Waldorf student Kelvin Jenkins completed building a go-kart for his eighth-grade project. (Photo provided)

Waldorf student Kelvin Jenkins completed building a go-kart for his eighth-grade project. (Photo provided)

Waldorf students learn from mentors as they tackle hands-on projects

‘They’ve put in commitment, creativity and courage’

There may be hope for print journalism yet thanks to teenagers such as Ada Faith-Feyma.

The 14-year-old is such a fan of newspapers that she chose the challenge of putting together her own inky publication for her eighth-grade project at Whidbey Island Waldorf School.

“It started out as a two-page example and now it’s a 12-page real newspaper,” Faith-Feyma said holding up a copy of The Whidbey Current, a onetime publication. She got some advice, but she did all the reporting, writing, editing, photography and marketing herself.

“I’ve always loved newspapers,” she said. “It just doesn’t feel the same reading news on a computer or any screen. I am unusual in all regards as a 14 year old.”

Beginning in the fall of eighth grade, the soon-to-be graduates are given a challenge to pick a topic, find a mentor, arrange their own weekly meetings and give periodic updates to their peers and teachers. The private South Whidbey school has 125 students in grades K-8.

Last week, students presented their projects to a packed audience of proud parents, relatives, friends and staff. Laptop computers showing videos and websites sat alongside old-fashioned cardboard tri-fold displays of photos, drawings and descriptions of projects around the meeting room at Langley United Methodist Church.

“It’s been a long tradition at Waldorf schools to provide a unique opportunity for students to engage in self-directed learning,” said teacher Frances Kenney in her introduction of the eighth-graders.

“Eight extraordinary human beings put their love, sweat, sometimes even tears into their projects,” she said. “They’ve put in commitment, creativity and courage.”

Projects ranged from figuring out how to design and create an underwater robot, designing costumes for a Shakespearan play, child care, the dynamics between a personal trainer and trainee and building a go-kart.

Ravi Neumeyer pursued his love of origami, something he picked up on while reading “Curious George” as a 4 year old.

“Curious George made a sailboat out of a newspaper,” Neumeyer said during his presentation. “Pretty soon I had a whole fleet in my living room.”

With his artistry and wizardry at turning flat paper into beautiful three-dimensional objects, including earrings, Neumeyer created a website that includes step-by-step tutorials for making paper cranes, a blog, and photos of a wall of hundreds of cranes in different sizes and colors that was commissioned by his uncle.

Gabriella Toombs described the learning process of pursing portraiture in different mediums and how her mentor, Karin Bolstad, kept her on track.

“My favorite thing to draw has always been faces,” she said in front a finished portrait of her great grandmother that includes the added dimension of lace and pearls. “But I learned that it’s hard to do art under pressure. I couldn’t throw these out if I didn’t like them. Without Karin, I would have given up on it all.”

Many people stopped by to praise artist Gabriella Toombs during the Whidbey Island Waldorf School annual eighth-grade project presentations. (Photos by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group)

Many people stopped by to praise artist Gabriella Toombs during the Whidbey Island Waldorf School annual eighth-grade project presentations. (Photos by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group)

Gabriella Toombs showed samples of her portrait art during Waldorf School presentations last week at Langley United Methodist Church.

Gabriella Toombs showed samples of her portrait art during Waldorf School presentations last week at Langley United Methodist Church.

Setting out to learn more about print journalism, Waldorf student Ada Faith-Feyma ended up planning, reporting, editing and designing a 12-page newspaper named <em>The Whidbey Current.</em>

Setting out to learn more about print journalism, Waldorf student Ada Faith-Feyma ended up planning, reporting, editing and designing a 12-page newspaper named The Whidbey Current.

Slater Canright, left, helps Morphew “Momo” Jenkins operate the underwater robot he built that is equipped with a video camera.

Slater Canright, left, helps Morphew “Momo” Jenkins operate the underwater robot he built that is equipped with a video camera.

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