By Rubina Martini
On the southern hill above Sunset Lake just north of Amherst, students of all ages play in the woods, gathering sticks and building forts. The wind rustles through trees like a song played through a reed. They run to the cabins to meet their teachers for lessons. Many of these students have spent their whole educational life at the Central Wisconsin Environmental Station wandering well-worn paths over roots and under high branches. For some reaching eighth grade, they are starting to ask where the path may lead once they leave the comfort of these woods they know so well. Luckily, the discussion of what could be next for students after middle school has been a whisper in the wind for a few years now.
In 2018, a group of community members came together to plan the opening of a high school with the dream of continuing the educational philosophies of the Tomorrow River Community Charter Schools (TRCCS). These schools currently consist of an elementary and middle school as well as a virtual school that serves the greater state of Wisconsin. While many students and families are just now beginning to ask where they may be headed after next year, this group has been diligently working out the details of a new high school. Central Sands Community High School is set to open in the fall of 2022. This public charter high school will open to grades 9-11 in its first year, expanding to grade 12 in its second year. The school’s capacity will be set at 100 students (25 per grade). A standard application for all students will be required as part of the open, voluntary admissions process. The enrollment window will be from January through April 2022 following the Department of Public Instruction Open Enrollment window, which allows families from different districts to enroll in schools outside their own district. While the Tomorrow River Community Charter Schools fall under the Tomorrow River School District, Central Sands Community High School will be an independent charter school authorized by the University of Wisconsin System’s Office of Educational Opportunity.
The mission of Central Sands is to create a collaborative, sustainable high school working out of the core principles of Public Waldorf Education. Our learning community utilizes integrated curriculum to cultivate mindful leaders in an ever-changing world.
While Central Sands echoes the educational styles and philosophies of TRCCS, it has developed a completely independent conceptual framework that will shape a new identity. Drawing inspiration from the principles of Public Waldorf Education, the school seeks to create a learning community that fosters individual growth through the processes of thinking, feeling, and willing. Thinking processes will be developed through knowledge-based learning and integrated curriculum. With an emphasis on process over product, and the utilization of self-assessment, students will develop self-motivation and a growth mindset. The teaching and practice of mindfulness will enhance our students’ thinking skills, as well as their feeling processes, by nurturing compassion and resilience. Through experience learning, our students take their knowledge and passion and transform it into social practice, building their sense of will. The principles of sustainable education lie at the core of all that we do. Sustainable education is a change of educational culture towards the realization of human potential and the interdependence of social, economic, and ecological well-being, which can lead to transformative learning.
The governance board looks to the future as it develops a space for students to thrive. The vision is to inspire compassionate, independent thinking stewards of the earth, where students will create and change the world around them.
The name, Central Sands Community High School, was chosen as a reference to the local geology of this region. This reference to a geological feature represents the connection to the local environment and our commitment to sustainability.
Just as the sandy soil is beneficial to farmers growing their crops here, we will provide the fertile ground for our students to grow and thrive. Central Sands wouldn’t be complete without the Sandhill Crane, which the new high school has taken on as the school mascot. Watch for future updates when we announce the school location.
The Central Sands Governance Board has been approved for authorization by the University of Wisconsin System’s Office of Educational Opportunity. They are currently applying for the Wisconsin Charter Schools Planning and Implementation Grant through the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
Over the course of this next year, the school will secure a location (to be announced soon), building curriculum, and develop the ins and outs of daily life for its student body. Currently the governance board is composed of Jeanne Ryan, Rubina Martini, Chamomile Nusz, Jill Wozniak, Stephen Schmidt, and Amy Boelk. With the community’s interest at heart, we welcome all who would like to become involved to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or learn more at CentralSands.org. For families and students interested in learning more from the governance board, we will be hosting an online information session on January 21. Details can be found on the website.
The Jensen Community Spirit is mailed at no charge to property owners and residents within the Tomorrow River (TR) School District. Residents outside of the school district that have students attending the TR Schools will also receive issues at no charge. Gift and other subscriptions to the Jensen Community Spirit are welcome and can be mailed to addresses in the continental United States for $30 for a one-year subscription. Subscriptions are not refundable but may be transferred.
Subscriptions delivered outside of the continental USA will need to be quoted for additional shipping costs.