Rainbow Alumnus Delivers High School Graduation Speech

Rainbow Alumnus, Geronimo Owen, graduated from Carolina Day School last week with the incredible honor of giving a speech directed at his fellow 2017 graduates. As he and his classmates step into a world of unknowns, Geronimo reminded them of the power of choice. Stepping into adulthood means both attaining the freedom to make your own choices and reciprocally it means taking responsibility for those choices. However many adults due to lack of opportunity and systems of domination never get that chance. Within the context of their excellent private education, Geronimo sees it as his and his classmates’ duty to live fully in the world and give of themselves completely, to make choices that align with their passions and purpose, and to exercise that power of choice with intention. While he appreciates the draws of comfort, he also urged his classmates to go beyond comfort, asking “Why should we ever be comfortable with comfort?”

When he reflects on all those big “why” questions – why spend so much energy and time and money on this high school degree – he sees beyond the “good education, good college, good job” pipeline. For him the reason is still somewhat elusive and yet totally clear. It’s all about connection. At Carolina Day he found a group of “passionate and creative people who care”. He learned to “never underestimate your classmates” as they have this wonderful ability to keep surprising you no matter how well you think you know them. Making authentic heart-felt connections with the people in his Carolina Day community is what made his experience so meaningful.

As the school that empowered him in his transition from middle school to high school, we couldn’t be more proud of Geronimo. It is the gift of a lifetime to see where our students wind up and how they continously adapt all they’ve learned to help them in their new surroundings. Thank you Geronimo for sharing your voice. A big congratulations to you and to your dearest mama, Renee Owen, our Executive Director, for completing yet another chapter in your bright lives.

Preschoolers Lead The Way in Deep Breaths

Preschoolers Lead The Way in Deep Breaths

As we get ready to celebrate our K-8 graduating students tonight let’s not forget our Preschool friends, who graduated a week ago in a lovely ceremony held in the auditorium. This rite of passage began, as all things at Rainbow begin, with a centering. Four eager preschoolers lead the whole community in mindful listening, deep breathing, and a blessing of compassion. What followed was the sweetness of young children as they received their diplomas one by one, and then finished the ceremony with a celebratory song led by music teacher, Sue Ford. Our youngest Rainbow students then took a few moments to have one last closing circle with their teachers, before they ran outside to play with their parents at the picnic. Congratulations to all our Dragonflies and Turtles for a year of stupendous growth and heart-warming transformation.

Oobleck Memories

Oobleck Memories

As the end of the school year approaches, Rainbow teachers and staff are taking every opportunity to give our students memories to last a lifetime. Afterschool’s very own Slime Club spent their last session making a huge vat of Oobleck! Queen D, our fearless Afterschool director, reported, “We danced, ran, did cartwheels, walked slow and fast, punched, slapped, pushed, pulled, stood still and sunk, made balls and more on the Oobleck pool!”

Join us at Graduation

Join us at Graduation

Join us on Wednesday, May 31st at 6:30pm as we celebrate the transformation and growth of each of our students as they complete another milestone on their journey through childhood and into adulthood.

We are especially excited to honor the 22 eighth graders making the transition to High School this year. Before receiving their diploma, each graduating eighth grader will address their whole community with a self-reflective speech. Every year our graduates stun us with their insight, inspiring us into our own reflections on community, transition, and transformation.

Graduation will take place on the lawn of the Orr Mansion at Rainbow Community School on 574 Haywood Road, Asheville. Parking is available at 60 State Street on our lower Omega Middle School campus. Once the parking lot is full please be mindful of where you park in the neighborhood. Looking forward to seeing you at our beuatiful outdoor graduation celebration!

Meditation Comes in Many Shapes and Forms

Meditation Comes in Many Shapes and Forms

The goals of meditation can vary from practitioner to practitioner. A practitioner may meditate to calm themselves, regulate emotions or reduce stress. They may also engage in meditation as a strategy for deep reflection, connection or intuiting. In its traditional form, it is practiced by sitting still and focusing on the breath or bodily sensations. This traditional practice shows up in Rainbow classrooms and centering practices but just as the goals of meditation vary, so can the form it takes.

At RCS, meditation takes on many shapes and often engages various learning domains. Creative meditation, for example, is explored through expressive ways such as mindful drawing or writing. Students may also embody a kinesthetic meditation by mindful walking, yoga or interpretive dance. Additionally, solo time communing with or observing nature attends to the natural domain.

Meditation at Rainbow, regardless of form begins by slowing things down, bringing awareness to the body and aligning each activity with the breath. The rituals of a 2nd grade centering often begin with a gentle reminder from their teacher, Eddy, to still their bodies, hold a silence for the candle lighting and three deep communal breaths. Eddy also recognizes the boundless physical, mental and emotional benefits of collective singing and to that end, it too has become part of these cultural rituals. Ultimately, communal singing in this reverent and celebratory way has become a meditation for these students. Simple melodies paired with profound lyrics aim to deepen the already sacred tone, nurture a transcendent experience, strengthen their bond and invite a bit of whimsy.

On this day, once the centering rituals are complete, Eddy begins describing the meditative drawing activity the students will be participating in. He explains that they will be using shapes and forms to create a collaborative sculpture, meditate on it and then draw what they see. He explains that the goal is to bring mindfulness to their observation and their drawing skills.

He invites the students to choose a three-dimensional shape from the tray and then asks them to place their shape on the silk that covers the center of the rug. This communal creation resembles a city of sorts. He prompts the kids by saying “imagine walking through this world. Let your imagination allow it to come alive, look at it from all angles, what do you see, what is around you…meditate on it.” He then rings the singing bell and tells them that when they can no longer hear the song of the bowl that will serve as their signal to begin drawing.

Eddy emphasized to the kids to just… draw what they saw. Those simple words became so freeing for the kids. Those words evoked a sense of autonomy that set the stage for a pure meditation. They were able to fully embrace the practice- free from perfectionism, free from concern for mistake making or being right over wrong. The tone of the classroom settled into a calm inquiry, a collective focus, and a creative meditation.

How can your traditional meditation practice take on a new form? Try something different today? Mindful eating, tea meditation, deep listening, walking meditation…

Make a list of 5 daily activities that you can bring some mindful presence to and take a pause for those each day. Try it for a week. What do you uncover or discover? REFLECT.


Social Entrepreneurship at Rainbow

Social Entrepreneurship at Rainbow

Rainbow’s Omega Middle School sixth grade class studies Social Entrepreneurship every year. In the spring the students come up with business ideas that reflect their passions, skills and support making the world a better place, whether at home or on the other side of the globe. By May they have a prototype ready to sell to family and friends on campus and based on feedback, will refine it and present at the West Asheville Farmer’s Market on May 30th.

Every Friday our Fundraising Manager and Nonprofit Development Consultant, Sara Stender, works with the sixth graders. She shares about the past week:

It has been so rewarding working with the 6th grade social entrepreneurship class this spring. This week we learned more about consciousness in business. We reflected on values – how to build businesses that represent what we believe in – and how to communicate them to our customers. Many of you saw how this is reflected in the student’s businesses that were set up on the deck last Friday. Thank you for supporting their work and for offering feedback during the final stages of research and development. The class will be selling at the West Asheville Tailgate Market on Tuesday, May 30th, from 3pm-5pm so please stop by and say hi! Some characteristics of a conscious company as defined by our sixth graders this week include:

  • Awake
  • Paying Attention
  • Offering Value
  • Trustworthy
  • Connected to the People
  • Certifications (Organic, Fair Trade)

We had a compelling conversation with Chipper Bro, who has been with Patagonia since they started in 1973! He explained the importance of transparent business practices and encouraged us to get involved with the company’s Traceable Down project. Chipper also helped us to remember that even big companies like Patagonia often start with one person and their passion. 43 years later the company is influencing other large global corporations to implement environmental and social practices that help shape a brighter future for all of us.

On Tuesday we took a field trip to The Hop ice cream factory where owner Greg and manager Gretchen really honed in on what it means to be community-driven, and how to know if a company is walking the talk. Greg shared that building relationships with their suppliers and customers is the most important thing – more than just a sale – and sourcing clean and local ingredients (even the unicorn poop!) to support the environment and the local economy. Thank you social entrepreneurs of all ages for being a beacon of hope!

A special thanks to Asheville Tourists owners and Rainbow parents, Brian and & Kali DeWine. Their gift of game tickets helped raise funds for the 6th graders to start building a Conscious Commerce Cart that will showcase social entrepreneurship for years to come!