors are on their way back from the brink, but they sure have some talented and dedicated people on their side. While in Portland I also got a personal visit with a black rhino at the zoo as well as two Siberian tigers. Again, I can’t say their habitat will be saved in time to repopulate, but they certainly have a strong backing in those who are willing to give them everything they need to breed in captivity. Also while in Oregon I was delighted to see recycling containers on the streets, composting bins in restaurants and low-flow toilets in every public restroom. I’ve been teaching in Canada lately where they won’t give you a bag for your groceries unless you ask for it and then pay for it. And in Portland they even have curbside composting. Back home in Utah it’s great to see families outside hiking, biking, skiing, gardening and enjoying the Earth.

I love seeing all the new Earth-friendly ideas throughout the community. Environmental education is now an important part of most school programs. Although the economy can be trying, it encourages us to downsize our cars and homes and to conserve fuel and energy. At last our culture is noticing that plant-based foods and other products are not only healthier for us, but go a long way toward healing the overgrazing our lands have sustained for centuries. Eagles, wolves, peregrine falcons and bison are making a come back. Foxes, muskrats, deer, moose, ducks, raccoons and cranes are happily creating a ruckus in my backyard in Park Meadows. Although the housing development in Park City has displaced habitat and many species, ironically I realized that at least some of the people who have moved in are Sierra Club members, avid bird watchers and have installed dozens of bird feeders and backyard water features. Even Greenpeace newsletters have had more and more good news in them.

“Recycle”, “compost”and “biodegradable” have become household words that even 2-year-olds use adroitly. Our planet is still a wonderful place to live and, just in the nick of time, a public awareness of its needs is growing. It is our job to encourage this appreciation in our children. Incorporated into almost every Montessori curriculum unit is a consideration for the child’s place in the ecosystem. We talk about people as animals and our role as caretakers of the Earth. Every day in the classroom we remind the kids to make the most of every piece of paper and use rags instead of paper towels for clean-ups (“Trees died for that paper, you know”), use water sparingly (“Let’s leave some water for the plants and animals”) and treat everything with care rather than encouraging the “We can always buy another one” attitude that many of us grew up with.

At home, try changing from paper napkins to cloth ones, paper towels to cleaning cloths, disposable diapers to cloth or “G diapers”. Remember to take your shopping bags to the store with you (have your child remind you). Use only the amount of water you really need for washing, bathing and brushing teeth. Remember to turn off your car engine when waiting to pick up children at school. Help your family to be conscientious of saving paper and picking up litter. Put spiders and bugs somewhere out of the way rather than killing them (“They have their job to do, too”). For your own family Earth Day celebration, sit down and make a list of things you can do differently to help the Earth. You’ll find children are often much better at remembering these things and understanding why they should change some of their habits than adults. Even though, individually, these practices don’t make much of a difference in the health of our Earth, they will make a big difference in the attitude of your child, in whose little hands the future of our planet lies.


wb00727_El Nido News

News from the Infant Class

Spring time is exciting for babies – they now have the opportunity to wear fewer clothes and spend more time outdoors. We will spend more time on the patio and playground when the weather permits and notice the new life springing up.

All El Nido families are invited to our Earth Day Celebration, “Connecting with the Earth” on April 7th from 9:30 – 11:30. We are presenting a celebration of the Earth and her cultures infused with arts and sciences. Do join us!


wb00727_Toddler Time

News from the Tadpoles and Sunflowers Classes

At first glance the Toddler classroom seems very simple. It is designed to be simple. We want the child to walk into her first school experience and see a beautiful, beckoning world of possibilities presented in such a way as to be neither confusing nor over-stimulating. Simple activities are laid out as offerings for the practice of large and fine motor skills, matching, sorting, shape recognition and self-care skills. These are the obvious lessons of the Toddler Class. But the careful observer soon notices that there are subtle lessons too.

One of the first subtle lessons is responsibility. The toddler is responsible for taking care of his possessions and dressing himself to the best of his ability. Most of the class is now involved in toileting independently, so remembering to provide clothing choices that your child can handle by himself is very helpful (avoid overalls and difficult buttons or snaps). He is responsible for putting away his work, cleaning up spills, using careful hands and being respectful of things living and non-living. The teacher engineers the environment so that the child’s responsibilities will be simple ones. For instance, if the pegs spill on the floor there should not be so many that the child is overwhelmed with the responsibility of picking them up. As he gradually becomes more and more capable in these areas his confidence grows encouraging him to try the next task.

Another subtle lesson is making appropriate choices. The child chooses how to spend her day in school. It is often the first time a child has had a lengthy span of time in which to be free to choose her own activities. She discovers that some choices result in satisfying experiences while other choices may result in conflict. Again the teacher engineers the environment so that most choices are simple ones and she is there to guide the child through the more difficult ones.

The world of scientific principles is another subtle lesson in the Toddler Class. The teacher does not announce, “Today we will learn physics” to a class of toddlers. But each time an object rolls down the tracking tube (and the children will experiment with many possible objects) they are confirming Isaac Newton’s observations. Every time the child practices pouring, sponging, mopping or washing he is discovering the attributes of water. Caring for the classroom pets is a beginning study of zoology. Noticing leaf shapes while on “toddler walks” is an introduction to botany. Matching and sorting activities are precursors to identification and classification. Even watching snow melt is a study of science in the eyes of a toddler.

At home notice the subtle lessons your toddler is learning. Your goal may be to walk to the car but your child’s goal may be noticing how his boots splash in the puddles and how the water is absorbed into the ground along the way. On the playground your goal may be staying clean, but your toddler’s goal may be in discovering the properties of water and dirt. When drawing or painting your child may not be so interested in producing an aesthetically pleasing product as in experimenting with the textures of the media – how the crayon glides across paper differs from how it marks the table, or the wall! Keep your mind open to possibilities and provide appropriate materials with which you and your child can continue a scientific exploration of the world.

Please plan to come to our Earth Day Celebration on Friday, April 7th. Please bring your family along with your toddler in a SWIMS t-shirt (ask a teacher if you’ve not yet received one – a new batch is scheduled to arrive by Thursday), from 9:30 – 10:30 for families whose last names begin with A – M, 10:30 – 11:30 for N – Z.


wb00727_Early Childhood Curriculum Calendar

News from Cottonwoods, Turquoise and Peacock Classes

Monday – Music
Most of the students can identify a few of the compositions of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and know a little about his life. They’ve progressed in identifying instruments by their sound and recognizing the mood and ideas presented by the various pieces of music. We have begun the study of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky by listening to the “Nutcracker Suite” and how he told the story with music. We will sample “Sleeping Beauty” and “Swan Lake” in April.

Tuesday – Seasons
Excitement is in the air as the flowers bloom, the bugs reappear and we no longer need to many  clothes to go outside! Spring is here. Yes, there will still be “surprise” snow storms right into May – or June, even July! But the flowers and the bugs and the animals will carry on with bringing life back to the world. In your travels this month call your child’s attention to the new buds, birds building nests, new calves and lambs and discuss what people do differently in the spring.

Wednesday – Geography
Maria Montessori saw that we might succeed in evolving toward a more peaceful way of life if children can appreciate other cultures in a sensorial way. Toward this end we conclude our study of each continent throughout the school year with an all-school celebration of that continent’s cultures involving food, music, songs, stories, games and costumes.

In November we complemented our study of Native Americans with the cultural immersion experience of the Navajo Rug Show an our gift exchange with Grandmother Frances. In December we studied Winter Celebrations including school celebrations of Diwali, Hannukah and Las Posadas.  January’s studies of South America culminated with our own “Carnaval” celebration including a parade, dancing and South American foods. In February we studied Asia and tied together lessons with an all-school Asian Celebration.

In March our studies of Europe centered around a “Wearing’ o’ the Green” and our European ancestors as we began our preparations for our Earth Day Celebration on April 7th. First and second year early childhood students will prepare to turn their classrooms Earth science labs with experiments on all things Earth-related. First and second year students should wear SWIMS t-shirts and arrive with families at: 9:30 – 10:30 for families whose last names begin with A – M, 10:30 – 11:30 for N – Z. There will be a musical presentation including all children at 10:30am.

All Leadership Year (third year) students: By now ancestry Projects should be well underway including an interview with a grandparent or great-grandparent, a report, a costume, dish and display. Costumes can be as authentic as you wish, for instance, grandpa’s actual lederhosen or a pair of shorts with suspenders and knee socks. The food should be something that is easily served in small bites. Thank you for your help with this project. On Friday April 7th please bring your Leadership Year student in costume at 9:00am and plan to stay until 11:30am.

After Spring Break all ec classes will study Africa. So many countries in so little time! As always, anything from Africa that you have to share would be most appreciated.We’ll send packets of small gifts, notes and pictures to our friend Soureya of Niger and we’ll plan an African Celebration. Soureya is now nine  years old, and lives with her large families in a very small home. We have been exchanging letters and small gifts with her since she was a toddler. Please send in any small gifts that will fit in an envelope such as stickers or books in the next couple of weeks. Thank you for your support. Our relationship with Soureya helps our geography curriculum come alive and adds to our cultural immersion lessons.

Thursday – Biology
We enjoyed class visits with Shelly and Toby, the water turtles and Evan, the corn snake. Kim’s Cold-blooded Creatures is scheduled to come to school to give us an up close and personal experience with a variety of reptiles and amphibians.  Most of the children know that reptiles usually live on land, have scales, breathe air, lay eggs and can be snakes, lizards or turtles. Snakes and turtles make clean, relatively care-free, sturdy and personable pets.  If you are looking for a new responsibility for your child, consider adopting a reptile.

Birds are the topic for April. We will observe Tic and Toc in class and be watching for birds as they come back from their southern vacation spots. If you have a feathered friend who can visit the classroom, please talk to your child’s teacher. We will wait to visit the Tracy Aviary until May so that we can catch the bird show.

Friday – Poetry
The children enjoyed the Robert Louis Stevenson poems we read in class in March. We talked about how, as a little boy, Stevenson was sick in bed quite a bit so he made up imaginary friends and games which he later used in his poetry.

In April we will study the modern poet Shel Silverstein. His books include The Giving Tree, Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, and The Missing Piece.

If you have a Silverstein favorite you’d like to share, please send it in.


wb00727_Lower Elementary Lowdown

News from the Moose Tracks Class

Monday – History
Our study of History continues in April, with work on the history of our school year as it will be recorded in this year’s yearbook. We are assembling the best photos of the year. Please send us any you may have and let us know if you’d like to help. We will conclude the year by compiling our own personal history books.

Tuesday – Geography
We begin a study of Africa this month including topography, endemic plants and animals and cultures. If you have something African to share, please send it in. This unit culminates in our all-school African Celebration including native foods, music, dancing, costumes and stories.

Wednesday – Art/Music
We have reviewed our art skills, studied watercolor, Picasso and are finishing entries for the Wasatch Back Student Art Show.

Thursday – Zoology
With spring rumored to be on it’s way we are noticing the robins, cranes, red-tails and other returning birds through April.

Friday – Field Trips, Etc.
This month we are headed to the Kimball Art Center to admire our entries in the annual Wasatch Back Student Art Show. Be sure to check them out!

We will prepare this month for our annual field trip to the Recycle Utah Water Festival on the 27th.

When we return from Spring Break we will begin preparations for our River Trip  May 11th – 13th. So much left to do – so little time!

As we begin working on the yearbook everyone will have a job to do, whether creating artwork, laying out photos or organizing sales and advertisements. We like the children to take responsibility for their yearbook, but we can also use any photos or time you may have to contribute. Please send photos to class by April 21st.

Earth Day Celebration
We are putting the finishing touches on our Earth Day Celebration, “Connecting with the Earth” on April 7th. Moose Tracks will host our Earth Science Fair. Children should be well into preparations for their displays at this time. They should plan to wear SWIMS t-shirts and a big (large child- or adult-sized), white button-down shirt as a “lab coat.” Drop off is at 9:00am and families are welcome to come any time before 10:30 when there will be a musical presentation in the Sanctuary. Dismissal for elementary students is at 11:30 on that day.



Upper Elementary Update

News from the Owl’s Nest Class

Monday – History
Our study of History continues in April, with work on the history of our school year as it will be recorded in this year’s yearbook. We are assembling the best photos of the year. Please send us any you may have and let us know if you’d like to help. We will also wrap up our European History unit this month.

Tuesday – Geography
Geography of Europe continues this month including topography, endemic plants and animals and cultures. If you have something European to share, please send it in. This unit ties in with our all-school “Wearing’ o’ the Green” in March and our European feast.

Wednesday – Art/Music
We have reviewed our art skills, studied watercolor, Picasso and are finishing entries for the Wasatch Back Student Art Show. We will finish the month with Peaceful Living skills.

Thursday – Zoology
Through April we will continue with our study of the botany and zoology of Europe.

Friday – Field Trips, Etc.
This month we are headed to the Kimball Art Center to admire our entries in the annual Wasatch Back Student Art Show. Be sure to check them out!

We will prepare this month for our annual field trip to the Recycle Utah Water Festival on the 27th.

As we begin working on the yearbook everyone will have a job to do, whether creating artwork, laying out photos or organizing sales and advertisements. We like the children to take responsibility for their yearbook, but we can also use any photos or time you may have to contribute. Please send photos to class by April 21st.

Earth Day Celebration
We’re putting the finishing touches on our Earth Day Celebration, “Connecting with the Earth” on April 7th. Owl’s Nest will lead the musical presentation at 10:30 in the Sanctuary and host their Earth Science Fair. Drop off is at 9:00am and families are welcome to come any time before 10:30. Dismissal for elementary students is at 11:30 on that day.


“Music is the space between the notes”.

Claude Debussy


wb00727_Mark Your Calendar

April 1st
Mandatory Parent/Teacher Meeting 7:00am

(Just kidding!) 

April 3rd
Happy Birthday, Lori!

April 10th – 14th
Spring Break – no school!

April 20th
Happy Birthday, Linda!

Earth Day Clean-up during class

April 21st
Deadline for turning in photos for school yearbook!

May 11th
Mothers’ Tea Parties in all classes. Watch for invitations to come home.


wb00727_School Bulletin Board

Welcome, Ruhi!
You may have already met Ruhi Radke in the halls. She is a new assistant in the toddler classes and has been helping just about everywhere around the school. Ruhi just graduated in December from Emerson College with degree in Film Production and plans to pursue a career in film but we are lucky enough to have her spending some time with us along the way. Please join us in welcoming Ruhi to the Soaring Wings family!

Ah, Spring!
It’s that time of year again, when the pace picks up and doesn’t slow down  until the Fair is over on June 4th! With our Earth Day Celebration, Mothers’ Teas, Children’s Fair (including a Dads’ Day celebration), yearbook, lower elementary River Trip, ec Tracy Aviary field trip and Closing Ceremonies coming up we will be constantly asking for your help. But it all pays off in the confidence your child has gained in being in the spotlight, confirming classroom learning with real world experiences and in the thoughtfulness he shows in knowing he can make a difference in the world. Fasten your seat belt, get out your calendar and peruse the upcoming events.

Earth Day Celebration
This celebration began 30 years ago with outdoor festivities including planting trees, maypole dances and just enough rain, sleet and snow that we moved the event indoors and developed the cultural diversity aspect. This year we are planning an arts and sciences infused experience on April 7th from 9:30 – 11:30 to enable you to consider new ways of “Connecting with the Earth.”

  • Families whose last names begin with A – M, please come from 9:30 – 10:30am.
  • Families with last names beginning with N – Z please come from 10:30 – 11:30am.
  • There will be a musical performance including all children at 10:30am.
  • All students should wear SWIMS t-shirts, except Leadership Year ec.
  • Leadership Year ec students are preparing ancestry reports and should wear the native costume of their country.
  • Elementary students should plan to wear a large white button-down shirt as a lab coat.
  • Elementary and Leadership Year students need to arrive at 9:00am to prepare their displays and plan to stay until 11:30am.

Infant, toddler and early childhood classes will offer Earth-related activities for all ages, Leadership Year ec students will present reports on their heritage. And elementary students will present an Earth Science Fair. Every class is working on a display of Earth art along with the musical presentation. Bring the family and enjoy this excellent kick-off to Spring Break!

Shoes to Choose
When choosing those new spring shoes, stick to Velcro, buckles and slip-ons until your child can tie laces independently at about age 5. This adds greatly to your child’s confidence and her teacher’s peace of mind.

And remember that the school grounds may continue to be wet throughout the spring months. Don’t put those boots away yet! It’s a good idea to keep a clean set of clothes in the car for those days when your child enjoys sand, paint and/or science experiments in a “sensorial” way.

Remember to turn off your car engine when you are waiting to drop off or pick up your student.

’17/’18 Enrollment
By now you should have received confirmation of your child’s enrollment and class assignment for next school year. If not, contact Bruce at 649.3626 or duna@soaringwings.org. If we have not received annual tuition payments by May 1st we will set up SMART Tuition accounts. Thank you!

…Death and Taxes 
For your tax preparation enjoyment, our Federal Tax ID;
SWIMS: 45-0949195
SWPTSO: 26-1693961

We post photos of the goings-on around school a few times each month. Be sure to “like” us so you’ll be in the loop!



wb00727_SWPTSO News

A Message from Jill and Steph, Fair Auction Chairs
WE NEED SILENT AUCTION ITEMS! Our annual Children’s Fair is coming up on Sunday, June 4, a celebration of summer, the end of the school year and a great time for all! The Fair also supports a number of notable causes including: Adopt-a-Native Elder, Recycle Utah, SWIMS Enrichment, Summit County Library, Nuzzles & Co., Swaner Nature Preserve and Kimball Art Center. Please donate any items from your friends, family or business that you think would be good for our silent auction to raise money for these causes. Thank you from Jill Warburton, Steph Murray and the entire Fair Committee.

Park City Children’s Fair
The last big event of the school year is the 24th Annual Park City Children’s Fair, Sunday June 4th, 10:00am – 2:00pm at Soaring Wings. After 22 years of hosting this as a huge event for the whole community we have downsized and made things simpler. Last year’s newer, smaller Fair was tons of fun and resulted in close to the same amount in fundraising. Less trouble, more fun, same results! This year we will have all the favorites – the inflatables, pony rides, petting zoo, magic and music. We will not be collecting tickets – you can stay and play all day if you want. But we do ask that you help us sponsor the costs and help with the auction. Fair Chair Lina Singleton and her committee have plans well underway for another fun day for children of all ages. Volunteers Jill Warburton, Steph Murray, Brittany Schuhmacher, Christina Boyle, Kelsi Mellor, Brett Levy, Michelle Aldrich, Amy Warren and Leah Linebarger are working on lining up the fun and games. In the weeks ahead we’ll be asking for your help collecting sponsorships, donations for the auction and distributing invitations. All proceeds go to our Children’s Planet Fund and SWIMS Enrichment Fund which supports several local and global student chosen organizations as well as our teacher development. Please contact lina@soaringwings.org if you have ideas to share.

Tama D’Angelo and Natalija Djunic have begun organizing this year’s school yearbook with a staff of parents, teachers and students. The sales team will be giving you their pitch later on this month. They will again be selling family or business ads. The books will be delivered to school by the end of May so children can sign them in class. We are always astonished to look back over the year’s events at all the good things we’ve done together. Children and families cherish these hand-made books of memories. Please place your order early to help the staff plan quantities and costs more efficiently. Please send any photos you may have to contribute to school by April 21st. Thanks for your support!

Thank You, Teacher Appreciators!!
Teacher Appreciation Week was full of fun and surprises and the teachers were walking on clouds. Thanks to all of you for sending in thoughtful notes and gifts, especially to the following organizers:

Indira Adelson
Jessica Backman
Casey Bailey
Kristin Barber
Kelly Davis
Angela Elstein
Christine Eschenfelder
Michele Goldberg
Nicolas & Veronica Guevara
Sophy Kohler
Kelsi Mellor
Meaghan Miller
Anne Marie Portnoy
Ali Ziesler



Out of the Mouths…

How do you connect with the Earth?

Asked in the halls, listed roughly from youngest to oldest.
Mara: I like playing with animals.
Avery: It needs some water so it will grow.
Gianie: Gardening.

Dean: I drink water.
Fira: I help the Earth to be clean.
Evie: I keep the Earth fresh so it will survive.
Finley: Swimming.
Maya: Being in nature.
Gavin: Camping.
Allie: Sledding.
Halli: Yoga!
Lily: Yoga!
Ruhi: Gardening.
Amy: Feeling the sun on my face.
Lina: Putting my toes in the sand.
Shannon: Hiking and gardening.
Michelle: Hiking, swimming and creek walking.
Duna: Yoga on a beach or paddle board.



The world is so full of a number of things I am sure we should all be as happy as kings.

Robert Louis Stevenson



Happy Spring!