The Woolman Semester in Nevada City: Live What You Believe

woolman_logoJesus’ words warning of false teachers — “By their fruits you shall know them” — came to mind for me this morning in a new and more positive context, when we noticed a recent video about the Idaho-Maryland Mine produced by local students of The Woolman Semester. The video is a powerful and intelligent examination of the impact the re-opening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine would have on our local community.

“What — or who — is ‘The Woolman Semester?'” we wondered, after viewing this video. By that video, we knew something about them, that its students are doing some amazing work right here in our own community.

Notice that it’s possible to subscribe to the “Woolman Semester Channel” on YouTube. And you’ll find on that channel an assortment of videos representing the diversity of interests of the students.

Some examples:

Homeless Shelter a Real Lifesaver

For years Hospitality House has been serving people in need, providing food, clothing, shelter and services. Hear the story behind this amazing asset to Nevada County, CA. Featuring a rare interview with Utah Phillips. Created by students at the Woolman Semester.

Eating Local – Can it be done?

Woolman Semester students search near and… well, near, for healthy, sustainable ways of getting their food. Find out what it means to be a locavore, and why it isn’t always easy to stick to the 100-mile diet.

The Little Corn that Could… TAKE OVER THE WORLD!

A wild romp through the weird world of monoculture. Is your food really just processed corn in disguise? Find out! Presented by students at the Woolman Semester, and inspired by The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.

California: Prison Capital of the World?

California leads the nation on prison spending, paying over 9 billion dollars a year, and 1 of every 31 Californians is in the prison system. Is this system spiraling out of control? Is it destroying more lives than it protects? Hear from ex-inmates, community leaders and others in this documentary by Woolman Semester students.

From the Woolman website:

The Woolman Semester is a sixteen-week program that welcomes high school students from all over the country to join us for a single semester during their junior, senior, or postgraduate ”gap” year. Similar to a semester-abroad in concept, the Woolman Semester immerses students in the studies of peace, social justice, and sustainable living on a 230-acre rural campus in Northern California. Project based course work and off-campus opportunities facilitate personal growth and leadership skills through self-exploration and an intellectual commitment to being an informed global citizen.

The Woolman Semester is the only semester studies program among Friends (Quaker) schools. Like all Friends schools, the Woolman Semester uses inquiry-based analysis and reflection emphasizing a sense of respect for, and responsibility to, the greater community. Quaker education is informed by the values of peace, equality, honesty, community, simplicity, and stewardship of the Earth. The Woolman Semester is named for John Woolman, an 18th Century Quaker abolitionist, who lived with utmost integrity to these values throughout his life. Woolman students and staff are asked to be authentic to our individual values and consider how we might live in greater integrity with them.

The antecedents of the school go back at least fifty years, when “a group of Quaker and like-minded families came together with the dream of creating a Quaker/Friends residential high school on the West Coast.” In 1963, the John Woolman School, a four-year residential high school was founded, and continued for 38 years until 2001, “when it was no longer financially viable and thus suspended” by the College Park Friends Educational Association (CPFEA), under whose auspices it had been operating.

A steering committee created a new program that would both thrive and embrace the heart of what made John Woolman School so meaningful to teens—acceptance of authenticity and engagement in community. The campus was renamed Sierra Friends Center and Sierra Friends Camp and the Woolman Semester were born. The Woolman Semester opened its doors in the spring of 2004.

If you’d like to learn more about Woolman and/or support their work, consider dropping in on the following event on October 18th:

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