Village Voice Winter 2, 2021

News by the learners of Village Home Education Resource Center

Vol. III Issue IV Winter 2
Editors: Jillian Bauer & Aaron Johnson February 22, 2021

Table of Contents

She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms by Mia Sharp
Cooking Across Continents by Casper Carn
Felix’s Follies by Chase Williams
Winter Hobbies by Sophia Serrano-Dodd
Winter Book Club Pt 1 by Haydn Reilly Hogan
Ask the Otter by Otter
Find the Difference by Annika Elliott

She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms

by Mia Sharp

Even though the world is still in a chaotic state for multiple reasons, the theater community is finding creative ways to perform! Thanks to the talents of instructor Loriann Schmidt and learner Anteo Ramirez, Village Home is putting on an amazing show by the name of She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms (SKM).

 SKM was written by playwright Qui Nguyen. It was one of the most popular high school productions across the nation last year. Sadly, most of the productions never got to see the stage. Seeing an opportunity, Nguyen re-wrote the entire production for Zoom performance in three weeks. 

Taking place in present day Athens, Ohio, the story focuses on Agnes Evans, an average teenage girl and varsity cheerleader who wants a normal life. However, after the tragic death of her little sister Tilly, her whole word changes. As she’s trying to deal with overwhelming grief, Agnes joins a D&D campaign to try and learn more about her little sister. The play is filled with twists and turns beyond any average person’s imagination. 

So what does it take to put on a Zoom production? A lot more than you would think. There are many unexpected challenges when it comes to Zoom theater. “Connectivity is really difficult over Zoom. Although Zoom is amazing in many ways, there is a lag time which makes it really difficult to act with a scene partner,” says Anteo Ramirez, Assistant Director and cast member. “Another thing is choreography. With the lag it makes it hard for things to sync most of the time.”

On the flip side, “It’s great to get to work with this cast from all over,” says Loriann Schmidt, director of the production. “We have folks down in Salem, and some down in Beaverton. It’s just awesome to see everyone and get back into acting!” 

Both Loriann and Anteo have put in countless hours to get this show on its feet, and a lot of other people have also helped with the production. 

There are people making costumes, props, working on the technical side of things, and more. The cast has been meeting since January 8th to rehearse for an hour and a half each week, over Zoom. There have been ups and downs, people being on mute during rehearsals, internet glitches, and Zoom lags. However, the cast is eager to perform this show and have a taste of live theater again.  

SKM performances are March 12th and 13th at 7 pm. Ticket information will be sent out shortly. Everyone hopes you all come to enjoy a thrilling tale of a girl taking the strength to learn to kill monsters.

Advertisement by Beaverton Learner Council

Cooking Across Continents

by Casper Carn, guest reporter

Every Tuesday afternoon this winter, Dawn Josephson, the Village Home Master Chefs class instructor, cooks up a new country for her students to sample. The students are doing virtual classes this year but that doesn’t mean they don’t get to taste the fun! 

The students work from their kitchens at home and connect via a Zoom meeting with Dawn Josephson, who instructs them and helps them along, between 1:15 and 2:15 pm on Tuesdays. Not to be confused with the “Master Chefs Jr.” class, which is for learners between ages 8 and 10, the “Master Chefs” class is for ages 11 and up. This class has a syllabus that covers recipes from ten different countries, including Germany, Australia, and China. 

There are around ten students in the class. Fourteen-year-old Felix Carn is one of the only students who does not live in Oregon. “The teacher goes at a fast pace and we are making interesting things from around the world that we don’t usually get to eat,” says Felix. “My favorite recipe so far was the citron pressé from France.” 

Cooking is an important skill and a thing of vital importance to learn before adulthood! The class teaches different cooking methods and skills every week. Students will learn to bake, fry, and improve their knife skills. 

This cooking class also teaches the students about the culture of other countries. Food is one of the most important things to learn about to understand another country’s culture. Trying these foods will hopefully inspire the students to visit those countries or keep cooking their foods.

Felix’s Follies

by Chase Williams

Winter Hobbies

by Sophia Serrano-Dodd

 Learners are having fun during the winter! Skiing, ice skating, sledding, and playing outside are great winter activities. 

Learner Meredith, age 11, made the most out of the first snow of the season, making a snowman. Her snowman had names for each of the different stages of its life, starting out as Mel T., then, when it’s head fell off, it’s name was Plop. When the snowman became nothing more than a small mound, its name became Glob. And last but not least, when the snowman was no more, its name was Gone.

Lila, age 13, likes to ski. This winter, in a new camper, she and her family went to Mt. Hood for a week of skiing. But not all her winter activities this year involved snow. While we were freezing our toes off, Lila was in Florida for New Year’s.

For those of us who haven’t been to Florida, seeing a wild, 12 ft. alligator may be terrifying. But Lila saw just that and dared to go onto a peddle boat in the same pond with the alligator. Lila wasn’t bothered by the fact that the alligator could have been under her boat. 

Edwyn, age 14, travels a lot with his family. His favorite winter was when he went to Southeast Asia. “That winter had many good memories. […] I really liked a trip we took to the Vietnamese island of Cat Ba. There we took a cool cruise through the famous Ha Long Bay. My favorite part was kayaking through a cave!”

Though he prefers warm places over cold, Edwyn also likes snowy activities. “My brother and I used to sled really fast down huge hills in Wisconsin.” Plows would push snow to the end of driveways, leaving 8 ft. mounds of snow. Edwyn and his brother dug huge snow forts into the mounds. “It was so cold outside that by the time you’d finished your fort, it’d freeze into ice.”

Learners engage in many different winter activities. Some read books, others play in the snow. But they all have something in common: they all had winter this year, even if they spent it in different ways.

Winter Book Club Pt 1

by Haydn Reilly Hogan

Literature is the cornerstone of imagination. Stories cultivate creativity, open-mindedness, and possibilities. They give us a way to explore our thoughts, relieve stress, and help us feel like we’re a part of something bigger than just our singular lives. Books help us remember how wonderful it is to feel like you’ve walked straight into another world, becoming immersed in something entirely separate from what you’re used to. 

Netflix is great, but it’s easier than ever to get caught up in binging this winter, and since we’re all stuck inside, you’ve probably already watched everything on Netflix. These books make great entertainment, and are a great way to get off the screen and out of your comfort zone. 

This list features books ranging from lower elementary to high school reading levels, and is the perfect way to kick off a winter weekend.

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate, fiction (8+)
Katherine Applegate won the Newbery Medal for The One and Only Ivan. Crenshaw is a story about a boy named Jackson who’s family is running out of options. 

There’s no money for rent, not much food, and his parents, his little sister, and his dog all have to go back to living in their minivan. Then, Jackson’s imaginary friend from his childhood (who is a giant, outspoken talking cat named Crenshaw) makes an appearance, and the two reconnect. This is a great read for young learners.

Ahsoka by E. K. Johnston, sci-fi (10+) 
This New York Times best-selling Sci-Fi book is set in the Star Wars universe, and is perfect for fans of intergalactic adventures. Former Jedi apprentice Ahsoka Tano planned her life around the Jedi Order, but she decided to leave and go her own way. Then, the Emperor takes over the galaxy, and Ahsoka is left to take refuge on a nondescript farming planet.

She meets a woman named Kaeden and they become friends, but Imperial forces take control of the planet, and Ahsoka must make a life-changing decision about fighting for justice when all else is lost. 

Caraval by Stephanie Garber, fantasy (12+)
A New York Times best-seller, this young adult fantasy novel is a fantastical whirlwind full of unexpected plot twists, page-turning suspense, and intricately woven conspiracies (with a touch of romance). Caraval is about a girl named Scarlett Dragna who has always dreamt of getting off her isolated island and attending the interactive circus, Caraval.

A ruggedly handsome sailor helps Scarlett get to Caraval. When they get there, Scarlett’s sister, Tella, is kidnapped by Caraval’s organizer and mastermind, a man predictably named Legend. However, his name is pretty much the only predictable thing about the entire book. Legend has engineered this year’s Caraval around Tella, and whoever finds her within five days is the winner.

Long Way Down – Jason Reynolds, fiction (14+)
Young adult fiction and another New York Times best-seller, Long Way Down, is a Newbery Honor book and is incredibly powerful. It’s about a teenage boy named Will whose brother was recently shot and killed, as well as the rules and unspoken code of conduct that take place in communities where violence is expected.

It’s written in prose, and focuses on Will’s plan to avenge his brother’s death. The plan goes awry when he’s visited by the ghosts of people he knew, who help him contemplate his grief.

The book is inspired by the author’s own experience, and Reynolds said in an interview with NPR, “When you feel that kind of pain, time suspends itself, and (…) you believe that the way you feel in this moment will last forever.”

Ask the Otter

by Otter

Dear Otter,

A friend keeps facetiming me but then they just set their phone down and do other things, like play Switch, and leave me staring at the ceiling. I don’t want to be rude or hurt their feelings, but it’s pretty boring to listen to someone else play a game.


–Fed Up

Dear Fed Up,

I’m so sorry that is happening! I think you should talk to your friend. They may not realize what they are doing, and/or that it is annoying you. Talking to them and explaining how you feel gives them the chance to hear you and make changes. Try suggesting a Zoom activity you could both enjoy like a game.



Dear Otter,

My sibling is in a couple of my classes this year. I hate it! We’re home together all the time and now I have them in my Village classes. How can I tell my parents I don’t want to take classes with them?


–A learner in need of personal space

Dear Personal Space,

I get it! I would suggest you calmly talk with your parents and explain that you would like your VH classes to be an opportunity for you to be with people outside your home. Make sure your sibling does not overhear the conversation because it might hurt their feelings. Then hear what your parents have to say. They may have good reasons for wanting you in the same classes.  Hopefully you can work out a compromise.

Yours Truly,


Find the Difference

by Annika Elliott

(Scroll down for the answer key)

Village Voice Winter 2021

News by the learners of Village Home Education Resource Center

Volume III Issue III Winter 1
Editors: Jillian Bauer & Aaron Johnson

Table of Contents

Impeachment and How it Works by Robert Ellison
Rivers Day Program: Aimee Sharp by Haydn Reilly Hogan
Oliver Meskell: Dragon & Turtle Lover by Sophia Serrano-Dodd
New Year’s Resolutions with The Otter by Mia Sharp
The Twisted Tale of the Rubik’s Cube by Chase Williams
Learning Pods by Annika Elliott

Impeachment and How it Works
by Robert Ellison

 Should the Senate find former President Trump guilty or not guilty of “incitement of insurrection?” This is the question that the United States Senate will soon consider in the impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump. 

Right now there is a tough ongoing battle to impeach former president Donald Trump and disqualify him from running for president in the future, as well as other privileges extended to former presidents. Donald Trump has been impeached before and is the only U.S. president to have been impeached twice.

The action of an impeachment is the formal process by which a current president may be accused of misconduct or committing immoral practices while in office.

 No president has ever been found guilty in an impeachment trial. The U.S. Constitution dictates that the House of Representatives can decide to impeach and the Senate holds a trial in which they decide whether the president is guilty or not guilty. 

The constitution clearly states that a president can be impeached for treason, bribery, or various other high crimes and misdemeanors. The violations don’t have to be crimes— a president can be impeached for exploiting the office or for behavior considered disagreeable with the office.

If the offender is convicted by the Senate, they are stripped of their office. The Senate may then hold additional votes to strip them of future privileges, such as the ability to hold federal office and their pension. 

The Constitution lays out three requirements for the trial: the chief justice of the Supreme Court presides over the trial; each senator must be sworn (similar to the way jurors take an oath); and a two-thirds vote is required to convict on any article of impeachment. 

The Senate has 100 Senators total, two from each state, so 67 Senators must vote in favor in order to convict. Only a simple majority (51 votes) is needed when deciding penalties after a conviction.

The House has officially impeached three presidents (including Trump’s previous impeachment), but none have been convicted by the Senate. President Richard Nixon might have been the first had he stayed in office, but he resigned before the situation could come to that.

 Trump was impeached by the House for inciting an insurrection, which was the attack on the Capitol on January 6th. Insurrection is a violent uprising against the government or an authority. The trial is set to begin the week of February 8th. 

Some may think that trying to impeach a former president doesn’t have much use. Others believe that the violent attack, in which a federal officer was killed, was so egregious that impeachment is necessary. Additionally, it may prevent the former president from running again in the future, and cause him to miss out on post-presidential perks.

The question now is whether or not Donald Trump will become the first president in U.S. history to be convicted by the Senate.

Rivers Day Program: Aimee Sharp
by Haydn Reilly Hogan

Aimee Sharp is a Village Home instructor who teaches the 9-to-12-year-old cohort in the Rivers program at Village Home. Amee has four kids: Bryce, Mia, Keller, and Brooks, aged 18, 14, 10, and 7. Three of them attended the Rivers program themselves last year, with Mia in the 11-to-13-year-old cohort, Keller in the 8-to-10 one, and Brooks in the 5-to-7 cohort. Mia, Keller, and Brooks have been taking a-la-carte classes at VH for four years, but Aimee only started teaching at VH last year, around the same time as her kids started attending Rivers.

Aimee has taught for 7 years throughout her life, starting years ago when Bryce was young, but she just recently picked it up again. A long time ago, Aimee worked as a camp director, as well as doing some work for the YMCA and running family programming. She has spent a lot of time working with kids over the years, and has never had a job that didn’t involve kids.

Aimee first heard about Village when she and her family were living in Texas and, because they were moving to Portland, Aimee googled “Portland homeschool” and found Village Home (VH). She was intrigued by the fact that VH really focuses on choice-based learning; the learners get to choose what they want to learn about and when they want to learn it without being pressured by a set schedule or a certain amount of classes for each age group. She liked freedom that VH gives learners, and liked that it is geared towards what they want to learn.

The cohorts changed this year, along with the name of the program; it used to be called the Day Program and, while there really isn’t much of a difference between the two, one thing that changed was the cohorts. Now they go from ages 5-to-8 and ages 9-to-12. It’s called the Rivers Program because the cohorts are all named after a certain river.

Coincidentally, Aimee learned about the Rivers Program from Shannon Reilly, who teaches the other cohort. They ran into each other at a Mock Trial event and started talking about the program. Aimee didn’t know much about the Rivers Program at that time, but Shannon started talking about how she really liked it. Shannon said teaching in Rivers was lots of fun, and the timing was really great if you had kids because it’s only two days a week. She also said how great it is that you get to know the kids and they get to form strong relationships with each other because they are spending more time together. Then Shannon said that they were adding another cohort so a teaching spot would be open if Aimee was interested— and she was, so the rest is history.

Compared to the a-la-carte classes offered at Village Home, the Rivers Program is a full day of learning twice a week with the same kids, and they stay with the same teacher and the same learners until they age out of that cohort. Aimee says that, while the program does include academics, the main focus is bonding and building relationships and a strong sense of community among both learners and instructors. It focuses mainly on getting to know each other and finding a place and people that you feel comfortable around, as well as strengthening learners’ social-emotional skills and learning styles. 

The academics involved in the Rivers Program are more varied and give the kids more time to focus on each topic, whereas the hour long classes focus on one specific topic for the whole term. In the Rivers Program, the learners really get to decide what they want to focus on during that time, and there are a lot of choice-based, learner-influenced subjects in the program. If the learners are interested in animals, the instructor might come up with a project for the kids to do that focuses on their favorite animal.

Aimee does a lot of literature-based learning with her cohort. This includes book circles, literacy discussions, etc. And, if they come upon a subject that the learners are interested in while reading, they have the time and the resources to really dive into it. The books they read might lead to topics about social studies, science, social justice, current events, economics, or anything in between. If they’re reading a book by Grace Lin, they might do a unit on chinese culture and tradition, depending on what the learners are most interested in. 


Online teaching and learning has been really difficult, as most of us know, and while Aimee was extremely skeptical at first, it has turned out better than she was expecting. Unfortunately, It’s just not the same as in-person classes, and it’s been a difficult adjustment for both learners and instructors. Online learning has been especially difficult with Rivers because as Aimee says, “so much of what we’re trying to do is built on community.”

It’s something of a challenge, figuring out how to build community through a computer screen. However, it is working as well as can be expected, and a new platform called thrively is helping a lot by allowing learners to interact and communicate with instructors throughout the week. It allows Aimee to talk to the kids and see what they’re doing, letting them do journal work, and get feedback from her outside of class on things that can later be brought up during class. 

Aimee has also been reaching out to other instructors for any advice on what they do to improve the experience for both themselves and their learners, and she has gotten some good advice on simple things like breakout rooms and the whiteboard.

When asked what the VH administration can do to help improve online learning, Aimee responded by saying that they have been really helpful in terms of resources and people that instructors can reach out to when they need help with any tech issues or just general support.

The first thing that comes to mind for Aimee in terms of what VH staff can do to help improve the learning experience for learners is training. She says that she thinks training is mainly what they need right now, and one thing that could really help is “Getting everyone trained in everything that we can do with Zoom, that we can do online, because so many schools have switched to this, there’s a lot of resources out there, but it’s all so scattered.” Aimee thinks that having all those resources in one place could be really helpful, and having the opportunity to learn and adapt as things change is really important. 

 That said, Aimee is really proud of her students, saying that they’re all participating well in class activities and doing their best to stay engaged. One of the most important things for learners to remember during this time is to be patient because everyone is still figuring things out and adjusting and tech rarely works perfectly for anyone. 

One of the main things that pose quite a challenge for Aimee and her class is how hard it is to do really anything other than sit on Zoom. A lot of what they do during class involves interacting with each other and hands on learning, and that is very difficult to replicate online. The learners can’t really get a lot of help from Aimee when they don’t understand an assignment or an activity, since she can’t see what they’re doing and can’t really fully answer their questions without being able to interact with them or their activities. This has been really problematic with younger kids in particular.

While there are lots of drawbacks to online learning, there are a few things that have gone well for Amy and her learners. “I’ve been really impressed with the kids, that they’re still comfortable sharing,” Aimee says. “With community circle time, it feels almost the same as in class, which surprised me. I thought kids were gonna be a lot more hesitant.” Aimee loves that her learners have been able to comfortably transition to online when it comes to some of the things they used to do in person.

I asked her what her favorite part about online classes is, and she responded with “that we’re still able to see the kids and be a part of a group… because the other choice is just to not have anything, and even though i’d rather be in person, it’s better than nothing.” 

Oliver Meskell: Dragon & Turtle Lover
by Sophia Serrano-Dodd

Oliver Meskell, age 12, when not attending Village Home (VH), can be found hiking a treacherous trail to find dragons, writing his next novel, caring for turtles, attending Hogwarts, and much more.


When in VH classes, his teachers describe him as curious, persistent, and funny. VH instructor Annika Abel said, “Oliver is really fun to have in class. You can always count on Oliver if you’re trying to get a class discussion started. He’ll have something to say. He will jump right in, which is great. Sometimes he will get really excited about something and make connections, which you want.” 

“If a student is making connections, then they’re learning and thinking and engaging with the material. . . he is pretty much willing to do anything you throw at him.”


Deborah Mueller, another VH instructor agrees and adds, “He’s one of the most curious kids I’ve ever met. . . In a really good way in that he wants to learn as much as he can and find things out. [And] if he can’t find it from somebody, he’ll look it up himself which I think is really cool.” 

Oliver is known for his love of turtles. When he was really little, he loved monkeys. That is, until he saw the most adorable, snuggly, gigantic, turtle stuffy. Monkeys were out the door, and it was turtle time! His childhood obsession started with that huge stuffy, which he still has and is named Turtle. It led to a much bigger interest in the cute shelled animals. Oliver wanted to know how to help turtles out, so his mom told him about marine biology, where there are entire fields dedicated to turtles! He hopes to work as a marine biologist, but doesn’t want to be the kind of biologist that goes scuba diving. He would prefer to be one of the turtle scientists that get to be in the lab and care for baby turtles.

Besides turtles, his friendly manner, his curious mind, and his persistence, Oliver is also known for his love of dragons. He inspired Deborah Mueller to add a section on mythical animals in her Creature Powers class. His love of dragons was inspired by me, his nextdoor neighbor, who loved dragons. As he says, “You . . . looked into me and you saw the nerdiness inside . . . and you were like, ‘This kid’s got potential!’” Now Oliver knows way more about dragons than I do. So, if you ever want to find this curious, imaginative, creative kid, you may want to look for a dragon, because chances are, he’ll be riding one over an ocean filled with turtles, eating his favorite type of chocolate, dark chocolate.


New Year’s Resolutions with The Otter
by Mia Sharp

2020 was an interesting year to say the least. Honestly, I think everyone can say we’re glad to see it gone. To welcome in the new year, Otter has decided to share their New Year’s resolutions with us. Let us see what goals Otter has planned!

No matter if you made resolutions, or if you forgot; if you’re following them, or are struggling, Otter wishes you all the best in 2021 and remember to always be yourself! Here’s to a better year!

The Twisted Tale of the Rubik’s Cube
By Chase Williams

The Rubik’s cube is one of the most well-known puzzles, and yet, it even took Erno Rubik — the inventor of the rubik’s cube — over a month to solve it. Now, some people can solve it in under five seconds. 

It all started when an ordinary architecture professor created a puzzle to help his students think in 3D space, but when he couldn’t solve it, he knew it was so much more. Originally, no one wanted to produce this new piece of art because it didn’t look like a traditional toy, and it was too hard to be marketed as a puzzle. Their initial hesitation turned out to be a huge mistake since it’s now one of the most popular toys ever. 

Lucky for today’s Rubik’s cube lovers, the Ideal Toy Company picked up the cube and started making the now infamous puzzle. The “Magic Cube,” as it was called at the time, became an almost instant hit, selling more than 450 million units. Over time, the cubes have evolved in tandem with the “algorithms” used to solve it, and now official “Rubik’s Cubes” are considered slow and clunky for solving quickly compared to some of the other cubes on the market!

If you want to learn how to solve a cube, you probably won’t start out being able to solve it quickly at first. However, it’s possible to solve any scramble within 20 moves or less. There are standardized solve algorithms that can help you learn. If you want to learn to solve a 3×3 cube (the most common), I’d recommend learning the “beginner method” which you can learn about on

You can even learn Rubik’s cube solving at Village Home! VH offers a Rubik’s Club taught by Peter LeClair. In it, you can learn about faster ways to solve, and even learn to solve Rubik’s puzzles that are completely different from the original cube. Also, through Peter LeClair’s Rubik’s Club, you get to be around other people who enjoy the Rubik’s Cubes, too. It’s a fun and helpful class where you can go from not knowing how to solve a side of a Rubik’s cube to not being able to put it down!

Ruwix “How to Solve the Rubix Cube” for beginners:

Learning Pods
by Annika Elliott

Being online this year has definitely changed how Village Home is doing things. But through this time, a new ‘genre’ of classes has emerged. Brand new to VH this year are the Learning pods. These pods are three different classes that are each focused around a different age range.

In general, the pods are not completely like a normal class. While being educational, they are working on bringing learners together, building teamwork, while also teaching learners how to take control of their own learning.

The pods are a newer idea, and so far as they seem to be a hit! The pods are all for different age ranges. The first and youngest pod is focussed around the 7-to-9-year-old age range and is taught by Aimee Sharp. 

Learner Joshua Elliott, age 9, said, “I like the learning in the pod because we get to do a lot of fun things, as well as meet and get closer to new people.”

The next pod is for the 10-12 age range and is taught by Whitney Johnson. She says, “I really enjoy teaching the pods because it’s all about Social/Emotional learning and right now we’re focusing on how to identify things we want in life, how to set and achieve goals, and how to keep ourselves accountable for the things we say we want. ”

The last pod is taught by Deborah Mueller and is for 13-to-18-year-olds. Deborah says that she enjoys teaching this class because she feels that it is like a sort of “homeroom”— a home base that the teens can come back to each week to connect and check in. Lydia Matern, age 13, says, “I like that it’s a class that’s for learning how to do things in the real world and not just school, the stuff we’re learning can help us with college”

The pods are a newer idea, introducing a new class format, and a way for learners to learn real world skills. So far, they seem to be a hit!


Village Voice Holiday 2020

News by the learners of Village Home Education Resource Center

Volume III Issue II                                    Special Holiday Issue
Editors: Jillian Bauer & Aaron Johnson

A Note From the Editors

Dear Village Home,

Wow… 2020 really came at us hard, huh? We can’t think of a better term to use than ‘dumpster fire.’ But in all seriousness, our hearts go out to all those affected by the challenging and unpredictable year we’ve had. We also want to take a moment to thank the Village Home instructors,  staff and administration for giving us the opportunity to create this newspaper as well as their continued support for not just the Village Voice, but the whole Village Home community. We hope you enjoy reading this issue as much as we enjoyed writing it and putting it together, and we’re looking forward to the year ahead of us. Let’s make 2021 magnificent.

Blessings and Happy Holidays,

~Jillian Bauer & Aaron Johnson, Editors

Table of Contents

Holiday Movies by Annika Elliott, with Mia Sharp & Lila Jackson
Travel During COVID by Lila Jackson 
New Class for Winter Term by Annika Elliott
Stay True to You: Sam Deliso by Mia Sharp
Books to Add to Your Holiday Wishlist by Mia Sharp, Jillian Bauer & Sophia Serrano-Dodd
A (Holi)Day in the Life of the Otter by Mia Sharp
Zoom into Class by Sophie Krajcar
Black Lives Matter by Haydn M. R. Hogan
Ask the Otter by Otter
Congrats, Mock Trial!
Find the Difference by Sophia Serrano-Dodd
Seasonal Crossword by Haydn M. R. Hogan
Riddle Me This by Sophia Serrano-Dodd

Holiday Movies 

by Annika Elliott, with Mia Sharp & Lila Jackson

Whether you’re getting ready to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever you celebrate, it’s always fun to watch a movie. Here are some movies that are all readily available and ready to watch!

The Santa Clause [PG] 
This 1994 Christmas classic is the perfect movie to watch with your family while snuggling up to a crackling fire with some delicious cookies and nice, warm milk. The movie’s premise circles around Scott Calvin, an overworked toy salesman who gets to spend Christmas with his son Charlie. His former wife, Laura, and her new husband stopped believing in Santa at a young age, and are trying to get Charlie to do the same. Scott, despite his best efforts, is having trouble making Charlie believe. That is, until Christmas Eve when they hear footsteps on the roof. When they go outside, they see a man on the roof in a Santa costume, and when Scott tries to get him down, the man falls off the roof. Still not quite understanding the situation, they are transported to the North Pole where Scott is informed by an elf that he has killed Santa and must take over the position. With the extra challenge of convincing everyone he is Santa before it’s too late. 

Sounds thrilling, right? You can stream this movie on Disney with a subscription or on YouTube and Amazon Prime Video for $3.99. But wait, it gets better! If you enjoy the first movie, it’s a trilogy! You can watch two more movies of Christmas magic.  

Klaus [PG]
Created in 2019, Klaus is a comedy twist on the common tale of Santa Clause. It’s a 1 ½ hour animated film great to watch with family. 

Jesper Johansson is the lazy, spoiled son of the Royal Postmaster General. He’s been trying to flunk out of the Postman Academy for years, but now his father sends him to the distant town of Smeerensburg. If Jesper fails to post 6,000 letters within the year, he will be cut off from his family’s fortune. 

After he leaves his spoiled life behind, Jesper is desperate to post his letters and get back to his regular life. He later visits the shy woodsman Klaus and discovers his house is filled with handmade toys, but flees from the imposing woodsman, leaving behind the sad drawing he had tried to post created by a sad boy. Klaus forces Jesper to take him to the boy’s house and secretly delivers one of his toys.

Rumors spread amongst the children of the town and they believe they will receive a toy by sending a letter to Klaus. Jesper, eager to collect the letters, convinces Klaus to let him deliver more toys.

The heart-touching story alters the common tale to give you a new perspective. Starring J.K. Simmons as Klaus, Jason Schwartzman as Jesper Johansson, and Rashida Jones as Alva. It’s available for free on Netflix.

The Muppet Christmas Carol [G]
The Muppet Christmas Carol is a wonderful movie to watch with your family during the holidays. It is perfectly written and genuinely moving. The most important thing about this movie is how seriously it takes the material. It lets all of the beauty of Dickens’ original tale fill the screen as the Muppets perform a classic Christmas tale. Kermit the Frog plays Bob Crachet, and Michael Caine plays the grumpy old clerk Ebenezer Scrooge. Original Muppet characters including Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie Bear, and Sam the Eagle, come in and out of the story, bringing a special connection to the original story, as Scrooge finds his Christmas spirit with the help of the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future. 
Stream The Muppet Christmas Carol on Amazon Prime Video for $3.99, on Disney +, or on YouTube.

They all sound pretty enjoyable right? Have fun over the holidays and remember to stay safe!

Travel During COVID

by Lila Jackson

It is the holiday season, and we all want to go visit our families and friends, but we still have to take precautions as these are difficult times. So, here are some of the things to expect: 

You will have to wear your masks at all times unless you are eating food or having a sip of your drink. Airlines also have you scan your own boarding pass before getting onto the plane.  While you are on the plane, you will probably notice that there is no one sitting in the middle seat. That is because of social distancing, you are not allowed to sit in the middle seat unless you are with your family, in which case you can all sit together. They will still be giving out drinks and snacks on the plane, and the flight attendants will stay just as safe. So, have fun and be safe!

New Classes For Winter Term

by Annika Elliott

As we are nearing the end of Fall Term, and this is the last issue of the Village Voice this term we would like to share three of the new classes that will be taking place Winter Term.

First off, we have Art of the Harlem Renaissance, taught by Julie Khan. This class will be over Zoom at 10:45 on Tuesday mornings. This class will explore interesting art around and through the time of the Harlem Renaissance.

Next, we have Unsung History: Queer Musicians. This class is taught by Everett Abel, who is a former Village Home learner! This class is occuring at 1:15 on Tuesday afternoon and is for ages 13+. The class will cover different time periods and will teach about music, history, Queer Studies, and sociology. They will listen to music and analyze it as well as learn something about the times the music came out of and how things changed as a result of the music.

Third and final of the classes we’re talking about today is called Kids in the Kitchen, and is taught by Dawn Josephen. This class will be taking place also on Tuesdays at 10:45 and is for ages 5-7. This class will be similar to last year’s Cooking Wizards that was also taught by Dawn Josephen.

These online classes sound extremely interesting and we are all thankful to the teachers who have spent time and effort to create these classes. Check out the Winter Term schedule to see all the new additions! Like usual online registration will be starting December 7th and the Winter Offerings will be viewable the week of November 16th.

Stay True To You: Same Delisio

by Mia Sharp 

Passionate entrepreneur, environmental consultant, astounding teacher. These are all titles you can pin to Sam Deliso, a talented instructor at Village Home (VH). Sam came to VH in Winter of 2018, when he took over an engineering course for young learners. Currently, he teaches an environmentally focused course called Engineering Our World for ages 8-12, an Environmental Studies class for 12-18, and an intro to photography/videography and digital media for 12+. Outside of VH, he is also a math tutor for a few students. 

Sam has been teaching off and on since 2011. He started as a Teacher’s Assistant for an introductory Environmental Studies course at the University of Washington while pursuing his bachelor’s degree. 

He graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Environmental Science and Resource Management. Although he is very happy in his current career, he didn’t go into college knowing what he wanted to do. After graduating, he didn’t immediately go into an occupation where he could actively use his degree. He moved to California and then traveled around trying to find ways to translate his academic knowledge into work.

 After a few years in California, he found that his current situation was not what he wanted to do with his life. He knew he had more knowledge and was capable of doing bigger and better things. He spent a year completely off the grid, deep in the Olympic National Forest where he further developed his health and wellness brand named BodyBeeWell. He then moved to Portland and began his job as an Environmental Technician.  

Now, three years later, he has worked hard and is now working as an Environmental Consultant. He offers recommendations to businesses, government buildings, schools, and more on how to stay sustainable and environmentally friendly. Although he never intended to go into this career, he suspects this is where he was always meant to be. He is very passionate about environmental science, but he has other passions, such as photography. He has a photography business called Deliso Did It. 


He started Deliso Did It in late 2019. He enjoys photographing wildlife, nature, and landscapes as well as taking photographs to promote businesses, people, and establishments. Sam started the business because, “I really love and enjoy taking and compiling photos/videos into a well polished final product. I have always been the kid with the camera, making documentaries since middle/high school and capturing as much of life behind the lens as I could.” So, he took his dedication and his entrepreneurial spirit and made it part of his career. 

With all of Sam’s knowledge, VH is lucky to have him. To any of Sam’s current or future students, the advice he gives is this, “Spend your life not in pursuit of what will make you happy eventually. Spend it doing what brings you bliss today and tomorrow while staying true to who you know you are.”  

Books To Add To Your Holiday Wishlist

by Mia Sharp, Jillian Bauer, & Sophia Serrano-Dodd

Need some gift-giving ideas for the book lovers on your list this holiday season? Have you run out of books to curl up with by the fire? We’ve got some suggestions for you! So, go get your hot chocolate pilled full of marshmallows, sit by the fire on a cold crisp day huddled in your cozy blanket, and read these books! Happy reading!!

Woody, Hazel, and Little Pip by Elsa Beskow
For ages 3-5
Publisher: Floris Books 
Full of cute woodland illustrations, this book is a delightful Fall-time story about the adventures of two “acorn children” who got whisked away from home by the wind. Mr. Squirrel and the youngest Hazelnut child (Hazel) go to search for them, encountering other woodland people and creatures on the way. 

Bread and Jam for Frances by Rusell Hoban
For ages 3-8
Publisher: Harper Festival
This story, along with the other books about Frances, a young badger, are some of my very favorite childhood picture books. Bread and Jam for Frances is about how Frances only likes to eat bread and jam, and she is very happy that her parents allow her to eat it for every meal! But sometimes trying new things can be fun… and delicious… 

Big Susan by Elizabeth Orton Jones 
For ages 5-8
Publisher: Purple House Inc.
Big Susan is a perfect book to read around Christmas time. Susan is a little girl who owns a dollhouse. From the doll people’s perspective, an ordinary girl is very big. The dolls love Susan, because without her, they can’t move or talk— except on Christmas Eve, when they come to life! And on this particular Christmas Eve, something very exciting happens. 

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett 
For ages 5-8
Publisher: Dover Publications 
This is a super fun story about Elmer Elevator who tells a stray cat about his dream of having the ability to fly. He learns about a dragon that’s captive on Wild Island, where the animals there are forcing him to shuttle them back and forth across a river. Elmer goes off on a mission to rescue a dragon, and his story is full of adventure and interesting encounters with talkative lions, gorillas, and more. 

The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright 
For ages 9-12
Publisher: Square Fish 
Originally published in 1941, The Saturdays is the first book in the Melendy Quartet series. It’s about 4 siblings— thirteen-year-old Mona, twelve-year-old Rush, ten-year-old Randy, and six-year-old Oliver— who live in a brownstone house in New York City with their father and Cuffy, their adored housekeeper. Tired of feeling bored on their Saturdays, they form the Saturday Afternoon Adventure Club, and their Saturdays become days to remember! This is a wonderful series with friendly characters. I’d recommend the entire series, as well as other books by Elizabeth Enright like Thimble Summer and Gone-Away Lake. 

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
For ages 11-13
Publisher: Scholastic Inc. 
Published in 2012, this is the first book in The Ascendance Series.
The story follows the perspective of Sage, a young orphan boy who is suddenly taken from his orphanage one day by a nobleman named Conner. Conner takes four orphan boys from all across the country, trying to pass them as the long lost prince of Carthya. Little does he know about what the secret Sage is keeping and his crazy plan to try to save his home country. 

We Are Witnesses by Jacob Boas
For teens
Publisher: Square Fish (1995)
This book follows the diaries of five teenagers who died during the Holocaust. Including: David Rubinowicz, Yitzhak Rudashevski, Moshe Ze’ev Flinker, Eva Heyman, and Anne Frank. This contemporary young-adult novel follows their tragic stories through an absolutely devastating time. Although this book is a heavy read, it is a very eye-opening story and can change how you see the world for the better.

A (Holi)Day in the Life of the Otter

by Mia Sharp

Hello, my fellow learners! We all know it’s still only November, but some people are already getting into the holiday spirit. By some people, I mean our dear friend and school mascot, the Otter. Today we will see what this mammal does to safely prepare for the fun festivities while staying at home. Now, with that let’s see what joyous surprises await us, with a day in the life of the Otter!
Otter_1Oh look, our whiskered friend has put on their favorite sweater to get ready for the season! It seems to have reindeer on it as well. You have the right idea, Otter. Festive yet comfortable.Otter_2Oops, it appears you tried to put up the lights all by yourself. It doesn’t look like it worked out that well. Do you need me to call an electrician?
Otter_3Aw, how sweet! You’re wrapping the gifts you bought for your friends? Oh, you’ve made quite the mess! It’s the thought that counts, right?Otter_4Ooo, following Mama Otter’s famous pumpkin pie recipe I see. Yum! You may have gone a bit overboard with the flour, though. I think it washes out of sweaters! 
Otter_5Awesome, writing a letter to Santa is a great idea! What’s on the top of your wishlist? More sweaters?Otter_6That was a very adventurous, yet tiring day. From decorating to celebrating it was a very good way to get ready for the Holidays! With that, goodbye Otter, whatever you celebrate this season, Happy Holidays, and a joyous New Year!

Zoom Into Class

by Sophie Krajkar, guest reporter

Ooh la la! Fall is in the air! And most people know what that means: classes in Village Home have started back up! We are almost to the end, let’s finish strong! It feels like it went by so fast! 


Online classes have been invented, and some people like them, but some people don’t! This can be caused by the internet, the chat has been blown up, background malfunction, or the unmute button will refuse to work. So, this is for both students AND teachers, but here are some tips for before, during and after Zoom classes.

  • make sure you have your tabs closed
  • make sure you have a water bottle nearby if you need one
  • you know which class you are doing
  • you have the correct link for the class
  • you are in a comfortable place and position (outdoors may seem like a good place at first, but if it gets too cold, too hot, if its raining, it’s a good place to be for like, messy experiments, but, other classes, not all the time)

So there we go! We also have a day program that has switched to Rivers. Rivers is so fun, and as a person who is IN Rivers, I’d like to report, it’s amazing! Incredible! I think it’s just so cool how the River’s age groups are named after rivers. Like, real rivers. Like, rivers otters swim in and you KNOW how cute OTTERS are! 

Rivers is an online class, and we are using Thrively to our advantage. On Thrively, teachers will post a video, and then the students are told to watch the video, then they include the video in their lessons. We also use Google Classrooms, where you can chat with your classmates, and teachers can post assignments!

In Thrively, you can also do journal entries, and the teachers can give journal prompts! Thrively is an all hands on website, and there are strength assessments and lessons, which can help you learn your strengths! Thrively is a really fun place for learning, in the day program. Thank you for reading. Keep going! We’re all Voyagers together!

Editorial: Black Lives Matter
Finding Opportunities for Civic engagement

by Haydn M. R. Hogan  

On May 25, 2020, George Perry Floyd Jr. was killed by Minneapolis police, sparking worldwide demonstrations involving thousands upon thousands of people protesting police brutality. Many cities and government officials have responded to these protests with budget cuts to their police departments, but our fight for justice is far from over. 

Mainstream media outlets that are covering the protests have, unfortunately, painted all protesters as violent left extremists who are burning things, breaking the law, and destroying property during protests. This is a pretty common misconception that serves to stigmatize the Black Lives Matter movement and all those involved in it. 

As a matter of fact, most protesters are simply standing up for BIPOC rights (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) in an attempt to spark positive change. 

The protests have been termed “riots” by many, instead of what they really are: demonstrations of citizens first amendment rights. The people at any given protest who are vandalizing buildings and setting things on fire (if any) are almost always just a few inflammatory individuals whose actions end up painting the entire movement as violent. 

The vast majority of protesters don’t have malicious intent, and the organizers do their very best to keep the demonstrations as nonviolent as possible. 


Ruby Kara, age 14, is an activist and VH learner who has been involved in the BLM movement since May of this year. She first started getting involved through social media, posting, sharing, and further educating herself and others over Instagram. 

Social media has been helpful for us all through this pandemic, and it is a great way to get involved with the Black Lives Matter movement. As Ruby said, “You don’t have to go, but this is something worth fighting for.”

In her opinion, one of the goals of the movement is to “get equality for all and stop bias against black people.” Ruby suggests supporting the movement by signing petitions, listening to BIPOC people tell their stories, and educating yourself on what’s going on in the world right now. 

Don’t call on your black friends to teach you about racial prejudice; it’s not their job to educate you. Instead, look to online resources and read books and articles on the subject, and learn how to be an ally to Black people and POC. Advocate for and uplift people whom our government is trying to silence.

What Ruby wants from the U.S. government is to “arrest the police who murdered Breonna Taylor, abolish the current police training system and replace it, and bring justice to the hundreds of black people who were murdered by the police.” 

If you do end up attending, make sure you have all the information first and if you want to avoid any potential police interaction, I would recommend leaving before it gets dark. All in all, marches and protests can be a great way to find community with like-minded people, and it’s really fulfilling to know that you’re making a difference. It brings a sense of community that’s hard to find elsewhere, and can get you into contact with some great people. Ruby says that, “It’s unifying, marching along with all these people for one cause. It’s also just so motivating hearing POC voices.”

For those who are unfamiliar with the goings-on at protests, they often start in one place and stay there for a few hours while the organizers and people involved speak. This is what’s been happening with a lot of BLM protests around Portland.

Marches often start with those involved congregating in one place, and the organizers will introduce themselves and tell you what the plan is, informing you of precautionary measures you can take to remain safe. Next, you’ll start marching, taking up various chants as you walk through the streets. The organizers will have plotted a route and will have people making sure traffic stops for you and nobody gets hurt. 

Social media and the internet are great ways to find protests you can attend as well as other ways to get involved. Here are some other resources you can check out to learn more:,, and are great websites for finding information and ways to participate in the BLM movement.

                         Ask The OtterAskTheOtter

Dear Otter, My family always has a big Thanksgiving celebration all about family and good food and all the good things we have in our lives. But a friend told me we shouldn’t celebrate Thanksgiving because it’s disrespectful to Native Americans. Is my friend right? Yours truly, Thankfully confused. Dear Thankful, Everyone has to decide what feels right for themself. Personally, I like celebrating Thanksgiving and appreciating all that’s good in our country (my Grandma Otter makes a clam casserole that’s to die for, my mouth is watering just thinking about it). But I also make a point of remembering the Indiginous peoples who were here first. Some people prefer to skip Thanksgiving. As long as you feel comfortable with your choice, it doesn’t matter what your friend thinks, but it is good to have an awareness surrounding the issue your friend was getting at. Cheers, Otter
Dear Otter,    I really want to give all my friends gifts but because of the pandemic I can’t go out and get them presents. Do you have any ideas on how to make presents?   Yours truly, Worried friend Dear Worried, Homemade gifts are the best! They show that you cared enough to invest your time and energy into gift giving. You can bake cookies, make popcorn balls, or bake bread to give as gifts. Simple arts and crafts projects also make great gifts. Transform an empty glass bottle into a candle holder by gluing colored tissue paper to the bottle. Homemade ornaments are great too. With a little effort, you may find the gifts you give this year are the best ever. Happy crafting,

Congrats, Mock Trial! 

by Aaron Johnson


After nearly four months of preparation, Village Home Mock Trial (VHMT) won second place at the Empire Chicago @ Home mock trial competition. They competed in a total of five rounds and competed again this past weekend at the Empire New York @ Home competition.

Additionally, VH instructor and VHMT coach, Deborah Mueller, received the 2020-21 Civic Educator of the Year award from Classroom Law Project, the organization that runs the Oregon High School Mock Trial competitions. Congratulations, Teacher Deborah!

Find the Difference by Sophia Serrano-Dodd OtterDifference

Riddle Me This

by Sophia Serrano-Dodd

There are 108 animals in a tree.
There are three monkeys who love to swing.
There are nine wasps ready to sting.
There are five iguanas basking in the sun.
There are eight squirrels just trying to have fun.
There is one bear, asleep on a branch.
There are forty-nine ladybugs, so many they could create a mini avalanche!
There are four ants, marching up the trunk.
There is a porcupine talking to a skunk.
There are six woodpeckers pecking away.
There are nine otters doing ballet.
There are two racoons huddled in a hole.
Ten chameleons clinging to a knoll.

Which animal doesn’t belong?

Scroll down to find the solutions to this issue’s puzzles!

Riddle Answer


The otter, because otters don’t go in trees.

Village Voice Fall 2020

Volume III Issue I — Fall 2020
Editors: Jillian Bauer & Aaron Johnson

Table of Contents

Performing for Change by Aaron Johnson
Inside Rivers: Zig Zag by Mia Sharp
Meet the New Editors by Annika Elliott
Dueling Editorials: Chocolate Superiority by Alli Lake, Jillian Bauer
Flipping Into Tomorrow: Phoenix Schulton by Annika Elliott
A Day in the Life of the Otter by Lila Jackson
Social Media & Mental Health by Mia Sharp
Ask the Otter by Otter
Riddle Me This by Sophia Serrano-Dodd
Find The Difference by Annika Elliott

Performing for Change: 
How Youth Are Using Theatre to Speak Up

by Aaron Johnson

    Amidst nationwide political unrest, Village Home (VH) and Minneapolis youth are collaborating to create theatrical opportunities that illustrate the conversations and challenges of these times.

    Alongside VH youth, long-time instructor Loriann Schmidt is directing Voices of Unrest, a “verbatim theatre project about the Black Lives Matter movement, the protests, the riots, and the community action,” says cast member and VH alum Patrick Wood. “Emphasis on the community action that’s coming afterwards and out of this giant thing that’s happening.”

    Verbatim theater is a style of theatre where real people’s words are recorded and expressed within the presentation to give an authentic portrayal of what people are saying and thinking.

    17-year-old VH learner Marah Walsh described the upcoming play as, “a big project presenting everybody’s opinion. Just bringing out everybody’s thoughts. You ask them, ‘What do you think about this big thing that’s happening?’ and then we’re recording that and presenting that.”

    VH learner and cast member Anteo Ramirez, 16, explained that their goal is to, “…document this cultural moment that we’re going through right now by interviewing as many people from every side of this issue as possible so that future generations can look back on this and hopefully gain some knowledge.”

    When asked why this project was important to them, Rain Holland, 15, said, “It’s such a huge cultural phenomenon, the likes of which we as kids have never really seen before to this extent.” VH alum and cast member James Schmidt added, “It’s important to do something to contribute and it’s important to do something to help create understanding in incredibly turbulent times.”

“These are the largest civil rights protests in American history. The last time I checked, it  was over 10 million people that have participated in this. 10 million people. That is so many people, and to see that these issues that were once considered, ‘Oh, we’ll get to them later,’ kind of issues being brought to the forefront of our cultural consciousness is very much an interesting thing for me, at least, to see what every person involved— every side— has to say about this,” Anteo added.

In order to gain various perspectives on these issues, the Voices of Unrest group is working on reaching out to people across the country in places like Oregon, California, Minnesota, and New York, as well as overseas in England. “We’ve talked about reaching out to some big creators on various different platforms,” along with “some local business owners and some organization people,” Marah says.

One of those organizations is Youth Performance Company, a youth-centric theatre company in Saint Paul, Minnesota that is helping to develop a theatre production called Power To The People.

Director Laura Mann Hill, a life-long performer and social justice activist, described the upcoming production as, “a[n] organic devised theatre piece that is evolving based on young people’s ideas of what is important to them in the context of larger social movements– both historical and present.”

She says that the production’s focus is, “remembering that young people are a part of that conversation even though they can’t vote and are not always perceived to have power,” in the context of American Democracy. “It’s a call for people to listen to what young people have to say right now, and what they think the future of our country should be.

The cast members from both productions are collaborating to make their shows a reality. “I have two cast members who are coming from Village Home. James [Schmidt], who’s an alumni, and Asha [Pelaez],” Laura says. “Loriann and I have planned a series of conversations for the Power To The People cast and her [Voices of Unrest] cast to connect and share resources and ideas and give each other feedback so our cast members can hear a little bit about what we’re working on and how we’re working on it,” and that, “we’re looking at how can we maybe gain some added perspective to our performances.”

Laura and Loriann are co-facilitating two series of rehearsals that will, “give the students a chance to interact with each other and to share the work that they’re doing, as well as Loriann’s students are going to be interviewing my [Laura’s] students.”

Power To The People will be released on November 1st and will be available to stream online on Youth Performance Company’s website. VH’s theater project, Voices of Unrest, is slated for January. You can find out more about the production as information comes out on the Voices of Unrest Facebook page.

Writers Wanted

Inside Rivers: Zig Zag

by Mia Sharp 

Rivers is a program that meets for an hour once a week, offering connection for younger learners while also introducing them to language arts and social-emotional learning. Rivers has cohorts for ages ranging from five-to-twelve-year-olds. This article is an interview on the teacher of the youngest cohort, Shannon Reilly.

Shannon Reilly is an Instructor at Village Home. She has taught at VH basically since she came here eight years ago. She started with teaching art classes, then worked her way up to teaching Rivers. She has also taught outside of VH. Before she had her three daughters, she taught middle school science. Once she realized teaching middle school wasn’t for her, she started teaching first grade. Ever since then, she has taught that age group.

She first heard about VH after researching online while she was moving to Oregon from Philadelphia. She went to college and got her Undergraduate Degree in Biology. She got her Masters in Elementary Education and a teaching credential. 

She has been teaching for ten years, but she has experience with other careers as well. Straight out of college, she worked at a Homeless Service Center, and a year before Day Program, she worked as a Dula. 

For Rivers, she teaches five-to-eight-year-olds. She mostly teaches language arts, games, and social-emotional learning. There are many struggles when it comes to teaching online, especially when it comes to teaching younger kids. It’s hard to have a connection with the kids and there is no hands on learning. However, there are some positives. There is not as much preparation for the lessons, and the kids are comfortable with being at home— which she enjoys since her favorite thing about Rivers is, “definitely the kids, and the connection I get to make with them.”

To the people considering Rivers, she says, “Join! The best thing about Rivers is the connection they make in a group; it’s a way that kids can have a positive social group. We focus a lot on connection and positive socialization so that the kids end up making great friends.”   

Meet the New Editors

by Annika Elliott

We reporters miss the last editor of the Village Voice, Allison Lake, but this year we have new editors who are working very hard on making this newspaper the best ever: Jillian Bauer and Aaron Johnson.


    Jillian Bauer, age 16, is enjoying her second year at Village Home (VH). While she’s only taking Village Voice this year, she’s also enrolled in Oak Meadow, a distance learning program. One of her favorite parts of VH is how “Everyone is connected and it’s really great that it has a lot of diversity.” 

    She’s alway been homeschooled, and is planning on taking a gap year before college. Though she’s not decided on where she wants to go yet. 

Outside of VH, she enjoys art, hairstyling, and likes to learn about and help the environment. She specifically hopes to create a small business around art as well as something related to environmental issues. 

Aaron Johnson, age 17, is going into his 5th and final year at VH. He was born in California and went to a Montessori school until he moved to Oregon when he started at VH. One of his favorite subjects is Language Arts. 

He is currently part of the Village Home Mock Trial (MT) team and his favorite part of MT is  “The team, [we] work but it’s fun and we have […] a great community, I also really love debating and getting to know a case.”

He is planning on taking either one or two gap years before college. He’s planning on majoring in business, and plans on growing a small business, co-managing it with someone.

The role of the editor is to oversee the entire paper and help the other learners in the class edit and perfect their articles, as well as help layout the newspaper and plan articles. 

Both of the new editors reacted with excitement when they learned they had been chosen. Aaron said “I was very excited, honored, and it was out of nowhere, sadly I wasn’t sure if I could be the editor, then Covid happened and now I can and I’m glad I am.” 

Jillian said, “I was really excited, it’s really great to see something from a different perspective, and I was excited to work with Aaron.”

This year, being only the third year of the Village Voice, we still have a few things to work on. When asked they highlighted working on communication, as well as editing articles well, but also not making people feel upset. Edit the right parts, and talk to the learner about larger edits before making them so the learner has a bigger say in their final output of their article.

Journalism is a large part of our civilization. It helps spread information and share events. Jillian, when asked why she feels journalism is important, said, “Normal people don’t have time to research […] every little thing, and [the press] also has a lot of power so it’s annoying when it’s untrue and [people] usually trust the press.” 

Being the editor is a large part of the newspaper, and from what we have seen both editors are doing a great job! They work very well together, and the entire Village Voice staff is excited to see where they will take the paper!

Dueling Editorials:
Chocolate Superiority

Photo credit: Lila Jackson
Milk Chocolate:  by Alli Lake The ultimate debate, one that has plagued generations, and created arguments more heated than those caused by trying to play Monopoly with family: milk chocolate vs. dark chocolate. In discussing the pros and cons of each, we’ll begin with dark chocolate, the losing side. To its credit, there are many benefits of dark chocolate, although, not in the department it needs most. When defending dark chocolate, a common argument lodged at the side of milky bliss is that the darker the chocolate (the less milk and sugar) the healthier. This is true, and there is no arguing with it. Any dark chocolate when put up against milk chocolate will win in the health department. This doesn’t mean that it’s magic though. Many articles have claimed over the years that eating dark chocolate will help prevent high blood pressure, heart disease, and other serious ailments, but these claims are unsubstantiated and have no firm scientific backing. This is because the companies researching and reporting the potential health benefits of chocolate are companies like Mars (the parent company of Hershey’s and Cadbury), who have a strong incentive to twist results when discussing the potential health benefits of chocolate. Even still, if we ignore the high blood pressure and heart disease aspect, it remains a fact that dark chocolate is healthier than milk chocolate.             While that’s great for those looking for a healthy snack, most people don’t reach for chocolate because they want something healthy, they do it because chocolate is a treat, it’s comfort food. It’s not meant to be something you can eat all the time, but, rather, something that exists for special occasions.             This brings me straight into the biggest con dark chocolate has to overcome: the taste. There really is no getting around the taste. Dark chocolate is known to be tart, almost bitter, oftentimes coming with a chalky aftertaste. By removing most or all of the milk and sugar, it does become healthier, but at the cost of that comfort food feel.             Speaking of comfort food, let’s get into what makes milk chocolate the clear and obvious winner in this debate. Simply put, it’s better because it’s all the things that dark chocolate is not in the flavor department. The chalky bitter taste is gone, replaced with a sweet creamy flavor that melts in your mouth. The texture is softer, and, overall, more palatable. In essence, it doesn’t make you feel as if you’re being punished for eating it. Milk chocolate is often called juvenile, but this shouldn’t be seen as a failing. Milk chocolate is so special because it reminds one of childhood, of Halloween candy, smores, and hot chocolate. It’s warm and nostalgic as a dessert made for comfort should be. This may feel over-simplistic, to say that milk chocolate is better simply because it tastes better, but comfort foods should be simple. They shouldn’t need to be justified with health benefits or environmental effects; they should stand on their own as good once-in-a-while treats. However, all of that said, at the end of the day, we’re talking about chocolate, a treat with a high degree of flexibility. Personal preference plays a big role in answering this age-old question, but, if you’re looking for a simple treat that reminds you of childhood, one that’s sweet and easy for all ages to enjoy, I’d recommend picking up some milk chocolate.Dark Chocolate: Join the Dark Side By Jillian Bauer Which is better, dark chocolate or milk chocolate? Even if you claim it’s milk chocolate, I think we all know that, in truth, dark chocolate is far superior. It beats milk chocolate in every aspect—from its effects on health, to sustainability, and, of course, in flavor.  Dark chocolate has a lot of health benefits since it has a high cocoa content, which means it tends to have soluble fiber, antioxidants, lots of cocoa-flavanols, and lots of minerals. The minerals in dark chocolate include iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium. These minerals are good for your skin, supporting collagen production, and the repair and renewal of skin cells.      To understand how dark chocolate is good for your health, we need to have a quick biology lesson: Flavonoids are a group of bioactive compounds found in some plant-based foods like tea, grapes, blueberries, and my personal favorite, cocoa! Cocoa is rich in a sub-group of flavonoids, called cocoa flavanols. Regular intake of cocoa flavanol can lower blood pressure (reducing risk of heart disease and stroke), improve cholesterol levels, reduce risk of diabetes, and improve cognitive function (cognitive functions are brain skills we need for learning, memory, problem solving, attention, and decision making). Cocoa flavanols also have anti-inflammatory properties.  In 2015, 8 different studies published in the journal Heart found that people who habitually ate chocolate had a lower risk of stroke and heart disease. This is due, in part, to the ability of antioxidants and flavonoids to lower blood pressure and relax blood vessels.   Dark chocolate generally contains less sugar than milk chocolate, making it less of a compromise to our immune systems. Dark chocolate can also help control appetite, and it acts as a probiotic, encouraging the growth of beneficial (good) bacteria in your gut. Having those good microbes in your system helps your body to absorb nutrients and keep your metabolism healthy.  Plus, did you know that dark chocolate can decrease stress and make you happier? Cocoa stimulates neural (brain) activity in areas of your brain which are associated with pleasure and reward. (  So, dark chocolate is better for you (you agree now, right?), but can’t milk chocolate be good, too, since it has cocoa but also milk? Well, no, it can’t. Dark chocolate contains cocoa butter, sugar and 50-90% of it is made up of cocoa solids . Milk chocolate contains around 10-50% cocoa solids, cocoa butter, some form of milk (often very processed), and sugar. Milk chocolate hardly deserves the word “chocolate” in its name.  Because milk chocolate has a much lower cocoa content than dark chocolate, all the beneficial antioxidants, minerals, and flavonoids found in dark chocolate are diluted in milk chocolate. Not only are the good nutrients in chocolate diluted with the addition of milk, but milk may hinder the absorption of antioxidants in chocolate. (  Dark chocolate wins once again when we look at environmental effects. Milk is harmful to the environment because the cows that produce it generate a lot of methane gas (a major contributor to climate change).      Palm oil is a common ingredient in milk chocolate but rarely in dark chocolate. Production of palm oil is thought to be responsible for 8% of the world’s deforestation between the years of 1990 and 2008 (, the main reason being that forests are cleared and burned so oil palms can be grown there–a practice that’s often illegal.  Burning forests contributes to global warming and pollution, reduces biodiversity, and is a sad predicament facing many species (such as orangutans, rhinos, and tigers). Dark chocolate beats milk chocolate as a green food, hand’s down. Like all foods containing sugar, dark chocolate should be enjoyed in moderation, but you can indulge guilt-free, unlike that lowly milk chocolate! In conclusion, dark chocolate is literally better for you and the environment–that’s a fact–it tastes better (that’s my very important opinion) and it earns the moniker “chocolate” since it’s is made up of 50-90% cocoa, instead of the meager 10-50% in milk chocolate (I mean really. 10-50% is just pathetic).  If you still aren’t convinced that dark chocolate is best, then I’m sorry, I guess you’re a lost cause in this debate— all the more dark chocolate for those of us with more discerning taste! If you agree with me, then congratulations— welcome to the dark side! (don’t worry, it’s a good dark side, not an evil one.) 
letters to the editor 

Flipping into Tomorrow Phoenix Schulton 

by Annika Elliott

 Phoenix Schulton, age 15, developing circus performer and experienced skateboarder, started at Village Home (VH) last year. While not continuing at VH this year due to Covid-19, he greatly enjoyed his year at VH, making great friendships, and learning new skills such as debate, one of his favorite subjects.

Phoenix started at VH last year with his younger sister Zia, age 9. Last year, he took whatever classes he found interesting, but aforementioned his favorite was debate. He took That’s Debatable taught by Deborah Mueller, to prepare for Mock Trial— which he planned on taking this year before Covid hit. 

This year, he’s taking classes online at Portland Community College and Master Class. He’s also focusing more on circus and bodybuilding so he’s taking classes for those too. 

He started circus three years ago, and has performed in 3 shows. He focuses mainly on trapeze, but also enjoys acrobatic gymnastics.  

He would particularly like to go backpacking in Europe, specifically Croatia, as well as pursuing his interest in rock climbing, which he started a few years ago. For a job later in life, he would like to pursue a career as either a therapist or personal trainer.

When he’s not working on school or training, he loves hanging out with his puppy, Echo, who is around seven months old. While enjoying the classes that he’s taking this year, he hopes to rejoin the VH community again next year.

Day in the Life of Otter

by Lila Jackson

Hello stay-at-home learners! Today we have been allowed to see a day in the life of our school mascot, the Otter. We will get to see everything they do in a day, and observe so we can learn about this beautiful creature.  Hmm I wonder what they will do today? Lets see!


Oh look! It looks like our furry friend is on a hike. That is a very beautiful view behind you. It looks like the mountains!  At least he is getting outside in these difficult times. Stay safe, Otter. And have fun on your hike. I hope to see some cool stuff out in the woods!


Hello, I see you have a drink. And look! It says Village Home on it. I hope it tastes good! It looks really good. Well, enjoy your drink!


Are you at the River? It looks really pretty today. And is that the drawbridge? Cool! Wow, I hope you enjoy your walk downtown. It seems like you are having a lot of fun today.  


WHAT?! You’re at Voodoo Doughnuts? I’m jealous. At least you have a mask and you’re being safe, and while you’re there, could you get me a doughnut? The Portland creams are my favorite one.

Social Media & Mental Health

by Mia Sharp

In today’s society, mental health is seen to be at the bottom of the large to-do list of our nation. However, it still needs to be discussed. So in this article, I will talk about how social media affects your mental health, how to know if you or someone you know is struggling mentally, and how to get help.  

Social media; we all use it at one point or another. Whether it’s to keep in touch with relatives, to keep up with the news, or just to go online to watch a funny cat video. Did you know that it can also have a negative impact on your mental health? That’s right folks, the tiny screen that fits in your pocket can overall affect your mental health.

Obviously, there are positive sides to social media. For example: keeping in touch with loved ones, spreading information about important issues, or using it as a creative outlet. 

Unfortunately, there are negative sides as well, like insecurities. Seeing other people on social media (especially with photos being manipulated) can make you feel inadequate with your life or the way you look.

Isolation: A study at The University of Pennsylvania shows that if you spend a large amount of time on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, it can increase your feeling of isolation and loneliness.

Depression or Anxiety: Humans need to have face-to-face contact to be healthy mentally. Nothing is more valuable and productive than seeing your loved ones in person. The more time you spend on social media, the less time you spend socializing (meaning the more susceptible you are to mood disorders like depression and anxiety). Now, here are some signs that someone you know could be going through something like this…  

In movies they portray mental illnesses in people as: someone who is quiet all the time, only wears sweatshirts, has no friends, etc. However, that’s not always the case. Sometimes even the person doesn’t realize what they’re going through. You can’t just go off how they look. 

Some major signs are: Overall mood changes. If a person isn’t acting like themselves, whether they’re just a little quieter than usual or they’re smiling less often, it could be something as small as they had a rough day or maybe they could be experiencing depression. You can never quite tell until you ask. 

Sleep or appetite changes: If a person has deep bags under their eyes or maybe if they have been constantly saying, “I’m not hungry, I just ate,” this can be a sign that something deeper is going on. 

Social withdrawal: If a person slowly stops answering your calls or usually declines your offers to hangout, they could just be busy or maybe they are going through something and are trying to ask for help. If you or someone you know needs help with something like this, here are some ways to help.

If you think you could have a mental illness, first thing is do your research. A great source is the website Mental Health America. They have a step-by-step guide about what to do to get the help you need. 

After you do your research, you can get a mental health screening and bring up your thoughts with your doctor. Next, you can find a therapist. There is nothing wrong with having a therapist. Sometimes that’s exactly what a person needs and that’s perfectly fine! If you have trouble with your first therapist, it doesn’t mean you’re helpless. You’re worth as long as it takes.

Of course, there are other options. If you need to talk with someone your age there is The Oregon Youthline. Their number is 877-968-8491. Their email is  You can also text “teen2teen” to 839863. You can talk with real teens, confidentally, everyday from 4-10 P.M. PST. Adults are available by phones at all other times.  The most important thing to remember is that asking for help does not make you weak. If you need it, that’s all that’s important. 

Now overall, If you find that you aren’t feeling like you normally do, and you realize maybe you’ve been spending a lot more time on social media. What I suggest is that you start with a break from social media. Shut off your Instagram, your Snapchat, your YouTube, everything. Then, after that, look up websites like Mental Health America and look up how you’re feeling. After that, bring up your thoughts with your doctor. Get their opinions and see what they suggest. During all of this, if you’re finding you would like to talk to someone, you can always talk to loved ones and there are places like Youthline. Then of course therapy is an option.

Though, the thing you always have to remember, the most important thing I will tell you, is you are worth it. No matter what your brain tries to tell you. You matter. You always have and you always will. You are loved, you are wanted, and you are cared about. Out of everything I wrote about in this article that’s what I hope you take from it.

Ask the Otter

Dear Otter, 

Why do you think that some people say that homeschooling is weird and you don’t get much learning.

–Proud Homeschooler

Dear Proud Homeschooler,

People often say something is weird because they don’t know anything about it— or how awesome and amazing it is! If someone has never had the chance to experience it, they probably don’t have any understanding of what actually goes into it. When someone says something negative about homeschooling to me, I ask them why they think that. Most of the time that gives me a chance to explain away some misconceptions.


Dear Otter, 

I was wondering if you could answer a question I have. When I am on a Zoom class and have to be on camera I often get nervous and my stomach gets fluttery. Do you know any ways to help me not feel as uncomfortable? 

A Nervous Learner

Dear Nervous,

I get it, having a camera in your face can be pretty intense. One thing that might help is changing your settings so you don’t have to look at your own image on the screen. To do this, go to speaker view (not gallery view). Right click your video to display the menu, then choose “hide myself.” You’ll no longer see the video of yourself. Other people in the Zoom will still see you, but you won’t have to sit there and stare at yourself. It may make you a lot more comfortable.

Yours truly,


Got a question for the Otter? Copy & paste this link:

Riddle Me This 

by Sophia Serrano-Dodd

Level three
On and in this riddle can be found the answer.
The answer to the riddle is simple, yet hard.
The answer is hidden, yet perfectly in sight.
Easy to find, if you know where it is. Do you?
Read it again, if you dare! Mwa ha haaaa!
So what is the answer to this riddle? 

(Look at the first letter on the left side of each line. It spells out otters, so otter is the answer to the riddle.)

Find the Difference 

by Annika Elliott

Can you find the 9 differences in these two pictures?


What to Do When Your Family Disapproves of Homeschooling

By Dawn Josephson

When you’re immersed in your local homeschooling community, you may sometimes forget that not everyone thinks homeschooling is as great as you do. While it’s easy to ignore remarks from strangers, ignoring disapproving family members can often be a challenge.

The resistance from family members can take many forms, from annoying questions (“When are you going to send your kids to real school?” “Are you even qualified to teach your kids?”) to continually quizzing your children in an attempt to prove they’re not learning enough (“Quick, Johnny, what’s 8 times 9?”). How you deal with this depends on your family dynamic, your communication preferences, and how aggressive the resistance gets.

While there’s no one correct way to deal with this sensitive issue, following are some strategies that may help alleviate the problem.

  • Educate your family – Often, resistance to homeschooling comes from people not knowing much about it. In the past, little was written about homeschooling and its benefits. But today, you can find a plethora of information that details the merits of homeschooling. Guide your family to research organizations like the National Home Education Research Institute, which found that the home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests, as well as Vanderbilt University, which found that as many home-schooled students attend college as their traditional public school peers. These are, of course, just a few examples of the data now available. A simple internet search will give you many results.
  • Share your friends’ stories – Even if someone reads about the many benefits of homeschooling, they may not fully believe the facts if they have never had personal experience with a homeschooler (aside from your child). Here’s where your anecdotal evidence can help. In addition to bragging about all the great things you do in your homeschool day, talk about what others do too. Share stories of fellow homeschool families and all “normal” school-like things they do, such as starring in the Village Home theatre production, winning the spelling bee, or attending a teen dance. Also talk about the extraordinary things that set them apart, such as taking college courses at age 15, running an online business, or displaying their artwork at a local gallery. Often, these examples of other real-life homeschoolers can ease people’s fears.
  • Prep your children with “canned” answers – Sometimes, even when presented with the facts and anecdotal evidence, some family members may still not understand or support your decision to homeschool. In these cases, and if your children are old enough, you can arm them with canned answers to take the stress out of family gatherings. For example, certain members of my own family don’t support homeschooling. So when my children get quizzed with random math problems during the holidays, they respond with “Grandma, I don’t get to see you very often. I’d rather spend my time talking to you about something other than math.”
  • Shut down the conversation – If your children are too young to fend off skepticism on their own, or if the family members are persistent with their disapproval, you will need to step in and shut down the topic. A simple, “This topic is not up for discussion,” is a polite yet assertive way to state your feelings and end the conversation. If they continue, simply repeat your initial reply and then change the topic: “As I said, this topic is not up for discussion. Have you read any good books lately?” In the end, you are the parent, and only you can decide what is best for your children.
  • Remove toxic people from your life – In extreme and fortunately rare cases, you may need to remove overly negative or toxic people from your life. If certain family members can’t drop the topic or are unusually aggressive in their disapproval, take a break from them. If you feel up to it, you can explain why you won’t be seeing them or calling them anymore, but you don’t owe anyone an explanation. After a break you may decide to rekindle the relationship, but that’s certainly not required. Do what’s best for your own mental health and for your child’s.

Stay Strong and Confident in Your Decision to Homeschool

Of course, we’d all prefer that our family agrees with and supports our decisions 100%, but that’s not always the case. While you can’t control how other people think and act, you can control how you respond to their words and actions. Stay strong and positive in your interactions with nay-sayers. Seek support from your homeschool tribe. And remember that you are the parent—the one who gets to decide your child’s educational path. Trust yourself and enjoy the journey.

About the Author:  Dawn Josephson is a Village Home parent who has been homeschooling her two children (Wesley age 12 and Margo age 9) since 2014. She is also a book editor and online ESL teacher to students in China.

Stand Together

black lives matter

Dear Village Home Families and Friends,

I am distressed by the death of George Floyd. I am saddened by the unrest in our nation. I am grieving for every parent who has lost a child as a result of police brutality. My heart is heavy over the injustice in the world today. We are all being called on to be better as a nation, as a community, and as individuals. I feel compelled to be clear that, now and always, Village Home is committed to anti-racism, anti-discrimination, diversity, and inclusion, and we stand with all people who are fighting for a just society without racism. We are steadfast in our solidarity with the Black community. 

After 18 years, it is second nature for me to see the world through the eyes of children, and what they are seeing is a lot: sadness, pain, grief, anger, division, and strife.  Hopefully, they will also see resolve, compassion, love, unity, and hope.  The responsibility we feel to create a better for our kids can inspire us to take action to co-create a more equitable future for black people, and all indgenous people and people of color.

To help you navigate this time with your kids, to support them and educate them, we have collected a few resources for you:

New York Times Books to Explain Racism and Protest to Your Kids
Sesame Street and CNN Present “Coming Together”
NPR — How to Talk to Kids About Protest and Black Lives Matter
Resources for Parent/Teachers (that’s us homeschoolers!) – Facing History and Teaching Tolerance
Reading list compiled by by Sujei Lugo Vázquez and Alia Jones (readitrealgood)

At Village Home, we are approaching our work with open minds and hearts and a humble spirit. Although we have always offered classes that address social justice issues, we are committing to making topics on our hearts and minds more visible in our offerings this coming year. We are also assembling a group of caring community members to look closely at how we can do a better job making Village Home a more equitable place to learn and work. We are listening and taking action, and we are here for you.

All the best,

Lori Walker
Executive Director and Founder

Why I Stopped Making Homeschool Schedules

By Dawn Josephson

Twice a year, in August and January, I did the same thing many homeschool parents do: I made a schedule of what our upcoming homeschooling days and weeks would look like. I’d even color code the time slots and activities so the paper looked like an exploding rainbow. Week one always went great, but by the end of week two, the pretty colors were a distant memory. And by week three, I couldn’t even find the printed schedule anymore. Sound familiar?

For many homeschool families, schedules are daunting …. too restrictive … even stifling, some say. That’s why this year we’ve ditched the schedule and have created a harmonious routine instead.

Routine vs. Schedule: What’s the difference?

Schedules are about filling timeslots, completing tasks, and managing time. For many people, schedules create stress and a lot of work. Routines, on the other hand, are about creating a flow, a sense of comfort, and familiarity. Routines actually take the stress out of life because they free you from decisions that can bog down your valuable brain space.

Before you say that “routines scare you” or that “we’re too free-flowing or unschooly to have a routine,” realize that you have routines for so many things in your life already. That’s because routines are part of human nature. This about it: Chances are you brush your teeth the same way every day, you take the same route to work or the grocery store every trip, and you even put your shoes on starting with the same foot each time. We all are creatures of habit.

Science confirms that the human brain is wired for routine. Routines give people ownership, order, and organization in their life. Knowing this, it’s highly likely that your homeschool journey can benefit from a little routine.

Tips for Establishing Your Homeschool Routine

Each family is different, so your routine can be as structured or free-flowing as you like. Here are some general guideline to get you started.

  1. Let everyone have a say in the daily/weekly routine. Too often, one parent plans what everyone will do and when. Talk about stress and pressure! A better approach is to get everyone’s input on what your homeschool routine will look like. Perhaps you have an introvert who craves time at home and an extrovert who thinks that more activities with others is best. Make sure each person’s preferences influence the routine. For example, maybe in your routine Mondays and Wednesday are home days to immerse yourself in a favorite activity without time constraints, while Tuesdays and Thursdays are days for structured outside classes and activities. Since each person has the comfort of knowing they will get what they crave, they will be more willing to step out of their comfort zone on the other days. Therefore, find a routine that balances the needs of everyone.
  2. Think in terms of activities rather than blocks of time. Whereas a schedule locks you into time chunks to fill, for a routine think in terms of what habits you’d like to cultivate or activities you’d like to experience. For example, perhaps every Friday is field trip/fun outing day. Whether that activity starts at 10am or 1pm is not important at this point. It’s about committing to and actually going to a weekly outing, even if that outing is a park day with friends. The routine is: Every Friday we do something fun!
  3. Match your routine to your circadian rhythm. Who says that structured curriculum (if you use any) must be done between the hours of 9am and 3pm? Or be done before free time? Or be done every weekday? Determine what time of day is best for focused time and work that into your routine. For example, even though my kids are early risers, they are not early thinkers. So in our routine, mornings are for free time and play, while afternoons are more appropriate for activities that require deep thinking.
  4. Be flexible. Routines can and do change based on interests, class or activity schedules, and even the season. That’s okay. Just as you change your route to work when the road is closed, you can change your homeschool routine at any time. A true routine should never cause guilt because things have changed.

Expand Freedom with a Routine

Ultimately, a routine eliminates the age-old question: “What are we doing today?” Once everyone settles into the routine, there’s clarity in what to expect and a clear direction without the stress of a detailed schedule that restricts. Ironically, the more you let your routine guide you, the more flexible your homeschooling journey will become. So say goodbye to schedules, and hello to routines.

About the Author:   Dawn Josephson is a Village Home parent who has been homeschooling her two children (Wesley age 12 and Margo age 9) since 2014. She is also a book editor and online ESL teacher to students in China.

Village Voice June 2020

Volume II Issue IV

A Note From the Editor

Dear Village Home,

As the 2019-2020 school year comes to an end I find myself thinking back on the year we’ve had. I must say that this is not exactly how I pictured my final term as both a Village Home learner and Village Voice Editor; however, despite the confusion of these past few months, it’s important for me to express my gratitude for this institution in which I’ve learned for the past decade. I am eternally grateful to Village Home and all those who reside within its walls, and I thank this community for making me a better person. I know that many of us are disheartened by the cancellations, postponements, and online versions of everyday events, I know I am, however, I hope that this edition of the newspaper serves as a brief reprieve from any sadness you may be harboring.

~Alli Lake, Editor

Do you have feedback on the paper? A letter to the Editor? Want to contribute to the Village Spotlight? Email us:

Table of Contents

Click on an article or scroll down to peruse the paper

Village Geographic by Tanner Peterson
Day Trips Around Town by Annika Elliott
Tapping Through Life by Jillian Bauer
Why Village Got Its Start by Aaron Johnson
A New Side to Day Program by Mia Sharp
The Garden Experiment: Youth Leading Change by Aaron Johnson
Juggling More Than Just Homework by Annika Elliott
Learn to Juggle by Ty Peterson
Even Kids Can Help Fight Covid by Sophia Serrano-Dodd
Great Reads: The Outsiders by Mia Sharp
Writing Fun for Everyone by Annika Elliott
Editorial: Harry Potter Witchcraft? by Mia Sharp
Creativity is Everywhere: Kristin Lake by Aaron Johnson
Student Profile: Mia Sharp by Annika Elliott
Experienced in Acting: Laura Birn by Mia Sharp
Student Profile: Meredith Bauer by Jillian Bauer
Ask the Otter by Otter
Student Profile: Keller Sharp by Mia Sharp
Word Search by Tanner Peterson
Village Spotlight by Village Home Students

Village Geographic

by Tanner Peterson


Welcome, stay-at-home observers, to Village Geographic. Today, our lovely researchers have been allowed into the home of the Village Home otter to examine how they’re spending their many months away from voyagers like yourself. Let’s see how they’re doing.
Hey, what are you doing outside? Aren’t you supposed to be staying inside like the rest of us? Although, that is a very pretty flower you’ve got there. I suppose I don’t blame you for wanting to smell the roses for a minute. Oh, it looks like we arrived early enough to see its first meal of the day, let’s take a peek.

Interesting, it seems the aquatic creature has been transitioning to a “sugar diet” with some homemade ice cream. It looks quite delicious, though, I believe there haven’t been great results with this routine in the past. Maybe this is helping the otter cope with the lack of socializing lately. In that case, maybe it’s an okay idea, at least temporarily.


Ah, the furry swimmer has found a winged fellow to bond with. I wonder what they could be talking about. Taxes, unemployment, bird seed, who knows? Nevertheless, I’m sure they’re having a great time together, and are making the most out of this rare occasion.

Ah, it seems the creature has created a clever way to see the outside world without stepping out of their house. That’s right, technology has saved the day with beautiful pictures for the little otter. It’s quite impressive how much detail screens can display nowadays. We’re truly in a marvelous time.

It looks like the otter isn’t quite done with technology for today. The mascot seems to be fishing on a virtual island of sorts. Isn’t that ironic, an aquatic creature catching aquatic creatures. What a weird time we live in.

Well, I wish we could give you more info on the daily life of the otter, but it seems after over 8 hours of fishing, the otter has shown no signs of stopping. So, I thank you for coming along this journey into the fascinating life of the Village Home otter, and I, along with the rest of the researchers for Village Geographic, hope to see you next time.

Day Trips Around Town

by Annika Elliott

Summer weather and the beginning of Phase 1 reopening means an opportunity to get outside and do some exploring. In this article I will highlight some great field trips that will let you get out of the house without putting you in close contact with anyone else. You can maintain social distancing and stay 6 feet away from others if you stick to the great outdoors.

First, the Maryhill Stonehenge. The Maryhill Stonehenge is a replica of England’s Stonehenge located in Maryhill, Washington. Maryhill Stonehenge is around 1 hour and 50 minutes from Village Home Beaverton. This is a great day trip to head out and do and be back before dinner.

A more well-known great place to visit is the Hoyt Arboretum. It is right next to the Portland Zoo and is only about 15 minutes from VH. It is a beautiful place to go for a nature walk as well as a great place to take pictures or draw.

In the genre of better known places there is the Tualatin Hills Nature Park which is around 10 minutes from VH. In late spring to early summer a beautiful flower called the trillium blooms, so next time you go there take a look and see if you can find any!

Columbia River Gorge

Another beautiful place to go is the Columbia River Gorge and although it recently had a disaster, it is still very beautiful! It is around 40 minutes from VH. The Columbia River Gorge is a canyon of the Columbia River, it is 4,000 feet deep! It is a great day trip that explores a huge beautiful area. Hikes through the Gorge will allow you to watch its recovery as this area comes back to life after the fire.

The next place is a little farther away, but it is worth the drive! Thor’s Well is beautiful, and the drive there is on the side of a cliff overlooking the sea. It is around 2 hours and 50 minutes from VH.

The last place is right next to Thor’s Well and it’s called Spouting Horn. It is a very fun place to visit with younger kids and you sometimes get misted with water. It is on the other side of the balcony from Thor’s Well, so it’s the same length of time to get there. Even though it’s a pretty long drive, the scenery is beautiful and a mile or so up the road is a nature park with a huge, very shallow lake, which is great for swimming.

Hopefully these beautiful places will be interesting and make this summer a wonderful vacation! Note: as rules change rapidly, please verify your destination is open before heading out.

Tapping Through Life

by Jillian Bauer

There’s a lot of joyful energy in Elizabeth Abel’s tap class. One student said she likes the class because, “the teacher is nice, and the dance [and] the stuff we do is fun.” The students learn a lot about rhythm and music as well as dancing and choreography. They use words like “pineapple” to coordinate timing of moves like “shuffle hop steps,” and

Tap for Kids, Fall 2019

“heel-toe.” Through the three years Elizabeth has been teaching, they have advanced to steps such as “buffalos,” “shirley-temples,” and “rhythm turns.”

Elizabeth enjoys getting to know the kids and watching them grow as tap dancers. The hardest part, she shared, is getting them to stay in time with each other and getting them to focus. “If one of the kids stops focusing, then they usually distract all of the other kids…”

A Village Home student for the past 8 years, Elizabeth has danced in the yearly Bloom Homegrown Variety Show a few times. Knowing that Elizabeth was a serious tap dancer, Lori Walker, asked her if she would be willing to teach a tap class. Elizabeth agreed and has been teaching ever since.

While she only started teaching a few years ago, Elizabeth has been tap dancing since she was just 3 years old. Her passion for dance has led to performing in a sold-out concert in Los Angeles and even an appearance on “America’s Got Talent.”

Elizabeth has danced for as long as she can remember. After watching her older brother in a tap class, Elizabeth (not even 2 years old at the time) began to ask for tap lessons every day for a year, however, her mom wasn’t able to find a class for her until she turned three.

Over the course of her life she has taken jazz, ballet, and hip-hop, among other classes, and participated in dance competitions. However, by age 8, Elizabeth was “kind of over competition dance” and moved to a different studio where she was able to focus on building her technique. She took tap along with other styles of dance, and went to tap festivals around the country.

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Elizabeth age 9

While Elizabeth has practiced many styles of dance, her favorite is contemporary, “because I love the movements.” She also enjoys the discipline of ballet, the different styles within Modern dance, and the energy and grooves in hip-hop. As far as tap dance, Elizabeth loves making music using her feet and appreciates the community of tap dancers. Elizabeth has met many close friends through tap dancing as the tap community is “small and it’s less competitive than other forms of dance, so there’s a strong bond.”

Currently, Elizabeth is dancing at BodyVox in Portland, and she’s been a part of JAG (their pre-professional training program) for 2 years. Elizabeth says that, “At BodyVox, the training is focused on contemporary and modern with lots of ballet and some hip-hop. The dances are longer than competition— some of them are 8 or 10 minutes long. We work with live musicians sometimes which is pretty cool.”

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Elizabeth has participated in many performances, and is a member of the LA-based tap company, Sole Talk. She’s danced in the DC Tap Fest All-Star Concert multiple times. She was a guest soloist in the Skylark Tappers annual concert two different times— once this last year and once when she was only 6, and she’s made an appearance on “Portland Today” in a feature on the Portland Tap Festival. She has even danced in music videos.

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Elizabeth, along with another teen tap dancer, started NW Tap Gathering, a monthly tap jam for local dancers. Elizabeth explained that, “Tap dancers are musicians and traditionally tap dancers performed with musicians. In a dance studio, tap loses that. You mostly get more Broadway type tap in a studio. But improv, riffing with musicians, trading— that’s the foundation of tap dance.” She also said that they “wanted a safe, supportive space for dancers to practice and get used to improving and trading and working with musicians.” They vary the type of music in order to give dancers more exposure to different styles.

Tap dance training includes a focus on the history of the dance and dancers. Elizabeth shared, “Tap dance is both a form of dance and also a musical instrument. Tap dance is a uniquely American art form. A lot of people don’t realize that tap dance has its roots in slavery in America, and just as America is enriched by having people from all over the world contributing to our country, tap dance has been influenced by dances from all over the world.”

For the past four years, Elizabeth has helped bring that history to life for public school students in the greater Portland community as a dancer in an assembly on the history of tap dance. Her tap teacher, Karida Griffith, created the assembly to teach tap history and African-American history. In the program, Elizabeth demonstrates historical and contemporary tap routines, as well as related dance forms like the Lindy Hop.

A senior this year, Elizabeth is a salutatorian at Sheridan AllPrep Academy, a virtual public school. This year her classes have all been at PCC. Elizabeth says, “It’s fun to be in classes

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Tap For Kids at Bloom 2018

with more people and I’ve made friends in all my classes.” She is also a Presidential Scholars nominee— an honor less than 1% of high school seniors receive. Elizabeth was nominated by the counselor at Sheridan AllPrep.

Because she’s graduating, this is Elizabeth’s last year teaching tap at Village Home. Next year, she plans to do another year of PCC classes, “and then pursue a BFA in dance performance at a four-year university.” Elizabeth is looking forward to seeing what happens in the next few years of her life. She’s excited to move on to new dance challenges, a little traveling, and seeing what happens with dance programs she’ll apply to in the fall.

Why Village Got Its Start

by Aaron Johnson

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Lori Walker, Director and Founder of Village Home, is leading an extraordinary life and has grown an educational community important to us all. This year marks eighteen years since Lori created Village Home with the vision of allowing students to become the masters of their own educational journeys.

Village Home’s success has changed Lori’s life in many ways. “…We were going to homeschool our own kids, and when Village Home took off so fast and so big, that went by the wayside. So, I had to totally say, ‘Hey, girls, you’re going to be taking classes,’ because we were going to be up there a lot,” Lori joked. “It’s nice to have been able to do something that has helped so many families. I wouldn’t change it. There were some times that I wish I could’ve cloned myself because I feel like my family sacrificed a lot.”

When asked what her favorite part of growing with Village Home was, Lori thought about it for a moment and replied, “I think my favorite part has been meeting families who have been in learning environments that were not engaging for them and hearing about and seeing the kids get excited about learning again—kids who weren’t excited about it before or who felt disempowered as learners.”

Clearly sorting through more favorite parts of her experience, she added, “On top of that, intersecting with families in terms of really helping families understand that homeschooling is a lifestyle decision, not an education decision. Another really great part is the administrative side because the people that we attract to teach at Village Home and work at Village Home are just extraordinary people.”

“[Trusting] that human beings learn and that we just have to get out of the way of that as facilitators of learning,” is the most important thing that Village Home has taught Lori. “In the same vein, it has taught me that teaching is really inspiring…I’ve learned so much.”

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Lori Walker & Honorees at the 2019 Completion Ceremony

A global pandemic presents new challenges for communities, organizations, and the world. Village Home has taken action, moving many of their classes online for the remainder of the year. “I don’t think there [was] anything to prepare us for this. We haven’t faced anything that is this extreme of a game-changer so far,” said Lori.

“Our strength in it is that we are an agile organization, so we’ve always prided ourselves upon being responsive to the community that’s at our doorstep. The fact that we’re used to that mindset is helping us in this,” Lori explained. “This is really new territory for all of us.”

Lori’s message to students and families is simple: “Learning is fun and feels good.”

“When I first started Village Home, it was about making it easier for families to choose to be the managers of their kid’s education, and that still holds,” Lori stated. “It’s a personal journey that is inherently rewarding and that also is a beautiful thing for families to be on together.”

A New Side to Day Program

by Mia Sharp

A lot of students don’t know that Village Home offers an option called Day Program. It’s two days a week from 9:00 am – 3:30 pm. During that time we do school work, but unlike public schools, in the Day Program I don’t even realize I’m learning something until I get home later! In the Day Program there are four cohorts. There are two cohorts for 5-7 yr. olds, a cohort for 8-10 yr. olds, and a cohort for 11-13 yr. olds (although the oldest cohort had only three students).

Day Program walk to the library

Even with only three students, the oldest cohort still finds great ways to enjoy every second by doing things like going to see plays or having OMSI come and show us animals. In fact, back in September we even skipped school, as a class, and went to the climate strike!

As I previously stated, the Day Program is different from public schools because, unlike in public schools, student’s opinions are very important. The classroom is fully open to constructive feedback and centered around a no-judgement community, so you never feel afraid to share your views.

What we learn in the Day Program varies, with topics ranging from climate change to bonobos and other apes. We also have an activity called Genius Hour. Genius Hour is where you get to pick a topic that interests you, write a proposal to research it, and make a presentation to share with the class. As long as the topic is approved by the teacher, it can be about anything from fractured bones to greek mythology (both of which have been done by students in the Day Program).

Each class we use a website called Sumdog to learn math, and every morning we have a journal prompt where the teacher will give us a topic to write about,

Day Program at the Climate Strike

and we write whatever we want about the topic. Now, that’s all from my point of view. Here’s what the rest of the class has to say about the Day Program, “I think the best thing about Day Program is the community–everyone ends up becoming friends and it’s really nice!” said Eleanor Wassum-Hall, a student at Village Home. “Kids should join the Day program because it’s really fun to learn in the Day Program and our teacher [Emily Zionts] is really kind, nice, and can help you if you need it,” said Chloe Joiner.

Emily Zionts has been teaching the Day program for several years, and loves every minute of it. Her favorite thing about teaching is the connections she makes with her students, she never forgets a student or the memories she made with them.

Overall, the Day Program was a great experience for me. I made new friends, found some new interests, and discovered more things about myself. So with that, I encourage you to try it. You may find a new side of yourself you never noticed before.

The Garden Experiment:
Youth Leading Change

by Aaron Johnson

On May 30, change-makers from all over North America came together to discuss some of our society’s toughest challenges during an online event called The Garden Experiment.

With a focus on intergenerational learning and leadership, this group rallied their collective wisdom and skills to create real-world solutions to the problems that were voiced by the members of a youth panel.

The event started with an introduction by Renee Beth Poindexter, one of Village Home’s first advocates and board members. After everyone “in the room” introduced themselves, they switched their focus to a panel of six youth, ages 15 to 24, four of whom were from the Village Home community. Each youth was asked to describe the problem in the world that concerns them the most.

After every youth panel member spoke, it was apparent that there were two primary issues to be addressed by the rest of the attendees: the “crisis of meaning” and the misunderstanding of poor mental health and ineffective support in our society.

The attendees were split into two groups, each focused on one of the topics. Both groups worked together to break down the problems at hand and used their unique talents and experiences to contribute to solutions.

After spending some time collaborating, both groups came back together and shared the ideas, possibilities, and solutions that they had brainstormed. In the end, the group that was tasked with the crisis of meaning came up with ways that they could use systems and technology to help parents find communities that can act as support systems for themselves and their children.

Additionally, discussions were had as to how they could scale already-existing educational resources, like Village Home, to reach as many youth as possible so that they may have the opportunity to find or create meaning through “holistic learning.”

The other group, which was focused on mental health, came up with healthy ways for people to stay connected and strategies for regulating strong negative emotions through promoting practices like meditation, creating art, or mindfulness.

They also thought that the suppression of feelings is too common and that it is a serious factor impacting mental health. Ideas were suggested about an app in which these kinds of conversations could happen and these resources could be found.

Following that, there was a reflection on recognizing that youth know more than they are often given credit for, and when people with different experiences come together from different domains, they can solve any problem.

The event ended with comments about how the youth felt heard and the adults reported being inspired by them and amazed at what is possible when change-makers put their “hearts and minds” together. The Garden Experiment will return August 1, and the creator, Renee Beth Poindexter, is hopeful that more Village Home students and parents will attend.

Juggling More than Just Homework

by Annika Elliott

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Ty, 14, is an accomplished yoyoer who has been going to Village Home for seven years. Although he’s only taking two classes this year, Ty is quite involved with the VH community. He’s a reporter with the Village Voice, and is on the Learner Council. One of his favorite parts of VH is it’s lack of structure.

Ty is immersed in yoyo-ing. He has competed many times and recently placed 4th in a competition. Last year he helped teach a yoyo club at VH. Ty got into yoyo by picking up a Chinese yoyo and playing with it. “I have a knack with things that spin” he said. His yoyo goal is to place first in a competition.

Ty lives in the country with his twin brother, Tanner, his parents, and his 6 year old dog named Graham. He and his brother have been homeschooled since they were in second grade. Before homeschooling they went to the Arthur Academy, a public charter school.

Now, Ty is enrolled in Summit Learning Charter, a virtual public school. This is his first year at Summit. He enjoys it because it has a solid curriculum. Some of the things he doesn’t like include how long it takes to get done and that it is a lot of work, that’s why he prefers VH.

After high school he plans to go to college. He says that he wants to go to the cheapest college he can find, but it has to be in either Oregon or Texas. Before he goes to college he would like to take a gap year. After college Ty would like to join the Airforce, and if that doesn’t work out, then the National Guard. He says his family is very supportive.

An interesting thing about Ty is that he works with his brother at a place where they make small planes, such as crop dusters. He has also worked at Yamhill 4H Summer Camp. Ty enjoys working with kids and says children really like him.

Learn to Juggle

by Ty Peterson

As most of us are experiencing a quarantine, it’s a great time to learn new skills! Today I’ll teach you how to juggle in three easy steps.

Before you start practicing, you need juggling balls. You can make or buy your juggling balls. To make some, simply take a balloon and fill it with a powder, like flour, or you can use rice as it will not pop the balloon. Here’s a tip: if you’re having trouble filling the balloon, partially blow it up and twist the end of the balloon so no air is coming out. Next, take a funnel and pour your flour or rice in while slowly untwisting.

If you’re not the most crafty of people, you can buy beginner balls for about $13 or a set of professionals (my favorites) for $19.

But sometimes nature gives us just what we need to get the job done. I started juggling with fruit. I used apples and walnut fruit from our trees, and you can buy lemons for very cheap at the store.

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Now that you have your balls, we can start juggling. Contrary to popular belief, when you juggle you throw in an X shape rather than a circle. This means each ball crosses paths midair, this happens in a continuous motion with only one ball touching your hand as the other two are airborne.

To start, hold two balls, with one in each hand. Start with your dominant hand and throw the next ball up as soon as that ball reaches the halfway point in between your hands throw the other ball in your non-dominant hand. This should form an X formation. Once you can do this consistently it’s time to add in the third ball. Start by trying to throw all three balls in the air at once and catching them using the same pattern you used for the two balls, this is called a flash. Once you can do a basic flash try repeating a flash over and over until you have a seamless juggling pattern.

Some problems you may run into are leaning forward or leaning backward while throwing the balls. This causes you to throw the balls in the direction you are leaning. In order to counteract this action, you need to throw the balls the opposite way you are leaning. Play around with this until you find a nice, sturdy, middle ground.

If you feel your juggling is too choppy, you can try moving your arms less and putting more power in your palms when you toss. Simply pop the inside of your hand up instead of swinging your arm. Once you can do that consistently, try merging it with swinging your arm. It’s all about finding a good balance between the two techniques.

Remember juggling takes time, it is not a skill you can learn in a day. Keep practicing and good luck!

Even Kids Can Help Fight Covid-19

by Sophia Serrano-Dodd

Chase Williams is a 12-year-old Village Home student whose love for Minecraft is helping stop covid-19. He’s been playing Minecraft since he was five and not too long ago he got a computer server that he was going to use to play Minecraft with his friends. This protected server would help Chase play without random people intruding.

However, after seeing a YouTube video about Folding@home, he realized that his old computer was just the thing he could use to help out with the ongoing research to end Covid-19. According to Chase, “[Servers] are folding proteins to help cure diseases. The program I’m using for it is Folding@home, and their main goal right now is to cure coronavirus. But once that’s done, they’ll go on to other ventures…like, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and Parkinson’s.”

If this all sounds confusing to you, that’s because it is. Proteins in the human body change shapes to do certain things, like become an enzyme to trigger a chemical reaction or become antibodies to fight disease. This process is called folding, the proteins fold into the shapes needed to do their jobs. Medical researchers are looking for proteins that match the shape of the Covid-19 virus to help them better understand how the virus functions. As Chase explains, “Basically your computer gets just a string of atoms, and it’s supposed to fold them together. Kind of like origami.” Still confused? This video link might help.

You can use your computer while the project is running. It’s completely optional how much of your server you want it to use. While Chase does say “some basic geek-ness [is] required” you shouldn’t worry, non-computer-geeks can still install it. You would have to download the Folding@home program and set up an account. YouTube videos may be of some help.

Started at Stanford University, Folding@home is a free way for you to help stop covid-19 from your own house. Interested? Check the Folding@home website. As Chase puts it, “the more computers we can get doing the […] project, then the sooner that covid-19, and other diseases in general, are gonna be cured!”

Great Reads: The Outsider

by Mia Sharp

The Outsiders, written by Susan Eloise Hinton in 1967 is a book I won’t soon forget. Published under the name S.E. Hinton, her name was changed because both she and her publishers worried men would not read the book if they knew a woman had written it. Hinton wrote the book while she was in high school.

I first read The Outsiders for a class here at Village Home and absolutely loved it. The book is told from the perspective of Ponyboy Curtis, a 14 year old boy, with a wild imagination. His parents died in a car crash eight months prior to the story’s start, so all he has are his two older brothers Darry and Sodapop, and his gang. Known as the Greasers, the gang is made up of poor kids from the east side, arch rivals of the Socs, the rich kids from the west side.

Everything was going pretty well for Ponyboy until one day as he’s walking home from a movie, he gets jumped by some Socs, which starts this whole adventure. Flash forward to the next night, Ponyboy and his best friend Johnny are sitting in an empty lot when they doze off and miss curfew. Upon waking, Ponyboy rushes home to be greeted by his eldest brother Darry, who gets so mad and frustrated he slaps Ponyboy. Ponyboy, confused and distraught, runs away with Johnny at his heels. Then everything flips upside down, everything he knows gets thrown out the window, as he and Johnny begin the biggest adventure of their lives.

Now, doesn’t that sound like a good read? I thought so too. The book is a classic. It took me to a time that I’ve never gone to before. So although this book may not be the type of thing you’ve read before, right now “Things are rough all over” so why not try something new?

Writing Fun for Everyone

by Annika Elliott

Even as quarantine eases we are all looking for something fun or interesting to do at home. While in quarantine people sometimes enjoy writing, drawing pictures etc, here are some ideas of things you can create.The following writing prompts can kick start creativity. Younger students can draw their stories while older students might write a story or create a comic.

Fantasy is a great genre that gives you leaway to be more creative with the story, or whatever you are creating. When creating a fantasy world, you can add mythical creatures and include witches and wizards. One of the biggest perks of fantasy writing is unlike realistic fiction, there needs to be no logical sequence for how things happen. You can finally use magic as a reasonable and acceptable explanation for everything. Just let your imagination go wild! Here is a fantasy prompt:

They were excited to move into their new house, but as they were on their way to get settled in, an interesting sight met their eyes: a small dragon relaxing on a lawn chair reading a newspaper. As they kept going things got even more crazy…

Another interesting genre is science fiction or Sci-Fi. Here you can imagine futuristic cities or space travel. Really, you can do whatever you want, but with Sci-Fi, you can develop foreshadowing and really tie your reader into the story (or whatever else you are making). Here is another prompt:

As the last bomb exploded, Madeline darted from her hiding spot, leaving her younger sister crying behind her. The smoke grew closer as she got to the remnants of the ship. She was not able to comprehend what happened next. She was falling, and then there was nothing.

Next, let’s talk about my favorite writing genre: Dystopian. The idea behind the Dystopian genre comes from the concept of a dystopia, which is the opposite of a utopia. Utopias are societies conceived to be perfect. Dystopias are imaginary societies that are as dehumanizing and as unpleasant as possible. Sometimes it starts out seeming nice or fine, but you figure out what’s actually happening. Some popular Dystopian writers are Aldous Huxley, Kurt Vonnegut, and Ray Bradbury. Usually, dystopian writing is creepy and strange because it tells of a very unpleasant place. Here is a half dystopian half sci-fi prompt:

The headset felt familiar as I put it on for the last time. It was the last day of training. My eyes closed and I perceived the recognizable feel of the simulated controls beneath my hands. That was all I remember. I woke up in a dark room with nothing inside. This wasn’t in the sim, I would have known. I was hooked up to a machine with wires on my finger intruding into my skin, making it so that I was unable to sit down. My mind blurred and I fell unconscious.

The Village Voice newspaper would love to have you submit your creations to the Village Spotlight. If you have something that you would like to submit please send it to this email:

Harry Potter Witchcraft?
Parents Should Let Their Kids Read

by Mia Sharp

Harry Potter is a beloved fantasy series written by J.K. Rowling. The books revolve around a young boy named Harry Potter who, at the ripe age of eleven, discovers that there is a whole new world filled with magic, sorcery, mythical creatures, and thrilling adventures. Since the story involves a school that teaches witchcraft and wizardry, some more strict parents seem to think that letting their child read Harry Potter will persuade them to pursue witchcraft. I’m here to give you three reasons that might just convince you otherwise.

First off, dark magic is represented as strictly evil. In Harry Potter, there is a villain–a dark wizard–by the name of Voldemort. People who follow him are called Death Eaters. They are portrayed as evil souls whose lives took a turn for the worse. Essentially, they represent people who made bad choices and suffered the consequences. If anything, all this is showing kids is why you should not pursue dark magic because it can badly affect you and your family.

Secondly, magic is shown to be good, but only if you use it right. As I’m sure you’re aware, Harry is the protagonist of this series, however he also has two best friends, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger. Throughout this trio’s heroic journey, they all get teased from time to time. Either because of high expectations, what’s socially acceptable, or wealth. Through it all these youngsters represent the right way to use magic, while at the same time not encouraging the reader to try and use it. They show what mistakes they make with magic and the consequences they suffer because of it. Showing that even though something may seem fun, it can also be harmful to you or others around you.

And lastly, it activates your kid’s imagination. Growing up I was never an avid reader. If I found a book I liked, I’d read it, but I never went searching for any; that is, until I read Harry Potter. I discovered my love for fantasy through this series. It put my imagination into power mode. Before I knew it, I was writing stories, making up worlds, and imagining things I never knew I could. It helped me escape reality when things were getting rough in my life. Overall, I would not be the person I am today without these books, and I wouldn’t give back the experience for the world.

I highly recommend this series for youngsters who love fantasy and are down for a nice trip to a different world. When reading this book, I never once considered witchcraft as a good choice. Neither did anyone I’ve talked to about the series. So why stop your kids from venturing into the great unknown? They might come out better from when they started. So get your cloaks, and put on the sorting hat, it’s time for an adventure! Because as Dumbledore would say: “It does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live”

Creativity is Everywhere, Kristin Lake

by Aaron Johnson

Art is an essential part of life for Village Home teacher, mother, and potter, Kristin Lake. She believes everybody has creativity that they can express and share with the world. Even as a young girl, she disliked the public school system and gravitated toward the world of creativity and art.

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Student art from Kristin’s class

“All I really wanted to do was art and I was not so much encouraged to do that,” Kristin shared. “We moved when I was nine years old. I was bored, and my mom got tired of me being bored. [She] got a catalog from the art center and said, ‘Pick a class!’ I picked clay and I’ve loved it ever since.”

Before she came to Village Home, Kristin taught private art classes. “I have a wheel and a kiln at home. I taught six or seven students on a one-on-one basis. That was pretty much my only teaching experience before [Village Home].”

This year, Kristin taught four art classes at the Village Home Beaverton Campus: two clay classes for little kids, one clay class for teens, and a class about off-canvas art forms such as sculpting with polymer, paper-crafting, and printmaking.

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Student art from Kristin’s class

Kristin also puts together fundraisers and workshops for classes and events like Bloom and Mock Trial. She shares her love of clay-working while helping out the community by creating mugs for attendees to buy and paint.

When she’s not teaching, Kristin likes to work on her pottery business through which she sells mugs, bowls, and other clay-fired items. “I’m a big science-fiction/fantasy nerd, so there’s a lot of sayings from TV shows and movies on them.”

If you’re an aspiring artist and you want to improve your skills, Kristin suggests that you do or make something 100 times. “That’s the best advice I ever got as a clay student. The teacher told me to make something 100 times—and I did. One term when I was in college, I made 100 mugs to figure out what my style was—to figure out what I wanted it to look like. Some of them were really bad!” she joked.

“I think that everybody has creativity. I think that’s the biggest thing…I really feel like there are so many people who don’t think that they’re creative, but everybody has creativity. Maybe you’re more interested in writing, maybe you’re more interested in singing—everybody has some way that they want to express themselves,” Kristin said.

Student Profile: Mia Sharp

by Annika Elliott

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Mia, 13, has been going to Village Home for 3 years. She enjoys acting and singing, and also enjoys literature. She has two younger brothers, Keller and Brooks, and one older brother, Bryce

Mia was born in Texas, and lived there for 7 years before moving to Illinois for 2 years. Then, she went back to Texas for 1 year before moving to Oregon. She has been homeschooled her whole life and never been to a public school.

Mia loves watching and participating in musicals, her favorite being “Newsies.” She has been in “Annie Jr.”, “The Jungle Book Jr.,” “The Little Mermaid Jr.”, “The Lion King Jr.,” and “Willy Wonka Jr.” Her favorite was “The Lion King” because of her costume.“I loved how it looked when I jumped,” Mia said.

Her favorite classes at Village Home are Village Voice and Sitcom Creation. One of her favorite aspects of VH is how you can choose what classes you want to take. She is planning on staying with VH through high school. Mia is part of VH’s older cohort of Day program. She has been doing it since the beginning of this year, and she has really enjoyed it.

Outside of VH she really enjoys Scouts. Through Scouts you can do a lot of research on things that you are interested in. You can get cool badges and have rank advancement ceremonies. She really enjoys it and has been doing it for over a year. She has also recently been learning Spanish.

Mia also loves hanging out with her friends, and reading great books. She is currently reading the “Heroes of Olympus” series. Her favorite book is “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio. She also loves the Harry Potter series and the Percy Jackson series.

Experienced in Acting: Laura Birn

by Mia Sharp

Laura Birn has been teaching at Village Home since 2016. She teaches acting for various ages, and she’s probably the best to do so. She is a very experienced actress. She was on a soap opera called Young and the Restless (which is on CBS and has been the #1 daytime drama for many many years). She played Lynne, the private detective’s secretary/sidekick, who ended up having a major crush on her boss. She played Lynne for seventeen years! She has also done commercials, voiceovers, film,

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Laura’s class in 2017

TV, and theatre.

Laura graduated from the University of Southern California with a BFA in Theatre, and she puts it to good use. She has taught at Lakewood Theatre, Northwest Children’s Theatre, Saturday Academy, various school districts, and she does private audition work with students.

She isn’t just an on screen actress. Laura took cinema classes in college and has had the privilege of directing …. While in college, she did Summer Stock in Michigan, acting in various musical theater productions. In addition to being a brilliant actress, teacher, and director, she is also a mother.

Laura has one son who is finishing his first year of college, and funny enough he is a star athlete. Instead of a stage he’s running across a field, and according to Laura, “He can be very dramatic, too.” Now onto what led her to teach acting “I love acting! I love working with actors! I was lucky to have really great teachers when I was young and I think that is a big part of why I teach.”

Here is the advice she gives aspiring actors: “First, it is a very uncertain career, but then so are many others. As with most things, it takes work. And by work I mean believing in yourself and having the strength and determination to follow your dream. The nuts and bolts are simply to keep developing and growing as an actor. We use our whole body, so singing, acting and dance classes are important. I’m not a singer but by learning phrasing and breath control you improve your vocal skills for acting…same with dance! The business side of acting is also something aspiring actors need to learn– photos, agents, auditions, etc. I am always happy to talk to anyone thinking of pursuing this path because I love acting and am so grateful that I got to do what I always wanted to do.”

Student Profile: Meredith Bauer

by Jillian Bauer


Meredith Bauer has been homeschooled for all 10 years of her life, alongside me–I’m her older sister. Meredith loves to sing, and often writes her own songs. She also loves writing stories and poems. Although she is practicing handwriting and learning cursive, she prefers to compose work on a computer, “I like typing on the computer because to me it’s fun, I feel grown-up-ish,” she says.

Meredith also loves reading and playing with dolls and dollhouses. She enjoys watching TV sometimes, too. She likes watching Zoboomafoo, and enjoys older television shows including Leave It to Beaver, The Brady Bunch, and I Love Lucy. When watching these shows, Meredith’s rather noisy cat, Meera, often comes to snuggle.

This is Meredith’s first year at Village Home. She likes Village because “it’s kind of like a school, but it’s more for fun, and it’s for pretty much all ages. There are lots of different classes about lots of different things.” Meredith’s older sister, Jillian, is also a student at Village, but they aren’t currently in any classes together. Meredith took Tap for Kids, Art With the Masters, and she also participated in a book club with other Village Home classmates.

Meredith originally joined the art class for a different reason than why she ended up enjoying it: “one of the reasons I [was interested in art class] was because, since I homeschool, I’ve never experienced having a teacher with individual desks in a classroom. Once I got in the class, I realized there weren’t individual desks, but if I had to go back in time, I would still choose the art class since now I really enjoy it because it’s fun and I’m learning.”

Meredith joined the book club because she loves reading. She says it’s a fun class because she gets to “hang out with some other kids and the teacher,” over a Zoom meeting once a week. They “chat about the book, about what happened in the previous chapters, and what we liked and didn’t like about it. And then the days we don’t have the meeting, we read the book.”

She took ballet lessons for several years at a nearby studio, but Meredith decided to stop a year ago. She chose to take tap this year because she still enjoys dancing, and thought the tap class sounded like a great class. She was right! One reason she likes it is that they “get to listen to fun music!”

Asked what class she would teach at Village, Meredith said, “I might like to teach a ballet class, because even though I do not take ballet classes any more, I still like to do ballet once in a while and choreograph some dances.” Asked what classes she would like to see Village offer, Meredith said, “They have a lot of classes, so I don’t know each and every one of them, but I don’t believe there’s a sewing class, and that would potentially be something I’d be interested in.”

Ask the Otter

Dear Otter,

Untitled design

I’m curious, why are you a stuffy and how do you move around on your own? Do you have a driver’s license?

–A Curious Voyager

Dear Curious,

I’m an otter. And trust me, we otters have our ways to get around. We also have our ways to get a driver’s license. Yes, I do have one. Like Voyagers, otters can do ANYTHING. We’re basically furry ninjas.

It can be hard sometimes, getting around and living as a stuffed animal. Have you ever been a stuffed animal? It’s tough. But I can change, when I have the time. This quarantine gives me a lot of time. So I thought maybe morphing into a rubber bath toy would be a nice change. Check out the feature all about my adventures this spring at the top of this issue.


Dear Otter,

I’m taking a class and I like it, but I wish we went into more detail on some topics. I’d like to learn more! How do I tell my teacher without being rude or hurting their feelings?

Anxious to Learn

Dear Anxious,

Village teachers love feedback. They customize their classes to suit the students, so if you want to learn more about something, tell your teacher! You can raise your hand and ask if the class can spend a little more time on a subject, or talk to your teacher after class, or send an email. Asking for more is a great way to show your teacher that you are engaged and interested. I think you’ll find Village teachers are very receptive to this kind of feedback.


Got a question for the Otter? Click HERE.

Meet the Student: Keller Sharp

by Mia Sharp

IMG_7208 (1)

Keller Sharp, 9, has been going to Village Home since 2017. He has three siblings, an older brother named Bryce, an older sister named Mia (that’s me), and a younger brother named Brooks. All of the siblings have been taking classes at VH since 2017 as well. His mom, Aimee Sharp also taught Day Program at the Beaverton and Portland campuses. Keller is currently taking United We Stand and Anatomy in Action. Keller also took classes at the Portland Campus, and those are the classes he misses most.

Keller came to VH after his family moved to Oregon all the way from Houston, Texas. Keller has been all across the country. He was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, then he moved to Illinois, then back to Texas then to Oregon. Out of everywhere he’s lived he likes Oregon the most.

Keller was also in VH’s Day Program for most of this year, “It was a lot of fun, I got to see all my friends, it was like one big playdate!” Even with his mom as his teacher, he liked the time he spent there. Keller’s favorite part about VH is the freedom he gets when choosing his classes, “it’s nothing like I’ve seen before and I like it that way”.

Outside of VH, Keller enjoys reading, making crafts, and learning to play the guitar. Keller also really enjoys science, chemistry, to be exact. He’s favorite experiment is causing a foam explosion by inducing a chemical reaction. His favorite pastime is playing Minecraft, especially when he plays with his friends. The first thing he is doing after quarantine is hanging out with his best friend Lennox.

Having moved several times in his life, he’s basically a master at the whole new kid, at a new school thing. His advice to new learners is “have fun, [when you’re] doing your classes, just have fun!”

Word Search

by Tanner Peterson

Feb 6, 2020 at 1_30 PM
Village Spotlight

Featuring the work of Village Home students


by Üla Deltac (age 16)



by Chase Williams (age 12)

What to write is the question at hand.
Why this is so hard is tricky to understand…

What to write, what to write
An overly descriptive paragraph on flight?
Too boring, no one would read it.

What about a cross between cowboys space and wizardry!
That sounds promising, I wonder if anyone else has thought of it, let’s see.
Wait, that’s Star Wars! They’d sue me and wouldn’t acquit!

Maybe the adventures of a trashcan in New York,
And on it’s journeys it learns about forks!
Ahh, what kind of story is that?

What’s on your mind they say, and what do you want to tell?
People just don’t understand, I’m trapped in a spell!
A spell coming out of the writing witches hat at that!

But wait! I know! I have the question “what to write” on my mind and I have something to tell!
I’ll write about the writer’s block, and how it backfired and undid it’s own spell!
Gather round! Ring the bell and let the people know!
Everybody will come and there will be a big show!


by Annika Elliot (age 13)

A Shriveled Rose

by Sophia Serrano-Dodd (age14)

He loved her. His heart is big and pure. There was room for his family, for his GOD, for the little blue bird at his feet, and for her. But there was always room for more.

Her heart was closed, but his was open. He held a rose in his hand. A red rose. A rose for her.

She broke his heart that day. It lay on the cobblestone road where they had met. He loved her. But she would not hold his rose. That rose fell down to the road. His heart and rose lay on the cobblestone road. A shriveled rose; and a broken heart.


by Wenyuan Abel (age 10)

The Great Boat Race of 1398

by Oliver Meskell (age 12)

Boat racing is a topic I know nothing about, but I know about water in general, and THE GREAT BOAT RACE OF 1398. There were four racers: Spotna, who had an orange rusty boat with no motor; Grunko, who had a green shiny boar (Grunko was expelled from the race on account of having no boat.); Spataspata, who actually had a good boat along with a good motor; and, finally, last and least, Zumplety, who had a small motor powering a rusty pontoon with a broken deck and a wasp’s nest in the cushion.

In the race, Spotna gunned the motor which she did not have, and she quickly fell behind. Zumplety went pedal to the metal, but his motor failed him as well. Spataspata was doing great. Suddenly, Zumplety’s motor kicked up with a start, and Zumplety went rocketing after Spataspata slower than an old shopping cart. But just as Spataspata was going for the win, her boat swerved and into a rock she went. The explosion was mostly incomparable; Spataspata disappeared, leaving neither a tooth nor a hair. Three hour later, Zumplety dashed across the line, the winner!


by Ruby Kara (age 14)


Do you have feedback on the paper? A letter to the Editor? Want to contribute to the Village Spotlight? Email us:

Special Edition: The Village Voice

the village

Special Edition: Volume II Issue III Spring 2020

A Note From the Editor

Hello Villagers,

I hope this special edition finds you calm and healthy at home. As you are no doubt aware, schools and businesses across the United States have been temporarily closed, and most events, flights, and gatherings have been canceled, all in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The World Health Organization has recommended social distancing as a way to combat the spread of this virus, meaning, folks should stay home and away from others whenever possible. While this may be inconvenient at times and can feel overdramatic, it’s highly important in slowing the spread of this virus. Even if you don’t feel sick or exhibit any symptoms, it is still possible to contract and spread the illness to others. In times like these, it’s important to think about those more vulnerable than you: those with pre-existing conditions, and the elderly. Social distancing includes avoiding: gatherings, meetings, hangouts, dates, parties, and public spaces whenever possible. Essentially, unless it is absolutely imperative that you leave the house, you should stay home.

All of that said, it can be difficult to know what to do with all of this excess time. While voice-conferences with friends are always an option, our writing team at The Village Voice has compiled a special issue full of at-home activities, crafts, games, virtual tours, and more. Additionally, I’d like to thank the Village Home instructors who stepped up on short notice to write brief articles about fun in-home learning options.

Please enjoy this special issue,
Your Editor, Alli Lake

Table of Contents
Virtual Field Trips
Online Resources for Teens
A Word From the Otter: Otter Art
Science at Home
Social Dancing During Social Distancing
Creative Projects for All Ages
Virtual Book Club
Look for the Helpers

Virtual Field Trips

By Mia Sharp

A lot of places and events have had to close due to COVID-19, but a lot of places are adapting! By doing virtual events, like tours and classes. Below are some really fun things to do with your kids while you’re stuck at home! All of the links to these events are at the end of the article.

The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden is offering Home Safari Facebook Live sessions, which will feature online animal encounters and an activity you can do at home. These will be offered at 3 p.m. weekdays. They want to bring the zoo to you, which will be great for animal lovers!

The Smithsonian is now offering virtual tours of the museums. These are self-guided,

Smithsonian Institution Building (the castle)

room-by-room tours of select exhibits and areas within the museums from a desktop or mobile device. This is amazing for all of those people who have never been to Washington, D.C.

Mark Kistler, a popular artist, has started doing free live art lessons, to teach kids how to draw! They are once a month, on Saturdays, typically from 12:00-2:00 p.m. On his website he says, “My fun, zany, art lessons are not going to cure anyone, but perhaps together we can distract, comfort, and inspire our children.”

For all of those juniors and seniors who are trying to find a college, many colleges, like Oregon State University and the University of Oregon, are offering virtual college tours of their campuses, since they had to cancel all of their regular tours! So that might help all those struggling juniors and seniors.

Along with The Smithsonian, The British Museum also offers virtual tours. This iconic museum located in the heart of London allows virtual visitors to tour the Great Court and discover the ancient Rosetta Stone and Egyptian mummies. You can also find hundreds of artifacts on the museum’s virtual tour

The Louvre (in Paris) is one of the most famous museums in the world, but you don’t have to jet off to Paris to experience its exquisite collection. They offer virtual tours, so you can check out Egyptian Antiquities, Galerie d’Apollon, and more.

Now you all have something to do and look forward to, in these unfortunate times. And remember there is always a positive to the negative!


Home Safari Facebook Live sessions:
The Smithsonian virtual museum tours:
Mark Kistler free live art lessons:
University of Oregon college tours:
Oregon State University college tours:
The British Museum tours:
The Louvre art museum tours:

Online Resources for Teens

by Aaron Johnson

While stuck in the house practicing social distancing, you may be running out of things to do. Is playing the same video games over and over getting boring and tedious, or are there no more unwatched YouTube videos in your subscription feed? Not to worry! We’ve got a line-up of entertaining online resources for tweens and teens alike.

First up, we have Crash Course: a YouTube channel that discusses a broad range of topics like world history, sociology, computer science, mythology, and economics. All of their videos are very informative, and not only that, but you’re almost guaranteed to have a good laugh!

Even if you’ve watched Crash Course before, it’s never a bad idea to check in and see if there are any new videos that interest you. Who knows, you might find yourself excited to re-watch some of their older videos, too.

Next, we have Games for Change. It’s a website where you can find and play games that address important social issues. Some subjects you might come across include nature vs. machines, homelessness, mental illness, and environmental struggles—just to name a few!

While many of the games cost money, some of them are free. For example, a web game that explores personal data called “Datak.” Or “Caduceus,” another free web game that aims to teach its players about the challenges scientists and doctors are faced with in their lines of work.

Speaking of science, if you’re interested in science experiments that you can do at home, look no further than the Science Bob website. Most of the experiments don’t require anything more than the resources you already have lying around the house!

You can do things like make rock candy, build a soap-powered model boat, or even create lava in a cup. And, yes—they’re all perfectly safe.

If you’re into math, space, psychology, or you simply like pondering the universe’s strangest questions, you should consider checking out Vsauce on YouTube. The channel offers over three-hundred videos, and each one addresses a different, strange, moral, technological, or philosophical dilemma or question. They even have their own YouTube Original series, “Mind Field,” that analyzes the mysteries of the human psyche.

For those of you who are passionate about law, civic duty, and government, consider looking into iCivics. They offer a variety of free games that help you understand supreme court cases, explore what civic responsibilities we have as Americans, and even work on solving governmental problems like immigration.

We, just like many other Village Home students, are disappointed that we may have to stay home for a little while longer. However, while you’re protecting your community from the spread, what if you could turn your time at home into an opportunity to learn and have fun?

A Word from the Otter:
Otter Art

This staying indoors stuff can be hard huh? Trust me, I know. Sometimes laying on my back in the ocean can get a little boring. But staying inside can help make COVID-19 subside! Please stay inside so we don’t have to worry about it! Once it’s gone, we hope to see you back on campus! Now, as I said before, it can be hard. But we, the Village Voice, have come up with fun things to do! One of them is Otter Art! Do you want to publish your Otter Art? This is the place!

Otters by VH Students

Create an Otter Art project– it can be anything: drawing, painting, sculpture, Lego, finger paint… Once you’ve made your Otter, take a picture or scan it and send it to  We’ll compile all your fabulous Otter creations into a slide show and post it here on the blog!

otter3Need more ideas for fun? Look through the wonderfully fun activities in the articles in this issue! So, instead of having that sleepover or play date, stay safe and at home. And enjoy these fun activities! Even if you’re not worried about getting sick, you may pass it onto others! And that’s not good. We want to prevent that. Stay 6 feet away from people that you don’t live with. Call your friends or FaceTime for a distance visit! And remember to send me your Otter Art! Let’s get COVID-19 under control!

Stay safe and have fun,
-The VH Otter

Science at Home

By Jamie Rivers
Village Home Instructor

science (1 of 1)
Science Class at VH

What to Watch
Netflix: Magic School Bus, Octonauts, Brainchilld
Hulu: How it’s Made, Mythbusters, NASA 360, How Earth Works
Amazon Prime: NOVA, Tumble Leaf, SciGirls, What on Earth?, DIY Sci
Disney+: National Geographic documentaries

Who to Listen to
StarTalk Radio:
Brains On! Science podcast for kids:
Stuff to Blow Your Mind:
Wow in the World:
Tumble Science:

What to Do
General Science Ideas –
Anatomy –
Physics –
Chemistry –
NASA Kids’ Club:
Mad Science Experiments–

Social Dance During Social Distancing

by Elizabeth Abel
Village Home Instructor

Learners of all ages, as well as parents, can stay active and learn a new skill with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ “Five(ish) Minute Dance Lesson” series. All that is needed is internet access and a small space to move.

dance (1 of 1)
Tap for Kids performs at Bloom

The Kennedy Center offers three different series: African Dance, Latin Dance, and Swing Dance.

The African Dance series introduces the history of African Dance and teaches the basics. It also includes some lessons on drumming. Here you can access information on the program and the first lesson:
The second lesson is available here:
The third is here:
And the drumming series begins here:

Latin Dance is a popular social dance style and the series focuses on preparing viewers to hit the dance floor. Information on the history of the dance form is included after the first two lesson videos. Begin here:

The Swing Dance series begins with a lesson on East Coast Swing. Master the Rock Step in lesson one and then move onto the more complex Charleston in lesson two. Lesson three is the most challenging, presenting the Lindy Hop. All three lessons can be found here:

The Kennedy Center’s mission includes a mandate to offer quality arts education to people of all ages, everywhere. This is an excellent time to explore some of the online resources at this world-renowned center for the arts. Kennedy Center dance lessons will keep your whole family moving, laughing, and learning.

Creative Projects for All Ages

By Jillian Bauer

If you are stuck in social isolation or self-quarantine, you might be craving some creative expression. If so, I have some ideas for you.

art (1 of 1)
Village Home student art

  1. Painting
  2. Drawing
  3. Photography
  4. Write your own story, play, poetry, journal, etc. Here are instructions for several different simple bookbinding techniques:
  5. Sculpting. Here are a couple recipes to make your own clay:
  6. Sewing–you could even look through your clothes and repurpose old/worn out ones for fabric (with a parent’s permission). Here is a video tutorial that will walk kids and parents through the steps to transform a drawing into a stuffie:
    For Village Home Voyagers with a little sewing experience, here are instructions to make an otter:
  7. Make a collage or scrapbook using photos, drawings, print-outs, etc.
  8. Consider entering a contest such as the Ocean Awareness Contest, whose theme this year is “Climate Hope: Transforming Crisis.” All forms of art are welcomed, and the submission deadline is June 15. For this specific contest, you must be between the ages of 11 and 18.
  9. Do a cooking or baking project.

If you feel inspiration less for a creative project…

  • Take inspiration from books, movies, or nature.
  • Try something you haven’t done before. If you normally just draw, try painting, or experiment with a new art form.
  • Instead of just baking or cooking something you normally would, try a new recipe in the kitchen. Have you ever made whip cream, macarons or chocolate mousse from aquafaba, the liquid from cans of garbanzo or cannellini beans? I tried it, and it was surprisingly good. You’ll find some recipes here:
  • Invite your family to participate in creative projects; it could be a lot more fun with their company.

Virtual Book Club

By Jamie Rivers
Village Home Instructor

We held our first virtual book club meeting Monday afternoon. We had a lively
conversation about the books we’re currently reading while learning how to use

Book Club Meeting

the WebEx app. Everyone had a chance to review their books, including a plot summary and talking about their favorite character. Books included Endling, The Infinity Ring, Nate the Great, The Tale of Despereaux and Dragon Ball. The meeting was hosted on WebEx, which supports web browsers, Apple devices, and Android. If you’d like to join us for the next book club, contact Jamie Rivers at for an invite.

Look for the Helpers

By Annika Abel
Village Home Instructor

Fred Rogers, one of Executive Director Lori Walker’s heroes, famously recounted something his mother told him: in times of crisis, look for the helpers. Right now there are plenty of helpers to inspire us and remind us that we are not alone. Even better than seeing the helpers is becoming helpers ourselves. Doing is always better than worrying.

It’s easy to feel scared and confused right now. Those are normal, healthy responses to extraordinary circumstances. When those feelings start to bubble up, taking action can help relieve the anxiety with productivity. Below are a few simple things we can all do.

Look for the helpers and thank them. Everyone likes to be appreciated. The delivery driver who drops off your grocery order is working long hours, driving all over town while the rest of us stay comfortably socially distanced in our homes. Write a thank you note and tape it to your front door. Thank you notes may also be left on mailboxes for postal carriers.

Send a virtual thank you. Almost every online store has a feedback button that allows you to send your comments to the store management. Send a note letting online stores know how much you appreciate their efforts to keep orders processing and shipping.

Draw a picture or write a note for residents of assisted living communities. With visits curtailed at many homes, residents are particularly vulnerable to loneliness. Send a note or drawing that can be given to a resident in need of a little cheer. Even the youngest members of our community can do this one. Addresses for assisted living facilities are available online.

Likewise, notes and drawings may be sent to hospitals where healthcare professionals are working long hours. Neighbors who live alone could also benefit from a cheerful picture or kind note left on their doorstep. Grandparents and elderly relatives will appreciate a virtual check-in as well.

The people in your household are also helpers– they’re trying to work, take care of one another, and maintain as much routine as possible. Help them out by doing chores without being asked. Fold a load of laundry. Sweep the kitchen floor. Do the dishes. They may seem like little things, but they can make a big difference to the people around you.

If parents are trying to work from home, try keeping younger siblings busy by reading to them, playing games, or helping them with an art project. This will give parents much-needed work time. No younger siblings interrupting working parents? Cook dinner or ask if you may help if you don’t cook independently.

With everyone home for an extended period of time sooner or later family members are likely to get on one another’s nerves. When that starts to happen, instead of getting angry try helping. Empathy isn’t always easy but being active often helps relieve tension. When you start to feel frustrations growing, go scrub a bathroom.

Our community could use your help, too. Record a video of yourself reading a storybook and ask your parents to post it to the VH parents Facebook group. Distractions for young children are a big help right now. Or create a word find and post that. Or make a household scavenger hunt, post it, and see which of your friends complete it the fastest.

We are living in extraordinary times but that means we have extraordinary opportunities. We have the opportunity to grow as a community and as individuals. How we come together, how we support ourselves and each other, that’s what we’ll remember most about these days.


By Alli Lake

In times like this, it’s hard not to think about the numbers. It’s hard not to look at which new communities are being negatively impacted every day. It’s hard to sit at home and listen to all of the terrible things happening in the world because of this new virus. While it’s important to stay up to date on current world events, it’s also good to take mental breaks from time to time. That’s why we over at the Village Voice recommend taking a look at the Instagram account @goodnews_movement. This account is different from other news outlets as it’s focused specifically on uplifting stories. Positive news, kind-hearted people, selfless acts. This account is a one-stop-shop for all things wholesome. It can be difficult to remember that there are still good people doing their best to help, so, if you ever need reminding, try popping over to @goodnews_movement on Instagram.

Village Voice Fall 2019

Volume II Issue I – November 2019

Welcome to the fall issue of The Village Voice. Editor Alli Lake and the reporters in the Journalism: Village Voice class hope you enjoy this issue. Scroll through or click a link to go directly to a story. Watch for the winter issue at the end of next term.

Table of Contents

A Promising Year for VHMT
Meet the Teacher: Petra Redinger
Meet the Learner: Lila Karras
Paige Murphy: Actor, Director, & More
Meet the Staff: Lisa Serrano-Dodd
Q&A with Izzy Reihl
Good Books for Winter Days
Fall Musical: Behind the scenes
Ask the Otter
Teen Retreat 2019
Games and Comics

A Promising Year for VHMT

by Aaron Johnson

74585852_10217512357774317_5622398750681989120_nPhotos by Kristin Lake & Deborah Mueller

This year’s Village Home Mock Trial (VHMT) class has officially kicked off, sporting new partners, a new case, and a new team. In addition to VHMT’s normal two-team separation, a third team represented Village Home at the Empire Mock Trial competition in San Francisco, California, Nov. 1-4.

The Empire Mock Trial team was comprised of eight veteran members of Village Home’s Mock Trial class who were put to the test in several intense clashes against Mock Trial teams from all around the world.


“The bracket is really interesting,” said Maryam Khan, a member of the Empire Mock Trial team, before the competition. “Since there are so many teams attending, they have split them up into two different groupings. Based on location, teams will say that they challenge another team in their grouping. For example, American Heritage [High School] could go up and say, ‘We challenge Village Home,’ and we would have to accept, which would become the first round. Then after that, it’s your basic power matching.” Power matching is a tournament format that uses software to calculate scores in order to pair teams together for future rounds.

When asked whether or not she considered American Heritage High School a rival team she replied, “Well yeah, definitely. Village has never personally been in any rounds with them before but they did win [Empire] San Francisco and [Empire] New York with two separate teams [last year].”

Empire Mock Trial hosts three separate competitions in San Francisco, New York, and Atlanta. Schools with a large number of students can send different teams to multiple Empire competitions.

When asked what she thinks is the most interesting part of the Empire competition, Maryam’s first response was, “Well, the addition of a guest witness is going to make things interesting.”

When asked to elaborate, she replied, “It’s really hard to explain. Normally in Mock Trial, each team has three witnesses whom they will question during the trial. A guest witness is different in that [a different competing school] will present us with a witness that we have no information about right before the trial, and then we will get around fifteen minutes to prepare our questions for that witness. Then the trial will commence, and we will do our best to continue forward with the case with that new information.”


The time commitment for team members varies depending on the roles of each individual, but the workload for Empire is much more substantial than that of Mini Mock according to Julian McGaw, another member of the Village Home Empire Team, “We’re meeting twice a week currently, and we’re about to start meeting on weekends as well. We usually meet for two, three, four hours, and sometimes we meet all day. There isn’t exactly a homework-to-class time ratio, but I’m doing probably like two-to-three hours of homework per week.”

When asked what the Empire case was about, Julian said, “It is a negligence lawsuit, and it is a civil trial. There is a family who is suing a construction company, and the CEO of said construction company, for allegedly not doing their due diligence in assessing a property, which then, allegedly, led to a heart condition that was developed by their [the family’s] son due to the chemicals in the air.”


Weeks after these initial interviews, the Village Home Empire team competed against twenty-seven other groups in a total of five rounds, the fifth being the final round which only the top two teams were present for. In the end, Village Home won second place after facing off against American Heritage High School. Additionally, Village Home learners William Mueller and Stephen Swanson were presented with Outstanding Attorney and Outstanding Witness awards, respectively. They will be returning to their normal Mock Trial classroom and leading the way in the Mock Trial Regionals next year.

“I’m feeling pretty great about the competition. We didn’t expect to get that far, and it’s amazing how close the final round was,” said Stephen Swanson. “My favorite part was finding out we needed to wear lapel microphones for the final round because it’s so fancy,” said Alli Lake. “My least favorite part was not really knowing what to expect, having never done it before. But it all worked out in the end!” said Cassidy Reilly.

While many found the fresh inclusion of the Empire Mock Trial team exciting, the other two Village Home Mock Trial teams were hard at work on their new case. Mini Mock, which is an unscored scrimmage where Mock Trial teams can test their skills against their peers and receive feedback on their performance, was held on Nov. 16 at the Multnomah County Courthouse.

Other notable Mock Trial dates include the Oregon Regional Competitions on Feb. 22, 2020, and potentially the Oregon State Tournament March 6-7, 2020, if the team(s) advance(s).

Back to Top

Meet The Teacher: Petra Redinger

By Haley Vann


There is a new kids’ biology teacher in town and her name is Petra Redinger. Petra just started teaching her biology class, Human Superpowers, this term at the Portland campus. She targets her class towards kids ages 8-12 years old and believes that “children have a natural interest in learning about themselves, their bodies, and all the life around them. But oftentimes science is presented in a not very approachable way and sometimes children will shy away from science.” So she strives to make science fun and get people to love science as much as she does.

Petra has a master’s degree in biology and has been teaching General Cell Bio, Human Anatomy, and Physiology for almost 20 years at University of Alabama, Auburn University, PSU, PCC, and Clark College.

She has also done extensive field research, “mainly studying endangered species, and also worked in laboratories, and natural history museums.” She taught as a full-time professor at PCC for almost 5 years before becoming a mother and now teaches two evening classes at Clark College in addition to her class at Village Home.

Blue and Pink Web Illustration Hiring Poster(1)

Petra is “so grateful that we have found this wonderful community of teachers, parents, students, and staff. I love the teaching philosophy of Village Home. I have been extremely inspired by all of [my daugher]’s teachers. So naturally, being a passionate teacher myself, I wanted to be part of the Village Home community in that capacity.”

When asked if she would teach more classes she said “Oh absolutely, I would love it! I love the energy in my classroom. It is so cool to see my young scientists being engaged and excited during classroom discussions, activities, and games. I love to see when lightbulbs go off!” Petra believes that all children are scientists with their inquisitive minds, and she hopes that some of her students will want to choose science as a career path.

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Paige Murphy: Actor, Director, And More

by Jillian Bauer

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For Paige Murphy, 17, being able to participate in multiple activities and nurture different interests is one of her favorite parts of being part of Village Home. “I’ve been able to find my passions and follow them through this way of schooling, so without that I probably wouldn’t be able to do all these things that I’m involved in,” Paige said. In contrast to more traditional approaches to schooling, at Village “there’s a lot more focus on individual interests instead of curriculum and strict classes.”

Some of Paige’s interests include acting, Taekwondo, Mock Trial, and American Sign Language (ASL). Paige pursues acting and Taekwondo through Village Home and studies ASL at Clark College near her home in Vancouver. Recently, Paige tested to get her second-degree blackbelt from her instructor, Ruth Moultrie.

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In addition to her Taekwondo career, Paige is also an avid thespian, and is currently involved in the Advanced Improv group here at Village. This year, she’s an assistant director to Whitney Johnson (director of the theater program) on the Village Home Fall Musical, Willy Wonka JR. Paige enjoys directing as it allows her to see everything from the opposite side—usually she’s on stage, acting. Directing puts her in the new position of supporting actors and leading them. While she still gets stage fright, she does feel as if she’s learned how to handle the nervousness better through experience. Her favorite part of acting is the community. Paige was elected president of the Village Home Thespian Troupe this term.

This is Paige’s last year at Village Home, and she’ll participate in the completion ceremony in the spring. Her plans for the future aren’t yet solidified, but as of now, she’ll likely go to a community college for two years and then transfer to a four-year college following that. She’d love to be involved in theatre in the future, however, regardless of what she goes on to do, this certainly isn’t the last we’ll see of her.

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Q&A with Izzy Reihl

by Olivia Plymale

Isabell Reihl, 13, is a Village Home student who agreed to sit down with me for a Q&A about her time at Village Home. Here is the conversation that followed.

Q: How long have you been going to Village Home?
A: Off and on since I was 7.

Q: What classes are you currently taking?
A: Physics for the Win with Loriann Schmidt, and Beginning Improv, Theater Props, the Fall Musical, and Drama Club and Thespians with Whitney Johnson.

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Q: What is your favorite class?
A: Definitely the Fall Musical.

Q: What do you like most about it?
A: I love learning how to act a different character and how the actors will really portray all of the different characters.

Q: What do you like most about Whitney?
A: Pretty much everything! I really like the way she teaches. She leads you in the right direction and has you figure out how to portray the different characters yourself.

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Q: Was it your parents’ choice or your choice to join Village Home at first? Both?
A: It was my parents’ choice that got me started but I didn’t complain because I like it a lot. So, both.

Q: What is your favorite thing about Village Home?
A: All of the teachers are very caring and I just like the way most of them teach. It’s much more free-range than other schools.

Q: What musicals have you been in and what roles did you get? Did you want the roles you got?
A: In the Lion King Jr. I wanted Ed, but halfway through casting, I changed it to Pumba. Then I got the role and I was really surprised. In Willy Wonka, pretty much just after I found out about it, I was debating the role of Grandpa Joe but I also wanted to play Willy Wonka so I was going for that too.

Q: What do you like most about being involved in the musicals?
A: I don’t know, I just like it all!

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Good Books for Winter Days

by Village Voice staff

With the end of Fall Term comes holiday gift-giving and cold winter days perfect for curling up with a good book (or twelve). The Village Voice has book recommendations for every reader…


Books for movie fans
Sometimes the book truly is better than the movie. Laughed out loud at The Princess Bride? Explore the Zoo of Death in William Goldman’s classic novel. Cried through The Fault in Our Stars? Buy stock in Kleenex and dig into John Green’s novel. For younger readers, a great movie-book combo is Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr.

Books for little learners
Kids love picture books, and parents love picture books they can read over and over without losing their minds. Diary of a Wombat, by Jackie French, is perfect for fans of animal stories and those who appreciate a little well-intentioned mischief. Julia’s House for Lost Creatures, by Ben Hatke, is an engaging fantasy story that teaches the importance of community and helping. Roxaboxen, by Alice McLerran, is a charming book for anyone who loves to imagine.

Books for independent readers
What’s more satisfying than reading a good book all on one’s own? Esther Averill’s Jenny and the Cat Club is a great place to begin reading independently, particularly for animal lovers. The Missing Piece is also a great first experience for new readers, after all, who doesn’t love Shel Silverstein? The Notebook of Doom is a fantastic book for beginning readers who still appreciate the charm of picture books. Dragon enthusiasts should check out Tracey West’s Dragon Masters series and Ruth Stiles Gannett’s My Father’s Dragon.

Books for tweens
Even the worst case of winter blues will be soothed with the delightful summer exploits of The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. For those who prefer fantasy to realistic fiction, the Wildwood Chronicles, by Colin Meloy, is sure to enchant (added bonus: it’s set in Portland!). Don’t forget about the classics: My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George, is a great read about the journey of a boy and his falcon.

Books for teens
While the movie may have been a bust, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs, is most definitely not. Moxie, by Jennifer Mathieu, will appeal to teens with an interest in changing the world. George Orwell’s 1984 is both a classic and topical that will make readers think, and, for those who enjoyed Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins’ series Gregor the Overlander has a similar style, but with a more family-friendly take.


Books for Potterheads
Shopping for a fan of J.K. Rowling? Before there were Hogwarts students, there were the children of Narnia. Check out C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia for a magical adventure and an epic battle between good and evil. Another book Harry Potter fans may enjoy is Keepers of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger.

Books for learning
Looking for a little education mixed into a fun read? For younger kids try Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans, by Kadir Nelson. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster is a fun fantasy adventure, but it’s also a crash course in wordplay and puns for middle-grade readers. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, by M.T. Anderson, mixes US history with an eerie and thought-provoking story that’s sure to engage teens.

Did we leave out your favorite? Drop us a line at and tell us about it. The Village Voice wishes you happy reading this winter.


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Fall Musical: Behind the scenes

by Mia Sharp and Annika Elliott

Village Voice Willy Wonka Jr 2019

Everyone who has ever seen a Village Home fall production knows it’s a magical experience, and this year’s production of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka, JR. is no different. This year’s fall musical takes the stage at Sherwood Center for the Arts Dec. 20 and 21. However, before the curtains rise on the world of chocolate factories and golden tickets, let’s take a look into what makes a show like this possible.

What better place to start than costume designer? This year, the wardrobe for the fall production was designed, crafted, and sewn by Angela Holland-Sniff. Angela comes to Village with an impressive resume, having worked with traveling Broadway productions in the past.

When it comes to costuming, it all starts with the script. By using the character descriptions provided by the script, along with a quick internet search, Angela is able to begin the process of creation. Once she has a firm picture in her head of what they’re going for, she heads out to thrift stores to get the clothing and fabric required to dress nearly 40 students.


It takes more than costumes to make this show possible. Wouldn’t it be pretty boring if people were just standing there with nothing in the background and nothing to hold? Meet Whitney Johnson, head of props, and the director of the whole show.

Whitney has a degree in Musical Theater and took many classes dealing with props and make-up class in college. Her favorite props to make were the coral reefs out of pool noodles for Disney’s Little Mermaid, Jr. and the masks for Disney’s Lion King, Jr. because there were so fun to make. The props department consists of Whitney, Kristin Lake (Whitney’s co-teacher on the props class) and the 16 kids in the class.


Whitney’s favorite aspect of the class is, “figuring out how we are going to do this. I enjoy problem-solving and love finding the right materials to use.” The biggest challenges she’s come across in props were “the head pieces for Lion King, we had to redo them at the last minute, it was kind of crazy.”

After reading the script, Whitney begins the design process. “There’s a lot of going back and forth and deciding how I want things to be. Next, I spend time imagining everything and then thinking of how I really want to see things play out and if this will work, etc. Then I spend time sketching these, and anyone on our team can tell you I’m not the greatest artist but I still sketch them out, so I can just see on paper and help me turn them into reality.”

Finally, something completely different: the music itself. What would a musical be without music? Meet Associate Director Leif Schmit. Leif is a former student, in fact, they were in Village Home’s very first musical which just happened to be Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka, Jr.


Leif was 8 or 9 years old when they first came to Village Home, and their favorite classes, even back then, were Whitney’s improv classes. Since then, Leif has been in a number of musicals including Pirates of Penzance, Aladdin Jr., and Little Shop of Horrors.

Leif has been a singing teacher for about three years. They were a teaching assistant at Northwest Children’s Theater (NWCT) and helped with some of the music for their productions. When it comes to singing, Leif likes “the honest nature of it. How you tell the story with your voice and all the emotions that you can convey through singing.”

The fall musical is always a must-see event at Village, as Willy Wonka once said, “The suspense is terrible, I hope it’ll last.”

Get your golden tickets before they’re gone.

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Teen Retreat 2019

by Haley Vann

The Teen Retreat is Village Home summer camp packed into one weekend at Camp Collins in Gresham, OR. This year Teen Retreat took place on September 27th-29th and the chaperones happened to be two beloved teachers, Whitney Johnson and Travis Grail.

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The Teen Retreat’s main goals are to help students step out of their comfort zones in a safe environment and to have fun. Many teens decided to participate in this retreat to hang out with old friends, make new ones, spend time in the wilderness and, for many, because they wanted to climb on the Synergo high ropes.

Copy of Bee Ready!

Most of these expectations were met at some point throughout the weekend with the exception of one: the high ropes course. On Saturday morning, while on the lower stage of the ropes course, the chaperones and teens had to face some heavy hail and lightning. Everyone who was outside during the hail storm rushed back into the lodges and immediately gathered around the campfire to warm up.

Looking on the bright side, the free time and games were among the favorite and most memorable parts of the retreat for some participants.

One of the biggest highlights of Teen Retreat was the last comfort zone exercise on Sunday morning. Everyone started with a paper plate taped on their backs and a pen in their hand, they then went around to everyone to write something nice to them anonymously. This heartwarming activity was a great way to wrap up the weekend and everyone left the camp with their plate containing all the reasons why their friends care about them.

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Games & Comics